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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Do you do what is right and good in the eyes of God?

January 7, 2014

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“”Be just and fair to all,” says the LORD. “Do what is right and good . . . ” ”
(Isaiah 56:1 (NLT))

In today’s society, many people claim to do this, but there is a catch! They are only concerned about doing what is right if it benefits them. Too many people do not consider the good of other people above their own needs.

Think back throughout history.

What events and what people stand out as having the biggest impact in history?

There are two extremes to this answer. Either they were extremely egotistical and selfish and wanted to dominate the world, or they were selfless and extremely giving of themselves and impacted the lives of other people in a positive way. The world has a tendency to remember the extremes. It is easy to see where the extremes stand in perspective. What is difficult to see is where the middle ground, or lukewarm people stand. They can be easily swayed one way or another, but never really make a commitment to do what is truly right and good. They never commit to follow God. They are indecisive.

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth.
(Revelation 3:15-16 (NIV))

Do you do what is right and good in the eyes of God?

Copyright 1998 – 2014 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting

September 24, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“This is the inscription that was written:
MENE, MENE, TEKEL, PARSIN

“This is what these words mean:

Mene: God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end.

Tekel: You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.

Peres: Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”
(Daniel 5:25 (NIV))

I have wrestled with this passage for a few days. I feel that I am being led to use this passage, yet, at the same time, I have this feeling in my stomach that this is going to make some people angry.

Here goes!

Think about the words “You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.”

Who is doing the weighing? Who is making the decision that we could be found wanting? This is not the only place that we are given a stern message like this.

“Not everyone who says to me, `Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, `Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, `I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
(Matthew 7:21-23 (NIV))

Just how can someone be found wanting in the eyes of God?

I think that we see a glimpse of this in the above passage from Matthew.

Jesus warned against those who claimed the power of His name, but did not have a personal relationship with Him. If we have that personal relationship with Jesus, our hearts will seek after what is on His heart. We will seek to do His will. We will be in step with what He is calling us to do.

We can get out of step easily. We can follow false teachings. We can accept only part of Jesus, the part that most people like to think about – Savior. If we do not accept Jesus as both Lord and Savior, then we are refusing to listen and to follow. In other words, we will not know Him, and He will not know us!

We will be evildoers in His sight!

What happens when many get out of step with God?

Is it possible for a nation to get out of step with God?

The story from Daniel shows us that it is possible. They were shown the handwriting on the wall.

I often wonder what things we will be asked about when we stand before God. I know that we will be asked about our personal sins.

When I say to a wicked man, `You will surely die,’ and you do not warn him or speak out to dissuade him from his evil ways in order to save his life, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. But if you do warn the wicked man and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his evil ways, he will die for his sin; but you will have saved yourself.
(Ezekiel 3:18-19 (NIV))

Could we be found wanting because we did not take action to intervene for others, out nation and our world?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Motives and the heart

September 17, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, `Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, `Raca, ‘ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, `You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
(Matthew 5:21-22 (NIV))

What is within your heart is what you must answer for. Jesus spoke of this principle many times during His time on this earth. It is not what is visible on the outside, but, rather, what is the intention on the inside. This ranges from anger to adultery to any other aspect of your life that is different on the inside and the outside. Remember that God sees the heart and knows your true intentions. You cannot keep anything from God.

You have heard that it was said, `Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
(Matthew 5:27-28(NIV))

Nothing outside a man can make him `unclean’ by going into him. Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him `unclean.’
(Mark 7:15(NIV))

Carefully consider your true, inner motives and intentions when dealing with people. How would Jesus classify your actions? Would your motives be clean or would you be in danger of the fire of hell?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Politically correct?

April 5, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“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 he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men 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 his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”
(John 3:16-21 (NIV))

Do you consider yourself to be politically correct?

I know that those words bring many different thoughts to light, but in the way that our society would have you believe, do you fit that definition? Do you even want to fit that definition?

Think about that in relation to the things that Jesus did while He walked among us.

