Do you strive to practice strict self-control?

February 20, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

All athletes practice strict self-control. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.
(1 Corinthians 9:25 (NLT))

Some translations say that the athletes go into strict training. To me, this translation hits a little closer to home. We may not have any idea of what strict training may be, but we can all understand the idea of strict self-control.

Think about that concept for a moment.

What do you think of when self-control is mentioned?

Is it the will power to not eat the last donut in the box, or is it much more?

Personally, self-control and personal responsibility go hand in hand. Let’s face the truth. Our society no longer believes in personal responsibility. People claim that they were born that way, or they were raised in a bad home, or . . .

I think that you get the picture. Our society, and each of us as a member of the Body of Christ, must be willing to practice self-control. We must be willing to accept the responsibility of our actions. We must strive to live our lives as Jesus taught us.

Using the athlete example, a life in faith is not a sprint that starts and is over quickly. A life in faith is a lifelong journey, a marathon, in which we must be prepared to face any obstacles that the world throws our way. In order to do this, we must practice self-control. We must be willing to accept personal responsibility. If you are willing to accept personal responsibility, then you are capable of learning from your mistakes and focusing once again on the prize that is set before us.

Imagine this scenario.

You are standing in front of Jesus and He is judging your life. You have never accepted His grace and mercy as your own. Every aspect of your life condemns you. Your only response, “It wasn’t my fault. I wasn’t ready!”

I can only imagine the response from Jesus.

Strive for the prize that is won only through Jesus. Don’t allow the things of this world to sway your self-control.

Do you strive to practice strict self-control?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you ready and able to stand?

February 19, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
(Ephesians 6:12-13 (NIV))

This is so hard to remember when we are faced with trials and tribulations from all sides. Sometimes it even feels that all that we do is thwarted by an unseen enemy who hates what we love.

Wait a minute!

That sounds just like Satan and he does hate what we love.

And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down–that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.
(Revelation 12:7-9 (NIV))

Because of his rebellion against God, he and his fallen angels have been cast out of heaven. They hate God and desire nothing more than to usurp God’s authority. That is what happened when Adam and Eve allowed Satan to become the prince of this world. Our ancestors legally gave the authority that God gave them to Satan. Satan and his followers work in the shadows to deceive and destroy all that is God’s creation and all who call upon the name of the Lord. Just like we cannot see God, we cannot see Satan, but we feel the effects of his wrath against those who love God.

There is constant warfare in the spiritual realm because of these events. What happens in the physical world is only a shadow of what happens in the spiritual realm.

We are at war!

Our enemy cannot be seen, but we can arm ourselves with God’s armor and we can overcome the enemy.

Are you prepared for the struggle? Are you focusing your battle tactics where they belong? Are you ready and able to stand?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Can you endure?

February 17, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

“For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow . . .for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.”
(James 1:3-4 (NLT))

What are you ready for?

Is your faith as strong as it should be? I cannot answer that question for anybody but myself. I can honestly say that I like to think that my faith is strong, yet, I doubt what my actions would be if I were to face certain situations. If someone were to hold a gun to my head and tell me to deny Jesus or die, I pray that I would have the faith to do what I know that I should.

Think about what I just stated.

If our faith were not tested and our endurance not given a chance to grow, I know exactly how I would react if I would be placed in the situation I described earlier. It is a learning process. When we are in school, we do not take college calculus in kindergarten. We start off with lessons that we can grasp fully and then we move on to another, bigger lesson. Our spiritual maturity follows a similar path. If, as a new believer, we are faced with major situations, we will fail. It is by God’s grace that we can be redeemed when we do fail, but we will fail. Each test of our faith gets us closer to what God desires for us, but we must embrace the faith lessons that we are being taught.

There will come a day very soon when each believer will face a test so big that we MUST fully rely on our faith to see us through. We must allow our Godly character to be developed now so that when we do face this test, we will know exactly how to respond. We must be ready to face the enemy head on and confidently denounce and rebuke his plans no matter what the consequences may be to us. We must embrace our faith and head fully into the power of Jesus’ name.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
(Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV))

Can you endure?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What governs your mind?

February 14, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.
(Romans 8:6 (NIV))

What lurks in the back of your mind when you have nothing going on?

Perhaps if I ask that another way it will make more sense. So, what do you do when you think that no one is looking?

The human mind is a difficult thing to control. We must keep it engaged with external stimuli or we take the chance that it will wander into something that will have disastrous consequences. Even when we focus on external stimuli, we have a tendency to seek out things that will eventually cause us trouble. We need to be very careful and very deliberate with our thoughts. The old saying, “Garbage in, garbage out” comes to mind. In other words, we become what we choose to fill ourselves with. Since we have two parts to our existence, spiritual and physical, we have two distinct paths we can pursue. We can choose the things that are physical in nature such as wealth, power, greed and lust, or we can choose the spiritual option. Even when we choose the spiritual option, we must be careful to not embrace a demonic spirit, but we must strive to follow the Holy Spirit.

