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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Is the truth in you?

November 12, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
(1 John 1:8 (NIV))

There is a line that too many people cross when they consider the human traits of confidence and ego. I definitely see this spectrum playing out in us with respect to this passage. If we are not careful, we can easily go from being confident in our salvation through Jesus to being unwisely egocentric and thinking that we do not sin because of our salvation.

Perhaps I need to rephrase this. Do you believe that because you have accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, you are not capable of committing another sin? Perhaps you believe that because you have accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior anything that you do is now okay in the eyes of God! This type of attitude is not God centered. In fact, it is very self-centered. We have been told what this type of attitude will bring us.

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))

This sounds too much like boasting which is truly nothing more than our ego saying look at me! Boasting makes us the center of attention. Is this what the Body of Christ is called to do? Are we to make ourselves what salvation is all about? On the contrary! Everything that we do is to lead people to Jesus. How can we lead people to Jesus when we are telling them to look at us? Paul had the right attitude!

May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
(Galatians 6:14 (NIV))

Our boasting should always point to Jesus. Our boasting should lead to the truth of the One who can lead us to the Father.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
(John 14:6 (NIV))

Is the truth in you?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Aren’t you glad that Jesus welcomes sinners?

November 11, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
(Luke 15:1-2 (NIV))

Which group of people would you have been in if you were alive when Jesus walked the earth?

Each of us like to think that we would recognize Jesus and understand what He was doing if we were alive at that time. Is that true? Sadly, I am not certain that many of us would have recognized Jesus and understood what He was doing. Think about that for a moment in relation to our recognition and understanding of Jesus in this current time. To help with this, I want to do what I often do and ask a few questions that will hopefully cause you to reflect on your life and your understanding.

Do you believe that Jesus came to offer redemption to those who are sinners? If you believe this, then how can Jesus reach sinners if He didn’t associate with them? How could He call them out of their sin if He was chastising them from a distance?

Are you perfect? Are you a sinner? Did Jesus reach you because you were perfect according to your church, or did He reach you because you realized that you are a sinner in need of a Savior? Why do we, the members of the Body of Christ, look at sinners any differently than Jesus does? Why do we look at the sins of others as greater than our own sins? Why do we look at certain individuals who have professed a faith in Jesus and claim that their past sins are too great for them to be a member of the Body of Christ? When someone who is a very blatant sinner repents and professes that Jesus is their personal Lord and Savior, we should rejoice just as the angels rejoice!

In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.
(Luke 15:10 (NIV))

Unfortunately, not everyone who professes a faith in Jesus is able to see beyond what that person was and embrace them as the new creation that they are! They are not able to understand that the love that Jesus has shown to them is also available to all who will accept it. They seem to have forgotten that their sin was great when they turned to Jesus. Don’t let the distance from the point of your salvation blind you to what you used to be. Don’t let your life since your salvation blind you to the fact that there is still sin in this world and that the world still needs Jesus!

Pray that you don’t find yourself acting like the Pharisees and the teachers of the law?

I want to ask one more question. It is a question that I have asked before, but I feel that it needs to be asked again.

What would you do if, when you get to heaven, you find that Adolph Hitler had repented and accepted Jesus? Do you think that his sin was too great? Do you think that the Lord thinks his sin is too great? Would you storm out of heaven because you think that he shouldn’t be there? Would you question Jesus or would you understand that we are all sinners in need of a savior?

Aren’t you glad that Jesus welcomes sinners?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What do you do when the unexpected happens?

October 25, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
(Acts 1:9 (NIV))

I can picture the moment. Everybody is gathered around Jesus and everyone there is asking Him questions. They are filled with excitement. They have spent three years with Jesus. They saw Him perform miracles. They saw Him beaten and crucified. They saw Him die. And, they saw Him in His resurrection. Now, after the resurrection, they are eagerly looking for Jesus to bring God’s kingdom to this world.

And then . . .

The unexpected happens.

At least in their eyes, it does.

They were expecting Jesus to take His authority then and there, but He disappears!

Can you imagine how these people felt? Everything that they had seen. Everything that they had been a part of. Everything that they now expected was completely changed. I can imagine that their first reaction was that they were being abandoned. How would you feel?

God knew their hearts. He knew that they were expecting something that was not in His plan. God had compassion on these people. He sent messengers to tell them that their timing was not His timing.

They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
(Acts 1:10-11 (NIV))

Instead of despair, these people had a reason to believe. They had a reason to hope. They had a reason to pray. And pray they did.

