Don’t look back!

March 31, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD.
(Joshua 24:14 (NIV))

In other words, once you have decided to follow Jesus and claim Him as your personal Lord and Savior, do not return to the things that you used to do.

It is the same concept in both the Old and the New Testaments.

Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family.”
Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
(Luke 9:60-62 (NIV))

What do you have in your past that you turn to that you shouldn’t? What do you look back at and still long for in your heart?

What are the things that you worshipped that still find their way back into your life? Is it money? Is it power? Is it lust?

You can’t worship these false gods and serve the one, true God.

You must make a decision to turn away from these things and follow only the God of Abraham, the God of Jacob, the God of Isaac, and His only begotten Son, Jesus.

Consider the following scenario. You are driving down a road that has many dangerous distractions that can lead to death. You pass something that intrigues you. What would happen if you elected to turn around and look behind you while trying to navigate the road that is ahead of you? A walk of faith with Jesus is the same. Jesus will lead you on your journey through the danger, but the enemy is trying to distract you so that he can destroy you. The world is a treacherous place with all of the sin and distractions. Turning toward the sins of the past will only bring harm.

Where are you going? Are you looking back at your sin and false gods or are you keeping your eyes on Jesus?

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

March 30, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Oh, that my ways were steadfast
in obeying your decrees!
(Psalms 119:5 (NIV))

Do you ever waiver in your faith? Do you ever do things that you know God does not like? As a result of this, do you ever feel unworthy of God’s love and His grace?

If you are like me, I fail to be in God’s perfect Will many times a day. Even David, who is thought to have written Psalm 119, failed many times a day. He longed to do better. Even through his failures, God saw David’s heart.

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))

Perfection is not something that we are capable of attaining on our own. In fact, in our physical existence, we never will attain perfection. We will falter and fail in what we earnestly seek. It is our heart that God looks at and not our success rate. Human nature does not allow us to be perfect, for we have fallen from grace. The world judges us by our successes. God judges us by our heart. If we have truly accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, then He will live within us. In our natural, physical existence, we will fail. Even those who walked this earth with Jesus failed many times.

Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”
(Matthew 26:40-41 (NIV))

Don’t let your failures keep you sidetracked. Keep your eyes on Jesus and you will find your obedience to God’s Will increasing. You will become steadfast in His ways.

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

March 29, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
(Acts 1:8 (NIV))

Did you notice the sequence of events in this passage?

The Holy Spirit comes upon you.

You receive power.

You will witness to the ends of the earth.

Am I seeing something here, or do you see it, too? People pray to receive the Holy Spirit because they want the power that God grants through the Holy Spirit, but I think that they don’t truly want the responsibility that goes with that power.

Why is that?

Think about that for a moment.

Are you truly willing to step outside of your comfort zone and go to the ends of the earth telling people about Jesus? Are you truly willing to go across town to tell people about Jesus? When was the last time that you went next door to tell someone about Jesus, or to invite them to church? I hate to say this, but we want the power without the responsibility. I know that this is a line from “Spiderman,” but it applies all too well in our walk of faith.

“With great power comes great responsibility!”

Are we ready to be responsible with the grace, mercy and power that God is willing to give to us?

How can God fill us with the Holy Spirit if the vessel that we want filled is a vessel to store and not a vessel to share. Is your vessel a jug that has a lid that gets closed once the contents are inside, or is your vessel a watering can that allows the contents to flow out onto all that you encounter? Being responsible to the Holy Spirit does not mean that you accept the power and then keep it all within. Being responsible to the Holy Spirit means that you open yourself up to allow Him to flow in you and through you so that others may receive the blessing.

Responsibility does not mean that we seek after spiritual gifts because it will make us look more spiritual. It means that we humbly accept the power and acknowledge that all things are to the glory of God. Responsibility means that we set our priorities to be those that God desires. Responsibility means that we place God and His kingdom first and our desires last.

