Do we have something to learn from the early church?

July 27, 2015

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
(Acts 2:42-47 (NIV))

This sounds very wonderful!

What do you think was the main reason why people were being saved?

Was it the short and concise worship service with everything spelled out in the bulletin?

Was it the music? Was it the lack of music? Was it the programs? Was it a new church building? Was it the food pantry? Was it the clothes closet?

Or was it simply the power of God as it was shown in true fellowship with the Body of Christ?

What are the basic fundamental aspects of life that we all share as human beings?

As someone pointed out this morning, we are created to be a part of a community. We long to be with others. We either find fellowship with those who are a part of the Body of Christ, or we find fellowship with those who are not. In short, the fellowships that we have will either lift us up and hold us to a higher standard or they will drag us down into the sin that we don’t want.

One of the basic aspects of life is that we all must eat. Eating is very much a social activity, especially when you gather with people who share your common interests. Breaking bread brings a bond. We simply don’t just sit there and stuff our faces in silence. We socialize. We laugh. We cry. We share ideas. We share thoughts, dreams and aspirations. We share parts of ourselves that may never see the light of day in any other way. We build friendships over meals.

It is said that it is easier to get people to come to your house for a meal than it is to get them to go to church. Think about that the next time someone hems and haws about accepting your invitation to go to church.

The early church did not have buildings. They met in people’s homes. They became friends. They built trust. They built relationships and they built the church through these aspects of life. They did not build the church through big buildings or great music.

Do we, the modern church, have something to learn from the early church?

Copyright 1998 – 2015 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Deception

October 17, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.
(Romans 16:17-18 (NIV))

It is easy to become bogged down in the world and what society is saying. Television advertising, television shows, sales people – they all try to flatter and convince you of something. Some is harmless. Some is not so harmless. Even the harmless can lead to harm if it is the beginning of a series. This even happens in the church.

Unfortunately, today, the church is influenced more by society than it influences society. Be careful to keep your eyes focused on Jesus and pray for God’s Will to be done.

Deception is an art form. It is an evil art perfected by the enemy. Satan will use anything that he can to deceive believers – even other believers. Stay grounded in the Truth of the Word so that deception can be avoided.

Are you firmly grounded so that deception will not make you stray?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting

September 24, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“This is the inscription that was written:
MENE, MENE, TEKEL, PARSIN

“This is what these words mean:

Mene: God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end.

Tekel: You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.

Peres: Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”
(Daniel 5:25 (NIV))

I have wrestled with this passage for a few days. I feel that I am being led to use this passage, yet, at the same time, I have this feeling in my stomach that this is going to make some people angry.

Here goes!

Think about the words “You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.”

Who is doing the weighing? Who is making the decision that we could be found wanting? This is not the only place that we are given a stern message like this.

“Not everyone who says to me, `Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, `Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, `I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
(Matthew 7:21-23 (NIV))

Just how can someone be found wanting in the eyes of God?

I think that we see a glimpse of this in the above passage from Matthew.

Jesus warned against those who claimed the power of His name, but did not have a personal relationship with Him. If we have that personal relationship with Jesus, our hearts will seek after what is on His heart. We will seek to do His will. We will be in step with what He is calling us to do.

We can get out of step easily. We can follow false teachings. We can accept only part of Jesus, the part that most people like to think about – Savior. If we do not accept Jesus as both Lord and Savior, then we are refusing to listen and to follow. In other words, we will not know Him, and He will not know us!

We will be evildoers in His sight!

What happens when many get out of step with God?

Is it possible for a nation to get out of step with God?

The story from Daniel shows us that it is possible. They were shown the handwriting on the wall.

I often wonder what things we will be asked about when we stand before God. I know that we will be asked about our personal sins.

When I say to a wicked man, `You will surely die,’ and you do not warn him or speak out to dissuade him from his evil ways in order to save his life, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. But if you do warn the wicked man and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his evil ways, he will die for his sin; but you will have saved yourself.
(Ezekiel 3:18-19 (NIV))

Could we be found wanting because we did not take action to intervene for others, out nation and our world?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What thoughts fill your mind?

August 14, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

The LORD detests the thoughts of the wicked,
but those of the pure are pleasing to him.
(Proverbs 15:26 (NIV))

What thoughts fill your mind?

Are you obsessed with how to gain wealth or power? Do you fill your mind with thoughts of greed and selfishness? Perhaps you occasionally visit thoughts of lust. In the midst of all of these thoughts, do you find yourself thinking of things of God? Do you find yourself longing to change what has taken control of your mind and your actions? Do you long to replace sinful thoughts with thoughts that are pleasing to God?

It is true that you become what you spend your time thinking about. If you spend time thinking wicked thoughts, you will soon find yourself filling your mind with more and more of the same. If you spend your time reflecting on things of God, you will soon find yourself following these thoughts toward a life that is centered around God and His Word. It is the ultimate fulfillment of the saying “You are what you eat.”

Spiritual food is important. If you desire for God to be pleased with you, then you need to put things into your mind that will make you pleasing to Him. Your thoughts will be filled with the things that you decide are important. It all comes back to one simple word – priorities.

What are the things that you have made your thought priorities?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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The Light of Jesus!

