Tell others about the fantastic gift

December 6, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.
(1 Thessalonians 5:9-10 (NIV))

Nobody wants to suffer wrath, but it is a guaranteed result if we do not accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior. It is such a simple thing to avoid.

During this season, when society has taken the true meaning out of Christmas, we must not allow society to creep into our lives in this manner. We must remember why we celebrate and then reach others so that they, too, will know the true meaning of Christmas. We celebrate Jesus’ birth with the knowledge that the birth of Jesus was the beginning of what God had planned for all of humanity – salvation to all who would simply seek and accept it.

Christmas is a time for celebration, for as the verse says, “whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.” We must remember to tell others about this fantastic gift that was so freely given and help them to receive it.

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

October 12, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

All athletes practice strict self-control. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.
(1 Corinthians 9:25 (NLT))

Some translations say that the athletes go into strict training. To me, this translation hits a little closer to home. We may not have any idea of what strict training may be, but we can all understand the idea of strict self-control.

Think about that concept for a moment.

What do you think of when self-control is mentioned?

Is it the will power to not eat the last donut in the box, or is it much more?

Personally, self-control and personal responsibility go hand in hand. Let’s face the truth. Our society no longer believes in personal responsibility. People claim that they were born that way, or they were raised in a bad home, or . . .

I think that you get the picture. Our society, and each of us as a member of the Body of Christ, must be willing to practice self-control. We must be willing to accept the responsibility of our actions. We must strive to live our lives as Jesus taught us.

Using the athlete example, a life in faith is not a sprint that starts and is over quickly. A life in faith is a lifelong journey, a marathon, in which we must be prepared to face any obstacles that the world throws our way. In order to do this, we must practice self-control. We must be willing to accept personal responsibility. If you are willing to accept personal responsibility, then you are capable of learning from your mistakes and focusing once again on the prize that is set before us.

Imagine this scenario.

You are standing in front of Jesus and He is judging your life. You have never accepted His grace and mercy as your own. Every aspect of your life condemns you. Your only response, “It wasn’t my fault.”

I can only imagine the response from Jesus.

Strive for the prize that is won only through Jesus. Don’t allow the things of this world to sway your self-control.

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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In faith, confidence and hope should be one and the same!

October 3, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
(1 Corinthians 13:1-13 (NIV))

Love. We have been told to love God and to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Jesus replied: ” `Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: `Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
(Matthew 22:37-40 (NIV))

Faith.

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
(Hebrews 11:1 (NIV))

This only leaves “hope.”

The definition that most people rely upon is is a feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best. To many in this world, hope is a childish whim, or it is a whim of the uneducated. Such a manifestation of hope results in people saying things like, “I hope I get a pony for Christmas,” or “I hope that I win the big lottery jackpot.”

It is no wonder that people who do not know the Biblical definition of hope will often look upon the Body of Christ as childish, immature and uneducated. I would think the very same if I did not know any different. Ironically, it is their lack of knowledge of this difference that may keep them from understanding, and may change their minds about the false labels that they so freely give away.

A widely held biblical definition of hope is not at all like the one that everyone thinks of. In biblical usage, according to bible.org, hope is an indication of certainty. It means a strong and confident expectation, and can also be thought of as trust and confidence.

In your understanding of your faith, which definition of hope do you rely upon? Do you approach your faith with the same “hope” as one in a million people trying to win the lottery, or do you confidently place your hope in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior?

I know that the non-believing world laughs at us when we say that we have hope. I pray that the Body of Christ will be able to redefine hope in the minds of these people so that they may know with confidence what we have hope in.

In faith, confidence and hope should be one and the same!

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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The place of the skull

April 18, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha).
(John 19:17 (NIV))

I just love the way that God works in symbolism!

As we approach Easter and the resurrection, we must remember that in order for Jesus to be resurrected, He first had to die. He had to go willingly to the place of the Skull to die to himself so that God’s plan could be fulfilled.

Isn’t it interesting how we, before we can embrace the resurrection, must also go to our own place of the skull. We must be willing to die to our reasoning and intellect and follow solely on faith. We must accept something that makes absolutely no worldly sense. We must die to our inability to believe in something without seeing it. We must die to our own place of the skull.

It is amazing how God will work in us and through us once we have willingly laid ourselves at the foot of the cross once we surrender our own place of the skull.

We are now ready to fully embrace the resurrection and the grace and mercy that it brings. This knowledge has not only transformed our minds, it is now ready to transform our lives. It can now travel the longest distance known to humanity – the eighteen inches from our mind to our heart – and truly have an impact on us.

