I pray that the new year brings a renewed relationship to Jesus.

December 31, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come.
(Mark 13:32-33 (NIV))

I am constantly reading and studying. 2014 looks to be a very interesting year in God’s time table. I do not profess to know the day or the hour, but the season is rapidly changing.

There are things going on in this world and in the heavens that are too numerous to simply be coincidence. Even with this increase, we, as the Body of Christ, must test everything against God’s Word. We must not be found guilty of falsely proclaiming things that do not match what we are told through God’s Word.

None of us know what tomorrow will bring.

Pray for wisdom.

Pray for discernment.

Pray for understanding.

Pray for the strength to follow God.

What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died–more than that, who was raised to life–is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 8:31-39 (NIV))

I pray that the new year brings a renewed relationship to Jesus.

Happy New Year!

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Rejoice in God’s light! His name is Jesus!

December 31, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
(Philippians 4:4 (NIV))

If you had to proclaim the birth of a baby in your family, you would be joyful. You would exude enthusiasm. You would rejoice in the fact that God has blessed you with a new life to share. It would be an extremely happy occasion. Unfortunately, though, that baby would be born with the very same curse that we all face. That baby would be bound by the law of sin and death.

Now, consider that a baby was born into the family two thousand years ago. This baby was no ordinary baby. I am sure that He brought joy to the lives of those whom He called His family, but He was so much more. He came into this world to be a part of the family of each and every single person who has ever lived. This baby came into the world to bring great joy. God sent His Son, Jesus, to be one of us. Unlike everybody who was born under the law of sin and death, Jesus came into the world sin free. He grew up sin free and He remained sin free even to obedience that called Him to die on the cross. Through Jesus, we truly have grace and mercy. Through the baby Jesus, we truly have something to rejoice about. The infant that came into this world symbolizes a rebirth of our human natures.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
(Philippians 4:4 (NIV))

“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. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”
(John 3:16-21 (NIV))

Rejoice in God’s light! His name is Jesus!

Share Jesus with all that you meet in the upcoming year!

Happy New Year!

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

December 30, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
(1 John 4:1 (NIV))

What was true for the early church is still very true today. Not everyone who claims to speak the truth is actually speaking the truth as God and Jesus have established it. Many people will distort the truth for their own gain. Some just do not care about the truth and will tell you anything just because they can.

This also is very true about “spirits” as well. Not everything that you have a “hunch” or an inspiration about is from God. Keep in mind that Satan and his legions are roaming the earth and can disguise themselves as angels of light. The Holy Spirit will not tell you to do anything that goes against the Word of God.

Test everything!

The best way to test whether something is from God is to know His Word and have it written on your heart. In this manner, you will know quickly whether something is from God and is the truth. God will never do anything that is contrary to His Word.

But what about Jesus?

Didn’t God change His plan for mankind when Jesus came into the world?

No!

God had foretold of this plan ever since Abraham. He spoke of the promise to all generations. He even used the prophets to tell of the details of Jesus’ life and the fulfillment of His plan. Man did not fully understand the plan, and spent the years in anticipation of another kind of leader instead of the one that God had promised us. Perhaps, they even listened to false prophets who did not want them to fully understand what God was doing!

Do you fully understand God’s plan?

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are we following Jesus or are we still stuck at the manger?

December 27, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”
(Mark 16:15-18 (NIV))

The Great Commission!

These are the last words of our Lord Jesus Christ before He ascended into heaven. They are so important that He saved them for last. It is always the last words or deeds that someone remembers.

How well have we, as believers, followed these important instructions? Have we gone to the ends of the earth? Jesus knew that not everyone who needed to hear the good news would be halfway around the world. He knew that many who would need to hear would be in our own back yards. Do not feel that because you do not go on missions to foreign lands you cannot be a valuable tool for the kingdom.

Jesus never left His geographic area during His three year ministry. He shared the Gospel with people who shared it with people who shared it with people. Wherever we are we must share the good news of Jesus Christ.

what does this have to do with Christmas?

Christmas was only the beginning. It did not end with the manger!