Then they returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city. When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.
(Acts 11:12-14 (NIV))

How do you react when things don’t go as you expect them to?

We should take a lesson from these first believers. When things don’t go as we expect them to go, we should pray for God’s guidance and His wisdom.

What do you do when the unexpected happens?

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

October 24, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
(Galatians 3:26-29 (NIV))

Have you ever stopped to think about the number of times that faith is mentioned in God’s word? In one translation alone, faith is mentioned 246 times and faithful is mentioned another 78 times. Faithfulness is mentioned another 59 times. I hope that you are seeing what I see.

I have a database of scripture verses that God has placed on my heart, and in my database, nearly twenty-five percent of the entries that I have reference faith, faithful or faithfulness.

Faith is important!

Can you honestly proclaim anything in this life without having a faith to back it up? Can you claim that tomorrow will come? Can you know that the seasons will come? Can you know that the next breath that you take will fill your lungs and prolong your life?

Can you proclaim that God is good?

Can you proclaim that God loves you?

Can you proclaim that you know where you will be after you leave this world?

Think about these questions. Can you see any of these with your physical eyes? And, yes, this also applies to the concept of tomorrow, the seasons, and air.

Have you ever seen God?

If you haven’t seen God, then how do you know that He exists? How do you know that He loves you? How do you know where you will be after this life?

I bet most of you are thinking of that line from the children’s song – “Because the Bible tells me so.” What makes these printed words on a page different from the other books that are in this world?

FAITH

To believe anything, to accept anything, you have to have faith. You have to understand and accept the basic principles that support the ideas being presented. You have to accept the idea that this world was created. You have to accept the idea that the creator is God. You have to accept the idea that God loves us. You have to accept the idea that we, as His creation, are sinful. You have to accept the idea that God wanted to wash away our sins. You have to accept the idea that He sent His Son, Jesus, to live among us and to die for our transgressions. You have to accept the idea that Jesus arose on the third day and sits at the right hand of God, the Father. You have to accept the idea that only through Jesus will you receive grace.

Perhaps we can define faith as a joyful acceptance of what we have never seen, yet we know to be true.

Do you joyfully accept Jesus and all of the promises that are fulfilled through Him? In other words, do you have faith?

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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What do you truly want?

September 30, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
(Psalms 23:1 (NASB))

Have you ever given any serious thought to the meaning of this passage?

Most people read this and take it to mean that anything that we could possibly want in this physical world is ours. Let’s take a step back and take a look at the word “want.” Our society has shifted the meaning of this word to mean something that we desire. We say things like, “I want a new car” or “I want a bigger house,” but is this the type of want that the Lord provides for? With this type of attitude, too many people fail to get what they want and, as a result, they fall away from faith. They misunderstand this passage and think that is means that the Lord our God is nothing more that a genie who is there to grant our every wish, our every desire. When this doesn’t happen, they falsely assume that since this isn’t true, nothing is true.

If this is your vision of God, then it makes sense why our society has become so self-centered and self-entitled.

If we look at this passage from the perspective and understanding of when it was written, we get a much clearer picture. A shepherd has multiple sheep under his care. He provides for the needs of the whole flock. He will lead them to green pastures for food. He will care for the sick. He will search for the lost. The shepherd makes sure that all under his care are protected from attack. The sheep know his voice and they follow him. They know and they trust him to provide for their needs both collectively and individually.

Did you pick up on that?

The shepherd provides for the needs of his flock. He does not provide for the selfish desires. The shepherd knows what is best for each sheep. He makes sure that each need is provided for. With this in mind, is wanting a bigger house a need or a selfish desire? For some people, it truly may be a need, while for others, it is a selfish desire. The Lord sees each of our needs and knows how best to provide for us. When David wrote these words, he understood this concept. He understood that the Lord, as his shepherd, was guiding his steps and that all of his needs would be provided for. David realized that everything was on the Lord’s timeframe and not his.

Sadly, our society has lost this understanding. We seek instant gratification in all aspects of our lives. We falsely believe that we can guide our own lives. We desire anything and everything under the sun, and sin runs rampant because we are so focused on the proverbial me, myself and I. Slow down and spend time in the Lord’s presence and you will begin to grasp the understanding that David had. The focus is not about us and our selfish desires. It is about the Lord’s plans and what is best for us.

I believe that it is time for us to reexamine what we truly want! What do you truly want?

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