Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us

January 29, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
(Hebrews 12:1 (NIV))

How do you see your life?

Is it a series of one mishap after another? Do you find yourself never finishing what you have started? Do you always find excuses for the things that you let distract you?

Don’t be discouraged, for that is human nature and we all have faced this at one time or another. The key is to allow the Holy Spirit to work within us to bring to fruition the plans that God has for us.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
(Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV))

God wants to bless us just as He blessed Jabez. God has plans for us. Plans that embrace us being a blessing to those whom we meet. If we don’t embrace those plans for ourselves, then we cannot finish the race that God has laid out before us. We will not persevere. We will not touch the lives that God has planned for us to touch. Our race may very well be the only glimpse of Jesus that some people will ever see. The prize that we may miss out on could be someone else’s salvation.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.
(1 Corinthians 9:24 (NIV))

Don’t let things of this world hinder your witness. Persevere in the race that God has laid out before you. Someone may depend on your perseverance.

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Is your heart God’s dwelling place?

January 28, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

How lovely is your dwelling place,
O LORD Almighty!
(Psalms 84:1 (NIV))

When we think of this, we think of the temple in Heaven in all of its glory.

There is another dwelling place.

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
(Ephesians 3:16-19 (NIV))

We are told that our hearts can be where Jesus will dwell. We are told that we can invite Jesus into our hearts. We are told that the Holy Spirit will come to live within us. God’s Word is very clear about where God, in His Triune majesty, wants to live. He desires a place within each of us.

Think about that. What does that say about the way that God feels about us? We cannot see it through our sinful nature, but the way that God sees us, the way that God designed us, He sees us in this manner. We were created to have God live within us. We were created to be temples of His Holy Spirit.

I don’t feel lovely. After all, I know all of the things that I have ever done. Sin makes us feel anything but lovely, but God sees beyond our sin and sees us for the person He created us to be. Because of this, He desires to dwell with us and to dwell within us.

Do you see yourself as lovely? God does, for He sees beyond your sin. Do you need help to see beyond your sin? Invite Jesus into your heart. He will change your perspective.

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Hold on to what you have!

January 27, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
(Revelation 3:11-13 (NIV))

Hold on to what you have!

Have you honestly given thought to what you do have? What was the first thing that came to mind when you read that question? Was it your home? Perhaps it was your car. Perhaps you are not as material obsessed and what you thought of was your family. Perhaps you even went to the point of thinking about your life and all that you have been blessed with.

Now, step back and take a look at all of these things through the eyes of God. Did He send Jesus to die on the cross so that you could have a nice home or a nice car? Did He send Jesus so that you could have a loving family? Do you honestly think that Jesus came so that you could live your life in any manner that you choose?

Jesus came to offer to us the most prized possession that we could ever be given. He came to offer us salvation from our sins and the laws of sin and death. If you profess Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, then that is what you have. It is a possession that cannot be taken away, but it can be relinquished by turning away. It can be lost by not recognizing the tricks and lies of the enemy and turning to these life robbing sins once more. Professing a belief in Jesus as your Lord and Savior is only the beginning. It is a starting point, but it is not the finish line of the race. Paul often spoke of faith in Jesus as a race, a race that we must not only start, but one that we must finish.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
(Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV))

We cannot sign up to run the race and then sit on the sidelines. We will not receive the prize. We must hold on to what we have. We must embrace what we have been given. We must not allow anything or anyone to keep us from the finish that will allow us to receive the prize.

Hold on to what you have!

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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God is calling. Are you answering or are you letting voice mail get it?

January 26, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints.
(Ephesians 1:18 (NIV))

If each of us could only come to this knowledge in our own lives, what an impact we, as the Body of Christ, could make in our world!

We have a superficial knowledge, but do we truly have an in-depth understanding of what God has called us to? We know that He has called us to eternal life through the shed blood of His Son, Jesus, but what do we do with that knowledge? Do we live each moment acknowledging the grace and mercy that has been given to us? Do we praise God for what He has been able to give us in spite of ourselves? Do we live with that knowledge as an ever-present reminder of God, or do we lock it away, only letting it out on Sundays?

God has given us a tremendous gift. A gift that He did not have to give. He gave us salvation. he gave us a way out of our sin! What have we done with that gift?

God wants to bless us, but, we have to be faithful with what we have been given before He will trust us with more!

