And of which I have become a servant

October 4, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation– if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.
(Colossians 1:21-23 (NIV))

Think about those last words – “and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.”

What does that mean to you? Just what is your definition of a servant?

Do you have the attitude that is so prevalent in the church these days that basically asks what can Jesus do for me? To me, this is not servanthood. It is a selfish attitude that ignores the very heart of the Gospel. It turns the Gospel upside down. It forgets one simple truth.

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

We are not worthy of being selfish. What have we ever done that merits thinking that God would ever do anything for a sinner such as us?

It is true that Jesus came to serve, but His service was to die for our sins. He did not remain a servant. He will return much different that when He left.

On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:
(Revelation 19:16 (NIV))

In the order of things that Revelation 19:16 speaks of, who will be worthy of having servants? Who will owe their eternal salvation to whom?

How is your servanthood to the one who bought you with His blood?

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Help us, for Your names sake

September 2, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Help us, O God our Savior,
for the glory of your name;
deliver us and forgive our sins
for your name’s sake.
(Psalms 79:9 (NIV))

It is time for the church to arise to the occasion and earnestly seek after God. We must be ready to act as a willing and able instrument for God’s plans.

I am more appalled every day at what our society allows. I am more appalled every day at what governments are allowing to be removed. I am more appalled every day at what is called evil and what is called good.

If I, a mere speck in the greatness of God’s creation can find things so detestable, how do you think God feels about what this world has become.

I know that each generation has their moral and spiritual battles to fight, but gone are the days when the moral compass pointed to Jesus. That makes me groan deep within my spirit. The anguish that I feel is terrifying, yet I know that God is in control.

His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.
(Luke 3:17 (NIV))

I recently heard of plans to do in this country what has happened in Egypt recently with their government, and not because of tyranny or oppression. What I have heard of is based on the idea that these people are demanding more handouts from the government, as if the government had an endless supply of money, food and luxuries to distribute to those who simply want them. We have gone from a country that was built on the principle of hard work, dedication and faith to one of entitlement and laziness.

I am sure that God is in control and that all of this is a part of His plan to bring about the return of Jesus. However, we as the church cannot simply sit by and allow sin to overcome us while we are waiting.

God is a God pf power and strength. When Jesus walked this earth, He did not turn a blind eye to sin. He also told us to do as He did.

We have His power and strength when we pray, when we speak, and when we act. It is time that the church do just that.

Lord, forgive us our sins for your name’s sake.

We do not want the world to think that we serve a weak God. He is the God of creation. Jesus is Lord of lords and King of kings. We need to start acting like it.

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Fearless in the face of intimidation

August 31, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
(Ephesians 6:19-20 (NIV))

Today, this is my prayer for myself. It is also my prayer for any and all who proclaim the name of Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

I have never been one for not saying what I think. Just ask my wife!

I firmly believe in God, His Word, His Son Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I also firmly believe in standing my ground in my beliefs. I pray that this never changes.

Recently, through the email addresses that are associated with this devotional and other Bible related organizations, I have begun to be inundated with spam and other unwanted email, including daily Q’ran verses. All of the other emails are fake friend requests and they are increasing every day. Every single name is Arabic.

This, in and of itself, is not bad, for I know many believers who are of Arabic descent.

What has come to my attention is that appearances could be intimidating and cause someone to stop spreading God’s Word and the truth of the grace and mercy that is found only through His Son.

The intimidation can come from many sources. Pier pressure. Friends. Employers. Media. Movies. Music. Government.

The key is that we pray for each other as Paul requested. Pray that we may all declare the gospel fearlessly, as we should.

Do you pray that you will willingly and fearlessly profess the mystery of the gospel no matter what may happen?

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
(Ephesians 6:10-18 (NIV))

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you ready to go where Christ is not known?

August 18, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation. Rather, as it is written:
“Those who were not told about him will see,
and those who have not heard will understand.”
(Romans 15:20-21 (NIV))

Paul did just that. He spread the Gospel as far as he could travel. He did not keep it to himself, nor did he keep it only for his close friends and family. He didn’t even keep it only for those who looked and acted like him.

Paul willingly and eagerly took the Gospel of Jesus Christ to what was then the far reaches of his world.

We owe our very heritage and faith to his eagerness to make sure that those who had not heard would hear.

