Pride and condemnation

July 27, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
(Mark 16:16 (NIV))

People say that it takes faith to believe in Jesus. I agree.

But I think it also takes faith to not believe in Jesus. It is a misguided faith, but it is a strong faith, none the less.

Think about that for a moment. Those who do not believe are saying that they are placing their future in the concept that God does not exist, or that Jesus is not who the Bible says that He is, or that there are multiple ways to get to heaven. No matter what their reason for not believing, they are willing to place the outcome of their eternity in their belief that they will not suffer the consequences of their sins. To me, that takes a very strong faith

I have heard it said that those who cling to religion are weak. That may be true, but I have also known some very weak-minded individuals who cling to other things, such as money, power and fame. These individuals try to fill their lives with something that will give them meaning. They are simply placing their faith in the wrong place. Often, they are placing it in themselves. Again, their faith is strong, but it is misguided.

If someone possesses that strong a faith, can you imagine once that faith is correctly placed, just how strong of a witness that they can be for God? Every single believer was once a nonbeliever. Every single believer has had an experience that made them see things as they really are. They had something happen to them that changed their priorities. At one point, every single believer was condemned, not by God but by their own sinful actions. It took a realization that we are not perfect. It took a realization that we can never be perfect. It took a personal realization that God’s grace is for me.

Think about that. God does not condemn, but we condemn ourselves when we chose to ignore His offer of grace and mercy. It is not unlike a drowning man refusing to be helped out of the water. God is offering that help to everyone.

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

In order to accept God’s grace, we must have the strength to admit that we are a sinner. Grace is freely given, but it has a price. Jesus paid the price and we must also pay a price. We must come to the realization that we need salvation. We must overcome our pride. It is our pride that can condemn us.

Have you overcome your pride?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Beware deceptive words

July 16, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless.
(Jeremiah 7:8 (NIV))

Why do we trust in things that are not true?

Jeremiah spoke to the Israelites what God wanted him to say. Many people were doing exactly that – trusting in deceptive words. I honestly think that we, as a nation, are doing exactly the same thing as the nation of Israel did. We are putting our trust in things that we should not trust. We are doing things that we should not be doing. We are living our lives as if we were the ones who decide what is right and what is wrong.

This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: “Stand at the gate of the LORD’s house and there proclaim this message:
” `Hear the word of the LORD, all you people of Judah who come through these gates to worship the LORD. This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this place. Do not trust in deceptive words and say, “This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD!” If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly, if you do not oppress the alien, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your forefathers for ever and ever.
(Jeremiah 7:1-7 (NIV))

Deceptive words!

How can we expect God to bless this nation, when we don’t bless God with what we hear and what we see? Think about that for a moment. Think about the history of Israel and hopefully you will see God’s truth about deception and turning to other gods. When Israel lost sight of who they worshipped and whose they were, the nation suffered. Only when they turned back to God did the nation prosper. In recent years, this nation has turned to deceptive words and ways, and now we are suffering. The world, and false gods, have taken over our society. People worship money, fame, power and many other things. Many still profess a faith in Jesus, but what is the priority when we sit in church and think about how we can make more money than the next person? Do thoughts about a new car, or a promotion, or a vacation find their way into your mind when you are in worship? Our deceptive words may be our own selfish thoughts and desires.

`Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, burn incense to Baal and follow other gods you have not known, and then come and stand before me in this house, which bears my Name, and say, “We are safe”–safe to do all these detestable things? Has this house, which bears my Name, become a den of robbers to you? But I have been watching! declares the LORD.
(Jeremiah 7:9-11 (NIV))

We all like to place our trust in many things. We want to trust in the economy. We want to trust in government. We want to trust in our family. We seem to place our trust in things that are human in nature, and as such, are prone to fail. We say that we trust in God, yet, we are removing Him more and more from our lives. When we remove God, we are doing the very things that Jeremiah spoke to the Israelites about. We can’t live our lives without God and contrary to God, and then put on a smile and attend church and expect everything to be a blessing.

We need to turn to God and follow His leading.

If someone like Jeremiah came today to this nation, would we listen? Would we believe? It is my prayer that we do listen and we do believe. God gave us His Word to guide us. We aren’t listening to His word like we should.

What deceptive words do you need to let go of?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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July 15, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The fool says in his heart,
“There is no God.”
They are corrupt, their deeds are vile;
there is no one who does good.
(Psalms 14:1 (NIV))

The world thinks that people who believe in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior are the fools.

Take a look at their deeds!

They do whatever they want. They call evil good and what we know to be good, they call evil. Their deeds truly are vile. They lust in their hearts. They place themselves above all others. They think of themselves as their own gods. They do whatever they desire without thinking about the consequences to themselves or to anybody around them.

Just who is the fool?

God gave David words of wisdom and truth. What was wise and true in his lifetime is still wise and true today. Truth does not change. What does change is our perception of the truth. When humanity thought that the world was flat, did that make it flat? Today, when people say that Jesus is not who He claimed to be, does that make it any different from what we know to be the truth?

