Separation is our choice

December 16, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
(Romans 8:35 (NIV))

These are loaded questions, for each of these things pose the potential to draw us closer to Christ, and yet, at the very same time, they each pose the potential to drive us away from Christ. Please notice that I did not say that they could drive Christ away from us, for that is not possible.

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.
(Deuteronomy 31:8 (NIV))

I have come to the conclusion that the only person who is capable of separating us from the love of Christ is us! How we react to each of these things will determine how our relationship will grow. If we see everything that we face as an opportunity to draw closer to God, then each hardship, persecution, famine, and danger will have that very result. If we look upon God as a benevolent being that will keep us from these things, then our reactions will drive us from Him. We will be seeking the wrong things from God. In essence, we will eventually separate ourselves from Jesus because we have a false perception of what He will do for us. Once we turn away, it is our own understandings that have separated us from Christ. His love is still there. We simply deny it or we reject it. It is our doing.

Fortunately, we have the option of doing a U-turn. We can repent of this attitude and without venturing beyond our arrogance, God’s love is there. All that we have to do is turn and accept it. The love of Christ is never very far. It is our attitudes that make it seem so far away. It is our hardened hearts that keep the love of Christ from us. He does not withhold it. We build barriers against it.

Do you allow anything to separate you from the love of Christ?

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Strength when you are weary

December 15, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
(Isaiah 40:29-31 (NIV))

This world has a way of bringing everything that can drain you down upon you in an attempt to make you stumble and fall. If you rely solely on yourself, then you have no external strength to call upon to see you through these times. We are only human, and as sinful humanity, we are not capable of lifting ourselves out of these draining times.

But, by the grace of God, we have a place to turn in times of trouble. We have the strength of the Lord if we only place our hope in Him. We have the promises that God has given us throughout the ages.

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.
(2 Corinthians 1:20 (NIV))

Do you receive strength when you are weary? Do you soar on wings like eagles?

Fully accept the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will receive His strength.

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

December 14, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
(Colossians 2:6-7 (NIV))

Too many people believe that accepting Jesus is all that they need to do in order to achieve salvation. They proclaim Him as Savior, but never allow Him to be Lord. They continue in their old habits and continue to live as if they had a license to sin. They have a false understanding of the salvation that Jesus came to bring to us.

Accepting Jesus as your Savior is part of the first step. We must also accept Him as our personal Lord. We must willingly give ourselves over to Jesus and allow His life to manifest itself through our life. We must live in Him. We must live in God’s Word!

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
(John 1:14 (NIV))

It is vital that we not only accept Jesus as our Savior, we must accept Him as our Lord. Think about this. Jesus is the Word made man. We must accept Jesus as our Lord. We must accept all of God’s Word as our Lord, not only the parts that we like.

What have you accepted?

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Seeing is believing, or believing is seeing?

December 13, 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))

Faith!

It has been defined as “Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence. ”

It has also been defined as “Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, an idea, or a thing.”

In the case of faith in God, it appears that both definitions can be combined. This combined definition of faith results from the fact that God cannot be seen. Remember Moses when he spoke to God. He was told that he could not look upon the Glory that is God without dying. For that reason, and many others, man cannot see God. In the eyes of the society in which we live, “seeing is believing.” Even one of Jesus’ disciples displayed a lack of faith after Jesus’ resurrection.

Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.”
(John 20:24-25)

Seeing something is a good reason to believe. Yet, many things in this life that cannot be seen are much more real and true than what we can see. Thomas was allowed the opportunity to not only see, but to feel the wounds just as he had stated.

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
(John 20:29)

What type of faith do you possess? Is it one of “seeing is believing,” or do you believe because something inside of you tells you that God is real and that He sent His Son, Jesus Christ to die for your sins?

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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You are all one in Christ Jesus

December 12, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
(Galatians 3:26-28 (NIV))

This may sound like a silly question, but what is it that we celebrate at Christmas?

Is it the denominational differences that we, humanity, have placed as barriers between ourselves? Is it how we profess our faith? Is it how we sing praises? Is it the color of the skin of the congregation?

Or is it the birth of Jesus?

I often wonder what Jesus would say of He were to come to earth and give us a report card update on how we are doing? Would he commend us or condemn us?

Personally, I believe that we would most likely get a mixed review. One in which we would receive severe judgment for the way that we have allowed the Gospel to be removed from society. I believe that we would be held accountable for the way that we still segregate the Body of Christ I believe that we would also be held accountable for not doing enough to share the Gospel, for it is a gift to everyone, and not just those who look, act and think like us.

It is for Jew and Greek, slave and free, male and female.

In other words, it is for those who may not be like you. It is also for those who may be just like you. Think about that last statement. I know that if I found someone “just like me,” I would pray for them continuously, for I know the sins that they would be fighting.

We, as the Body of Christ, come from many different backgrounds. We must prevent these differences from separating us from the rest of the Body of Christ, and from Jesus. We come from many different traditions. Traditions are a funny thing. A tradition is simply a routine way of doing something. They are man-made and must not get in our way of rejoicing with each other about the birth of Jesus.

I once heard someone tell a story about a young bride who, after getting married, wanted to cook a pot roast for her husband. She bought the needed pot and the roast. She then called her mother to get instructions. After listening to her mother, she asked a very serious question. “Why did you always cut off the end of the roast? I want to do it exactly like you.” Her mother’s response was that she cut the roast because her pot was too small. It appears that not all traditions are ones that we need to continue.

Since we are all one in Christ Jesus, what “traditions” do we allow to keep us separated? If we are all sons of God through faith in Christ, why do we often treat our brothers and sisters like we do? I can hear some of you thinking that this is what brothers and sisters do. I honestly hope that the Body of Christ does not act like natural brothers and sisters. We should show the world a different side.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
(John 13:34-35 (NIV))

Can the world tell that you are a disciple of Jesus?

