Are you ashamed?

January 31, 2011

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))

Paul had it all in the eyes of Jewish society; education, position, authority and power. Yet, he abandoned it all after his experience on the road to Damascus. He was among the elite of “God’s Chosen People,” but, after a true encounter, he saw the foolishness of the path that he was on.

If Paul can say that he is not ashamed of the gospel after persecuting believers, we must be able to do the same. When he was converted, people did not trust him at first. It was actually several years before he embarked on what we now know as his ministry to the Gentiles. It took this time to grow in the faith and to gain the trust of other Jewish believers. Until this trust was gained from the believers, he was literally shunned by both believers and his old “friends” in Jewish society. He gave up everything for the sake of Jesus. His actions speak of what we must strive for.

If we are in a situation where it is not “politically correct” to be identified as a believer, do we stand firm in our faith, or do we avoid the issue? Do we let people know that we are committed to Jesus, or do we secretly pray that nobody asks or gives us away?

Think about Paul. He gave up everything that he had ever strived for in his life. He was not ashamed of the gospel. Are we?

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

Advertisements

Rest in God

January 28, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
(Mark 6:31 (NIV))

Perhaps it is important to understand the context of when these words were spoken. Jesus spoke these word to His disciples after He had sent them out to do His work. He was preparing them for work of the Kingdom without Him. Also, remember that these words fall right after we hear of the beheading of John the Baptist and right before the feeding of the five thousand. These words come from events that would be considered stressful in anyone’s life.

“Be still, and know that I am God;
(Psalm 46:10a(NIV))

It is a common theme throughout the Bible that we are told to be still or to be in a quiet place. God designed us for times of solitude so that He can communicate with us. The message is the same whether it is in the Old Testament or the New Testament. Perhaps, then, we should take heed of these words and go with Jesus to a quiet place and get some rest, after all, the world has become a stressful place. We are constantly being pulled in this direction and in that direction. We are constantly under the influence of sin from all directions. We need the quiet time with Jesus to recharge and to re-equip ourselves to face another day.

Everyone needs time with God on a daily basis. Be careful, though, that your time does not turn into a session where you give God a list of things that you “need” and do not allow God to tell you what He wants for you. God wants to communicate with you, but, He does not want it to be a one sided exchange.

Don’t you think that the Creator of all of the universe has something for you to hear if you will only be still and listen?

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


Grace is not a license to sin

January 27, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.
(Jude 1:4 (NIV))

Be very careful what teachings you follow. The enemy has followers who have even claimed to be followers of Jesus so that they can spread division and lies within the Body of Christ.

Test everything against the Word of God for His Word never changes. What was once considered sin is still a sin in the eyes of God. Contrary to what some may teach, God’s love and mercy does not mean that you can commit any sin and then be saved. Grace is a forgiveness of the sins that have been committed in the past. It is not a license to sin indefinitely.

When we accept the grace and mercy freely given to us through the sacrifice that Jesus made at the cross, we make a commitment to repent and turn away from our sin. That is the path that God intended. Nothing in the teaching of Jesus indicates that we can continue to sin and still follow Him.

Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
(John 8:10-11 (NIV))

Don’t fall for the false teachings of those that are spoken of in Jude. Keep your eyes focused on Jesus. He did not suffer and die on the cross so that you can continue to sin. He died to free us from that sin.

God’s grace is a grace to escape from sin, and not a license to continue to sin.

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


Gain

January 26, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me–the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.
(Acts 20:24 (NIV))

Do you value your life? Is it something that you are willing to give up for what you believe in? All throughout history, people have willingly given up their lives for something they believe in. People have been willing to die for their country, their family, and their friends. We, as believers in Jesus Christ, have quite a unique situation presented to us.

Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
(Matthew 10:39)

If we are willing to lose our life for Jesus, then we will gain eternal life for what we believe in. If we claim and proclaim the name of Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, then when we finish the race, we will be awarded with the ultimate prize! We will walk the streets of gold!

Perhaps, we should even look upon this from a slightly different perspective. Our life is ours. Human nature tries to say that we are lord and master of our own lives. When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Master, we lose our lives because they are no longer ours. They belong to Jesus. With this in mind, it is possible to lose your life by giving it over to Jesus. It is also possible to lose your life after accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior through the adversity of persecution. In both situations, we have willingly given over our lives to the control of someone besides ourself. In essence, we have “lost” our life.

If we face adversity and even death for what we believe in, then Paul put it best.

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
(Philippians 1:21)

What is your gain?

