How much were you forgiven?

April 15, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.”
“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.
(Luke 7:41-43 (NIV))

How big was your debt?

It is human nature to compare your status with that of those around you. Unfortunately, we compare with a jaded point of view. We always think that the other person is more of a sinner than we are, yet, Jesus told us otherwise.

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, `Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
(Matthew 7:3-5(NIV))

How much do you love Jesus? Is it comparable to what He has forgiven you for? When you consider that

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

we should be overflowing with love as a praise of thanks for what Jesus has done for us. None of us are worthy on our own to be able to approach God for we are all sinners and no sin is less in the eyes of God than another. We are all guilty!

Our debt was huge and our love should be boundless!

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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April 14, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

In you, O LORD, I have taken refuge;
let me never be put to shame;
deliver me in your righteousness.

Turn your ear to me,
come quickly to my rescue;
be my rock of refuge,
a strong fortress to save me.
(Psalms 31:1-2 (NIV))

This world can be a very vicious place. Often, we need to simply hide from the pressures that this world dishes out. Isn’t it great to know that the God who created the universe is also our place of refuge. We can hide in Him and rest in His presence. We can walk quietly and drink in His majesty. We can, as it states in Ruth 2:12b “May you be richly rewarded by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.”

As for me, I long to take refuge with the Lord. There is no one else who can provide the peace that can come from refuge under His wings.

Lord, may we find the refuge that we seek and may we seek the refuge that you offer.

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you yeast?

April 13, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

He told them still another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough.”
(Matthew 13:33 (NIV))

The effects that can be experienced from allowing God into a little part of your life are exponential in nature. Just like a little yeast in dough, God starts to work within you the minute you allow Him into any part of your life.

When you add yeast to dough, it changes the results from a flat, two dimensional, tasteless creation into a vibrant, life giving object that expands to fill the surroundings that it has been given. It expands its circle of influence.

Allowing God into your life is exactly the same. Without God, we are all flat, two dimensional, tasteless and lifeless. With God, through Jesus, we become full of life. We expand, through the grace and mercy showed to us through Jesus, and soon we fill the surroundings that we have been given. We, just as Jabez, expand our circle of influence for God.

Taste and see that the LORD is good;
blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.
(Psalms 34:8 (NIV))

Is it any wonder that the kingdom of heaven is referred to in this way? It only takes a small amount of yeast to change flat, lifeless bread into warm, outgoing, life sustaining bread.

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.
(John 6:35 (NIV))

Jesus was filled with God. If He was the bread of life and we are to be the hands and feet of Jesus, then we are to spread yeast into the lives of others.

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))

Are you spreading God’s kingdom?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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The same for all eternity

April 12, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
(Hebrews 13:8 (NIV))

Have you ever known anything to be the same day in and day out, year after year? I won’t even go to the forever part of this passage, for we, as finite creatures, do not truly understand forever. Let’s face the truth, we can’t even maintain consistency from one minute to the next.

With that in mind, how do you react to the thought of something or someone never changing?

Do the words consistency and monotony come to mind? Do you even approach the concept of boring? Perhaps you know people who think this way about Jesus.

If these are the mental pictures that you get when you read Hebrews 13:8, you are totally off base.

Consistency does not equate to boring or monotonous. It simply means that nothing will change the person no matter what the situation. Think back on the life of Jesus. I honestly do not think that you can call raising the dead boring. You cannot call feeding the five thousand with a few fish and five loaves boring. What about the money changers in the temple? What about the Passover meal in the upper room? What about all of the people that Jesus healed? Again, I say that consistency does not mean boring.

Jesus was always about His Father’s business. That business was and still is the restoration of humanity to Himself.

We know of the thirty or so years when Jesus walked the earth as a man. We know of His crucifixion and resurrection. We know of His ascension. We know what the Bible tells us about His return. Everything that Jesus has done and will do is for our redemption and grace.

Perhaps a better way to look upon the sameness of Jesus is to look upon it as some would classify as a one track mind. Jesus did not sway from His task. He is still about completing that task. He will not change. Even though the enemy tempted Him, He did not stray.