What if he had decided that blindness was his fate? What if he had decided to stay in Jerusalem? What if he gave up after the first time that he faced persecution? Would we be alive in the faith? Would we even be alive at all, for the events that God set into motion through Paul’s ministry have impacted lives throughout history. We have no idea what this world, what our own individual lives would look like if Paul did not go where he was sent.

Paul had a heart for God’s Word. He had a burning desire to see that God’s grace and mercy were shared with everyone.

Think about Paul the next time that you find yourself saying, “Someone needs to tell them about Jesus.” What if Paul said that?

Today’s society has such a wrong understanding of God’s grace and mercy. They have such a wrong image of Jesus. Because of these misconceptions, many people ridicule anything remotely associated with Christianity.

They have not been told the truth about Him.

They have not heard, so therefore they do not understand.

What if we all got out of our comfort zones and took it upon ourselves to help one person to understand? What if we relied on the Holy Spirit to help us to tell someone about Jesus? What if we all prayed for some of Paul’s enthusiasm for the Gospel to fall upon us?

The world would be a different place with each of us starting with one person who does not know the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Are you ready to step outside of your comfort zone?

Are you ready to go where Christ is not known?

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Who do you glorify?

July 25, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

So Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and he was quickly brought from the dungeon. When he had shaved and changed his clothes, he came before Pharaoh.
Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream, and no one can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.”
“I cannot do it,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.
(Genesis 41:14-16 (NIV))

I have a very serious question to ask and I want you to reflect and answer truthfully.

How would you respond if you find yourself in a situation similar to what Joseph found himself?

Would you have boasted and loudly proclaimed that you indeed did have the ability to do as he had heard? Would you proclaim that you could do as he asked? Would you come across as arrogant and egotistical when presented with a situation that could potentially glorify you?

Or would you do as Joseph did and acknowledge that all things come from God and only by His grace can you do as you are asked?

Human nature is a fickle thing. We tend to think that we would give the glory where the glory is due, yet, all too often we fall short. We allow the glory to be directed toward our own abilities even though we are not worthy of glory.

We must train our hearts and minds to desire to reflect the glory of God, for we are not worthy of glory.

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))

Even in our filthy state, we are to glorify God in all of His righteousness. We must never glorify ourselves.

Who do you glorify?

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

July 4, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.
(1 Peter 2:16-1 (NIV))

July 4th is the day that we as a nation celebrate our freedom, but exactly what does that mean?

Too many people claim that they are free to do whatever they want. People even claim that it is their right to do whatever they want.

Where do we draw the line? When do personal freedoms cross over into the realm of evil and selfish indulgence?

I honestly believe that our founding fathers would be appalled at how we have allowed our society to be twisted into something that is more concerned about protecting the rights of people who wish to live outside of the law that in protecting the public. I honestly believe that they would be appalled at how we have allowed a vocal group of people to rewrite history and vehemently object to any mention of God in government or public life. I honestly believe that they would strongly object to our big government, huge debt, and the courts rewriting laws because they don’t like them.

I know that most of our founding fathers were willing to give all that they had, even their lives, for the common good. They did not see their roles as a full-time career or as a right that they had earned. They saw their roles as an honor and a responsibility that they must bear. They new the difference between servanthood and personal gain.

When do personal freedoms cross into the area of evil?

Personally, I believe that this happens when we lose site of other people. It is true that we are free, but that does not mean that we are free to sin, and that does not mean that we are free to do things that cause harm to others. With freedom comes responsibility. This applies to us as a nation and to the body of Christ. We are free to choose, but we must weigh our choices.

God gave us free will. He also gave us a list of Ten Commandments that are supposed to guide us in our lives. When we turn from these commandments, we turn from God. We may have exercised our freedom, but in the end, our choices that we make in this “freedom” often lead to consequences beyond our comprehension.

Once again, I will state that with freedom cones responsibility – a responsibility to God, to our neighbors, to our families and to ourselves. We must not claim that we have the right, but pray that what we do is right.

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you ready for the responsibility?

June 30, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.
(Deuteronomy 31:6 (NIV))

Moses spoke these words to the Israelites before they crossed over into the promised land. He knew that he would not be going. He also knew that they would confront the current inhabitants of the land that God had promised to them. He knew that in the minds of the people, change and uncertainty lie ahead of them. I am sure that many among the people who heard these words were afraid simply because of what they perceived as this uncertainty.

