Have you put your childhood ways behind you?

February 16, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.
(1 Corinthians 13:11 (NIV))

Spiritual maturity is a wonderful thing. When you are new in your faith, it is easy to become disoriented and allow the world to knock you off balance. You have a hunger, but you are uncertain about what you are feeling and experiencing. At this early stage of faith, just as in the childhood years, you are limited in your understanding and your ability to fully comprehend all that you experience. You are still being spoon fed. Perhaps I could and should say that you are still in the milk stages of your faith.

Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
(Hebrews 5:13-14 (NIV))

In essence, being a child can mean that you are naive to the ways of the world and the enemy. Spiritual maturity brings an understanding, an ability to discern what is right and wrong in God’s eyes. It means that you are diving deeper into God’s Word and your understanding is getting much deeper. Consider this case in point as an example. When you were a child, could you comprehend and solve complex mathematical problems? Could you develop and communicate complex thoughts in such a manner so that others could understand?

Being a child is supposed to be a simple, joyful time. It is the time to develop trust and belief.

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
(Matthew 19:14 (NIV))

Even though we are called to be like little children in our faith, we are also called to a maturity. This is a maturity that prepares us to face the enemy. It is a maturity that firmly grounds us in Jesus.

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.
(Ephesians 4:14-15 (NIV))

As members of the Body of Christ, we are all called to maturity in Christ. We must long for the substance of solid faith. We must realize that faith is something that we are to desire to grow and mature. We are to change our ways of thinking so that we are in line with what Jesus desires. We are to desire to mature into the likeness of Christ!

Have you put your childhood ways behind you?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Can we face the world with humility?

August 13, 2015

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you.
(1 Peter 5:6-7 (NAS))

In today’s society it is hard to be humble, even when you desire that with all of your heart.

Humility asks us to place others first and think of ourselves as a servant. This is a fine line to balance upon when you must always present yourself as the best in what you do just to be able to make a living.

No matter what the world may ask of us, though, we must always keep our eyes focused on Jesus and remember that what God has given to us through Jesus cannot be achieved on our own. When we reflect on this, then the worldly side of us will come face to face with the humility that God desires for us, for we are all sinners and fall short of the glory of God.

Copyright 1998 – 2015 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you ever betrayed someone?

July 28, 2015

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. And while they were eating, he said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.”
They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, “Surely not I, Lord?”
(Matthew 26:20-22 (NIV))

Have you ever betrayed someone? What did it feel like?

As I read these words, I wonder what these men felt when Jesus said that one of them would betray him. I honestly believe that each and every single person in that room questioned themselves at this time. They were only human, and who among us has never had a negative thought about something that you profess an allegiance to. I can picture these men and what they were thinking. Each was probably saying to themselves, “Please, don’t let it be me. I don’t think I could do that, but I have never been put to the test before. Could I pass that test or will I fail and betray His love? Please, don’t let it be me!”

That is so very hard to know.

Now, think about how each of them felt when they knew that it was not them. They breathed a big sigh of relief. Even in this hour when all of God’s plans to save humanity hung in the balance, they still could only think about themselves.

Something changed in these men. Something changed these men. They went from being afraid of what would happen to them to bold proclaimers of the truth. They experienced the next three days. They saw Jesus crucified. They saw Jesus buried. They saw the greatest miracle of all time. They saw Jesus resurrected from the grave.

“Perhaps the transformation of the disciples of Jesus is the greatest evidence of all for the resurrection.”
(John R. W. Stott)

These men were transformed from insecure, self-centered people to boldly proclaim that Jesus is the Son of God.

God took simple men who all felt the pains of potential betrayal and gave them a hope and a faith that made them turn the world upside down.

Copyright 1998 – 2015 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Time under heaven

January 28, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
(Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NIV))

Have you ever thought about how you would know what time was called for?