His master replied, `Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
(Matthew 25:23(NIV))

Faithfulness means more than keeping God’s commands. It also means that we need to be faithful to the calling that God has on each of our lives. He has something for each of us that is as different as each of us are. Yet, there is one thing that is common in these tasks. We are to tell others of God’s grace and mercy. We must be faithful to that central calling that we all share.

To the faithful you show yourself faithful,
to the blameless you show yourself blameless,
to the pure you show yourself pure,
but to the crooked you show yourself shrewd.
(Psalms 18:25-26(NIV))

For the LORD loves the just
and will not forsake his faithful ones.
(Psalms 37:28(NIV))

Are you responding to your calling? Will you be rewarded for your faithfulness?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you an active part of the royal priesthood?

January 25, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
(1 Peter 2:9-10 (NIV))

This was written about the early church and it still applies today to the true church of Jesus Christ.

God has called us out of all types of darkness to be His people. He has called us, and is calling us, from every nation, every tribe and every tongue. We must remember this. Belonging to God through the grace and mercy given to us through Jesus Christ is not a yellow, white or black issue. It is not an American issue. It is not a male, female issue. It is a grace and mercy issue.

When Jesus calls us, we will not be surrounded by people who are exactly like us. We will be surrounded by the children of God who will come from everywhere. We are a chosen people, but the criteria for being chosen is not skin color or ethnicity. It is simply a matter of the heart. If we have heard God’s call upon our lives and have accepted grace and mercy through Jesus Christ, then we, and everyone else who answers the call, are part of the chosen people, the royal priesthood, the holy nation that belongs to God.

We must rejoice in our faith and not keep it for only those who are like us.

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What is the focus of your prayers?

January 22, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone– for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men–the testimony given in its proper time. And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle–I am telling the truth, I am not lying–and a teacher of the true faith to the Gentiles.
(1 Timothy 2:1-7 (NIV))

Something struck me about this passage as I read it this evening, so much so that I had to read the first sentence many times over.

What is it that you pray for?

Do you pray for things that only concern you? If that is the case, what is the criteria for deciding if it concerns you? Do you pray for family and friends? Are we not all part of God’s family and everyone can qualify to be a friend that we haven’t met yet? Do you pray for the actions of others, such as government officials, that may have an impact on your life? Don’t these same people have an impact on a multitude of lives in the very same manner that they impact yours? Do you pray for God’s guidance and His grace in winning over the hearts of your enemies so that you may not be in fear of what these enemies will do? Do you pray for the victims of catastrophes even when they are not people whom you know? Do you pray for those who go without simply because you feel the pain that they must be going through? Do you pray for God to bring His Kingdom to this world so that sin and suffering will cease? Do you pray for those who do not know Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior because you cannot stand the thought of anyone perishing?

We are taught to pray for God’s Will to be done first, then to pray for others, and then to pray for our own needs. How many of us actually do it in this manner? We tend to pray outward for we have placed ourselves as the center of our own little universe. Very few of us, including myself, can stayed focused so that we place God at the center at all times. Even when we place ourselves at the center, we rarely make it outside our immediate circle of influence when we pray.

Pray is a wonderfully powerful thing. Prayer is just like any tool in that in the right hands it can be the catalyst for wonderful things. In the wrong hands, or the wrong intentions and priorities, it can be of little use. We must all learn to pray for the things that are of God, for these things are a blessing to all.

“This, then, is how you should pray:
” `Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one. ‘
(Matthew 6:9-13 (NIV))

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What to do! What to do!

January 21, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.
(James 4:17 (NIV))

We are all sinners! Even if we do not know what we should do, we are sinners. Ignorance is no excuse. But, is it possible to take that to the other extreme? If we know the law, yet we still do wrong, are we worse than those who do not? We are accountable for our actions. We are more accountable if we know what we should do, and yet, do not do it.

Is it possible that God would hold those who know what they should do to be more accountable than those who do not know? It is very possible. But, no human is perfect. Even though we may know what we should do, we are not always going to make the right decision. This is where grace enters the picture. It is through Jesus Christ that we have been given grace.

The Law (knowing what to do) condemns us in our sin. No one can live a perfectly sinless life. Grace, through the gift of Jesus Christ, has allowed us to have a second chance, and sometimes a third, fourth and fifth. Everyone is a sinner. It is a matter of attitude towards the sin and God that allows us to be forgiven and filled with grace and mercy.

What is your attitude today?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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If pride goes before destruction, where are you headed?

January 20, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

Pride goes before destruction,
a haughty spirit before a fall.
(Proverbs 16:18 (NIV))

Do you consider yourself to be a proud person?

