Is this how you wish to pray?

October 16, 2020

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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.
(Matthew 6:7 (NIV))

Have you ever been accused of babbling?

Merriam-Webster defines babbling as idle, foolish, or nonsensical talk or chatter. When you hear someone talking in this manner, do you feel the urge to tell them to get to the point? Do you even bother to listen to the words that are being uttered. Do you zone out and nod slightly to make it look like you are listening? At times, it appears that the person who is talking simply likes the sound of their own voice. It can get annoying!

With this defined, let’s go back to my first question. Have you ever been accused of babbling? Better yet, have you ever approached the throne room of God in prayer only to babble on and on simply because you were too afraid to ask the Lord for what you seek in a bold and confident manner? Perhaps you found yourself babbling because you knew deep down that your motives for what you ask were wrong.

When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
(James 4:3 (NIV))

Human nature is a funny thing. We think that we can hide what we truly desire and the motives for that desire, but our actions give us away. Simply think about the many times when you were a child where you approached your parents to ask for something. You had probably made up a story that wasn’t quite true and you talked and talked and talked hoping that your words would be convincing. Your parents knew. Now, think about this from God’s perspective. He knows our hearts. He knows the true desires and the true motives that we try to hide from public display when we try using a constant barrage of words.

We put up a facade! We try to convince ourselves and others that our motives are noble when they are simply self-serving.

But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:
“God opposes the proud
    but shows favor to the humble.”
(James 4:6 (NIV))

Humility doesn’t have anything to say. Humility is quiet and unassuming. When we put on humility, we simply surrender to the Lord and fully rely upon His mercy and grace. We surrender our motives and embrace His motives. We put self aside and when we do this, our words don’t matter. What matters is our heart!

Is this how you wish to pray?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Does what you ask glorify the Father?

October 9, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
(James 14:13-14 (NIV))

I don’t know just how many times that I have read or heard this passage, but tonight, I saw something that I understood in a new light. As believers, as Christians, we have taken this passage and condensed it to something that only represents the half truth that whatever we ask in the name of Jesus will be done for us. Read the passage again and stop to think about the things that you ask in the name of Jesus. Looking back on your faith walk, do your answers make you feel shameful for the things that you have asked for? What are some of the things that you remember asking? Did you receive an answer that matched your prayer request?

Human nature is selfish and as a result, even people who profess a faith in Jesus still possess this characteristic. Most people ask for things that benefit themselves either directly or indirectly. Even praying for healing of a loved one can be considered selfish if the reason that you pray is because you will miss them. It is a matter of motives. Do the things that you ask bring glory to yourself or to the Father? Do they stroke your ego or do they truly glorify God? Do they fuel a lust for fame and fortune or do they seek to follow God’s own heart?

You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
(James 4:2-3 (NIV))

Do your pleasures glorify God? Do your wrong motives guide you to seek after God’s heart? Each of us ask so much of God and from God, but why do we ask? What are our motives?

Does what you ask glorify the Father?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you struggle with wrong motives?

September 17, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
(James 4:3 (NIV))

What is the one thing that you want more than anything else in this life?

Why do you desire that particular thing?

Are you able to be honest with yourself with the answers to these two questions? If you are like most people, you will give vague answers to both even if you honestly do know the real answers. Human nature is a very strange thing in that respect. We can say that our desires are in one direction while our actions and our thoughts take us in a completely different direction. Have you ever found yourself thinking that you could help people if only you had more money? Have you ever found yourself thinking that you would stop complaining about work if you could just get that promotion? Have you ever found yourself thinking that you would go on a mission trip after you get all of your bills paid off? I could go on and on with different scenarios, but I think that you get the picture. Many times human nature has us saying one thing when we mean the exact opposite of what we say. Human nature always wants for itself and not for the benefit of others. We may claim it, but our true motives soon come to light.

Have you found this to be true when you ask God for something in prayer?

Think about that. If He knows our thoughts, if He knows us better than we know ourselves, then He knows our true motives for the things that we ask of Him. Perhaps what we should be praying for is an honest heart and pure motives that will line up with what God desires. Can we truthfully say that we will pray in such a manner? Can we truthfully profess that we long to be known as David was known? Can we pray to have a heart after God’s own heart?

Each of us must examine our motives for the things that we want, for the things that we ask of God. Hopefully, it won’t be a painful realization!

Do you struggle with wrong motives?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What desires rule over you?

July 17, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.
(Galatians 5:17 (NIV))

Whatever you want!

Do you desire to do whatever you want? Is that your definition of freedom? Based on this passage, does that desire come from the flesh or from the Spirit? Don’t rush to a quick answer, for your quick answer will probably be heavily influenced by your own desires. Think about that for a moment. Since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, our flesh is sinful. Everything that we do according to our flesh is sinful and we are fully aware of the wages of sin.