It is often said that you have to pick what matters to you the most and stick with it. If you let things distract you, then you will lose focus and lose site of what matters to you. This is true about a professional career, or hobbies, or love, or life in general. If you go around constantly changing and redefining your focus, do you truly have a focus? I bet we all know someone who constantly hops around from one interest to another. Do they ever succeed at anything if they hop from one interest to another?

Jesus has a consistent focus. That focus is God. That focus is you and I. That focus is redeeming us for an eternal life spent with God.

Personally, I am overjoyed that Jesus is the same yesterday and today and forever. I am comforted in the knowledge that when I mess things up, He will be there with His same focus.

How do you look upon the consistency that Jesus provides?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Where there once was law, there is grace!

April 11, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned– for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law.
(Romans 5:12-13 (NIV))

“But sin is not taken into account when there is no law.”

This passage can be taken different ways, but stop and read it again from the perspective where Jesus came to give us grace. In effect, He removed the law, or should I say that He removed the consequences of the law?

I suppose that the meaning of these words can be argued, especially when you consider what was written in Matthew.

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.
(Matthew 5:17 (NIV))

Jesus did not abolish the law. Rather, He came to abolish application of the consequences of the law within our lives. He fulfilled the law by fully accepting those consequences upon Himself. He also opened the door for still another gift. He made the way clear for the Holy Spirit and all of the teachings of the Holy Spirit to come into our lives.

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 live by the fruit of the Spirit, then we cannot be judged by the law for there is no law against these things. If we live by these, we do not sin. We cannot be judged. We cannot be held accountable for missing the mark if we don’t miss the mark.

But wait!

We are human and not capable of hitting the mark.

Doesn’t that put us back into sin and, consequentially, the law?

Are you beginning to see the dilemma that we face? We are to keep God’s laws and live by the Spirit, but since we are a fallen race, we cannot meet these expectations and are condemned.

Since one member of the human race condemned us to this dilemma, we needed one member of the human race to redeem us from this dilemma. That is why God sent His perfect Son, Jesus to live as one of us and to die as one of us. Through that one perfect life, there is now no more consequences of the law, for Jesus fulfilled all of the requirements of the law.

There is one thing for those who will simply accept it.

Where there once was law, there is grace!

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What does your faith tell you?

April 8, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

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

How is your assuredness?

Are you able to accept things even though you may not have any physical evidence that it is as you desire? Do you know with certainty that your salvation has been bought with a price that you could not afford to pay? Are you positive that Jesus arose from the grave?

How you answer these types of questions is a direct reflection on your faith.

Even though we say it, it is not possible to share your faith. You can only tell others about your faith, but it cannot be shared. Faith is personal. Faith is something that must be built and maintained in a one on one relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ. Faith is something that God plants in your life and it slowly matures if you will let it. According to Matthew 17:20, faith can grow to tremendous size even if it starts off as small as a mustard seed.

There is a circle that cannot be broken if it is strongly built. That circle consists of faith, hope and love. Faith shows belief. Hope shows the desire for something better. Love shows the desire to share something better with those we meet. 1 Corinthians 13:13 tells us that the greatest of these is love, but I would safely venture that faith is the root of the three, for without faith, we have no hope, for we would not see any reason to look beyond our circumstances. Without faith, we have no love, for we would not see the need to look beyond ourselves and care for others.

Faith is a strong concept. With faith, we can move mountains. It is important to place your faith in the One who can return it multiplied. Only Jesus can return your faith so that it multiplies and spills over onto those around you.

How is your faith?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do you have enough belief to have faith?

April 7, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
(Hebrews 11:6 (NIV))

Do you have enough faith to believe?

Do you have enough belief to have faith?

Belief comes in many levels. You can believe that God exists. Belief can stop there. You can believe that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. Belief can stop there. You can believe that He loves us. Belief can stop there. You can believe that He wants to redeem us. Again, belief can stop there. You can believe that He sent His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross to save us from our sins.

Belief can stop there!

What else is there?

There is the belief that Jesus arose on the third day. There is the belief that Jesus now sits at the right hand of God, the Father.