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Hope and not despair!

December 9, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.
Those who know your name will trust in you,
for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.
Sing praises to the LORD, enthroned in Zion;
proclaim among the nations what he has done.
(Psalms 9:9-11 (NIV))

God is a God of hope, not despair. When we are faced with the troubles that the world brings upon us, look up. God gives us hope. Hope for tomorrow. Hope for justice. Hope for eternity. He is our refuge in times of trouble.

Yet, He is more than that. He is our rock, our foundation. Through Jesus Christ, He has given us hope of salvation for the world. He has given those who believe a knowledge of peace that those who don’t believe do not have. If this is not a place of refuge, then we have no place to truly take refuge. God knows what we need and what we seek. It is a place of safety and hope. That place is provided through Jesus Christ.

Sing praises to God and tell everyone you know what God has done for you.

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are we so stuck in our ways?

December 8, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue. He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!” (which means, “Be opened!”). At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly.
(Mark 7:33-35 (NIV))

Have you ever stopped to realize that sometimes the things that actually get us to pay attention, to open our eyes and ears, are the very things that may seem absurd to us?

Think about that in relation to this passage.

How many of us would draw back if someone put their fingers in our ears and then spit and touched our tongue? Would we be willing to allow the actions to continue? If you are like me, then the actions would have been observed reluctantly and cautiously, or they would have been stopped.

Why? Simply because it goes against conventional wisdom and ettiqutte. We have “knowledge” of what is supposed to happen and how it is to happen. If something falls outside of this “knowledge,” then we are prone to not accept it.

Now, let’s put a spin on this concept. Let’s test our faith.

What if Jesus asked you to go to the ends of the earth to spread His Gospel? Does this fall within your “knowledge” of what is supposed to happen? Turn the tables on who is asking whom. Picture yourself in a situation in which you could be the recipient of a large amount of money. It is not too difficult to imagine yourself asking God for it to come to be true. You may find yourself making all types of promises to God simply because it is in your interest and your “knowledge” of how things should work.

Are our eyes and ears any more open than the man we are told of in Mark? Are we willing to step outside of our conventional “knowledge” when we are confronted with what God has in store for us? Are we willing to look at things that are absurd in our eyes with the eyes of Jesus? Are we willing to take that proverbial step outside of our comfort zone in order to meet Jesus upon the road that He leads us?

Think about that.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the LORD.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
(Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV))

Are we so stuck in our ways that we miss what God is willing to do, and is doing, in our lives?

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

December 7, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.
(John 3:36 (NIV))

With Christmas rapidly approaching, this passage puts a whole new spin and sad perspective on things for those who refuse to say “Merry Christmas.”

This celebration has been in effect for almost two thousand years as a way for humanity to give thanks and to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It is true that the early church picked a day that had been a day of celebration for the “barbarian” tribes of Europe, but, even so, the celebration and the season has been Christmas for many more years than can actually be traced historically.

It is the time that we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Is it possible that the simple act of refusing to say “Merry Christmas” is an actual rejection of Jesus as told of in John 3:36?

Think about that.

These people who refuse to say “Merry Christmas” are still very willing to celebrate and some are even willing to be nice to those around them, yet, they reject the very reason that we celebrate.

I find it ironic that the very day that we, as the Body of Christ, celebrate the gift of grace, mercy and life, many people are taking a stand that may result in their loss of eternal life. I often wonder just how Satan managed to plant the seed within people to get them to refuse life.

Believing in the Son is rapidly becoming a dividing line. It appears as if the weeds are rapidly growing.

“The owner’s servants came to him and said, `Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’
” `An enemy did this,’ he replied.
“The servants asked him, `Do you want us to go and pull them up?’
” `No,’ he answered, `because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’ ”
(Matthew 13:27-30 (NIV))

Be sure to wish someone a Merry Christmas each and every day. If it isn’t Christmas time, tell them of the grace and mercy that Jesus brought to the world. Offer Jesus to everyone.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
(John 3:16 (NIV))

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Tell others about the fantastic gift

December 6, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.
(1 Thessalonians 5:9-10 (NIV))

Nobody wants to suffer wrath, but it is a guaranteed result if we do not accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior. It is such a simple thing to avoid.

During this season, when society has taken the true meaning out of Christmas, we must not allow society to creep into our lives in this manner. We must remember why we celebrate and then reach others so that they, too, will know the true meaning of Christmas. We celebrate Jesus’ birth with the knowledge that the birth of Jesus was the beginning of what God had planned for all of humanity – salvation to all who would simply seek and accept it.

Christmas is a time for celebration, for as the verse says, “whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.” We must remember to tell others about this fantastic gift that was so freely given and help them to receive it.

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

December 5, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, As much as in all riches.
(Psalms 119:14 (NAS))

What good do riches do? They will be lost or turn to dust. They will turn friends into bitter enemies. They will turn enemies into fake friends. Do not rejoice in what riches bring!

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
(Matthew 6:19-21(NIV))

The Word of God is the ultimate treasure. God is the same yesterday, today and forever. He does not change. He is truth. When we read about what God has done or what He has said He will do, it is as good as done. God cannot lie. He cannot do anything that is against His nature. His “testimonies” are written in His Word. We can rejoice in the faith, and the fact, that all that God promises will come true.

Consider Jesus.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
(John 1:1(NIV))

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
(John 1:14(NIV))

Jesus is the Word of God made flesh. Jesus is God’s testimony to us. Jesus is the Truth because everything that God speaks is true. Jesus is the Word made flesh. Jesus is truth among us!

That is something to rejoice about!

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