Talents

August 23, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
(Matthew 25:14-18 (NIV))

What have you done with the talents that God has given to you? Have you used them or have you hidden them?

Perhaps we should take a look at the talents that have been used. Were they used for your own gain or did you use them for the gain of the one who gave them to you? It is so easy to get caught up in what the world is selling and get sidetracked from the true reason for your talents. The world tells us to make money and seek after fame. It tells us that we are better than others and our talents are to be used for our gain. How will this attitude be rewarded?

Consider those who have used their talents for the gain of the one who gave them the talents. What was their attitude? How was it rewarded?

What about the one who is afraid to use their talents? They lack faith. Perhaps it is the lack of faith that the talent they have been given is of any value. Perhaps it is a lack of faith in themselves. Either way, it is a lack of faith in God, for He has created both the individuals and the talents. It is a misguided fear that God will punish us if we do wrong, and so we do nothing.

Each of us falls somewhere within these three scenarios. Perhaps we can lay claim to each one of them at different times in our lives. Either we misuse our talents and fall short of what God intends, or we use them for His good. Perhaps the worst case is not using our given talents at all.

What talents has God given to you? How have you used them? How can you change to be a better servant using your talents?

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
Subscribe to daily email delivery


Commit to something completely

August 8, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.
(John 10:27-28 (NIV))

Many people cling to the last sentence of this verse, and rightly so. But, how many people do you know who cling to this sentence and ignore the first sentence? Claiming the name of Jesus as your personal Savior is only part of the complete process of salvation.

You must allow Jesus to be the Lord of your life, following Him in whatever He directs you. Many people who ignore the first sentence and all of its ramifications have not totally surrendered their lives to the authority that is Jesus. They see Jesus as somebody who they can call upon when they get themselves into trouble, someone who will bail them out of any of their mistakes. They see Jesus as some sort of personal insurance policy that they can call upon when things are not going their way. In the process, they completely ignore Jesus’ voice and what He is calling them to do.

Perhaps it is human nature to want to “Do it my way.” It takes a total surrender of your life to completely enjoy the full blessings that await you through Jesus Christ. Consider that the world rewards those who commit to something completely. This is especially true when you consider actors, musicians, etc. who must focus solely on what they do. If they are rewarded by a sinful world for their commitment, how much more will we be rewarded if we give everything we have to the One who created us and who saved us from our sin?

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
Subscribe to daily email delivery


Hidden from whom?

July 13, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save,
nor his ear too dull to hear.
But your iniquities have separated
you from your God;
your sins have hidden his face from you,
so that he will not hear.
For your hands are stained with blood,
your fingers with guilt.
Your lips have spoken lies,
and your tongue mutters wicked things.
(Isaiah 59:1-3 (NIV))

God is more than capable of saving and providing anything and everything that we may need. He hears our every cry. He knows what we want and what we need.

He knows our hearts.

Perhaps it is our hearts that give us away.

We all hide things in our hearts that we do not want anyone to know about. Secret thoughts and desires. Past sins and failures. Greed, envy and lust. The desire for power and wealth. We all have them. We all try to hide them.

God sees them all.

He knows what we hide in our hearts and what we secretly desire. He knows that while we may be praying for His Will to be done, we are planning on how to make more money. He knows that while we are reading our Bible, we are looking for passages that vindicate our sinful actions. He knows that we seek to point the finger at someone else’s failures so that the attention will be taken off of our own failures.

What would happen in our lives if what we profess was truly what was in our hearts? What if our sins were not only hidden from others, they were completely removed from us? What is we could wash our hands of the blood stains and cleanse our lips of the lies?

That is what God desires of us. That is what He longs to see us mature to do. That is what Jesus did when He walked this earth. That is what we can do if we keep our eyes upon Jesus each and every day.

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
(Hebrews 12:2 (NIV))

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
Subscribe to daily email delivery


Planks

July 7, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, `Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
(Matthew 7:3-5 (NIV))

If only our society lived by these words. We have become a people who think that whatever we want to do is all right as long as it does not effect anyone else. Too many of us moan about our rights even though what we do is wrong. What we have failed to realize is that, according to the old saying, no man is an island. What each of us does has an effect and an impact on those around us.

We have been judged and all of us have been found lacking and none of us are worthy. We have all been found to have a huge plank firmly embedded not only in our eye, but in our life. We need to look closely at what we are doing and be very self-critical, for we are all guilty. We need to:

Be still, and know that I am God
(Psalms 46:10a(NIV))

Perhaps, if we spend time seeking God, then our planks would be removed and we could see clearly. We may even find that we are then truly in a position to help others remove their speck of sawdust.

Have you been able to remove your plank?

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
Subscribe to daily email delivery


Stumbling blocks

July 5, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak.
(1 Corinthians 8:9 (NIV))

Once again, the concept of freedom comes center stage.

Paul tells us that we must consider those around us when we choose to exercise our freedoms. This passage was taken from a section where he tells people to be careful about what they eat in front of people. He stated that even though they were free to eat various types of food and food that had been sacrificed to idols, he also said that if it caused someone to stumble in their faith, to not do it.

I often wonder just how far Paul meant for this to go. Should we take this to mean that if someone has a stumbling block when it comes to gossip, that we should watch what we say so that we do not give them anything to gossip about? Does it mean that if someone has a problem with anger that we should be careful to not place them in situations that will cause anger?

And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
(Matthew 18:3-4 (NIV))

But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.
(Matthew 18:6 (NIV))

If we are to become like little children, and we are told that if we cause a little one to sin, then I honestly believe that we are held accountable for what we do if it causes someone to stumble. It may not be a “little one,” but he or she is a child of God.

