What can men offer in comparison?

December 13, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Be careful not to do your `acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
(Matthew 6:1 (NIV))

Ouch!

Are we guilty of this?

Do we perform acts of righteousness so that others will see them?

It is human nature to want to draw attention to ourselves. We like to “show off” so that others will see us and praise us. We must remember that the things that we are called to do are not considered righteous if we have the attitude that tells people “Look what I am doing!”

“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
(Matthew 6:2-4 (NIV))

The praise of people is fleeting. It can change in an instant. It is worthless, for what good does the praise of people do us? Can it bring true joy? Can it bring peace? Can it bring true happiness?

What happens when we realize that the praise of people has stopped? Do we do things to regain that praise? Should we care about the praises of people?

People are fickle. Human nature seeks the next big thing to capture our attention and then we move on. When we seek the praise of people, we seek the wrong reward even if we seek the praise for doing something that is right in the eyes of God.

Think about that statement.

If we seek the praise of people, where do we stop? Do we start doing things that are sinful and outrageous to get the attention? I know that mental health professionals spend countless hours trying to help people who have done just that. What good does it do to receive temporary praise?

God is the only one that we should focus on pleasing!

God’s rewards are far superior to anything that man can offer. Only God, through His Son, Jesus, can offer grace and mercy that is eternal.

What can men offer in comparison?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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According to your faith will it be done to you

December 12, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith will it be done to you”;
(Matthew 9:29 (NIV))

Think about that passage. The words that Jesus spoke cut right to the heart!

“According to your faith will it be done to you”

What type of faith do you have? Is it a faith that will leave you desolate and barren or is it a faith that will leave you rejoicing and thankful? It is up to you. Your faith is your decision. You can decide to have little faith or a great faith. You will also reap the rewards for your type of faith.

In our world today, it is very easy to allow the world and its problems into our lives. When this happens, it is very easy for faith to falter. Sometimes it will even fail. Even when this happens, faith is resilient. It can grow back from almost nothing into something mighty.

He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, `Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.
(Luke 17:6 (NIV))

Faith truly is like the mustard seed. It can start out small, but with time and attention, it will grow. Each time you see faith at work, it will feed upon itself. Faith grows faith. Soon it will be like the mustard seed.

Be careful, because just like any physical thing that grows, faith can also be killed. Keep your eyes focused on Jesus in all things. If bad things happen, don’t let that kill your faith. Focus on Jesus and use your faith and His strength to see you through it. Perhaps faith is a matter of perspective. If you choose to see it and use it, it will grow. If you choose not to see it, then it will die.

If you ask something of Jesus, what will you receive when He says, “According to your faith will it be done to you”?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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God does not do things as we expect

December 11, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” –which means, “God with us.”

When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.
(Matthew 1:18-25 (NIV))

Could you imagine the confusion that Joseph must have felt? He wanted to do what was right according to Jewish society, and at the same time, he wanted to do what was right in the eyes of God. At the beginning, he must have thought that the two desires where one and the same. He thought that he knew what was right in the eyes of God, after all, Israel was God’s chosen people.

I can imagine how Joseph felt when the angel of the Lord appeared to him and told him to do the opposite of what he thought was correct in the eyes of God and society. Confused and, yet, obedient, he obeyed what God had told him to do instead of what society said to do. Because of this obedience, we have been granted two wonderful gifts: 1) the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ, and 2) the knowledge that God does not do things as society expects.

The next time you hear someone say, “That’s not the way we used to do it,” stop and think how Joseph felt and remember that God does not do things as we expect.

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

December 10, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.
(Luke 2:1-4 (NIV))

Where did Ceasar Augustus get the idea that this census should be taken?

God uses non-believers to accomplish His will.

This census was probably the most important census in all of human history, for it set into action the fulfillment of the prophesy regarding the place of Jesus’ birth. God, through all of His infinite wisdom, used Ceasar Augustus to fulfill His will.

If God used Ceasar Augustus, who, both believer and non-believer, is God using today to fulfill His will?

We sit and watch the news and hear about war, rumors of war, false peace, and we are watching God’s will unfold before our eyes. We do not know at what stage in God’s plan we are, but we know that God is in control and that He is revealing history as we watch.

Do we, as believers, have the luxury of sitting idly by and watching it unfold, or do we have the responsibility to be an active part of God’s plan?

Jesus told us that we should recognize the season. He also told us to go into all the world and make disciples.

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

Are we making disciples in this time of harvest?

He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.
(Luke 10:2 (NIV))

Are you a willing worker?

Are you praying for a bountiful harvest?

Or are you simply content to watch as things unfold?

It is your choice.

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Live as if He means something to us

December 7, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the LORD our Maker;
for he is our God
and we are the people of his pasture,
the flock under his care.
(Psalms 95:6-7a (NIV))

Does this sound familiar?

On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.
(Matthew 2:11 (NIV))

The Magi, who were kings in their own right, bowed down to Jesus. They kneeled before Him. They recognized just who it was that they had found. They worshipped Jesus and gave Him honor. They had been seeking Him and recognized the star that guided them to Jesus. They went out of their way to find Jesus and to worship Him.

Do we do that?

Do we go out of our way to find Jesus? Do we go out of our way to worship Him?

Think about those questions.

Would we travel across deserts to find Jesus? Would we face harsh conditions in order to see His face and to be in His presence? Would we bring gifts of great worth to lay at His feet?

Would we, do we, kneel before Him? Do we even give Jesus the honor and glory that is due to the Son of God?

