Are we capable of hearing what the Lord says?

January 17, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Whoever has ears, let them hear.
(Matthew 11:15 (NIV))

Everyone likes to think that they are good at paying attention to their physical surroundings. Whether it be by sight, smell or hearing, everyone is usually aware enough of their surroundings to know daylight from night, sunshine from rain, and safety from danger. Still, every single one of us gets into a predicament at times when our physical senses were ignored. All that you have to do to confirm this is look at all of the videos that have been posted where people are looking at their cell phones and walk into a pole. I have even seen situations where people were so engrossed in what they were doing that they didn’t even hear their name being called to warn them against an impending danger.

It is human nature!

We have a tendency to become so wrapped up in certain things that we completely ignore or avoid other things.

No one knows human nature better than our Creator. He knows our innermost desires. He sees the things that make us long for Him and He cringes at the things that draw us into sin. He knows our hearts. He knows our minds. He also knows that we can become very easily distracted, especially when it comes to the things that appeal to our sinful nature. The Lord is constantly calling us to Him so that we can walk with Him and avoid that sinful nature. Sadly, all too often we are so engrossed in the worldly things that we fail to hear the Lord calling us away from them.

I know that the words from this passage are used many times throughout the Bible, but have you ever truly stopped to think about them? Perhaps if I paraphrased this concept it might stick with you a little stronger. In essence, God is say, “I gave you two ears. Use them! Pay attention to what I am telling you.” I realize that the Lord has never been recorded as saying something with this type of an attitude, but He is telling us to pay attention and listen to what He is trying to tell us. It is our sinful human nature that gets in the way.

Are we capable of hearing what the Lord says?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What are you willing to lose?

December 18, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.
(Mark 8:35 (NIV))

It is human nature to not want to lose. This is especially true if losing means that you lose your life! Most of us aren’t even willing to lose if by our losing, everyone else wins. We have to come out on top. We have to prove that we are best at everything! This often means that we think that we are right even when we are eternally wrong!

Take a look at the words in the first part of the passage above. Saving your life implies that you place nothing above yourself. You will go to any extreme to make sure that your physical life is protected even at the expense of others. You are your first and often, your only priority. You possess no love. You possess no joy. You often possess no peace, patience, or kindness. Little about your life is good. Since you place yourself first, you possess little or no faith. You treat others as lower than yourself, so you lack gentleness and self-control. Does this sound like a life that you would want to live? Does this sound like a life that you would want?

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

Does the second half of the passage start to sound better and make more sense?

We can’t live a life that is Christ centered if we strive to save our earthly life. We are called to be witnesses. We can’t witness to others if all we think about is ourselves. We can’t be willing to go because we would be outside of our comfort zone.

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

I know that I am forever thankful that Jesus was willing to lose His earthly life for the sake of others. What if He had balked at the idea of dying for our sins? What if he had decided to not leave the Father to come to earth? What if Jesus had decided that it was simply not worth leaving the glory of heaven to come into this world? The majesty of the story as told in Luke 2 would never have happened. The tearing of the veil of the Temple would never have taken place. Faith, hope and love would only be a dream of something that could happen. Grace and mercy would simply be nonexistent. John 3:16 would not be true.

All of this was made possible because Jesus was willing to lose His life for others. Most of us aren’t even willing to lose our place in line! It takes a sacrifice to place others first.

What are you willing to lose?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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We must pray for the enemy to be bound!

November 8, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.
(1 Timothy 2:1-2 (NIV))

It would be so nice to live in peace with all people!

Unfortunately, human history has a track record of exactly opposite of this desire. Once sin was introduced into the world, we have been at each other’s throats nonstop. Adam turned on Eve and placed the blame solely on her. Eve turned to the serpent and placed the blame on him. Cain turned on Abel and killed him because God accepted Abel’s offering and not his own. Ever since then, all of human history has been the never ending story of one group of people trying to control other groups of people. If you stop to think about this, it is actually the power of the enemy to influence one group of people to do harm to another group of people.

There is something about human nature that longs to be in control, to be in charge, to be able to enforce their will over the will of others. Satan knows this and uses this to his advantage. We have appointed people to be in positions of authority. Some people have gone so far as to kill others to end up in positions of authority. All throughout human history, we have had slavery. The conqueror enslaves the conquered. Sin is rampant!

Sinful human nature all too often prevails. People still become violent if they do not get their way!

With all of this history, Jesus came to break that trend and to offer us a new future. We don’t have to turn to anger and bitterness. We don’t have to control. We don’t have to get angry and wage war. We were not created to live in that manner. We were created to live in a loving fellowship with each other and with the Lord. We can live peaceful and quiet lives!

