What are you devoted to?

November 10, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.
(Colossians 4:2 (NIV))

Human nature is a funny thing. If I asked one hundred people what they are devoted to, I would probably get one hundred different answers. I realize that some would be similar, but, just like the people that give them, each would be unique. No two would be exactly the same!

Some people would say that they are devoted to their spouse. Some would proudly claim that they are devoted to their family. Some would say that they are devoted to their church. All of these are great things to be devoted to, but how many would actually claim that they are devoted to prayer?

Perhaps we should step back and consider what devotion means. One dictionary has being religious as its first definition. On the surface, this sounds very good, but we have to stop and consider that religion is often thought of as man’s attempt to reach God. How many so called religious activities are simply man made rituals that truly don’t have anything to do with devotion. With this in mind, is being religious truly how you want to think of being devoted, especially when you consider what John the Baptist said of the religious men of his day?

But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?
(Matthew 3:7 (NIV))

This was also echoed by Jesus.

You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.
(Matthew 12:34 (NIV))

Personally, I like another definition much better. Devotion is defined as being ardently dedicated. In other words, it is a priority and not simply because it has become a routine. Devotion means a dedication because it is integral to who you are.

What are you devoted to?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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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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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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Salvation is not complicated

February 26, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, `You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
(John 3:5-8 (NIV))

To this day many still do not understand the words that Jesus spoke. It is such a simple concept that many fail to grasp it because of its simplicity. They are looking for a “complicated” way to reach God.

Nothing could be further from the truth. God does not seek anything that we do in order for us to reach Him. He knew then that if it was of our doing, then we would boast and brag about “our” accomplishments. Instead, it is a gift. A free gift just like the wind is free. All we have to do is acknowledge it and accept it. Just like the wind, the Holy Spirit is everywhere doing the will of the Father. All we have to do is acknowledge and accept.

Birth is a passage. Being “reborn” is also a passage: a passage from worldly sin to heavenly righteousness through the gift of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Water baptism is an outward sign of this acceptance. The Holy Spirit comes into you as an inward sign of being reborn.

Think of being “reborn” as booking passage on a ship for the ultimate vacation. A vacation is supposed to be rest and relaxation. Heaven is the ultimate rest and relaxation. Have you booked your passage yet?

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

February 11, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

He replied, “You give them something to eat.”
(Luke 9:13a (NIV))

Was Jesus preparing His disciples for the time when He would not physically be with them? Was Jesus trying to teach His disciples a lesson?

His disciples came to Jesus with a problem. From a worldly point of view, they had very limited resources. He gave them instructions on how to carry out the task., even though it appeared to be an impossible task. They obeyed. Everyone was blessed. The abundance of God’s blessings overflowed beyond what was needed. God was glorified.

This episode models how each of us are to approach Jesus when we are led to respond to a need. We are to take it to God in prayer with Jesus at the Father’s right hand. We are to look at our frailty and admit it can’t be done with what we possess. We are to turn it over to God and obey His commands. We are to prepare ourselves to be a blessing and to be blessed, and we need to prepare ourselves for God’s abundance so that we may allow it to overflow to all in need.

If we claim to be followers of Jesus, then we must be prepared to respond like His disciples did. We must be willing to set aside our failures and allow God to fill us with His Spirit. We must be prepared to do what God calls us to do. We must be prepared to see God do great things. Some of them may even be performed through us.

I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
(John 14:12 (NIV))

Are you prepared to allow God to work through you?

He replied, “You give them something to eat.”
(Luke 9:13a (NIV))

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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God, help me. I don’t know what to do.

October 25, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
(James 5:16b (NIV))

I don’t know about you, but there are many times that I just don’t feel effective. I simply feel overwhelmed, overpowered and overshadowed by the things in my life. These are the things that have a tendency to make us grown in agony because we simply have no other response that we can bring forth. I simply utter a few simple words and they always help me through whatever I am facing.

“God, help me. I don’t know what to do.”

Have you ever uttered these or similar words? I often wonder just how many people do say things likes this on a daily basis. I believe that everyone utters words like this at some point in their lives, whether they believe in God or not. I firmly believe that those who are strong enough in their faith to admit that we need God each and every day are the ones who will usher up simple prayers like this on a daily basis. We might even find ourselves saying them all throughout the day.

Perhaps this is what makes someone righteous in the eyes of God. We turn to Him daily because we cannot make it without Him. Contrary to what the world may say, I do not see this as a weakness. I see this as a strength that is firmly rooted in a hope and a faith that this world does not understand. When you see acts of terrorism, do you rejoice in what the world is doing or do you offer up a prayer to God? When you see wars and rumors of wars, do you find comfort in the circumstances or do you go to God and ask for peace? When you see injustice, do you think that this is how it should be or do you ask God for the strength to help you change it? When you see the lost, do you turn up your nose and think that they deserve what they get, or do you pray that God will touch them through you?

These types of prayers do not take long, but they show your heart. It shows a desire for the things that God calls righteous. If you seek the things that God calls righteous, then it stands to reason that God will call you righteous. It is when you pray for God’s Will that you find your prayers become powerful and effective, even when you do not feel powerful and effective.

Do you feel effective? Keep praying those short prayers asking for God’s help. He will show you His Will and then you will be effective.

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

September 20, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
(Revelation 3:22 (NIV))

With all that is going on in the world, what is the Spirit saying to the churches?

Are we listening?

Do we have an ear tuned to the Holy Spirit?

Or are we still focused on the things that center around our own little corner of the world? Do we, as the Body of Christ, even acknowledge the ramifications of what we are seeing unfold right before our eyes?

Some people say that prophecy and the Book of Revelations is difficult to understand. What about the Book of Daniel? It echoes many of the same things as Revelations. With this in mind, have we, as the Body of Christ, forsaken God’s Word with respect to what is to come? We read it and claim that we understand what has transpired. We pray that He will work in our personal lives, yet do we truly see and understand what God may be doing with the big picture?

We are supposed to!

We are supposed to be prepared!

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
(Ephesians 6:10-18 (NIV))

How can we be prepared and understand when we focus on the easier teachings and ignore what may be right in front of us.

I do not profess to know what God is up to, yet, we have been instructed to know the season by the signs that Jesus laid out.

Do you know the signs of the season?

Do you know what to look for?

Do you know what to pray for?

It is my prayer, no matter what the season, that each of us will develop an ear to hear the Holy Spirit. You might be surprised at what He is trying to tell us.

He who has an ear . . .

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