Reality Check

February 15, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“The King will reply, `I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’
(Matthew 25:40 (NIV))

I read this and a question immediately came to mind. It was a question that sent chills down my spine. It was a question that made me realize that I can be considered one of the least of these and that I too am also someone who needs to do for others.

Think about that and then answer the same question that came to mind when I read this passage.

Have you ever felt that you were insignificant?

It is human nature to want to believe that we are of great worth and that we are worth more than our fellow brothers and sisters. This is pride.

The LORD detests all the proud of heart.
Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.
(Proverbs 16:5 (NIV))

Before his downfall a man’s heart is proud,
but humility comes before honor.
(Proverbs 18:12 (NIV))

Our significance does not come from our deeds, actions or abilities. It comes from grace. If we could not earn our salvation, then we can make no claim to be proud of.

All of us have become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
we all shrivel up like a leaf,
and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
(Isaiah 64:6 (NIV))

Are we proud to be a filthy rag? Are we any better than other filthy rags in the pile? We may find that we are not on the bottom of that pile, but that does not make us better than others. Eventually, all rags have one of two things happen to them. They are either washed or they are tossed away and destroyed. The rags do not have a say in what happens. We, as the Body of Christ, have proclaimed a faith in Jesus as the one and only one who can pick us up and wash us clean. We have made a stand and we have had a say in what becomes of us.

If we are as filthy rags, we are included in the least of these whether we admit it or not. Have you ever stopped to think that what you do for others means that you are doing it for Jesus?

And, now, the reality check !

Have you ever stopped to think that what someone does for you, they are doing for Jesus?

This puts things in a whole new perspective.

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Who is worthy of your praise?

February 14, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

In a loud voice they sang:
“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and praise!”
(Revelation 5:12 (NIV))

Who do you praise?

Are you so wrapped up in the world that you sing the praises of those people who have wealth and power? Do you long for your own little piece of the pie – a pie that is baked solely on the sinful nature of this world since the Garden of Eden? No matter how you slice it, it only brings about more sin.

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))

Isn’t it a wonderful blessing to have been given grace through God’s Son, Jesus? Through Him, we can escape the sinful nature and the life destroying consequences of sin. We can rejoice for we have been given a new lease on life that does not include eternal separation from God. We should direct all of our praise to Jesus for He is the Lamb of God.

Who is worthy of your praise?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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I have accepted my position

February 13, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant–not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
(2 Corinthians 3:6 (NIV))

It has been said that the Old Testament and The Law are there to show us what we are supposed to do and how difficult it is to do it. If this is true, then the New Testament is there to show us that we have another way. The Law is there as the letter that we must follow perfectly and never falter or waiver from its course. The Spirit is given to us by the grace and mercy shown at the cross. The Spirit gives us redemption and salvation. It gives us freedom from the Law. This freedom does not mean that we are able to ignore the Law and do whatever we want. It means that we are given grace for we are not capable of being perfect even when we desire it with all of our hearts. It allows us to be human. It allows us to make mistakes and then learn from our mistakes.

The twist to all of this is that through the Spirit, we are all ministers one to another. In the Old Testament and under the Law, ministers had to be set apart from the rest of society. They had to be ceremonially pure. They had to be followers of the letter of the Law. If they did not follow the letter of the Law, they faced the possibility of death in the presence of God.

Today, we have grace and mercy as our mantle. We have salvation through the blood of Jesus. We have the Spirit. Through the Spirit, we are given life in the presence of God, were, before the Spirit, we only faced death. Speaking for myself, I do not long to follow the letter of the Law, for it is inflexible and unforgiving. I want forgiveness and mercy, for I know that I am not perfect and cannot ever achieve perfection on my own.

I need grace!

I need to help others find that grace!

I, in all of my human shortcomings, am a minister of that grace. I have accepted my position.

Have you accepted yours?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Thirst

February 10, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)
The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans. )
Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
“Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?”
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
(John 4:7-15 (NIV))

All of our lives we thirst.

We thirst for water. We thirst for knowledge. We thirst for love. We thirst for something that we just can’t describe. We know instinctively that there is something that we need, but we just can’t put our finger on it.

What Jesus described to the Samaritan woman intrigued her. It sounded too good to be true, and in the physical world, it is. We are physical beings bound by the laws of the physical world, unless God intervenes. What Jesus was offering was that intervention.

