What has God done for you?

July 17, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
(Psalms 136:1 (NIV))

When was the last time that you truly read and comprehended these words?

God is so good that His love truly does endure forever. David realized this when he wrote these words. David did not stop with these words only. He wrote and wrote about the good things that God has done and with each one, he emphasized that God’s love never ends.

Perhaps we should take a minute to read and reflect on what David wrote.

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever.
to him who alone does great wonders,
His love endures forever.
who by his understanding made the heavens,
His love endures forever.
who spread out the earth upon the waters,
His love endures forever.
who made the great lights–
His love endures forever.
the sun to govern the day,
His love endures forever.
the moon and stars to govern the night;
His love endures forever.
to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt
His love endures forever.
and brought Israel out from among them
His love endures forever.
with a mighty hand and outstretched arm;
His love endures forever.
to him who divided the Red Sea asunder
His love endures forever.
and brought Israel through the midst of it,
His love endures forever.
but swept Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea;
His love endures forever.
to him who led his people through the desert,
His love endures forever.
who struck down great kings,
His love endures forever.
and killed mighty kings–
His love endures forever.
Sihon king of the Amorites
His love endures forever.
and Og king of Bashan–
His love endures forever.
and gave their land as an inheritance,
His love endures forever.
an inheritance to his servant Israel;
His love endures forever.
to the One who remembered us in our low estate
His love endures forever.
and freed us from our enemies,
His love endures forever.
and who gives food to every creature.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of heaven.
His love endures forever
(Psalms 136: 1-26 (NIV))

We would be hard pressed to list that many things in our lives that we are willing to give God the credit and the glory for. David did it. He gave God the glory for all things. Perhaps this is why he was called a man after God’s own heart.

There are things in my life that I pray would change, yet perhaps I should be thankful for them and wait on God to lead me through them instead.

What can you list that God has done for you?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Has your nature changed?

July 16, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
(Romans 5:8 (NIV))

I was recently presented with a concept that has made me look at this passage with more gratitude for what God has done for us through His Son, Jesus.

It is common knowledge that humanity has fallen from grace and that we have fallen into sin. It is also an accepted fact by the church that we are all sinners in need of a Savior. But, the question that was presented to me has had me reflecting on the answer for a few days. It is an answer that eludes me, but it brings some interesting things to the table.

The question sounds simple.

Are we sinners because we sin, or do we sin because we are sinners?

To be honest, my first reaction was that we are sinners because we sin.

Why do we sin?

If we sin because we are sinners, that means that our human nature has been set to seek sin. We seek after the things that are wrong. In other words, humanity has a sinful nature. Individually we sin because we have a sinful nature. We sin due to the fact that since the fall from grace, the righteous nature has been replaced with a sinful nature.

“While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

If you realize that it is in our nature to sin, this takes on a whole new meaning.

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))

We are truly the filthy rags. We are not capable of doing good without grace, for we are all prone to sin. We sin because we have a sinful nature. Sin is anything that goes against the will of God.

Let me explain through an extreme example.

It is a sharks nature to feed. We have all seen the feeding frenzies. They cannot help their nature. It is deadly for anything that gets in the middle of it. Our sin is just as deadly for anyone who gets in the middle of it. Jesus did get in the middle of it. He came to provide a way for us to break the stranglehold that our sinful human nature has upon us. He came to provide a way, the only way, to change our nature. We were born, as human beings, into the life that has us sin because it is in our nature. We sinned because we were sinners.

We have been washed clean!

I just realized that this concept puts a whole new meaning into the concept of being born again. Our first birth was into the sinful nature that we could not escape. Our second birth, through Jesus, is into a renewed being who has had the sinful nature removed. Christ died for us while we still had that sinful nature. Through His death and resurrection, we have grace and mercy. We are free from our sinful nature.

Could our status change?

I honestly believe that it is at this point when we move from sinning because we have a sinful nature to one where we are sinners because we still sin. The difference is a matter of priorities. Being a sinner because we still sin implies that we have surrendered ourselves to Jesus and that we are seeking His Will. We will not be perfect in our walk. We will still sin. We will miss the mark, but it is our desire to follow God’s will.

I want to present one more idea for you to think about. It will require personal reflection.

Since accepting Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, do you feel that your nature has changed? Do you still find yourself thinking and doing the same sinful things you did before your salvation? Now, think about the sins that you feel that you need to lay at the foot of the cross. Have these changed since your salvation?

Do you feel that you have moved, through the power of the Holy Spirit, from a sinful nature to someone who sins?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Will you accept this gift?

July 13, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

The LORD bless you
and keep you;
the LORD make his face shine upon you
and be gracious to you;
the LORD turn his face toward you
and give you peace.
(Numbers 6:24-26 (NIV))

That is all that we can hope for. All that we can pray for. This is what our hearts long for.