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


Spiritual confidence

January 25, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

The LORD is my light and my salvation–
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life–
of whom shall I be afraid?
When evil men advance against me
to devour my flesh,
when my enemies and my foes attack me,
they will stumble and fall.
Though an army besiege me,
my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
even then will I be confident.
(Psalms 27:1-3 (NIV))

When we are faced with troubles, we have two basic reactions that we can take – turn and run out of fear or stand firm in our faith and face them with God’s strength as our strength.

Which do you prefer?

It is human nature to fear and to have self pity. It is our human nature that we must overcome. It is our sinful nature that we must take control of, for it is our sin that causes us to fear. In our sin, we know that we are not worthy. We know that we do not deserve victory. We do not deserve salvation. In our sinful, human nature, we wallow in self pity. In our sinful nature, we lack true confidence, for we know what we deserve.

That can easily change through the salvation and grace that was freely given to us through Jesus Christ.

Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.
(2 Corinthians 3:4-5 (NIV))

We can stand confident when we profess a faith in Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior. We no longer have the uncertainty or our worth. We know that God values us enough to have sent His only begotten Son to die for our transgressions. We are confident in our salvation. We are confident not in who we are, but in who’s we are. With that knowledge, we can face anything.

“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))

It is so easy to be overcome with what the world has thrown at us. Don’t allow the weight of the world to steal your joy and your confidence. When everything in your life is looking down, look up!

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


Just believe!

January 21, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“Don’t be afraid; just believe.”
(Mark 5:36b (NIV))

Do you know the first part of this story?

Jesus was asked by a ruler of a synagogue to come and heal his daughter. Along the way, a woman touched the hem of his robe and was healed. Jesus was sidetracked from his plans. During this time, some men came and told the ruler of the synagogue that his daughter had died. It appeared that Jesus was too late. It appeared that all hope was lost.

With that scene laid out before you, can you imagine the feelings of despair that the ruler of the synagogue probably felt. I can also imagine that he was probably also feeling anger toward the woman who had distracted Jesus. He was afraid that he had failed his daughter and that he had failed his family and himself. I can imagine the deep anguish that I would feel if I had gone to get someone who could save my son or daughter only to discover that circumstances had delayed the saving grace that I had been so sure of.

“Don’t be afraid; just believe.”
(Mark 5:36b (NIV))

Words.

Words that are so easy to say, yet, are so difficult to hold on to when all around you seems to be falling apart.

I want you to ask yourself this one question – Have any of the promises that God has made ever been broken?

Jesus, the word made flesh, had willingly gone with the man to heal his daughter. He had promised to go. It is not in his nature to break a promise, even when in the eyes of the world, things are too far gone for anything to happen. But, happen it did.

Jesus healed the girl. He brought her back from the dead. According to all worldly knowledge, it was too late, but according to God’s timing, it was not. In fact, the timing of this resurrection was perfect, for it magnified God through the actions that transpired.

With God, things may never be too late. Is there something in your life that just will not change, something that has been troubling you for a very long time? It is not too late for God to turn that around. Is there a dream that you feel that God has given to you, but it has not come to fruition and you are getting older? It is not too late for God to make it happen.

In all honesty, I believe that these five words can be used to define a faith in Jesus. They can be used to help us walk through the darkest shadows of life. They can be used to encourage us when we walk through whatever wilderness we find ourselves in.

Don’t be afraid.

For I am the LORD, your God,
who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear;
I will help you.
(Isaiah 41:13 (NIV))

Just believe!

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


Guilty as charged?

January 20, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

This is my command: Love each other.
(John 15:17 (NIV))

If we were brought in front of the enemy and put on trial with only one charge – that we love each other – would we be found guilty?

Think about that.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
(John 10:10 (NIV))

What prompts someone to steal, kill or destroy? These are acts that do not come out of love. In fact, the lack of love can be found in all sin. Is greed an act of love? Is adultery an act of true love? Do you covet your neighbor’s possessions if you possess love? Can you truthfully honor your father and mother if you do not have love?

And the big question – can you have no other gods before God if you do not have love?

Love is crucial to our faith. Love is crucial to our lives.

Why do we have so much trouble at times fulfilling this simple command?

I have heard it often said that you may be the only Jesus that some people will ever see. If that is the case, then are we being a truthful representation of what we profess to believe? I know that we are only human, and that all of us will falter in our attempts, but do our attempts show a sincerity or do they show a halfhearted, superficial love that is there only to benefit us?

If we are to be judged on whether we fulfill this command, would we be found guilty of loving each other? Would we stand accused and convict ourselves by our actions, or would Satan acquit us for lack of evidence?

It is my prayer that we would all be found guilty as charged.

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