Are you divisive or uniting in nature?

April 17, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
(John 17:20-23 (NIV))

Jesus, even though He was and is part of the Trinity of God, continually prayed to God the Father for His Will and for those He would leave behind.

The prayer that Jesus prayed here had both short term and long term aspects to it. He knew that those He left behind would need to be strengthened and that the world would need to be convinced that what they spoke of was true. He knew that they would need the strength of the Holy Spirit to present God to the world.

Today, we need the exact same thing. We must be united in Christ in order to let the world see Jesus as the Savior. If we fight amongst ourselves, then we are not doing justice to the world, for they will see this fighting and will want nothing to do with Jesus. We must unite in the Body of Christ, then the world will truly see something that could only have come from God.

Are you divisive or uniting in nature?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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God can take our impure motives and turn them to His glory!

February 26, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice,
(Philippians 1:18 (NIV))

What does this passage mean to you?

I was given a very interesting point of view of this passage earlier today, and to be completely honest with you, it makes perfect sense!

When this passage was written, Paul was in prison and other people started to preach the Gospel. Some had pure motives while others had selfish motives. Paul recognized the value of both, since spreading the Gospel was his biggest concern. I know that I do this all the time, but let me ask a few questions of you.

Do you think that the people who heard the Gospel from those with false motives knew of those motives, especially if what they preached was true to the Gospel? Let me ask this a slightly different way. If you are channel surfing and come across a television preacher who is preaching the truth, will everyone ignore this preacher simply because they may seek money? Perhaps your church has a guest speaker and they are very eloquent at conveying the truth of the Gospel. Do you stop listening to them because they set up a table to sell the books that they have written?

Let’s be honest with ourselves!

We are all human and we all have motives for doing things that are less than perfect. Does that stop us from doing them? Does that stop us from listening to those who have less than perfect motives? Think about that in relationship to your job. What if you are having a bad day, but you need your paycheck? Do you put on a fake smile and go about your day, or do you storm off? Most people will put on a fake smile. They may have less than a proper motive, but they come across with something that will impact those around them in a positive way.

Think about that in terms of the Gospel!

As long as the truth is being preached, God can and does use that truth to help spread the Gospel. I don’t condone this, but have you ever seen two churches become rivals? They try to do anything and everything to be “better” than their rival. One may take out billboard ads with scripture passages while the other will place ads in local newspapers. One may apply for and receive a license for a radio station, while one may use the internet to broadcast their services. In all of this rivalry, who really wins?

If you say that God wins because the Gospel is being spread, then you are correct.

We are only human and our human motives are less than perfect, but God is perfect. In fact, He is perfection. To use an old saying, “God can take our mess and make a message!” If God can do that, then God can take our impure motives and turn them to His glory!

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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When you look at things, are they possible or impossible?

February 9, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
(Matthew 19:26 (NIV))

We like to take Matthew 19:26 out of context and apply it to whatever we may be facing that appears to be a no win situation. To be honest with you, nothing is impossible with God, so it is a good application. Still, we tend to overlook the original message.

This particular passage was directed at His disciples and it comes at the end of a discourse with a rich young man.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”
(Matthew 19:23-25 (NIV))

In case you didn’t catch the implication, Jesus was saying that salvation was only possible through God. Think about that for a moment. Each of us have something that we cherish. Each of us have something that we long to hold on to, that we don’t want to surrender. For some, it is money. For others, it may be power. For others, it may be any number of things. For this particular young man, it was his wealth. Jesus told him that it was necessary to surrender what he held dear to himself and choose to follow Jesus. I think that the disciples caught on to what Jesus was saying because they asked, “Who then can be saved?” The disciples knew human nature. They knew how difficult it is to surrender what is closest to your heart. They knew that it was and is a matter of priorities. They had made the choice to trade everything for the ultimate treasure.

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
(Matthew 13:44 (NIV))

Jesus let them know that a person cannot change their heart, but God can. God can take a cold and hardened heart and bring it back to life. God can take the “wealth” that a person holds dear and make it all look worthless in comparison to what He has to offer. If you think about this, Jesus also let us know that people are not in the business of saving each other. We don’t have the power or authority, but God does! How do you look at things, from your perspective or from God’s?