December 20, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
(Matthew 5:16 (NIV))

Have you ever stopped to think about this verse?

In just a few days, we will be celebrating Christmas, the day that we have set aside to commemorate the day that God sent the Light of the World into the world. From the day of His birth, Jesus did not hide His light. He let it shine so that any and all who would recognize it could find the salvation and grace that they had been seeking.

What is Jesus had hidden His light?

Would we know of His teachings? Would we know of His healings? Would we know of His miracles that defied natural law? Would we know of the crucifixion and the resurrection? Would we know of the fulfillment of God’s promises?

If Jesus had hidden the Light that God had given Him, we would be no better off than before He came to this world.

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))

Did you catch that simple truth?

Jesus let His light shine. We are to do what Jesus did. According to scripture, it is even possible that we may do greater things than He did. It is possible that our light may shine brightly to many people. It is possible that we may reach more people with our light than the number of people that Jesus reached when He walked this earth.

I know that this may sound egotistical, but that is not the intent. Jesus came to this earth some two thousand years ago. How many people could he have actually reached during His time on this earth? Now consider the works of Billy Graham. How many people has he been able to impact for Jesus? I am sure that it is far greater than the number that Jesus reached during His three years of ministry and teaching. In other words, he did greater things than Jesus.

The key to this is simple. We can do great things, and maybe even greater things than Jesus, if we make Jesus our focus. We must not draw attention to ourselves, but we must always point to the one who gives life. We can impact a great number of people for Jesus. We can do this by simply letting our light shine.

Just make sure that the light that shines is the Light of Jesus!

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Smallness

November 28, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all people,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people Israel.
(Luke 2:30-32 (NIV))

Simeon had waited his whole life to be able to see the birth of the Savior. God had promised him that he would not die before Jesus came. Simeon knew at first glance that the baby he saw was the savior that God had promised. Simeon looked upon the promise and realized that the promise had to follow normal human life – a birth, childhood, teenager, adult. The promise is not instantaneous. It required faith from Simeon. It required a huge faith to believe that God had told him that he would not die before he saw the salvation that he had been yearning for.

Simeon recognized the promise even in infancy. He had faith to know that the promise would grow into the salvation for the whole world.

He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, `Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.
(Luke 17:6 (NIV))

Do we see things the same way that Simeon saw things? Would we recognize the infancy of a promise that God has made? Would we recognize the potential of that promise fulfilled or would we simply miss out on the glory of God because it comes in a small package? Do you remember the mustard seed?

It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds of the air can perch in its shade.”
(Mark 4:31-32 (NIV))

I have often found that God’s promises are exactly the same. He promises, but He starts small to test our faith. He tests us to see if we are capable of handling the full promise, and to see if we are willing to respond to the promise.

As Christmas draws closer, please do not forget that what we are celebrating is the birth of a child. Jesus was a special child who grew into a special man. He came as the Son of God to teach and to sacrifice Himself for our transgressions. He did not come as a mighty warrior. He came as an innocent child. He came to seek and to save the lost, but first He had to live as one of us.

Simeon recognized that God does not do things as we would do them. He was open to the “smallness,” while knowing that God will move mountains with something small.

Would you, do you recognize God’s salvation as it is presented to you?

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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They devoted themselves!

November 3, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
(Acts 2:42 (NIV))

They devoted themselves!

Do you ever wonder why people say that miracles don’t happen today? Do you wonder why we see a problem and it stays a problem? Do you understand that our current understanding of church and being the Body of Christ is far from what it used to be?

Why do you think that is true?

One simple word.

Devotion.

We, as the modern Body of Christ, look at Jesus as a filler for the parts of our lives that are empty. It is true that He is there to fill the emptiness, but He is so much more. The early church knew that professing a faith in Jesus meant more than simply acknowledging Him as savior. They knew Him as Lord and they devoted themselves to each other and to His teachings.

They devoted themselves in four areas – teachings, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer. It does not say that they devoted themselves to their work. It does not say that they devoted themselves to their families. It does not say that they devoted themselves to their favorite sports team.

Could you image how the Body of Christ would be today if we all gave the same amount of devotion, both public and private, that we give our college football teams? Can you imagine large stadiums of people to pray and to study God’s Word? In some countries it happens. People come from far and wide to hear the Gospel. Ironically, it is usually an American ministry that reaches out to these countries. It is sad that we do not do as the people to whom we send ministers and missionaries.

What is your idea of devotion?

Is it sitting in a church pew for an hour on Sunday? Is it adding a Bible study to your weekly schedule? Is it placing God first in all that you do? Does it mean that you willingly help those in need?

I often think that devotion is directly related to faith.

He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches.”
(Matthew 13:31-32 (NIV))

If we have the faith and the devotion to see that faith through, then both will grow to enormous proportions. As we devote ourselves to the four areas – teachings, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer – we will see things begin to happen that will strengthen our faith. We will see the results of our devotion. As a result, we will grow our devotion and our faith.

It is amazing what devotion, or dedication, can do, especially when it is focused on Jesus and God’s Word.

I think that we need to take a lesson from the early church and try devoting ourselves to Jesus. You will be amazed at what happens.

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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