Traditions

September 15, 2009

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

Then the Lord said,
“Because this people draw near
with their words
And honor Me with their lip service,
But they remove their hearts far from Me,
And their reverence for Me
Consists of tradition learned by rote,
(Isaiah 29:13 (unknown))

I had the honor of seeing a tradition this evening. It was a right of passage. My sixteen year old son and many of his classmates went through a ceremony in which they received their high school class rings. I honestly doubt that any of the junior class nor their parents will forget the moment that they opened up the boxes and put the rings on their fingers. It is a tradition that many schools have been honoring since the first class rings were ordered by West Point graduates in 1835.

Some traditions are a good thing. They anchor us in our past. They provide guidance for our future. This give us a point of reference on which to reflect and base our lives. Unfortunately, too many of our traditions have become rote memorization.

I am not speaking of the once in a lifetime traditions such as class ring ceremonies, graduations, or weddings. I am speaking of the ones that we repeat every Sunday when we attend a church worship service.

How would your spouse respond if you went through a memorized speech about how much you love them? How would you soon respond in your heart if you said this same speech over and over again? It would be recited out of memory and not out of love. It would be recited out of duty instead of desire. It would be a tradition that would soon lose its meaning.

We, as the body of Christ, must be careful not to fall into this category. We must look upon each worship service as something new and exciting. We must come with the desire in our hearts to renew our faith and love of God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We must never simply provide lip service. We must never simply recite something out of tradition. We must take each word and each service and completely dedicate it to God in all of His Glory, in all of His triune majesty.

Stop and look deep inside. Stop and reflect upon the words that you sing. Stop and reflect upon the words that you recite.

Don’t allow your worship to simply become a tradition.

Copyright 1998 – 2009 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Acquittal

September 14, 2009

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
(John 3:17 (NIV))

In man’s courts, when we stand accused, we can be condemned or acquitted. Before Jesus came into the world, we did not have an option to be acquitted when we stood in front of God to be judged, for, through Adam and Eve, we “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23(NIV))

Jesus came willingly to give Himself as a living sacrifice so that we could be given grace and mercy. In other words, we have been given the ability to be acquitted even though we are guilty. We will not be condemned if we call upon the name of Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.
(Romans 8:1-2(NIV))

Just what is condemnation? It is a just punishment for the actions that are not forgivable in the eyes of the judge. The judge is God! He did not wish to condemn us in our sin. He wished to free us from our sin. Through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son, we are saved from ourselves. All you have to do is earnestly turn to God through Jesus Christ, His Son. Accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior will grant you the mercy. It will grant you the acquittal from a death sentence.

Have you been acquitted?

Copyright 1998 – 2009 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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He is coming

September 11, 2009

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen.
(Revelation 1:7 (NIV))

This sounds like a very severe day in the history of humanity, and it will be for those who witness it.

No matter what you may think about the Rapture and when it will occur, all theories place the Rapture on or before this event. Many human interpretations of the Rapture do not make sense when considering the total sequence of events that must happen, however, they all agree that those who call upon the name of Jesus before a certain point in time will not see this event from the earthly perspective. Those who are left at this point will be recent believers and those who have received the mark of the beast.

Can you imagine the anguish of those who have misplaced their faith upon seeing Jesus return? They will feel severe desolation, panic, and fear, while those who have placed their trust in Jesus will feel happiness, elation, and victory. Can you imagine the sudden realization that everything you have ever believed to be true was totally wrong and that you were eternally lost because of this? All throughout history, people have committed drastic actions upon realizations similar to this. Look at the United States when the Stock Market crashed. People were jumping to their deaths because they had lost “everything.” Can you imagine the reactions when the realization is the ultimate loss?

People often reflect on their lives and wonder “what if.” Those who witness this will realize in an instant the “what if” that they could have been experiencing. This is going to be a sad day for those who are left to ask this question.

Do all that you can do to make sure that you and those whom you encounter are not among those. Tell them of the great love that God has for them. Tell them of how He sent Jesus to be an atoning sacrifice to save them from this day!

Tell them that God does not want any to perish, and that He loves them!

Copyright 1998 – 2009 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Frustration

September 10, 2009

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV))

Frustration !

Have you ever been in a situation in which nothing seemed to ever go right? You know how things should go, or at least how they should go according to your plans and desires. If you are like me, you have probably had times when you simply want to throw your hands up in desperation. You simply want to quit.

Think about that.

