How do you proclaim what you feel?

June 30, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.
(Colossians 4:2-4 (NIV))

Paul’s words made me pause and reflect for a moment, especially the last sentence.

Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.
(Colossians 4:4 (NIV))

It was Paul’s desire to proclaim the Gospel. It was his desire to be understood. It was his desire to see people come to a saving knowledge of Jesus. Because of this, Paul felt that he had to do what he was doing. Based on his own words, it was not something that he did because he simply wanted to. It was not something that he did because he had nothing better to do. It was something that he felt compelled to do. In the eyes of Jewish society, he walked away from so much. He walked away from a life that every Jewish person dreamed of having.

Do you walk away from something that society says is good because you want to? Would you walk away from a life of elevated status because you had nothing better to do? If you are like me, the only time that I would walk away from a life of prestige and elevated status is if something happened inside of me that made me see life in a completely different way.

Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.
(Acts 9:1-9 (NIV))

Saul had that experience. It changed him so much that God changed his name to reflect that change. When we encounter Jesus, we should expect a life changing experience. We should pray for a life changing experience. We should come away with a burning desire to proclaim the mystery of Christ, and proclaim it clearly, as we should.

Why should we have a desire to proclaim Jesus?

It is simply a matter of gratitude.

Think back on the most amazing gift that you have ever received. Maybe it was when you were a child. Maybe it was when you got married. Maybe it was a gift from a relative that you loved dearly. What did you do when you received that gift? Did you keep quiet? I honestly don’t think that anyone actually did that. In all likelihood, you told everybody about the gift that you received.

Now, think about the amazing gift that Jesus gave to you – the gift of salvation. Do you feel that same sense of gratitude for this gift that you did for your earthly gift? We should proclaim the mystery of Christ out of a deeply felt gratitude. We should proclaim it to all that we see.

It is all a matter of gratitude. How do you proclaim what you feel?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
Subscribe to daily email delivery

Advertisements

In truth

June 29, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

But the fact is that Christ has been raised from the dead. He has become the first of a great harvest of those who will be raised to life again.
(1 Corinthians 15:20 (NLT))

Just what do you consider to be a fact?

According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, a fact is a thing done, something that has actual existence, an actual occurrence, or a piece of information presented as having objective reality – in fact : in truth.

I like that last one – “in truth.” Paul wrote to the people at Corinth about what he knew to be true. He had persecuted fellow Jews who claimed a faith in Jesus. He had his Damascus road experience that blinded him and also opened his eyes to the truth. He knew people who had seen Jesus die and then be resurrected. There was no mistaking the truth, for Paul had witnessed these events and had many of them happen to him.

I find it interesting that two thousand years later, people are saying that the accounts of Jesus’ death and resurrection are not true. They are so far removed from the events that they have no one to interview. They have no one to listen to, or words to read of anyone who saw these events.

Isn’t it a shame that these people simply refuse to believe the Bible and the written accounts of the people who knew Jesus and who saw these events unfold? These are the same type of people who can read a simple sentence and twist the meaning around so that it sounds nothing like what was written.

Regardless of what people like this say, there is one fact. Paul wrote about it to the people at Corinth. We can still read his words today. The simple fact is that Jesus died and rose again.

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.
(Colossians 3:1 (NIV))

Professing a faith in Jesus as your Lord and savior brings salvation. The fact that Jesus has been raised from the dead should be enough to strengthen your faith that you will be part of that great harvest.

What is fact to you?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
Subscribe to daily email delivery


How is your gift to God?

June 28, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the LORD your God has blessed you.
(Deuteronomy 16:17 (NIV))

Is this as difficult a passage for you to read as it is for me to read?

Think about that passage for a moment and be honest with yourself.

Do you give to the Lord anywhere near the amount that He has blessed you? You may be thinking that everything is His and you would be correct. You could also ask, “How can I give Him something that would mean anything in relation to what He already has?” With those types of questions and the obvious answers from a human perspective, too many of us simply give up and don’t try to give anything in return. True, we may write an occasional check on Sunday, but do we truly give in proportion to the way that the Lord has blessed us?

God does not want or need your money if it is giving without a desire to see His Kingdom come. He is capable of doing anything and everything without our money, for if it is in His will, He will provide. What He asks for is trust and faith. I can only imagine, but I honestly believe that since we hold money to be so dear to our lives, God asks us to give it. He does not ask out of His need, but out of our dependence upon it. If society chose to value anything as much is it does money, then God would ask us to give that as well.

I honestly think that God is trying to mature us to be in the image of Christ. Jesus gave all that He had to save us from the legal ramifications of our sins. Through the gift that Jesus gave, all can be offered salvation. This is the ultimate gift.

How can we give the ultimate gift to God?

I honestly believe that it has something to do with fruit !

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))

If we share the Gospel and truly desire to show the world the fruit that is within us, then we may be on the right track to giving a gift in proportion to the way the Lord has blessed us. This will soften our hearts and give us a heart that longs to give.

How is your gift to God?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
Subscribe to daily email delivery


Blessings?

June 25, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
(Romans 12:14 (NIV))

Is there anyone in your life that just seems to have it in for you? Maybe there is someone who just does things that always seem to have negative consequences for you and others. Do you know someone who constantly seems to change their story so that they always come out on top?

