God, have mercy on me, a sinner!

July 8, 2015

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: `God, I thank you that I am not like other men–robbers, evildoers, adulterers–or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, `God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
(Luke 18:10-14 (NIV))

This brings up one simple but very painful question to answer.

Do you feel that you are better than others?

Ouch! Yes, I asked it.

As sinful, prideful and arrogant human beings, each of us has felt this at one time or another. It is human nature to self gratify. We like to look at others and compare our sins to theirs so that we feel better about ourselves. Why do we like to put others down in order to make ourselves feel better? Sadly, we never learn. Arrogance and pride are traits that seem to surface all of the time, yet, humility is one that we have to work to even see the light of day.

One thing that we need to learn from this passage is that God does not compare us with anyone else. He created each of us to be unique. The only thing that He looks at is whether we are being the unique person that Hen created us to be. Are we living our lives in sin or are we seeking after Him in all that we do?

I am far from perfect. I find myself comparing to others, but I always find the realization that my sins are enough to condemn me. It is at this point that I realize that I am not any better than anyone else. I am simply forgiven because I have called upon the name of Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior.

It is a matter of the heart. It is a matter of sincerity. It is a matter of willfully choosing to follow Jesus. We all make mistakes. It takes a humble person to admit the mistakes and repent. That is what the tax collector did.

God, have mercy on me, a sinner!

Copyright 1998 – 2015 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Don’t forget Jesus!

September 15, 2014

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. When they had rowed three or three and a half miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were terrified. But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.
(John 6:16-21 (NIV))

I know that we are all familiar with this story, but there are some things that just need repeating.

Jesus was not with them.

They were caught in a storm.

They saw Jesus and they were not afraid.

They were willing to take Jesus in.

The storm calmed.

They got to where they were going.

How many times do we try to fight the storms of this world without Jesus? How many of these times are the storms caused by our failure to take Jesus with us? Just like the disciples, how many times do we realize that we should have taken Jesus with us to begin with?

We are only human and human pride makes us think that we can do things on our own. It makes us think that we don’t have to involve Jesus in every aspect of our lives.

Think about that human trait and then think about what happens in your life when you don’t involve Jesus. I would venture to say that most of the time things don’t go as you plan.

Why do we, those who proclaim that Jesus is their Lord and Savior, often leave Jesus behind? Why do we think that Jesus could not be interested in the small stuff in our lives? Why do we ignore God’s grace and mercy when it is not on our own terms and timeline?

We must walk with God at all times. We must learn to not leave Jesus behind. We must learn to realize that Jesus is the one who calms the storms. He is the one who safely guides us to where we are being called.

Don’t forget Jesus!

Copyright 1998 – 2014 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you bound by human nature?

June 11, 2014

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven–the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.
(John 3:12-15 (NIV))

Jesus knew human nature extremely well. People then, just as now, always want more than they are capable of handling. Perhaps this is even greed taken to the next level.

We have a tendency to want more than what we have. We want to be looked upon as either having more or knowing more than the people around us. I hate to say this, but some people probably even think that they could have done what Jesus did. I would even venture to say that there are some people who think that they could have done it better.

Isn’t human nature a funny thing?

We want the power and the glory, but we are not prepared to handle even a little bit of anything without totally messing it up.

Jesus knew this and He proclaimed human frailty concisely in the words recorded in John.

I am very thankful that Jesus did not follow human traits and boast that only He was allowed into heaven. He simply stated a fact and then proceeded to explain that He came so that those who believe may have eternal life through Him. There was no greed in these words. There was no pride in these words. There was simply love!

Jesus was giving us a glimpse of the depth of His love for each of us. He was not bragging. He was simply telling of God’s plan for salvation. If He can come to this earth to suffer and to die for our sins, then we should be able to humble ourselves and forget about our desires to be better than others and to have more than others, after all, Jesus is God’s only Son. In human thought processes, He has every right to boast and brag. Yet, He humbled himself unto death for us.

Do you understand the things that Jesus taught? Do you live your life as if you do?

Copyright 1998 – 2014 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you press on?

April 9, 2014

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

But as for me, my feet had almost slipped;
I had nearly lost my foothold.
For I envied the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
They have no struggles;
their bodies are healthy and strong.
They are free from the burdens common to man;
they are not plagued by human ills.
(Psalms 73:2-5 (NIV))

Isn’t it easy to be fooled by what we see that the world has to offer?

