Are you always joyful?

November 21, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV))

Think about this passage. Take it to heart and answer honestly and truthfully.

Are you always joyful? Do you pray continually? Do you give thanks in all circumstances?

If you answered “No” to any of these questions, then are you truly within God’s will for your life?

Jesus came to offer us grace and mercy. He came so that we could be free from the laws of sin and death. If we have accepted Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, we should be ecstatic and overflowing with joy for we have escaped eternal death. Do we live our lives as if we truly embraced this fabulous gift? Are we truly thankful for what Jesus did for us so that we can share in God’s grace and mercy?

I would like to challenge each and every single one of us, including myself. I would like to see each of us truly reflect upon what we have to be thankful for and live our lives in fulfillment of Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians. The next time that someone cuts you off while you are driving, be joyful in your actions. Pray for the driver. Give thanks that no one was hurt. You never know what that person is dealing with. They may be rushing to the hospital to see a loved one who was in an accident. The next time you present an idea at work and someone else gets the credit, be joyful that the idea was accepted. Pray for the person who lied about the ownership of the idea. Give thanks that you have been able to contribute.

I could go on an on about situations that we all encounter on a daily basis, but I think that you get the picture. Life is a precious gift. Life is short. In fact, it is too short to allow things to come between you and God. For that matter, it is too short to allow things to come between you and anybody else.

Reflect upon your attitude this Thanksgiving. Come to God’s throne with a humble attitude of joy, prayer and thanks.

May your Thanksgiving truly be one where you give thanks for all of your blessings. May it extend to every day of your life.

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you truly thankful?

November 20, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Then the Lord said,
“Because this people draw near
with their words
And honor Me with their lip service,
But they remove their hearts far from Me,
And their reverence for Me
Consists of tradition learned by rote,
Therefore behold, I will once
again deal marvelously with
this people, wondrously marvelous;
And the wisdom of their wise men shall perish,
And the discernment of their discerning men shall be concealed.”
(Isaiah 29:13-14 (unknown))

Are we guilty of “tradition learned by rote?”

Are our church services merely a series of traditions that we do because they are the way that we learned them? Do we understand the true meaning behind the traditions?

God spoke through Isaiah against meaningless traditions. Judgement was poured out on the descendants of Israel for simply doing “what they have always done.” They had forgotten that these traditions were actually acts of worship. Worship is not the act of doing things because that is the way they have always been done. It is a sincere reverence for God. It is a “thanksgiving” for what God has done for us, and not a series of rituals done in a certain sequence. God wants us to follow the intent of the Law, and not the letter of the Law. Jesus spoke against the Pharisees for following the letter of the Law without following the intent.

Are you bound by tradition learned by rote?

Are you truly thankful?

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

November 19, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

And afterward,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your old men will dream dreams,
your young men will see visions.
Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days.
I will show wonders in the heavens
and on the earth,
blood and fire and billows of smoke.
The sun will be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood
before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD.
And everyone who calls
on the name of the LORD will be saved;
for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem
there will be deliverance,
as the LORD has said,
among the survivors
whom the LORD calls.
(Joel 2:28-32 (NIV))

This passage has been quoted for many years to bring both fear and hope to those who hear it.

For those people who do not have the grace and mercy that is freely theirs through the gift of salvation brought by Jesus Christ, it is a time to fear. All who do not believe in Jesus as God’s only begotten Son choose to reject these words as the false ramblings of an old book that no longer has any meaning in the world today. They choose to believe that they are in control of themselves and they only have to answer to themselves. These people do not know that they have anything to fear, yet, they should be very fearful for what they will surely face.

For those people who know the grace and mercy freely given to them through the blood of Jesus, and who study God’s Word to know Him, they know that God always keeps His word. They know that He has promised salvation to those who call upon His name in earnestness and honesty. They know that they will not face this, but will have deliverance. These people know the hope that these words speak of.

Which of these two groups honestly knows the fear that these words speak of? It is not those who do not believe, for they are in a false peace brought about because of their ignorance. It is the body of believers who also know the fear. They fear, and hopefully pray, for the those who do not believe, for ignorance will not save them.

Pray for those who are trapped in their own ignorance of their sin and their need for grace and mercy through our Savior, Jesus Christ!

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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God’s Holy City of Jerusalem

November 16, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
“May those who love you be secure.
May there be peace within your walls
and security within your citadels.”
(Psalms 122:6-7 (NIV))

It seems that every time that you turn on the television or the radio, or read the news on the Internet or in a newspaper, there is something going on in Israel. Recent events are no exception.

Have you ever wondered why such a little nation is the focus of so much attention?

First of all, it is mentioned 760 times in the Bible. In 2 Chronicles 12:13, it is referred to as “Jerusalem, the city the LORD had chosen out of all the tribes of Israel.”

It is clear that Jerusalem has held a special place in the eyes of God. Perhaps more important is the role that it is to play in the fulfillment of God’s plan.

