Which man are you like?

September 16, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

The tongue of the righteous is choice silver, but the heart of the wicked is of little value.
(Proverbs 10:20 (NIV))

Consider two men.

One does not know the Lord and seeks after only his own desires no matter what the consequences. This person becomes more self centered and less compassionate as time passes. He thinks less and less of others except for the way that he can use them to further his own desires. By putting himself first in all matters, he alienates any true friends that he may ever have. No one can trust him. No one desires to be with that person. It becomes a viscous cycle in which the more he is self centered, the less people desire to be around him, and the more he rebels and says to himself that he doesn’t need people. This drives his heart to be more hardened and wicked, which eventually leads to this person cursing God or blaming God for his short-comings.

The other has placed Jesus Christ at the center of his life and allowed the Holy Spirit to inhabit his heart. His life is filled with the fruits of the Spirit and this shows in all aspects of his life: speech, actions and works. He is joyous all of the time because he has realized that nothing on this earth can make him happy. True happiness comes from knowing Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior. Once this realization is made, this person will seek to do God’s Will for his life. By seeking God’s Will, this person opens himself up to the righteousness of God and the wisdom that accompanies this righteousness. Everything that comes from this person’s life will be God focused and beneficial to others.

Can you think of people who fall into both categories? In this imperfect world that man has allowed Satan to take control of, it is impossible to be truly righteous without God in your life. Reflect on the people that you have known that fall into the two categories. Who would you rather associate with in all aspects of your life? Who would you like to use as a role model?

Which man are you like?

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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He who trusts in himself is a fool

September 15, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

He who trusts in himself is a fool,
but he who walks in wisdom is kept safe.
(Proverbs 28:26 (NIV))

In today’s world, there are far too many “fools” who have placed their trust in themselves and in others who have also placed their own trust in themselves. In other words, too many of our society think that they are in control and can solve every problem. They feel that they can make society better if only they can enforce their ways upon others.

They have lost sight of wisdom. They have lost sight of the fact that the very nature of fallen, sinful humanity takes its very essence from the one who fell from grace. Satan thought that he could do a better job, so he became obsessed with taking God’s place. Arrogance, ego and pride can lead even the angels of heaven to do things that are foolish. We all have the capabilities of doing the very same thing if we forget where our strength and our wisdom comes from.

As created beings, it is not from within us that we find something that we can trust. We can only place our trust in the wisdom that comes from God and His Son, Jesus Christ. If something points to anything else but God, then we should not place any amount of trust in it at all.

Is there anything within this world that we can place our trust in?

Can we trust in the governments of the world?

Can we trust in corporations?

Can we trust in our jobs?

Can we trust in our friends?

Can we trust in our families?

I think that we have already established that we should not place trust in ourselves.

Everything that is in this world has been tainted by sin, and in spite of the best of intentions, nothing is perfect. If you doubt that, consider yourself.

All of us have become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
we all shrivel up like a leaf,
and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
(Isaiah 64:6 (NIV))

We cannot trust in our own wisdom, for our own wisdom is tainted. It is like filthy rags. We have only one place in which to put our trust, and that is in the wisdom of God.

Do you trust in God, or are you a fool?

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What if God recorded your life as an example?

September 14, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, saying, “I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.” And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.
(Hebrews 6:13-15 (NIV))

Everyone knows that Abraham was a great man of faith. He believed God in everything that God promised him, even when Abraham did not see any physical way that it would come true.

Is there something in your life that appears as though there is no physical way that it could change? Do you feel that it will always be just as it is – something that you must simply learn to live with? Think of Abraham.

Abraham was an old man when God began to promise that he would be blessed. He was an old man without any children. He was an old man without any hope in what the physical world had to provide. Even so, Abraham believed in what God had promised and he waited patiently for that promise to be fulfilled.

And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.
(Hebrews 6:15 (NIV))

Perhaps we should all take a lesson from Abraham. From a physical perspective, Abraham did not have much time. He was growing old. He had no children. Perhaps it is due to this very aspect of his life that Abraham waited patiently. He had no other option. It is said that we turn to God when we have no place else to turn. Where would Abraham turn if not to God?

God rewards righteousness and patience.

I waited patiently for the LORD;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
(Psalms 40:1 (NIV))

Do you have the patience to wait for God? If God recorded your life as an example, would it be written of as it is written about Abraham?

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Which type are you?

September 13, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

My feet have closely followed his steps;
I have kept to his way without turning aside.
I have not departed from the commands of his lips;
I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread.
(Job 23:11-12 (NIV))

We are all familiar with the trials and tribulations that Job faced.

Think about that for a moment and then consider whether you would have been able to proclaim what Job proclaimed.

