Can you take it?

February 26, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
(Matthew 7:1-2 (NIV))

There is an old saying about giving as good as you get. Is that how we want to be known? Can we honestly say that when we judge others we expect to to be judged in like manner?

Think about that for a moment.

When we jump to conclusions and judge someone in a harsh manner, are we ready to receive in like kind? In other words, can we take it as well as we give it?

Judgment is such a funny thing. We have a tendency to judge quickly and apologize slowly. We have a tendency to jump to conclusions about someone even though we may not know anything about them.

Several years ago, a man came to my church for a revival service. It was on a weekday evening and he came and sat down. He was dirty and smelly and did not look like he had bathed in days. It would have been so easy to judge him and turn our backs on him. It would have been so easy to simply shun this person until he went away. And, to quote a famous saying, now for the rest of the story.

This man was relatively new to the area. If I remember correctly, he was visiting his brother who lived a few miles away. He owned a small construction company and had been on a job site all day and was going back to his brother’s house. He saw the sign out front advertising the revival and stopped. By all appearances, he was not what everyone expected him to be. He turned out to be an individual who brought life to our church through his energy and his desire to know and serve God. In fact, at one point during his stay in our area, he single handedly re-roofed a different church that had been set on fire.

Judgment is a funny thing. We only see the surface and then not clearly. In all of our frailties and shortcomings, we are not worthy to judge. Only God sees the heart. Only God is worthy to judge.

Will God reward you for your faith and acceptance, or will He judge you for your misguided judgment of others?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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One simple sentence can change the world!

February 25, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
(2 Corinthians 13:14 (NIV))

Paul knew how to use words.

In the second letter to the church at Corinth, he closed with what, in my opinion, is the ultimate prayer for those who strive to walk in their faith. Think about the words written above. This one simple sentence magnifies the Triune God in each one of His personas. It glorifies the attribute that we associate with each persona, and it asks that these attributes reside with us as we strive to walk in our faith.

One simple sentence.

One profoundly accurate picture of the God that we love. Perhaps it is more important to realize that this is one profoundly accurate picture of the God that loves us! Each of those characteristics are traits that God has that He has applied toward us. He has given us grace through Jesus. He has given us love through His gift of Jesus on the cross. He has given us fellowship with Himself and other believers through the empowering of the Holy Spirit.

God is love.

“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. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”
(John 3:16-21 (NIV))

Paul’s words to the church at Corinth is my prayer for each of us. May we be filled to overflowing with grace, love and fellowship in the name of our God, His only Son, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.

One simple sentence that means so much.

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Have you been touched?

February 24, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.
(1 John 3:16-20 (NIV))

Love is more than words. Jesus “loved” people to the point of laying down His life for all. The least we, as believers, can do is give up possessions to provide for the needs of others.

Love is not a feeling, it is an action. Contrary to today’s society that espouses that love is an emotion, love is a verb. If you truly love, then you are willing to do anything for the person that you love. It is not a physical “love” that the media often abuses, but a spiritual love in which you truly care about someone’s well-being. This type of love is what God wishes for us to have for one another. When we have this type of love, then we are closer to God and His Will.

We are to be “salt and light” to the world. Salt cannot touch something without leaving its distinctive flavor. Light cannot touch something without changing the appearance of what it touches. Godly love is the same. It cannot touch someone without forever effecting who it touches.

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do your actions validate your profession of faith?

February 23, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.
(James 2:20-24 (NIV))

It is true that we are saved by faith.

However, I want you to think about something very important.

What happens when you are truly excited about something? If you are a college football fan, how does your excitement manifest itself? If you love music, are you able to keep quiet? If you enjoy nature, do you spend all of your time inside?

Now, what is faith in comparison to these activities?

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
(Hebrews 11:1 (NIV))

If we are certain of something, we should not be shy about our certainty. It will manifest itself in the things that we do. If we truly have faith, then it is human nature that it will show itself in what we do. We can profess faith with our words, but a faith professed by word and deed is a faith that has taken root and will grow.

What do you think when you see someone professing faith, yet their actions do not validate that profession? Do others see this type of faith in you?

More importantly, when God looks at you, what type of faith do you want God to see?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Have you accepted your faith’s responsibility?

February 22, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that–and shudder.
(James 2:14-19 (NIV))

We are told that we will be know by our fruit. What fruit do you bear?

We are told that we cannot earn our way to salvation through works. Does this mean that we do not do good works?

We are told that actions speak louder than words. Are you actions louder than a whisper?

Too many members of the Body of Christ cling to the notion that because we are saved by grace and that we are freed from the law of sin and death, we are also free from doing good works. Too many believe that since good works do not get you into heaven, they are not needed. Nothing could be farther from the truth!

Works without faith will not save us. Faith saves us. However, faith without works is not a true manifestation of faith. When we are fully aware of the grace that we have been given, we should fully desire to share that love and grace with all that we see. We should not simply sit upon our laurels and falsely profess that we have our salvation and the salvation of everyone else is not our responsibility.

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”
(Mark 16:15-18 (NIV))

Jesus gave us the responsibility.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said, “Action springs not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility.”

Are you ready to accept the responsibility that Jesus has given us?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Listen for the whisper

February 19, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.”
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
(1 Kings 19:11-13 (NIV))

Elijah knew when God was near. He knew God well enough to know that God was not in the wind, the earthquake, or the fire. He knew that God was in the whisper.

Would we have known this?

