Follow the Good Shepherd

January 31, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
(John 10:27 (NIV))

What do you think of when you read this passage?

Do you think of someone blindly following a master or do you think of someone who knows the loving voice and trusts that voice?

In our society, we have developed the term “sheeple” to mean someone who blindly follows. Jesus does not want us to blindly follow. We follow Jesus because we know His teachings and God’s Word. We are told to test everything against God’s Word. We are told that if a teaching does not follow God’s Word, then we are to stay away from it. This is in stark contrast to what the world thinks of Christians. Those who have an honest relationship with Jesus will listen for His voice. They will confirm that what they hear does not contradict God’s Word.

Let’s use an example as reference. This comes straight from today’s headlines and the big discussions about the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution. What if, instead of the government wanting to register guns, they wanted to register Bibles? Would you comply? Would you trust in the power that the information would give to the holder? Would we listen to this voice and be the “sheeple” or would we listen to Jesus and hide God’s Word?

We, as the Body of Christ, must listen with all that we are to discern the voice of Jesus. We do not want to be lead astray because of a lie from the enemy. We do not want to hear Jesus speak these words to us.

You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
(John 8:44 (NIV))

We must be able to discern what Jesus is telling us and verify this against God’s Word.

We, as the Body of Christ, want to follow the good shepherd.

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
(John 10:11-13 (NIV))

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How are you living?

January 30, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him.
(Colossians 2:6 (NIV))

Have you stopped and actually thought about these words? On the surface, they seem straightforward and almost too plain. Take another look.

When you received Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, how was your attitude? Were you sad? Were you humiliated? Were you full of self pity? I would venture to say that you were probably excited. You were probably ready to shout from the highest mountain. You were probably ready to tell the whole world about Jesus. In other words, you were excited and eager to live your life with Jesus.

How do you live your life today? Do you have the same enthusiasm that you once had? Do you have the same eagerness and excitement that you once had? Or, has the newness worn off? Do you find yourself sitting at church and your mind wanders to things that it should not wander to? Do you find yourself occasionally doing things at work that you know you shouldn’t do? Are you losing your excitement? Are you losing the newness of the relationship that you once had with Jesus?

We are instructed to continue to live in Jesus. We must not revert back to the way we were before we accepted Jesus. We must not pick up new sins with the attitude that we are forgiven. Accepting Jesus as personal Lord and Savior means that we desire to leave our sinful nature behind and become more like Jesus. Jesus gave us a gift beyond price. When we accepted it, we had joy, we had peace, and we had excitement. We lived those emotions. Now, we must continue to live as if it were the first day of our salvation. We must live it with joy, peace and excitement.

How are you living?

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Our thoughts condemn us

January 29, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Do not pay attention to every word people say,
or you may hear your servant cursing you–
for you know in your heart
that many times you yourself have cursed others.
(Ecclesiastes 7:21-22 (NIV))

It is human nature to think and say things under your breath. Things that you would not want anyone to even know that you knew. These are the things that are secretly holed away in your heart.

For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.
(Matthew 15:19(NIV))

Perhaps it is this characteristic of humanity that lead Jesus to say:

“If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”
(John 8:7b(NIV))

Not a single one of us is above reproach. Not a single one of us is capable of leading the perfect life that God wishes for us to live. Our thoughts condemn us. Our thoughts manifest themselves as words and deeds. Our words and deeds condemn us. Only one thing that we can do will remove the condemnation from our lives.

We must accept Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior. We must accept His righteousness in exchange for our condemnation. He willingly takes our sin upon His shoulders and gives us His grace and mercy.

We are not perfect. Even if we accept Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, we will stumble. We will curse others in our heart and sometimes, even, under our breath. But, we have a Savior who is living within us, and teaching us that we must follow Him and not give in to that side of our nature.

Do you curse or do you accept righteous instruction?

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Time under heaven

January 28, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
(Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NIV))

Have you ever thought about how you would know what time was called for?

Some are obvious. Birth and death and many others, but most are difficult to determine, especially if we follow the command to love one another.

