What are you willing to give to God?

August 20, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “I tell you the truth,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
(Luke 21:1-4 (NIV))

What is it that you are willing to give to God?

Think carefully about this question.

Do you give only what is extra? Do you give only an hour on Sunday? Do you give only when it is convenient for you?

Honor the LORD with your wealth,
with the firstfruits of all your crops;
(Proverbs 3:9 (NIV))

God wants us to give to Him first. He wants us to freely give back to Him what He has freely given to us.

Why does God desire this?

then your barns will be filled to overflowing,
and your vats will brim over with new wine.
(Proverbs 3:10 (NIV))

God longs to bless us, but only if our hearts are truly His and we are mature in our faith. We need maturity so that we can be trusted with whatever He may entrust to us. We need maturity to realize that all that He gives to us in this world is only temporary. We need maturity to realize that everything is His to begin with and if He entrusts us with anything, it is not to be hoarded for ourselves. If we can be trusted to freely give back what He has given to us, then He can trust us with much more.

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

August 19, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.
(John 10:27-28 (NIV))

Many people cling to the last sentence of this verse, and rightly so. But, how many people do you know who cling to this sentence and ignore the first sentence? Claiming the name of Jesus as your personal Savior is only part of the complete process of salvation.

You must allow Jesus to be the Lord of your life, following Him in whatever He directs you. Many people who ignore the first sentence and all of its ramifications have not totally surrendered their lives to the authority that is Jesus. They see Jesus as somebody who they can call upon when they get themselves into trouble, someone who will bail them out of any of their mistakes. They see Jesus as some sort of personal insurance policy that they can call upon when things are not going their way. In the process, they completely ignore Jesus’ voice and what He is calling them to do.

Perhaps it is human nature to “Do it my way.” I want you to think about that and honestly answer this simple question. What did doing it your way ever get for you?

It takes a total surrender of your life to completely enjoy the full blessings that await you through Jesus Christ. Consider that the world rewards those who commit to something completely. This is especially true when you consider actors, musicians, and others who must focus solely on what they do. If they are rewarded by a sinful world for their commitment, how much more will we be rewarded if we give everything we have to the One who saved us from our sin?

Are you committed to Jesus?

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

August 18, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
(Romans 8:18 (NIV))

Suffering!

It means different things to different people. To some, it means that they have to take the limo instead of the helicopter. To others, it means that they are out on the street with no food for their family. To the body of Christ, suffering is watching the world revel in the sin while we look on and pray for the world to turn to Jesus.

Suffering is a difficult thing to do, yet, each of us have different things that we are willing to bear with respect to suffering. To me, the biggest thing that I suffer over is the escalating decline of our faith in society. I am not saying that faith is declining. Rather, I am saying that it appears to me that sin of all types is increasing. It reminds me of a parable that Jesus told.

Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.
“The owner’s servants came to him and said, `Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’
” `An enemy did this,’ he replied.
“The servants asked him, `Do you want us to go and pull them up?’
” `No,’ he answered, `because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’ ”
(Matthew 13:24-30 (NIV))

There is suffering due to the enemy having sowed bad seeds among God’s creation. We will face suffering until that glorious day that Jesus returns. The sufferings that we must face are worth the struggle. They are worth the pain. They are worth the aggravation, for we have the promise that we will see salvation. We will see redemption.

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
(Colossians 1:13-14 (NIV))

Are you willing to face the consequences of your sins?

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

I hate suffering, yet I would rather suffer because I have professed a faith in Jesus than to turn my back on God’s grace and face suffering in eternity. I know that we live in a society that expects to have both now and later, but in God’s kingdom, it does not work that way. We cannot simply pull out a credit card and swipe it and expect to have it easy now and easy later when the bill comes due. Our way of doing things doesn’t work.

We have a hope that can see us through all suffering. His name is Jesus. We can suffer now and cling to the hope that we have in Jesus, or we can abandon all hope and suffer eternal separation from God.

Nothing worth having is easy. I am willing to suffer for Christ.

Are you?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you still have your “comfort sins?”

August 17, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
(1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (NIV))

It is impossible for the wicked to be a part of God’s kingdom. Yet, God does not wish that any should perish! How can this be? Once we have accepted God’s grace through the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ, He works within us to change us to His image. All things that do not fit His image, He cleans up and replaces with His righteousness.

Sin is what we were lost in before God’s grace. Sins are the things that go against the Word of God. Unfortunately, sin is what we are comfortable with. Too many people simply stand on the promises of grace and mercy but they ignore the simple truth that God does not want you to stay in your sin. You must allow the Holy Spirit to free you from the sin that enslaves you. Once you truly accept grace, you are no longer any of these – neither sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders not thieves nor the greedy nor drunkard nor slanderers nor swindlers. You have been washed in the blood of Jesus. You are no longer that same person. Still, you must willingly let these sins go. You must relinquish your life to the one who died for you.

