Have you allowed the Lord to get close to you?

October 31, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
(Psalms 34:18 (NIV))

Think back on the times in your life when you felt closest to the Lord.

What do you remember about the events of your life during these times? Were you going through a particularly rough time in your life? Were you crushed by the weight of the world coming down on you? Did someone or something leave you feeling brokenhearted? Most people reach out to God more during these kind of moments than when things are going good.

It is human nature to think that we have everything under control and think that everything is smooth sailing, and then we get hit with something that makes us realize that we are not in control. This makes perfect sense if you think how a small child will react when confronted with something that is not pleasant. They instinctually want to climb up into the lap of a parent for security. They want to feel the warm and reassuring embrace that lets them know that everything will be okay.

How does a child react when they feel that everything is safe? They slowly climb down and resume their playful activities. At first, they will look to the parent for reassurance. Then, the longer that they feel safe, the less that they look to the parent. They know that the parent still loves them and is there for when they need them, but they begin to think that they are the ones in control of their immediate surroundings.

Does this sound anything like how we treat God?

When we feel brokenhearted and insecure, we want to crawl into the lap of the Lord where we know that we will find comfort. The wonderful thing about this is that God will never turn us away. We are His children. Jesus said something that makes me firmly believe that God loves for us to crawl into His lap.

He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.
(Matthew 18:2-5 (NIV))

When we sit in the Father’s lap, we draw closer to Him. It is the times that we run off and do our own thing that finds us lost.

Have you allowed the Lord to get close to you?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you willing to suffer for your faith?

October 30, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.
(2 Timothy 1:12 (NIV))

When Paul wrote these words to Timothy, it is understood that he wrote them from prison in Rome. Even in the midst of being in prison, he had the strength of faith to reach out to assure Timothy and others that he stood firm in his faith. Paul knew beyond any doubt that his belief in Jesus was true. All you have to do is remember his Damascus Road experience to understand Paul’s strength of faith.

Even though Paul was strong in his faith, there is one statement in this passage that made me stop and reflect on my own attitude. It made me think about human nature and how any of us would react if we were put in prison. Most would feel ridicule, regret and shame. Now, how would you feel if you were thrown in prison for doing what you know is right? Does that sound like it is highly improbable? Take a look at Paul. Take a look at certain countries around the world where professing a faith in Jesus is either a prison sentence or a death sentence. Do you believe that this type of thing could not possibly happen to you?

We don’t know what is in store for us in the future.

We do know who holds our future!

The world may throw things at us that are unexpected. The enemy definitely will attack us with things that are unexpected. Professing a faith in Jesus is not a guaranteed life without hardships.

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
(John 16:33 (NIV))

Paul may not have recorded the words that Jesus spoke, but he definitely believed them and lived by them. Relying on your faith in Jesus is not something that we should ever be ashamed of. A true faith means that we are convinced that Jesus is with us even in the midst of suffering. A true faith recognizes this and is willing to deny the world even when it means suffering.

Please don’t misunderstand what I am saying. I am not implying that we must suffer to prove our faith. What I am saying is that there may come a day when we are called to reject Jesus or suffer. If this day ever comes, I pray that all who currently call upon the name of Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior will stand firm in their faith.

Are you willing to suffer for your faith?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you seek human accolades?

October 27, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

How can you believe since you accept glory from one another but do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?
(John 5:44 (NIV))

Why do we seek approval and praise from each other when the one that we should seek approval from is ignored?

Think about that for a moment. Now, think about the following questions.

Is there a particular person or group of people that you wish would accept you and praise you? Why do you desire this adulation? What is it about this person or group of people that makes this acceptance so important to you? Do you idolize them for something that they have accomplished or do you simply want to fit in with a different crowd than you currently associate with?

Trying to figure out human nature is difficult when you are trying to look at yourself. It is much easier to spot the frailties and character flaws in other people, but it is difficult to see them in yourself. It is easy to look at someone else and come to the conclusion that they are trying to fit in where God did not intend for them to fit.

Why do we do it?

Everyone longs for acceptance. We all long to be validated as a person of worth. We think that we can gain that validation, that worth, if we just get accepted by a different group of people. What we fail to realize is that this different person or group is seeking validation as well. Far too many find their validation by being obnoxious and arrogant to others. They take pleasure in elevating themselves by cutting down others.

God made each of us unique. He created you to be the best you that you can be. This means that you seek His will and His glory instead of the fleeting glory that comes from others. This means spending time in His presence!

Be still, and know that I am God
(Psalms 46:10a (NIV))

I find it interesting that our human nature makes us want to be with the ones who we desire praise from. Perhaps this is why John asked how we can believe since we accept glory from one another. He knew that human nature will make us seek out what is truly in our hearts.

Do you seek human accolades?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is your faith built on substance and confidence?

