What are your reaction times like?

April 20, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,
(James 1:19 (NIV))

It seems that we are always being judged on our reaction times. What I find interesting is the things that we are being measured for. Some of them are important, such as how quickly you can apply the brakes in a car if an emergency arises. Some of them are just ridiculous such as how fast someone can eat a hot dog. Other reaction times can determine your life’s direction and your career choices, such as how fast you can run 40 yards. In the grand scheme of things, we face many things in our lives that are used to measure us for some aspect or another.

For what things do you wish your reactions times to be measured?

Are they the things of this world or are they something different?

If someone were to give us an evaluation based on the things in James 1:19, how would we be rated? Would we be considered quick to listen? Do we honestly hear what is being said? Do we understand and give our undivided attention? Do we hold our tongues? Do we quickly become angry? These are all things where we should strive to improve our reaction times, for when we do, it reflects not only on us, but on the one that we claim to follow.

What are your reaction times like?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you shine with the ever increasing light of the Lord!

March 19, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.
(Proverbs 4:18 (NIV))

Have you ever sat outside and watched the sunrise?

With the sky still dark, you begin to see a glow on the eastern horizon. As the glow spreads, the darkness begins to subside. Soon, the sun breaks the horizon line and the sky grows lighter and lighter as it chases away the shadows of the night. Soon, the sun has completely broken free of the horizon and the morning light takes on a golden glow as it passes through the trees. It’s as if the new day is being blessed with God’s radiance. As the sun climbs higher into the sky, the shadows decrease even further and the warmth of the sun causes everyone to lift their faces to greet the blessings that God has freely given. As the day progresses, the darkness is completely chased away from anyplace that the sun reaches. The only places that it is not capable of reaching are the recesses of the deepest, darkest places on earth. Everywhere that it does reach, it brings warmth, hope and life!

Is this how you see yourself?

Is this what you allow your faith, your righteousness, to do each day as you go about in the world?

Do you shine brighter for the Lord each day than you did the day before?

Does your righteousness and faith break the boundaries of the darkness? Does it chase away the shadows of the night? Does it bless with God’s radiance? Does it cause everyone to lift their faces to the Lord? Does it spread the warmth, hope and life that comes only from the Lord?

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.
(Matthew 5:14-15 (NIV))

Do you shine with the ever increasing light of the Lord!

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

March 15, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(2 Peter 1:5-8 (NIV))

Are you increasing? Are you growing? Are you maturing in your faith?

Looking back on my own faith journey, I can unequivocally say that I have grown, that I have matured in my faith over the course of my lifetime. I can also attest to the concept that we will never reach complete maturity while we are on this earth. I learn so much each and every day. I can read the very same passage that I read yesterday and discover new insight in the very same words. Nothing has changed in the words. The only thing that has changed is my comprehension of God’s ability to open up His Word into a whole new revelation.

Think about that in relationship to your faith and maturity. Think about your understanding in relationship to God’s unlimited understanding!

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
(Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV))

Doesn’t it make sense that we, in our limited understanding, would need to increase in our ability to understand? Doesn’t it make sense that we increase in our ability to understand by increasing our faith? After professing our faith, we increase our faith by striving to increase our righteousness, our goodness, in the eyes of God. We accomplish this by seeking His knowledge and by learning righteous self-control. We learn to persevere even in the face of adversity as we strive to mature into the likeness of Christ, who embodied true love in order to offer salvation.

None of us are there, yet, but we, as members of the Body of Christ, must strive to be effective and productive in our knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Are you effective and productive?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What is it that you possess?

February 21, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Better the little that the righteous have than the wealth of many wicked;
(Psalms 37:16 (NIV))

What is it that you desire?

Do you seek after the riches of the world or the righteousness that is only available from the Lord?

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.
(Matthew 6:19-20 (NIV))

Human nature is such a strange thing. To be honest with you, I am surprised that we can even begin to say that we long for the righteousness of the Lord when we are so self centered by nature. The fall from grace in the Garden of Eden really placed us in a no win situation. We say that we want to be righteous in God’s eyes, but we do so many things that take us in the exact opposite direction. That has been our lot in this sinful, fallen world ever since we disobeyed God in the garden. Even the strongest of us fail to do what we know that we should do. Paul, who is credited with spreading the Gospel to the Gentiles, fought with this.

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.
(Romans 7:15 (NIV))

Thankfully, we have a God who knows that we are not capable of overcoming this on our own. He has provided His Son as a Savior to those who truly desire to overcome human nature and seek after righteousness. Even so, we all face the wickedness of the world. We all face the glitter of the gold.