When this was first given to Aaron as a means of blessing Israel, it was their prayer as well. God wants to bless us and give us peace. The children of Israel had God with them for a long time in the form of a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. They experienced God’s presence on a daily basis, yet, they rebelled against His love by not obeying God’s commands. As a result, it took them forty years to enter the Promised Land, and those who originally rebelled did not live to enter.

Today, we have the grace and mercy given to us through Jesus. It is this grace and mercy that allows us to approach the throne of God completely righteous in the eyes of God.

When this was written, God came to us and we rebelled. Now, through Jesus, we can approach God if our heart desires it. Today, the message is the same as it was when Numbers was written. God wants to bless you and give you peace.

It is God’s gift to each of us. It is given through Jesus.

Will you accept this gift through Jesus?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Lord, enlarge my territory so that you may be glorified!

July 12, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, “I gave birth to him in pain.” Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.
(1 Chronicles 4:9-10 (NIV))

Oh, that you would bless me!

This is something that we all think, and probably most of us actually pray it as well. Many sermons have been taught on the principle that God wants to bless us. The good thing is that He does want to bless us!

He wants to bless us so that we can be a blessing to others. He does not want to bless those who will hoard his blessings and keep them for themselves. He wishes to bless those who will, in turn, bless others through what He has blessed them with. A pastor once put it in a way that tells it well. He said that he did not want to be a jar for God to pour His blessings into. He wanted to be a teapot or a pitcher that was designed to pour out for others. He wished to received the blessings so that he could pour out the blessings to others.

Perhaps this is why God granted the prayers of Jabez, for he did not simply ask to be blessed. He asked to have his territory enlarged. Jabez honored God by asking for God to be with him. If God is with you, He will use you to spread the news of what He has done. If you are used by God to spread His Gospel, then you will be blessed. Your circle of influence will increase so that God can be glorified.

Look at the men and women of today who glorify God in all that they do. God has increased their circle of influence so that more people can be blessed through them.

Be careful in your heart when asking God to bless you. Do not let human nature take control and simply ask to be a blessing to others so that you will be blessed, after all, God knows what is in your heart.

It is my prayer for all who fervently seek the Lord to have their territory enlarged so that they may be His witness in all that they do. I also seek your prayers for this ministry that God has given to me. I pray that if Daily Living Ministries has touched your life, to please share that with those around you. I seek your prayers to help under gird me and to keep me focused on what God has called me to do. The world offers many distractions. I desire to avoid the distractions. I desire to enlarge my territory. Perhaps I should rephrase that. I desire to enlarge the territory that God has granted me. I do not do it for any personal gain or for any notoriety. That is not the reward that I seek.

Lord, enlarge my territory so that you may be glorified.

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What are you like on the inside?

July 11, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.
(Matthew 23:25-26 (NIV))

How many people do you know that put up appearances? The way they look from the outside is all righteous, but when no one is around, or they are in different company, they are completely different. Jesus spoke of people like this. There were people like that then and there are still people like it now.

What are you like on the inside? Do you change or do you stay consistent in your words and actions? Be sure that your motives are of God on the inside, and then what the world sees will also be of God.

I find it interesting that far too many people only look at the outside. They look at what the world sees. Have you come to the realization that worldly attitudes call for false facades? We try to be perfect on the outside because we, as a society, have been shown a picture of perfection all of our lives. This is a perfection that calls for the perfect body, perfect hair, the perfect job, the perfect house and the perfect attitude all the while we ignore what really matters.

In other words, we are all show and no substance.

What happens when age takes the body and the mortgage on the perfect house ties you to a job that has lost its perfection. Life is not about appearances. Life is not about looking good to the world.

When all of the outside trappings have lost their luster, what do you have?

You have what is on the inside. If you have spent your whole life focusing on the outside, then your world is easily turned upside down. Jesus called the Pharisees out for their teachings, but I think that we can also look at what society teaches us in the same manner.

The old saying, “You are what you eat,” comes to mind. If we fill ourselves with greed and self-indulgence, then we are nothing on the inside but greed and self-indulgence. If we fill ourselves with Jesus, then what are we on the inside?

I honestly believe that when we fill ourselves with Jesus, we bear fruit!

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. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
(Galatians 5:22-25 (NIV))

Once again, I think that I need to ask, what are you like on the inside?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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And that is what some of you were!

July 10, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
(1 Corinthians 6:11 (NIV))

“And that is what some of you were!”

Do you like to be reminded of the mistakes that you have made in life? Do you like to be reminded of the terrible things that you have done?

Better yet, do you like to be reminded that all that has happened is in the past? It is forgiven!

The enemy likes to twist things around and remind us of what we were. He drives it home. He uses it to keep us from the grace and mercy that we have been given through Jesus.

Have you ever stopped to contemplate that Satan also twists this in such a way that he gets people to ignore the part about “And that is what some of you were?” He uses the concept that Jesus came to redeem us, to offer us grace and mercy. However, he twists this to the point where people believe that they can stay in their sin because God is love. I believe the biggest lie that the enemy uses is the one where people think that God will allow them entry to heaven because they are a good person. I know many so-called “good people” who live a life of sin but refuse to even consider giving up that sin.

