Do not envy a violent man

April 30, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Do not envy a violent man
or choose any of his ways,
for the LORD detests a perverse man
but takes the upright into his confidence.
The LORD’s curse is on the house of the wicked,
but he blesses the home of the righteous.
He mocks proud mockers
but gives grace to the humble.
The wise inherit honor,
but fools he holds up to shame.
(Proverbs 3:31-35 (NIV))

It is easy to get taken in by the ways of the world. How often have we seen those who follow the world receive great reward, or at least worldly reward? It is not always easy to stay focused on God’s promises when the world offers us things that we can see and touch now. But, we must not resort to the ways of those whom God spoke of in Proverbs. We must remember that we have a much greater reward to focus on – Eternity with God. We must always strive to remember that the world rewards wickedness and pride, but remember what Jesus said.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Pray for those who are described above. Do NOT envy them. Their reward is not what you want.

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Would we recognize Jesus if He were among us?

April 29, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.

He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”

They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?”

“What things?” he asked.

“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.”

He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.

When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.

While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”
(Luke 24:13-39 (NIV))

The last person that these two men expected to meet was the man that they saw crucified and buried. They had heard the rumors that the tomb was empty, but let’s face facts, they had never seen anyone come back to life, especially after such a brutal death.

They walked and talked with this person for what was probably a few hours and they had no idea that it was Jesus. They did not expect Him to be alive so how could they expect Him to be walking with them?

Are we any different today?

We have the written accounts of His appearances after the resurrection, but do we expect Jesus to walk with us in the things that we face and in the journeys that we take? I would venture to say that these two men are not unique in history. Has Jesus walked among us and we not know it? Would we recognize Him? Would He recognize us as His disciples by the way that we act?

Far too many people believe that God does not move in the world today because we have no written account of it since the New Testament was given to us. Jesus told us otherwise.

But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
(John 14:26 (NIV))

Do we look for God in all things? Do we hear the Holy Spirit in our lives? Would we recognize Jesus if He were among us?

Pray that we may have open eyes, ears, hearts and minds so that we may recognize when God is working among us.

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

April 28, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”
(Matthew 9:16-17 (NIV))

We are those wineskins. Jesus came to give us new life. Without this new life, the gift of salvation and eternal life with God would have “burst” us. Even Moses, who was God’s servant and did not see death, feared to look upon God.

“Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Then he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God. (Exodus 3:5-6)

If God had poured out His grace and mercy on us without re-making us in His image, it would have destroyed us. But, instead, God takes the old wineskins that were cracked and old from sin and death and renewed them by creating in us a clean heart. A heart that is ready to accept the new wine of His Holy Spirit.

Our hearts are the wineskins. They can be hard and brittle and incapable of change, or they can be soft and pliable and readily welcome whatever God may decide to pour into them. It is a matter of attitude. We can decide the state of our “wineskins.”

Are you cracked and ready to burst, or are you refreshed and overflowing?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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God sees the difference.

April 27, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

This is an illustration for the present time, indicating that the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper. They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings–external regulations applying until the time of the new order
(Hebrews 9:9-10 (NIV))

External regulations applying until the time of the new order!

Carefully consider the implications of that statement.

It sounds too much like we, as humanity, prefer to put on a false front in order to appear to be doing what we should do. This false front is not what we truly are, but, rather it is a simple covering that hides the true person within. Consider a house that is is need of repair. A fresh coat of paint will hide many imperfections and make the house look like something that it is not. It will appear to be spotless and without flaw, but just beneath the surface lies the imperfections that will soon show through the fresh coat of paint. You simply cannot make a rotting shell structurally sound by painting over it.

The same is true of our inner most desires.

If we long to sin, putting on a suit and going to church will not change our heart no more than sitting in the garage will make us a car.

God gave us instructions on how we are to live and how we are to treat Him, each other, and ourselves. If you stop to think about the Ten Commandments, they are all based on relationship and maintaining relationship, first with God and His commands, then with family (father and mother), and then with others. Exodus 20:1-17 tells us exactly how we are to be in relationship with God and with each other. These words can be taken to heart and lived out as part of our true being, or they can simply be a false front that we use to hide our true self.

God sees the difference.

