God can take our impure motives and turn them to His glory!

February 26, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice,
(Philippians 1:18 (NIV))

What does this passage mean to you?

I was given a very interesting point of view of this passage earlier today, and to be completely honest with you, it makes perfect sense!

When this passage was written, Paul was in prison and other people started to preach the Gospel. Some had pure motives while others had selfish motives. Paul recognized the value of both, since spreading the Gospel was his biggest concern. I know that I do this all the time, but let me ask a few questions of you.

Do you think that the people who heard the Gospel from those with false motives knew of those motives, especially if what they preached was true to the Gospel? Let me ask this a slightly different way. If you are channel surfing and come across a television preacher who is preaching the truth, will everyone ignore this preacher simply because they may seek money? Perhaps your church has a guest speaker and they are very eloquent at conveying the truth of the Gospel. Do you stop listening to them because they set up a table to sell the books that they have written?

Let’s be honest with ourselves!

We are all human and we all have motives for doing things that are less than perfect. Does that stop us from doing them? Does that stop us from listening to those who have less than perfect motives? Think about that in relationship to your job. What if you are having a bad day, but you need your paycheck? Do you put on a fake smile and go about your day, or do you storm off? Most people will put on a fake smile. They may have less than a proper motive, but they come across with something that will impact those around them in a positive way.

Think about that in terms of the Gospel!

As long as the truth is being preached, God can and does use that truth to help spread the Gospel. I don’t condone this, but have you ever seen two churches become rivals? They try to do anything and everything to be “better” than their rival. One may take out billboard ads with scripture passages while the other will place ads in local newspapers. One may apply for and receive a license for a radio station, while one may use the internet to broadcast their services. In all of this rivalry, who really wins?

If you say that God wins because the Gospel is being spread, then you are correct.

We are only human and our human motives are less than perfect, but God is perfect. In fact, He is perfection. To use an old saying, “God can take our mess and make a message!” If God can do that, then God can take our impure motives and turn them to His glory!

Copyright 1998 – 2018 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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Do you clang?

July 21, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
(1 Corinthians 13:1 (NIV))

Just what do you consider to be eloquent speech?

Are you capable of delivering your definition of eloquent speech? I dare say that most of us are not capable of delivering something that will captivate ourselves let alone others. We are so focused on what we will say next that we fail to completely say what we should and with the correct tone. There is an old saying that we are to listen twice as much as we speak for God gave us two ears and only one mouth. If the words that we speak do not sound like we are listening, are we speaking them in love? If the words that we speak are mean and vindictive, are we speaking them in love?

Perhaps we should show love through our actions, after all, some say that love is a verb. Let me ask a question. Which of the following shows love?

1. Telling a sick friend to call you if they need anything.
2. Bringing dinner to a sick friend.

Most of us are very good at doing the first one, but how many of us actually have done the second? The first one usually turns out to be an empty promise, while the second one places the well-being of others first.

Which one of these clang like a cymbal?

Do you clang?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What are your motives?

February 10, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”
(James 4:3 (NIV))

Do you consider yourself to be selfish?

If you are like me, you have probably glossed over this question with a halfhearted response that, if you said it out loud, would sound weak and pathetic. Let’s face the truth. If you are human, then you are selfish. The proper question to ask yourself is to what degree does your selfishness surface in your life? Do you go through life throwing temper tantrums because you didn’t get your way and get all that you wanted, or do you face the reality that you can’t have everything that you want?

What do you pray for?

If you recorded your prayers and had someone else listen to them, would you be embarrassed by what you ask for in your prayers? Would they come across as self-centered?

I believe that every single one of us needs to truly take a long, hard look at our motives. We all have ulterior motives for doing the things that we do. Some of us do better at subjugating our ulterior motives, but we all still have them.

Perhaps we should pray the words of David as part of our daily struggle to have righteous motives.

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
(Psalm 51:10 (NIV))

Copyright 1998 – 2017 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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What are your motives?

June 24, 2014

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
(1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (NIV))

The Bible states that a person can not gain access to heaven through good works. All of the things that are described here are useless if your heart is not right.

Take a look at the Pharisees. They did everything by the “book” in the eyes of the nation of Israel. To others, it looked like they did everything right. Yet, God knew their hearts. They did not do things out of love, but, rather out of ego and pride so that they could say that they were better than others. Their hearts did not reflect their actions. They were doing the right things for all the wrong reasons.

Sometimes I think that it is possible to do the wrong things for the right reasons. In our fallen state of humanity, we are not perfect. If we earnestly seek after God’s own heart and do things out of OUR love, we are bound to make mistakes. Even with the Holy Spirit guiding us, we will lapse into thinking that we know what is best and do what we think out of “love” or concern for others.

Even if we have love, we must not allow our own hearts to guide us. We must look to the Father who is perfect in Will and in Love. If we continually look to God for guidance, then we have placed our hearts in the hands of the Father who will teach us to do what is best in His site and provide us the proper motives for all that we do.

What are your motives?

Copyright 1998 – 2014 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What are your motives for giving?

June 2, 2014

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

The sacrifice of the wicked is detestable–
how much more so when brought with evil intent!
(Proverbs 21:27 (NIV))

Some give so that others will know that they gave. Others will give so that they can position themselves to receive something in return. Others give so that they will appear to look better than those around them. Others give simply because they desire to give.

I suppose that giving could almost run parallel with prayer, for each can have motives much deeper than appearances.

And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.
(Matthew 6:5(NIV))

When you give, do so freely. Do not expect anything in return. Do not think that you can “buy” favors from God. Do not give so that you appear to be righteous in the eyes of others. Give freely and completely of yourself no matter who knows or who does not know that you give.

But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
(Matthew 6:6(NIV))

What are your motives for giving?

Copyright 1998 – 2014 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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