Do you struggle with wrong motives?

September 17, 2020

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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))

What is the one thing that you want more than anything else in this life?

Why do you desire that particular thing?

Are you able to be honest with yourself with the answers to these two questions? If you are like most people, you will give vague answers to both even if you honestly do know the real answers. Human nature is a very strange thing in that respect. We can say that our desires are in one direction while our actions and our thoughts take us in a completely different direction. Have you ever found yourself thinking that you could help people if only you had more money? Have you ever found yourself thinking that you would stop complaining about work if you could just get that promotion? Have you ever found yourself thinking that you would go on a mission trip after you get all of your bills paid off? I could go on and on with different scenarios, but I think that you get the picture. Many times human nature has us saying one thing when we mean the exact opposite of what we say. Human nature always wants for itself and not for the benefit of others. We may claim it, but our true motives soon come to light.

Have you found this to be true when you ask God for something in prayer?

Think about that. If He knows our thoughts, if He knows us better than we know ourselves, then He knows our true motives for the things that we ask of Him. Perhaps what we should be praying for is an honest heart and pure motives that will line up with what God desires. Can we truthfully say that we will pray in such a manner? Can we truthfully profess that we long to be known as David was known? Can we pray to have a heart after God’s own heart?

Each of us must examine our motives for the things that we want, for the things that we ask of God. Hopefully, it won’t be a painful realization!

Do you struggle with wrong motives?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How is your faith?

June 26, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
(Hebrews 11:1 (NIV))

How is your assuredness?

Are you able to accept things even though you may not have any physical evidence that it is as you desire? Do you know with certainty that your salvation has been bought with a price that you could not afford to pay? Are you positive that Jesus arose from the grave?

How you answer these types of questions is a direct reflection on your faith.

Even though we say it, it is not possible to share your faith. You can only tell others about your faith, but it cannot be shared. Faith is personal. Faith is something that must be built and maintained in a one on one relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ. Faith is something that God plants in your life and it slowly matures if you will let it. According to Matthew 17:20, faith can grow to tremendous size even if it starts off as small as a mustard seed.

There is a circle that cannot be broken if it is strongly built. That circle consists of faith, hope and love. Faith shows belief. Hope shows the desire for something better. Love shows the desire to share something better with those we meet. 1 Corinthians 13:13 tells us that the greatest of these is love, but I would safely venture that faith is the root of the three, for without faith, we have no hope, for we would not see any reason to look beyond our circumstances. Without faith, we have no love, for we would not see the need to look beyond ourselves and care for others.

Faith is a strong concept. With faith, we can move mountains. It is important to place your faith in the One who can return it multiplied. Only Jesus can return your faith so that it multiplies and spills over onto those around you.

How is your faith?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you volunteered to go?

June 11, 2020

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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))

How many of us have ever volunteered for anything in our lives?

I have learned a few things about volunteering. One of them is that people really only volunteer for things that they are interested in to begin with. Either that, or they expect something in return for their service! In short, people usually have motives for doing anything and everything including volunteering. Most of the time, these motives are selfish in nature.

We all have motives. What have been your motives in life? Have they all lived up to what we are told in Philippians?

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
(Philippians 2:3-4 (NIV))

Even Jesus had motives. He willingly laid down His life so that we could have salvation! We must remember that He didn’t have to do that. He gave up everything for us!

Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
(Philippians 2:6-11 (NIV))

If Jesus could do this, we should be willing to say, “Here am I. Send me!”

Have you volunteered to go?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you do all things so that God may be praised?

November 4, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
(1 Peter 4:11 (NIV))

Have you ever stopped to truly reflect upon your motives?

Knowing human nature, I would venture to say that each of us think that we have pure motives for our thoughts and actions, but human nature is deceitful! According to this passage, everything that we do should glorify the Lord. Are you able to say that all of your thoughts and actions glorify God? There is one sure way to see if this is true. Simply have someone cut you off in traffic and see how you react! Do your words praise God? Do your actions bring glory to the Lord? There is a very good chance that even those of us who are able to spend most of our days praising the Lord will think or say or do things that are less than glorifying.

Is this your intent, or do you feel remorse when these situations bring out the sinful human nature that resides in all of us? Even if you repent of these thoughts, words and actions, what do your actions convey to the world? We know that if we repent, we will be forgiven by the Lord, but the world sees us and immediately calls us hypocrites because our actions don’t always match what we profess. Perhaps this is why we are told to think, speak and act as if we are glorifying the Lord. How we present the Lord through our personal conduct is sometimes all that the world will see. We are called to reflect His light, but if we aren’t careful, we reflect the wrong thing.

Please don’t misunderstand me on this. We are called to mature in Christ and become more and more like Jesus. This is what the Lord wants of us, but we must also recognize that we do not live in this world by ourselves. Everything that we do, especially if we profess a faith in Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, is under constant scrutiny by the world. We don’t want to give the world anything that they can claim as falsehoods and hypocrisy when it comes to our Lord. I believe that I can safely say that too many people look to those who profess a faith in Jesus expecting them to be perfect. They have a wrong understanding of those who follow Jesus.

We aren’t perfect, but we have a Lord and Savior who is!

We should always strive to reflect Jesus in all that we do, even when we are less than perfect ourselves. We should have the desire to do all things so that God may be praised!

Do you do all things so that God may be praised?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What are we guilty of doing in our churches?

April 16, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

When Jesus entered the temple courts, he began to drive out those who were selling. “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be a house of prayer’; but you have made it ‘a den of robbers.'”
(Luke 19:45-46 (NIV))

We, as the Body of Christ, have a tendency to gloss over the events between Palm Sunday and the Upper Room, but it is crucial to remember one important event in relation to the temple during this time. Jesus made it a point to criticize the established practices of the day. He made it a point to let Jerusalem and all of Israel know that what they were doing in the temple was not acceptable in the eyes of God. They had turned the concepts of prayer, repentance and sacrifice into a business.

I want you to think about this for a moment. Most people who came to the temple came a long way so it was not easy for them to bring animals to sacrifice. As a result, someone started the practice of having animals and other offerings for sale within the outer courtyard. I am sure that these people thought that they were providing a service to their fellow Israelites who had come a long way, but it appears that they were more concerned about helping themselves get rich by charging high prices for their goods. It appears that they were so much more concerned about profit than honesty and righteousness. Jesus saw their hearts and reacted accordingly.

I want you to stop and consider some of the things that we allow to take place within the boundaries of our churches!

As we move from Palm Sunday into Good Friday and then Resurrection Sunday, it is my desire that everyone who professes a faith in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior would take a serious look at their actions and their motives for these actions. It is my prayer that each of us would reflect on what faith in Jesus and church has become. I want you to ask yourself a few simple questions.

Is this what Jesus had in mind when He went to the cross?

Do my actions and my motives glorify Jesus or do my actions and my motives glorify me?

In essence, we need to make sure that we treat the Lord’s house with the same zeal we know that Jesus had for the temple. Are we doing things that would make Jesus chase us out?

What are we guilty of doing in our churches?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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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.
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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.
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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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