Many people, and some so-called church members, who are saying that same sex marriage is okay are misreading what God has said within this passage. We are to hate the sin, but love the sinner. We are not to accept the sin. That would be a sin in and of itself. Do we accept thieves? Yes, but we do not tell them that it is ok to keep stealing. Do we accept swindlers? If we follow what Jesus taught, we do, but we do not tell them that it is ok to keep up with their sinful ways. Do we accept the drunkard? Out of God’s love, we accept the drunk, yet, we do not tell them to keep drinking.

In the scripture, it states “that is what some of you WERE.” It is not what we are. The people who are pushing acceptance are not willing to embrace all of God’s Truths. They are only embracing what they wish to embrace and are rejecting the parts that convict them of sins that they are unwilling to give up. God loves each of us too much to allow us to stay in our sin.

Stop and think about that for a moment. Are you the same as when you first accepted Jesus? Have you forgotten events of your life before God’s grace? Do you still cling to certain things because you simply don’t want to give them up? Do you still have your “comfort sins?”

Do you accept all of God’s Word, or only the parts that don’t convict you?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is your spirit willing?

August 16, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”
(Luke 5:5 (NIV))

How many times have you worked and waited for God to do something in your life or through your life? It probably seemed like He would never do what you have had faith that He would do. Think how Simon Peter felt. Here was this rabbi who knew nothing about fishing. He had grown up as a carpenter, yet He was telling the fisherman what to do. Knowing how Peter often overreacted, I find it very interesting that he did what he did.

Peter did just as he had been told, even though he was tired. He was probably very irritable from working all night with no results, and he was probably harboring arrogant and sinful thoughts about the man who told him to let down his nets.

Think about this situation. We, too, are often like this. We are at our breaking point and do not see any purpose in continuing with what we are doing. We simply wish to give up. When we are faced with this type of situation and mentality, we must remember Simon Peter. Mentally, he was saying that this will never work. Intellectually, he was thinking that a carpenter doesn’t know anything about fishing. Spiritually, he was willing to give it one more try.

The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.
(Matthew 26:41b (NIV))

Simon Peter overcame his physical weakness and trusted in what his spirit was telling him. He was able to make that leap of faith that allowed Jesus to call him as one of His disciples. He was able to make that leap of faith when every other sign pointed in the other direction. Because of his willingness to say “But because you say so, I will let down the nets,” Jesus used him to reach through history and to touch millions of lives with the Gospel.

Is your spirit willing to obey that one more time when reason says you shouldn’t?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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It is a matter of faith.

August 13, 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. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
(John 14:12-14 (NIV))

Did these words hit you in the same way that they hit me?

Think about the concept that Jesus left us.

Those who have faith in Jesus will do what He did.

We will even do greater things than He did!

I don’t know about you, but I know myself all too well. I know what I have done. I know what I am capable of doing on my own, both good and bad. I know that I have good intentions, but the world always tries to slow me down or stop me. How can I do greater things than Jesus? How can I even do what Jesus did?

Do you find yourself thinking the same type of thoughts?

Faith is a funny thing. Without it, we have a tendency to say that we cannot achieve what we are called to do. When we take possession of a brand new faith, we think that we are able to do anything for God. As we “mature” in our faith, we seem to allow the world to creep in and hold us back. Is this really a mature faith?

Take a look at the disciples. Take a look at John. Take a look at Paul. As each of these people matured in their faith, they grew bolder. They did not allow the world to hold them back. They went forward into the very heart of the battle for salvation. They did not back down. They did not slow down. They did not stop spreading the Gospel because it was not “politically correct.”

I honestly think that if we, the body of Christ, stood firm in our faith the way that the early church stood, then we could begin to say that with the power of the Holy Spirit within us, we are approaching the vision that Jesus had of those who have faith in Him. We could and should be doing what Jesus did.

And, since Jesus said it, I will stand firm on the words and say that we could and should be doing greater things than He did.

It is a matter of faith. It is a matter of a strong faith and not a sedate, “mature” faith.

How is your faith?

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

August 12, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.
(Proverbs 27:1 (NIV))

It is human nature to make plans and to say what will happen “tomorrow.” God does not promise us “tomorrow,” but He does promise us today. He also promises us a hope of a “tomorrow” if we accept the grace and mercy He gave us through His Son, Jesus Christ.

There may be no “tomorrow” as we understand the concept. Anything could happen in this physical world and our presence in “tomorrow” may never happen. We tend to take our physical existence for granted. Sometimes, it takes a very serious “wake-up” call to make us realize our mortality.

It is a lie of Satan that makes us think that we have all the time in the world. Satan knows that if he can make us think that we have a guaranteed “tomorrow,” then we will delay thinking about making a personal commitment to Jesus Christ. If we delay in making this decision, then Satan wins our soul if tomorrow does not come for us in the physical world.

Life is precious, yet it is urgent at the same time. God wishes for us to have a life filled with His grace, mercy and gifts, yet, at the same time, He wishes for us to be urgent in our decision to accept Jesus, for He knows that we may not have another chance at “tomorrow.”

If something were to happen and you do not see tomorrow in the physical world, will you be prepared for tomorrow in the spiritual?

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