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.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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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.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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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.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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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.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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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.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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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.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Prayer

May 6, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
(Luke 5:15-16 (NIV))

Jesus was and always will be. Yet, when He was on this earth, He did not gloat or boast or brag. He taught humbly, yet powerfully. Even though all knowledge was with Him, He did not forsake His quiet times that He spent in prayer. We can only imagine what His prayers were, but the important thing is that Jesus DID pray. He prayed constantly. As part of the Trinity, He had been with God the Father from the beginning, yet He still felt the need to pray.

Prayer! What do you think that prayer is?

Is it a one sided request that God do something for you?

Is it a one sided advice giving session?

Or is it a two-sided conversation where you freely talk with the Father? Jesus held conversations with God the Father. We know the contents of one side of one of His conversations. The prayer in the Garden of Gesthemene is probably the most intense prayer ever recorded, yet it was not a request, it was not advice, it was an earnest discussion with God the Father to discern His Will.

If Jesus, who was with God and who is God, felt the need to pray to God the Father, how can we do any less?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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