Have you died to your place of the skull?

Have you fully embraced the resurrection?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Helpless, hopeless and lost?

September 8, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.
(Matthew 18:12-14 (NIV))

Are you lost?

Helpless, hopeless and lost?

Satan longs to have us feel this way.

God longs for us to feel helpful, hopeful and loved.

God also longs for us to mature spiritually and become the person whom He created us to be. Sometimes this requires tough love. Just as a parent must sometimes withhold things from a child, God must withhold things from us. Just as a parent must allow the child to enter into things that will teach them a lesson, so too with God and us.

We are creatures of habit. Each of us exists within certain boundaries that we have established or that have been established for us. These boundaries become our comfort zone. God, in His infinite wisdom, knows that our comfort zones foster stagnation. We soon grow complacent. We soon grow so rigid and confined within our comfort zones that we fail to recognize the need for spiritual growth and maturity. We become creatures of habit, and all too often our habits leave something to be desired. It takes something drastic to get our attention. It takes something that will make us look beyond our circumstances and look at our core beliefs and priorities.

God wants to get our attention. He wants to get us out of our comfort zones and focused on Him. Sometimes, that requires something bigger than we care to have happen. He wants us to take the time to fulfill Psalm 46:10a so that we may know Him and His will for our lives.

Be still, and know that I am God
(Psalm 4610a (NIV))

Just how does God get your attention so that He can bring you back into the flock?

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

June 25, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
(Romans 12:14 (NIV))

Is there anyone in your life that just seems to have it in for you? Maybe there is someone who just does things that always seem to have negative consequences for you and others. Do you know someone who constantly seems to change their story so that they always come out on top?

It is difficult to like these type of people. It is difficult to love these type of people. It is human nature to wish them harm, or at least to wish that they would go away. In most instances, when we have someone like this in our lives, it takes all of our strength to restrain ourselves to keep from cursing them.

If we encounter people like this, we are told to bless them.

Bless the very ones who cause us pain and persecute us?

It is so difficult to do this. It goes against everything that our earthly existence tells us to do. Perhaps that is why we are to bless those who persecute us. We learn to see others through the eyes of Jesus and realize that they, too, are fallen sinners in need of salvation.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
(Romans 12:17-21 (NIV))

We are not in a position to judge. Only God can see the heart and know if what they do is from bad intentions. We are to bless those who curse us.

Why?

Jesus wants us to react as He reacted. He wants us to be a witness for the Gospel and not a stain in the minds of those who do not know Him.

Our reactions to those who persecute us may be the very thing that God will be able to use to soften a heart and bring someone into His grace and mercy. If you curse those who curse you, is this a good example of God’s grace and mercy?

Who do you know that could use a blessing from you?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Martha or Mary – Which one is most like you?

January 8, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are so upset over all these details! There is really only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it—and I won’t take it away from her.”
(Luke 10:41-42 (NLT))

Ouch !!!

Martha, in all of her desire to take care of Jesus, missed the most important thing – a relationship with Jesus.

Would you rather work taking care of the trivial things in the church or would you rather sit at the feet of Jesus. The trivial things will never go away. No matter how much effort you put into “fixing” them, more always materialize. Martha thought that she was serving Jesus through her actions, yet she missed the very heart of Jesus because she was too busy. Mary chose to sit with Jesus and listen. She chose to sit with Jesus and learn. She chose to sit with Jesus and simply be still in His presence.

Perhaps Martha did not feel comfortable simply sitting at the feet of Jesus. She may have been afraid of the penetrating words that she knew Jesus would speak. Perhaps she was trying to hide her lack of faith through a sense of servanthood. I find it hard to believe that if she truly had a servant’s heart that she would have reacted to the lack of help in the manner that she did. She probably resented the fact that Mary was where she was. Martha may have been jealous of the honest and sincere faith that Mary possessed and she attempted to make up for her shortcomings through actions.

I find it difficult to comprehend. Yet, I pray that I would not react in that manner. Martha had Jesus with her, yet she chose to be about other business.

What would we do in a similar situation? Would we simply sit at the feet of Jesus or would we find some activity that we “need to do” so that we can avoid the soul-searching presence that is in front of us? Think about that the next time that you find yourself doing things at church. Martha was close by, but she was not with Jesus. Working at the church is close by, but is Jesus with you?

I am certain that everyone has heard the old saying about working at the church versus doing the work of the church. What best describes you?

Copyright 1998 – 2009 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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