Are these the situations in which you feel you are doing the wrong thing and going in the wrong direction, or are they the times when you feel that you are under attack by Satan because you are doing what you are supposed to do? Sometimes it is difficult to tell the difference. This causes frustration. Do you have times when you feel that you are simply going through the motions and that what you do will have absolutely no impact or effect on how things will turn out? This causes frustration.

Did Jesus ever get frustrated? The time that He overturned the tables of the money changers at the temple may come to mind. John 2:15 indicates that this was not frustration, but anger. Jesus hated what they had done inside the temple.

According to Merriam-Webster, “frustration” is a state of insecurity and dissatisfaction arising from unresolved problems or unfulfilled needs. In other words, frustration is brought about by personal needs and an anxious desire to see them fulfilled when they are not being fulfilled.

I almost dare to say that frustration can be looked upon as a sin, for many times it has its roots in sinful pride. Perhaps that is why Paul tells us “Do not be anxious about anything,” for it is a fine line between a righteous desire and sinful pride. It is a fine line that is so easy to cross even when you are trying to be faithful.

Pray for patience. Be thankful for what God has done in your life and be thankful that He is not finished with you yet. Keep your eyes focused on God, and frustration will fade away.

Copyright 1998 – 2009 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Patience

September 8, 2009

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be astounded. They will put their trust in the Lord.
(Psalms 40:1-3 (NLT))

What do you see in this passage? Is it that God rescued David or is it that David waited patiently for God?

All too often we see the first option where God rescues someone and then we impatiently ask why doesn’t He rescue us. What we fail to see is the patience that is exhibited FIRST by those whom God rescues!

There is a consistent message throughout God’s Word. He longs for us to know Him intimately and not just look upon Him as the one to turn to when we need help.

God asks us to seek Him!

Think about one of the things in your life that you worked hard to get. Did you give up after only a few minutes? A few days? A few months? Chances are that it took a long time to achieve what you sought. You desired it more than anything. You did not give up. That is what God desires of us. He wants us to seek Him with all that we are. He wants us to be patient in seeking Him.

What does God desire patience when we seek Him?

Perhaps this is a test of our true desires. If He answered immediately, would we truly realize how much we desire Him. In addition, God wants us on His timeframe. We have become so fixated on instant gratification as a society, that we have lost touch with the fact that we are often told to be still and to be patient.

It is true that God rescues, and when He does, we need to exalt Him, but there is a saying that God’s timing is perfect. He is never early and He is never late. He is always on time. It is we who are impatient.

Do you wait patiently for the Lord?

Copyright 1998 – 2009 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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All have sinned

September 8, 2009

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
(Romans 3:23 (NIV))

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
(John 3:16-18)

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 6:23)

Since the beginning, God has had a plan for our redemption. Ever since Adam and Eve chose to disobey God, God has put into action a plan that would bring us back to Him in a righteous and spotless fashion.

It is a simple plan.

Since we could not be perfect on our own, God sent His Son, Jesus to be perfect for us. Throughout Jesus’ life, crucifixion and resurrection, He was blameless in the eyes of God. All we have to do is accept the fact that we cannot do it on our own and call on the name of Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

If we were capable of being perfect, we would not need a Savior, but we are born into sin and cannot escape from it by ourselves. Swallow your pride and receive what has been freely given to you. It cannot be earned, but it can be rejected.

Don’t reject God’s grace and mercy.

Copyright 1998 – 2009 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Controversial, but true

September 7, 2009

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

“You shall have no other gods before me.

“You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

“You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.

“You shall not murder.

“You shall not commit adultery.

“You shall not steal.

“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
(Exodus 20:3-17 (NIV))

Controversy surrounds these simple, yet profound statements in today’s society. All of the Judeo-Christian ethic lies on this foundation which states that there is only one God, life is sacred and to respect others. Many people do not wish to acknowledge these truths as truths, or, even worse, that they even exist at all. They have tried to turn them into the 10 suggestions. Let’s take a look at the wording and how it’s meaning would change if they were not stated as they are.

You shall not murder.

Simple enough! But what would be the ramifications if it were worded differently? Try to remove the “negative” aspect of the Commandment. It might read something like this: Respect all human life.

It doesn’t carry the same impact as “You shall not murder.” Try to restate the others in a positive aspect and see what the meanings sound like when you are through. They do not carry the same message. They become what society has tried to turn them into, the 10 suggestions and not the 10 Commandments.

