Are you too proud to accept God’s gifts?

October 12, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, `Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

“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! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ So he got up and went to his father.
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

“The son said to him, `Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

“But the father said to his servants, `Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
(Luke 15:11-24 (NIV))

Everybody is familiar with the story of the prodigal son. I have heard someone comment on it in such a way as to shed new light on God’s mercy and grace.

God does not wait until we ask for forgiveness to forgive us. We are forgiven even before we ask for it!

We must ask in order to receive it, but He has already decided that He will forgive us. Asking for forgiveness shows a change of heart on our part and this change of heart prepares us to accept the grace that God has already granted us. Without this change of heart, we cannot accept God’s grace. We do not feel that we need it. It is a matter of pride.

Asking for grace shows that we have humbled ourselves. Sadly, far too many people are too proud to ask for anything.

Grace and mercy are free. We pay the personal price by swallowing our pride when we ask for them.

Are you too proud to accept God’s gifts?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What do you do with your freedom?

July 3, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.
(1 Peter 2:16-1 (NIV))

July 4th is the day that we as a nation celebrate our freedom, but exactly what does that mean?

Too many people claim that they are free to do whatever they want. People even claim that it is their right to do whatever they want.

Where do we draw the line? When do personal freedoms cross over into the realm of evil and selfish indulgence?

I honestly believe that our founding fathers would be appalled at how we have allowed our society to be twisted into something that is more concerned about protecting the rights of people who wish to live outside of the law that in protecting the public. I honestly believe that they would be appalled at how we have allowed a vocal group of people to rewrite history and vehemently object to any mention of God in government or public life. I honestly believe that they would strongly object to our big government, huge debt, and the courts rewriting laws because they don’t like them.

I know that most of our founding fathers were willing to give all that they had, even their lives, for the common good. They did not see their roles as a full-time career or as a right that they had earned. They saw their roles as an honor and a responsibility that they must bear. They new the difference between servanthood and personal gain.

When do personal freedoms cross into the area of evil?

Personally, I believe that this happens when we lose site of other people. It is true that we are free, but that does not mean that we are free to sin, and that does not mean that we are free to do things that cause harm to others. With freedom comes responsibility. This applies to us as a nation and to the Body of Christ. We are free to choose, but we must weigh our choices.

God gave us free will. He also gave us a list of Ten Commandments that are supposed to guide us in our lives. When we turn from these commandments, we turn from God. We may have exercised our freedom, but in the end, our choices that we make in this “freedom” often lead to consequences beyond our comprehension.

Once again, I will state that with freedom comes responsibility – a responsibility to God, to our neighbors, to our families and to ourselves. We must not claim that we have the right, but pray that what we do is right.

What do you do with your freedom?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you planted seeds that will provide an increase?

March 20, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.
(John 12:23-26 (NIV))

The day is rapidly approaching when we celebrate the truth that Jesus spoke of. He willingly fell and died so that the seed of salvation could be planted. From that willing sacrifice, millions of people since then have reaped the fruits of that sacrifice as they multiply. Easter is the time that we celebrate that glorious gift of redemption and grace.

However, that seed does not stop there. Jesus planted the seed. Since that day, redemptive grace has sprouted from that seed. When a seed dies, it gives life to grow more seeds. When these seeds mature, they too will die to allow more seeds to grow. This cycle is how one can produce one hundred and one hundred can produce ten thousand. Each seed can bring forth other seeds to continue the work. Jesus planted the seed. Now it is our turn. By accepting the grace and mercy freely given at the cross, we become seeds. We have a small kernel of grace within us. We must allow that grace to produce.

I am not saying that we must physically die in order for that seed to produce. It is possible to die to self, to give up your desires, in order that God’s desires may be fulfilled. Just as Jesus obeyed God in order for His seed to produce, we must also be obedient so that our seed may produce.

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.
(John 14:12 (NIV))

I believe that we have been given instructions to do as Jesus did and produce many seeds.

Have your seeds been scattered in good soil?

Have you planted seeds that will provide an increase?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What are your thoughts?

December 27, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.
(Romans 12:3 (NIV))

Sadly, it is human nature to think more highly of ourselves than we should.

Is this something that you are guilty of at times?

Have you ever looked at someone and thought to yourself that you were glad that you didn’t have their particular sin to deal with? Do you realize that this is exactly what Romans warns against? We have a tendency to place ourselves above others. We think that our sins are nothing compared to the sins of others.

