Humility is the first step!

January 27, 2023

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.
(James 4:10 (NKJV))

God knows sinful human nature far too well.

I believe that the hardest thing for anyone to be is humble. Ever since the fall from grace in the Garden of Eden, it is simply just not in our nature. In fact, the fall was because we were not able to be humble when we were told that we could be just like God. Satan dangled the carrot, or should I say the knowledge of good and evil, and we took the bait. If Adam and Eve had simply realized that they were the creation and that they were not, nor could they be God, then things would have happened so much differently than we have been told in God’s Word. Instead of being humble, Adam and Eve let pride take control and that got them cast away from God’s presence.

If that is the case, doesn’t it make perfect sense that if we are able to be humble, then that could be reversed?

It takes humility to admit that you are a sinner in need of a savior! It takes humility to admit that you are not capable of being God, and it takes humility to admit that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God. When you are capable of humbling yourself before God, He reverses what sin caused and He lifts you up into a relationship with Him, just like the relationship He had with Adam and Eve before the fall.

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
(James 4:10 (NIV))

The English Standard Version translates that last part as “he will exalt you.” According to Merriam-Webster, when you are exalted, you are raised in rank, power, or character. You are elevated by praise or in esteem. Humanity was created to walk in fellowship with God. If you reflect on the Garden of Eden, it was not an angel who walked with them. It was God! Even the angels did not get this designation, this familial calling. If you humble yourself in the sight of the Lord, you will be exalted, you will be restored to God’s original plan. You will no longer be cast away because of your sin. In much the same way that the father embraced the prodigal son, our Father in heaven longs to embrace each of us when we humble return to Him!

Humility is the first step!

Copyright 1998 – 2023 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
https://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How does Jesus know you?

January 26, 2023

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”
(Matthew 15:20 (NIV))

With this statement from Jesus, nothing could be clearer!

That only leaves the obvious next question.

Are you doing the will of the Father?

This requires a complete surrender to the Lord and an understanding of what His Will is in order to answer truthfully. Perhaps it is better to ask if it is your desire to do the will of the Father, for even after professing a faith in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, you will falter in your walk of faith. You will inadvertently give in to your sinful human nature even though you desire to live a righteous life. Even Paul had these moments.

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
(Romans 7:15-20 (NIV))

Do you truly desire to do the will of the Father?

If you have accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, you have realized that you are a sinner in need of a savior. You have realized that you are not capable of perfection in the eyes of God, but through Jesus, God sees you as He sees Jesus. He sees a spotless, sinless person. With that in mind, I venture to say that one of the most important parts of doing the will of the Father is accepting the grace and mercy that He freely offers through the cross of Jesus. Since God does not wish for anyone to perish, it is His will that you accept the grace and mercy given through Jesus.

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 they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
(John 3:16-18 (NIV))

How does Jesus know you?

Copyright 1998 – 2023 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you eagerly searching for the truth?

January 25, 2023

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.
(Acts 17:11 (NIV))

What do you search for?

Do you search for perfect people attending a perfect church? If so, then you will always be disappointed. You will never find it. I want to let you in on a little secret. If you did happen to find it, the very minute that you walk through the doors, it would no longer be perfect. That is the state of humanity ever since the fall from grace in the Garden of Eden. The last that I checked, everyone that I know is human, and we all suffer from the same issue.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
(Romans 3:23 (NIV))

It has been said that because of the fall from grace, we all have a God shaped hole in our lives that we try to fill with anything and everything that we can think of. We search tirelessly for something to fill this void.

If you are searching for something to fill your void, don’t look to other imperfect people who are not capable of perfect truth. Be like the Berean Jews and examine the Scriptures EVERY day. Find like-minded individuals who also examine the Scripture every day. Surround yourself with people who are searching God’s Word for His truth. Surround yourself with people who will accept nothing less than His truth. Surround yourself with people who cling to His truth as manifested through Jesus!

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 they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
(John 3:16-18 (NIV))

If you profess a faith in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, you have recognized the truth that the Berean Jews searched for. How far you go in your understanding is up to you. Professing that Jesus is your personal Lord and Savior is not the end of your faith journey. It is the beginning of a lifelong path that starts the moment you accept Jesus into your heart. There will be a lifetime of searching the Scriptures and recognizing that Jesus is in every word.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
(Matthew 7:7-8 (NIV))

There will be many times that you will ask for His guidance. There will be many times that you seek His presence. There will be many times that you will knock in hopes of going straight into His throne. We have the assurance that if we search for His truth, we will find it. It is not found by looking to imperfect people. Look to a perfect, loving Father, and boldly approach His throne because your sins have been cleansed by the Blood of the Lamb!

Are you eagerly searching for the truth?

Copyright 1998 – 2023 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Have you forgotten how to follow this command?

January 24, 2023

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
(John 13:34 (NIV))

Let’s take a look at how Jesus loved when He walked this earth so that we can better understand how we are to love each other.

