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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Allow Jesus to free your enslaved heart.

April 16, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Harlotry, wine, and new wine enslave the heart.
(Hosea 4:11 (NKJV))

Have you ever set out a trap to catch a mouse? Chances are that you set out something as bait to entice the mouse to come near the danger. Once it came close, it was drawn to the very thing that would eventually cause it to lose its life.

Sin is the same. Sin is the bait that Satan uses to draw us into his trap. Once we are enticed to come close and sample the physical sensations that sin can bring, he knows that he has us hooked. Once hooked, he sets the trap to close in around us, causing us to thrash about just like the mouse once it gets caught in the trap. The sensations of the sin are the very things that enslave the heart and can cause us to eventually lose our life.

Sin enslaves the heart. It kills the body and it kills the soul.

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

What do you consider to be the greatest sin? Have you committed that sin? Let’s stop for a moment and take one commandment.

You shall not steal.
(Exodus 20:15 (NIV))

Have you ever taken something that did not belong to you? Even taking an ink pen by mistake means that you have taken something that did not belong to you. That makes you a thief. You have sinned in the eyes of God. Now, imagine sins that have a sensation that entraps and enslaves. Can anyone resist the temptation?

At once the Spirit sent him out into the desert, and he was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.
(Mark 1:12-13 (NIV))

Jesus resisted.

Through Him, we can be redeemed.

“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))

Resist sin. Focus on Jesus and the salvation that He brings. Allow Jesus to free your enslaved heart.

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Come, let us return to the LORD.

April 15, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“Come, let us return to the LORD.
He has torn us to pieces
but he will heal us;
he has injured us
but he will bind up our wounds.
After two days he will revive us;
on the third day he will restore us,
that we may live in his presence.
(Hosea 6:1-2 (NIV))

It never ceases to amaze me how God spoke what would happen hundreds of years before it actually came to be. Hosea is another prophet of God who was used to speak the truth of God’s plan long before He actually fulfilled it.

Israel, and the whole world, had been torn to pieces as a result of sin. The world was further torn apart as a result of disobedience after the flood when they unified and built the Tower of Babel. Humanity suffered injury not only to the physical nature of our existence, but also to that ever-present and dangerous pride.

We were lost in our sin. We were wounded for our transgressions.

After two days, God revived us. On the third day, He restored us to righteousness. Through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ, who died on the cross to save us from our sins and on the third day, He arose from the grave, we have been restored to a relationship with God the Father. Once again, we may live in His presence.

Jesus paid it all!

But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
(Isaiah 53:5 (NIV))

Our transgressions are many, yet, Jesus willingly took them upon Himself. For two days He was dead. For two days, our hope was buried. On the third day, He arose and He restored us.

As Hosea wrote, “Come, let us return to the LORD.”

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Don’t stray from the words of knowledge

April 14, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Stop listening to instruction, my son,
and you will stray from the words of knowledge.
A corrupt witness mocks at justice,
and the mouth of the wicked gulps down evil.
Penalties are prepared for mockers,
and beatings for the backs of fools.
Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler;
whoever is led astray by them is not wise.
A king’s wrath is like the roar of a lion;
he who angers him forfeits his life.
It is to a man’s honor to avoid strife,
but every fool is quick to quarrel.
(Proverbs 19:27 – 20:3 (NIV))

Instruction is often seen as folly in the eyes of the student. But, wisdom can only come through instruction. If the person does not learn the lessons early in life, then that person is bound to learn those missed lessons through the “school of hard knocks.” Proverbs speaks of people who have not learned these lessons early in life. Corruption, mockery, drunkenness, rage, and fighting are all results of the failure to heed the instructions that are meant for the good of the person.

Could God’s instructions be the same as the worldly instructions. The physical law that states “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction” also holds true for the spiritual world. The vices that Proverbs speaks of are also spiritual truths. Someone who is mature and wise spiritually would not be prone to any of the corruption, mockery, drunkenness, rage and fighting. They would listen to the voice of God and heed His instruction in all that they do.

It is hard to not let human nature creep into your life. It is a constant spiritual battle to not let our sinful nature take control. We must remember that sin leads to death, and because of our fallen nature, we live in sin. Without the grace and mercy of God the Father through the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ, we would all be spiritually like those that Proverbs speaks of.

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Clay in the hands of the potter

April 13, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.
(Matthew 23:25-26 (NIV))

Just what is the root cause of sin?

Is it what we see on the outside that is sinful? Can a person live in the midst of sin and still be righteous?

Is it what we see on the outside that makes someone righteous? Can a person live in the midst of righteousness and still be a sinner?

It is a matter of character. It is a matter of the inner desires of a person that will determine exactly how they react in any given situation. What is on the inside will make a person achieve righteousness even in the midst of sin. It is what will make a person sin even in the midst of righteousness.

All throughout history, people have tried to start with the outside and present a facade of righteousness when their hearts were sinful. Jesus knows the heart. He knows that what is on the outside does not always reflect what is on the inside. He knows that the heart harbors ulterior motives that are not always what they appear to be on the surface.

There is a saying that the true nature of a person comes out when they are far from home. Nobody will know them when they do the things that they truly desire to do. If you were far away from home and everyone around you was doing something sinful, how would you react? Would you join in or would you stay true to what you profess at home?

Yet, O LORD, you are our Father.
We are the clay, you are the potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
(Isaiah 64:8 (NIV))

In the days of Jesus, clay was used for making many things, including cups and other vessels. If we are the clay in the hands of the potter, are we clean in the eyes of God?

How is the inside that only God can see?

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