What are you devoted to?

November 10, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.
(Colossians 4:2 (NIV))

Human nature is a funny thing. If I asked one hundred people what they are devoted to, I would probably get one hundred different answers. I realize that some would be similar, but, just like the people that give them, each would be unique. No two would be exactly the same!

Some people would say that they are devoted to their spouse. Some would proudly claim that they are devoted to their family. Some would say that they are devoted to their church. All of these are great things to be devoted to, but how many would actually claim that they are devoted to prayer?

Perhaps we should step back and consider what devotion means. One dictionary has being religious as its first definition. On the surface, this sounds very good, but we have to stop and consider that religion is often thought of as man’s attempt to reach God. How many so called religious activities are simply man made rituals that truly don’t have anything to do with devotion. With this in mind, is being religious truly how you want to think of being devoted, especially when you consider what John the Baptist said of the religious men of his day?

But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?
(Matthew 3:7 (NIV))

This was also echoed by Jesus.

You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.
(Matthew 12:34 (NIV))

Personally, I like another definition much better. Devotion is defined as being ardently dedicated. In other words, it is a priority and not simply because it has become a routine. Devotion means a dedication because it is integral to who you are.

What are you devoted to?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What is your worship based on?

June 14, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.”
(Isaiah 29:13 (NIV))

Are you the type of person who likes to follow a ritual and a routine? Do you freak out if something disrupts that ritual and routine? Who is it that says that you must follow a set order for anything? Do you even bother to ask why the routine is what it is?

Personally, I am a creature of habit, but I like to have a reason for my habits. I don’t like doing something just because everyone else is doing it. I don’t blindly follow a routine just because it has always been done that way. If you truly stop to think about most rules, regulations and routines, they were all started by people who thought that they had a better way to do things. People who all had a similar approach to how they thought things should be done banded together so that they could all do things the same way. Years passed and the reasons became lost, and today, we blindly follow someone else’s plan for doing any number of things.

Sadly, this even extends to the worship of the Lord. People blindly do things simply because that is how it has always been done. It is tradition.

Did Jesus come to tell us that the traditions of the Jewish people were correct as carried out by the Pharisees and Sadducees, or did He come to show us a better way? The Holy Spirit was sent as a guide, as a teacher and as a companion so that we would not lose site of the fact that human rituals, routines and traditions are not what God ordained. We are to worship Him as the Holy Spirit directs.

Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.
(John 4:23 (NIV))

What time do you have?

What is your worship based on?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Never stop studying God’s Word!

November 2, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.
(Matthew 22:29 (NIV))

I know that Jesus spoke these words to the Sadducees when they were trying to trick Him with a question about the resurrection, but I often wonder if He looks at me and thinks that of me?

Let’s face facts. We have all had these feelings and thoughts, for the more we study God’s Word, the more we realize that we don’t know. I often wonder about this aspect of God. We are told that His ways are not our ways and that our understanding is as if we were looking through a dark glass. Just when we think we understand what we see through the dark glass, God turns up His light just a little and He shows us more about Himself. After this had happened to me a few times, I realized that I knew nothing of God’s infinite wisdom and His power.

All that I was seeing was the proverbial tip of the iceberg. There is so much more to truly knowing God. It takes a lifetime of studying God’s Word. It takes a lifetime of prayer. It takes a lifetime spent in His presence to ever begin to fathom the depth and breadth of God and His love for us.

I want you to promise me something. Actually, I want you to promise yourself something, and that is that you will never stop studying God’s Word, that you will never stop praying, and that you will never stop seeking to be in God’s presence. I pray that as we all do these things, that there will eventually be fewer times where Jesus will tell us that we are in error because we do not know the Scriptures. I also want you to promise that your study will not simply be for gaining head knowledge. Let the power of God’s Word permeate your thoughts and the wisdom settle in your heart!

I long to truly know the Scriptures and the power of God!

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you teach what Jesus commanded or do you teach the world’s agenda?

November 18, 2014

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
(Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV))

With all of the talk about embracing Islam, we have to remember the words that Jesus spoke. He did not tell us to embrace what is good about what others believe and make it a part of what He has taught us. He told us to baptize them and to teach them to follow Him.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
(John 14:6 (NIV))

Unless something confirms Jesus as the only begotten Son of God, then it is a false religion no matter how much humanity wants to embrace it.

He did not tell us to be like the Sadducees. They were more concerned with social issues and politics than they were about religion. Too many of our churches today preach social issues and do not focus on the saving grace that is available through Jesus. Jesus did not command us to do this. He commanded us to baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. He also taught us to teach people to obey everything that He taught. Jesus often criticized the Sadducees because they ignored God and focused on social and political issues.

He did not tell us to be like the Pharisees. They were more focused on God’s Word, yet they placed equal authority on human tradition and oral histories. Jesus often found fault with them.

Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!”
Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’ and ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is ‘devoted to God,’ they are not to ‘honor their father or mother’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:

“‘These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
their teachings are merely human rules.’”
(Matthew 15:1-9 (NIV))

What have we been told about embracing other gods? What have we been told about intermingling? What have we been told about embracing the world?

and after they have been destroyed before you, be careful not to be ensnared by inquiring about their gods, saying, “How do these nations serve their gods? We will do the same.” You must not worship the Lord your God in their way, because in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things the Lord hates. They even burn their sons and daughters in the fire as sacrifices to their gods.
(Deuteronomy 12:29-31 NIV))

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
(Romans 12:1-2 (NIV))

Too many people who call themselves Christians have lost site of what we are called to do. Too many embrace the world and water down what Jesus came into this world to accomplish. Jesus did not die on the cross so that we can embrace other religions and gods!

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
(Matthew 5:13 (NIV))

Jesus calls us to be the salt and light to the world, yet we allow the world to trample all over us! Too many so called members of the Body of Christ are preaching and teaching things that are contrary to what we have been commanded.

Do you teach what Jesus commanded or do you teach the world’s agenda?

Copyright 1998 – 2014 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Be on your guard against false teaching!

August 21, 2014

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“Be careful,” Jesus said to them. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”
(Matthew 16:6 (NIV))

The Pharisees and the Sadducees were the two different schools of thought about the interpretation of the scriptures. It is interesting that neither group had been able to interpret the scriptures the way that they should. They had introduced different teachings that had their origins from man and these teachings had spread through the temple and the nation like yeast through bread.

Jesus warned his disciples to watch out for these teachings and to not allow them to enter into their lives again. It is so easy to replace God’s Word with human interpretation of it. Humanity has been taking God’s Word and twisting it for their own reasons for as long as history has been recorded. The sad part is that we can all fall prey to this. Even those who proclaim to desire to know God’s Word are susceptible to twisting it for their own selfish desires. Take a long look at your life in faith. Has there ever been a person or group of people that you know who have twisted God’s Word? Now comes the hardest question of all. Have you been guilty of this yourself?

I hate to say this, but I would venture to say that all of us have done that at one point or another. We are sinful and selfish in nature. Even though we claim grace through the blood of Jesus, we are not instantly perfect. We are, however, instantly forgiven. We are being made perfect.

And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
(2 Corinthians 3:18 (NIV))

Even as we are being transformed into His likeness, we can also stumble and fail because of false teaching. We must be on our guard and test what we hear and see against God’s Word. We must not allow anything to make us falter in our course. We must not fall for the false teachings of today’s Pharisees and Sadducees.

Copyright 1998 – 2014 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Pray that you don’t lose your saltiness!

September 18, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people– not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.
(1 Corinthians 5:9-11 (NIV))

I know that I am going to ruffle some feathers with this verse.

It ruffled mine!

Did you catch that second to last sentence? What does it mean to you? Does it convict you? Think about that for a moment.

We,as the Body of Christ, are instructed to stay away from those who profess a faith in Jesus, yet do not live according to His teachings. We are not to associate with someone who claims Jesus as their savior yet is still sexually immoral – heterosexual and homosexual; someone who is greedy; or someone who worships idols, even worldly possessions; or many other sinful traits.

We are told to keep our eyes focused on Jesus. How can we focus on Jesus if we associate with those who would temp us to sin?

I know that this is a fine line that we walk, for we are to be the salt and light to the world. But, if we are in situations where we can fall into sin, we can lose our ability to be the salt.

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.
(Matthew 5:13 (NIV))

If we lose our ability to be the salt, what does that mean that we are good for in God’s plan?

I know that this almost sounds like the Pharisees and the Sadducees, but think about the way that lepers used to be cast away. This was done so that they would not infect others. What about the old saying that one bad apple spoils the barrel?

I realize that we are instructed to confront believers if they sin. This is done out of love and a hope that they will repent. What about those who have no desire to repent? Are they really members of the Body of Christ, or are they like the seed from the parable that did not fall on good soil?

Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop–a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. He who has ears, let him hear.”
(Matthew 13:3-9 (NIV))

Pray that you don’t lose your saltiness!

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

June 28, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

When they went across the lake, the disciples forgot to take bread. “Be careful,” Jesus said to them. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”
(Matthew 16:5-6 (NIV))

Why do you think that Jesus told the disciples this?

In our grocery store society, some of us may have lost touch with what yeast actually does.

Yeast is a small, single-celled fungus that is used to make several different foods. In this context, Jesus was referring to how yeast is used as leaven in bread to make it rise. Yeast completely changes the appearance and use of the flour dough from the inside. A small organism can work from the inside out and completely change how the dough will actually cook.

There are two important things to consider in this context. Something does not have to big big to invoke a major change. The second thing to consider is that a small piece of something can cause a major change from the inside.

The yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees were the false teachings and the hypocrisy. Jesus was warning his disciples to watch out for these false teachings. He was warning them that it only takes a little piece of falseness to implant itself inside of you. It will be like the yeast and grow and change you from the inside.

In today’s world, we have our own groups of people who are twisting God’s Word, They are spreading false teachings. Don’t allow these false teachings to come into your lives. Truth is truth. Test everything. If something appears to be biblically correct but has a few things that seem strange, be careful. Those few small things are the yeast that will take hold of you and change you from the inside.

Have you looked at all of the definitions of the word “yeast?” One of them is literally something that causes ferment or agitation. In other words, something small can cause unrest, excitement or commotion. False teachings are yeast, for they fulfill every aspect of the definition.

Is this something that you want inside of you?

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