Will you bow out of gratitude or defeat?

November 21, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
(Philippians 2:10-11 (NIV))

Everyone has heard this scripture in some context or another. It is a wonderful piece of scripture, for it confirms that Jesus Christ is Lord of all. But, what it means for those who do not belong to Him is a submission out of defeat, not a willing submission to Jesus’ authority in their lives.

All throughout history, when someone has bowed to another out of defeat, it meant that they had lost everything and would probably face severe consequences for their “war” against the winner. The same is true even in the spiritual world. Those who bow to Jesus out of defeat will face eternal separation from God. Those who bow before Jesus out of love will face eternal life with God.

It all boils down to a matter of attitude. Is your attitude one of gratitude and thanksgiving for what Jesus has done in your life, or is it an attitude of rebellion in which you deny Jesus and want nothing to do with Him or God? It is your choice. To use a phrase from a television show, “Is that your final answer?”

Will you bow out of gratitude or defeat?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is sharing the good news of Jesus your priority?

November 16, 2018

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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))

What is your biggest priority in your life?

Some people might answer that their biggest priority is family. To be honest with you, that is a good priority to have. but is it the biggest priority?

Some people might answer that their biggest priority is to leave their mark in the world. Do you think that whatever mark they may try to leave will even be remembered one hundred years from now?

Some people might answer that their biggest priority is to make lots of money. This, in and of itself, is not bad. What is bad is the love of money. If you want to make lots of money simply because of greed, what does that get you?

No matter what your priorities are in life, if you are a believer in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, then everything pales in comparison to placing the Lord first.

You shall have no other gods before me.
(Genesis 20:3 (NIV))

Is there any priority in your life where placing the Lord first would not be a better option? If you place your family as a priority, imagine how much better it would be if you, and your family, placed the Lord first. What if leaving your mark on the world meant that you shared the Gospel with those around you and you lead many to a saving grace in Jesus? You would be remembered for all eternity by those whom you led to Jesus. If you desire to bring in lots of money, what if it was a priority to bring in lots of money to buy Bibles to distribute to those who desperately want God’s Word.

What we place as a priority is only bad if that priority is not Christ centered. Each of us have a different calling. Each of us have a unique way to share the Gospel. Our gifts and our desires should not be our priorities. How we use them to testify to the good news of God’s grace should be the utmost priority.

Is sharing the good news of Jesus your priority?

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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Who knows you?

October 26, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
(1 John 3:1 (NIV))

The world will not recognize us, for it did not recognize Jesus when He came.

In much the same way a mother recognizes her young, the world recognizes those who belong to it. Does a mother cow accept a puppy? Does a kitten find a home with a dog? The same is true of those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. They will not be accepted by the world! They may face rejection and tribulation for they have, in essence, turned their backs on the ways of the world and have focused on the ways of God.

Take a serious look at where you would be accepted. Do you find yourself still partaking of the world in such a way that it is impossible for anyone to know that you are a child of God? The old saying “You are what you eat” is true in the spiritual world as well. If you “eat” of the world, then the world is a part of you and you cannot leave it behind. If you “eat” of the things of God, then righteousness is a part of you, and the world is only something that you are passing through.

It has been said that it takes a thief to know a thief. If that implies that only those with similar thoughts can be recognized and accepted, then where would you be recognized and accepted? Would you be of the world, or would you be of God?

Who knows you?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What would Jesus do?

October 19, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.
(1 John 3:16 (NIV))

Several years ago, everyone was asking “What would Jesus do?” I understand the concept behind the question, for it makes us stop and reflect on our actions in any given circumstance. I know that it has made me stop and rethink my actions on many occasions, but perhaps we should ask ourselves another question.

What can I do that will make me more like Jesus?

When we ask what would Jesus do, it places Jesus at the center of our lives. It places Jesus as the ideal that we are to copy, that we are to imitate. To be honest with you, that is definitely not bad, after all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. With this in mind, it is perfectly okay to ask what would Jesus do. It shows that we strive to be like Jesus in our actions. Eventually, though, we need to move from an outward action to an inner desire, an inner change of heart. Jesus needs to become personal to us in ways far beyond imitation.

