Worshipping idols?

September 28, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Being greedy, indecent, or immoral is just another way of worshiping idols. You can be sure people who behave in this way will never be part of the kingdom that belongs to Christ and to God.
(Ephesians 5:5 (NIV))

This passage has some very deep ramifications.

I like the way the Contemporary English Version translates this passage.

Being greedy, indecent, or immoral is just another way of worshiping idols. You can be sure people who behave in this way will never be part of the kingdom that belongs to Christ and to God.
(Ephesians 5:5 (CEV))

Does this translation put it into a better perspective?

Have you ever been greedy? Have you ever wanted to hide something from someone else because you wanted it?

Have you ever had an indecent or immoral thought? Be honest. There have probably been times where you know you have thought things that were less than righteous. In today’s traffic, I can probably count on many of you, myself included, who have had less than stellar thoughts about other drivers.

In other words, we are all guilty of doing things that keep us away from Jesus. Anything that keeps us away from Jesus is an idol. When we give our attention to these things, we lose our focus on Jesus and we stray.

Don’t get me wrong. There is a difference between trying to follow Jesus and simply following greed or immorality. When Jesus walks with us, He knows that we will stumble. Sometimes, we may even fall.

Think of when a young child first learns to ride a bicycle. They strive to do what is required, yet they will often fall. This does not mean that their intentions make them fall. It is a matter of experience and maturity. As we mature in Christ, hopefully just as the bicycle rider, we will fall less and less.

It is when we allow something besides Jesus to become the focus of our lives that we lose sight of Jesus and we become greedy and immoral.

We have all done this. Hold up one finger on one hand and place it about six inches away from your nose. Focus on your finger. The background blurs. Move your finger out to arm’s length and stay focused on your finger. The things between your eyes and you finger become blurred. In both cases, we know that something else is there, but with our focus, we select what is important to us. It is when we take our eyes away from our primary focus and become distracted by what else is around us that we fall. It is at this point that we begin to worship idols. Our idols are whatever we focus on instead of Jesus.

Greed has us focusing on wealth. Immorality has us focusing on sins of the flesh. We cannot focus on these and on Jesus.

Take a look at yourself.

Do you find yourself worshipping idols that have come into your focus?

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

August 24, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.
(Romans 8:5-8 (NIV))

Hostility toward God!

Those three words seem to sum up much of what is going on in the world, and, in my opinion, much of what is going wrong. We have become polar opposites and the chasm seems to be getting wider. On one side you have those who faithfully cling to the Word of God as truth and life and on the other side you have those who mock God and all things associated with Him. They relentlessly cling to what they desire and boldly mock the truth.

They live for their desires and most pay a very high price for it in this lifetime, and all pay a very high price for it throughout eternity.

What is it about their desires that are so appealing to them? Most lead to poor health and premature death. Rebellion has its costs and as written in Romans, the mind of sinful man is death.

Think about that.

Have you noticed that many who seek their sinful ways live on the edge. One slip and they are gone. It is almost as if they hate the very gift of life that God has given them. They are controlled, consumed by their sinful nature.

Consumed.

What do you think of when you hear this word? There are many definitions, yet the one that stands out the most also applies here. The word literally means destroyed. Those who are controlled by their sinful nature are destroyed by it.

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.
(Galatians 5:22-24 (NIV))

Those who are controlled by sin do not know any of these things. Sin literally steals love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Without these, life is not worth living. Imagine your life with all of these removed. How would you cope? How would you respond to life?

I find it saddening that the world is making choices every day that are based on the sinful nature. We truly have come to a time when good is considered evil and evil is considered good.

What controls you?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What priorities do you embrace?

August 13, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.
(1 Peter 4:1-2 (NIV))

Can we wholeheartedly accept these words? Can we embrace the fact that we will face suffering in our lifetime in the physical body that we are so proud of?

Humanity is frail. We admire the fragile shells that we call our bodies and pamper them to the point of sinful desires. We splurge and do things because they feel good without giving any thought to the long-term effects of our actions. We spend almost every waking hour doing something to take care of the physical side of our existence, which is mortal, while we come very close to completely ignoring our spiritual side, which has the potential to spend eternity in heaven.

It seems that we have our priorities backwards! We need to spend much more time concerned with our spiritual being. We need to resolve to look beyond the immediate needs of our physical shell and look to the needs of the part of us that truly matters. We must get to the point where we can recognize that our bodies are but dust and our spirits are the true treasure that we possess.

Can we truly allow our physical bodies to suffer so that our spiritual being will benefit?

I would like to think that it is possible, for we have been told that it is the way to do away with sin in our life. However, I do not know if I am capable of such a massive undertaking. Luckily, God knew that we were not capable on our own, even after He sent His Son, Jesus, to show us what to do. We may desire to do away with the physical desires and focus on God, yet, we are spiritual infants who happen to have a very strong urge from the physical side of our existence. For this reason, God allows us to call upon the name of Jesus as our atoning sacrifice, for His Blood covers a multitude of sins.

