Maturity

July 30, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
(Ephesians 4:14-16 (NIV))

As we mature in Christ, we should not be easily misguided by the enemy. The more we study the truth, the more we will recognize the lies of the world.

When you are a child, it is easy to be misguided. A child does not know the truth about anything. As it grows, it learns what is right and wrong.

How many of you can remember getting into trouble when you were a child because you listened to the wrong “friends”? Now that you are older, would you get into that trouble again? We have matured and are no longer as easily misguided. We should constantly be in God’s Word so that we can not be easily misguided by the lies of the enemy.

Are you mature in your faith?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Faith and certainty

July 29, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

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

I have read this passage many times during my lifetime, but today, it seems to be more important to keep strong in our faith. It seems to be ever more important to keep our eyes on Jesus. It seems to be more important to know the time and the season in which we live.

Every day brings headlines and news of things that seem to be pointing to the very rapid escalation of events that will lead to the return of Jesus. We see a religion that counters everything that Jesus taught. We see cultures that are more concerned with doing for yourself instead of doing what is right. We see the murder of unborn children and we watch as those who perform this act call it choice. We see the removal of God from all aspects of life, even when the majority claim to be believers.

When I was younger, it never crossed my mind that there may come a day when someone would be rejected because they professed a faith in Jesus. Our media and many of our leaders are rejecting the very principles upon which our nation is built. Freedom of speech now means that anybody can speak openly about what they believe in, except if they are speaking about Jesus. Freedom of religion now means that people are trying to push a freedom from religion if that religion is based on faith in Jesus.

Are you sure of what you hope for through Jesus?

Are you certain of what you do not see?

Are you strong enough in your faith to face the things that are here and are still to come?

Do you hold fast to the promises that Jesus will return? Do you have the faith to know that He will return in triumph over all that is evil?

I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:

KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
(Revelation 19:11-16 (NIV))

Faith.

We see the world as it is and cry. God sees the world as it is and knows that His timing is perfect. We see the cross and know that there is hope. God sees the cross and knows that He will prevail. We can also see things as God sees them. It is called faith.

Are you certain of what you hope for?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Be still

July 28, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when men succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.
(Psalms 37:7 (NIV))

How many times have you found yourself wanting to do what God would have you do, only to have your “apple cart” upset by someone who is doing the worldly thing? I know that it happens far too often for my tastes. It is hard to keep the world from creeping in when this happens. We must do as the Psalmist told us. We must be still and wait on God. God has an eternal time clock and an eternal plan for not only us, but for the whole world and everyone in it. We must wait on God for what He is working in our lives. If we diligently seek Him, He will fill us to overflowing with the gifts that He would have us possess. We must also keep still and patient when it concerns the wicked schemes of others.

Often, people have come to know Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior only after they have succeeded in all worldly matters. Sometimes they achieve everything that they wanted from the world and still find an emptiness that they cannot fill. Sometimes, the world turns on them and they hit rock bottom and then they turn upward to receive Jesus. Either way, God was patient with them. He was still and waited until the time was right for these people to be reached. We must not look on these people and envy them for their worldly gain. We must pray for them and wait on God to work in their lives. Who knows? Maybe these people that are succeeding in their wicked ways will someday need to turn to God, and God has kept you waiting so that you could be the vessel that He uses to touch them. We must also remember that God created each of us as unique individuals and that He does not have two identical life plans or plans for salvation.

Be still. Listen to God. Is He telling you to watch and pray for those around you? God speaks in different ways to different people. He is that still, small voice. He does not force Himself on anyone, but He is eager to speak to those who will be still and listen.

When was the last time that you were still?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Pride and condemnation

July 27, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
(Mark 16:16 (NIV))

People say that it takes faith to believe in Jesus. I agree.

But I think it also takes faith to not believe in Jesus. It is a misguided faith, but it is a strong faith, none the less.

Think about that for a moment. Those who do not believe are saying that they are placing their future in the concept that God does not exist, or that Jesus is not who the Bible says that He is, or that there are multiple ways to get to heaven. No matter what their reason for not believing, they are willing to place the outcome of their eternity in their belief that they will not suffer the consequences of their sins. To me, that takes a very strong faith

I have heard it said that those who cling to religion are weak. That may be true, but I have also known some very weak-minded individuals who cling to other things, such as money, power and fame. These individuals try to fill their lives with something that will give them meaning. They are simply placing their faith in the wrong place. Often, they are placing it in themselves. Again, their faith is strong, but it is misguided.