Sometimes it seems that the world has the better things, but we must remember that what the world has to offer is only temporary. These things can be destroyed by moth and rust.

When we are confronted with the temptations of the world, we must remember that we have a firm foundation, a solid hope that is not of this world. What we desire is not of this world. Our treasure is the very heart and Word of God. Through the Word made flesh, we have a treasure that moth and rust cannot destroy. We have a treasure that is eternal. We must simply keep our focus on Jesus when the world tries to distract us.

There will be many distractions that the world will send your way during your life. Like Paul wrote:

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 3:14(NIV))

Do you press on, or are you distracted by the worldly temptations?

Copyright 1998 – 2014 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Broken and loved by God!

December 4, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Jesus looked directly at them and asked, “Then what is the meaning of that which is written:

” `The stone the builders rejected
has become the capstone’ ?
Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed.
(Luke 20:17-18 (NIV))

Which would you rather be – broken or crushed? Let’s face it, neither one of them sound like it will be good for anyone. Both options have drastic overtones that resound with pain.

Carefully consider the options from a two thousand year old perspective. To fall to the ground, or prostrate yourself, meant to throw yourself at the mercy of the one who was in authority. The authority was thought of as strong and as powerful as stone. Out of humility, people would prostrate themselves on the stone of the authority seeking mercy. In the situation where a faith in Jesus is professed, Jesus is that stone. He is that authority. It is at His feet that we prostrate ourselves seeking mercy. Fortunately, all who seek it will find it. Through our brokenness and humility, we will be strengthened. We will be made whole.

Consider those who did not throw themselves at the mercy of the authority. That stone of authority came down upon them and crushed any chances of mercy that may have existed. The same is true of Jesus. If we are too proud to turn to Him in brownness and humility, eventually, His authority will come down upon us and crush us. We will be broken and cast away without any hope. I know that this sounds harsh, but we must remember that God loves us and does not desire for any of us to face this. He calls us to Him, but our pride causes the separation.

In my opinion, it is much better to be broken than to be crushed. Brokenness implies that we can be restored. We can be made as good as new. To be crushed implies the return to the dust from which we came.

All of us must come to terms with the power and the strength of the stone that is Jesus. We can humbly approach Him in our brokenness and seek mercy, or we can deny Him in our pride and be crushed by His authority. One thing that we must never forget is that with the authority that belongs to Jesus comes the love and mercy of God. It is this love and mercy that kept Jesus on the cross. He faced the brokenness so that we can turn to Him in our brokenness and find love and mercy.

As for me, I would prefer to be broken and loved by God, instead of being proud and crushed by the weight of my sin.

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Pride and arrogance!

October 23, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

But after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall. He was unfaithful to the LORD his God, and entered the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense. Azariah the priest with eighty other courageous priests of the LORD followed him in. They confronted him and said, “It is not right for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the LORD. That is for the priests, the descendants of Aaron, who have been consecrated to burn incense. Leave the sanctuary, for you have been unfaithful; and you will not be honored by the LORD God.”

Uzziah, who had a censer in his hand ready to burn incense, became angry. While he was raging at the priests in their presence before the incense altar in the LORD’s temple, leprosy broke out on his forehead. When Azariah the chief priest and all the other priests looked at him, they saw that he had leprosy on his forehead, so they hurried him out. Indeed, he himself was eager to leave, because the LORD had afflicted him.
(2 Chronicles 26:16-20 (NIV))

Pride and arrogance!

How many times have we all stepped over the boundaries that we knew had been established for one reason or another? Everyone has boundaries and limitations that have been placed on them in one form or another. In Uzziah’s situation, he had become king, yet that wasn’t enough. He wanted to approach God directly before that was possible. He attempted to fill a role that God had not planned for him. He wanted to do the job of the priests.

His pride and arrogance caught up with him.

God punished Uzziah for the same sin that caused Satan to be cast out of heaven. Uzziah wanted to be equal to God and proved it through his attempts at approaching God directly. Even Moses was not capable of approaching God directly.

Thankfully, today, we have the ability to approach the throne of God through the redeeming blood of Jesus, yet, I still feel that we have something to learn from Uzziah. God allowed him to keep his position, yet, he lost all of his authority. He was king only in name. If we, who are bought by the blood of Jesus, fall pray to pride, we may be able to keep our position of salvation, yet, we will lose our effectiveness in doing the work that the position calls us to.

