At once they left their nets

January 23, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him.
When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.
(Mark 1:16-20 (NIV))

“At once they left their nets”

This not only happened once, but it appears that it happened twice in the very same day. Two groups of two brothers who simply put down what they were doing and decided to follow Jesus.

In my opinion, there are several astonishing things to consider.

The first, and probably the most difficult for us, is the fact that they followed “at once.” They made an instant decision upon meeting Jesus and left everything else behind. In our society today, we have to study and review and investigate the facts before we do anything. How many people do you know who accepted Jesus the very first time that they were introduced to Him? How long did it take you to accept Jesus?

Something else that caught my attention with this passage is the fact that two sets of brothers decided “at once,” and left everything to follow Jesus.

Think about that.

How many of you have siblings? Have you ever agreed on anything instantly? Would both of you be willing to make a life changing commitment in the same manner as Simon and Andrew or James and John?

We read this passage and we tend to take for granted just what amazing faith transpired in the telling of these few short lines. What about your faith is amazing? Accepting Jesus, whether instantly or years later, is still an amazing thing, but to step out in faith when no one could truly proclaim the miracles that were to happen is beyond comprehension.

We take our faith for granted because we have the written Word to tell us the truth. Still, many of us seem to take forever to make that commitment, to take that leap.

It is my prayer that we can all become ones who will respond “at once” to the call that Jesus places upon our lives.

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord

January 19, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

So honor the Lord and serve him wholeheartedly. Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshipped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord alone. But if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.
(Joshua 24:14-15 (NLT))

In today’s society, we have many choices as to what or whom we will serve. It ranges from self to family to work to a social or political cause. Many people throw themselves one hundred and ten percent behind the choice that they make. This is not necessarily a bad thing, for commitment is good. What is bad is if the choice of what or whom to serve is against the principles of a righteous God. What is even worse is if the chosen thing to serve takes the place of God, or is done without the guidance of God.

God has a calling upon each of our lives. He has a unique purpose for each of us. HE has a place where we are to serve. However, we must be careful in our service, for if we lose sight of the fact that it is God who calls us to that service and through that service we are serving Him, then we do not honor God. We may even begin to take on the characteristics spoke of in Matthew.

No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.
(Matthew 6:24 (NIV))

Serving God will reap untold rewards in heaven “where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:19b (NIV))

If we choose to serve anything but God, we are cheating ourselves, and, of course, we are cheating God. God gave us grace and mercy. Out of an attitude of thankfulness, the least that we should do is make the commitment to serve God.

Whom or what do you serve?

As for me, I stand firmly on the same words written in Joshua – “But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.”
(Joshua 24:15 (NIV))

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Just whose body is it?

January 12, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.
(Romans 12:1 (NAS))

What we do with our bodies and what we put into our bodies is as important as what we do in the spiritual world. God created us in His image, and we, as believers, must respect not only God for the spiritual salvation that He has given us through His Son, Jesus Christ, but we must also respect, or fear, God for what we do to His creation.

God created us in his image. Would you expect God to defile His image with things that are un-holy as we defile our bodies in the name of personal habits? We must take the attitude that life, both physical and spiritual, is a gift from God.

How many people do you know who would destroy a precious gift after it was given to them? Life is more precious than any gift that this world has to offer, yet, many people do just that. They destroy that gift by sinful acts that they may not see as sinful. When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, He takes us where we are and does not expect us to be able to change ourselves. The Holy Spirit enters into our lives and works within our lives to guide us towards the image that God had intended for us.

Re-read the first sentence of the first paragraph. Have you ever thought that by defiling your body, you may actually allow Satan a stronghold that may not have otherwise been there. If you are addicted to drugs, when that “urge” for another “fix” has you in its grasp, the last thing that you may be thinking about is “What Would Jesus Do?”

It is through this worldly body that we inhabit that many sins have taken hold of the spiritual side of a person. It is for this reason that Paul wrote these words.

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you long for the old days?

January 3, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, `The old is better.’
(Luke 5:37-38 (NIV))

Do you long for the old days?

Think about that statement!

Have you grown in your faith since the times that you long for? Have you matured in your walk with Christ since that time?