How would you react to losing all of your wealth? How would you react to losing all of your property? How would you react to losing your social status? How would you react to losing all of your family? Personally, I believe that I could face anything in this world, except the thought of losing my family. I pray that I would have the strength, but I pray more that I am never faced with knowing what Job faced.

We, as created beings, are weak in our faith. We proclaim that we believe, yet many of us have never truly been tested. Job was a remarkable man. He faced every trial imaginable short of facing his own death, yet, he had the courage to stand firm in his faith. Human nature, when faced with circumstances similar to what Job faced, has a tendency to seek to blame someone for their misfortune. All too often, that someone is God. We seek to blame Him for the bad things that come upon us. In our hour of need, we turn upon the one who offers us grace and mercy.

I know that I am oversimplifying this, but there are four basic types of people when it comes to faith.

The first type, for whatever reason, simply doesn’t believe at all.

The second type professes a faith until something happens and then they blame God.

The third type don’t even think about God until something bad happens and then they try to make up for lost time.

The fourth type are those who are steadfast in their faith no matter what may come their way, for they know one thing that they can hold firmly to no matter what they may face.

Job was an excellent example of the fourth type. He never wavered in his faith. Even when all around him was bad, he never blamed God. He did question God, but he never blamed Him. Even when pressured by friends, he never gave up his faith.

It is my prayer that I will always be the fourth type. I also pray that I may never have to face such trials and tribulations, but if I do, I pray that I will be able to hold fast to my faith no matter what.

Which type are you?

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Does wisdom build your house?

September 12, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.
(Proverbs 24:3-4 (NIV))

Jesus promised us that in heaven there were many mansions and that He goes to prepare a place for us. There is also the story of the wise man and the foolish man who built their houses upon the rock and the sand. There are countless other references to wisdom and a house throughout the Bible. This is very true in the nature of humanity. Foolishness leads us to do things that will have no lasting value. These things are often for the instant gratification that the world seeks. This often leads to many problems too numerous to mention.

Wisdom!

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.
(Proverbs 111:10)

According to God, the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord. How can fear be wisdom? Perhaps this fear could better be labeled as respect. Respect for the One who created you. Respect for the Will of God. Respect for the Laws of God. Respect for the gift of life and a willingness to do what was intended by the One who created life.

In Biblical days, a house offered peace and refuge. Unlike today, the house was the center of all life. In heaven, the houses that we will be given will reflect this. Knowing that what you build is determined by wisdom, do you focus on the world or on what Proverbs 111:10 tells us?

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Priorities, focus and balance

September 9, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?
(Matthew 6:25 (NIV))

There goes the fashion industry and the restaurants and the food industry.

We, as a society, spend so much time dwelling, or should I say fixating, on these things that we forget what is important.

Clothes grow old and get worn out. Fashion is primarily geared toward drawing attention, yet where is the attention drawn to? The hottest designers won’t even matter in a hundred years. The hottest, trendiest accessories will fade with time. All of this, and we have forgotten who gave us life and what we truly need for clothing.

Food is important, but have we made it too prevalent within our society? We have family arguments over what will be had for dinner. We have fast food around almost every corner, and we have culinary delights that would make any person’s mouth water. Yet, we seem to have forgotten who has given us the food to begin with.

The words recorded in Matthew tell us something about ourselves in relation to how we treat clothes and food. We have taken a necessity and turned it into something that could easily be considered a sin. It can become a sin if we allow it to take priority in our lives over God, our family, our friends, and our true needs. If we allow things that we want to become our “needs,” then we have failed at correctly establishing our priorities.

Life is a precious gift. It is filled with many things that are truly marvelous – things that are truly gifts from God. These are the things that are important.

Don’t misunderstand me, for I honestly believe that God has given us a sense of beauty. He has also given us the pleasures of taste and smell. It is when we focus on these, and other things, instead of focusing on Him and His desires for our lives, that the words within Matthew can become true.

Priorities, focus and balance. All things have a place within our lives. Don’t let the wrong ones become your master.

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Strengthen your faith

September 8, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king.
(Daniel 3:17 (NIV))

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego showed magnificent faith in the presence of a danger that not too many of us know today nor will we ever know it. They were told that they would deny God or die. King Nebuchadnezzar was more than determined to carry out that threat.

What would you do if you were in a similar situation? Have you built the foundation of your faith to such a point that it is as strong and unshakable as that of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego? If you were ever placed in a situation where you were told that in order to live, you must deny God, would your faith be strong enough to stand firm and speak words similar to those spoken to King Nebuchadnezzar? Would you willingly give up your physical life for something that you believe in?