I have read studies that show the most generous group of people by income levels are those who we consider the middle class, and some studies actually say the lower middle class. On average, they give so much more as a percentage than those who are considered wealthy. People whom you would think can afford to be generous are actually the least generous. Have they been blinded by wealth to the point that it has become their god? How sad it is to see people place their priorities and faith in something that can be gone in an instant.

I have come to the conclusion that there are two possible scenarios in this life. We can have and use possessions, or they can have and use us!

What is it that you possess?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you find yourself among the scoffers?

January 31, 2018

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires.
(2 Peter 3:3 (NIV))

Just for the sake of clarity, the word “scoff” means to have contempt, to scorn or to mock. I realize that members of the Body of Christ are to be in the world, but we are not to be of the world. With this in mind, can any of us go through a single day without hearing about or witnessing firsthand the very things that we are told will happen toward God, Jesus and God’s word? Do we, as the Body of Christ, escape the mocking? Do we feel the urge to mock those who mock God or do we feel the need to pray for these individuals?

Think about that last question for a moment from the perspective of the cross.

When Jesus was arrested and scourged, the soldiers mocked Jesus. How did He respond? When He was taken to Pilate, the crowds mocked Him. How did He respond? When He was hung upon the cross, the soldiers, the crowd and one of the thieves mocked Him. How did He respond?

When we are under attack, it is so easy to fall back upon our human nature and lash out at those who are attacking us. Did Jesus do this in any of the previously mentioned situations? If we all agree that Jesus lived a perfect life as an example for how we should live, what do His actions during these situations tell us about our own lives?

What would Jesus do?

This phrase may be greatly over used, but it is valid in this situation. When we are facing hardship, when we are facing mocking, we must remember how we are to act. We are to follow the example that Jesus set before us.

You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.
(Matthew 5:38-40 (NIV))

Don’t allow the world to make you become as they are. Don’t allow the world to make you react, to make you mock and scoff at the things you know to be true. Keep your eyes focused on Jesus so that you don’t find yourself somewhere you don’t want to be.

Do you find yourself among the scoffers?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you accepted your inherited righteousness?

December 15, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
(Romans 5:18-19 (NIV))

Don’t you hate when people say that one person cant make a difference?

History has countless examples of how one individual was able to turn the tide and make things different as a result of their actions. It is not impossible for one individual to make a difference.

Dare I say that the best examples of this are the two individuals referenced in this passage from Romans. Through the sin that Adam committed as the very first man to have ever lived, all of humanity was destined to live out lives cast away from God the Father. Billions of people have felt the consequences of the disobedience of one man. Billions were born into sin because of one man! These billions of people inherited a sinful nature as a result of the sin that Adam committed. I would venture to say that deep down, none of these people truly wanted this nature, but they had no choice in the matter.

As time unfolded, God saw fit to send at His perfect time, another individual man. God sent one singular person who would obey God and provide something that no other man had been able to provide or will ever be able to provide. God sent His only Son, Jesus, to save humanity from the consequences of what one man had done. Just as all of humanity inherited sin from Adam, we have the ability to inherit righteousness through Jesus. Adam’s actions made us all sinners. God sent Jesus to give each of us a choice. We can deny Jesus and choose to stay in the sin that we inherited from Adam, or we can accept Jesus and inherit His righteousness and a restored relationship with God.

It is you choice! All that you have to do is accept.

Have you accepted your inherited righteousness?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you desire to have a clean heart?

December 13, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
(Psalms 51:10 (NIV))

Do you realize that the birth of Jesus took this passage, this prayer, and made it possible to have a clean heart in the eyes of God?

Think about that with respect to David’s desires when he wrote these words. David was described as a man after God’s own heart, yet he was not able to be made clean in the eyes of God. David’s salvation had not come into this world when these words were written. It may have been David’s desire, but because of humanity’s sinful nature, he, like all of us, was unclean in the eyes of God. Nothing that he could do could change that.

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
(Isaiah 64:6 (NIV))

Thankfully, God had other plans!

God made it possible for David’s desires, and ours, to become reality. Through the birth, life, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, we have the ability to be washed clean.

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
(Psalms 51:7 (NIV))

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.
(John 3:16 (NIV))

God’s love for us provided the plan. Jesus’ obedience provided the way. The Holy Spirit’s prompting us provides the question. It is our desire that provides the answer. With this in mind, do you desire to have a clean heart? Do you desire to be made clean in the eyes of God? Jesus is the way!

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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