Think for a moment about how you feel when you are extremely thirsty. Now, imagine the satisfaction of a cool, refreshing drink of water. How does that make you feel? If you are like me, there is nothing like the complete refreshment that such an experience brings. Some smart ad agency even capitalized on this sensation years ago when they marketed a brand of tea by showing the “plunge.”

Now, imagine a spiritual refreshment that brings the same sensation – the same feeling of refreshment.

In our humanity, we are not used to things that never fade or never change. We are used to constantly needing to replenish what we have. This is true of everything, and some people have even taken this to extremes with feelings of exhilaration that they try to use as the refreshing sensation. They long to fill themselves with something that will bring them peace, joy and, yes, refreshing.

People are seeking what can only be found in one source. People are seeking something that will bring them satisfaction – something that will never go away.

Think about that for a moment.

How did you feel when you first accepted Jesus? If you are like me, you felt refreshed and renewed. You felt ready to live. You felt energized. You felt the power of the living water.

Does the living water still refresh you?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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A man planted a vineyard

February 9, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

A man planted a vineyard, and let it out to tenants, and went into another country for a long while. When the time came, he sent a servant to the tenants, that they should give him some of the fruit of the vineyard; but the tenants beat him, and sent him away empty-handed. And he sent another servant; him also they beat and treated shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed. And he sent yet a third; this one they wounded and cast out. Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; it may be they will respect him.’ But when the tenants saw him, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir; let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours.’ And they cast him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy those tenants, and give the vineyard to others.
(Luke 20:9-16 (RSV))

God created a beautiful place when He created the earth. Unfortuantely, the tenants that inhabited the land did not listen to Him and soon had turned over control to someone else.

These tenants would not listen to God. They would not listen to Noah. THey would not listen to Moses. They wanted complete control.

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, `Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’ ”
(Matthew 23:37-39 (NIV))

These tenants would not listen to God’s prophets. So, God sent His only Son, Jesus, to redeem the world to Him.

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))

The tenants killed God’s Son thinking that they would then inherit the world and all that is in it.

What will God do?

He will come and destroy those tenants, but those who call upon the name of Jesus will not be destroyed. They will be the ones to whom He gives the vineyard.

We must realize that we are the tenants that this parable speaks of and that we must reject the ways of the “vineyard” and turn toward God.

Do we desire to take what is not ours or do we wish to inherit what God desires to give us?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Correct, rebuke and encourage

February 8, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction.
(2 Timothy 4:2 (NIV))

Did you catch the three words in the middle of this passage? Chances are that most people tend to ignore them and focus on the first part where we are told to “Preach the Word,” yet many of us fail at this as well.

What three words do we want to ignore?

Correct, rebuke and encourage.

Why are these three words so hard for us to take to heart? Why do we shudder at the thought of actually doing anything related to these words? Why do we find it so difficult to offer correction when we know what is truth? Are we afraid that they will point out the correction that we need? Why do we hesitate to rebuke when we know the One who has all power and authority? Are we afraid that we might end up rebuking ourselves and be shamed in the process? Why do we find it so difficult to encourage others to walk in faith? Is it because we are secretly struggling with our own walk?

Human nature is a funny thing. We tend to avoid things that will actually give us away or things that we feel uncomfortable doing. How many criminals do you know who will report a crime? How many alcoholics will admit they need help? How many sinners will admit that they need a Savior?

Ah, hah!

I played that card.

Even though we may admit that we are in need of a Savior, do we fully embrace it and fully surrender to it? Do we simply try to do the least that we can do to get by? Plus, we feel that we are no better than others so what gives us the right to correct, rebuke and encourage?

Jesus gives us that right!

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))

Jesus did these very things when He walked the earth. He did them out of love. He did them to show people the way to the Father. He did them so that they would have a full life.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
(John 10:10 (NIV))

Are you ready to do what Jesus did? Are you willing to show love? Are you willing to help open the eyes of those who are in darkness? Go forth in love.

Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction.
(2 Timothy 4:2 (NIV))

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Don’t forget your armor!

February 7, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
(Ephesians 6:10-11 (NIV))

This is particularly important to me right now. I am positive that it is also very important to others as well. We must be strong in our faith no matter what the enemy tries to send our way. He will lose if we simply call upon the name of the Lord to fight our battles for us.

I just realized something.

Even if we allow God to fight our battles with Satan, we are still to put on the full armor of God.

Think about that.

In a battle, unfortunately, those not directly involved will still get hurt. God’s armor will allow us to take that stand. It will allow us to bravely confront Satan and remind him that God will be our champion. Without that armor, would you confront Satan? Without a bulletproof vest, would you confront an armed robber? It is the same principle. God’s armor is our defense, our safety, our shield, and our salvation.

