Have you lost your focus?

May 28, 2014

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
(Colossians 3:12 (NIV))

Have you ever seen the cartoon with the two vultures who are waiting for something to die so that they can eat? The captions go something like this. One vulture says, “Be patient.” The other vulture says, “Patience ! I want to kill something !”

Let’s face it, we have all had times when we just couldn’t wait any longer for what we were hoping would happen. We pace the floor. We become very short tempered and as a result, we are anything but compassionate, kind, humble and gentle.

What does the world think of us at these times? What does the world think when they see us acting exactly opposite of what we say we strive to be?

Everyone has moments of weakness. Everyone has momentary lapses of sanity. Unfortunately, it is these very moments when we are at our lowest that the world chooses to recognize us for our faith. They recognize us out of ridicule. Regardless of the times that we are able to follow Colossians 3:12, the world sees us at the very times that we fail.

We are to strive to be perfect, yet, we know that we can never be. We are sinners, and are not capable of perfection on our own. There is a saying that Christians are not perfect, just forgiven. When we fail at perfection, we must fully embrace God’s grace that allows us to pick ourselves up and keep going. We must also embrace the need to show that grace to those who witnessed our stumble. We must not lash out at them when they ridicule us for not being perfect. We must show Jesus to them. We must be as Jesus was on the cross. He did not lash out. He did not condemn. He did not bring down wrath upon those who witnessed His crucifixion.

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
(Luke 23:34 (NIV))

When the world sees us stumble, remember how Jesus reacted. When you fall, your eyes may be temporarily diverted from your goal, but when you get up and resume your path, you see your way once again. The key is to get back up and to focus once again upon Jesus.

Have you lost your focus?

Copyright 1998 – 2014 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What is your example?

June 5, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task. Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.

Deacons, likewise, are to be men worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons.

In the same way, their wives are to be women worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything.

A deacon must be the husband of but one wife and must manage his children and his household well. Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.
(1 Timothy 3:1-12 (NIV))

Jesus loves the sinner and hates the sin. However, the Bible clearly states that those in positions of authority should be “models.” Are the priests to model sin? If they renounce the sin, it is one thing, but to continue to embrace the sin is another. Do you agree that priests should model righteousness?

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
(1 Peter 2:9 (NIV))

Forget about the ordained clergy for a minute. We, as the Body of Christ, are all priests. We are the royal priesthood. We have been given instructions. If we are the royal priesthood, then we, as the Body of Christ, must model righteousness and not sin.

Homosexuality is a sin. Lust is a sin. Coveting is a sin. Greed is a sin. Knowing that something is a sin, yet making a conscious decision to continue down that path is one biblical definition of wickedness.

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))

However, this is not from our own hand.

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,
(Romans 3:21-23 (NIV))

This does not mean that it is ok to continue to sin. Grace is not a free pass to do whatever we want.

As we grow in our faith, we are “perfected” in the image of Jesus. Jesus was sin free. He was not a sinner.

If you remember the adulterous woman who was going to be stoned, think about what Jesus told her:

But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 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 8:1-11 (NIV))

LEAVE YOUR LIFE OF SIN!

The church cannot have leaders who refuse to follow the teachings of Jesus. We, as the Body of Christ, are the leaders. We should set an example for the world to follow.

What is your example?

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

June 4, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Now he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour.

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.”

He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”

“I have no husband,” she replied.
Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

“Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”

Jesus declared, “Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”
(John 4:4-21 (NIV))

I love my Sunday School class!

This morning, I was leading a discussion on a new chapter in the book that we are studying, and, true to form, we got off topic. I must admit that we often get off topic, for we use the topic as a springboard for discussion and questions. The questions often lead to very interesting and deep answers. Today was no different.

I raised the question about how does society’s view and the Biblical view on Hell compare. After much discussion, someone asked a question about certain denominations claiming that those who are divorced and remarried would be going to hell. It was also asked if it is Biblical to withhold communion to these individuals.

This passage came to mind a few minutes later once the class was over.

How many husbands had the Samaritan woman had? Was she married to the man that she was living with at the time of this encounter with Jesus?

Did Jesus refrain from offering her salvation – living water – even though she was a Samaritan and a sinner in the eyes of the community?

We, as the Body of Christ, cannot place restrictions upon those who would come when Jesus did not put any restrictions on those who came to Him. We are not able to judge whether someone is worthy, for our judgment is human judgment. Only God can judge. Only Jesus can offer grace. Grace is freely given to any who would simply accept.

We, as the church, cannot put restrictions and limitations on what God has freely offered.

I can hear the thoughts that some may be thinking – that these people are sinners. I have some news for you. We all are sinners.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
(Romans 3:23 (NIV))

How can one sinner tell another sinner that they are not worthy to receive what God has freely given?

I pray that I am not guilty of this!

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD

May 2, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD,
the people he chose for his inheritance.
(Psalms 33:12 (NIV))

Contrary to what the media, the courts and our elitist universities say, this country was founded upon a firm belief in God. It is true that the early explorers were looking to get rich, but the people who did settle here came so that they could worship as they were lead, instead of how the government or the church told them to.

I am sure that all throughout our history, many people who were not believers came to this country, however, they all had a solid core of values that they shared.

I find it interesting that many people are trying to interpret our founding documents based upon modern meanings of words, and in that interpretation, they lose the true meaning of what was written. We don’t have to look very far into our past to see how this can happen. There was a time not too long ago when the word “gay” meant happy. Go back and read some of the written word from that time period with today’s meaning of the word and see what you can misunderstand. I seriously doubt that our daily use of the English language has not altered the meaning of many words and phrases since our nation was founded.

I could quote several of the founding fathers. A great majority give credit and praise to God for His sovereign authority and guidance. Many of our historic monuments bear inscriptions, and many of the founding fathers formed the American Bible Society immediately after creating the Declaration of Independence. It is said that 52 of the 55 signers of the Declaration of Independence were orthodox, deeply committed Christians. Many people claim that they could not have been Christians because they never use the word “God.” There are references to the Almighty, and other such names. How many times have you heard believers refer to God in this manner? Have you ever called God by one of these names?

I want you to consider something for a moment. Let’s take a long trip back in time to when the Dead Sea Scrolls were written. Now fast forward to when they first started to interpret them. The scholars may know the language, but do they know the dialect and meanings? Now, take another journey in time with me. Think of when you were a teenager. What was the “cool” saying? Does it mean the same thing today?

People will always twist words to fit into their understanding. Some will even omit things that are contrary to what they want to believe. The following is a quote from John Marshall.

“The American population is entirely Christian, and with us Christianity and Religion are identified. It would be strange indeed, if with such a people, our institutions did not presuppose Christianity, and did not often refer to it, and exhibit relations with it.” John Marshall, in a letter to Jasper Adams, May 9, 1833, JSAC, p. 139. Marshall was Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court from 1801-1835.

Can you imagine a Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme court saying this today?

I honestly believe that this is our problem. We, as a nation, need to repent.

…if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
(2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV))

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