We have a great message because we have a great Savior. We have a great Savior because we have an awesome God. It is our responsibility to share that news.

Think back on the person who was willing to share that news with you. Were they responsible to the Holy Spirit? Were they responsible in the areas of their influence? Have you shared to the ends of your influence?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do not imitate what is evil

March 28, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God.
(3 John 1:11 (NIV))

I am so saddened to see events in this world. I am saddened to see events in our own communities. Events that should never take place. Events that are the result of hatred and misguided values, if they are guided by any values at all.

What leads people to steal? What leads people to murder? What leads people to hatred of their neighbor?

Every day we see things on the news that make us shudder at the very thought of those things happening. What would we do if they actually happened to us? Would we be able to maintain our faith? Would we be able to keep from doing evil in retaliation?

I like to think that I am a faithful believer in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, yet, I know that it would be so easy to slip into evil thoughts and actions if the situation is right. Still, it is my prayer that God would give me strength and peace if any such situation would ever arise.

There is a difference between those who slip and regret it and those who simply plan evil.

What makes a person’s heart so hardened that they desire to only do evil? What makes a person call good evil and evil good? Have we turned so far from God’s Word that we no longer even know the difference?

Recent local events seem to have brought it out in full force. I have seen where people are saying that these events were justified. I honestly can say that these type of events are never justified. Evil is evil and there is no justification for doing evil.

Once again, I believe that it is time to turn to God in prayer.

if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
(2 Chronicles 7:13 (NIV))

Prayer is a powerful weapon. It is a weapon for good and it is a weapon that we do not wield often enough. Pray for God’s guidance. Pray that we return to His commands. Pray that we live our lives as if living for the Lord. Pray that we may be able to distinguish good from evil and then do only what is good. Pray that we my be a light that shines into the lives of those who do evil. Pray that the light will overcome the dark. Pray that the light of Jesus will shine brightly in us and through us so that the world will know of God’s love, grace and mercy.

It is time for God’s people to pray for His goodness and righteousness to become our priorities once again. Please join me in this prayer.

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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You will never find greater riches than these.

March 25, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace
(Ephesians 1:7 (NIV))

What do you think of when you think of riches?

Is it the typical human nature responses such as money, big house, fancy cars and expensive toys?

Let me ask this another way.

What is it that you value the most?

Did you answer family and friends? Perhaps you thought of the gift of life itself. These are valuable to most people, yet, there is something that has far greater worth. It is of far greater worth than all of the riches of the world.

What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?
(Mark 8:36 (NIV))

Everything in this life is here today and gone tomorrow. With that said, how can we place value on something that does not last? How can we spend our lives striving for something that can be taken from us in the blink of an eye?

We are trapped in a world of sin and death. A world that we allowed to fall away from God. It is a world badly in need of something that is eternal, something that will not rust or decay with time. That something is God’s grace.

I know of nothing in this world that can bring eternal life, even though man has searched for just such a thing for a long time. I know of nothing in this world that can bring peace, even though we all long for it. I know of nothing in this world that can bring everlasting joy, even though there are things that bring us fleeting glimpses of joy. Nothing in this world can redeem us. Nothing in this world can provide forgiveness, and nothing in this world can give us grace.

With that said, the greatest riches of all is the very thing that can bring all of this. It is not of this world, for this world is fallen. It is from the very One who created this world. It is designed to bring each and every one of us back into the pre-sin relationship that we were supposed to have with God.

Let me ask a few more questions.

Does money make you happy? Do big houses make you happy? Do expensive toys make you happy? All of these things soon become the reason for living and then you discover that they leave you cold and empty. Only one thing can leave you joyfully filled and warm with the love of God.

Have you accepted the riches that God offers through His glorious gift of grace? Have you accepted the gift of salvation that was purchased at the cross by Jesus?

You will never find greater riches than these.

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

March 24, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
(Galatians 5:25 (NIV))

Have you ever read something that made you do a double-take?

