Have you lost your focus?

May 28, 2014

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
(Colossians 3:12 (NIV))

Have you ever seen the cartoon with the two vultures who are waiting for something to die so that they can eat? The captions go something like this. One vulture says, “Be patient.” The other vulture says, “Patience ! I want to kill something !”

Let’s face it, we have all had times when we just couldn’t wait any longer for what we were hoping would happen. We pace the floor. We become very short tempered and as a result, we are anything but compassionate, kind, humble and gentle.

What does the world think of us at these times? What does the world think when they see us acting exactly opposite of what we say we strive to be?

Everyone has moments of weakness. Everyone has momentary lapses of sanity. Unfortunately, it is these very moments when we are at our lowest that the world chooses to recognize us for our faith. They recognize us out of ridicule. Regardless of the times that we are able to follow Colossians 3:12, the world sees us at the very times that we fail.

We are to strive to be perfect, yet, we know that we can never be. We are sinners, and are not capable of perfection on our own. There is a saying that Christians are not perfect, just forgiven. When we fail at perfection, we must fully embrace God’s grace that allows us to pick ourselves up and keep going. We must also embrace the need to show that grace to those who witnessed our stumble. We must not lash out at them when they ridicule us for not being perfect. We must show Jesus to them. We must be as Jesus was on the cross. He did not lash out. He did not condemn. He did not bring down wrath upon those who witnessed His crucifixion.

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
(Luke 23:34 (NIV))

When the world sees us stumble, remember how Jesus reacted. When you fall, your eyes may be temporarily diverted from your goal, but when you get up and resume your path, you see your way once again. The key is to get back up and to focus once again upon Jesus.

Have you lost your focus?

Copyright 1998 – 2014 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Be still and rest in the presence of God

April 7, 2014

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.
(Mark 6:30-34 (NIV))

We are told many times to be still and rest in the presence of God. We need to spend quiet time with God so that He may pour out His teachings and His blessings upon us through the Holy Spirit. This cannot be done when we are busy all of the time.

Jesus had sent the disciples out to minister and to teach. When they got back, He knew that they had probably exhausted themselves in the works that they did and that they had probably been under attack from the enemy. Jesus knew that they needed to rest and to recharge themselves so they could continue.

Doing the work of God is not a race that must be finished quickly. It is an endurance race that requires rest and rejuvenation along the way.

Even when we plan to get the rest that we need, God may place people in our lives who need to have some of our time. Just as the crowd followed Jesus when He was taking the disciples to get some rest, sometimes, unexpected people come into our quiet time. This is not a bad thing if what they are seeking is also to learn and to be still with God. Solitude is not necessarily the prerequisite for being still before God.

You can be still and listen to God even in the middle of a large crowd. Jesus spoke many times to groups of different sizes. Do you suppose that the people in the large crowds listened to His voice as if He were speaking only to them? It is possible to hear God no matter where you are. All you have to do is be still.

When was the last time that you took the opportunity to be still and listen to God?

Copyright 1998 – 2014 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Contradictions!

July 5, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.
(2 Corinthians 6:3-10 (NIV))

Contradictions!

According to the world view, we are totally wrong in our faith, yet, according to God’s Laws we are totally right in all that we believe. Even though we are right in our faith, we must be humble and willing to endure whatever is presented to us for the sake of those who may be able to be reached. We should never act in such a manner as to give anyone cause to criticize us for making others stumble or fall in their faith.

Paul was an excellent example of what we are to do when faced with hardships because of our faith and our witness. Most of us will never have to face even a portion of the circumstances that Paul had to face for the Gospel. Still, in our everyday lives, we must strive to follow Paul’s example no matter what the circumstances.

No matter what we may face today, tomorrow, or whenever, we must always “REJOICE” for the grace and mercy of God has redeemed us!

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Don’t Compromise

June 18, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land where you are going, or they will be a snare among you.
(Exodus 34:12 (NIV))

How true this is!

The land where we are going is the world in which we live. Every day we face things that we either have to turn away from, or we allow them to have an influence in our lives. What are some of the things that you have allowed to have an influence in your life? Were they as harmless as they appeared to be when they first materialized in your line of sight?

The same warning that God gave to the nation of Israel during the exodus from Egypt still holds true today. We may not face the same issues, but the results can be just as catastrophic in our lives if we give in when we know that we shouldn’t. What seems like a harmless compromise often will lead to issues that we will only live to regret at a later date.

What have you compromised on lately?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How are you spending your morning?

