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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God will hear!

February 28, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Away from me, all you who do evil,
for the LORD has heard my weeping.
(Psalms 6:8 (NIV))

David was in anguish when he wrote this psalm. Anguish so deep that he wept uncontrollably. Still, he found comfort in the Lord. He found solace in knowing that the Lord was with him when he faced the evils that the world sent his way.

What evils do you face today? Do you turn toward God in those times?

What if the evils that we face grow tremendously? Will you and I still turn toward God in those times?

Think about those questions and reflect on these paraphrased stories from the non-mainstream news media.

A man was beaten because his party costume offended a Muslim man. The victim was lectured and the man who beat him was released without punishment by the judge. The victim was told that in certain countries, his act would have rightfully resulted in his death.

A government plan that mandates churches go against their beliefs and follow what the government dictates.

I am certain that you recognize the second summarized story, but sadly enough, the first one is also from this country.

Do these stories cause anguish within your heart? Do they cause you to weep because of the evil that they foreshadow? Are we ready to turn to God the way that David did in his times of anguish?

I have another piece of information for you to ponder. I have been reading some information from some historians and the consensus is that no country that has reached the point that we have as a nation has ever regained their former status.

Does that cause weeping and anguish? I know that it causes me some very serious distress. I know that I stand firmly in wanting to regain our faith, our values and our moral determination.

When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
(2 Chronicles 7:13-14 (NIV))

Turn to God in prayer. Follow David’s example and let the Lord know of your anguish and your weeping. Pray for His will to be done.

God will hear!

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