Jesus called people to repent, to turn from their selfish, sinful natures. He did this out of compassion for those caught in sin and the consequences of sin. He did not antagonize or mock sinners. He called to them out of a true love, a true desire to see them come to a saving knowledge of Him. He loved people because that is why He came!

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 they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
(John 3:16-18 (NIV))

It is true that Jesus did get angry, but His anger was only manifested when God’s Temple was defiled or the religious leaders were making a mockery out of what God had intended. His anger was never focused on those whom He came to save. In fact, even in His anger, I think that it is safe to say that, just as a father’s heart breaks when his children misbehave, His heart broke for those who were doing the things that caused His anger.

Even in our darkest moments, He loves us!

Can we say that of each other? Can we love each other as Jesus loves us? Loving each other is part of loving God! It is part of our calling!

Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.
(1 John 4:20 (NIV))

Jesus has commanded that we love one another.

Have you forgotten how to follow this command?

Copyright 1998 – 2023 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
https://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Choose wisdom. Choose life!

January 23, 2023

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.
(Matthew 7:13 (NIV))

If you haven’t figured this out, the narrow gate is Jesus. It also represents the wisdom to select Jesus and to stay focused on Jesus in all that you do!

Accepting Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior is thought to be a one time salvation occurrence. To be honest with you, accepting the salvation freely given through the cross is a one time occurrence, but it takes a lifetime of dedication to follow Jesus in all that you do. Too many people fail to grow in their faith. They fail to get to know the Word of God. They fail to realize that there is so much more that God wants them to know than Jesus saves. There is wisdom and truth in God’s Word that is designed to teach us how to walk in His light in all that we do.

Do you want that wisdom?

Do you want the wisdom that leads to righteousness and salvation? Do you want the wisdom that leads to a strong faith? Do you want the wisdom that leads to maturity in Christ? Do you want the wisdom that leads to life everlasting?

I don’t know about you, but all of these things are things are what I long for!

Have you taken a serious look at your life and your priorities? Do you long for the things of God or are you still so focused on the things of this world that you miss Jesus in all that you do?

The decision is entirely yours!

Choose wisdom. Choose life!

Copyright 1998 – 2023 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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How are you at treating each other with love?

January 20, 2023

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
(Matthew 7:12 (NIV))

Do you like it when others mistreat you?

I realize that this question is one that appears to have an obvious answer, still we often treat others in ways that we would never want to be treated ourselves. I believe that this is rooted in the fall from grace. Humanity was lied to and told that we could be like God, so now we apply the power without the compassion. We apply the authority without the understanding, and we provide the condemnation without the love. Human nature wants to do exactly the opposite of what God calls us to do. We have a tendency to place ourselves above everyone else, and because of this, we mistreat each other because we think that we are better than they are.

Wrong attitude!

We are no better than anyone else.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
(Romans 3:23 (NIV))

No matter what you may think of yourself, God sees the real you. He knows all of your sinful past, yet He loves you anyway. When He looks at humanity, He sees a sea of sinful, fallen people who all need a savior. He does not see certain people as better than others. He doesn’t treat anyone differently. What He does do is provide an opportunity of redemption to all who will simply profess a faith in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. Once this happens, He sees you as a redeemed child, but that redemption is nothing that should make us feel superior to anyone else. All that it means is in the sea of sinful, drowning people, we have gotten on the life boat. We should be reaching out to others offering to help them receive what we have received. We must show them the same compassion, understanding and love that we were shown as we found our salvation.

I want to challenge you to look at your actions during the next twenty-four hours. Pray to have your eyes opened to the instances where you treat others in a way that you would not want to be treated. Pray to be able to show God’s love in those situations instead of your shortcomings. I want you to also pray for those who mistreat you, for they may not realize what they do. It is said that it is hard to hate someone when you are praying for them. I think that we can also safely say that it is hard to mistreat someone when you are praying for them.

How are you at treating each other with love?

Copyright 1998 – 2023 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
https://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you willing to answer the call?

January 19, 2023

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.
(Matthew 9:38 (NIV))

Have you truly stopped and given this passage thought?

Let me explain my question.

If you profess a faith in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, we have been given instructions. We have been given a job assignment that is supposed to be our primary task as believers in Jesus.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
(Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV))

In other words, we are supposed to be working the harvest field!

If we ask the Lord of the harvest to send workers, we are asking Him to send us! The most important question that we must then ask ourselves is how will we answer. Will we be as willing to go as Isaiah was?

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))

It is said that God loves a cheerful giver. That is true for so much more than just our finances. It involves our time! God longs for us to be willing to work the harvest field. He longs for us to tell others about the amazing grace that is available to anyone who will simply repent and receive. Are you willing to give of your time so that others may know of God’s great love? Are you willing to share the Gospel to a world desperately in need of salvation? Are you willing to work the harvest? Are you willing to put yourself out there in a world that is becoming more and more hateful of anything to do with the Gospel, with Jesus?

Are you willing to answer the call?

Copyright 1998 – 2023 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What have you been asking for?