He knows what is in our hearts. External facades will not hide the truth from God. Only a true acceptance of His grace and mercy will do that. We must have an understanding of professing Jesus as your Lord as well as your Savior. This will open up your heart to allow what is under that fresh coat of paint to be remade. We cannot become good enough from the outside in. We must allow God’s grace and mercy to work on us from the inside out.

He went on: “What comes out of a man is what makes him `unclean.’ For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man `unclean.’ ”
(Mark 7:20-23 (NIV))

If what comes out of us is what makes us unclean, we must stop trying to deal with the external and allow God to deal with the internal in our lives.

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do you have the faith to stand firm?

April 26, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
(John 14:12 (NIV))

Do you believe that you can do what Jesus did?

I know that I have a difficult time believing that a sinner like me could do the same things that the Son of God was capable of doing when He walked upon this earth.

Even though I find it difficult to believe, I must accept it as the truth, for I believe that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God. God, by His very nature cannot sin by stating something that is not true.

Jesus gave them this answer: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.
(John 5:19 (NIV))

If Jesus cannot tell a lie, then by the very words that He spoke, we must believe that they are true. Each of us has the capability of doing what Jesus did if we simply have faith in Him.


That is the key.

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, `Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. ”
(Matthew 17:20 (NIV))

If we have faith, we will do what Jesus did. It only takes a little faith, because faith, like the little mustard seed, will grow into something majestic in stature if we only allow it to take root.

Picture yourself doing the things that Jesus did.

Do you have the faith to stand firm in that promise?

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

April 23, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
(James 1:2-4 (NIV))

I was made aware of something tonight. Something that I have struggled with for quite some time. Something that I have worried about and prayed about.

Many of you know that my seventeen year old son has Aspergers Syndrome. It has limited him to some extent and I have often prayed about his life as an adult. At the same time, it has probably been a blessing in disguise. If it were not for this diagnoses, he would not have discovered what he truly loves. He would not have been put into the situations in which he has discovered his driving passion. He would not have been given the flexibility to pursue that passion. His perseverance has opened my eyes and I no longer feel the anxiety that I used to feel. But, he is a teenager, so I will still continue to pray for him.

In short, his trials have been my trials. My trials have also been my trials. I felt that I had to help him bear the burden, but now I see that God has countered that burden with a wonderful gift. Perhaps God planned the so-called burden so that the gift would come to life. My son’s perseverance is making him mature. It is making him complete, just as God planned and it is pure joy to see.

Beauty and maturity come out of trials and perseverance. Listening to a 17 year old play jazz improvisation on the saxophone and then receive a round of applause for his efforts is wonderful. When it is your son who is making the audience take note of what is going on, it is the greatest feeling in the world. It makes me wonder how much pride God feels when we do something good in His eyes.

God is maturing each of us into what He wants us to become. Don’t fixate on what is the current state of affairs, after all, God loves us too much to leave us as we are. I long for the growth and the maturity in my life, even though it will come through trials.

Are you willing to persevere and mature into the person that God desires you to be?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Is there a good fight in you?

April 22, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
(1 Timothy 6:12 (NIV))

What is your idea of fighting the good fight?

Do you have to fight your fight exactly the same way as someone else fights theirs?

Think about that concept.

God created each of us to be a unique creation. No two people are alike. No two people share exactly the same desires and passions. Even so called identical twins are not the same in all aspects. How, then, can we expect each of us within the Body of Christ to be exactly the same as we are?

It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
(Ephesians 4:11-13 (NIV))

God created each of us with different gifts and abilities. It stands to reason that since we all have different gifts and abilities, each of us will have completely different life experiences. We may have similar experiences to others, but they will not be identical. Each of us have a unique life and each of us have a unique fight that we must fight to stay true to our professed faith. Some may have to battle addictions. Some may have to battle greed. Some may battle lust. Others may battle ego. One thing is certain, though. Since we live in a fallen world ruled by sin, we will have our battles to fight.

The good fight requires faith. It requires us to stand firm in the face of the enemy. It requires us to be prepared for battle, for it will come.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
(Ephesians 6:10-18 (NIV))

Is there a good fight in you?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you faithful with what God has given you?

April 21, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, “I gave birth to him in pain.” Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.
(1 Chronicles 4:9-10 (NIV))

How do you think of yourself in comparison to Jabez? Do you consider yourself to be blessed? Do you think that your territory has been enlarged? Is God’s hand with you?