“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))

How do we balance this command with the words from Ecclesiastes? How do we treat the world and those who flaunt their sin at our faith? I know that everyone is familiar with the story of the prodigal son. This implies that God is patient with us and wishes for us to return. We are to show the same patience with those who flaunt their sin, yet we are also told of what will happen if they do not repent.

If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town. I tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.
(Matthew 10:14-15 (NIV))

How do we respond to those who claim that Jesus is love and yet they still continue in their sin?

How do we, who are called to do as Jesus did, respond when we are told that everything has its time under heaven? Will there be a day when we, as the Body of Christ, are called to hate? Will we be called to kill? Will we be called to turn away when in our hearts we know that we are to love? Will there come a point in time when we can no longer associate with sin because we are called to be with Jesus?

I have come to the conclusion that in order to know the time, we must know Jesus. In order to know Jesus, we must seek Him in all that we do. We cannot follow Jesus while we watch sports or our favorite television show. We follow Jesus by embracing Him in all aspects of our lives. Only then will we be able to begin to understand the time under heaven.

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Love is its own reward

January 25, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
(1 Corinthians 13:1-13 (NIV))

When asked what their one regret is in life, no one has ever said that they wish they spent more time at the office. All of the wisdom or wealth in the world does not replace the one true treasure that this world has to offer.

1 Corinthians speaks of this treasure. When all else fades away, love is the only thing that really matters. The true test of someone’s character is not what they have in terms of wisdom or wealth, but in how much they love and how much they are loved.

Jesus taught out of love. He came to this earth out of love. He went to the cross out of love. He did not go to the cross because it would benefit Him financially. He did it all for love.

When you leave this world, the only thing that you take with you is your love; your love of God, Jesus, family, friends and your fellow man.

Love is its own reward.

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you willing to listen to God?

January 24, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

The Sovereign LORD has given me an instructed tongue,
to know the word that sustains the weary.
He wakens me morning by morning,
wakens my ear to listen like one being taught.
(Isaiah 50:4 (NIV))

What can sustain the weary?

Think about that question.

What makes you weary? Is it the world? Is it your job? Is it relationships that you wish were different? Is it the state of the world with all of the trials and tribulations that we must face? What sustains you in the midst of these trials and tribulations? What sustains you when you feel that you cannot go on?

Isaiah was given words to say to people who were weary. God gave him words of hope to speak to the people of Israel. Many of the prophesies regarding the coming of Jesus were spoken through Isaiah. What made Isaiah different from all of the people around him? Why was he able to hear God when the others did not? Perhaps we are given a clue as to Isaiah’s abilities in the remaining lines of the passage. God awoke Isaiah every morning and taught him. God spoke to Isaiah because Isaiah was willing to listen. What made Isaiah willing to listen?

What makes you willing to listen to someone? I believe that there are two primary reasons someone willingly listens to someone else. They love the person speaking, or they are interested in the topic. In Isaiah, I believe that we have found both. He loved the Lord and, because of this love, he also was very interested in what God had to say. He listened because he longed for God’s truth. This, alone, is enough to sustain the weary. Simply listening to God and taking his Word to heart is sufficient to sustain even the most weary of individuals.

Are you weary? Do you listen to God? Do you embrace every word that He has given us?

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
(Matthew 11:28 (NIV))

Have you found rest?

Are you willing to listen to God?

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Will others rejoice because of your faithfulness?

January 23, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said:
“The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ,
and he will reign for ever and ever.”
And the twenty-four elders, who were seated on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying:
“We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty,
the One who is and who was,
because you have taken your great power
and have begun to reign.
(Revelation 11:15-17 (NIV))

I can’t wait for that day!

The day that God’s creation once again comes fully under His authority.

What a wonderful day that will be.

We are told of the wonderful splendor of the world from this day forth. We know that we will be in paradise.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
(Revelation 21:1-4 (NIV))

We, like every single person alive, has had to make a choice about whether we believe and accept the grace that God gave us through His Son, Jesus, or whether we reject this offer. Our choice will determine whether we rejoice with the twenty-four elders or whether we face eternal separation from God. We must help bring people to the right choice.

Will others rejoice because of your faithfulness?

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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