Are you ready for the responsibility?

June 30, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.
(Deuteronomy 31:6 (NIV))

Moses spoke these words to the Israelites before they crossed over into the promised land. He knew that he would not be going. He also knew that they would confront the current inhabitants of the land that God had promised to them. He knew that in the minds of the people, change and uncertainty lie ahead of them. I am sure that many among the people who heard these words were afraid simply because of what they perceived as this uncertainty.

How would you react if the person who had been your physical and spiritual leader for forty years simply said that I am no longer going with you? And, oh, by the way, the place that we have been promised already has people living there.

I find it interesting that Jesus did something similar with the Disciples. He led them up to the point of His crucifixion and then He told them that He would no longer be with them.

Think about that.

At some point, we must learn to rely on our own faith. We must step outside of our comfort zones and go where we have been led. We have to take the step on our own, for it is a step of faith. If we simply followed all the way through, we would not mature, we would not grow into the person that God created us to be.

We all face uncertainty in our lives. We all face terrifying events. It is at these times in our lives that we must internalize our faith. We must claim it and all that it means as our own. We must be willing to stand firm in what we say we believe. We must be willing to take that step that God is calling us to take.

Think about that for a moment. God is always there. He is that still small voice, but He is not going to push us into anything. He will plant and nurture and grow us to the point that we are prime to step out in faith, but it is our step. It is our action, or should I say our reaction.

Some people never take that step. They are too afraid to venture outside of their comfort zone. Other people will test the waters and halfheartedly go forth. Others will embrace where God has led them to and eagerly anticipate where He will lead them.

Which one are you?

Be strong and courageous!

Action springs not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility.
(Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

Are you ready for the responsibility of what God is leading you to?

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you strong in your weakness?

June 29, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

(2 Corinthians 12:10 (NIV))

Once again, we are told of things that don’t make sense, that go against human nature.

Why would anyone delight in these things? It almost sounds like Paul is saying that he would rather face these types of conditions than to face peace. What was he thinking?

Think about that for a moment and then think about your life. I know that when I think about my life, I have a new understanding of these words. Once again, it is a matter of perspective.

I think that Paul hit upon the concept of his strength and his faith and the relationship that the two have to each other. Before his Damascus road experience, Paul thought he had the world under his control. He felt that he was the ideal Jew and that he had done everything right, yet he lacked true faith and understanding. In his strength, Paul was weak in his faith.

After his Damascus road experience, Paul had a change of heart. He realized that his strength meant nothing. He realized that what he so proudly boasted of meant nothing in God’s kingdom.

Then, as now, too many people make the mistake of wanting strength, money and power. I know that there are always exceptions, but having strength, money and power often results in selfish desires with no thought to others or to God. Paul was driven, but for all of the wrong reasons. He was doing everything that society said that he should do.

Paul, during his evangelism to the gentiles, faced many things. Things that a good Jew would not have faced. Paul was going against the grain. Because he was doing what God called him to do, he faced ridicule and persecution from people who did not understand. In his weakness in the physical world, he relied more and more on his relationship to Jesus and God. His faith grew stronger. When he was weak in the physical world, he grew stronger in his faith.

If you are like me with what you face, and who isn’t in this life, then you face many weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and difficulties. It is my prayer that we may all grow stronger when we are weak.

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Choices

June 28, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
(James 4:7-10 (NIV))

Life is a matter of choices. What you will eat. What you will wear. Where you will live. Will you get married? Will you have children? Will you seek fame?

Our choices make us who we are in this life.

We can turn our backs on God or we can acknowledge that He exists or we can fully embrace Him. We can live life as if we are the center of the universe and everything revolves around us, or we can realize that we are only a small part of creation.

We can choose to submit to God and resist the devil. We can choose to draw near to God. We can choose to walk through this life with humility or we can do anything and everything that we can to draw attention to what we can do.

Choices!

We all have made them, and dare I say that we have all made some bad ones in our lives. It is human nature. We cannot break that nature. We cannot change that nature.

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

Too many people use this to justify the bad choices that they make. They falsely think that we are destined to make bad choices, to sin, and therefore, they do nothing to strive to change. Yet, we can change. It is a simple choice that we must make. It is a choice to want to change.

He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
(Micah 6:8 (NIV))

Humility – What a concept that we fail to grasp. It is the quality or state of being humble. Merriam-Webster defines humble as not proud or haughty; not arrogant or assertive. We are told to live our lives humbly. We are told to humble ourselves before God. In other words, we are to realize that we are the creation, that we are His children.

It is a matter of choices.

What choices do you want to make?

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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God’s House

June 27, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written:
” `My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’ ?
But you have made it `a den of robbers.’ ”
(Mark 11:15-17 (NIV))

How do you treat God’s House?

