Reject the deceptions

July 15, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

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

False teachings abound!

When so-called believers say that Jesus is not the only way to salvation, we need to be prepared. When our leaders say that faith does not matter in public office, we need to be prepared. When terrorists are willing to kill us if we will not accept their belief system, we need to be prepared.

We are in a time when we need to know God and His Word so that we do not fall prey to the lies of the enemy. We must not turn here and there in search of what we already have. We simply need to be able to recognize God’s truth and turn away the lies and the deception.

At that time if anyone says to you, `Look, here is the Christ!’ or, `There he is!’ do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect–if that were possible.
(Matthew 24:23-24 (NIV))

How do you get to where you cannot be deceived?

You must spend time with God and within God’s Word. God has so much that He wants to share with us if we will only take the time to be still in His presence and listen. He wants to tell us about ourselves and why He created us. He wants us to achieve our purpose in life. He also wants to tell us about Himself. He wants to tell us about Jesus. He wants to tell us about the Holy Spirit. The more that we know about God in His Triune persona, the harder it will be for us to be deceived by the enemy. He does not want us to fall away from His grace and mercy.

Salvation is a free gift available to all who will simply ask for it. However, once we accept that gift, we must learn. We must pray. We must study. Satan would like nothing more than to deceive us into rejecting our salvation. There is an old saying about all that glitters is not gold. Consequently, all is not always as it appears.

For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.
(2 Corinthians 11:13-15 (NIV))

Be still !

Prepare yourself !

Know God !

Reject the deceptions when they confront you !

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you have the right to hate?

July 14, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
(Matthew 5:43-45 (NIV))

Did Jesus have the right to hate His enemies?

Let’s face the facts. Judas betrayed Him. The crowds turned against Him. The Roman soldiers beat Him and crucified Him. They nailed Him to a cross. They pierced His side. By all human standards, He had every right to hate His enemies.

What did Jesus do?

He went against every human reaction that you or I would have ever had.

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
(Luke 23:34a (NIV))

Even after suffering all the humiliation of the cross, He still loved those who had nailed Him to that cross. Grace is an amazing thing, for it flies in the face of all conventional wisdom and does exactly opposite of what is expected. Jesus could have hated those who did this. He could have spoken a single word and their very existence would have ceased. Instead, He allowed everything to happen so that everyone could experience grace. Even though people meant to do Him harm, He did not stop loving them. He knew that what He faced would mean the difference for millions of people throughout history. He loved those who hated Him.

The next time that someone tries to harm you, remember grace and ask yourself, “What would Jesus do?”

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

July 13, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save,
nor his ear too dull to hear.
But your iniquities have separated
you from your God;
your sins have hidden his face from you,
so that he will not hear.
For your hands are stained with blood,
your fingers with guilt.
Your lips have spoken lies,
and your tongue mutters wicked things.
(Isaiah 59:1-3 (NIV))

God is more than capable of saving and providing anything and everything that we may need. He hears our every cry. He knows what we want and what we need.

He knows our hearts.

Perhaps it is our hearts that give us away.

We all hide things in our hearts that we do not want anyone to know about. Secret thoughts and desires. Past sins and failures. Greed, envy and lust. The desire for power and wealth. We all have them. We all try to hide them.

God sees them all.

He knows what we hide in our hearts and what we secretly desire. He knows that while we may be praying for His Will to be done, we are planning on how to make more money. He knows that while we are reading our Bible, we are looking for passages that vindicate our sinful actions. He knows that we seek to point the finger at someone else’s failures so that the attention will be taken off of our own failures.

What would happen in our lives if what we profess was truly what was in our hearts? What if our sins were not only hidden from others, they were completely removed from us? What is we could wash our hands of the blood stains and cleanse our lips of the lies?

That is what God desires of us. That is what He longs to see us mature to do. That is what Jesus did when He walked this earth. That is what we can do if we keep our eyes upon Jesus each and every day.

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
(Hebrews 12:2 (NIV))

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you pass the test?

July 12, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you–unless, of course, you fail the test?
(2 Corinthians 13:5 (NIV))

We seem to test ourselves in everything. We test in school. We test to get out of school. We test to get into college. We test to receive professional certification. We test to get a drivers license. We are told to examine ourselves for certain health issues. We examine our financial health, and we examine our professional status, but do we truly examine, or test, ourselves with respect to our faith?