For the wages of sin is death,
(Romans 6:23a (NIV))

We are given a gift that allows us to receive salvation, to receive grace.

but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 6:23b (NIV))

When we accept that gift, we receive the Holy Spirit to guide us in what we should do. The Holy Spirit will guide us contrary to our sinful nature. It is up to us to accept that guidance. Have you ever done something and instantly knew that it shouldn’t have been done? Have you ever wanted to do something, but a still, small voice wouldn’t let you? We choose to listen to the Holy Spirit. We choose to accept His guidance. Sadly, sometimes the flesh wins out and we do things that we instantly regret. Other times we listen to the Holy Spirit and obey. Have you noticed in your life the types of circumstances that you follow the flesh and the types of circumstances that you follow the Holy Spirit? Give God praise for the faith to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, and pray for the ability to stand firm in the face of those circumstances that lead to actions that you regret. Ask the Lord to give you wisdom to allow you to overcome the desires of the flesh!

What desires rule over you?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you an active worker in the harvest?

July 6, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
(Matthew 9:37-38 (NIV))

What do you see when you look around?

Do you see what the world has to offer, or do you see a world of lost souls who need Jesus? Do you see an urgency to get the next big raise and promotion, or do you see an urgency to bring as many people as possible into God’s Kingdom?

Each of us will target our efforts based on what we see, which is a direct result of what is in our hearts. Sadly, it is often the world that is truly in our hearts. Even if we profess a faith in Jesus, many of us are still so caught up in the worldly task of living and making that almighty dollar, that we fail to see the world as Jesus sees it. We don’t truly see the lost because we are thinking of ourselves. We don’t see the needy because we are too worried about our own wants. We don’t make an effort to rescue the dying because we are too worried about the splinter in our finger that has demanded all of our attention!

I often wonder if we have come to look at God’s harvest the same way that we look at grocery stores. When we go into a grocery store, we see all of the things that have been harvested and prepared for our consumption, yet we fail to recognize the work that was required to get everything there. We fail to see the time spent in preparing the soil. We fail to recognize the care that was taken to nurture the plants as they grew. We don’t ever think about the long days spent cultivating the crop and we definitely don’t think of the effort that goes into harvesting the crop. We simply look at the options and find ourselves thinking that the price we must pay is too high!

Do we think that the price that we must pay to work the harvest is too high?

Are we willing to prepare the soil of the heart to receive the seed? Are we willing to nurture that seed in the lives of those who have seen it sprout? Are we willing to cultivate that seed in the lives of those who are growing in their faith? Are we willing to step out in faith and join in the harvest? Have you been sent into the harvest field? Have you been obedient and have you gone?

Are you an active worker in the harvest?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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In all things we must seek God!

June 1, 2020

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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))

Isn’t it sad that something so simple and profound as this truth has been twisted into what has literally become the motto of way too many people. I am talking about the perversion of this passage into the saying “Do unto others first.”

What have we become as a society when God’s Word is changed to reflect the exact opposite of what He intended?

It is no wonder that we have increased crime. It is no wonder we have increased divorce rates. It is no wonder we have sex in public schools. It is no wonder we have allowed God to be removed from all aspects of our public life. He has been made fun of and ridiculed using twisted words that mock His truth. We have literally chased Him away.

We, as a society, need to seek after God and earnestly seek His forgiveness. Perhaps, then we can truly turn this country back to the strength it once knew when its citizens were not ashamed to humble themselves and pray.

if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
( 2 Corinthians 7:14 (NIV))

I honestly believe that we need to turn to God in prayer and ask for His guidance in all that we do, personally and as a nation. If we, as citizens of this country, would spend half the time in prayer that we spend complaining, we could see the fulfillment of this passage. We must seek God in prayer and earnestly repent of our sins. We must turn to Him in all things and not just the things that we are willing to give to Him.

In all things we must seek God!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Will you say “Here am I. Send me!”?

May 21, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.
(Luke 10:1-4 (NIV))

It is so easy to become engrossed in the preparations that you forget the actual task at hand.

Think about that for a moment. Have we, as the Body of Christ, as the church, and as individuals, put off what God has called us to do and falsely called it preparation? Have we simply dragged our feet and kicked the dirt to make it look like we are doing something when all along we are simply stalling and hoping that God will soon forget about what He asked us to do?

I know a young man. I have known him since he was born. In the space of six months, he was given an opportunity by God to help plant a church. We all think that we would be willing to do something bold if God called us to do it. From what I know, most of us are still sitting here in the planning stages. This young man heard the call, raised the money, got his passport, and went to Brisbane, Australia as part of the team who planted a church in that city.