We, as the Body of Christ, have an assignment. We are to take the good news that starts with Christmas and spread it throughout the world. Jesus did not stay a baby. He matured into the fulness that God had planned for Him. We have been given an assignment to share the good news so that the world will come into its fulness.

Are we following Jesus or are we still stuck at the manger?

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

December 26, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
(Luke 2:8-14 (NIV))

What an honor it must have been to be the first to hear the good news! The shepherds must have been terrified by the presence of the angels, after all, angels were not, and are still not an every day occurance.

Luckily for us, God’s plan does not discriminate against us for not being there. In fact, it is probably with mixed blessings that we are embraced as part of God’s Kingdom. We do not have the first hand experience of having seen the angels, the star, or Jesus’ life. Sometimes, I wonder if I would have believed if I lived at the time of Jesus!

On the other hand, we have the faith of millions of people who have gone before us. We have the New Testament, the hundreds of years of prophesy study that proves Jesus is King of kings, the Messiah. It may be easier for someone today to come to faith than it was in Jesus’ day. Yet, through all of this “historical proof”, I sometimes feel empty. I think it is the desire of every believer to be able to go back in time and be a witness to the miracles and hear the teachings of Jesus first-hand.

Today, we celebrated the birth of Jesus and look back in awe to the miracles. At the same time, we should look around us in awe of what God is doing today and look to the not-to-distant future and know what God is going to do. Today we celebrate the First Coming. Some tomorrow we will celebrate the Second Coming.

Merry Christmas

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

December 25, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
(Luke 2:1-20 (NIV))

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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

December 24, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham:
Abraham was the father of Isaac,
Isaac the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,
Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar,
Perez the father of Hezron,
Hezron the father of Ram,
Ram the father of Amminadab,
Amminadab the father of Nahshon,
Nahshon the father of Salmon,
Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab,
Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth,
Obed the father of Jesse,
and Jesse the father of King David.

David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife,
Solomon the father of Rehoboam,
Rehoboam the father of Abijah,
Abijah the father of Asa,
Asa the father of Jehoshaphat,
Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram,
Jehoram the father of Uzziah,
Uzziah the father of Jotham,
Jotham the father of Ahaz,
Ahaz the father of Hezekiah,
Hezekiah the father of Manasseh,
Manasseh the father of Amon,
Amon the father of Josiah,
and Josiah the father of Jeconiahn and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon.
After the exile to Babylon:
Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel,
Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,
Zerubbabel the father of Abiud,
Abiud the father of Eliakim,
Eliakim the father of Azor,
Azor the father of Zadok,
Zadok the father of Akim,
Akim the father of Eliud,
Eliud the father of Eleazar,
Eleazar the father of Matthan,
Matthan the father of Jacob,
and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.

Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Christ.
(Matthew 1:1-17 (NIV))

God is extremely good at telling us what He is going to do before He does it. He is also extremely good at providing proof for after the fact.

Abraham was told that through him, the nations would be blessed.

David was told that a descendant from his lineage would rule forever.

There are many more, but when Matthew wrote of the lineage of Jesus, the Jewish people knew of the promises that God had made. They knew what to expect. Matthew simply pointed out what God had done.

I often wonder if we would recognize the things that God has done if we were presented the evidence in a similar manner. Would we recognize Jesus through the fulfillment of the prophecies? Would we recognize Jesus through what God still has promised?

Let’s take this one step further.

Do we recognize what God is putting right in front of us?

Many Jewish people did not recognize the signs, even when they were presented in detail. What signs are we missing today that God longs for us to pay attention to? Are we so intent on focusing on the baby in the manger and the signs that pointed to His coming that we miss the signs that may be telling us to be on the lookout for something that God is still planning? Think about that for a moment. We already know that God tells us what He is going to do in advance of doing it.

God told us that a baby would be born of a virgin.

God told us that He would suffer and die for our sins.

God told us that He would be raised again on the third day.

God told us that He would come again.

We are at the time of year when we celebrate the birth of the baby. I can only imagine the awesome experiences that the shepherds had. I can only imagine the humbleness of the magi. I can only imagine what was going on in the minds of Joseph and Mary. They had been told by God what was to transpire. Still, the evidence before them was probably mind blowing.