It starts with proclaiming that Jesus is your personal Lord and Savior. It matures through prayer and study. It continues to mature as we become more and more like Jesus.

Think about that last sentence!

When Jesus was facing crucifixion, what did He do?

He prayed!

He prayed for those who were entrusted to Him. When He was on the cross, He prayed for the Father to forgive those who crucified Him. He realized that the power behind the events of the world were not human, but were actually works of the enemy. When He prayed, and when we pray for those in authority, the enemy is bound! Only when the enemy has been bound can we live in peace!

We must pray for the enemy to be bound!

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How difficult do you make this?

November 6, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
(Romans 12:16 (NIV))

This passage is taken out of a section that many translations refer to as “Love in Action.”

Think about that concept for a moment. Are you able to put these words into action?

Do you strive to live in harmony with others, both believers and nonbelievers? I realize that it is easier to do this when you are dealing with someone who shares your beliefs, but we are called to show love to everyone. How do you live in harmony with someone who takes great pleasure in taunting and tormenting you because of your faith?

Then there is pride! It is a nasty human trait. We can’t even get a job without having to convince someone that we are better than anyone and everyone else. What happens if you start to act like you truly believe this about yourself? Do you begin to develop tendencies to elevate yourself at the expense of others? Is this how we are called to show love?

As a member of the Body of Christ, we must remember that we were shown love when we didn’t deserve it. We must remember that we were shown grace and mercy when we didn’t deserve it. All too often, we do not show love as were are called to show love. Sadly, many times we show the exact opposite and we make it difficult for others to see Jesus in us or through us.

How difficult do you make this?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you recognize the unchanging nature of Jesus?

September 24, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
(Hebrews 13:8 (NIV))

Have you ever heard people say that if Jesus were on the earth today, He wouldn’t teach the same things that He taught two thousand years ago?

Their reasoning is that we now live in a modern society that is different from the way things were two thousand years ago. They claim that humanity has advanced and that we have learned so much since Jesus walked among us. They claim that truth is not absolute and what is true for one person is not true for all. They claim that alternate lifestyles are now acceptable because society has accepted them and that Jesus would accept them as well.

If Jesus didn’t do it when He walked this earth, what makes you think He’d do it now?

Sin is still sin!

Just because humanity justifies something doesn’t make it right, especially in the eyes of God.

There is something about human nature that despises change, yet we are constantly looking for something new and better. Paul knew human nature. He warned us about falling for something that was not true. Yet, we have a tendency to do just that.

But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.
(2 Corinthians 11:3-4 (NIV))

Truth never changes.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
(John 14:6 (NIV))

Do you recognize the unchanging nature of Jesus?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you willing and eager to go?

August 16, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
(Isaiah 6:8 (NIV))

Do you have that willingness to do whatever God requires?

Many people just sit back and take the attitude that God will send someone else. What if that someone else that God is calling is actually you? Would you respond in the way that Isaiah did? Would you arise to the occasion and take on the task that God has for you or would you shrink from the face of the unknown because it is more than you could possibly do on your own? When we are presented with the unknown, many people would rather just sit in their current situation instead of facing the possibility of something uncertain. This “comfort zone” has been the undoing of many people. Remember these words.

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
(Matthew 19:26 (NIV))

It is not the possibility of losing when God is in control, but it is the fear of the unknown, the fear of moving out of your comfort zone.

What is your point of fear? Is it the unknown, or is it the idea of leaving your comfort zone? How can you answer God’s call if you won’t even get off of the couch?

Are you willing and eager to go?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you headed for destruction and a fall?

July 30, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.
(Proverbs 16:18 (NIV))

Have you been able to overcome these attitudes?

Human nature is such a strange thing. It is so easy to slip into a state of pride and arrogance. We do it so often that many of us probably don’t ever realize that we are doing it! If you find this difficult to believe, simply look at the last time you experienced something like one of the following at work and how you reacted.

You finish up a large project of which 90% of the project was your contribution, and then someone else gets the credit.

You now the business and the job so well that everyone comes to you for answer, yet, someone else gets the promotion or the raise.

Did you find yourself responding with an attitude like, “How dare they do that. This company wouldn’t even be able to do what we do if it weren’t for me!”

I could go on and on with examples and responses, but the overall idea is that all of us can easily slip into attitudes that are far less than what we know we should do. We slip into pride and arrogance!

We need to keep our eyes on Jesus and recognize our sinful nature when it raises its ugly head. We need to turn away from our sinful nature and turn toward Jesus so that we don’t find ourselves headed for destruction and a fall.

Are you headed for destruction and a fall?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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