You can take pride in your work. You can take pride in your family. You can take pride in your country. You can take pride in what God has blessed you with. However, there is a line that we must not cross when it comes to pride. When we allow pride to turn into conceit, we have gone too far.

When we become blatantly and disdainfully proud of our own accomplishments, then we have crossed the line. This line is characterized by personality traits that will not allow anyone or anything to be glorified above you. Does this sound familiar? This is the very sin that caused Satan to rebel against God. A haughty spirit rules the very heart, mind and soul of the one who possesses it. Nothing else matters except the person who possesses it, and just like the fall of Satan from his elevated position in heaven, all will be brought down.

Don’t get me wrong. It is okay to take pride in things, but don’t let it make you a proud person. A proud person will not admit that anything they do is wrong or less than perfect.

Humility is a fantastic counter balance to avoid becoming proud. Humility softens the spirit so that it does not become arrogant. The best way to exercise humility is by spending time with God and earnestly seeking His face.

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
(James 4:10 (NIV))

Be still, and know that I am God;
(Psalm 46:10a (NIV))

if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
(2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV))

Pride and humility are interesting opposites. God created us as equals – we are all children of God. Pride exalts us above the others whom god loves. Humility allows us to realize that we are no better than anyone else. Most of us fall somewhere in the middle on most occasions. We must each strive to spend less time being proud and more time being humble so that we may know the very heart of God.

On which end of the spectrum do you reside?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What is that you boast of?

January 19, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.
(2 Corinthians 11:30 (NIV))

If it were only that easy!

Human nature has its way far too often and we boast about things that we have done. We boast about the number of points that we scored in the big game. We boast about the size of the deer that we may have shot. We boast about our houses, our jobs and our cars. We even boast about our children, but do we ever boast about our weaknesses?

Do we boast that we cannot pay our bills? Do we boast that we have a problem with sin? Do we boast that our marriages may be on shaky ground? Do we boast that we are not capable of doing anything on our own?

When we boast about what we have done or can do, it is looked upon as ego. When we boast about our shortcomings, it is looked upon as failure. No matter what we boast about, it is a sign that something is wrong with our priorities.

How can we boast about our weaknesses in such a manner so that they do not sound like we are trying to create a pity party for ourselves? I, like everyone alive, have found myself in situations where my talk could have been taken as a quest for pity. However, we must allow the Holy Spirit to live through us and to speak through us so that when we speak of our weaknesses, we give glory to God for giving us the strength and faith to see it through.

Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
(Psalm 23:4 (NIV))

If God is with us, how can we feel pity for ourselves? He will provide for us through our weaknesses. It is in this fact that we should boast and not of our weaknesses or even our so called greatness. We need only boast in the power and strength of our God.

What is that you boast of?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do you possess a healthy fear?

January 18, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

An oracle is within my heart
concerning the sinfulness of the wicked:
There is no fear of God
before his eyes.
For in his own eyes he flatters himself
too much to detect or hate his sin.
The words of his mouth are wicked and deceitful;
he has ceased to be wise and to do good.
Even on his bed he plots evil;
he commits himself to a sinful course
and does not reject what is wrong.
(Psalms 36:1-4 (NIV))

No fear of God!

Is it possible that we, as a society, have reached that very point in our existence? Individually, many of us profess a belief and a faith in God, yet, do we fear God? Do each of us truly fear what God can and will do to us if we have not accepted His Son, Jesus, as our personal Lord and Savior?

What about collectively? Do we, as a society, still have fear and reverence for the God of all creation, or do our very actions sling our sins directly into the very face of God? Do we acknowledge Him only at the personal level and leave Him out of anything that has to do with society?

How many pray during the day? Do you pray in the morning? Perhaps it is during the day, or do you pray at bed time? How many of us pray for God’s grace and then willingly do something that is contrary to what He asks of us? Personally, I don’t finish up prayers with any thoughts of breaking God’s heart, yet I am sure that it happens far too many times. I don’t intend to do this, but it happens. I feel remorse upon the realization of my actions.

It is a matter of attitude. We all sin. However, it is those who plot and scheme to do wrong that this passage speaks of. Is it just me, or does it seem that this type of sin is on the increase? This is what was written of in Psalm 36.

We live in interesting times. We must not be deceived by the sinful course that society appears to be taking. We must focus on Jesus. We must seek after God’s own heart in all that we do.

The fear of God is a healthy thing, for it shows that your understand the way in which His world works.

Do you fear God?

Copyright 1998 – 2009 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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