There is the belief that Jesus is your personal Lord and Savior.

There is the faith to proclaim this belief with every once that is you. There is the faith to call upon the name of Jesus in any situation. There is the faith that He will redeem you in spite of your sins.

I don’t know if you saw this, but belief leads to faith. I honestly do not think that it is possible to have faith without believing the truths behind that faith. Belief and faith go hand in hand, but, think about this concept for a moment. Can belief exist without faith? You can believe that God is good, but if you don’t have the faith to live up to that belief, what do you have? Can faith exist without belief? You can have faith that God is good, and then every action that you take will reflect that.

I honestly think that you can believe without having faith. Just take a look at all of the people who say that they believe in God, yet, never act it out. They don’t have the faith to take a stand for what the profess to believe in.

Do you believe?

Do you have faith in your beliefs?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Validation and faith

April 6, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
(Hebrews 11:1 (NKJV))

What do you hope for?

Is it wealth or fame or power?

Is this where your faith lies?

Simple questions that may not have such simple answers.

Carefully consider the one universal hope that all of humanity has. That hope is for an eternal existence. Every religion has a variation on the human desire to continue after this physical existence ends. That is the biggest hope that every single person has.

We have a unique faith as the Body of Christ, for we have evidence of a salvation that is offered to us directly from God through His Son, Jesus. It is said that there is more historical evidence that Jesus existed and did all of the things recorded in the New Testament than there is for the existence of either you or I. If this is true, I propose the following:

We all have enough faith to believe that we exist. How can we deny the existence and documented accomplishments of someone who has more validation than we do? Perhaps it is because we have not seen with our own eyes. Are we like Thomas? Does Jesus have a reason to say to us what He said to Thomas.

Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
(John 20:27 (NIV))

Does your faith require vision to make it solid? Do you have enough faith to believe even if you never see your hope in this lifetime?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What fills your thoughts?

April 5, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Let heaven fill your thoughts. Do not think only about things down here on earth.
(Colossians 3:2 (NLT))

It is so easy to get caught up in the things of this world, after all, we are physical beings living in a physical world. We know best what we see on a regular basis. Heaven is something that we envision, but have never seen. Our jobs and our daily worries are far more realistic to us than a promise of eternal life.

Isn’t it such a shame that we fall into the trap that the enemy has set for us? Satan wants to distract us from the truth about God’s promises by keeping us so focused on the physical world and the needs that it presents. He knows that if he can keep us focused on the things of this earth, we will forget to think of the things of heaven. He knows that if we forget to think of the things of heaven, then we will soon forget to think of God at all. When we stop thinking of God, then we have become worldly and have lost all hope.

It is important to spend time within God’s Word each and every day. It is important to spend time in prayer each and every day. We must take the time to learn what are God’s desires for the world, for our nation, for our neighborhood, for our church, for our family, and for ourselves. God cannot teach us if we do not spend time reflecting upon His Kingdom and His Word. We must be still within His presence and let God fill our thoughts.

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

What fills your thoughts?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Blood Brother

April 4, 2011

And He said to them, “This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many.”
(Mark 14:24 (NKJV))

How many people do you know who would willingly shed their own blood in order to save someone else?

Chances are that it is not that many, and then it would probably only apply to immediate family and very close friends.

Think back upon when you were a kid. Did you ever know of anyone who became “blood brothers?” Perhaps you even did it yourself. Even in this situation, shedding of your own blood required a very strong friendship. It required a bond that you never wanted to be broken.

Shedding of blood requires pain! It is not something that we take lightly, for it always involves some pain. Think about what Jesus did. He poured out not only a few drops of His blood, but all of it. Think of the pain that He endured because of His love for each and every one of us. He did it because He is the friend that we all long for. The bond that we have with Him is eternal. All we have to do is claim it.

Jesus did His part to become our “blood brother.” He suffered all of the pain and sacrificed everything so that we could escape the pain and inherit eternal life. Our part is simply to accept the grace and mercy given through this offer.

Have you done your part in meeting Jesus where He wants to meet you?

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