Too many of us, and I include myself, are slow to act. we are like Moses was at the burning bush. He made every single excuse that he could think of. God answered each excuse with a solution. When Moses came down off of the mountain, it is recorded that he left for Egypt. What did he take with him? What did he carry along the way? I honestly do not think that Moses came off of the mountain and studied what had just happened. I don’t think that he came down and looked at his calendar to find an opening where he could fit God in. He simply obeyed.

We, as the Body of Christ, have an assignment. Just as Jesus sent out the seventy-two, He is sending out each of us. Some He will send to the far corners of this world. Some He will simply send next door. No matter where He may send you, respond. Do not become engrossed in the preparations. Do not try to fit God into you calendar. If you are faithful, He will fit your calendar into His timing. What is of importance will take place and what is not important will be forgotten.

Don’t spend so much time in preparation that you never respond.

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))

Are you willing to be like Isaiah? Will you skip all human planning and preparation and simply say “Here am I. Send me!”?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you come to your senses?

April 23, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

When he came to his senses, he said, `How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!
(Luke 15:17 (NIV))

How far have you wandered from your Father? What caused you to wander? Did you see something that looked appealing to you? Did you think to yourself that you would do something for a little while and then return? Perhaps you simply found yourself drifting away and did not even realize it until it was too late.

I like the words “When he came to his senses.” The son had realized that he was a fool for choosing to stay in the squalor that he found himself in. He realized that he had a way out of his predicament and he was going to accept the consequences, humble himself and ask for forgiveness.

When did you come to your senses? Did you wake up one morning and not remember were you were? Did you look in the mirror and not recognize the person you saw? Maybe your personal story is not as bad as these examples, but each of us has a story. We realized that we had been foolish to think that we could do things on our own. We came to our senses and returned to the Father. Isn’t it nice to know that no matter how far we stray, it is only a single step back to the loving embrace of God. Isn’t it good to know that our sins have been forgiven through the atoning blood of Jesus. Through Jesus, we are offered grace, mercy and eternal salvation. All that we have to do is come to our senses and accept it by accepting Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior.

Have you come to your senses?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you ready for His coming?

April 3, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.
(1 John 2:28 (NIV))

I want to ask a question and I pray that you will be honest with yourself in this question and all questions that I ask.

With all that is going on in the world right now, have you found yourself asking if this is an indication of the soon return of Jesus?

To be honest with you, I have seen many people who would have never posted anything about this topic before who are now asking similar questions to what I just asked. This has many people thinking about God and what He has in store for us in the coming days, weeks, months and potentially years. What are your thoughts? What worries you or scares you the most? Are you worried or do you have a peace that baffles your family and friends?

If we have professed a faith in Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, we should not worry. We should not fear! We should be longing for His return. We should be focused on doing all that He has called us to do and not focused on the things of this world.

If we are fearful as the events unfold before us, what does that say about our faith and trust in Jesus? If we are more concerned with thoughts such as “What will we do?”, then we should be ashamed of our lack of faith. We can look at the world and be overwhelmed and worried, or we can look at Jesus and be at peace. It is a matter of attitude and priorities. If we focus on the world, we are not focused on Jesus. We are not ready to stand before Him as one of His! If we focus on Jesus, there is nothing that can happen in this world that will sway our faith. In fact, when we focus on Jesus we are preparing for His return.

Are you ready for His coming?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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How is your faith?

February 24, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
(John 14:12-14 (NIV))

Did these words hit you in the same way that they hit me?

Think about the concept that Jesus left us.

Those who have faith in Jesus will do what He did.

We will even do greater things than He did!

I don’t know about you, but I know myself all too well. I know what I have done. I know what I am capable of doing on my own, both good and bad. I know that I have good intentions, but the world always tries to slow me down or stop me. How can I do greater things than Jesus? How can I even do what Jesus did?

Do you find yourself thinking the same type of thoughts?

Faith is a funny thing. Without it, we have a tendency to say that we cannot achieve what we are called to do. When we take possession of a brand new faith, we think that we are able to do anything for God. As we “mature” in our faith, we seem to allow the world to creep back in and hold us back. Is this really a mature faith?

Take a look at the disciples. Take a look at John. Take a look at Paul. As each of these people matured in their faith, they grew bolder. They did not allow the world to hold them back. They went forward into the very heart of the battle for salvation. They did not back down. They did not slow down. They did not stop spreading the Gospel because it was not “politically correct.”

I honestly think that if we, the body of Christ, stood firm in our faith the way that the early church stood, then we could begin to say that with the power of the Holy Spirit within us, we are approaching the vision that Jesus had of those who have faith in Him. We could and should be doing what Jesus did.

And, since Jesus said it, I will stand firm on the words and say that we could and should be doing greater things than He did.

It is a matter of faith. It is a matter of a strong faith and not a sedate, “mature” faith.

How is your faith?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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