We need to desire, we need to strive to be more like Jesus!

For many people, that is conveyed by the simple question, “What would Jesus do?” These simple words convey their inner desires. For other people, the subtle nuances between these two phrases can take on such a powerful meaning. The simple question, “What can I do?” can convey a selfishness in the eyes of some people, while in the eyes of others, these words imply a total surrender to Jesus. They can indicate a me first type of mentality, or they can indicate that the person has reached the limits of their own understanding and are ready for complete surrender.

Perhaps the two questions go hand in hand. There are times when we need to ask ourselves what we can do that will make us more like Jesus. Then there are times when we need to ask Jesus what He would do in the situation in which we find ourselves.

No matter what you may ask, be prepared for an answer that may surprise you. It is essential to remember that Jesus did a wide variety of things including turning over the tables of the money changers. The one thing that was common in the life and actions of Jesus is that He obeyed God even to death. The next time that you face a situation in the world or in your life, remember that obedience to the Father was His only priority.

What would Jesus do?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you unswerving?

October 18, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
(Hebrews 10:23 (NIV))

Are you a person who likes to set goals in your life? Perhaps you have even gone so far as to develop a roadmap of the steps required to achieve your goals. Let’s face the facts. If you want something badly enough, you hold fast to the plan, you maintain a steady course, and you never take your eyes off of the prize!

If we are capable of doing this for a worldly treasure, why do we so often fail to do this very same thing for a treasure of eternal value? Why do we focus so much on this world when we claim to desire God’s will and His desires?

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
(Matthew 6:19-20 (NKJV))

Perhaps it is related to our human nature and our limited ability to comprehend what we do not see, after all, all of human history has been a struggle about desiring the things that we can see. When we desire what we cannot see, we are ridiculed. We are made fun of. We are told to grow up. We are told that if we can’t see it then it doesn’t exist!

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
(Hebrews 11:1 (NIV))

Have you ever seen God? I’m not talking about seeing His presence manifested in His creation. I am talking about actually seeing God. Let’s face facts. We cannot even begin to fathom His greatness. We cannot even begin to understand His omnipotence and His omnipresence. We cannot even begin to comprehend the awesomeness of heaven, yet we all have hope in these things. We have faith to proclaim that Jesus is Lord. We have faith to hold fast to His Word, yet, so many of us falter. So many of us are not unswerving in our hope and our faith. Thankfully, when we are not capable of doing this, our Lord is faithful. We must remember that it is not by our power that we hold unswervingly to Him, but it is His faithfulness that holds unswervingly to us. When we place our hope in Jesus, we have an unswerving guide who will never leave us, and because He will never leave us, we can be held unswervingly in His love.

Are you unswerving?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What are the reasons for what you seek?

October 16, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tested him by asking him to show them a sign from heaven.
He replied, “When evening comes, you say, `It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ and in the morning, `Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” Jesus then left them and went away.
(Matthew 16:1-4 (NIV))

Ouch !

I often wonder how Jesus would have answered if they had come honestly seeking the truth instead of seeking to test him. They were asking for a sign to prove to them who He is. They came in their doubt. How would Jesus have reacted if they had honestly came in faith?

Think about that and then think of the following story told in Matthew.

The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, `Go,’ and he goes; and that one,`Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, `Do this,’ and he does it.”
(Matthew 8:8-9 (NIV))

What was the difference in attitude of the people coming to Jesus? What was Jesus’ reaction in both cases?

Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! It will be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that very hour.
(Matthew 8:13 (NIV))

Have you ever stopped to think that the way that we approach Jesus actually makes a difference? Have you ever approached Jesus and then later realized that you were testing Him, and not approaching Him in faith?

The Pharisees and the Sadducees came to Jesus seeking a miracle so that they could test him and then decide whether to believe. The centurion came to Jesus seeking a miracle because he believed.

Jesus could see within their hearts. He knew the reasons behind their requests. It was, and still is, a matter of priorities and faith.

What are the reasons for what you seek?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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