Was Jesus politically correct when he ate with tax collectors? Was He politically correct when He performed the miracles that we all know? Was He politically correct in His dealings with the religious authority? Was He politically correct when He overturned the tables of the money changers in the Temple? I realize that the political climate was different then from now, but the same concept applies.

Did Jesus say that we must embrace each other’s sins because they are ok, or did He say that we must stop sinning? Why do so many people today make the false claim that Jesus did not teach that certain sins are wrong?

To use a saying that became popular a few years ago, let’s honestly think about “What would Jesus do?”

How would Jesus react to those who wish to modify His teachings in order to support their own agenda? How would Jesus react to people embracing sin because we are too worried about what people may think if we confront the sin?

Don’t get me wrong. We are to love the sinner, but hate the sin!

That does not mean to sit back and accept the sin because it is their right to sin. Think about this in relation the story of the woman caught in adultery. Did He tell her that it was ok to do what she was doing, or did He tell her to go and sin no more?

I honestly do not think that Jesus would ever be labeled politically correct.

How about you?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Second-Guessing God

March 8, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

The angel of the LORD also said to her:
“You are now with child
and you will have a son.
You shall name him Ishmael,
for the LORD has heard of your misery.
He will be a wild donkey of a man;
his hand will be against everyone
and everyone’s hand against him,
and he will live in hostility
toward all his brothers.”
(Genesis 16:11-12 (NIV))

Abraham was a great man of God, yet, for all of his faith, he was not always patient to let God do what He had promised.

When Sarah did not bear any children, she gave Hagar to bear children for her. This caused a tremendous envy and jealousy that is still being played out to this day. The son born to Abraham by Hagar and his descendents have lived in hostility to their brothers ever since. The Arab nations and Israel claim the same roots in Abraham, yet, the conflict continues.

Consider that the custom was and is for the first-born to receive the blessing. According to the custom of man, that should have been Ishmael, yet, according to the ways of God, Isaac received the blessing and Ishmael was forced to flee with his mother. Perhaps if Sarah had not been so impatient with God, the events throughout history and especially the recent events in this world would never have happened.

Consider the fact that every time man tries to rush God or to second-guess Him, disaster follows. It happened with Adam and Eve. It happened with Abraham and Sarah. Is it happening in your life?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is there ever a time?

February 29, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
(James 5:13-16 (NIV))

Did you catch the same thing that I caught from reading this passage?

Did you even catch what I am referring to?

The one thing that stands out in this passage is that we are given instructions to turn to God in trouble, in praise, in sickness, in happiness, in faith and in our sin. In other words, we should turn to God in all that we do and in all situations that we face.

Do we do that?

Come on, be honest.

If you are like me, I would like to think that I do, but I find myself falling short of my self image far too often.

We all get wrapped up in our own little worlds that we create for ourselves and we forget that our little worlds are still a part of God’s creation. We focus so much on us and ours, that we forget about Him and His – His world, His Son, His plan of salvation, and His desire to be in a relationship with us.

Relationship!

If you stop to think about the times that we are to turn to God, they are the basic principles that apply to our relationships with our spouse, our family and our friends. We turn to them in these times. Why do we find it so difficult to turn to the One who created us?

Have you ever stopped to wonder why the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective? Did you stop to realize that this statement comes after the instructions on when we are to turn to God? If we turn to God based on those instructions, we will walk so closely with Him that our hearts will want His will. Our prayers will be powerful and effective.

When should we turn to God?

Perhaps the better question to ask is this. Is there ever a time that we should not turn to God?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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God will hear!

February 28, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Away from me, all you who do evil,
for the LORD has heard my weeping.
(Psalms 6:8 (NIV))

David was in anguish when he wrote this psalm. Anguish so deep that he wept uncontrollably. Still, he found comfort in the Lord. He found solace in knowing that the Lord was with him when he faced the evils that the world sent his way.

What evils do you face today? Do you turn toward God in those times?