We, as believers, can let the world think that we are the fools, for their judgment of us is not what matters. What we must do is pray that they will come to the truthful realization that David spoke of them long ago. We must pray that they will realize that they are the fools for saying that there is no God.

Don’t be a fool in the eyes of God!

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Foolish controversies

June 17, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless
(Titus 3:9 (NIV))

I have read this passage before, but tonight, it came across much differently than it has in the past.

I want everybody to think of these words and read Titus 3:9 once more.

“We can’t do that in this church. We have never done it that way before.”

Legalism, no matter how it is shrouded, is still legalism. We can adhere to the letter of God’s law or strive to fulfill the intent. We can fuss over enforcing man-made traditions in the church or we can embrace love and grace with open arms. We can be so strict about ritual or we can embrace the meaning that caused someone to start the ritual.

What controversies do you face in your walk of faith? Are they worth the time and the headache?

It is said that age brings rigidity and a desire to not change. We have a tendency to like continuity in our lives. If something breaks that continuity, we have a tendency to not accept the change. It is my prayer that each of us embrace whatever God may be sending our way, no matter how it may be coming to us.

I want you to think about something for a moment.

Imagine yourself as a devout Jew of the time that Jesus came to this earth. How many people were not willing to embrace what He came to teach? How many people shouted to stone Jesus, or how many shouted to crucify Him? Sometimes we must simply be open to what God is showing us in and through the change. The Pharisees and Sadducees missed the blessing and the grace because they were not willing to explore the possibility that God was moving amongst them in a way that did not fit their preconceived ideas.

How many of our “foolish controversies” are a result of our preconceived and rigid ways? I pray that we may be softened so that we do not burst when confronted with the “new wine” of Godly change.

Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.
(Matthew 9:17 (NIV))

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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June 7, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
(Philippians 4:8 (NIV))

What do you think about? What thoughts come into mind when nothing else is there to distract you? What crosses your mind when there is no work or family or other issues that must be addressed?

What do you spend your time doing when you are all alone?

Are you proud of your answers to these questions?

Would Jesus approve of your answers?

It is so easy to slip into habits that are not righteous. It is easy to slip into things that go against the fruit of the Spirit.

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. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
(Galatians 5:22-26 (NIV))

We are all familiar with the acronym “WWJD.” What would Jesus do is something that we should always ask ourselves, not only in our interactions with others, but also in our own thoughts and actions. It is our thoughts that often lead to our actions. If we think on things, it is human nature to take action. Be careful what you think about.

Fill your thoughts with things that are righteous in God’s eyes.

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do not envy a violent man

April 30, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Do not envy a violent man
or choose any of his ways,
for the LORD detests a perverse man
but takes the upright into his confidence.
The LORD’s curse is on the house of the wicked,
but he blesses the home of the righteous.
He mocks proud mockers
but gives grace to the humble.
The wise inherit honor,
but fools he holds up to shame.
(Proverbs 3:31-35 (NIV))

It is easy to get taken in by the ways of the world. How often have we seen those who follow the world receive great reward, or at least worldly reward? It is not always easy to stay focused on God’s promises when the world offers us things that we can see and touch now. But, we must not resort to the ways of those whom God spoke of in Proverbs. We must remember that we have a much greater reward to focus on – Eternity with God. We must always strive to remember that the world rewards wickedness and pride, but remember what Jesus said.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Pray for those who are described above. Do NOT envy them. Their reward is not what you want.

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Don’t stray from the words of knowledge

April 14, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Stop listening to instruction, my son,
and you will stray from the words of knowledge.
A corrupt witness mocks at justice,
and the mouth of the wicked gulps down evil.
Penalties are prepared for mockers,
and beatings for the backs of fools.
Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler;
whoever is led astray by them is not wise.
A king’s wrath is like the roar of a lion;
he who angers him forfeits his life.
It is to a man’s honor to avoid strife,
but every fool is quick to quarrel.
(Proverbs 19:27 – 20:3 (NIV))

Instruction is often seen as folly in the eyes of the student. But, wisdom can only come through instruction. If the person does not learn the lessons early in life, then that person is bound to learn those missed lessons through the “school of hard knocks.” Proverbs speaks of people who have not learned these lessons early in life. Corruption, mockery, drunkenness, rage, and fighting are all results of the failure to heed the instructions that are meant for the good of the person.

Could God’s instructions be the same as the worldly instructions. The physical law that states “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction” also holds true for the spiritual world. The vices that Proverbs speaks of are also spiritual truths. Someone who is mature and wise spiritually would not be prone to any of the corruption, mockery, drunkenness, rage and fighting. They would listen to the voice of God and heed His instruction in all that they do.

It is hard to not let human nature creep into your life. It is a constant spiritual battle to not let our sinful nature take control. We must remember that sin leads to death, and because of our fallen nature, we live in sin. Without the grace and mercy of God the Father through the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ, we would all be spiritually like those that Proverbs speaks of.

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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