Do you truly belong to God?

March 20, 2015

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”
(John 8:47 (NIV))

God is calling each of us.

Do you hear Him?

God has a plan of redemption for us if we will only accept it.

Do you accept God’s grace?

Hearing and accepting are vital to your relationship with God, but do you belong to God?

Just what does it mean to belong to God?

Let’s consider your car. It’s only purpose is to serve it’s owner. I realize that a car doesn’t have a choice, but humor me for a moment. The car sits and waits. It has no purpose apart from it’s owner. Without the owner taking control, the car goes nowhere. It is useless. It may look nice sitting in a driveway, but it is not doing what it was designed to do. It may catch the attention of people, but it’s true purpose is lost without the owner providing the direction. Without the owner, the car is empty and devoid of life.

How is your life?

Do you belong to God?

Do you wait for a purpose for your life? Do you have a true direction that is guided by God? Does God’s purpose fill you and give you life?

Are you willing to do anything that God calls you to do? Does He possess your heart, your body, your mind and your soul or have you just given over a little of each? Think about the car once again. The owner can’t truly own the car without possessing the keys that give complete access to everything.

Have you given God the keys to your life?

Copyright 1998 – 2015 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Reality Check

February 15, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“The King will reply, `I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’
(Matthew 25:40 (NIV))

I read this and a question immediately came to mind. It was a question that sent chills down my spine. It was a question that made me realize that I can be considered one of the least of these and that I too am also someone who needs to do for others.

Think about that and then answer the same question that came to mind when I read this passage.

Have you ever felt that you were insignificant?

It is human nature to want to believe that we are of great worth and that we are worth more than our fellow brothers and sisters. This is pride.

The LORD detests all the proud of heart.
Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.
(Proverbs 16:5 (NIV))

Before his downfall a man’s heart is proud,
but humility comes before honor.
(Proverbs 18:12 (NIV))

Our significance does not come from our deeds, actions or abilities. It comes from grace. If we could not earn our salvation, then we can make no claim to be proud of.

All of us have become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
we all shrivel up like a leaf,
and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
(Isaiah 64:6 (NIV))

Are we proud to be a filthy rag? Are we any better than other filthy rags in the pile? We may find that we are not on the bottom of that pile, but that does not make us better than others. Eventually, all rags have one of two things happen to them. They are either washed or they are tossed away and destroyed. The rags do not have a say in what happens. We, as the Body of Christ, have proclaimed a faith in Jesus as the one and only one who can pick us up and wash us clean. We have made a stand and we have had a say in what becomes of us.

If we are as filthy rags, we are included in the least of these whether we admit it or not. Have you ever stopped to think that what you do for others means that you are doing it for Jesus?

And, now, the reality check !

Have you ever stopped to think that what someone does for you, they are doing for Jesus?

This puts things in a whole new perspective.

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Correct, rebuke and encourage

February 8, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction.
(2 Timothy 4:2 (NIV))

Did you catch the three words in the middle of this passage? Chances are that most people tend to ignore them and focus on the first part where we are told to “Preach the Word,” yet many of us fail at this as well.

What three words do we want to ignore?

Correct, rebuke and encourage.

Why are these three words so hard for us to take to heart? Why do we shudder at the thought of actually doing anything related to these words? Why do we find it so difficult to offer correction when we know what is truth? Are we afraid that they will point out the correction that we need? Why do we hesitate to rebuke when we know the One who has all power and authority? Are we afraid that we might end up rebuking ourselves and be shamed in the process? Why do we find it so difficult to encourage others to walk in faith? Is it because we are secretly struggling with our own walk?

Human nature is a funny thing. We tend to avoid things that will actually give us away or things that we feel uncomfortable doing. How many criminals do you know who will report a crime? How many alcoholics will admit they need help? How many sinners will admit that they need a Savior?

Ah, hah!

I played that card.

Even though we may admit that we are in need of a Savior, do we fully embrace it and fully surrender to it? Do we simply try to do the least that we can do to get by? Plus, we feel that we are no better than others so what gives us the right to correct, rebuke and encourage?

Jesus gives us that right!

I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
(John 14:12 (NIV))

Jesus did these very things when He walked the earth. He did them out of love. He did them to show people the way to the Father. He did them so that they would have a full life.

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))

Are you ready to do what Jesus did? Are you willing to show love? Are you willing to help open the eyes of those who are in darkness? Go forth in love.

Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction.
(2 Timothy 4:2 (NIV))

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Don’t be a boastful messenger

January 27, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

It is written in Isaiah the prophet:
“I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way” —
“a voice of one calling in the desert,
`Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.’ ”
(Mark 1:2-3 (NIV))

What if we were told that God was sending us a messenger today?

Think about that if you will.

John the Baptist came to point the way to Jesus. Those who came to John were ready for what was to come. They were sincere in their repentance and from what we have been told, they were earnestly seeking God. They recognized something in John, something that did not point to himself, but pointed to someone who is to come.

John was not the message. He was only the messenger.

Jesus was and is the message.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.
Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.
There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.
(John 1:1-9 (NIV))

Do we, as the “modern” church, confuse the messenger with the message? How many times have you heard of people going to a church because they love the pastor? This is not wrong, but what happens when the love of pastor is greater than the love of God and Jesus? How many times have you heard of people leaving the church because of something that someone said?

Each of us is a messenger in our own right. We are all supposed to point to Jesus. What you do and say has an impact on those around you. Professing a faith in Jesus means that we are to surrender to Him and to be His hands and feet in this world. We are to prepare the way for the Lord in the lives of those we meet.

Don’t be a boastful messenger.

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Out of place!

January 11, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, he sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?”
(Esther 4:12-14 (NIV))

Esther became queen of a foreign land at a time when the Jews were not in their own land. She probably felt out of place in this land and in this role she was given to play.

How many times have you been placed in a situation that you felt was not your place? Take a look at Esther. God had her there for a purpose. She was placed there for “such a time as this”. She had to recognize that fact before she could act and do God’s will.

Mordecai was right, if she had failed to act, deliverance would have come from another hand of God. If that had happened, it is possible that when we read about Esther, we would be reading about her blindness and inability to hear God’s voice, instead of how she became God’s servant in delivering the Jews.

Do you feel out of place and unsure of what you are to do? Listen to God. He places people where He wants them in order to do His will.

Are you listening or are you stumbling through blindly?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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You are all one in Christ Jesus

December 12, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
(Galatians 3:26-28 (NIV))

This may sound like a silly question, but what is it that we celebrate at Christmas?

Is it the denominational differences that we, humanity, have placed as barriers between ourselves? Is it how we profess our faith? Is it how we sing praises? Is it the color of the skin of the congregation?

Or is it the birth of Jesus?

I often wonder what Jesus would say of He were to come to earth and give us a report card update on how we are doing? Would he commend us or condemn us?

Personally, I believe that we would most likely get a mixed review. One in which we would receive severe judgment for the way that we have allowed the Gospel to be removed from society. I believe that we would be held accountable for the way that we still segregate the Body of Christ I believe that we would also be held accountable for not doing enough to share the Gospel, for it is a gift to everyone, and not just those who look, act and think like us.

It is for Jew and Greek, slave and free, male and female.

In other words, it is for those who may not be like you. It is also for those who may be just like you. Think about that last statement. I know that if I found someone “just like me,” I would pray for them continuously, for I know the sins that they would be fighting.

We, as the Body of Christ, come from many different backgrounds. We must prevent these differences from separating us from the rest of the Body of Christ, and from Jesus. We come from many different traditions. Traditions are a funny thing. A tradition is simply a routine way of doing something. They are man-made and must not get in our way of rejoicing with each other about the birth of Jesus.

I once heard someone tell a story about a young bride who, after getting married, wanted to cook a pot roast for her husband. She bought the needed pot and the roast. She then called her mother to get instructions. After listening to her mother, she asked a very serious question. “Why did you always cut off the end of the roast? I want to do it exactly like you.” Her mother’s response was that she cut the roast because her pot was too small. It appears that not all traditions are ones that we need to continue.

Since we are all one in Christ Jesus, what “traditions” do we allow to keep us separated? If we are all sons of God through faith in Christ, why do we often treat our brothers and sisters like we do? I can hear some of you thinking that this is what brothers and sisters do. I honestly hope that the Body of Christ does not act like natural brothers and sisters. We should show the world a different side.

“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))

Can the world tell that you are a disciple of Jesus?

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are we so stuck in our ways?

December 8, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue. He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!” (which means, “Be opened!”). At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly.
(Mark 7:33-35 (NIV))

Have you ever stopped to realize that sometimes the things that actually get us to pay attention, to open our eyes and ears, are the very things that may seem absurd to us?

Think about that in relation to this passage.

How many of us would draw back if someone put their fingers in our ears and then spit and touched our tongue? Would we be willing to allow the actions to continue? If you are like me, then the actions would have been observed reluctantly and cautiously, or they would have been stopped.