God is love, but He did not send His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross so that we can continue to sin. He sent His Son to provide an example of how we should live and to offer us grace when we fail to live up to the standard. Jesus did not come into this world and tell us that we could do whatever we wanted. There is not a single scripture passage or quote where this concept is even suggested.

Pray that those who believe the lies will have their hearts opened so that they will know. Pray that they will have their eyes opened so that they will see. Pray that they will have their minds opened so that they will understand. It is my prayer for both those lost in the lies and for those who strive to walk daily with Jesus that all may claim this passage for themselves.

And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
(1 Corinthians 6:11 (NIV))

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you have reason to rejoice?

July 9, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Blessed are you when men hate you,
when they exclude you and insult you
and reject your name as evil,
because of the Son of Man.

“Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated the prophets.
(Luke 6:22-23 (NIV))

In this day and age when good is considered evil and what is evil in the sight of God is considered good, hold fast to the truth that comes from God!

When believers face persecution because we take a stand for the Ten Commandments, we are living out the words of Luke 6:22. When we are labeled as old-fashioned and bigoted because we take a stand against what is wrong in God’s eyes, we are living out the words of Luke 6:22. Don’t give in to what the world says is correct. Stay focused on the Word of God and what He calls you to do and remember that we are told that we can rejoice when this happens. Our reward awaits us in heaven from God the Father for we did not buckle under the pressure that the world sends our way.

Do you have reason to rejoice?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What is your reaction?

July 6, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

She caught him by his cloak and said, “Come to bed with me!” But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house.
(Genesis 39:12 (NIV))

I think that we are all familiar with the story of Joseph in Potiphar’s house. How many of us would put forth such an effort to escape from the presence of sin?

Today’s society puts forth a belief system that truth is relative and that if two people consent to something, then it cannot be wrong. We, as the church, must stand firm in our faith just as Joseph stood firm in his. He knew how God called each of us to live and Joseph had made a commitment to stay true to that calling. Even when sin presented itself in such a way that he probably would never have gotten caught, Joseph knew that it was wrong. He wasted no time in removing himself from the situation. He was more concerned about doing what was right in the eyes of God than he was about the immediate gratification.

Are we like Joseph?

Would we run from sin? Would we leave all modesty behind us because it is the lesser of the options? In other words, are we willing to humiliate ourselves in the eyes of the world because we desire to remain sin free in the eyes of God?

When confronted with the opportunity to sin, what is your reaction? Do you think to yourself that no one will ever know, or do you stand firm in your faith regardless of the consequences?

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

July 5, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.
(2 Corinthians 6:3-10 (NIV))

Contradictions!

According to the world view, we are totally wrong in our faith, yet, according to God’s Laws we are totally right in all that we believe. Even though we are right in our faith, we must be humble and willing to endure whatever is presented to us for the sake of those who may be able to be reached. We should never act in such a manner as to give anyone cause to criticize us for making others stumble or fall in their faith.

Paul was an excellent example of what we are to do when faced with hardships because of our faith and our witness. Most of us will never have to face even a portion of the circumstances that Paul had to face for the Gospel. Still, in our everyday lives, we must strive to follow Paul’s example no matter what the circumstances.

No matter what we may face today, tomorrow, or whenever, we must always “REJOICE” for the grace and mercy of God has redeemed us!

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

July 4, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
(Isaiah 61:1 (NIV))

How do you define freedom?

Jul 4th is the day that we, as a nation, celebrate our freedom, but does freedom go deeper than what we have defined in our Declaration of Independence?

What can we, as humanity, be held captive by?

There is tyranny. There is political oppression. There is physical confinement. There is addiction. I am certain that if we try hard enough that we can come up with other things that are capable of holding us captive.

What about fear? What about death? What about the fear of death?

We can celebrate our freedoms that were signed into existence July 4, 1776, and we should rejoice over those freedoms, but there is another freedom that is far more important.

Humanity was condemned by the laws of sin and death, for we had sinned against God. In our sin, all were condemned to be captives of death. All were prisoners of a life that offered no escape from the consequences of this sin. We were, to use a line from a movie, “dead men walking.” We had no hope.

God had another plan!

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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
(John 3:16-18 (NIV))

Jesus came into the world to offer us grace and mercy. His willingness to go to the cross for us paved the way for His resurrection. His resurrection gives freedom to all who will profess that Jesus is Lord and Savior.

July 4th is an important date in our history, for it gave us freedoms that no other government had ever granted to its citizens. No matter how great these freedoms may be, they pale in comparison to the freedom that was given to us through the cross. As you celebrate with family and friends, don’t forget where true freedom comes from. It is not through a man-made declaration written in ink. It is from a God ordained declaration written in the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ. It is a declaration that was validated at the resurrection. It is a declaration that has no specific date. It is a declaration that each of us must accept for ourselves.

Only this declaration offers what no other can offer.

True freedom!

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