God looks at this much differently than we do.

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
(Isaiah 64:6 (NIV))

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

We are all guilty of sin. Not a one of us is righteous on our own. All of us have earned something that none of us want to collect.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 6:23 (NIV))

As we move from the time that we celebrate as the birth of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, into a new year, all of us need to take the time to reflect on what God has given us. Have we accepted that gift? Have we realized that we are no better than anyone else? Have we learned to control our selfish thoughts? Have we learned to stop thinking of ourselves more highly than we should?

What are your thoughts?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Jesus brought us peace, comfort and rest!

December 12, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
(John 16:33 (NIV))

Do you ever find yourself thinking that you are a magnet for trouble?

Do you seem to take one step forward and two steps back even though you try to do everything that you know Jesus would want you to do?

Do you despair over your troubles?

You are not alone!

Life is a gift. God created us to spend our days in His presence in paradise. The way that it was supposed to be was stolen from us by the father of lies when he deceived Adam and Eve in the Garden. Ever since that day, all of humanity has faced troubles in this world. In just a few days we will celebrate the birth of God’s only begotten Son, Jesus. Ever since the fall from grace, God had planned to restore us to Himself. Some believe that He told Adam and Eve His plan for redemption. Whether God told Adam and Eve how long humanity would suffer with troubles, I do know that God has been unfolding His plan of redemption ever since the fall from grace.

It has been pointed out that the meanings of the names of the lineage from Adam to Noah define God’s plan.

Adam – Man
Seth – Appointed
Enosh – Mortal
Kenan – Sorrow
Mahalalel – The blessed God
Jared – Shall come down
Enoch – Teaching
Methuselah – His death shall bring
Lamech – Despairing
Noah – Comfort and rest

Loosely translated, it reads as follows.

Man is appointed mortality and sorrow. The blessed God shall come down and teach us. His death shall bring the despairing comfort and rest.

I don’t know about you, but this gives me comfort. It reassures me of the promises that God has given to us. It makes me understand the depth of God’s love for us.

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. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
(John 3:16-21 (NIV))

In just a few days we will be celebrating the birth of Jesus. We will be celebrating the events foretold in the names of Mahalalel, Jared and Enoch. “The blessed God shall come down and teach us.” We celebrate and give God praise for what He has done. We celebrate and give God praise for the rest of the story as it unfolds from Methuselah, Lamech and Noah. “His death shall bring the despairing comfort and rest!”

Christmas is so much more than just the birth of a baby!

Jesus brought us peace, comfort and rest!

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you know the one true Savior?

December 8, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from me there is no savior.
(Isaiah 43:11 (NIV))

We are rapidly approaching Christmas day. It is the time of year that we have set aside to remember a few basic principles and to praise God for His grace and mercy. We celebrate the birth of a baby, but Jesus was no ordinary baby.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
(John 1:1-5 (NIV))

We celebrate God’s love, even when we were still sinners.

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
(Isaiah 64:6 (NIV))

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

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 6:23 (NIV))

We celebrate the fact that God’s love was so great that He took action.

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))

We celebrate that God’s simple plan of redemption was made personal.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”
(John 11:25-26 (NIV))

We celebrate because our God, our Father and our Lord is alive and seeks a relationship with each one of us.

Do you know the one true Savior?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you give thanks where thanks are due?

November 24, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ?
(1 Corinthians 10:16 (NIV))

Most of us just finished a meal, a feast, in which we gathered together with family and friends to give thanks for the blessings that we have. It is good to be thankful, especially when you consider that whatever you are thankful for can be gone in an instant. Loved ones can be taken from us. Health can be good one minute and forever a problem the very next. The homes that we have can go up in smoke and the finances that we store away for our future can be worthless the very next day.

No matter the state of the things of this world, there is one thing that we should be eternally thankful for. There is a treasure that lasts forever! That treasure is Jesus.

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.
(Matthew 6:19-20 (NIV))

We celebrate an earthly thanksgiving with a meal. We also celebrate an eternal thanksgiving by partaking of a holy meal, a holy communion. This participation in the cup and in the bread is a special symbol of our thanksgiving for what we have been given, but we should not limit our thankfulness to the Lord to just this particular moment. Every meal should be a reflection, a moment of thankfulness to God, for what we have been given. Not only every meal, but everything that is good should cause us to give thanks to the true source of all that is good.

Do you give thanks where thanks are due?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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