I would venture to say that each of us has come a long way in our faith and in our relationship with Jesus since the days that we tend to long for. Would you trade your maturity for the immature ways of that time? Would you trade your faith for the faithlessness that you probably had at that time? In essence, we would not pour the new wine of our new faith into the lives that we now have. That would ruin us. The wine of our “old” faith is much better than the immature wine of the faith that was then “new” to us.

God is slowly maturing us. He is slowly perfecting us. He has always loved us, but He did not like the sin and the faithlessness that we were in. We are “older” now, but not as “old” and mature in our faith as we will become. Once we are standing in the presence of God, the faith that we have now will be as if it were new for all things will be revealed to us and we will no longer have any longing for the old days.

Paul says it very well.

And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God.
(Colossians 1:10 (NIV))

We should all long for the perfection that will be ours through Jesus.

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Tell others about the fantastic gift

December 6, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.
(1 Thessalonians 5:9-10 (NIV))

Nobody wants to suffer wrath, but it is a guaranteed result if we do not accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior. It is such a simple thing to avoid.

During this season, when society has taken the true meaning out of Christmas, we must not allow society to creep into our lives in this manner. We must remember why we celebrate and then reach others so that they, too, will know the true meaning of Christmas. We celebrate Jesus’ birth with the knowledge that the birth of Jesus was the beginning of what God had planned for all of humanity – salvation to all who would simply seek and accept it.

Christmas is a time for celebration, for as the verse says, “whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.” We must remember to tell others about this fantastic gift that was so freely given and help them to receive it.

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Serious words

November 16, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

Then he turned to his disciples and said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.”
(Luke 10:22-24 (NIV))

We should also count ourselves as blessed, for, through the faith of those before us, we have heard of the wondrous things that Jesus spoke of. It is true that we have not seen or heard directly, but, we have the words of Jesus and those who spent time with Him to teach us the things that the prophets and kings longed to hear.

What do we do with these bits of wisdom that Jesus spoke of? Do we keep them to ourselves? Do we hear them and never use the pearls of great price that they contain? What do you do with the words that Jesus spoke?

Consider just how blessed you truly are, for you have the words of Jesus from a perspective that those who originally heard them did not have. You have the proof that He arose from the grave!

Do you take the words of Jesus as seriously as you should?

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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One thing!

November 14, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
(Luke 18:22 (NIV))

Jesus spoke these words to a person identified as a ruler, a man of great wealth. He had started the conversation with Jesus.

A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
(Luke 18:18 (NIV))

Jesus replied.

“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good–except God alone. You know the commandments: `Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’ ”
(Luke 19-20 (NIV))

The ruler replied that he had done this since he was a boy.

I can only imagine the man’s reaction when Jesus informed him that he still lacked one thing. I can feel his heart sink when Jesus tells him to sell all that he has and give to the poor.

This man was rich. He tried to do what was required of him, yet through the words that Jesus spoke to him, he realized that he loved money. He realized that he had a big decision to make. It is the same decision that people have wrestled with ever since. He appears to have not been willing to give up his one thing – his wealth – in order to achieve eternal life.

What if you and I were able to go up to Jesus and ask him the very same question? Would we receive the first answer that Jesus gave the wealthy ruler? I am certain that this would not change, for the foundation has been built and it cannot be shaken.

I suppose that the question of eternal value is whether we would be told that we still lack one thing!

If you have ever seen the movie “City Slickers,” the old cowhand that was played by Jack Palance would always tell the men on the drive that in order to make it tot he end, they had to have one thing. All throughout the movie, this left everybody wondering, until Jack’s character dies and he before he dies, he informs everyone that the one thing is different for each person.

With that in mind, the one thing that each of us may have is completely different from the one thing that someone else may have. To some, it is money. To others, it is fame. To others, is is fleshly pleasures. To others, it is something not so obvious. To some, it is pride.

No matter what our one thing may be, if we do not allow it to be dealt with and put in its place, that one thing can keep us from inheriting eternal life. I can hear the thoughts beginning to take shape now. You are probably asking, “What about grace?”

Grace does come into play, but if your surrender to Jesus was not an authentic surrender, then your heart will have its own priorities. If you truly desire to stop,l but are unable to in the flesh, God will see your heart Think about that for a moment. Jesus did not tell the woman caught in adultery to go and continue. He told her to repent – to turn away from her sin – and sin no more. We must be willing to turn away from our sin.

