Are we truly being what Jesus is calling us to be?

January 23, 2015

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person–such a man is an idolater–has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
(Ephesians 5:3-5 (NIV))

I want you to read the passage again. I know that I have read it multiple times to let it sink in.

Did Paul actually mean what he wrote?

Were these words Paul’s or were they the teachings of Jesus and the early church?

How do we live up to these words?

Would we be considered sexually immoral? Would we be considered impure? Are we greedy? Are we guilty of foolish talk and coarse jokes?

We may not think so, but what do we know? We can’t see the log in our own eye!

It is so difficult to read passages like this and be honest with ourselves. We simply fail to recognize our own sins for what they are. We can easily spot someone else’s sins, but ours are a different matter. To be honest, we have rapidly moved away from being able to spot someone else’s sins. We look at sin as an alternative lifestyle. Doesn’t that sound so much more acceptable to say an alternative lifestyle instead of labeling it what it truly is in the eyes of God?

I often wonder what Paul would write to the church today in this country. I often wonder what Jesus thinks of His church today in this country. Are we living up to the standards that have been laid out before us?

Are we truly being what Jesus is calling us to be?

Copyright 1998 – 2014 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Love

March 10, 2014

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
(1 Corinthians 13:6-7 (NIV))

Do you think that your pet sin loves you? Does greed love you? Does envy? Does lust, just to name a few? Will they stand by your side when all else fails you?

These are the very things that the enemy uses to bring you down. Love empowers you. It lifts you up. It seeks after your best interest. The things that the enemy uses to get us hooked are only designed for one thing and that is to make us falter, and eventually fall. Love doesn’t seek our failure. It doesn’t seek out the very thing that is promises and then use it to destroy. Love is many things, but it is not destructive.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
(1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NIV))

Exactly what is evil? Based on these passages, it is easy to come to think of evil as the opposite of love. If we define evil as the opposite of love, then what is love?

We are told that God is love.

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
(1 John 4:8 (NIV))

If God is love, then He is patient. He is kind. He does not envy. He does not boast. He is not proud. He is not rude. Think of Jesus as He walked this earth. It is not difficult to think of examples of each of these characteristics from His time among us. Think of the ultimate gift that He, through His love, gave to each of us. Would your pet sin do that for you? Would the enemy say that you have been tormented enough, I will put a stop to your failures.

Only the love of God rejoices with you. Evil scowls at your victories. It detests when you allow God’s love to shine, so let the love of God shine in you and through you. you will be amazed at the difference love makes.

Copyright 1998 – 2014 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Unity or envy?

August 2, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
(Ephesians 4:11-13 (NIV))

In the world, it is easy to be overcome by the fact that all people are different. It is also difficult to overcome the desire to be like someone else. If only I could do that . . .

How many times have you heard someone say something like that? How many times have you said something like that?

It is easy to get overwhelmed by someone else’s gifts while overlooking your own. God created each of us to be unique. Do not lust after someone else’s gifts. God blessed you with your own. Find what those gifts are and then use them for God’s work in this world.

If we all had the same gifts, life would be boring. We are all part of the body of Christ. In our own physical bodies, no two parts are the same. The ears do not envy the eyes. Why should we envy other parts of the body? We should work together to do the will of God.

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Will He find us righteous?

April 4, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence.
(Genesis 6:11 (NIV))

I often wonder what we look like in the eyes if God in this day and time.

Think about that for a moment. Do you think that our world does what is pleasing to God when there are wars, rumors of wars, murder, violent crimes, rape, greed, lust, and countless others that are too numerous to mention? How do you think that we compare to the world before the great flood? At that time, God only found Noah and his family who were righteous in His eyes. Prayerfully, today there are more people than a single extended family whom God is pleased with.

Is that what makes today different than in the days of Noah? Is it the number of people who earnestly and sincerely call upon the redeeming grace offered by God through His only begotten Son, Jesus? Noah gives us a clear picture of how God cares for His own during times of trouble. He provides a path of redemption from the sins of this world. God has done this countless times. He provides a path of redemption by providing a ram, by providing a burning bush, by providing a parting of the Red Sea, and by providing the ultimate sacrificial lamb – His Son, Jesus.

How do you think that God will respond when His plans for the future actually unfold?

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

With this in mind, we know that God did send destruction to the unrighteous and we know that He saved those whom He found to be righteous. He will work the same way when His plan finally unfolds. My question to you is simple.

Will He find you righteous and provide a path of redemption for you?

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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God calls us to pray. How often do you answer that call?

November 2, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.
(1 Timothy 2:1-2 (NIV))

No matter what the outcome of the elections, this should be the prayer of every believer. We should pray for just what as we are told. We should pray for all of those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.

Unfortunately, our society and our world is far from peaceful and quiet. Godliness and holiness seem to be fading from public view. These have been replaced with self-centeredness, greed and lust for power. Gone are the days when people could disagree about things and still be friends. We are becoming a divided society and a divided world.

What caused this division?

Did we wake up one morning and it had changed overnight? We let it happen gradually. We didn’t even see it coming. We can fix the problem. We can pray for those in authority. We can pray for peace. We can pray that God will be allowed back into our public lives.

Regardless of the outcome of the elections, we can 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 7:14 (NIV))

God calls us to pray. He calls us to pray for our leaders. He calls us to pray for our country. He calls us to pray for godliness and holiness. Voting is important, but we are called to do more than vote. We, as the Body of Christ, are called to pray for those in authority.

How often do you answer that call?

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