Have we become complacent in our worship? Have we become jaded by the world? Have we been led to believe that Jesus is not worthy of our praise and worship?

It has been the custom for centuries to bow before royalty. We have a tendency to focus on the savior part of Jesus and ignore the Lord part. Do we treat Jesus as the King of kings and Lord of lords, or do we simply treat Him as an acquaintance that we give lip service to for an hour a week?

If Jesus is our Savior and our Lord, then we must live as if He means something to us.

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What good will we be if our light is going out?

December 6, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.
(Acts 17:30 (NIV))

There are many types of things that we can be ignorant of. We can be ignorant of the Law. We can be ignorant of our sin. We can be ignorant of our need for a savior, and we can be ignorant of God’s calling upon our lives.

We can also be ignorant of our need to repent!

This applies individually and as a society.

As I look around, I see evil being called good and good being called evil. Our world is turned upside down. I recently saw that only 49% of our country profess to a belief in Jesus. Sadly enough, in the age range of young adults, that is only about 25%. We, as a society, are rapidly turning and are greatly in need of repentance. How can we, as a society, repent, when the people who feel the need to repent are now in the minority?

There is an old Jewish saying that if the whole world repents, then the Messiah will come. One man sat out to bring the world to repentance. However, he found that the world was too big, so he decided to focus on his country. This, too, was too big, so he decided to focus on his town. He soon found that this, too, was too big. He decided to start with his street. Then his house. He finally decided that he needed to start with himself.

Start with yourself!

We all have things that we tend to push under the rug, so to speak. These things are the sins that we have become familiar with and tend to ignore. In God’s eyes, these sins are no different from the ones that we have a tendency to point our fingers at.

We have become ignorant of our own sins. Have we been focusing so much on the sins that we see in the world that we ignore our own? We need to stop and take a look at our own lives in context. We need to pray that we are following God’s will. We need to pray that we can be that light that the world will see and not a spent candle slowly devouring itself.

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
(Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV))

What good will we be if our light is going out?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Think about the joy!

December 5, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
(Luke 11:13 (NIV))

It is that time of year when we celebrate the greatest gift of all. We celebrate by giving gifts to each other and to our children. Too often, we could even be accused of spoiling our children because of giving too much to them.

Think about the words in Luke. We love to give our children all that their hearts desire because we love to see the glow in their eyes and excitement in their lives. We give our children gifts that will soon be forgotten and set aside, yet they bring so much joy when they are given. We give gifts that are temporary for joy that is temporary.

Now, consider the joy that we receive when we accept the true gift of Christmas. That gift is eternal and the joy is eternal. That is the greatest gift of all.

Why is it that more people do not accept this gift?

Some are too proud. Others are too self centered. I would even venture to say that there are some who have had earthly fathers who never gave them a gift that brought them joy. They can’t imagine anyone giving them something that would bring them joy, so they refuse to believe.

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.
(John 3:16 (NIV))

This Christmas, as we celebrate the birth of Jesus with our families, think about the joy that your gifts bring and then think about the greatest joy that God’s gift of grace and mercy can bring.

Merry Christmas!

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How do you balance?

December 4, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, `What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’

“Then he said, `This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” ‘

“But God said to him, `You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

“This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.”

Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest
(Luke 12:16-26 (NIV))

How do you balance being a good steward with doing what Jesus calls you to do?

That has always been a tough question for me. I have always wanted to take care of my family and provide for them. I wanted to have that proverbial nest egg for when life throws you that unexpected curve ball.

The rich man didn’t seem to have the answer. He built bigger barns to store what he had produced. We don’t know if this man was generous or if he hoarded what he had. We do know that he did not pray and ask God what he should do. Like the rich man, I have been guilty of doing just that. Like the rich man, we all feel that we can handle our own affairs. We seek comfort and stability in our possessions when Jesus calls us to break down the walls that define our comfort zone.

It is human nature to want to make sure that we are taken care of. We want to feel that we are in control. Perhaps we need to learn a difficult lesson. Life is not about being in control. Life is about deciding who will be in control and placing your faith in that decision. More than this life depends on that decision. If God feeds the ravens, He will take care of us if we place our faith in Him. Perhaps that is where the line is drawn. When God blesses us, we have a tendency to keep it for ourselves. Does God bless us so that we can keep it all to ourselves?

What if we were more like Jabez?

Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, “I gave birth to him in pain.” Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.
(1 Chronicles 4:9-10 (NIV))

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What if you knew?

December 3, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.
(Isaiah 53:6 (NAS))

This time of year is when we think about the birth of Jesus and celebrate what God set in motion in these simple events.

We realize that Jesus died on the cross for our sins. Have you ever stopped to consider what that entails or have you thought about it from the view point of Mary, His mother?

Could you honestly feel no emotion if you knew that an infant would suffer and die for something that you had done?

What did Mary feel when she held Jesus for the first time? Did she see what was to come, or did she see only a baby? We may never know the answer to that question in this lifetime. We can know what we would feel if we were placed in that situation where we know that an infant was born to suffer and die for us. Thinking of Jesus as an adult, as the Son of God, makes it easier to comprehend and think about.

Think about Jesus as the infant who was sent by God to suffer and to die for us. Think about being the parents of that infant and having knowledge of the prophecies of what is to come. Jesus was fully God, yet He was fully man. He had earthly parents who loved Him and fully understood what was to happen.

What if you knew?

Could you face that in the life of “your” child?

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