When you look at things, are they possible or impossible?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are we good ambassadors?

January 9, 2018

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.
(2 Corinthians 5:20 (NIV))

Have you ever stopped to think about this passage from the perspective of the definition of the word ambassador?

The word ambassador means a diplomatic agent of the highest rank, an authorized representative or messenger.

Does this sound anything like the role that you have been filling while you live your life? Does this sound anything like the witness that you have had for Jesus on a daily basis?

A diplomatic agent of the highest rank stands firm and resolute for the interests of those who sent him. They constantly present the case of the one whom they represent. They are sent with authority and under authority. What they say and do is supposed to be the very words and desires of those who gave them that authority. They do not falter or fail in delivering the message that they were sent to convey!

Sadly, if you are anything like me, I have failed miserably at my assigned tasks. I can imagine a performance evaluation of my lackluster representation of Jesus. Do I do all that I should be doing to point people to the grace and mercy that is freely given through the atoning blood of Jesus? Do I do all that I should to tell people that they can be forgiven of their sins? Do I step outside of my comfort zone and share the good news?

We have been sent out as ambassadors.

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.
(Mark 16:15 (NIV))

Are we good ambassadors?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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We are all called to be a witness to His light!

July 19, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
(John 1:8 (NIV))

It would have been so easy for John the Baptist to claim some of the glory, after all, it was John that the crowds originally went to see. It was John and the message that he brought that made the people go into the wilderness and seek his message. When asked point blank if he was the one, he stood his ground. He only claimed to be who and what he was sent to be. He then clearly pointed to where praise, honor and glory needed to go.

John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.'”
(John 1:23 (NIV))

John was sent to prepare the hearts of the people to receive Jesus. He simply stood at a point in time where he would be used to clearly point to the Light that was to come. Everybody who calls upon the name of Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior should take a lesson from John and pay special attention to his modesty. The only attention that he wanted was the attention given to his message of repentance. Still, people pressed for answers.

Now the Pharisees who had been sent questioned him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”
“I baptize with water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.”
(John 1:24-27 (NIV))

John was exemplary in fulfilling his mission, which was to point to the light. He proclaimed that the light was coming and when Jesus came, John stepped aside so that the light could shine. To be honest with you, isn’t that what we, as the Body of Christ, are called to do? We are all called to be a witness to His light! Then we are to step out of the way so that it can shine!

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you embraced the power of the Gospel?

July 18, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake.
(1 Thessalonians 1:4-5 (NIV))

For those who don’t believe in the Gospel, we are given a good description of what they think of the message of grace and mercy. To them, it is foolishness.

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))

To those who believe, it is power. It is the power to change lives. It is the power to free us from the laws of sin and death. It is the power of grace and mercy. It is nothing to be ashamed of. It is not foolishness!

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.
(Romans 1:16 (NIV))

I love how each of these passages talk about the power of the Gospel. It is more than mere words. It is power! It is not foolishness. It is power! It is nothing to be ashamed of. It is power! No matter what the world may say, the Gospel is power!

Have you embraced the power of the Gospel?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is the cross the power of God or is it foolishness?

April 18, 2017

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))

Do you consider yourself to be a fool?

I realize that is a loaded question, for I have never met anyone who considered themselves to be a fool. I don’t like to judge, but I have met some people who have left me wondering about their status. To be honest with you, I would probably bet that there are some people who question my status.

Still, I find it is much better to have people think that you are foolish than to have God think that you are foolish. God’s definition of being a fool is completely different from man’s.

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.
(Psalm 14:1 (NIV))

It only stands to reason that anything that comes from God would be considered foolish by man. The ultimate foolishness in the eyes of man is the message of redemption through Jesus and the cross. A fool says that there is no God. A fool thinks that they are good and do not need anyone to save them. Since they think that there is no God and that they are good, the idea that God sent His Son to die for them makes no sense to them at all. To these people, that is the ultimate foolishness and they think that anyone who believes otherwise is a fool.

To quote a very old saying, that is the pot calling the kettle black.

The fool thinks that their foolishness is wisdom and that the true wisdom of God is foolishness.

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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