Can you suffer in the physical the way that Jesus did? Can you earnestly call upon the Blood of Jesus to help you when you fall?

What priorities do you embrace?

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

June 25, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck. If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell
(Mark 9:42-47 (NIV))

Today’s society seems to have forgotten these simple yet profound statements that Jesus made. In both cases, He was referring to innocence. The innocence of children and the judgment that awaits those who cause children to sin and the innocence of the whole person with respect to a part of them that causes them to sin.

Perhaps Jesus was drawing the distinction between the innocence of children and the innocence that we should have as children of God. In either case, sin should not be allowed in to corrupt what God has created. Sin must be removed so that it cannot cause the person to pay the ultimate price – eternal separation from God. Do not allow sin into your life and do not introduce sin into another person’s life.

We should remember that God demands more from those who teach and preach His Word. Perhaps we should also associate the fact that He demands more from those who cause others to sin. I would not want to be one who God demands more because of sin. I would rather be held accountable for preaching and teaching His Word than for causing others to sin.

Remember that people are watching everything that you do. Would your actions and words be held accountable for God or for sin?

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

June 22, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
(Deuteronomy 8:10-14 (NIV))

Has our nation become proud?

Have we as a nation forgotten the Lord our God?

Has the church become proud?

Has the Body of Christ forgotten our first love? Have we forgotten why we are the church? Have we watered down the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Or even worse, have we abandoned the truth for something that is politically correct?

Israel was warned that this could happen. There were times where they, as a nation, did forget. There were times, when they, as a nation, became proud. No nation is exempt from the possibilities of turning their back on God.

And, no nation is exempt from the consequences if they do!

Israel had times in their history where they strayed and where they paid the consequences.

I believe that this nation is also being led astray. We have become proud and arrogant. We have forgotten the Lord. We have allowed whatever that enters our heart to become our god.

Where is the church in all of this? We are called to hold fast to our faith. We are called to be the light into the darkness. We are called to be witnesses to the world.

We are called to pray!

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 7:13 (NIV))

Are we doing our part? Are we praying for our nation? Are we praying for our world?

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
(James 5:16 (NIV))

We can be effective. We can be powerful, but not in our own strength. We must not forget the Lord. We must not become proud.

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
(James 4:10 (NIV))

If we, as a nation become proud, we will be humbled. If we, as a church become proud, we will be humbled. If we humble ourselves, then God will hear us. It is when we are humble that we are strong in the Lord.

Where is your strength? Where is the strength of the church? What is the sttrength of our nation?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Such a time as this

May 15, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

After these events, King Xerxes honored Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, elevating him and giving him a seat of honor higher than that of all the other nobles. All the royal officials at the king’s gate knelt down and paid honor to Haman, for the king had commanded this concerning him. But Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor.
(Esther 3:1-2 (NIV))

Do you bow down and pay honor to anyone that is human? Don’t get me wrong. There is an honor out of respect, but then there is this type of honor. The type of honor that Mordecai refused to give was that of lordship. This type of honor means that you have given over authority and worship the person in question.

Mordecai refused to worship anyone or anything but God.

If you ever forget the LORD your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed.
(Deuteronomy 8:19 (NIV))

I am sure that we all know the rest of the story about Haman and his plans? We also know that Esther was made queen and placed in her position.

When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, he sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?”
(Esther 4:12-14 (NIV))

In today’s world, we, as the Body of Christ, see many things that we do not like – things that we know go against the Word of God.

What do we do?

Do we bow down like the nobles or do we take a stand like Mordecai? Do we intervene like Esther? We have a choice. We have the right to do whatever we want, yet, what does our heart tell us? What does the Holy Spirit tell us? What does God’s Word tell us?

Each of us have a set period in space and time. We have a unique influence that no other can have. We are called to bring the light to the world.

We, too, are called for such a time as this.

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

March 8, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

The angel of the LORD also said to her:
“You are now with child
and you will have a son.
You shall name him Ishmael,
for the LORD has heard of your misery.
He will be a wild donkey of a man;
his hand will be against everyone
and everyone’s hand against him,
and he will live in hostility
toward all his brothers.”
(Genesis 16:11-12 (NIV))

Abraham was a great man of God, yet, for all of his faith, he was not always patient to let God do what He had promised.

When Sarah did not bear any children, she gave Hagar to bear children for her. This caused a tremendous envy and jealousy that is still being played out to this day. The son born to Abraham by Hagar and his descendents have lived in hostility to their brothers ever since. The Arab nations and Israel claim the same roots in Abraham, yet, the conflict continues.

Consider that the custom was and is for the first-born to receive the blessing. According to the custom of man, that should have been Ishmael, yet, according to the ways of God, Isaac received the blessing and Ishmael was forced to flee with his mother. Perhaps if Sarah had not been so impatient with God, the events throughout history and especially the recent events in this world would never have happened.

Consider the fact that every time man tries to rush God or to second-guess Him, disaster follows. It happened with Adam and Eve. It happened with Abraham and Sarah. Is it happening in your life?

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