Why do we try to tell God what to do?

April 5, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?
(Romans 11:34 (NIV))

What is it about human nature that makes us want to give advice to anyone and everyone? Why do we think that the world would be so much better off if everyone would simply listen to us? Is it ego, pride, or arrogance that makes us feel that we have all of the answers, or is it a combination of all of these traits and many more? What is so interesting and sad at the same time is the fact that we even do this with God. This is the equivalent of a loaf of bread arguing with the baker who made it. Our perspective, our understanding is nothing in comparison to that of the Lord.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
(Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV))

Who has known the mind of the Lord?

I find that question so laughable since we, as humanity, don’t spend enough time drawing close to the Lord. Through His Word, He has given us insight into His heart and mind, but very few of us spend enough time diving headfirst into this treasure to truly know God. We read something and take it out of context and soon twist it to mean what we think that it should mean. We then point a proverbial finger at the Lord and accuse Him of not doing what we think He should do based on our twisted understanding.

Let’s be honest with ourselves, each other and with the Lord. There is absolutely nothing that we can do or say that will be above and beyond what God has thought. To be perfectly honest, I believe that the following passage, even though it refers to our righteousness, can be applied to our wisdom and understanding.

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))

Again, I wonder what it is about human nature that makes us want to give advice when we truly don’t understand anything. Why are we so arrogant that we feel that our understanding is far above what it truly is?

Why do we try to tell God what to do?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What has the Spirit enabled you to do?

September 13, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
(Acts 2:4 (NIV))

How many times have you witnessed what the Holy Spirit was doing only to wish that it would be done to or through you?

I know! Human ego gets in the way far too often. We see how God is moving in and through the lives of others. We focus on the others so much that we fail to see what is being done in our own lives. What do other people see happening in your life when they look at you? Do they see the things that you have grown blind to? Do they wish that they had the gifts of the Spirit that you have been blessed with?

Why do we have such a difficult time recognizing our gifts and abilities? Why do we envy and desire the gifts and abilities that have been given to others? Why do we desire what we don’t have and ignore what we do have even when what we do have is far greater than what we don’t have? I honestly believe that it is a combination of ego, greed and envy. We like to think that we are capable of anything that anyone else can do and that we can do it better!

God did not make us to all be the same. He gave us each unique gifts.

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?
(1 Corinthians 12:27-30 (NIV))

We are all unique creations. We have all been enabled to do things that no one else can do.

What has the Spirit enabled you to do?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you truly able to be humble?

October 12, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
(James 4:10 (NIV))

Humility is a trait that is difficult for most people. To be honest with you, it is humility, or the lack of it, that caused Satan to rebel against God. It has been the proverbial thorn in the side of humanity ever since. To humble oneself requires a complete submission of yourself to the point where you are not proud, haughty, arrogant or assertive. In other words, to be humble means that you do not elevate yourself in words or deeds, but you simply live your life knowing that you are no better than other people.

Think about that concept in the light of the truth it contains.

God created all of us through the creation of Adam and Eve in the Garden. When Adam and Eve fell from grace, not a single one of us, their descendants, was spared from the consequences of that fall. We are all sinners. In the eyes of God, because of our sin, we are all the same. We are all equal. God loves each of us the same, yet, it is human nature to think that God loves us more than the next guy.

Can you look at yourself in the mirror and say that you think you are better than anyone else, or do you feel that nagging twinge of guilt when you honestly look deep inside?

I have asked this question before, and I will ask it again. What would your reaction be if, when you get to heaven, you find that Adolf Hitler had accepted Jesus as his personal Lord and Savior? Would you rejoice, or would you refuse to enter because you know that you were better than him? Would your reaction be evidence of humility?

I want you to take a look at this passage from the point of view of the person who most scholars believe wrote it: James, the brother of Jesus. How would you react to the crowds gathering around your brother and ignoring you? How would you react to the miracles that Jesus performed when you can’t even begin to do anything like them? How would you react to the crucifixion? How would you react to the resurrection? Would there be feelings of hatred? Would there be a crushed ego? Would there be guilt and shame, and would there be rejoicing? I find it interesting that the passage that instructs us to humble ourselves was written by someone who, from a worldly point of view, would have had to struggle to actually do that.

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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When you speak, what do you say?

September 20, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Jesus answered, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from him who sent me. If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself, but he who works for the honor of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him.
(John 7:16-18 (NIV))

When you speak, what do you say?

Do the words from your mouth glorify you or do they glorify the Father?

If Jesus, as part of the Trinity, never spoke to glorify himself, what should our words be doing?