It is difficult to like these type of people. It is difficult to love these type of people. It is human nature to wish them harm, or at least to wish that they would go away. In most instances, when we have someone like this in our lives, it takes all of our strength to restrain ourselves to keep from cursing them.

If we encounter people like this, we are told to bless them.

Bless the very ones who cause us pain and persecute us?

It is so difficult to do this. It goes against everything that our earthly existence tells us to do. Perhaps that is why we are to bless those who persecute us. We learn to see others through the eyes of Jesus and realize that they, too, are fallen sinners in need of salvation.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
(Romans 12:17-21 (NIV))

We are not in a position to judge. Only God can see the heart and know if what they do is from bad intentions. We are to bless those who curse us.

Why?

Jesus wants us to react as He reacted. He wants us to be a witness for the Gospel and not a stain in the minds of those who do not know Him.

Our reactions to those who persecute us may be the very thing that God will be able to use to soften a heart and bring someone into His grace and mercy. If you curse those who curse you, is this a good example of God’s grace and mercy?

Who do you know that could use a blessing from you?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
Subscribe to daily email delivery


Faith through the wilderness

June 24, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

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))

Do you ever feel that God has forsaken you? Perhaps you feel that you have been led into a desert or wilderness and abandoned. I want you to think about these situations that you find yourself in. According to Mark, Jesus found Himself alone and tempted. He faced that temptation and stayed true to what He was called to do.

If Jesus faced desert and wilderness experiences and temptation, what makes us better than Him? We will also face similar situations. We can have the strength to see ourselves through them. We can have His strength which is firmly rooted in God the Father. We must simply rely upon Him to see us through these times.

“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 (NIV))

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))

If we are to do things greater than these, doesn’t it stand to reason that we will also be led into wilderness situations and tempted as well? It is our frail humanity that keeps us from realizing that these situations are not the end of our faith, but are simply the testing and maturation of our faith. This comes about only if we focus on Jesus and not on the desert.

The next time that you face a desert or wilderness situation within your life, remember that Jesus also faced His own experiences. We must stay focused on Jesus and rely on His strength to see us through. We must learn to have faith through the wilderness.

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
Subscribe to daily email delivery


Do you delay?

June 23, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

I will hasten and not delay to obey your commands.
(Psalms 119:60 (NIV))

Is that the desire of your heart? Do you seek to obey the Word of God without delay or do you fall prey to the frailties of human nature and seek after your own will first?

It is tough to always be what you know you should be. It is tough to be this person at all, but it should always be our goal in everything that we do.

Consider the word “hasten.” It means to do quickly. It is human nature to only be able to do the things quickly that we have practiced and hold near and dear to our hearts. Perhaps that is why the psalmist wrote these words. He was earnestly and honestly seeking to have God first and foremost in his heart and in his life. Whatever is first in your heart will be your first reaction.

If you spend your time thinking about money, then your first reaction to anything will be your concern about how you will be impacted financially. If you spend your time thinking about power and prestige, then your first thoughts will always be about how you will look to others and who will come under your authority after the events unfold. If you spend your time thinking about God and His Word, then your first reaction will be to respond in a way that would please God.

What are your first reactions to any given situation? Do they reflect what you truly desire to be? Do they reflect the peace, grace and mercy that you have been given through the blood of Jesus Christ?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
Subscribe to daily email delivery


Is your faith nearsighted?

June 22, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.
(Hebrews 11:26 (NIV))

Have we become too nearsighted in our faith? Do we face things and expect God to give us our faith reward the very moment that we begin to suffer any type of hardship or setback?

Think about that for a moment.

Are you willing to face imprisonment the way that Paul did? Are you willing to face crucifixion the way that many of the disciples did? Are you willing to face public humiliation because you stand up for your faith?

Many men and women throughout history have had to suffer things far greater than disgrace. They paid the ultimate price for declaring faith in Jesus as their Lord and Savior. They refused to back down even in the face of death. Sometimes I wonder if we have sugar coated the Gospel in an effort to reach out to others, or perhaps in an effort to make the more difficult ideas and passages bearable and easier to swallow.

I know that everybody has heard the expression, “What would Jesus do?” He would do everything perfectly in the eyes of God. Perhaps we should ask ourselves, “What would the early church do?” or “What would Paul do?” The early church was on fire. They experienced firsthand many wondrous things that we can only read about. Their experiences enabled them to face anything that Satan could throw at them. They did not value their possessions or their lives. The only thing that had any value for them was the grace, mercy and salvation that Jesus promised would be theirs.

All too often we, as the “modern” church, take too much for granted. We apply the societal norm to our faith. We think that there is a “grace” credit card that we can use to get instant relief from the troubles of this world while we still seek after the things of this world. We want it all and we want it now.

How do you think that your faith compares to that of Paul? Did God prosper Paul with money and power, or did God use Paul for a mission that at times left him poor, hungry, and in prison? If Paul suffered these things, how do your sufferings and disgrace compare? How many of us actually face hardships close to what Paul faced for his faith?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
Subscribe to daily email delivery