None of us like to think about this. We all think that we have our faith securely in place. We think that because we spend an hour a week in church that we are covered.

Let me ask you a few questions.

What do you spend your time on?

What do you spend your money on?

What do you do with your free time?

What do you do when you think that no one is watching?

Do you spend time daily in God’s Word?

Do you spend time daily in prayer, and I don’t mean the self-centered type of prayer that most of us typically utter?

Do you earnestly seek to know God’s own heart?

Do you fill your life with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, or do you fill it with worldly and selfish things?

Let’s face facts. As sinful creatures, we do not like to have our faults pointed out to us. We do not like to see the things within us that are not what they should be. Yet, that is exactly what we must do. We must examine ourselves daily and seek to repent daily so that we do not stray away from our faith.

Faith in Jesus as our Lord and Savior is a relationship. Relationships take constant work to make them successful Jesus is not tempted to stray for He is divine. We are the ones who always stray. We are the ones who must always return.

When you examine your faith, do you pass the test?

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do not delay

July 11, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

I will hasten and not delay to obey your commands.
(Psalms 119:60 (NIV))

This verse has come up every day for the last three days. I have almost 3500 passages that I have marked for my reading and reflection. What are the odds that I would turn to the very same one three days in a row? O.K., Lord, I can take a hint. I may be slow to respond, but I understand.

Are we too slow in responding to what God is telling us, to what He is calling us to do?

Think about that for a moment.

What if the things that God is calling us to do are of an urgent nature? What if He is telling His church to get ready for His return? What if He is telling us to be sure that our hearts are right with Him, because He is about to remove the true believers from the things that are about to come? What if He is speaking to us in that still, small voice and telling us to repent and turn our hearts toward Him so that we may escape the tribulations that are about to be released upon the earth?

We all hope and pray for the day that Jesus returns to take His bride home, but what if that day is upon us and He is telling us that we need to have an urgency about us?

What if He is telling you to be prepared?

What if He is telling you to plant the seed in someone’s life?

What if He is telling you to live each day as if it were the last?

What if He were telling you to be a witness for Him to someone who would not hear in any other way?

What if He is calling you to be a light to a dark world?

What if He is calling you to be a beacon on a hill?

Now, look at your life. Look at what He has done for you and think of how you have responded to Him. Have you felt a sense of urgency? Have you felt that He is calling you to do any of the things mentioned above?

He is!

He is calling you. He is telling you that there is a sense of urgency, for the world needs Him and the world is dying without Him.

I pray that the words from Psalms will come alive within your heart and that they will instill within you a sense of urgency for the things that are of God.

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What is in your heart?

July 8, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Above all else, guard your heart,
for it is the wellspring of life.
(Proverbs 4:23 (NIV))

Everything that a person does has its origin in the heart. If you think about things that are impure, it starts in the heart. If you treasure something, you hold it in your heart.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
(Matthew 6:21 (NIV))

It is important that you be on your guard about what goes into your heart. You must not allow impurity and falseness enter into it.

How can you guard what enters into your heart?

You can focus on the things that are of God and they will take priority in your life over the impure things. If you desire to fill your heart with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, then there will be no room for the things that can bring about harm. There will be no room for hatred, anger, loathing, greed, deceit, faithlessness, hostility, and aggression. With the things of God in your heart, there is no room for the things of the enemy.

We all control what we put in our hearts. It is our choice. What we put in, effects our lives and the lives of those around us.

What is in your heart?

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

July 7, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

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))

If only our society lived by these words. We have become a people who think that whatever we want to do is all right as long as it does not effect anyone else. Too many of us moan about our rights even though what we do is wrong. What we have failed to realize is that, according to the old saying, no man is an island. What each of us does has an effect and an impact on those around us.

We have been judged and all of us have been found lacking and none of us are worthy. We have all been found to have a huge plank firmly embedded not only in our eye, but in our life. We need to look closely at what we are doing and be very self-critical, for we are all guilty. We need to:

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

Perhaps, if we spend time seeking God, then our planks would be removed and we could see clearly. We may even find that we are then truly in a position to help others remove their speck of sawdust.

Have you been able to remove your plank?

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

July 6, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.
(Romans 10:9-10 (NIV))

Two things – confess with your mouth and believe in your heart. Nothing could be simpler, yet, we, as His church, have made it difficult. We have placed all types of rules and regulations on what Jesus intended to be easy.