It is true that we don’t have to go to the “Temple” or into a church building to be with God. By dying on the cross for our sins, Jesus tore the veil of the Temple in two from top to bottom. In other words, because of an action by God, He was able to reestablish a direct communication between us and Him. We no longer have to turn to the Temple and the priests to do the intercession on our behalf. We have Jesus, who sits at the right hand of God the Father as our intercessor.

Still, we must treat each and every building where we gather to worship as if it God were there, after all:

For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.
(Matthew 8:20 (NIV))

If we gather together in the name of Jesus and then we commit acts that defile where we gather, we are defiling the holy name of Jesus. He is in our midst. He is part of our worship. How can we turn the house in which we gather into anything but what it is in that moment – a holy place to worship God.

Ever since the veil of the Temple was torn, we can approach God directly and individually, but we must also approach Him collectively.

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
(Hebrews 10:25 (NIV))

We must treat our assembly with respect for it is where we go to collectively, as the Body of Christ, to meet with Him and to praise Him.

Do you go to someone’s house and then do things that are disrespectful to the owner of the house?

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Change

June 24, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“Even now,” declares the LORD,
“return to me with all your heart,
with fasting and weeping and mourning.”
Rend your heart
and not your garments.
Return to the LORD your God,
for he is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and abounding in love,
and he relents from sending calamity.
(Joel 2:12-13 (NIV))

The words written long ago in the book of Joel still hold true to this very day. I imagine that they will be true until Jesus returns in triumph to the Mount of Olives. Only then, will it be too late for those who have made the wrong decision.

God wants us to turn from our sin and return to Him.

All too often, we do things that are extravagant in nature because we feel that we must do something of great magnitude, or great outward appearance, so that God will know that we mean it this time. Perhaps these acts are more for ourselves and our neighbors than they are for God, after all, God sees our hearts. He doesn’t need to see the flamboyant antics of someone who will break the promises that were just made. This is why we are told to “rend your heart,” for God sees the heart and He knows when it is truth. We can forever rend externally to ourselves and it will never have a lasting impact. When we rend our heart, it is the very center of our existence. We have made the decision to change from the inside out. Perhaps this is why Jesus spoke about what makes a man unclean.

He went on: “What comes out of a man is what makes him `unclean.’ For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man `unclean.’ ”
(Mark 7:20-23 (NIV))

Have you taken that ultimate commitment to God? Have you internalized the change by changing your heart?

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Foolishness?

June 23, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
(1 Corinthians 1:18 (NIV))

What do you consider to be foolish?

Personally, I believe that anything can become foolishness if you let it. Cleanliness is good. Forgetting everything else in order to be completely sanitary is foolishness. Making a living is good. Forgetting everything else and working all the time is foolishness.

Now, the big question. Do you consider the Gospel to be foolishness?

At some point in our lives, I think that it is safe to say that many of us thought that way. I often find passages of Scripture that at first read seem to be foolishness, but then I remember that God’s ways are not our ways.

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
(1 Corinthians 13:11-12 (NIV))

Think about that passage. When you were a child, your understanding of things was far different than that of an adult. In fact, you probably thought that some of the things that adults did were foolish. Now, I am one of those adults and I am doing things that I am sure my children think are foolish.

Can the cross be compared to this concept?

Just as we change in what we do in the physical world, our spiritual being also changes. Hopefully, it matures as our physical body matures. Hopefully, it sees the world from more than just a physical existence. Hopefully, it realizes that there is more to life than birth to death. Hopefully, it comes to the realization that foolishness is a matter of perspective and that with a change in perspective comes assurance of grace, mercy and hope through the message of the cross.

As for me, I do not think that grace, mercy, and hope are foolishness. What do you think?

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you one in Christ Jesus?

June 22, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
(Galatians 3:28 (NIV))

To those who do not profess a faith in Jesus as their Lord and Savior, this sounds like all believers are called upon to give up their individuality. They see all believers in Jesus Christ as too weak to be their own person.

Nothing could be further from the truth!

Professing a faith in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior requires tremendous courage. It requires each of us to take that step that says “I am placing all of my hope in someone that lived two thousand years ago.” I requires us to believe that He has overcome death and sits at the right hand of God the Father. In the eyes of the world, this is a decision made by fools, but it is the best decision that you will ever make.

What about being one in Christ?

One not only means a single quantity, it also means being in unity. It is very common to speak of a crowd being of one mind. Along these same lines, the Body of Christ is of one mind. We all profess a faith in Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior. This profession unites us against the enemy. It unites us against the sins of this world. It unites us as the church, the bride of Christ. Once we accept Jesus, we open up ourselves to His Will and to His unifying grace and become one in His desires to see God’s Will completed. It does not matter what we have done before we came to Jesus, for all of our sins have been washed away. We approach God’s throne through the atoning blood of Jesus in unity – washed by the blood of the Lamb. We are one with Jesus since He paid the price for our transgressions.

Are you one in Christ Jesus?

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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