March 29, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.
(Matthew 27:31 (NIV))

The events of the long night and morning were over. Jesus had been arrested, beaten, falsely accused and judged, and then sentenced to die a horrible death. The only thing left of God’s plan was the actual crucifixion. Think on those events as you read this, for many will be reading it at the time of day that things actually unfolded.

How are you spending your morning? Is it filled with reverence and thanks for what Jesus endured? As you pour yourself another cup of coffee, does the impact of Jesus’ suffering bring you to tears or do you even think of it at all? As you head to that meeting, do you reflect upon just how things would be if Jesus had not had His meetings with Pontius Pilate? When you feel the burdens of the day come crashing in around you, do you stop to think of the burden that Jesus bore as He carried His cross?

It is so easy to get lost in the trivial details of our own lives. We think that they are so important. We think that if we don’t close that next big sale, the world will fall apart. We think that if our children don’t get into that private school, their lives are over. All that we bear is the burdens and sins from our own lives. Imagine having the weight of the sins of the world hoisted upon you. Imagine the world being so engrossed in the usual activities that your sacrifice becomes trivialized. Imagine taking on the burden anyway because you love the people of the world.

Stop to think just what Jesus went through so that you can have grace and salvation. Retrace His steps as He carries His cross to Calvary. Put yourself in His place as the nails pierced His hands. Imagine how He felt looking down through history as He looked upon you at this very moment in time. He suffered and died for you and I. He did it willingly so that we may have grace and mercy.

Spend the day embracing His sacrifice, feeling His pain and emotions. Look upon your life as He looked upon it. Jesus felt that His sacrifice was worth everything that He endured. He felt that you and I were worth whatever price He had to pay.

Today, stop and thank God for His Son, Jesus, and His willingness to go to the cross for you and I. That day was a day of agony and fear, but through the fear we have a shining ray of hope – the resurrection on Easter morning!

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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He must become greater

March 26, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

He must become greater; I must become less.
(John 3:30 (NIV))

The American Standard Version translates this passage as “He must increase, but I must decrease,” but no matter how you translate it, the concept is the same. We must seek more of Jesus in our lives and less of us.

To those who are not believers, this sounds like we are willing to give up our individuality. It sounds like we are willing to become mindless followers. It sounds like we are weak minded and not able to make decisions for ourselves.

How do you feel about how the world sees this passage?

Do you agree with this, or do you have a different understanding of what this means to a follower of Jesus Christ?

What traits about Jesus do you love? I know that we are glad to call him Savior, but what about Him makes us want to call Him Lord? What traits do we want to see increased in our lives?

More difficult questions that the unbelieving world does not understand, yet, we need to be able to understand this for ourselves. We need to be able to defend our faith when we are confronted. I know that we are to rely on the Holy Spirit in times like this, but we are also called to be prepared.

Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
(Ephesians 6:11 (NIV))

I firmly believe that Jesus lived an example of the traits that we should desire to see increase within us. We know them as the fruit of the Spirit.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
(Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV))

We know our actions and thoughts as well. They are of a sinful nature.

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.
(Galatians 5:24 (NIV))

If we look upon John 3:30 with this in mind, then it is clearly a matter of self examination. If we follow Jesus, we don’t want to give up our individuality. On the contrary, we want to give up our sinful nature and fill ourselves with what fills Jesus.

Personally, I do not know of anyone who is truly happy in their sin. The drunk does not want to be a drunk. He is trying to wash away something. The same can be said for any sin. The sin is an attempt to fill a void, and it often leaves a scar. If we seek to remove the sin and fill ourselves with Jesus, we are seeking healing. We are seeking peace, and we are seeking the truth.

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you have the power?

March 23, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.”
Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed from that moment.
(Matthew 9:20-22 (NIV))

Just what is faith?

What is the power of faith?

These are two very short and seemingly simple questions, yet they have left people perplexed and uncertain for thousands of years.

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

Did the woman say to herself, “Maybe if I get His attention, He will be able to tell me what doctor to go see.”? No, she said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.” There was no hesitation in her convictions. There was not a single utterance of doubt. She knew what she believed and she knew what would happen. Faith is being sure and certain, but, perhaps it also rests heavily on the total removal of doubt that seems to fill our minds. After all, doubt removes certainty. It removes hope. Doubt is the natural enemy of faith.

Is it possible to have faith and still have doubt?

We are only human. We are sinners. We will have moments when our faith is overcome by doubt. After all, the enemy does attack and catch us off guard.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
(John 16:33 (NIV))

The power of faith allows us to keep our eyes on Jesus when all around us is falling apart.

The power of faith allows us to see God’s hand in and through the toughest storms that we will face.

The power of faith allows us to know beyond all doubt that Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords.

Do you have a faith? Do you have the power that can only come through that faith?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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