January 18, 2023

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.
(1 John 5:14 (NIV))

Did you notice the stipulation in this passage?

All too often, people ask God for things that are from their will and not His. We are so self-centered that even when we are told to bring our concerns to the Lord, we ask as if we were the center of all creation. We ask as if God is our own personal servant whose only purpose is to fulfill our every desire. If this is how you have been approaching God, how has this been going for you?

Do you even spend time in God’s Word in search of His heart?

Do you even spend time in prayer talking to God and actually listening for His still, small voice?

How can you ask God for things that are according to His Will if you don’t even know what His Will is?

We know that God loves us. This is evident through the gift of salvation freely given through the cross. But, do we love Him in return? Do we simply give lip service to this gift and then continue to live as if we are still a part of this sinful, fallen world? Or, do we actually have a change of heart and see the world for what it is? Do we realize that the things that we had desired are now simply last grasps at the world that we say we want to leave behind?

God is not going to hear us if we ask for things of this world. God is not going to answer us if we are only being selfish in our desires.

Think about a young child in a toy store. Every other word out of their mouth is asking for the latest thing that has caught their eye. The parents know what is good and what is proper, yet the child still goes on and on about the things that they want. We are those children. The world is the toy store. God is ushering us through this world while trying to mature us enough so that what we ask for is not what is seen at every selfish turn of our heads. God is not going to give us the toy store of the world. He is going to give us things that are from Him according to His Will. He is going to give us things that will draw us closer to Him while they mature us in our faith.

God does want to bless us, but what we think of as a blessing is not how God thinks of blessings.

If you have been approaching God and you feel that He has not heard you, then you need to ask yourself one very important question.

What have you been asking for?

Copyright 1998 – 2023 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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We are to be faithful and diligent until the appointed time!

January 17, 2023

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

For the revelation awaits an appointed time;
    it speaks of the end
    and will not prove false.
Though it linger, wait for it;
    it will certainly come
    and will not delay.
(Habakkuk 2:3 (NIV))

Are you tired of waiting?

If you profess a faith in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, then there are several things that you know will happen because we have been told that they would happen. Still, waiting is never easy, especially when you see the things that are happening in this world, and you know that the only hope that this world has is Jesus!

If you were taken in the rapture at this very moment, would you be upset? Are there things in this world that you don’t want to let go of? Take a good look at your priorities and be completely honest with yourself when you answer.

Most believers long to be with Jesus., yet, we are torn. We desire to be with Jesus in the presence of the Father, yet, we all have someone whom we love who has not come to the saving knowledge of Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. For this, I am willing to wait. For this, I am praying for friends and family to repent and come to salvation through Jesus.

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
(2 Peter 3:9 (NIV))

I realize that I am being selfish when I long for the appointed time. I am guilty of seeing this promise through the eyes of someone who has already accepted their salvation. I need to open my eyes and see this as Jesus sees it. I need to realize that the Father does not wish for any to perish. If that is the Father’s wish, then it must be mine as well.

Still, there is coming a time, an appointed time, that will not delay. We must be prepared for that time as it rapidly approaches. We must also be diligent in our assignment, for we have not been given a reprieve.

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
(Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV))

We are to continue to make disciples. We are to continue baptizing. We are to continuing teaching.

We are to be faithful and diligent until the appointed time!

Copyright 1998 – 2023 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Is your faith strong enough for this?

January 16, 2023

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
(Matthew 5:44 (NIV))

This goes against everything that our sinful human nature desires!

We instinctively only love those who love us in return. We only want to pray for those whom we love, yet, we are called to break with our sinful human nature and do what we don’t desire to do.

Have you ever stopped to reflect on why we are called to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us? Perhaps the answer is so simple that we don’t want to see it.

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))

If you have come to the realization that our enemies are part of the world that God loves, then you begin to understand why we are called to love our enemies. God loves them just as He loves you and I. In fact, the only difference in God’s eyes are whether they have accepted the gift of grace freely given through the cross. The cross is the ultimate example of love.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
(Romans 5:8 (NIV))

If you stop to consider that you were once an enemy of God, then you realize that God showed you love when you were His enemy. As the Body of Christ, we are called to do the very same thing. We are called to show love to those who are our enemies, for it is through love and prayer that an enemy is lost and a friend is won. This takes a faith that goes far beyond what our sinful human nature can comprehend. It takes a faith firmly grounded in God’s word and in His promises. It takes a faith strong enough to realize that through God’s love anything is possible, even turning an enemy into a brother or sister in Christ! Do you possess a faith strong enough to surrender to God’s Will as He calls you to embrace your enemies with love?

Today’s society is uncertain. Evil is called good and good is called evil. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but we do know one thing – Jesus will come again! When He walked the earth, He called people to repent. He called them to this action out of love. If you have professed a faith in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, then you have shown a faith strong enough to accept that gift. Now, we are called to show a faith strong enough to share that gift even with our enemies.

Is your faith strong enough for this?

Copyright 1998 – 2023 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
https://www.dailylivingministries.org
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