Some people believe that only their denomination is going to be saved. Some people claim that only those whom God has predestined will be saved. Some people believe that only those that have been water baptized will be saved. Still, others believe that only those who keep the Jewish Sabbath, which is Saturday, will be saved.

I do not see any of these stipulations in this passage. No matter how many times I read it, I still only see two things – confess with your mouth and believe in your heart.

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))

The word “fulfill” means to make full, to put into effect, to measure up, and to convert into reality. The reality of the Law before Jesus was that no one measured up. No one could fulfill the requirements of the Law. So, Jesus came as a man and fulfilled the requirements. He provided a way for us to fulfill the Law in our lives. It is grace that allows that.

It is not a denomination. It is not predestination. It is not baptism. It is not observing man made traditions.

Everybody is familiar with the crucifixion story. Consider these events from Luke.

One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!”
But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”
Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. ”
Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”
(Luke 23:39-43 (NIV))

Did Jesus make the thief belong to a certain group? Did Jesus tell him that he had been predestined to be saved? Did Jesus have an opportunity to baptize this man?

He simply told him that he would be with Him in paradise.

Traditions are important, but we must be careful to not let them take the place of the true meaning and grace that faith brings.

Faith is simple. Salvation is simple. It requires two things – confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead.

Have you confessed? Do you believe?

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

July 5, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak.
(1 Corinthians 8:9 (NIV))

Once again, the concept of freedom comes center stage.

Paul tells us that we must consider those around us when we choose to exercise our freedoms. This passage was taken from a section where he tells people to be careful about what they eat in front of people. He stated that even though they were free to eat various types of food and food that had been sacrificed to idols, he also said that if it caused someone to stumble in their faith, to not do it.

I often wonder just how far Paul meant for this to go. Should we take this to mean that if someone has a stumbling block when it comes to gossip, that we should watch what we say so that we do not give them anything to gossip about? Does it mean that if someone has a problem with anger that we should be careful to not place them in situations that will cause anger?

And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
(Matthew 18:3-4 (NIV))

But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.
(Matthew 18:6 (NIV))

If we are to become like little children, and we are told that if we cause a little one to sin, then I honestly believe that we are held accountable for what we do if it causes someone to stumble. It may not be a “little one,” but he or she is a child of God.

If you think about that for a moment and then think about past events in your church, do you have a person or a family that is no longer there because they got their feelings hurt? Whatever may have made them leave left a big stumbling block in their faith. With this in mind, not every believer is at the same stage in their faith and the freedoms that you take for granted may cause someone to stumble simply because they do not understand.

After all, with freedom comes responsibility – a responsibility to God, to our neighbors, to our families and to ourselves.

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

July 4, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.
(1 Peter 2:16-1 (NIV))

July 4th is the day that we as a nation celebrate our freedom, but exactly what does that mean?

Too many people claim that they are free to do whatever they want. People even claim that it is their right to do whatever they want.

Where do we draw the line? When do personal freedoms cross over into the realm of evil and selfish indulgence?

I honestly believe that our founding fathers would be appalled at how we have allowed our society to be twisted into something that is more concerned about protecting the rights of people who wish to live outside of the law that in protecting the public. I honestly believe that they would be appalled at how we have allowed a vocal group of people to rewrite history and vehemently object to any mention of God in government or public life. I honestly believe that they would strongly object to our big government, huge debt, and the courts rewriting laws because they don’t like them.

I know that most of our founding fathers were willing to give all that they had, even their lives, for the common good. They did not see their roles as a full-time career or as a right that they had earned. They saw their roles as an honor and a responsibility that they must bear. They new the difference between servanthood and personal gain.

When do personal freedoms cross into the area of evil?

Personally, I believe that this happens when we lose site of other people. It is true that we are free, but that does not mean that we are free to sin, and that does not mean that we are free to do things that cause harm to others. With freedom comes responsibility. This applies to us as a nation and to the body of Christ. We are free to choose, but we must weigh our choices.

God gave us free will. He also gave us a list of Ten Commandments that are supposed to guide us in our lives. When we turn from these commandments, we turn from God. We may have exercised our freedom, but in the end, our choices that we make in this “freedom” often lead to consequences beyond our comprehension.

Once again, I will state that with freedom cones responsibility – a responsibility to God, to our neighbors, to our families and to ourselves. We must not claim that we have the right, but pray that what we do is right.

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