We are in a battle every day. Some days, it is just a little more obvious, but you never know when it will escalate. Always be prepared. Always put on the full armor of God. Stand firm in your faith because you have spent the time to know God and His promises.

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))

Don’t forget your armor!

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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For such a time

February 6, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.
(Matthew 4:23 (NIV))

What would be your reaction to someone doing these things in your community?

Think about it carefully. Not only would this person be teaching and preaching in your church, they would also be healing anybody and everybody of anything that was wrong. Cancer. Diabetes. Paralysis. Blindness. Neurological problems. All would be miraculously healed by a person. Would you follow that person or would you be part of the gossip mill that would follow that person?

I am confident that the very emotions that you would feel are the very same emotions that people felt when Jesus walked the earth and did these wonderful things in Galilee. Human nature wants to embrace the miraculous and embrace the messenger of the miraculous. At the same time, the miraculous is different and human nature is afraid of what we do not know. I do know that I hope I would have accepted Jesus when He walked this earth. I also know that I am human and my faults are the same that kept many from embracing HIm. How about you? Can you say with complete certainty that you would have been one to embrace Jesus for who He is when He first walked this earth?

Sometimes I think that I would like to have lived during Jesus’ time on this earth. I would love to witness the Sermon on the Mount. I would love to walk with Jesus and listen to His teachings. I would hate to see the crucifixion and I would rejoice at the resurrection. I would love to be among the crowd at Pentecost. However, because of my human nature, I am also afraid that if I did not have the perspective of history as reported in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, I would not recognize who was right before me. With that said, it is probably best that I, like Esther, am alive for such a time as this.

God placed each of us in just the right point in history to bless us. Perhaps even more importantly, He placed each one of us in just the right point in history to bless those around us. Pray to be that blessing to others. Pray that you may have the faith to fulfill Jesus’ words.

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))

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Spiritual acuity

February 3, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

On the day the tabernacle, the Tent of the Testimony, was set up, the cloud covered it. From evening till morning the cloud above the tabernacle looked like fire. That is how it continued to be; the cloud covered it, and at night it looked like fire. Whenever the cloud lifted from above the Tent, the Israelites set out; wherever the cloud settled, the Israelites encamped. At the LORD’s command the Israelites set out, and at his command they encamped. As long as the cloud stayed over the tabernacle, they remained in camp. When the cloud remained over the tabernacle a long time, the Israelites obeyed the LORD’s order and did not set out.
(Numbers 9:15-19 (NIV))

Obedience!

I often wonder what I would have done if I had seen these things first hand. Would I have been as obedient or would I have doubted? I like to think that I would have obeyed what God commanded, yet, I find myself doing the opposite in many circumstances. It is not that I mean to disobey. In many occasions, it is a matter of laziness or fear. I have the benefit of being able to look back through history and read about the things that happened. I have the assurance, contrary to what many people today would have you believe, that the Word of God is the Truth. It never fails.

Still, I do.

Perhaps I can pass it off to human nature. Perhaps that is why God chose to manifest His presence over the tabernacle as a cloud by day and a flame by night. God new that we are frail and need constant reminding of His bountiful presence.

Today, we have the Old and the New Testaments. We have the history of the church. We have so much to remind us of God, yet, we often fail to see the wonderful “cloud” or “flame” that God has set before us to guide us. We have become busy with our day to day lives, that we often fail to see the obvious signs from God. We disobey out of spiritual blindness.

What is your spiritual acuity?

Is it good enough that you obey God all of the time?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Turn towards the light.

February 2, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him.
(1 John 2:9-11 (NIV))

It is so easy to be blinded in this life. We still may be capable of seeing with our physical eyes, but we are not capable of discerning with our sprit. Sometimes it is those who have perfect physical vision who see things poorly, for they let their physical eyes divert their spirit towards the things of the flesh.

Just what is darkness?

Is it the lack of light that we all have come to understand, or is there something much deeper and complex in its nature? According to this passage, light has something to do with love and darkness has something to do with hate. Isn’t that interesting, because if you hate you become blinded to anything but your hatred. You live in darkness with respect to being able to see anything of value in the object of your hatred. Soon, this blindness spreads to everything that you touch. It spreads and soon takes control of every aspect of your life.

Light can overcome darkness.

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
(John 8:12 (NIV))

Do you long to see?

Turn towards the light.

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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