As I sit here praying and writing, I find my mind wandering. It has been a long day, and I still need to spend my time with the Lord. You may find yourself in the very same predicament. It is human nature. With that said, when your mind does wander, are you able to redirect it? What do you redirect to, or do you go through life constantly facing distractions and chasing after the proverbial squirrels that we all encounter? Long ago I made a decision that I must establish my priorities, control my own thoughts and keep them focused on what I truly want to focus on. In other words, I have made the Lord not only a priority, but the priority in my life.

Allowing your mind to be governed by the Spirit of God requires commitment. It requires a maturity that most of us wish we had. Most of all, it requires a desire to seek after God in all things and the ability to recognize when you stray. When you stray, and we all do, repent and refocus! Allow the Holy Spirit to fill your life and to govern your mind. You will find that you do possess a maturity and a peace that passes all understanding.

What governs your mind?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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God’s love is not how the world loves!

February 13, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
(1 Corinthians 13:6-7 (NIV))

Does this sound like the world’s current definition of love?

Society has taken the concept of love and twisted it so far from how God defines love. According to God’s plan, love is sacrificial, but there are some overlooked aspects.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
(John 3:16-21 (NIV))

We, as the intended recipients of God’s love, must be willing to walk away from our sin. We must be willing to embrace the truth, the only truth, that is God’s Word. Once we do, we are called to love as God loves, but that doesn’t mean that we condone the sin and the evil in people. I realize that this is often overused, but there is an old saying that, “We are to love the sinner and hate the sin.” Think about that in relation to the following example.

You are a parent who has a child that is involved in things that could get them in trouble with the law. Which of the following options shows true love? Do you overlook these actions because you say that you love them and you don’t want to interfere with their life, or do you try to make them change their life so that they don’t face any consequences from their activities? The first option actually shows that you don’t care enough to take action to prevent something bad. It may appear that you love them in the present, but you don’t love them enough to take action so that they will have a better tomorrow. Love sometimes has to be tough! As a parent, you have to stand in the gap and fight for the well being of your family so that they have a life that is not a result of bad decisions.

Put this into perspective by changing the scenario with respect to eternity. This time the child is rebelling and is lost. Do you overlook these actions or do you pray for them, do you try to reach them, do you love them enough to stand in the gap interceding for them? This time, the consequences have a much different and longer result. If we truly love this child, we will do anything and everything to bring them into a right relationship with the Lord.

My next thought was to ask you how do you think God feels, but I have already told you how He feels. He loves the world so much that He had a plan to redeem the world. That plan was not an easy thing to bring about. It cost the physical life of His only begotten Son, Jesus. Jesus came to defeat evil and sin. He came to protect us from the consequences of sin. God’s love perseveres and because of His great love, we have the glorious hope that we can trust in His Word. All that He asks is that you believe and turn away from the darkness of the evil that is in this world.

The world says that if you love someone, you accept them and don’t try to change them no matter the consequences. God loves us as we are, then calls us to repent so that we don’t face the consequences.

God’s love is not how the world loves!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you focused on the task that all of us have been given?

February 11, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.
(Acts 20:24 (NIV))

Do you think that Paul’s task was any different from the one that each of us have?

If you say “Yes,” what is the task that God has given to you? Why do you feel that you are exempt from what He told His disciples to do and what we have inherited by becoming His disciples?

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
(Matthew 28:16-20 (NIV))

If you say “No,” are you fulfilling that task? Are you telling others about Jesus? Are you living a life that reflects Jesus in all that you do? Are you boldly proclaiming the good news of God’s grace and mercy as it was made manifest through Jesus’ birth, His life, death, burial, resurrection and ascension? Are you boldly sharing that He will come again?

Paul’s only desire was to be faithful to the one task that the Lord had given him. Paul wanted to be found faithful in sharing the Gospel with the world. That is also our task. Just like Paul, we are not called to simply tell one person. We are called to tell everyone we meet. There are numerous ways that we can fulfill our task, but no matter how we do it, we are all called to share the good news of Jesus. Think of this as your full time employment. What we do for a living in this world is not our true calling. It is a means to an end. Paul used his skills as a tent maker to finance his evangelism. What skills do you have that can be the basis of your evangelism?

Paul was focused. He had one goal in mind.

Are you focused on the task that all of us have been given?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you still seek the truth?

February 10, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
(Romans 1:25 (NIV))

Do you believe that you know the truth?

If you have accepted society’s claim that truth is relative, then you absolutely do not know the truth! Truth is absolute. Truth is eternal. Truth is found in no other place than in God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit.

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))

Truth is not found in man’s feeble attempts to create their own truth. Truth is not found in Satan’s attempts to trick humanity into following him. Truth is not born of a lie that is repeated so many times that people begin to believe it. Truth is not worshiping the creation.

Truth is only from the Lord!

He never changes! He is the same yesterday, today and forever.

Truth is found in only one place.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
(John 1:1-5 (NIV))

There is a line from a movie that gets repeated quite often. “You want the truth! You can’t handle the truth!” Don’t fall for the idea presented in this line. Never stop seeking the truth. The truth is out there. Truth has a name, and that name is Jesus Christ!

Do you still seek the truth?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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