I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.
(Revelations 21:2 (NIV))

Jerusalem is the only city that is mentioned as being in existence after Jesus’ return. Perhaps even more important is the fact that is is called “the Holy City” and is remade in the way that God desires for it to be.

In the eyes of the world, Jerusalem is not that important. However, we must learn to look beyond the eyes of the world and see things through the eyes of God. To God, there is no city that is more important. According to His plan, all of history hinges on Jerusalem: history that has happened and history that has yet to happen. We must be prepared for what is to happen. We must read God’s Word and study what is said about this city. We must look at it through the eyes of an eternal God, for it is the home city of our faith.

Think about that last statement. Jerusalem is our spiritual home town. It is the root and we have been grafted into it as the branches.

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How do you see yourself?

November 15, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: `God, I thank you that I am not like other men–robbers, evildoers, adulterers–or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, `God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
(Luke 18:10-14 (NIV))

Do you compare yourself to other people? Do you find their faults and fail to recognize the faults that you possess? Are you grateful that you are not like they are? Brace yourself ! Here it comes! Do you congratulate yourself on not being like others?

I know that these are painful questions, but they are questions that we must ask ourselves. We don’t want to get so full of ourselves that we think our set of filthy rags make us more righteous than someone else and their set of filthy rags. Even worse, we don’t want to get to the point where we think that we don’t have any filthy rags.

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))

Once again it is a matter of attitude. We must not elevate ourselves to the point that we feel that we are better than others. We must see ourselves as the reflection truly is. We must see ourselves as the sinful creature that is in need of grace and mercy. If we see ourselves as anything else, we are lying to ourselves. We are also trying to lie to God. He sees the truth.

How do you see yourself? How do you see others?

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

November 14, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good–except God alone. You know the commandments: `Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’ ”
(Luke 18:18-20 (NIV))

People are still asking the same question today. The answer has not changed.

We are to keep the commandments, but we have been bought by grace for the times when we stumble.

This does not mean that we can apply the current feel good philosophy to these principles. We cannot take a look at ourselves and say that we had a difficult childhood, so that excuses my behavior. We cannot take a look at ourselves and proclaim that the reason we have sexual sin is because we were neglected as a child and are seeking love. We cannot claim that we were made fun of as a child because we were poor and that is the reason that we steal. We cannot claim that we were not told the difference between right and wrong and that is why we lie.

Society has taken the personal responsibility out of everything and look where it has gotten us.

The Bible did not tell us that we should not commit adultery or sexual sin unless we were born that way. The Bible did not tell us not to murder unless we were born with rage inside of us. The Bible did not tell us not to steal unless we were born with a disorder. The Bible did not tell us not to lie unless we would benefit from the lie.

We are told plain and simply “Do not” with no disclaimers and no exceptions.

If the Bible tells us not to do something, man has no right to claim that we are not bound by His instructions because we were created differently.

There is one sin that people are claiming that they were born that way. Consider another sin in comparison.

Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.
(Ephesians 5:18 (NIV))

If people who are prone to alcoholism claim that they are born that way, does society, does the family and does the individual excuse the behavior and the sin? Does God excuse the behavior and the sin?

Each person has something that Satan uses to trap you. God does not tell us to stay strong in all areas of our lives except what Satan is attacking us with. We are told to turn from all attacks of the enemy whether they are pride, greed, lust, gluttony, envy, or any other thing. We are not told to pick a favorite and embrace it.

God gave us instructions for a reason. He gave us grace for when we truly desire to but cannot fulfill these instructions.

Grace is a choice. Fighting the temptations from Satan is a choice. We know that we are sinners, but if we accept the lie that we are born that way and cannot change, we have already lost our salvation.

God did not send Jesus to teach and to die on the cross so that we could claim a false reason to keep on sinning.

Stay strong in God’s Word.

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

November 13, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

The sun will no more be your light by day,
nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you,
for the LORD will be your everlasting light,
and your God will be your glory.
Your sun will never set again,
and your moon will wane no more;
the LORD will be your everlasting light,
and your days of sorrow will end.
(Isaiah 60:19-20 (NIV))

There will come a day when the “light” as we now know it will no longer shine, for it is imperfect and will be replaced by perfection. One day, the radiance that is God will be the only light that we will need. God has given us a glimpse of this light through Jesus Christ.

While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
(John 9:5(NIV))

Jesus came into this world so that we could know God and fellowship with Him without the burdens of our sin and shame to keep us from God. Those who call upon the name of Jesus have the light of the Lord within them and we are called to share this “Light” with the world.

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
(Matthew 5:14-16(NIV))

We do not have the awesome radiance that God’s presence will shine, but we have been given the Light of the Lord, Jesus Christ ,within us. If Jesus is the light of the world and we ask Jesus into our hearts, then our hearts should shine with the love of Jesus and the love of God, after all, Jesus told us that those who love Him would do the things that He did.

Jesus brought the light of God’s love into this world and let it shine for anyone who would see! Are you shining your part of the “Light” until God’s radiance illuminates us all?

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