We don’t know what life will send our way. We don’t know if we will ever be placed in life and death situations. We don’t know what tomorrow may bring. Let’s face facts, we don’t even know what the next second will bring. We think that we have control of our lives, but that control is superficial and fleeting. In a single moment, we can be confronted with a situation that requires us to make a split second decision. This decision can have eternal consequences.

I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God. But he who disowns me before men will be disowned before the angels of God.
(Luke 12:8-9 (NIV))

Strengthen your faith. Don’t allow Satan to steal your salvation because you are not prepared. Don’t disown God in a time of distress and be disowned forever!

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you flatter God?

September 7, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
(Ephesians 5:1-2 (NIV))

When you were growing up, was there an adult that you wanted to be just like? Perhaps it was a parent, or perhaps a grandparent, or even an aunt or uncle. No matter who it may have been, chances are very good that you did have someone in your life that you tried to model everything after.

I can safely say that you probably imitated what they did down to the smallest of details.

What, in your mind, made that person such an object of your devotion?

There are probably two main reasons. They loved you and they did not hesitate to let you know.

Think about God in that perspective.

He created you. He sent His only begotten Son to die for you. Again, love and a strong way of letting you know.

Do we imitate God in the same way that we imitated that special adult when we were younger? Do we strive to be just like Him? Do we impatiently wait to be in His presence? Do we find joy in His presence? Do we eagerly go with Him wherever He may lead?

Simple questions, yet the answers are not so simple.

What is the difference?

As we became adults, have we “outgrown” the ability to imitate? Have we spent so much time trying to establish our own identity that imitation is the farthest thing from our minds?

We do not lose ourselves in imitation. It is how we learn. We imitate our teachers as they tell us about what we must learn. We imitate our peers in social environments so that we can learn what is appropriate. We imitate our bosses so that we can work more efficiently and get that much wanted raise and promotion.

If we profess a faith in Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, and a faith in God, then we should strive to learn all that we can. The best way is by imitating what Jesus said and did.

There is an old saying that “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”

Do you flatter God?

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Remember His strength

September 6, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
(Hebrews 4:15-16 (NIV))

Have you ever felt that no one could possibly understand what you are going through?

Do you ever feel that the weight of this world is just too much for you to bear? Do you feel that you are completely alone and have no where to turn?

I am sure that we have all felt like that at some point in our lives. We just can’t seem to find anything that offers us any hope at all. All too true, if we only look upon our situations with worldly vision. Fortunately, we have another way to look at things. We can look with faith.

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

Jesus has been where we are. He understands how you feel. He has faced the very temptations that we face. He has faced the very struggles that we face. We can lean on His strength when we are weak. We can rely on His love when we feel unloved. We can rely on His truth when all around us is a lie. We can rely on His grace and mercy even when we feel that we do not deserve it.

We can approach anything with confidence if we fully rely on Jesus. He may not keep us from the trials and tribulations, but He will see us through them if we only have faith. Too many times, people forget that He never leaves us, and they leave Him when things go bad. They try to face the trials and tribulations relying on their own strength and not the strength of the one who is with them.

The next time that you feel that you are facing life’s trials and tribulations on your own, remember that Jesus has been there. Remember that He is with you. Remember that His strength will carry you through our weaknesses.

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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We all need a savior

September 5, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:
” `You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.
(Matthew 13:14 (NIV))

It seems like every generation has its doubters. People who simply choose to ignore what their heart is longing for them to see. I don’t know what they use as an excuse, but these are the very people that were written about in Matthew. They are the ones who think that they are so sophisticated because they think they have a scientific explanation for everything. They think that anyone who believes is an uneducated idiot.

Am I the only person who feels that the number of these people is on the increase. It may simply be that they are getting more vocal about their lack of faith. Personally, I feel that these times are described by God. God has planted the wheat. Satan has planted the seeds that grow the weeds of discord and both are growing.

Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.
(Matthew 13:30 (NIV))

It is sad to think that there are people who, no matter how much they see, they will vehemently deny the very thing that can save them. They will fulfill the prophesy of Isaiah. They will fulfill the retelling of that prophecy.

We must pray for these people. Perhaps you know of someone like this. Perhaps they are a loved one. Dare I say that perhaps someone who is reading this in mockery is such a person. We must pray for them so that their hearts will be softened and their eyes opened. We must pray for the fulfillment of another passage of scripture.

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
(2 Peter 3:9 (NIV))

Faith is a simple, yet complex thing. Perhaps it doesn’t really call for understanding. Perhaps it simply calls for acceptance – an acceptance of one’s own faults and sins and an acceptance that we all need a savior.

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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