In our society, we tend to see big and elaborate productions. We expect to be entertained, even in our churches. We miss the simple truth that God is not calling us to the big and elaborate. He is calling us to the whisper.

God wants us to come to Him in the quiet times when we truly can hear Him and learn. It is the quiet times that we will remember. Can you remember a single time when you learned somethign from the big and elaborate? Chances are you can’t.

God is calling us to Him in the stillness and the quiet. He wants us to know Him, not His miracles and wonders.

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

Have you heard a whisper lately?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you devoted?

February 18, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
(Acts 2:42 (NIV))

Have you ever wondered why the early church was so strong in its faith? It all boils down to one simple word – devotion. They devoted themselves to what they believed in. They devoted themselves to learning more about Jesus. They devoted themselves to being with each other so that they could learn from each other and encourage each other. They devoted themselves to remembering what Jesus did for them every time they gathered together for a meal. Most importantly, they devoted themselves to prayer. They knew that prayer is a powerful weapon against the enemy and they used it frequently.

How do we compare with respect to the churches mentioned in Acts? Do we have the same devotion? Do we eagerly learn all that we can about God’s Word and His Son? Do we eagerly fellowship with each other so that we may learn from each other and encourage each other? Is our version of breaking the bread mean that we have a potluck dinner after a Sunday service?

Think about those questions.

Now, be honest and reflect upon your prayer life. Do we devote ourselves to prayer? I know that we all have little things that we pray about routinely, but are we truly dedicated and devoted to a powerful prayer life? Do we pray earnestly when we are alone? Do we prayer collectively when we are together, or are our unified prayers more of a routine that is led by the pastor and we simply wait for the conclusion?

All of these things make for a strong church. When we fall short in one or in all of these areas, then we are not fulfilling what was intended for the Body of Christ as it fulfills its purpose in this world.

Does your church share the devotion described in Acts? Do you want it to? It is simple to get it started.

Are you devoted?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Wickedness or wisdom – It’s your choice

February 17, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

When the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, the hearts of the people are filled with schemes to do wrong. Although a wicked man commits a hundred crimes and still lives a long time, I know that it will go better with God-fearing men, who are reverent before God. Yet because the wicked do not fear God, it will not go well with them, and their days will not lengthen like a shadow.
(Ecclesiastes 8:11-13 (NIV))

Could this be the reason that our society has crime rates that are increasing? Our justice system is supposed to be the best in the world, yet, our crime rates seem to keep rising. What has made this happen?

We have removed prayer from schools. We have removed God from public life. We have become more concerned with the rights of the criminals than we are for the rights of the victim or for what is right in the eyes of God. We have situations where numerous people witness a man kill court officials and countless others, yet, we spend millions of dollars and months on a trial to determine if he is guilty. I know that there are cases of mistaken identity, but have we gone too far in following the letter of the law when it comes to criminal cases? What ever happened to common sense? What ever happened to the fear of doing wrong? What ever happened to the fear of God?

Could our societal issues all be attributed to the simple fact that our society no longer fears God? Have we grown so arrogant that we think ourselves to be wise in wickedness and righteousness?

We have become fools in the eyes of God. We no longer fear Him or His wrath. Yes, I said it. Wrath! God is a God of love, grace and mercy, but He will only forgive those who turn to Him. He will not forgive those who simply scheme to do evil. There is no wisdom to be found among evil for evil fears nothing. It only exists to steal, kill and destroy.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;
all who follow his precepts have good understanding.
To him belongs eternal praise.
(Psalm 111:10 (NIV))

Are you wise in your eyes or in the eyes of God?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Open up the gates to your pen

February 16, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me– just as the Father knows me and I know the Father–and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.
(John 10:14-16 (NIV))

Are we truly one flock?

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
(Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV))

I know that Jesus has given us the great commission, but do we truly open up to those who are different from us? Are we willing to allow other sheep into our pen? Do we fully embrace those whom Jesus has embraced? Do we truly listen to His voice when it comes to those who are different than us?

Would we welcome a former Muslim into our “pen,” or would we hold this brother or sister in Christ at a distance out of fear of the unknown? We have become creatures of comfort and it is a shame that we are only comfortable around others who are like us. Think about all that we are missing when we do not fully embrace believers who are not like us.

Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
(1 Corinthians 12:14-20 (NIV))

No matter how we are told this fact, it is still the same simple fact. We are to be one in Christ. We are to embrace each believer just as Jesus embraces each believer. Have you ever stopped to think that in the eyes of the early Jewish believers, we are the ones who are different. What would have happened to the church if they had not overcome their fear of those who are different? I thank God that they were able to go beyond their comfort zones.

Open up your pen and go beyond your comfort zone.

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Have you lost your saltiness?

February 15, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.
(Matthew 5:13 (NIV))

Jesus told us to be the salt of the earth. We are to season our lives and the lives of those around us with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Let the “flavor” of God be presented through what we do and say.

Jesus also gave us a warning in this verse. We are not to let our “saltiness” (our witness to the world) become ineffective. Once salt has lost its ability to season, it is useless. God is telling us to keep what is from Him and not lose sight of Him, or we will lose our ability to “season” the world.

“Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other.”
(Mark 9:50)

Salt is a strong seasoning, yet when added to food, it blends to make a good balance. We must have “salt” (strength in God) and rely on that strength to do what God wishes for us to do and balance it in our lives.

Salt adds flavor.

Do you still have your “flavor”?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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