Each of us are human. I am sure that each of us have one thing that we have to constantly remind ourselves to get behind us.

Don’t be like the wealthy ruler and allow your one thing to keep you from God’s grace and mercy.

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Tough standards!

November 11, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Since an overseer is entrusted with God’s work, he must be blameless–not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.
(Titus 1:7-9 (NIV))

Some pretty tough standards if you ask me!

Think about that for a moment. Exactly what makes them so tough to fulfill? At any given time, it is easy to be some of these, and maybe even most of these. So why is it so difficult to be all of them at all times? Another question comes to mind in relation to these standards and that is the question of who do these actually apply to. Just who is an overseer?

Typically, when you think of an overseer, you think of a boss. Some translations actually refer to this position as an elder. Regardless of what the official definition, the idea is that those in authority over someone else must adhere to these standards.

At work. In social organizations. In church – yes, if you teach or lead, these apply.

What about at home? Unless you live alone, your home life also falls under these standards. If you are married, you are entrusted with someone else. If you have children, you are entrusted with someone else.

I hope that you are seeing what I see in this passage and that is that we are all overseers in one respect or another and we should all strive to adhere to these standards.

I know that no one is perfect. I know that it is impossible to be like this, to be like Jesus, in all things. Still, we need to have a desire to be what Jesus is calling us to be. The simple truth is that we can all strive for this model if it is our heart’s desire to be like Jesus. We will fail at times, but we will be known by our desire to be righteous and our heartfelt repentance when we are not.

So, take heart. Even though we do have some pretty tough standards to meet, we also have God’s grace for the times, and they will be frequent, when we do not meet those standards.

Thank you Lord for the grace and mercy that you have given us through the atoning blood of Your Son, Jesus Christ!

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Whom shall I fear?

November 10, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

The LORD is my light and my salvation–
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life–
of whom shall I be afraid?
(Psalms 27:1 (NIV))

Isn’t it interesting how we can allow things of this world to cause us fear and worry.

Think about that for a moment.

Who created this world and all things in it? Who loves us so much that he sent His only begotten Son to save us from our sins? Who has promised that Jesus is preparing a place for us? Who has promised that He will return to gather us to Him?

What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?
(Romans 8:31 (NIV))

Why do we still fear things of this world? Why is our faith shaken so easily? Why do we slip into the physical world and allow it to overcome our joy with fear? Why do we take our eyes off of the prize?

What is our prize? Is it physical or is it spiritual and eternal? Paul wrote that he presses on toward the prize – a prize that cannot be seen – but is of far greater worth than anything that is physical.

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 3:14 (NIV))

Why do we still allow ourselves to fear the things of this world when we have a glorious Savior and all of the promises? I will admit that no one is truly certain how they will react when presented with physical danger because of our faith. I pray that each of us will trust in the Lord.

Whom shall I fear?

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What is your it?

November 8, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Man’s days are determined;
you have decreed the number of his months
and have set limits he cannot exceed.
(Job 14:5 (NIV))

Why do so many of us live as if we have all of the time in the world?

We have a tendancy to think that we will get to “it” tomorrow. But, exactly what is “it?”

For some, it is spending time with family. For others, it is losing weight. Still, for others, it is giving up their own personal favorite sin.

What is your “it?”

I pray that it is not something that will have eternal repurcusions if it is not done now. Those repurcusions could be yours or someone elses. I pray that if you are reading this, then any personal repurcusions that may arise from putting off salvation are dealt with.

What about the eternal repurcusions as they effect others?

Are you putting off inviting your neighbor to church? Are you hesitant to talk to your co-workers about Jesus? Are you afraid to take a public stand for God? Our days are numbered, as well as those around us. What if you are supposed to talk to a loved family member about Jesus and salvation and you can’t bring yourself to do it? What if you are the very person through whom God desires to use to bring that person to savlation and you think that you can do it another day? What happens if there is no other day?

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.
(John 3:16 (NIV))

As for man, his days are like grass,
he flourishes like a flower of the field;
the wind blows over it and it is gone,
and its place remembers it no more.
(Psalm 103:15-16 (NIV))

Don’t think that you have all the time in the world. What is it that you are supposed to do?

What is your “it?”

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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