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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Follow Jesus!

April 20, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

He appointed judges in the land, in each of the fortified cities of Judah. He told them, “Consider carefully what you do, because you are not judging for man but for the LORD, who is with you whenever you give a verdict. Now let the fear of the LORD be upon you. Judge carefully, for with the LORD our God there is no injustice or partiality or bribery.”
(2 Chronicles 19:5-7 (NIV))

How many in today’s society still believe in this concept?

I am a student of prophesy. I have also become a student of human nature as a result of my interest in what God is doing. Sadly, over the last few years I have witnessed what appears to be a sharp decline in human judgment in general and in fearful judgment in particular. We have become a society of Pharisees who are more concerned with the letter of the law than the intent of the law. We judge each other vehemently. We have trials and convict someone in our own minds solely based on partial information or false information.

We are no longer careful in our thoughts and actions.

For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.
(Matthew 15:19 (NIV))

Are we, as the Body of Christ, guilty of this?

I have seen some comments lately that make me wonder. These comments, many of which are easy to see how they could be made, are not reflective of what we are called to by Jesus. They are attacks of a personal nature and not directed at the sin. We cannot be witnesses of grace and mercy if we are attacking the very people who need it.

We must be careful to guard against thoughts and actions that are not what Jesus calls us to. We must be willing to look at ourselves with honesty and ask God to show us what we need to surrender so that we will be righteous in His eyes. If we do not surrender to Jesus as Lord, then we will be part of the group of people that Jesus told us about.

“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))

“I never knew you.”

Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father’s name speak for me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
(John 10:25-27 (NIV))

Follow Jesus!

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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It is true! The Lord has risen!

April 6, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.

He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”
They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?”

“What things?” he asked.
“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.”

He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.

When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.
(Luke 24:13-35 (NIV))

I hope and pray that you encountered the risen Lord Jesus during Easter. I also pray that you continue to walk with Him during all the days of your life. He is with us even when we do not recognize Him. With that in mind, how would you want Jesus to see you in your daily actions?

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

April 5, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”
(John 3:16-21 (NIV))

Do you consider yourself to be politically correct?

I know that those words bring many different thoughts to light, but in the way that our society would have you believe, do you fit that definition? Do you even want to fit that definition?

Think about that in relation to the things that Jesus did while He walked among us.

Was Jesus politically correct when he ate with tax collectors? Was He politically correct when He performed the miracles that we all know? Was He politically correct in His dealings with the religious authority? Was He politically correct when He overturned the tables of the money changers in the Temple? I realize that the political climate was different then from now, but the same concept applies.

Did Jesus say that we must embrace each other’s sins because they are ok, or did He say that we must stop sinning? Why do so many people today make the false claim that Jesus did not teach that certain sins are wrong?

To use a saying that became popular a few years ago, let’s honestly think about “What would Jesus do?”

How would Jesus react to those who wish to modify His teachings in order to support their own agenda? How would Jesus react to people embracing sin because we are too worried about what people may think if we confront the sin?

Don’t get me wrong. We are to love the sinner, but hate the sin!

That does not mean to sit back and accept the sin because it is their right to sin. Think about this in relation the story of the woman caught in adultery. Did He tell her that it was ok to do what she was doing, or did He tell her to go and sin no more?

I honestly do not think that Jesus would ever be labeled politically correct.

How about you?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you willing to be labeled a fool?

April 2, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
(1 Corinthians 1:18 (NIV))

I love God’s sense of humor. There are so many subtle things that we take for granted or we completely overlook. Sunday, April 1, 2012 was just such a thing.

For those who may not understand what I am talking about, that particular Sunday was Palm Sunday. It is the beginning of what the church refers to as Holy Week with the culmination on Easter Sunday. I find it ammusing that Holy Week began on April Fool’s Day. This day, set aside by the world to play tricks and pranks, is often a day of some interesting “gotcha” moments.

I find it interesting how the world looks upon the cross as foolishness, and how the world thinks that a faith in Jesus is a big joke. This year, the week that the Body of Christ holds as the most holy actually had its beginnings on a day that society has labeled for fools. How many actually realized that it was April Fool’s Day? I honestly believe that the church was more focused on the yearly celebration that we know as Palm Sunday, the day that Jesus entered Jerusalem exactly as prophesied, to begin the series of events that would lead to his crucufixion and resurrection.

I will be honest with you.

I would rather be labeled a fool by this world for my faith in Jesus and the message of the cross. I find it an honor to have begun Holy Week as a fool in the eyes of the world. For the rest of this week, and hopefully all of my life, I will be proclaiming the message that the world sees as foolishness. I will proudly proclaim what I know to be the power of God.

How was you April Fool’s Day? Was it filled with “gotcha” moments or was it filled with the power of God in celebration of the events leading to the cross?

Are you willing to be labeled a fool?

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

March 16, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
(Mark 8:34 (NIV))

Have you ever given any thought to what it means to deny yourself?

One of the definitions of denial is to withhold. When you deny yourself, you refrain from satisfying your own desires and needs. In other words, you withhold things from yourself.

I know that this concept goes against human nature, so why are we told to deny ourselves?

Think about this statement from Jesus. He foretold of His actions. He would deny Himself. He would allow things to happen. He would not defend Himself to His accusers. He was about to bear a heavy burden. He was about to carry His own cross and go down a path that is difficult to travel. He was about to go where it is difficult to follow.

What would have happened if Jesus had not denied Himself? What would have happened if He had not carried His cross and traveled the road that He had to travel?

Fortunately, we do not look at this passage with that answer in our set of Biblical knowledge, for Jesus did deny Himself to the point of the cross. He saw that others would benefit from His actions.

For those of you who are Trekkies, you may recall the saying that Spock often used, “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one.”