We, as believers, have a responsibility to uphold these basic premises of faith and life. Truth is not relevant. Truth is always the truth, no matter when and where it may apply.

Have you turned the 10 Commandments into the 10 suggestions?

Copyright 1998 – 2009 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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God’s Word

September 4, 2009

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
(Hebrews 4:12 (NIV))

It is said that words often cut deeply. If the words of man can cut deeply into the hearts of those they are said to, how can we expect anything less from the Word of God, after all, it is sharpr than any two edged sword?

The infinite wisdom that comes from God is far greater than anything that can come from man, yet, people disregard the Bible as being relevant in their lives. No other words, spoken or written, have caused so much controversy throughout history. For those who believe, it is the ultimate reference for how we are to live our lives. It is capable of reaching each of us in unique ways when we need it to. It is capable of speaking directly to our hearts. It is capable of speaking to people in the situations that they are in. It is living, for no written word could ever begin to touch people, or convict people, in this manner if it were not of God.

There are many types of people with respect to God’s Word. There are those who whole-heartedly accept it and live by it. There are those that say that it is from God, but that it is no longer relevant to today’s society. There are those who claim that it is a good book, but not God’s Word, and then there are those who shun the very words that are written in it. No matter which category you may fall into, there is no denying that the Word of God causes people to look inwardly and inspect their own lives. For those who are willing to accept correction, it is amazing. For those who are not willing to admit human frailty or their own misguided actions, it is irrelevant and will eventually be their judgement.

Whatever your opinion, it is true that the Word of God can penetrate deeply into each and every one of us. The only thing that is left to be determined is where on the spectrum of acceptance or rejection that you fall.

Does God’s Word guide you and correct you, or do you ignore it and the still, small voice that is knocking at the door to your heart?

Copyright 1998 – 2009 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Rejection and Acceptance

September 3, 2009

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?
(Romans 11:15 (NIV))

What do you think of when you think of rejection?

Is it a cause for tears and sadness? Is it a cause for depression and anxiety? Or is it a cause for rejoicing?

That sounds extremely strange!

Who in their right mind would rejoice over rejection?

When Paul wrote these words to the believers in Rome, he was speaking of the rejection of Jesus by the nation of Israel. Jesus, who was sent first to the Jew and then to the Gentile

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.
(Romans 1:16 (NIV))

Sometimes rejection is not as bad as it may seem on the surface. Often, it is simply a delay of what is to come until you are better prepared to deal with it. Other times, it is a simple redirection into something that is much better. The rejection of Jesus by the Jews is a good example. Through this rejection, which many throughout history have used to condemn the Jews, we, as Gentiles, have been given an opportunity to receive salvation.

I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in.
(Romans 11:25 (NIV))

Rejection often brings about unforeseen opportunities. It is a matter of perspective. If you take rejection and let it control you, you will miss out on what God has in store for you. If you stop to think about it, rejection is merely a redirection of acceptance. If you look at your own salvation, this becomes evident, especially if you consider what would have happened if the Jews accepted Jesus two thousand years ago.

Copyright 1998 – 2009 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Trust

September 2, 2009

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.
(John 14:1 (NIV))

All too often we let the world get the best of us. We let it burden us with all of the trials and tribulations that it has at its ready to throw at us. We see all of these trials and soon we are overrun with distress and grief about all of the things that are wrong in our lives.

Let’s face facts. Not a single one of us is capable of saying that our life is perfect and trouble free. We live in a world that has allowed sin to take control. What is sin? Sin is not just doing things that are wrong such as lying, stealing and killing. Sin is doing anything that is out of the will of God. Sin literally means that we have missed the mark. We have allowed our hearts to be troubled as a result of our missing the mark.

Take heart, for we have a savior who has not missed the mark. In fact, He has not only hit the mark, but He has accomplished it so well that all of our errant attempts have been forgiven. Even if we have missed the mark so badly that we don’t even remember seeing the target, we have been forgiven. All that we have to do is trust in God and trust in Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, for He has hit the mark and has allowed us to claim His marksmanship as our own. We have been allowed to place our fate in His hands.

Placing anything of importance in someone else’s hands requires a trust. When you place your eternal salvation in the hands of another, that is the greatest trust that you can have. Only one person can truly deliver on that trust. Only God has the authority to allow that deliverance.

Where do you place your trust? Is your heart troubled or free?

Copyright 1998 – 2009 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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