Why? Simply because it goes against conventional wisdom and ettiqutte. We have “knowledge” of what is supposed to happen and how it is to happen. If something falls outside of this “knowledge,” then we are prone to not accept it.

Now, let’s put a spin on this concept. Let’s test our faith.

What if Jesus asked you to go to the ends of the earth to spread His Gospel? Does this fall within your “knowledge” of what is supposed to happen? Turn the tables on who is asking whom. Picture yourself in a situation in which you could be the recipient of a large amount of money. It is not too difficult to imagine yourself asking God for it to come to be true. You may find yourself making all types of promises to God simply because it is in your interest and your “knowledge” of how things should work.

Are our eyes and ears any more open than the man we are told of in Mark? Are we willing to step outside of our conventional “knowledge” when we are confronted with what God has in store for us? Are we willing to look at things that are absurd in our eyes with the eyes of Jesus? Are we willing to take that proverbial step outside of our comfort zone in order to meet Jesus upon the road that He leads us?

Think about that.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the LORD.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
(Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV))

Are we so stuck in our ways that we miss what God is willing to do, and is doing, in our lives?

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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And who is my neighbor?

October 27, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
He answered: ” `Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ ; and, `Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ”
“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
(Luke 10:25-29 (NIV))

“And who is my neighbor?”

How many times have you asked that very same question simply because you did not want to be put outside of your comfort zone to help someone who was in need? I hate to say this, but I am guilty of this more than I care to admit.

Let’s face the truth. It is human nature to be concerned only with ourselves or those who immediately impact our lives. We become so wrapped up in our own little worlds that we fail to recognize the simple fact that we are only a small part of God’s creation, and, more importantly, we are not the center of that creation.

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))

If God loves each of us that much, then each of us, no matter how many miles may separate us, are neighbors. We must continually strive to remember this the next time that we feel outside of our comfort zone.

What if Jesus decided that He did not want to come to earth as a man because He was going to be outside of His comfort zone?

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What does your faith allow you to accept?

October 18, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, “The righteous will live by faith.” The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, “The man who does these things will live by them.”Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.
(Galatians 3:10-14 (NIV))

There is no one alive who is capable of living each and every day of their life from birth till death exactly as God desires.

Let’s face it, there is not one person alive who can follow detailed instructions letter perfect each and every time something needs to be done. Since we are not capable of following instructions for things that are trivial in comparison, how can we follow detailed instructions every second of our life? The Law is a curse, for it cannot be kept. Unfortunately, it must be kept if we are to stand before God and be given entry into His presence. The Law shows us that we are not capable of achieving this absolute perfection in our actions, and therefore we are condemned to eternal separation from God.

We can rejoice!

We have been given a pardon from our lack of perfection. We have been given grace through the perfection of another. We have been given salvation by God through the gift of His Son, Jesus, who came and lived as a human in a perfect existence before God. Through His perfection, we have been given grace. Through His obedience, we have been given mercy. Through His humiliation, we have been given righteousness, and through His being cursed, we have been given life!

The Law tells us that we are not capable of Godly perfection. Grace tells us that we are made perfect through the sacrifice of another. Faith allows us to accept that grace.

What does your faith allow you to accept?

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Power and authority

September 26, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations.
(Revelation 2:26 (NIV))

We should not seek power for the sake of power, however, Jesus has promised us that we would have authority.

Power that comes from the world is self-serving and is self-centered. It feeds a person’s ego and allows Satan to enter with lies about “no one will know, and you deserve it.”

The old saying that absolute power corrupts absolutely is true. No single person in all of history has been able to resist the temptation that comes with absolute authority. Notice that I said no single “person.” Jesus was fully man and fully God. Jesus resisted the temptation, and as a result, if we can follow Him and allow Jesus into our lives as our Lord and Savior, then we, too, can resist temptation. By resisting this temptation in our lives and focusing on Jesus, we are placing all authority for our lives in His hands. By surrendering our authority, we will be given authority through Jesus Christ.

I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
(John 14:12)

Most people don’t think of authority as one of the things that they will do. However, it is. Jesus was given the authority. His authority He gives to those who allow Him into their lives.

It is promised. If we do the Will of God through the authority given to Jesus, then we will be given authority in a similar manner. This authority is not to be looked upon as the world looks upon authority, for even God given authority still requires a willing submission to the Father who has granted the authority.

Do not boast about authority, but pray for guidance in your authority that God has given you.

The passage speaks about the Millennial Kingdom, but the same principles apply today. Focus on Godly authority to enforce whatever authority you may have, and you will be blessed as well as be a blessing.

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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