Do you want faith like what Stephen had?

September 22, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

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 7:55-56 (NIV))

Do you ever think about Stephen and his faith?

I often wonder if I would have the faith to do what he did. He was brought up on charges before the Sanhedrin. He was charged with blasphemy! Today, we see many such true acts of blasphemy on a daily basis, but at that time, it was an offense punishable by death. At the time, speaking about Jesus as the Messiah was considered blasphemy.

That did not prevent Stephen from allowing the Holy Spirit to speak through him and chastise the Sanhedrin for being stiff-necked people who resist the Holy Spirit as well as killing the prophets and Jesus.

I know that this story is well known, but can you picture the zeal and the honesty that flowed from the mouth of Stephen as he let them know what God thought of them? Can you picture the anger growing in the hearts and minds of the recipients of this message?

Now that the stage is set, do you identify more with Stephen or with the Sanhedrin?

Are you open to the urgings of the Holy Spirit and are you willing to act on them no matter the consequences, or are you so set in your ways that you fail to recognize the truth when it is right in front of you?

Do you face the enemy without reservation, or do you deny the truth and embrace the enemy?

Stephen’s story has been repeated many times throughout history. People have been confronted with attacks from the enemy and have stood their ground with respect to their faith in Jesus. Would we be able to be like Stephen if we faced such an accusation?

Lord, give me the strength to be like Stephen!

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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When you speak, what do you say?

September 20, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Jesus answered, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from him who sent me. If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself, but he who works for the honor of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him.
(John 7:16-18 (NIV))

When you speak, what do you say?

Do the words from your mouth glorify you or do they glorify the Father?

If Jesus, as part of the Trinity, never spoke to glorify himself, what should our words be doing?

It is human nature to be self-promoting. It is human nature to stroke our own ego and to make ourselves sound more important than we really are. I often think that the fall from grace in the garden took away more than most people realize, for it took our ability to be at peace with our gifts and talents in relation to everyone else. It made us feel inferior while giving us a major desire to make ourselves feel superior. We want, or perhaps I should say that we need to feel that we are much more than we are. Have we been hardwired with a desire to be what we were in the garden only to be left without any understanding of what that was or how to regain it?

All of human history, from the fall from grace to this very day, has been nothing more than billions of stories all focused around me, myself and I.

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death–
even death on a cross!
(Philippians 2:5-8 (NIV))

Can any of us honestly say that we would be willing to humble ourselves in such a manner as to point completely to someone else? That is exactly how Jesus lives His life when He walked among us. Everything He said and everything He did pointed to God, the Father.

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))

According to Jesus, we should be following His example!

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you preserve Godly knowledge?

July 14, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“For the lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge, and from his mouth men should seek instruction–because he is the messenger of the LORD Almighty. But you have turned from the way and by your teaching have caused many to stumble; you have violated the covenant with Levi,” says the LORD Almighty.
(Malachi 2:7-8 (NIV))

This makes my heart hurt and my spirit groan!

I realize that this is Old Testament, but it brings something to light that has always been a problem. That problem is that some people who claim to be priests, preachers or teachers are not preaching and teaching the truth. As a result, many people have been led astray.

Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.
(James 3:1 (NIV))

What is it about human nature that makes us think that we can change God’s Word and have it mean what we want it to mean? Why do some people think that the Bible is no longer relevant in this day and time? Truth is truth no matter when and where it is spoken. Sadly, too many people no longer speak the truth. They preach and teach what man wants to hear and not what God wants us to hear. Too many people preach a feel good theology that cannot save.

What did Jesus preach and teach when He walked among us?

Did He preach social justice? Did He preach good works? Did He preach legalism? Did He preach prosperity?

Jesus did not preach any of these things, so why do so many stray from the true message of the Gospel? He preached the good news of salvation through repentance of sins. He preached that He is the only way to the Father. He taught us that there would be false teachers. His disciples taught that there would be false teachers.

It saddens me to the point where my spirit groans to think that someone could take such a fantastic gift of grace and distort it so that people are caused to stumble. It is a sad reflection on society when so many of those who are supposed to preserve Godly knowledge are the very ones who are perverting it.

We, as the Body of Christ, must study and understand God’s Word. We must hold each other accountable. It is often said that the members of the Body of Christ are to be priests to one another. What does that say to you with respect to preserving Godly knowledge?

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you do what God hates?

March 15, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

These are the things you are to do: Speak the truth to each other, and render true and sound judgment in your courts; do not plot evil against your neighbor, and do not love to swear falsely. I hate all this,” declares the LORD.
(Zechariah 8:16-17 (NIV))

Based on this, what does God think of our society and our world today?

I know that the world is in great need of Jesus, but what about His body? What about the church?

Do we speak the truth to each other or do we tell each other lies because it is easier to lie and then move on? Truth requires work. It requires commitment. Do we, as the people who profess a faith in Jesus, commit ourselves to the task of being truthful in all circumstances?

Is there such a thing as true and sound judgment anymore? Our laws and our courts are in a pitiful state when they are more concerned with the perpetrator instead of the victim, and the letter of the law instead of the intent. Do we, as the Body of Christ, live up to God’s expectations or do we fall to humanity’s expectations? Do we accept the fact that we are to be held to a higher standard than the world’s standards?

Do we plot against our neighbors like the world plots, or do we love our neighbor as ourselves? Sometimes this is a difficult thing to do, but regardless, we must seek to do what God has called us to do. Can you imagine if the Body of Christ did as we are instructed?

Do we swear falsely? Perhaps I should ask if we lie and curse. Do we take the Lord’s name in vain? Do we say things with an angry heart?

I want you to think about these questions and be honest with yourself. If you are like me, you are guilty of most of these on a regular basis. What makes us different from the world?

Grace!

It has been freely given. We have freely accepted it. We strive to live according to it. We will falter. We will fail, but it is by the grace that is ours through the shed blood of Jesus that we are different. We have a hope that is eternal. We have a faith that our hope is not wrongly placed. We have a light that has been shared with us, and now it is our turn to share it with others. We will not be trusted by others if we don’t speak the truth. We won’t be trusted if we show faulty judgment. We will not be trusted if we plot evil, and we will not be trusted if we swear falsely. Not only does God hate this, but it also makes our witness unbelievable.

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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We must not be afraid!

February 21, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
(Matthew 10:27-28 (NIV))

Have we, as today’s church, forgotten the words that Jesus told us? Do we simply wish to hide ourselves away cowering in the darkness because we are afraid to share the light?

If we claim to have the light of Jesus, yet, we do not share that light, do we truly have it? If we know that we are bought by the blood of Jesus, we will proclaim it for all who will hear it. We should not be ashamed of what we have be given. We should not be ashamed that we are wise enough to realize that we need salvation.

Professing a faith in Jesus is not a weakness contrary to what our society may think. Professing a faith in Jesus requires a courage and a strength to step out of the crowd and proclaim that we do not like the way the world is. We are proclaiming that we long for a world that is free from sin. We long for a life that is filled with God’s purpose. In a world that looks down upon anyone who does not think of themselves as the ultimate authority in their own life, we must stand firm in the faith and not be afraid to share the Gospel that we know to be true.

We must not be afraid.

What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?
(Romans 8:31 (NIV))

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