Is your belief clouded by doubt?

November 8, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.
(James 1:6 (NIV))

Why would anyone bother to ask for something if they didn’t believe that it could be attained?

Why would you ask and then vacillate, or waiver, about what you just asked for?

Think about this concept in the following contexts. From a man’s perspective, how would the following scenarios play out in relationship to the two questions above? Would you ask someone to marry you if you didn’t believe that it could happen? What if you asked someone to marry you and then immediately responded with something like, “Never mind! I didn’t mean it!”? Now, suppose that you then asked again and then changed your mind again.

The first scenario shows your lack of faith while the second scenario shows your lack of decisiveness. Both scenarios reflect negatively on you.

Think about this in terms of asking for something from God.

Why ask God for something if you don’t believe that He can or will do it? We have a tendency to place God in a box of our own design and by so doing, we limit Him to our understanding. If God spoke everything into existence, what makes you think that He is limited in His response to you?

Why ask God for something if you can’t decide what you want to ask Him? We are told that we should approach God with confidence.

In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.
(Ephesians 3:12 (NIV))

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.
(1 John 5:14 (NIV))

With this in mind, let’s take this one step further. When we approach God in confidence, we are told that this is the very definition of faith.

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

We must rest assuredly on the promises that we have been given. We must have faith that when we seek God’s will and when we ask for something in confidence according to His will, that it will be done. We must not be clouded in doubt?

Is your belief clouded by doubt?

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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Only God needs to know!

October 11, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

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 6:3-4 (NIV))

It is human nature to brag about the things that you do, especially if they will be considered good by someone else. The sad thing about this trait is that we all do it. We all like to toot our own horn. We like to draw attention to ourselves so that others will see the good things that we do.

If this is how we do the things that we do, then what are the true motives for why we do the things that we do?

Jesus made it clear that if we do something so that others will see it, then that is our reward. It appears that He is saying that we have done it for selfish gain. We have done it so that we can receive the praise of others.

Is that why you do things?

But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
(Matthew 6:17-18 (NIV))

When was the last time that you did something in secret? Was it difficult to not tell someone? Did you eventually break down and tell someone?

Contrary to human nature, we don’t have to try to be better than everyone else. All that we have to do is be better than our sinful nature. No one needs to know of the good things that you do.

Only God needs to know!

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Has the Lord established your plans?

September 27, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.
(Proverbs 16:3 (NIV))

Why is it so difficult to turn your life over to someone else, even if that someone is the Creator of all things?

When each of us are just a single individual in the vastness of human history, why do we think that we are any different from anyone else? Why do we think that we can achieve what we want when others have not been able to do this? Why do we strive to be greater than our neighbors? Why do we strive to be greater than our friends? Why do we try to establish plans for ourselves without truly understanding who God is and who we are in His creation?

Human nature makes us look at life as if it is ours to do with as we please. We think that we can go here and there without any ramifications. We think that we are free to make decisions and then expect everything to turn out just as we planned. Have any of us truly ever asked God to tell us His reason, His purpose for creating us? Would you be surprised to find that you are racing down a path that you were never intended to travel?

God did create us to have free will. We do have the option of doing with our lives as we please, but how does that make you feel? Do you still have an emptiness inside? Do you feel as if your life has no purpose?

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

We all need to spend time in God’s presence. As we get to know God, He will give us insight into ourselves. He will give us insight into His plans for us. As we get to know God, we will find that we want to align our lives, we will want to commit whatever we do to the Lord. He will then establish His plans for our lives.

Has the Lord established your plans?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Where are you in this arrangement?

August 14, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.
(Matthew 19:30 (NIV))

It’s time for a little self examination!

Exactly how do you see yourself in this passage? How do you interpret this to show where you will be when this happens? Are you the type of person who always has to be first in everything? Is your well being your number one priority even when it means that others will suffer? Are you the type of person who asks “What’s in it for me?” before you decide if you want to participate in anything? What are your priorities? Are you selfish and self-centered?

It is human nature to be like this. Sadly, far too many people seem to have an overabundance of this trait and very little humility.

We like to look out for ourselves while forgetting that those whom we trample under foot are also part of God’s creation. We are no better than they are, and if we act like I described above, we are probably worse. Putting others first is not a natural instinct. We are born with a character flaw that is best described by one of two phrases uttered by any child in their terrible twos. “Mine” or “I do it” are the battle cry for many who are only interested in placing themselves above everyone else. Learning how to share and how to place the well being of others first is a difficult thing for people to do. Perhaps that is why Jesus responded in this manner.

He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”
(Luke 10:27 (NIV))

Learning to love others is hard. It is one of the things that Jesus told us that we must do. Who said that following Jesus would be easy?

Where are you in this arrangement?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What do you recognize within you?

August 7, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.
(Psalms 51:3 (NIV))

Do the things that you do make you lie awake at night? Do you regret the things that you do? Do you find yourself doing the things that you don’t want to do and not doing the things that you desire to do?

You are not alone. Sadly, it is part of the human condition. Even Paul, the man who is credited with spreading the Gospel to the Gentiles, faced this in his life.

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.
(Romans 7:15 (NIV))

The fact that it bothers you is a good sign. The fact that you regret your actions is a good sign. The fact that you are aware of your transgressions is a very telling trait of someone who longs to leave those actions behind and move forward following Jesus. Recognizing that you are a sinner in need of Jesus is critical, however, recognizing that you will still be tempted is also critical to your maturity in faith. We are made righteous in the eyes of God when we accept Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, but our flesh is still sinful. We must learn to overcome the very nature that we were born under. This is a maturation process that takes time.

David recognized his sinful nature. Paul recognized his sinful nature. What do you recognize within you?

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

June 26, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

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

Has God called you heavenward in Christ Jesus?

Have you answered or are you answering that call?

Human nature makes it difficult to stay on track. I started to say that we like to be sidetracked, but I think it is not so much as we like to be sidetracked, but it is more like we don’t know how to avoid being sidetracked. Anything that we do, we lose focus. How do we stay focused? How do we keep from going down the proverbial rabbit hole chasing after each and every distraction that comes our way?

Paul knew human nature. He also knew that he had to deal with the same problems that we all have to face if he was going to be able to share the Gospel with the Gentiles. He recognized the fact that he stilled sinned even when he didn’t want to. He recognized the fact that to answer God’s call and to follow Jesus required a commitment that did not end the first time that he failed to do what he should. Paul used athletes as an example to teach others how to persevere. He pointed out how athletes train to win the prize and they don’t give up simply because they encounter an obstacle or they don’t do as well as they would like to. They are committed to achieve their goals. They are committed to winning the prize.

As followers of Jesus, the prize that we desire to win is of far greater value than anything given as a prize in an athletic competition, yet, we have a tendency to not be willing to go after what we want. We don’t press on. We don’t press through the difficult times. If you are a runner, there is a saying that you have hit the wall when you have reached a point where you feel as though you can’t go on. An avid runner will not stop when this happens. An avid runner will press on toward the goal that they have set. They press on and press through!

Just because you may falter in your daily walk, press on!

Just because you may not see yourself the way that God sees you, press on!

Just because the world does not see you as God sees you, press on!

God is calling each of us heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Are you pressing on?

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