How do you see others? How do you see yourself?

January 28, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, `Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
(Luke 6:41-42 (NIV))

Isn’t it typical human nature to see the minor faults in others while we overlook the major faults within ourselves?

We simply like to point out the faults in others and exaggerate them so that our own faults are not noticed. We make others look worse than they really are so that we can make ourselves look better in the eyes of others.

How did Jesus handle this?

He simply pointed out the fact that we cannot be in any shape spiritually to “assist” others with their faults if we completely ignore all of ours. Jesus came into the world to teach and be an example of what we should be and how we should act. He never ridiculed or accused people of things. He simply taught by example. His example was flawless. He was perfect. He could point out someone else’s flaws and be justified in doing so publicly, yet, He chose to treat others with love, grace and mercy.

How can we, who are sinful, treat others as if we are sinless when He who was truly sinless treated others as if He were one of them?

How do you see others? How do you see yourself?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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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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Are you truly able to say this?

January 4, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
(Psalms 91:2 (NIV))

There are many things that I hate about our sinful human nature. Perhaps the one that I hate the most is our ability to say one thing while what is in our heart says something completely different. When I read this passage, my first reaction was to pray that these words would always ring true in my heart and in my life.

Think about that!

Human nature simply gives lip service. We read this passage, as well as many others, and we fail to make it our own. We fail to take it to heart. We fail to realize the depth and breadth of God’s love. There is a belief that we can pray the Bible. I honestly believe this, especially when I read this passage and think of all of the great things that the Lord has done for me.

As I read, my heart and mind are filled with joy. I see the words, but my spirit embellishes them. They take on so much more than what is written.

Lord, help me to always say great things about you, for no one else deserves all honor and praise. You alone are worthy, Lord. May I always look to you and turn to you as my solid rock, as my fortress, for you alone are my refuge in times of trouble. You are my shelter. You are my strength. You are my stronghold. Lord, you are my God. You are the only one in whom I can trust. When everything comes crashing down around me, you are there. When the enemy attacks, you are my strength and my shield. There is no one else whose greatness surpasses yours and there is no one else who is unwavering in his love for me. I long to seek shelter in the comfort of your loving arms!

I realize that many people are afraid to alter anything within God’s Word, and rightly so. We don’t want to change the meaning, or the power that is God’s Word. We must always return to it for our strength and for our guidance. I honestly believe that the Lord finds glory when we use His Word and personalize our worship of Him. Think about that for a moment in the context of this passage. Think about the author of this passage. It was his heartfelt, personal praise of the Lord. It touched the very heart of the Lord. Can you praise the Lord in a similar manner? Can you express your inner thoughts and praise in a way that is truthful and pleasing to the Lord?

Are you truly able to say this?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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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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Are you looking to yourself instead of Jesus?

November 13, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.
(Revelation 3:17 (NIV))

Do you consider yourself a follower of Christ?

Do you like to be self-sufficient?

Are you the type of person who has to take care of everything yourself?

Do you feel that unless you do it, it isn’t done right?

Would you rather starve than ask for assistance?

Do you look around and think to yourself that you have your life in order and are prepared for anything that may happen?

Hopefully, everyone who reads this will answer the first question with a resounding “Yes!”

The other questions fall into an area where human ego and pride come into play far too often. To be honest with you, I am guilty of answering these questions with a “yes” more often than I care to admit. Everyone likes to be self-sufficient. Do you feel guilty asking for help? I understand.

For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”
(2 Thessalonians 3:10 (NIV))

Everyone has a certain way that you want things done. Everyone would love to have a nest egg to know that they are taken care of. We like to be able to predict our comfort and our future. But is this what God wants?

He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’
“Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”‘
“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’
(Luke 12:17-20 (NIV))

In case you did not realize this, Revelation 3:17 is about the church at Laodicea. This is the church that Jesus called lukewarm. He even said that He was about to spit them out of His mouth. They had accepted Jesus, yet they failed to leave the comfort of their physical lives. They thought that they had everything covered. They thought that they were self-sufficient. They thought that they didn’t need any assistance and that everything was in order. The sad part of this is that is was all based on their efforts and not on the strength of Jesus! If we take a look at the next sentence from Luke, we see exactly what will happen to those who fail to look to the Lord.

“This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”
(Luke 12:21 (NIV))

Don’t be caught up in your ability. Don’t be so arrogant that you rely on your feeble works. Look to the Lord and grow in your faith.

Are you looking to yourself instead of Jesus?

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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