What have you asked God for in the past? Were the things that you asked for a selfish request or were they something that would enlarge God’s territory if He granted them?

Has God granted your prayers and requests?

Think about that for a moment.

Now, think about what you asked for.

If you are like me, all too often our prayers and requests fall short of what God desires us to ask for. How do you think you compare with Jabez, after all, Jabez was more honorable than his brothers? What made Jabez more honorable? Was it his faith? Was it his devotion? Perhaps it was his righteousness. It may even have been something as simple as his spirit of humility. Whatever it was, God noticed.

I would venture to say that Jabez possessed the very traits that we know as the fruits of the Spirit.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
(Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV))

Does God love the sinner? I think that we all know the answer to that question? He loves the sinner enough to have sent His only Son, Jesus, to die for our sins. He loves the sinner with such conviction that He was willing to do whatever it would take to redeem each sinner.

Does God love the righteous? He loves the righteous with the same conviction as the love He shows for the sinner. Could the request that Jabez made have simply been a plea to God to use him so that others would see His glory? Was Jabez a sinner? I am sure that he was, for all have sinned. Was Jabez a righteous man? From what we know of him, he probably desired to do what was pleasing to God. It is not outside of Biblical principles to believe that God rewarded Jabez for his desires, for he appears to have been like David.

After removing Saul, he made David their king. He testified concerning him: `I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’
(Acts 13:22 (NIV))

God loves each of us. He has called each of us to do His will. Perhaps Jabez was like the servant in the story about the talents. He was faithful with what the Master gave him.

“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 25:21 (NIV))

Are you faithful with what God has given you?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What do you live by?

April 20, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

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. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
(Romans 1:16-17 (NIV))

Are you ashamed to share the gospel?

Think long and hard about that question. Which is more likely to happen – you repeat the joke that you heard the other day or you tell the same person about how Jesus has changed your life? What type of a message are you conveying if the joke is off color and something that should not be repeated? Have you ever stopped to think that perhaps what you don’t do is having more of an impact than what you do?

Place yourself in this scenario. You are the guest of honor and featured speaker at a respected business convention. The place is packed. What will the audience think of you if the first words out of your mouth put down the event and the city because it was out of your way to come to this location? What will be their reaction if you praise the kindness of the host and the beauty of the city?

What if words are not your strong suit?

Preach always. When necessary, use words.
(St. Francis of Assisi)

Perhaps your actions are what people really pay attention to. Do your actions reflect your faith? Do your actions speak louder than your words? What do your actions say? Do your actions speak a different message than the words that you say?

According to Merriam-Webster, righteousness is “acting in accord with divine or moral law : free from guilt or sin.” Righteousness is basically thinking, speaking, acting and living according to what God desires. We are to live by His Word. We are to reflect His Word in all that we do, even when no one is watching, even when it is not politically correct to profess a faith in Jesus.

Faith is the backbone, it is the foundation of a life lived in Christ. It is not something to be turned on and off when it is convenient. It is what we should live by.

What do you live by?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do you obey the law?

April 19, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

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))

Do you obey the law?

Do you always drive the speed limit? Do you ever throw something from your car? Do you sometimes cross busy streets in places other than the crosswalks? If you do any of these, then you do not obey the laws one hundred percent of the time.

If you are ever caught doing any of these things, then there will be a penalty to pay.

Do you obey God’s laws?

Have you ever murdered? Probably not.

Have you ever taken the Lord’s name in vain? Many of us probably have done so out of frustration or anger.

Have you ever committed adultery? Hopefully not.

Have you ever stolen anything? Probably. Even an ink pen on accident could be considered stealing. It did not belong to you and you left with it.

What type of penalties would you expect for any of these breaches of God’s law?

Think of the worst possible penalty that could be paid and that is exactly what Jesus paid on the cross for each of us. He willingly paid the penalty for all of the things that we have done or ever will do. He paid the price for the law of sin and death so that we could claim freedom from its hold on us. Through Jesus, we can claim that our penalties have been paid in full. All that we have to do is accept this grace and mercy.

We will still slip up and break God’s laws just like we break human laws, but we can be forgiven for these transgressions. It is a matter of the heart. We must long to do what God desires us to do. If this is our true heart, then God will see and forgive through the atoning blood of Jesus.

We are free from the law of sin and death! Share the good news!

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