October 26, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
(Hebrews 11:1 (NKJV))

Have you ever truly stopped to reflect on faith and what it means? Many people confuse faith with hope. If you imagine yourself going on a journey with faith as your destination, you would travel through hope long before you ever get to faith. Hope basically can be summarized as an optimistic attitude. Faith can be described as a confidence or a trust that something will happen. The two are related, but they are not the same. When you consider that the Bible uses the word “hope” to define faith, it quickly becomes obvious which is greater.

Faith is so much more than hope. Faith is substantial. Faith is what gives us strength to stand firm and strong when the storms of this world dash our hopes against the rocks. Faith is what gives us strength to guide us when the world throws us into a dry and barren place. Faith is what gives us strength to keep us focused on the prize when the enemy sends anything and everything at us to try and distract us. Faith is the peace that passes all understanding if we only allow it to firmly take root in our lives!

Faith is substance!

I love the way that the New International Version (NIV) translates Hebrews 11:1.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
(Hebrews 11:1 (NIV))

Faith is confidence!

With that in mind, let’s look at hope and faith with two simple questions.

Do you have hope that you are saved?

Do you have faith that you are saved?

Do your answers show that you are hopeful in your salvation or do your answers show that you are confident in your salvation?

Is your faith built on substance and confidence?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What are you conscious of?

October 25, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.
(Romans 3:20 (NIV))

Do you try to obey God’s laws?

How is that going for you?

If you are like me, the moment I wake up I start having trouble doing everything that I should be doing. Let’s face the truth. None of us can even obey the speed limit one hundred percent of the time! We think that we are doing good if we are driving 60 mph in a 55 mph speed zone. In essence, we are breaking the law.

Think about God’s laws. Let’s look at one that we all think that we are capable of keeping.

You shall not murder.
(Exodus 20:13 (NIV))

It is probably safe to say that most people have not committed murder, not would they even consider it. But, what about the times when you are so angry at someone and you utter words that don’t even sound that bad in the grand scheme of things. Have you ever called someone a fool? Think about that the next time someone cuts you off in traffic!

But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
(Matthew 5:22 (NIV))

Let’s take a look at another one of God’s laws.

You shall not commit adultery.
(Exodus 20:14 (NIV))

Pretty straight forward. No sex outside of marriage. There are those who think that they can get away with it, but most people will agree with the basic concept.

But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
(Matthew 5:28 (NIV))

Most of God’s laws sound simple, yet they are so very hard to obey. The one thing that God’s laws do a good job of is reminding people of the daily struggle required to even attempt to be righteous in God’s eyes. God’s laws bring our shortcomings front and center. They make us conscious of the fact that we can’t do it in our own strength. We need a Savior. We need Jesus!

What are you conscious of?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Where would you be if the Lord hadn’t waited for you?

October 24, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

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

It is human nature to not like to wait. With the state of the nation and the world as it is today, many members of the Body of Christ are longing for Jesus to come and take His church out of this world. With the state of the world, there are many who believe that it could happen at any time.

What if it happens tonight?

What if it happens tomorrow?

What if it happens a week from now, or a month from now?

What if we still have to wait even if we long to be with Jesus?

Have you ever stopped to truly reflect on this passage from 2 Peter?

Let me present a scenario to you and perhaps this will help you think about this passage in a different light. Think about the one person in your life that you fervently pray comes to a knowledge of the saving grace that is theirs through Jesus. Wouldn’t you want the Lord to wait for this person to accept His grace and mercy? Think about your own path to salvation. Was there someone who was fervently praying for you?

Where would you be if the Lord hadn’t waited for you?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you have the strength to wait for the Lord?

October 23, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.
(Psalms 27:14 (NIV))

There was a very popular song released in the early 1980s that said, “The waiting is the hardest part.” There have been many instances throughout popular culture that use something similar. If I remember correctly, there was a ketchup commercial that used a similar idea to describe the anticipation of the ketchup coming out of the bottle. Whether you are waiting or anticipating, human nature does not like to wait. There is something within our nature that simply does not like the idea of waiting. We get antsy. We get impatient. We get restless. We get irritated and then angry.

If we act like this when waiting for things that we can see in this physical world, how much less patience do we have for things that we cannot see?

There is an old saying that patience is a virtue.

I definitely agree with this idea. I also firmly believe that it is a character strength. I know that it is something that we must cultivate and allow to mature.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
(Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV))

It is common to refer to things as getting stronger as they mature. If that is the case, then patience grows stronger as it matures as well. Waiting requires patience. It requires the strength of character to be willing to be still and wait. For those who love to fish, do you grow impatient after your fist cast? You know that getting what you came for requires time and effort.

Time and effort!

Have you ever stopped to think that maybe the Lord is testing us to see if we are willing to commit the time and effort to get to know Him and to wait for His truth? Think about that for a moment. He created us. He knows that we are impatient since the fall from grace. He knows that it will require a commitment, it will require a strength on our part, to wait for Him.

Do you have the strength to wait for the Lord?

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