There is much evidence to point to Jesus as the Messiah. There is more evidence to come!

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do we allow anything to take the place of Jesus?

December 23, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

God did an amazing thing when He sent Jesus to this world. We must be carefull that we do not allow this amzing gift to be replaced within our hearts by anything that will keep Jesus from being the focus of our faith!

**********************************************************

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” –which means, “God with us.”

When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.”

When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christn was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:

” `But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.’ ”

Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”

So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:

“A voice is heard in Ramah,
weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more.”
(Matthew 1:18 – 2:18 (NIV))

Our church had our annual Christmas dinner Sunday evening and due to some issues, the person who normally reads the Christmas Story was not able to attend. Someone stepped up and did another story. At first I was apprehensive about the telling of The Polar Express instead of the story of the birth of Jesus, after all, we, as a church, do not celebrate Santa Claus. We celebrate the birth of Jesus. However, the person telling the story to the kids did bring it back to why we celebrate Christmas and where our true praise should be directed.

Still, this got me thinking. Something still didn’t set right in my spirit.

It all boiled down to one simple question that probably does not have a simple answer.

How many times have we allowed something to take the place of Jesus?

Do we tell ourselves that it is just this one time and it will be okay? Do we try to justify our thoughts and actions by telling ourselves that we know where our salvation comes from? Do we start to allow the world to creep into our faith and dilute it?

Please don’t take this wrong. There are many wonderful things that are presented to us within the world, but if we allow them to take priority over Jesus, then the enemy has won. Soon, our priority has completed shifted away from Jesus and Satan has caused someone else to fall away from their faith.

Do you remember the story of Joshua and Moses and the tabernacle?

The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent.
(Exodus 33:11 (NIV))

Joshua did not follow Moses, for he realized that Moses did not have what he wanted. Joshua stayed in the tent so that he could be closer to God.

When we allow something to take the place of Jesus, we are saying that what we want can be found somewhere else. I don’t want anything to take the place of Jesus. I want a heart like that of Joshua.

I want a heart that will follow Jesus!

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is your sinful nature what you were or what you are?

December 20, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 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 6:9-11 (NIV))

Why did Jesus come into the world?

Depending on how you answer this will determine your outlook on this passage and many more.

But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished– he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
(Romans 3:21-26 (NIV))

“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. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”
(John 3:16-21 (NIV))

Proclaiming Jesus is a key step in salvation, but what did Jesus tell the woman caught in adultery?

Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
(John 8:10-11 (NIV))

We must leave our lives of sin. John explained that we were sinners.

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))

Many things lead to sin. God did not create us for the things that we, as humanity, have perverted.

“Food for the stomach and the stomach for food”–but God will destroy them both. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit.
(1 Corinthians 6:13-17 (NIV))

Perhaps the biggest sin is what we have done with sex. We have turned it away from what God intended. Try reading Leviticus 20:10-22. We are given very explicit instructions of things that are wrong in God’s eyes – incest, bestiality, homosexuality and adultery. They are all twisted perversions of what God intended.

Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.
(1 Corinthians 6:18-20 (NIV))

I realize that this is different from most of what is shared in these devotionals, but we are in a society that elevates the twisted perversions while vilifying the Father’s intent. Are we all guilty of one of these sins?

“Not everyone who says to me, `Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, `Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, `I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
(Matthew 7:21-23 (NIV))

Jesus told us to leave our life of sin. How do you think that Jesus will respond to you if you have not turned from your sin, from your abominable ways? Will He respond by saying “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!”

If we could simply call upon the name of Jesus to save us and still keep doing what we did to get us into trouble, are we really following Jesus? We must repent and make sure that our sinful nature is what we were and not what we still are!

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Find your gifts and use them for God!

December 19, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.
(Romans 12:6-8 (NIV))

God has created each of us to be unique in His sight. Therefore, we must not look upon the gifts of others and long for what they have. God has given each of us gifts that He desired us to have. If we all had the same gifts, life would be boring. We would all be the same. Where is the individual creation within that concept?

Do not long for another’s gifts. You have your own gifts that God has given you for a purpose. Find those gifts and use them for God.

Do you know what your gifts are?

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