It is human nature to be self-promoting. It is human nature to stroke our own ego and to make ourselves sound more important than we really are. I often think that the fall from grace in the garden took away more than most people realize, for it took our ability to be at peace with our gifts and talents in relation to everyone else. It made us feel inferior while giving us a major desire to make ourselves feel superior. We want, or perhaps I should say that we need to feel that we are much more than we are. Have we been hardwired with a desire to be what we were in the garden only to be left without any understanding of what that was or how to regain it?

All of human history, from the fall from grace to this very day, has been nothing more than billions of stories all focused around me, myself and I.

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death–
even death on a cross!
(Philippians 2:5-8 (NIV))

Can any of us honestly say that we would be willing to humble ourselves in such a manner as to point completely to someone else? That is exactly how Jesus lives His life when He walked among us. Everything He said and everything He did pointed to God, the Father.

I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
(John 14:12 (NIV))

According to Jesus, we should be following His example!

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you full of pride?

May 27, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

In his pride the wicked does not seek him;
in all his thoughts there is no room for God.
(Psalms 10:4 (NIV))

I have been accused of tooting my own horn before. I have also been accused of having an ego, as I know any and all humans have. Do you know the difference between these characteristics and an ungodly pride?

It is almost as if I can hear the thoughts as you read this. If you are like me, you try not to toot your own horn or let your ego get the better of you.

I have a few questions for you. Have you ever had to go on a job interview? If you have, then you have had to toot your own horn. You had to convince someone that you were the perfect person for the job. You had to tell them of all of your accomplishments. It is hard to do this without tooting your own horn. If you listen to yourself long enough, you start to believe what you say about yourself and then your ego gets in the way. Have you ever had that happen to you?

One more important question that I want you to think about.

When you toot your own horn or let your ego get in the way, do you still thank God for the talents and gifts that He has blessed you with? Do you do so with humility?

I pray that what we call the little things like tooting your own horn and showing a little bit of ego does not grow into something far worse. I pray that everyone who calls upon Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior will be able to acknowledge that all that they have in life are gifts from God the Father and not of their own creation. If anyone crosses that line, they stand a chance of growing into a wicked pride. This pride is what caused Satan to rebel. This pride rejects God and seeks to place itself above God.

It is my prayer that no one ever becomes so prideful that they reject God!

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Be careful what you try to offer!

February 19, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”
Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.”
(Acts 8:18-23 (NIV))

OUCH !!!

Unfortunately, Simon is not the only one who has tried to buy the grace and power of God. The only difference is that most people try to barter with God instead of offering money to those who come in God’s name.

How do you barter with God?

Have you ever heard someone say that if God will do something for them, then they will commit their life to God? The only thing that seems to vary in this equation is what each person wants as their part of the bargain. Some want to live. Some want fame and fortune. Some even want to blessed with the power that Simon was seeking.

What is the difference between those who barter with God and what Simon did?

I honestly believe that there really isn’t a difference. In both scenarios, the one who is seeking is willing to do whatever it takes for them to get what they want. Did you catch that? For what they want! They are trying to gain something to further their kingdom and God is only the provider of the means. They fail to realize that God gives gifts to whom He pleases. They also fail to realize that God looks at the heart. He knows who is sincere and humble. He knows who will turn what God has given into a situation that cries out “Look at what I have done,” instead of “Look at what God has done!”

There is a difference between eagerness and selfishness. Be careful that you do not make the mistake that Simon made. Pray for guidance. Pray for wisdom. Pray for insight. Pray for patience. In time, God will reveal to you the gifts that He desires to give you for use in His kingdom. Just remember that they are for His kingdom and not yours!

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is your belief based on your ego?

September 29, 2015

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
(Ephesians 2:8-10 (NIV))

Too many people still believe that they can be saved by good works. They believe that it is of their own good works that will save them. This belief is based on ego. The inflated ego that they are different from everyone else and that they alone set their destiny. Nothing could be further from the truth.

All of us have become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; (Isaiah 64:6a)

Nothing that we can do can bring us to the level of righteousness that is required in order to be saved. It is by grace alone that we are saved. Grace is a gift freely given to all who will accept it. There is only one thing that we can do to receive salvation: accept God’s gift of grace.

Works then become important after we have received this gift of grace. These works are the acts of Christian love and compassion that we use to reach others for Jesus Christ. The works are no longer our attempt at becoming good enough for God. We work, not out of a need to prove ourselves, but out of a desire to prove that God loves us. In essence, we become the bearers of the good news of God’s grace once we have accepted God’s grace.

From which side of grace are you performing your good works?

Copyright 1998 – 2015 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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