How is your pride?

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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It is hard to forgive!

September 30, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, `I repent,’ forgive him.
(Luke 17:3b-4 (NIV))

It is hard to forgive!

Just what is it about forgiving someone that is so difficult? Is it a characteristic of the person that you do not want to forgive? Is it simply that they do not deserve forgiveness?

Let’s face the truth! None of us deserve forgiveness:

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
(Romans 3:23(NIV))

Could it be that we are too proud and arrogant to offer forgiveness even though it was freely offered to us? Perhaps human ego plays a bigger part in this than we truly care to admit. Take a look at the words in Luke. Not only are we to forgive each other, but we are to do it freely and without hesitation. Forgivenss is not something that is earned. It is something that is given. If we are to be truly like Jesus, then we are to give of ourselves.

One of the greatest ways to freely give of ourselves is to forgive others, for that places our desires, goals and feelings below those of the one whom we forgive. If we choose not to forgive, then we have wrongly elevated ourselves to a position of authority over the other person. The only person who has ever walked the earth who has that authority was Jesus, and He freely gave it up to obey God the Father.

Have you given up your authority over others?

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is your thorn an excuse or is it your foundation of faith?

August 27, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
(2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (NIV))

Have you ever wondered what it was that Paul had to put up with, just what it was that Satan used to torment him?

I find it very interesting and intriguing that the man whom God chose to spread the Gospel to the gentiles was given an affliction that too many of us would have simply said was too overwhelming. We would have simply given up if we had to face the “thorn in my flesh” that Paul faced.

All too often I find myself making excuses instead of doing what I know I should do. It is so much easier to make excuses than it is to obey. What a shame! I know that I miss out on many blessings and opportunities simply because I find excuses. Don’t get me wrong. There are times when I don’t make excuses, but the times that I do make excuses weigh heavily upon me. I find myself thinking about Paul and ask myself a simple question. What would the world be like today if Paul had allowed his “thorn” to stop him?

By God’s grace, Paul listened to God and we, as Christians, can trace our faith back to Paul’s obedience. God gave Paul the strength to see things through in spite of his thorn. He did not remove the thorn. If a perfect person could spread the Gospel to the gentiles, why would they believe? He would simply be another man who could speak eloquently. God used Paul’s thorn to keep Paul focused on Him, to keep him dependent upon Him.

What is your thorn? Is it an excuse or is it your foundation of faith?

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you possess characteristics of righteousness?

July 2, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers–not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,

“God opposes the proud
but gives grace to the humble.”

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
(1 Peter 5:1-9 (NIV))

Words to live by! Words to model our lives after!

We must remember that we are not the ones who have made our salvation possible. All of us who serve God are in the same position: that of humble servants. Not a single one of us was righteous in God’s eyes without the Grace and Mercy bestowed upon us by the gift of Jesus Christ.

Those of us who are infants in the faith must have role models. Those of us who are to be role models do not need to be arrogant in our positions, for the positions were once reversed. The people in positions of role models were, at one time, infants in the faith.

All who are believers must take it upon themselves to strive to be all that Jesus wants us to be in this world:

“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)

Light does not fight with light. Light fights against darkness. Light always wins!

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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It was, and still is, a matter of attitude

April 30, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?
(1 Corinthians 1:20 (NIV))

Could we, as a society, be on the way to a time when God will makes us look foolish?

We are at a time in history when knowledge is increasing like never before. Humanity can accomplish some pretty incredible tasks if we put our minds to it. We can send a message around the world in a fraction of a second. We have begun to unlock the secrets that God has placed within our DNA. We are developing technology faster than we literally can produce it. By the time a product gets to market, it is already obsolete. We have become wise in the ways of the world.

We must keep our focus on God, for if we start to proclaim that we have done these things and that we do not need God, then we will be floundering in foolishness created by our worldly wisdom. We will have done the same thing that caused confusion of our languages at Babel.

Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.
(Genesis 11:4 (NIV))

It was, and still is, a matter of attitude. We must keep God as our focus and give Him all the glory for what He has given to us. We must not seek to make a name for ourselves. If we do, then we will be scattered and our wisdom will be made foolish.

Is God first in all that you do? Do you seek to glorify God or do you seek the glory for yourself?

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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