Jesus was willing. Are you?

June 26, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

When he came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”
Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cured of his leprosy. Then Jesus said to him, “See that you don’t tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”
(Matthew 8:1-4 (NIV))

“I am willing.”

Three little words that changed the course of history! Three little words that allowed each of us to receive grace and mercy.

I can imagine a conversation in heaven a long time ago in which God the Father says something like, “I have a plan to offer grace, mercy and salvation to my creation. It will require a great sacrifice. Are you willing?”

“I am willing.”

It is very easy to comprehend the idea that when Jesus spoke these words to the leper, it was not the first time that He had said them. Perhaps the best part of this is that He says them still. He says them to each of us who willingly come to Him as Lord and Savior. No matter what garbage we bring with us, we can ask Him if He is willing to take it from us and His answer will always be “I am willing.” The only thing that holds us back from hearing these words and receiving His gift of grace and mercy is the simple fact that we do not answer Him. He asks each of us “If you are willing, I can take that from you.” Far too many are not willing. Far too many will never know God’s grace and mercy.

Jesus was willing. Are you?

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?

March 6, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: ” `Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: `Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
(Matthew 22:36-40 (NIV))

I want you to be honest with me. Actually, I want you to be honest with yourself. How well do you keep these two commandments?

We say that we love God, but do we love Him with all our heart and all our soul? That is a big commitment. It is one that takes more than an occasional “Amen” on Sunday. It takes more than simply having a Bible. It takes more than acknowledging God when it is convenient for us. Every aspect, every moment, every breath should be dedicated to God.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
(1 Corinthians 10:31 (NIV))

Is that possible for a sinful creation to place God above all else, after all, we are a selfish creation. We place ourselves above everything and everyone. Most of the time, we would rather ignore our neighbor if we could, yet we are told to love our neighbor as ourself. We are to not only place God above ourselves, we are to place our neighbor equal to ourselves.

Ouch !!!

I fully understand why Jesus answered the question in this way, but why does it have to shake us up, why does it have to rattle our cages, why does it have to make us move outside of our comfort zones? I suppose for the very same reason that Jesus placed God first in the Lord’s Prayer. It makes us think of others first. It makes us think of the well being of all of God’s creation and not just the part that He created for us. He wants to turn our world upside down. He wants us to reach out in praise. He wants us to reach out in prayer. He wants us to reach out in humility, for it is after we reach out to Him and to our neighbor, we realize His great love for us is not just for us. It is for everyone.

“This, then, is how you should pray:
” `Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’
(Matthew 6:9-13 (NIV))

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Time under heaven

January 28, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
(Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NIV))

Have you ever thought about how you would know what time was called for?

Some are obvious. Birth and death and many others, but most are difficult to determine, especially if we follow the command to love one another.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
(John 13:34-35 (NIV))

How do we balance this command with the words from Ecclesiastes? How do we treat the world and those who flaunt their sin at our faith? I know that everyone is familiar with the story of the prodigal son. This implies that God is patient with us and wishes for us to return. We are to show the same patience with those who flaunt their sin, yet we are also told of what will happen if they do not repent.

If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town. I tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.
(Matthew 10:14-15 (NIV))

How do we respond to those who claim that Jesus is love and yet they still continue in their sin?

How do we, who are called to do as Jesus did, respond when we are told that everything has its time under heaven? Will there be a day when we, as the Body of Christ, are called to hate? Will we be called to kill? Will we be called to turn away when in our hearts we know that we are to love? Will there come a point in time when we can no longer associate with sin because we are called to be with Jesus?

I have come to the conclusion that in order to know the time, we must know Jesus. In order to know Jesus, we must seek Him in all that we do. We cannot follow Jesus while we watch sports or our favorite television show. We follow Jesus by embracing Him in all aspects of our lives. Only then will we be able to begin to understand the time under heaven.

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Come up here . . .

September 26, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian. A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne. Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. Before the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God. Also before the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.
In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying:

“Holy, holy, holy
is the Lord God Almighty,
who was, and is, and is to come.”

Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:

“You are worthy, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they were created
and have their being.”
(Revelation 4:1-11 (NIV))

We are given a very clear picture of what the Throne of God is like and how He is worshipped in heaven. Continual praise and worship by His creation!

We are also given a very clear picture of how quickly we can be in God’s presence. John was told to “Come up here,…” and at once he was transformed and in the presence of God. This is how it will happen when the true church is removed from the earth. We will be called and immediately be in the presence of Jesus for the celebration of the marriage of the Lamb!

Are you ready? Will you be with Jesus worshipping God or will you be sorry that you missed the most important event in history?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you need to forgive someone?

July 20, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”
(Mark 11:24-25 (NIV))

How many times have you heard Mark 11:24? It is a verse that we know quite well, and we rely on it and count on it because it is a promise from God. God always keeps His promises.

How many times have you heard Mark 11:25 in context with Mark 11:24? God has placed a “condition” on us. It is easy to stand firm in the promise that is made in Mark 11:24, but it is not so easy to take Mark 11:25.

God clearly wants us to forgive others as He has forgiven us. To put it simply, if we are not able to give forgiveness, we are not able to be forgiven. The ability to forgive is Christ-like and God-like. If we cannot show these traits as believers, we are not true followers of Christ.

Do you need to forgive someone?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What has God done for you?

July 17, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
(Psalms 136:1 (NIV))

When was the last time that you truly read and comprehended these words?

God is so good that His love truly does endure forever. David realized this when he wrote these words. David did not stop with these words only. He wrote and wrote about the good things that God has done and with each one, he emphasized that God’s love never ends.

Perhaps we should take a minute to read and reflect on what David wrote.

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever.
to him who alone does great wonders,
His love endures forever.
who by his understanding made the heavens,
His love endures forever.
who spread out the earth upon the waters,
His love endures forever.
who made the great lights–
His love endures forever.
the sun to govern the day,
His love endures forever.
the moon and stars to govern the night;
His love endures forever.
to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt
His love endures forever.
and brought Israel out from among them
His love endures forever.
with a mighty hand and outstretched arm;
His love endures forever.
to him who divided the Red Sea asunder
His love endures forever.
and brought Israel through the midst of it,
His love endures forever.
but swept Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea;
His love endures forever.
to him who led his people through the desert,
His love endures forever.
who struck down great kings,
His love endures forever.
and killed mighty kings–
His love endures forever.
Sihon king of the Amorites
His love endures forever.
and Og king of Bashan–
His love endures forever.
and gave their land as an inheritance,
His love endures forever.
an inheritance to his servant Israel;
His love endures forever.
to the One who remembered us in our low estate
His love endures forever.
and freed us from our enemies,
His love endures forever.
and who gives food to every creature.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of heaven.
His love endures forever
(Psalms 136: 1-26 (NIV))

We would be hard pressed to list that many things in our lives that we are willing to give God the credit and the glory for. David did it. He gave God the glory for all things. Perhaps this is why he was called a man after God’s own heart.

There are things in my life that I pray would change, yet perhaps I should be thankful for them and wait on God to lead me through them instead.

What can you list that God has done for you?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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And that is what some of you were!

July 10, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
(1 Corinthians 6:11 (NIV))

“And that is what some of you were!”

Do you like to be reminded of the mistakes that you have made in life? Do you like to be reminded of the terrible things that you have done?

Better yet, do you like to be reminded that all that has happened is in the past? It is forgiven!

The enemy likes to twist things around and remind us of what we were. He drives it home. He uses it to keep us from the grace and mercy that we have been given through Jesus.

Have you ever stopped to contemplate that Satan also twists this in such a way that he gets people to ignore the part about “And that is what some of you were?” He uses the concept that Jesus came to redeem us, to offer us grace and mercy. However, he twists this to the point where people believe that they can stay in their sin because God is love. I believe the biggest lie that the enemy uses is the one where people think that God will allow them entry to heaven because they are a good person. I know many so-called “good people” who live a life of sin but refuse to even consider giving up that sin.