If you think about that for a moment and then think about past events in your church, do you have a person or a family that is no longer there because they got their feelings hurt? Whatever may have made them leave left a big stumbling block in their faith. With this in mind, not every believer is at the same stage in their faith and the freedoms that you take for granted may cause someone to stumble simply because they do not understand.

After all, with freedom comes responsibility – a responsibility to God, to our neighbors, to our families and to ourselves.

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
Subscribe to daily email delivery


Foolishness?

June 23, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
(1 Corinthians 1:18 (NIV))

What do you consider to be foolish?

Personally, I believe that anything can become foolishness if you let it. Cleanliness is good. Forgetting everything else in order to be completely sanitary is foolishness. Making a living is good. Forgetting everything else and working all the time is foolishness.

Now, the big question. Do you consider the Gospel to be foolishness?

At some point in our lives, I think that it is safe to say that many of us thought that way. I often find passages of Scripture that at first read seem to be foolishness, but then I remember that God’s ways are not our ways.

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
(1 Corinthians 13:11-12 (NIV))

Think about that passage. When you were a child, your understanding of things was far different than that of an adult. In fact, you probably thought that some of the things that adults did were foolish. Now, I am one of those adults and I am doing things that I am sure my children think are foolish.

Can the cross be compared to this concept?

Just as we change in what we do in the physical world, our spiritual being also changes. Hopefully, it matures as our physical body matures. Hopefully, it sees the world from more than just a physical existence. Hopefully, it realizes that there is more to life than birth to death. Hopefully, it comes to the realization that foolishness is a matter of perspective and that with a change in perspective comes assurance of grace, mercy and hope through the message of the cross.

As for me, I do not think that grace, mercy, and hope are foolishness. What do you think?

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
Subscribe to daily email delivery


Spiritual consistency

June 16, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
(Romans 12:12 (NIV))

Joyful, patient and faithful.

Paul had a consistency in his message that we need to be reminded of as often as we call upon the name of Jesus. Paul did not simply preach a message that proclaiming Jesus as your Lord and Savior meant that you did not have to undergo spiritual growth. He knew that accepting Jesus into your life as your personal Lord and Savior would mean a desire to become more like Jesus. The characteristics that he spoke of in Romans 12:12 are also repeated quite eloquently in Galatians.

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.
(Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV))

There is a consistency!

Just as God never changes, the Word that He gives those whom He calls as apostles, prophets and teachers should never change. Test everything. Do not take something as the truth unless you have verified it against God’s Word. He will not change. Jesus will not change. He told us that He only does what He sees the Father do. He is consistent.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
(Hebrews 13:8 (NIV))

Jesus was joyful during His ministry. He came to give us this joy.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
(John 10:10 (NIV))

Once again, consistency!

Are you consistent in your faith?

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
Subscribe to daily email delivery


Changed lives

June 13, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

How can I repay the LORD
for all his goodness to me?
I will lift up the cup of salvation
and call on the name of the LORD.
I will fulfill my vows to the LORD
in the presence of all his people.
(Psalms 116:12-14 (NIV))

Even though this was written long before God sent Jesus to this earth, it still applies to our walk of faith in this day and age. When we grow close to God, we should grow in our gratitude. We should desire to show God how thankful we are to Him for all of His mercies and for the gift of salvation through His Son, Jesus. We should become exuberant in our desires to praise God.

Many cultures have a tradition that if someone saves your life, you belong to them until the debt is repaid. The person who was saved goes everywhere that the rescuer goes. If you stop to think about this concept, it speaks very well of the person who performed the life saving rescue. The person following them testifies to the heroics of the rescuer. He also humbles himself by leaving his home and committing himself to the person who rescued them. This changes two lives. It changes the person who was rescued and it changes the person who did the rescuing. The person who was saved follows the rescuer out of gratitude. They hope to be able to show such goodness to them in turn.

Think about God.

Think about Jesus.

Jesus was sent by God to save us from certain death as a result of our sin. We should be following Jesus and looking for ways to repay His goodness. We should proclaim His ways in the presence of all. If someone alive today literally saved your life, you would not stop thanking them for their actions. Have you stopped thanking God and Jesus for their actions?

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
Subscribe to daily email delivery


A complete change

June 8, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
(Romans 1:28-32 (NIV))

Have you ever met someone who thought that they could do whatever they wanted to because God’s grace would cleanse them? These are the type of people who profess a faith in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior in church and then live the rest of the week as if they never accepted Jesus.

Did they really accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior, or are they the very ones that Paul is writing about in Romans?

Accepting Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior means so much more than simply uttering words. It is a change of heart. It is the desire to follow God’s Word. It is a desire to turn away from every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity.

How should a believer respond to accepting Jesus? Believers must refrain from envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice, gossip, slander, hating God, insolence, arrogance, evil, disobedience, senselessness, faithlessness, heartlessness, and ruthlessness.

I hate to say this, but perhaps we all see a little of ourselves in these attributes. We must turn away from these traits.

We must seek after God’s heart !

We must do what Jesus would do !

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
Subscribe to daily email delivery


True branches and good fruit

May 31, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
(John 15:5-8 (NIV))

All good comes from God. We cannot do truly good things without God in our lives. When we become believers, we are grafted into the vine. We are not natural branches of “good” and “love”. Rather, we are allowed to graft onto the perfect vine and share in the fruits of that vine. We have the life of the vine flowing through us if the “graft” is true. If the “life” flows through us, then the fruit produced will also show the “life” of the vine. If the “graft” is not true, then the branch withers and dies and must be discarded.

Which branch are you? Do you bear the fruit of the vine, or do you wither and produce no fruit?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
Subscribe to daily email delivery


%d bloggers like this: