Whose acceptance is more important to you?

November 22, 2019

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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 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Where do your actions lead you?

November 19, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life,
but violence overwhelms the mouth of the wicked.
Hatred stirs up dissension,
but love covers over all wrongs.
Wisdom is found on the lips of the discerning,
but a rod is for the back of him who lacks judgment.
Wise men store up knowledge,
but the mouth of a fool invites ruin.
The wealth of the rich is their fortified city,
but poverty is the ruin of the poor.
The wages of the righteous bring them life,
but the income of the wicked brings them punishment.
He who heeds discipline shows the way to life,
but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.
(Proverbs 10:11-17 (NIV))

Too bad that nonbelievers do not take these words to heart! Nothing could be plainer than the truth these words speak of.

Today, too many people go about doing whatever “feels good” to them without any thought to the consequences of their actions. If you have ever studied Physics, there is a physical law that states for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. If these people would only realize that what is true in the physical world is also true in the spiritual world. Every time that they do a wicked act or do something that lacks spiritual judgment, then they are storing up equal and opposite actions that will be brought upon themselves. They store up rotten fruits as their reward for their actions. Believers store up abundant fruit that does not rot.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
(Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV))

Where do your actions lead you?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you desire to have faith like David?

November 14, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
forever.
(Psalms 23:1-6 (NIV))

David was probably one of the most prolific writers of all times. By today’s standards, he would have been considered a “self-made man,” yet, he focused on God in all that he wrote about. He eagerly embraced all that God had graciously bestowed upon him and gave thanks at all times for what God had done for him. It is true that David strayed, but when he was confronted with this fact, he realized his mistakes and repented. Psalm 23 speaks of the grace and mercy that God has bestowed upon David, and will bestow on anyone if they only seek after God. God will not allow those who earnestly seek Him to follow the paths of unrighteousness or to be troubled by enemies. We will still have troubles, but God is our assurance of victory through the troubles.

David wrote that God would prepare a table before him in the presence of his enemies. He did not say that God would destroy the enemies. It is God’s Will that none should perish. Perhaps the reason that you still have enemies is this fact. God is using you to be an example of His grace and mercy to those who hate you.

How do you react to your enemies? Do they see Jesus in you and in your actions?

Do you desire to have faith like David?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you long to see Jesus face to face?

November 13, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name.
(Zechariah 14:9 (NIV))

I pray that everyone who professes a faith in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior earnestly looks forward to this day! It is the culmination of everything that we profess that we believe in.

We profess that Jesus is Lord. We profess that He is King of kings and Lord of lords. We profess that one day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord. We profess that Jesus is the One. We profess that Jesus is the Son. We profess that Jesus is the only name by which we can be saved. We profess that Jesus was crucified, dead and buried. We profess that on the third day He arose from the grave. We profess that He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father. We profess that He will return.

In all these things that we profess, do we truly mean them? Is it our innermost desire to see these things come to pass? Will we be embraced or will we face disgrace?

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one 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 in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
(Matthew 7:21-23 (NIV))

Too many people simply give lip service to the things that we profess as members of the Body of Christ. Following Jesus is so much more than words. Following Jesus is a full-time commitment. We can say that we long for Jesus to return, but our thoughts, our heart and our actions can say something completely different.

Merriam-Webster defines longing as a strong desire or a craving. They also define craving as an intense desire. If you long for something, you have an intense desire for it to come to pass. Do you have an intense desire to see Jesus? Do you long for the day that Zechariah spoke of? Do you long to see Jesus face to face?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you do all things so that God may be praised?

November 4, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
(1 Peter 4:11 (NIV))

Have you ever stopped to truly reflect upon your motives?

Knowing human nature, I would venture to say that each of us think that we have pure motives for our thoughts and actions, but human nature is deceitful! According to this passage, everything that we do should glorify the Lord. Are you able to say that all of your thoughts and actions glorify God? There is one sure way to see if this is true. Simply have someone cut you off in traffic and see how you react! Do your words praise God? Do your actions bring glory to the Lord? There is a very good chance that even those of us who are able to spend most of our days praising the Lord will think or say or do things that are less than glorifying.

Is this your intent, or do you feel remorse when these situations bring out the sinful human nature that resides in all of us? Even if you repent of these thoughts, words and actions, what do your actions convey to the world? We know that if we repent, we will be forgiven by the Lord, but the world sees us and immediately calls us hypocrites because our actions don’t always match what we profess. Perhaps this is why we are told to think, speak and act as if we are glorifying the Lord. How we present the Lord through our personal conduct is sometimes all that the world will see. We are called to reflect His light, but if we aren’t careful, we reflect the wrong thing.

Please don’t misunderstand me on this. We are called to mature in Christ and become more and more like Jesus. This is what the Lord wants of us, but we must also recognize that we do not live in this world by ourselves. Everything that we do, especially if we profess a faith in Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, is under constant scrutiny by the world. We don’t want to give the world anything that they can claim as falsehoods and hypocrisy when it comes to our Lord. I believe that I can safely say that too many people look to those who profess a faith in Jesus expecting them to be perfect. They have a wrong understanding of those who follow Jesus.

We aren’t perfect, but we have a Lord and Savior who is!

We should always strive to reflect Jesus in all that we do, even when we are less than perfect ourselves. We should have the desire to do all things so that God may be praised!

Do you do all things so that God may be praised?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is it your desire to persevere?

November 1, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.
(Hebrews 10:36 (NIV))

There is never a good time to give in to the ways of the world!

It is imperative that everyone who professes a faith in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior persevere to finish strongly. Do not let the sins of the world sneak up on you, distract you and make you lose sight of Jesus and what He has called you to. Accepting Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior does not prevent you from sinning. It also doesn’t give you permission to continue in your sin. Accepting Jesus means that you realize that you are a sinner in need of a Savior. Accepting Jesus means that you realize that you cannot escape the consequences of your sin on your own. Accepting Jesus means that you recognize the grace and mercy that God has freely given to those who will simply profess that Jesus is Lord! Accepting Jesus means that you recognize the authority that Jesus has as Lord of your life. Accepting Jesus means that you surrender to that authority. Accepting Jesus means that you turn away from your sin and follow Him!

That is the will of God!

Are you able to accept these conditions? Are you able to persevere in these conditions?

It might be easy to say that you believe, but do your actions reflect your words? Do you thoughts reflect your actions? If you are like me, human nature creeps in and we all do things that we wish we wouldn’t do. When these things happen, do you feel remorse? Do you regret the decisions that lead you to those actions? Do you fall on your knees in repentance?

Have you ever stopped to think about the relationship of repentance to perseverance?

I honestly believe that they go hand in hand, for without true repentance we would never be able to persevere. When we repent, we make a decision to make a course correction and get back to following Jesus. When we persevere, we simply repent and make course corrections all along the way until we get where the Lord leads. We don’t give up. We don’t give in to the sin. We keep our eyes focused on Jesus!

Is it your desire to persevere?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you believe?

October 9, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“Don’t be afraid; just believe.”
(Mark 5:36b (NIV))

Do you know the first part of this story?

Jesus was asked by a ruler of a synagogue to come and heal his daughter. Along the way, a woman touched the hem of his robe and was healed. Jesus was sidetracked from his plans. During this time, some men came and told the ruler of the synagogue that his daughter had died. It appeared that Jesus was too late. It appeared that all hope was lost.

With that scene laid out before you, can you imagine the feelings of despair that the ruler of the synagogue probably felt. I can also imagine that he was probably also feeling anger toward the woman who had distracted Jesus. He was afraid that he had failed his daughter and that he had failed his family and himself. I can imagine the deep anguish that I would feel if I had gone to get someone who could save my son or daughter only to discover that circumstances had delayed the saving grace that I had been so sure of.

“Don’t be afraid; just believe.”
(Mark 5:36b (NIV))

Words.

Words that are so easy to say, yet, are so difficult to hold on to when all around you seems to be falling apart.

I want you to ask yourself this one question – Have any of the promises that God has made ever been broken?

Jesus, the word made flesh, had willingly gone with the man to heal his daughter. He had promised to go. It is not in his nature to break a promise, even when in the eyes of the world, things are too far gone for anything to happen. But, happen it did.

Jesus healed the girl. He brought her back from the dead. According to all worldly knowledge, it was too late, but according to God’s timing, it was not. In fact, the timing of this resurrection was perfect, for it magnified God through the actions that transpired.

With God, things may never be too late. Is there something in your life that just will not change, something that has been troubling you for a very long time? It is not too late for God to turn that around. Is there a dream that you feel that God has given to you, but it has not come to fruition and you are getting older? It is not too late for God to make it happen.

In all honesty, I believe that these five words can be used to define a faith in Jesus. They can be used to help us walk through the darkest shadows of life. They can be used to encourage us when we walk through whatever wilderness we find ourselves in.

Don’t be afraid.

For I am the LORD, your God,
    who takes hold of your right hand
  and says to you, Do not fear;
    I will help you.
(Isaiah 41:13 (NIV))

Just believe!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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