God is love, but He did not send His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross so that we can continue to sin. He sent His Son to provide an example of how we should live and to offer us grace when we fail to live up to the standard. Jesus did not come into this world and tell us that we could do whatever we wanted. There is not a single scripture passage or quote where this concept is even suggested.

Pray that those who believe the lies will have their hearts opened so that they will know. Pray that they will have their eyes opened so that they will see. Pray that they will have their minds opened so that they will understand. It is my prayer for both those lost in the lies and for those who strive to walk daily with Jesus that all may claim this passage for themselves.

And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
(1 Corinthians 6:11 (NIV))

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

May 23, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter.
(Isaiah 5:20 (NIV))

I know that I have been skirting around this passage for a long time with references to what is going on in the world today. I honestly do not see how people have become so polarized. How they have forgotten the basic concepts of society and the basic principles of a life lived in harmony with God’s desires.

I can remember a time when pregnancy outside of marriage was considered wrong. Now it is a choice and often a reality television show. I can remember when abortion was illegal. Now it is a woman’s right. I can remember when victims could defend themselves. Now they are locked up and the criminal has more rights than the victim. I can remember when homosexuality was not talked about. Now it is supposedly a biological issue. I can remember when freedom of religion meant that you could worship in any manner that you wished. Now it means freedom from religion. I remember when the majority of the population went to church. A vocal minority now has us on tiptoes when the 10 Commandments are posted in a public building. I remember when prayer was allowed in school. Now, we can’t mention Jesus, but we can talk about any other religion freely.

There are many other passages that confirm what Isaiah wrote.

But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.
(Romans 2:8 (NIV))

We are in interesting times.

Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.
“The owner’s servants came to him and said, `Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’
” `An enemy did this,’ he replied.
“The servants asked him, `Do you want us to go and pull them up?’
” `No,’ he answered, `because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’ ”
(Matthew 14:24-30 (NIV))

Weeds are appearing everywhere.

We, as the Body of Christ, must not fall into the traps that the enemy has set. We must know God’s Word. We must know the enemy. We must be able to tell the difference between good and evil.

Do you call evil good and good evil?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you have the faith to see what Stephen saw?

May 21, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit! Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him– you who have received the law that was put into effect through angels but have not obeyed it.”
When they heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
(Acts 7:51-56 (NIV))

Do you have the faith to take a stand in the face of adversity?

Do you have the faith to speak God’s truth even when it is not physically safe to do so?

Do you have the faith to see what Stephen saw?

I know that these are tough questions. We all would like to think that we would stand firm in our faith even when faced with danger and even death. It is my prayer that you never have to be put into a situation that requires this type of an answer. It is also my prayer that if the circumstances ever do arise, that each of us would show the faith that Stephen showed.

His faith was rewarded!

He saw heaven. He saw God and Jesus. He was given the assurance that what he believed in was true. Because of this glimpse of the promises that God had made, Stephen was able to face whatever the crowd would do to him, for he knew beyond any doubt where he would be.

We all know that Stephen was then stoned to death. He was faithful to the end.

I am currently teaching an adult Sunday School class, and the topic for what should have only been one week, now going into four, is heaven. This particular passage brought some interesting conversations, with everybody trying to visualize what heaven is actually like. Simply put, heaven is eternity with God, the Father. We have many passages throughout the book of Matthew that tell us what heaven is like. All of these are attempts to explain the awe and majesty of heaven with words that are mortal in nature. This morning, someone said that they hoped that there would be Krispy Kreme doughnuts in heaven because they taste so good. My response was that there would be things much better.

Imagine!

If Stephen was willing to speak out knowing that there may be a chance of death, what did he see in his vision of heaven that made it worth it? We all have our own vision of what we think heaven will be like, and yes, some of those include Krispy Kreme. How far can you allow your faith to see beyond the physical limitations and knowledge and simply embrace eternity with God?

Do you have the faith to see what Stephen saw?

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