How would you react if the person who had been your physical and spiritual leader for forty years simply said that I am no longer going with you? And, oh, by the way, the place that we have been promised already has people living there.

I find it interesting that Jesus did something similar with the Disciples. He led them up to the point of His crucifixion and then He told them that He would no longer be with them.

Think about that.

At some point, we must learn to rely on our own faith. We must step outside of our comfort zones and go where we have been led. We have to take the step on our own, for it is a step of faith. If we simply followed all the way through, we would not mature, we would not grow into the person that God created us to be.

We all face uncertainty in our lives. We all face terrifying events. It is at these times in our lives that we must internalize our faith. We must claim it and all that it means as our own. We must be willing to stand firm in what we say we believe. We must be willing to take that step that God is calling us to take.

Think about that for a moment. God is always there. He is that still small voice, but He is not going to push us into anything. He will plant and nurture and grow us to the point that we are prime to step out in faith, but it is our step. It is our action, or should I say our reaction.

Some people never take that step. They are too afraid to venture outside of their comfort zone. Other people will test the waters and halfheartedly go forth. Others will embrace where God has led them to and eagerly anticipate where He will lead them.

Which one are you?

Be strong and courageous!

Action springs not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility.
(Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

Are you ready for the responsibility of what God is leading you to?

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you strong in your weakness?

June 29, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

(2 Corinthians 12:10 (NIV))

Once again, we are told of things that don’t make sense, that go against human nature.

Why would anyone delight in these things? It almost sounds like Paul is saying that he would rather face these types of conditions than to face peace. What was he thinking?

Think about that for a moment and then think about your life. I know that when I think about my life, I have a new understanding of these words. Once again, it is a matter of perspective.

I think that Paul hit upon the concept of his strength and his faith and the relationship that the two have to each other. Before his Damascus road experience, Paul thought he had the world under his control. He felt that he was the ideal Jew and that he had done everything right, yet he lacked true faith and understanding. In his strength, Paul was weak in his faith.

After his Damascus road experience, Paul had a change of heart. He realized that his strength meant nothing. He realized that what he so proudly boasted of meant nothing in God’s kingdom.

Then, as now, too many people make the mistake of wanting strength, money and power. I know that there are always exceptions, but having strength, money and power often results in selfish desires with no thought to others or to God. Paul was driven, but for all of the wrong reasons. He was doing everything that society said that he should do.

Paul, during his evangelism to the gentiles, faced many things. Things that a good Jew would not have faced. Paul was going against the grain. Because he was doing what God called him to do, he faced ridicule and persecution from people who did not understand. In his weakness in the physical world, he relied more and more on his relationship to Jesus and God. His faith grew stronger. When he was weak in the physical world, he grew stronger in his faith.

If you are like me with what you face, and who isn’t in this life, then you face many weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and difficulties. It is my prayer that we may all grow stronger when we are weak.

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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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.
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What are you willing to endure?

May 24, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.
(2 Timothy 2:10 (NIV))

Paul was willing to endure anything and everything in order to spread the Gospel. It is his willingness to endure anything that allowed the Gentiles to be extended salvation. It is his willingness to endure everything that he faced that has allowed the spread of the Gospel and the rise of Western civilization. In essence, we owe our very history to the willingness of Paul to endure all for the sake of the Gospel.

One person can make a difference. Through the sin of one, all fell from grace. Through the grace of one, many are redeemed. Through the faith and perseverance of one, history was changed.

Humanity was doomed because of the sins of one. God came to earth, and as Jesus Christ, He redeemed the world. Paul was not the first person. He was not God made man. Paul was simply a man. He was a man who was willing to do whatever it took to achieve the task that he had been given. He was willing to endure all for the sake of the cross. He was put in prison. He was stoned. He was run out of towns. He did not waiver in his task. He knew that God’s Word is true. He was willing to do anything for the truth. He was willing to die for this truth.

Can we claim to be like Paul?

We live very comfortable lives. We close the doors to our homes and live in temperature controlled bubbles. We only venture outside of our bubbles to gather things to bring back into our bubbles. We are not willing to endure anything that draws us outside of our comfort zones that we have established within these “bubbles.”

Is this the way Paul would have lived his life? We have been given the very same good news that Paul was. He was willing to endure anything in order to spread the good news. Are we even willing to look beyond our bubbles to see the need of those around us? Do we see the lost souls in our own lives?

Are we willing to endure it all?

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