This passage did just that for me. Paul made some very profound and bold statements in these few short words.

Reread this passage and be honest with yourself when you answer the following questions.

Do you honestly live by the Spirit?

I know that I long to live by the Spirit, but human nature prevents me from fulfilling this with any consistency. Paul expressed in his writing that his readers were living by the Spirit. What did they know and do that we do not?

Do you keep in step with the Spirit?

If you are like me, you long to keep in step, but all too often you find yourself several paces behind, or at best, you find that you have been distracted and are not even in the same zip code.

I often wonder how Paul was able to live by the Spirit, and to keep in step with the Spirit , but then I remember that Paul had an encounter that left a permanent impression upon his life. He encountered Jesus in a way that would leave even the biggest skeptic in a state of complete obedience.

Is that what it takes for us? Do we need such an amazing encounter that we can’t help but obey? I hope that is not the case, for we have to remember that Paul was persecuting the church. Jesus had to do something to change the course of Paul’s life. Hopefully, we are not persecuting His church. At best, we may be slightly engrossed in our lives and not give all that we can, but I honestly do not think that we can be accused of persecuting the church.

Drastic times call for drastic measures!

That is what Jesus did in the life of Paul. He drastically changed Paul. He changed him to the point of being able to live by the Spirit. Paul tried to weigh everything and do everything according to what the Spirit told him to do. Can you imagine how things would be different if Paul lived his life as we have a tendency to live ours? Imagine the way things would have unfolded IF Paul had gone back to Jerusalem to seek medical help for his sudden blindness. He would have not followed the leading of the Spirit to go to Damascus. Ananias would not have been needed because Paul was not there. Paul would not have been healed. He would not have started his mission to the gentiles. You would probably not be reading this right now.

I often wonder if I am living by the Spirit and if I am in step with the Spirit. This is something that I pray. I long to become able to better discern the gentle voice of the Spirit. This may be food for those who claim that Christians are weak minded, but I like to think that I would want to become like an obedient dog following his master. I long for this type of a relationship not because I am weak minded, but because I know the bond of love that is present in this type of relationship. Wherever the master goes, you guessed it, the dog follows. The dog is so in tune to his master that he instinctively knows where the master is leading.

Are you instinctively in tune to where the Spirit is leading? Are you even in the same zip code?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you come to your senses?

March 23, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God–I say this to your shame.
(1 Corinthians 15:33-34 (NIV))

It is difficult to know what goes through the minds of people. I seriously doubt that most people wake up on a given morning and come to the realization that they will commit some serious crime, or that they will step out into sin so far that there is no turning back.

Still, it happens.

Why?

It isn’t because these individuals have their priorities in line with what God desires. It isn’t because these individuals respect the law and desire to live lives that will be of benefit to others.

It is simply a matter of sin.

Sin is a strange thing. We all do it. We all think nothing of it most of the time. Most of us realize that it is something that we should try to stop, yet, we still sin. Most of us simply commit what we refer to as the little sins. You know what I am talking about. The ones that no one really gets hurt because of, or the ones that no one really knows about. The sad thing is that sin, left unchecked, will escalate. We tend to rationalize it by telling ourselves that no one got hurt, so what is the harm. We then go one step beyond where we were. Soon, we find ourselves at a point that we would never have imagined we would reach.

Let’s face facts. Sin is addicting. The enemy uses sin to draw us in to things that seem fun or pleasurable. Only once we are caught in the embrace of our sins do we realize that it is spiraling out of control. Also, as humans, we long for verification. We long to know that what we are doing is accepted. We surround ourselves with those who will tell us that what we are doing is ok.

“Bad company corrupts good character.”

We may have the utmost of good intentions, yet, if we associate with those who support our sins, then where does that leave us? We have nothing to compare ourselves to. We have no righteous example to look upon.

It is God’s desire that we all turn from our sin. It is His desire that we come to our senses and accept the grace and mercy freely given through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus.

Have you come to your senses?

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