What if the evils that we face grow tremendously? Will you and I still turn toward God in those times?

Think about those questions and reflect on these paraphrased stories from the non-mainstream news media.

A man was beaten because his party costume offended a Muslim man. The victim was lectured and the man who beat him was released without punishment by the judge. The victim was told that in certain countries, his act would have rightfully resulted in his death.

A government plan that mandates churches go against their beliefs and follow what the government dictates.

I am certain that you recognize the second summarized story, but sadly enough, the first one is also from this country.

Do these stories cause anguish within your heart? Do they cause you to weep because of the evil that they foreshadow? Are we ready to turn to God the way that David did in his times of anguish?

I have another piece of information for you to ponder. I have been reading some information from some historians and the consensus is that no country that has reached the point that we have as a nation has ever regained their former status.

Does that cause weeping and anguish? I know that it causes me some very serious distress. I know that I stand firmly in wanting to regain our faith, our values and our moral determination.

When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
(2 Chronicles 7:13-14 (NIV))

Turn to God in prayer. Follow David’s example and let the Lord know of your anguish and your weeping. Pray for His will to be done.

God will hear!

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you been lifted up?

February 24, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

I waited patiently for the LORD;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
(Psalms 40:1-2 (NIV))

Do you ever feel that you are in the slimy pit? More importantly, do you feel that you have no way out?

Worldly worries and the attacks of the enemy often leave us feeling that we are in a bottomless pit with no chance of escape. All too often our human nature looks at the visible and ignores the promises of God and we panic because we feel that we literally have no way out of the situation in which we find ourselves.

We must not lose sight of the promises that God has given each of us.

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.
(2 Corinthians 1:19 (NIV))

Look at what David went through. He had the promise that God would make him king over all of Israel, yet, for years, he had to live in the desert and run for his life. Only after David was patient and obedient, did he see what God truly had in store for him. He had to go through the slimy pit in order for God to lift him onto the firm rock.

We all go through periods when we are in the slimy pit. It is our attitude when we are in that pit that God will reward. If we keep focused on Him, then He will lift us up and place us on that firm place.

Are you in the slimy pit, or have you been lifted up and placed on the firm foundation that only a solid faith in Jesus can provide?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Placement of Trust

February 23, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to trust in man.
(Psalms 118:8 (NIV))

I find things so interesting these days, as I am sure that many of you do as well.

Far too many of us look to a particular person to have all of the answers. Too many of us look to a political party to have all of the answers. Society longs to look anywhere and everywhere for the answers except where the truth is. We seem to elect leaders who shun the idea that they are wrong if they do not place their priorities on the back shelf and make the Lord’s priorities theirs.

Has there ever been a single person that you know who has never broken your trust?

It happens to everyone. It happens because we all have our own interests at heart. The old saying “What’s in it for me” is true. I am sure that you have also heard the old saying that “absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Even the best of intentions fall short of complete trust. The best of intentions are easily swayed when you think that you are the absolute authority.

Even the most honest and trustworthy person will fail and fall short of the expectations – theirs and others.

Take a look at David. Even though he was a man after God’s own heart, he sinned. He did things that his power and position gave him the opportunity to do. His personal desires lead him down a path that lead to adultery and murder. When he was confronted and realized his sin, he repented, but how many people paid the price for his personal agenda?

Our nation and our world have turned so drastically from refuge and guidance from the Lord and we have turned to trust in man. It was man’s plans that led to World War I, World War II, and every single war throughout history. It was man’s plans that have led to the economic collapse of Greece. It is man’s plans that will lead us to many more problems if we do not repent and take refuge in the Lord.

Today, “man” tells us that we need to keep God out of everyday life and keep Him confined to our churches. No wonder we have so much trouble. God did not create only our Sunday mornings. He created everything. Why do we try to confine the Creator of all things to only a small portion of His creation?

That sounds like too many people have placed their trust in man.

Where do you place your trust?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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