God looked upon humanity and saw a great need. It was a need so great the it was universal. There was not a single person who had ever lived or would ever live who did not have that need.

Jesus denied Himself for us. He did not satisfy his own desires. He satisfied the desires of 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))

We must refrain from satisfying our own needs and desires when all around us is a sea of humanity that has a need to know of Jesus. The cross that we bear may not be the same as Jesus, but we will face trials for our self denial. The world is fond of telling people that it is ok to do whatever you want, to place yourself first. There are even those who take self denial to the extreme and commit painful acts upon themselves to show that they are denying themselves. Godly self denial is not about these acts.

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
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.’
(Matthew 22:36-39 (NIV))

Denying yourself without loving God and loving your neighbor is worthless. You must complete the three fold instructions – deny yourself, take up your cross, follow Jesus. It is not possible to do only one.

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

March 15, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. He came and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song:

“You are worthy to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
and with your blood you purchased men for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation.

You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
and they will reign on the earth.”
(Revelation 5:6-10 (NIV))

The scripture before this showed the sadness of heaven because no one could be found that was worthy to open a scroll. This scroll was of special significance, for in order to open it, the being had to be sinless, blameless and spotless before God. The scroll represented the continuation of God’s perfect plan for His Creation. Without someone worthy to open it, God’s perfect plan could not continue. All of heaven was saddened since no one could be found that met all of these criteria. No one was capable of taking the scroll and opening it. No one born of the flesh throughout the history of the world met the requirements.

Only one throughout all of creation and history is worthy enough to have done what Jesus did!

No angel in heaven or man on earth or elder in heaven qualified to save us from our sin. Only the Son of the One Living God could be The Way, The Truth and The Light that could save people from every tribe and language and people and nation. Jesus is shown as the Lamb, the sacrificial Lamb of God. Only through His sacrifice are we made worthy because He is worthy! Jesus opened the scroll in John’s vision because He was found to be worthy. Only God can fulfill all of God’s requirements. So He sent His Son, Jesus Christ to earth to fulfill the Law and provide a way for us to be saved.

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

March 8, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

The angel of the LORD also said to her:
“You are now with child
and you will have a son.
You shall name him Ishmael,
for the LORD has heard of your misery.
He will be a wild donkey of a man;
his hand will be against everyone
and everyone’s hand against him,
and he will live in hostility
toward all his brothers.”
(Genesis 16:11-12 (NIV))

Abraham was a great man of God, yet, for all of his faith, he was not always patient to let God do what He had promised.

When Sarah did not bear any children, she gave Hagar to bear children for her. This caused a tremendous envy and jealousy that is still being played out to this day. The son born to Abraham by Hagar and his descendents have lived in hostility to their brothers ever since. The Arab nations and Israel claim the same roots in Abraham, yet, the conflict continues.

Consider that the custom was and is for the first-born to receive the blessing. According to the custom of man, that should have been Ishmael, yet, according to the ways of God, Isaac received the blessing and Ishmael was forced to flee with his mother. Perhaps if Sarah had not been so impatient with God, the events throughout history and especially the recent events in this world would never have happened.

Consider the fact that every time man tries to rush God or to second-guess Him, disaster follows. It happened with Adam and Eve. It happened with Abraham and Sarah. Is it happening in your life?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Your will or God’s?

March 5, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”
(Mark 8:33 (NIV))

Do you ever stop to think that Jesus would tell you, “You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”

Think about that for a moment.

Jesus rebuked Peter! Peter was the rock upon which Jesus would build His church. If Jesus rebuked Peter, where does that leave us? Peter walked with Jesus. He lived with Jesus. He knew Jesus as well as any of the twelve, yet, Peter failed to recognize God’s Will and wanted to impose his own.

Have you ever wanted to impose your will upon God?

I know that is sounds absurd, but most of us are guilty of doing just that. In fact, why should we be any better than the man whom Jesus called the Rock? Are we stronger in our faith than Peter was? Are we capable of discerning God’s Will any better than Peter was? Peter loved Jesus and he did not want to see Jesus come to harm, yet in his love, he was blinded to God’s Will. We, too, are capable of being blinded to God’s Will by various things. We may not recognize it because we are not walking with God as closely as we should. We may not be able to discern God’s Will because it sounds absurd in human terms. We may not be willing to accept God’s Will simply because it goes against what we want.

It all comes down to three words.

What we want!

These three words all too often keep us from following God’s Will. They lead to us wanting the things of man.

I don’t know about you, but I long to hear different words.

“His master replied, `Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
(Matthew 25:21 (NIV))

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is there ever a time?

February 29, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
(James 5:13-16 (NIV))

Did you catch the same thing that I caught from reading this passage?

Did you even catch what I am referring to?

The one thing that stands out in this passage is that we are given instructions to turn to God in trouble, in praise, in sickness, in happiness, in faith and in our sin. In other words, we should turn to God in all that we do and in all situations that we face.

Do we do that?

Come on, be honest.

If you are like me, I would like to think that I do, but I find myself falling short of my self image far too often.

We all get wrapped up in our own little worlds that we create for ourselves and we forget that our little worlds are still a part of God’s creation. We focus so much on us and ours, that we forget about Him and His – His world, His Son, His plan of salvation, and His desire to be in a relationship with us.

Relationship!

If you stop to think about the times that we are to turn to God, they are the basic principles that apply to our relationships with our spouse, our family and our friends. We turn to them in these times. Why do we find it so difficult to turn to the One who created us?

Have you ever stopped to wonder why the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective? Did you stop to realize that this statement comes after the instructions on when we are to turn to God? If we turn to God based on those instructions, we will walk so closely with Him that our hearts will want His will. Our prayers will be powerful and effective.

When should we turn to God?

Perhaps the better question to ask is this. Is there ever a time that we should not turn to God?

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