Are we capable of such sincere praise?

June 5, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

There is no one holy like the Lord;
there is no one besides you;
there is no Rock like our God.
(1 Samuel 2:2 (NIV))

I wish that we would learn to stand firm in this truth!

Today, we look at the Lord much differently than Hannah did when she spoke these words. Hannah had been fervently praying for a son. After being barren for a long time, the Lord granted her prayer and she gave birth to Samuel. When she presented Samuel to the Lord, she was overjoyed. She gave thanks and praise exactly where it was due!

This brings to mind two distinct questions.

1. Do we fervently pray for what is burdening our hearts?

Most of the time we utter a few words, but do we seriously pray as if our very heart, our very soul, would explode if what we seek is not granted? Do we feel the anguish that comes with what truly burdens our hearts, or do we only think that it is important? Do we quickly move on when what we pray for is not answered in a few days?

2. Do we truly praise the Lord when our prayers are answered?

Do we give thanks and praise for the outcome, or do we quickly forget our requests to the Lord? Do we look at the outcome as if it just happened without intervention from the Lord? Do we turn away from the Lord or do we turn to the Lord and lift up His name in praise?

Has the Lord lifted you up from a very serious situation? Has the Lord provided relief from your burden? Did you praise the Lord for all that He had done? The worse the situations that we find ourselves in, the greater the opportunity to praise the Lord. Perhaps that is why that history supports the notion that the church experiences more growth when it is being persecuted. People have a tendency to draw close to God when they are facing persecution and burdens. With this in mind, have we, the Body of Christ, become too soft and too comfortable in our lives that we fail to feel the need to pray or praise with all of our being?

Are we capable of such sincere praise?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Pray from the heart for God knows what you need!

February 14, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
(Matthew 6:7-8 (NIV))

Do you babble?

Do you ramble on and on when you pray?

We are all guilty of opening our mouths way too much when we talk, why would it be any different when we pray? It is human nature to want to be heard and we feel that the more we say the better our chances are of getting our point across. Do you have a memory of a time that you wouldn’t stop trying to get your point across? How did that turn out for you? Did you sway your audience to your side? Did you convince anyone besides yourself that you were right?

Excessive words do not mean sincerity. Excessive words often mean a prideful spirit.

When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.
(Proverbs 11:2 (NIV))

Humility is the fear of the Lord; its wages are riches and honor and life.
(Proverbs 22:4 (NIV))

I have heard someone define humility as not thinking less of yourself, but rather, it is thinking of yourself less. I like this definition. How do we put this into practice? Can we start with closing our mouths and stop trying to convince everyone, including God, that we know best? Can we let our hearts and our actions speak for us? Is it humanly possible to keep things short and sweat?

When we humble ourselves before God, we turn our hearts to Him. We seek after His heart and not our own. When we truly seek His heart, we don’t need to spend our time babbling. We don’t need to spend our time trying to convince Him of what we want, for He knows what we need. I honestly believe that when we babble, we are actually trying to convince ourselves.

Pray from the heart for God knows what you need!

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Don’t worry about what people will think

March 5, 2015

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.
(2 Peter 1:16 (NIV))

To put that in today’s political lingo, they did not put a spin to the story. It is so difficult to believe that someone could simply tell the truth without trying to embellish it for their own gain. Yet, that is exactly what happened. They told it without bias and without having any agenda other than sharing the good news of Jesus Christ.

Perhaps it is a matter of honesty and sincerity. When you tell someone of such a great thing as the power of Jesus and the salvation that He brings, it needs to show through your actions and words that it is true. You cannot deceive someone into believing in Jesus, nor should you even try. Honestly and truthfully speak of what God has done. Do not speak of what you have done, for it is as filthy rags.

Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
(2 Corinthians 4:1-6 (NIV))

Let Jesus shine in all that you do and don’t worry about what people will think.

Copyright 1998 – 2015 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is sincerity your goal?

August 6, 2014

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
(Romans 12:9-16 (NIV))

Simple rules to live by. A simple philosophy to hold fast to when all around you is falling apart.

If that is the case, then why do many of us cling to what is evil and reject what is good? Perhaps we will never truly know why human nature has sunk to a point where sin and Satan cloud our hearts, minds and spirits. They are clouded so much that we cannot see what is good when it is right before our eyes. Even believers in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior have trouble with these characteristics and discerning which is from God.

I cannot remember who said it, but there is a quote that says something to the effect that Christianity is a good thing, but it is too bad that nobody has ever practiced it. Following Jesus is a good thing, however, in our human nature and in our sinful flesh, we cannot follow Jesus on our own without making mistakes. Perhaps the person who spoke those words did not understand that we are not perfect, and as a result, our worship of Jesus as Lord and Savior, and our attempts to follow Him are far from perfect. Perhaps the most important aspect that they missed is that they are not perfect and are in need of a savior to justify themselves to God.

We must strive to be like Jesus in all that we do, yet, we must not be proud or conceited, for it is not anything that we have done that has allowed us special favor with God. It was a sacrifice planned by God that has allowed us to be forgiven when we are less than perfect. Perhaps the person who spoke about nobody practicing Christianity did not take into consideration the word “practice.” The last time I looked, the word “practice” meant to do something over and over again in hopes of getting better at it.

This is my goal, to get better at following Jesus. I desire to practice Christianity so that the words in Romans are more than mere words. What is your goal?

Copyright 1998 – 2014 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Whose acceptance is more important to you?

May 1, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“I do not accept praise from men, but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?
(John 5:41-44 (NIV))

Ouch! That hurts.

Would Jesus say this to us today? Have we become like the people that He was condemning in this passage?

Many claim to be part of the Body of Christ, but do our actions reflect this? Do we seek acceptance from man more than we seek acceptance from God? Do we look to people who are accepted by man and think that they must be Godly for they have been blessed with fame and fortune? How do we look upon Christian music artists and mega-church pastors? Do we praise them for their fame or do we listen and discern what they are saying with respect to God’s Word?

It doesn’t only apply at the grand scale. It can apply to a local congregation if we seek acceptance from one another instead of from God. Please do not confuse this type of acceptance with what we are called to do as a church. We, as the Body of Christ, are called to accept people as Jesus accepted people. We are not called to place the desire to be accepted by people above accepting Jesus.

After we have done something that the Lord has called us to do, do we seek acceptance from our friends, family and fellow members of the Body of Christ? I honestly believe that the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector has merit in our ways of seeking acceptance.

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: `God, I thank you that I am not like other men–robbers, evildoers, adulterers–or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, `God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
(Luke 18:9-14 (NIV))

When we seek acceptance from anyone else but God, we are trying to exalt ourselves. We are prideful. We want everybody to know who we are and what we have done. Is this how Jesus told us to serve?

“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 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 6:2-4 (NIV))

We can seek the acceptance of man or we can seek the acceptance of Jesus.

Whose acceptance is more important to you?

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Biblical Authority and Submission

March 1, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.

Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.

Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.

Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism.

Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
(Colossians 3:12 – 4:6 (NIV))

Many people have taken bits and pieces out of this scripture to uphold their beliefs about someone’s role in their household or in society in general.

Let’s take a look at the whole text and examine the overall meaning. Instead of saying that wives are inferior in status to their husbands, or that slavery is justifiable, take a look at the overall theme running through the scripture.

Paul was writing to not justify the bad practices of society, but to set an example of how we are to act even if we find ourselves in situations that are in authority or are in submission. Simply stated, Paul was saying that we are to be Jesus to the people that we are around, no matter how we find ourselves in relation to them.

If we are in authority, we do not need to take advantage of that authority and harm people under our authority. The old saying that absolute power corrupts absolutely is true. But, we must remember who is our absolute authority and focus on that.

If we find ourselves in a position of submission to others, we must not desire the power for ourselves, nor must we be angry about our situation. Do your tasks with joy and you will be rewarded. Bitterness is a hard pill to swallow. If you go about your day with bitterness because of your situation, others will treat you as you treat them. If, in your situation, you still maintain a glad heart and joy and love are reflected through you, others will reflect these back to you and your situation will not be as bad as it appears.

To use a saying from the computer industry, “Garbage in, garbage out!” Basically, what you put into life is what you will reap. Put Jesus into yours.

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What thoughts fill your mind?

August 14, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

The LORD detests the thoughts of the wicked,
but those of the pure are pleasing to him.
(Proverbs 15:26 (NIV))

What thoughts fill your mind?

Are you obsessed with how to gain wealth or power? Do you fill your mind with thoughts of greed and selfishness? Perhaps you occasionally visit thoughts of lust. In the midst of all of these thoughts, do you find yourself thinking of things of God? Do you find yourself longing to change what has taken control of your mind and your actions? Do you long to replace sinful thoughts with thoughts that are pleasing to God?

It is true that you become what you spend your time thinking about. If you spend time thinking wicked thoughts, you will soon find yourself filling your mind with more and more of the same. If you spend your time reflecting on things of God, you will soon find yourself following these thoughts toward a life that is centered around God and His Word. It is the ultimate fulfillment of the saying “You are what you eat.”

Spiritual food is important. If you desire for God to be pleased with you, then you need to put things into your mind that will make you pleasing to Him. Your thoughts will be filled with the things that you decide are important. It all comes back to one simple word – priorities.

What are the things that you have made your thought priorities?

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