Some are obvious. Birth and death and many others, but most are difficult to determine, especially if we follow the command to love one another.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
(John 13:34-35 (NIV))

How do we balance this command with the words from Ecclesiastes? How do we treat the world and those who flaunt their sin at our faith? I know that everyone is familiar with the story of the prodigal son. This implies that God is patient with us and wishes for us to return. We are to show the same patience with those who flaunt their sin, yet we are also told of what will happen if they do not repent.

If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town. I tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.
(Matthew 10:14-15 (NIV))

How do we respond to those who claim that Jesus is love and yet they still continue in their sin?

How do we, who are called to do as Jesus did, respond when we are told that everything has its time under heaven? Will there be a day when we, as the Body of Christ, are called to hate? Will we be called to kill? Will we be called to turn away when in our hearts we know that we are to love? Will there come a point in time when we can no longer associate with sin because we are called to be with Jesus?

I have come to the conclusion that in order to know the time, we must know Jesus. In order to know Jesus, we must seek Him in all that we do. We cannot follow Jesus while we watch sports or our favorite television show. We follow Jesus by embracing Him in all aspects of our lives. Only then will we be able to begin to understand the time under heaven.

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How do you balance?

December 4, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, `What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’

“Then he said, `This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” ‘

“But God said to him, `You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

“This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.”

Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest
(Luke 12:16-26 (NIV))

How do you balance being a good steward with doing what Jesus calls you to do?

That has always been a tough question for me. I have always wanted to take care of my family and provide for them. I wanted to have that proverbial nest egg for when life throws you that unexpected curve ball.

The rich man didn’t seem to have the answer. He built bigger barns to store what he had produced. We don’t know if this man was generous or if he hoarded what he had. We do know that he did not pray and ask God what he should do. Like the rich man, I have been guilty of doing just that. Like the rich man, we all feel that we can handle our own affairs. We seek comfort and stability in our possessions when Jesus calls us to break down the walls that define our comfort zone.

It is human nature to want to make sure that we are taken care of. We want to feel that we are in control. Perhaps we need to learn a difficult lesson. Life is not about being in control. Life is about deciding who will be in control and placing your faith in that decision. More than this life depends on that decision. If God feeds the ravens, He will take care of us if we place our faith in Him. Perhaps that is where the line is drawn. When God blesses us, we have a tendency to keep it for ourselves. Does God bless us so that we can keep it all to ourselves?

What if we were more like Jabez?

Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, “I gave birth to him in pain.” Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.
(1 Chronicles 4:9-10 (NIV))

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

September 9, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?
(Matthew 6:25 (NIV))

There goes the fashion industry and the restaurants and the food industry.

We, as a society, spend so much time dwelling, or should I say fixating, on these things that we forget what is important.

Clothes grow old and get worn out. Fashion is primarily geared toward drawing attention, yet where is the attention drawn to? The hottest designers won’t even matter in a hundred years. The hottest, trendiest accessories will fade with time. All of this, and we have forgotten who gave us life and what we truly need for clothing.

Food is important, but have we made it too prevalent within our society? We have family arguments over what will be had for dinner. We have fast food around almost every corner, and we have culinary delights that would make any person’s mouth water. Yet, we seem to have forgotten who has given us the food to begin with.

The words recorded in Matthew tell us something about ourselves in relation to how we treat clothes and food. We have taken a necessity and turned it into something that could easily be considered a sin. It can become a sin if we allow it to take priority in our lives over God, our family, our friends, and our true needs. If we allow things that we want to become our “needs,” then we have failed at correctly establishing our priorities.

Life is a precious gift. It is filled with many things that are truly marvelous – things that are truly gifts from God. These are the things that are important.

Don’t misunderstand me, for I honestly believe that God has given us a sense of beauty. He has also given us the pleasures of taste and smell. It is when we focus on these, and other things, instead of focusing on Him and His desires for our lives, that the words within Matthew can become true.

Priorities, focus and balance. All things have a place within our lives. Don’t let the wrong ones become your master.

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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