If someone possesses that strong a faith, can you imagine once that faith is correctly placed, just how strong of a witness that they can be for God? Every single believer was once a nonbeliever. Every single believer has had an experience that made them see things as they really are. They had something happen to them that changed their priorities. At one point, every single believer was condemned, not by God but by their own sinful actions. It took a realization that we are not perfect. It took a realization that we can never be perfect. It took a personal realization that God’s grace is for me.

Think about that. God does not condemn, but we condemn ourselves when we chose to ignore His offer of grace and mercy. It is not unlike a drowning man refusing to be helped out of the water. God is offering that help to everyone.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
(Romans 3:23 (NIV))

In order to accept God’s grace, we must have the strength to admit that we are a sinner. Grace is freely given, but it has a price. Jesus paid the price and we must also pay a price. We must come to the realization that we need salvation. We must overcome our pride. It is our pride that can condemn us.

Have you overcome your pride?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you put God to the test?

July 26, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Jesus answered him, “It is also written: `Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ”
(Matthew 4:7 (NIV))

How many of us are guilty of doing exactly this?

Let’s face the truth, we all tell God things like, “If you will pay off my debts, I will give to the church,” or “If you will cure me, I will never do anything bad again.”

We are all guilty of doing the very thing that Jesus told us not to do. We test God with no intentions of fulfilling our part of the bargain. Has God ever given you what you ask for when you ask in this manner? He has even told us how we are to approach Him. He has told us what our priorities should be.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
(Matthew 6:33 (NIV))

Seek God first, and He will provide out of His abundance. Test God by asking for something from Him first, and He will respond in a way that you do not want.

Do you put God to the test, or do you seek His kingdom first?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Intensity

July 23, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off–for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
(Acts 2:36-47 (NIV))

The early church did not have the ability to look back into history and see what Jesus had done. They didn’t need it! Many of the people who came to be believers in this time had seen Jesus perform the miracles and had heard Him teach. They had seen Him crucified and had seen Him resurrected. Those who did not see all these things happen, knew of them. They also had the eye-witness accounts of the disciples who had been with Jesus during all of this. No matter how they knew of Jesus, they knew that He is Lord and Savior of all Creation. They fervently praised God and prayed for they knew what comes from these actions.

Have the centuries dulled our intensity? Have they caused us to be less than our brothers and sisters from the early church? We have more evidence today that all of these things happened. Historical records besides the New Testament verify many of the accounts of Jesus’ life. Have we grown complacent in our faith? Take a serious look at your life and priorities. Can you say that you devote yourself to Jesus’ teachings and fellowship with other believers?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Take heart!

July 22, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“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 often wonder if Jesus were telling us to prepare for times of increasing trouble until He returns. It is possible to interpret this passage that way, especially when you take current history into account.

Think about that.

In my lifetime, I have seen:
– the removal of prayer from the schools
– legalized abortion
– terrorist attacks
– history being rewritten
– the attempt to remove God from all public life
– homosexuality “tolerance”
– financial crises
– good called evil
– Christianity mocked and ridiculed
– the rise and acceptance of false religions
– the apparent increase in natural disasters

I could go on, but I think that you can get my point. We seem to be in a time of ever increasing trouble. It seems that we are in a downward spiral with no worldly ways to stop it, and that is true.

There is no worldly way to stop the troubles. They will come. They will come with ever increasing frequency. Then there will be a point in time in which God says, “Enough!” Until that time, we must fully rely upon our faith in God and in Jesus, for we have been given promises that this world will once again see Jesus. We have been given promises that those who are faithful to call upon the name of Jesus as Lord and Savior will be given authority to rule over this world. We have been given promises that grace will see us through. We have been given promises that we will have peace.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:7 (NIV))

As we face the troubles that the world throws at us, we must never lose sight of the promises that God has given us. We must never lose sight of the fact that Satan is causing the troubles in this world. We must never lose sight of the fact that God created the world and He can and will overcome the troubles of this world. He will overcome Satan.

Take heart!

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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