Through the eyes of a little child!

December 15, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For he who is least among you all–he is the greatest.”
(Luke 9:48 (NIV))

I have read this passage many times and tonight it hit me in a way that I had not thought of before. Perhaps it is the time of year with Christmas very close, but something made me look at this in a different light.

I know that many Christians have trouble with the idea of Santa Claus, but if you consider the roots of this “person,” you come away with a different perspective. Nicholas was a 4th century Christian who was known for helping children. He is also known for other things, but his love and help of children has gained him much notoriety. There are various different stories about Nicholas, but the one thing that stands out is how he used his love for Jesus to reach out to the little children.

Perhaps our understanding of Santa Claus could use a true historical perspective based on church history and not on what society has made him. Perhaps our understanding of many things could use a true historical perspective based on church history.

Could you imagine a Christmas not tied up in gifts and decorations, but in the grace and mercy that God gave us through the manger? Could you imagine a Christmas based on the greatest gift of all times instead of the “perfect gift” that will be obsolete in a short time?

Nicholas came to mind because of his ministry to children. Jesus told us that we are to be as little children. We need to look at His love without the sins of the world trying to cling to everything and distort the truth about the greatest gift that humanity could ever be given.

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

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))

Perhaps we need to look at the gift of Christmas through the eyes of a little child once again!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you fully rely on the Lord?

October 21, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

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.
(Psalms 23:4 (ESV))

Has this year felt like this valley to you?

In the face of everything that is going on in the world and with the near misses that we see coming at the world, it is easy to find yourself fearful. To be honest with you, I don’t understand how people who don’t trust in Jesus are making it. Lies abound, and we all know who is the father of lies. Fear abounds. If you don’t believe me, simply walk into a grocery store without a mask. You will see those who are wearing a mask stop and look at you like you have two heads. Most will do all that they can do to stay away from you. Anger and violence abound. Depending on the angle of the cameras reporting these instances, they are either peaceful protesters or they are full blown riots. Usually, it is the very same event being portrayed.

Evil is running rampant. Common sense, mutual respect and decency appear to no longer exist. Child trafficking is taking place. It is not safe for women with small children to be out. Arrogance seems to control the day. People will look you in the eye and tell you that they never did something while there is recorded footage of them doing what they vehemently deny.

Thankfully, we have a place of refuge in the midst of all of this chaos and evil. We can turn to the Lord for He is the Good Shepherd. His rod is a weapon of defense against the evils that surround us. His staff is a tool of rescue. It is used to lead and guide us through the evils of this world.

Do you trust in the Lord to protect you? Do you trust in the Lord to be your place of refuge? For those who love the Lord, we have been promised this and so much more.

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.
(2 Corinthians 1:20 (NIV))

Do you fully rely on the Lord?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are we seeing a lack of Godly training in the world?

August 6, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.
(Proverbs 22:6 (NKJV))

It seems like anyone and everyone can quote this passage, even if they don’t know any other passages. Sadly, we appear to be seeing the truth behind these words unfolding right before us.

Just what is training?

In essence, the concept of training implies the teaching of discipline and the importance of following that discipline. Instilling self-discipline into the life of someone starts early in childhood. For example, I am sure that most of you were told at some point early in your life that you were old enough that your wants won’t hurt you. In other words, you had been taught that just because you want something doesn’t mean that it will happen no matter how big of a temper tantrum you may throw. Usually, this statement resulted in the application of a different passage.

He who spares his rod hates his son,
But he who loves him disciplines him promptly.
(Proverbs 13:24 (NKJV))

Am I the only one who sees a direct correlation between training and discipline?

It appears that we are seeing what happens when children who are not disciplined grow up and still act like spoiled brats. Parents who raised their children to think that they can do no wrong have committed a great disservice to their children, to society and to the Lord! Perhaps Proverbs 22:6 could be paraphrased in this manner.

Discipline a child when he does wrong and when he grows up, he will have learned how to behave.

Sadly, no matter what translation you may quote or how you choose to paraphrase this passage, the results of not applying this Godly principle are a lack of discipline and a total lack of respect for anything that is contrary to someone’s feelings. Discipline teaches that feelings can be manipulated. Truth is always the truth. Discipline teaches to seek the truth beyond the feelings.

Are we seeing a lack of Godly training in the world?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do you accept the proof?

February 7, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.
(Acts 17:31 (NIV))

Far too many people simply think of Jesus as the baby in the manger. They see the sweet innocence and gladly embrace a child. Some even fully embrace that He was sent by God.

Some see more than this.

Some see a teacher. Some see a prophet. Some see a martyr. Some see even more than this.

I fully embrace the description that the Bible gives to Jesus. This is a combination of Old Testament prophecy that is mirrored in New Testament fulfillment. I see Jesus as all of these things and more. He was a sweet and innocent babe. He was a teacher. He was a prophet. He was a martyr in that He came to die for our sins. But, there is more.

He is God’s only begotten Son. He is the son of man. He is both fully God and fully human. Jesus came to teach us. He came to show us God’s plan for salvation. He came to die so that plan of salvation could be realized. He died and was buried. On the third day, He arose again to being hope and fulfill the promises that had been made. He ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of God the Father, and He will return to judge the world.

There, I said it. Too many people simply do not want to admit that God’s plan also includes a day of judgment. They don’t want to admit that there will be consequences for their actions.

Think about that for a moment, though.

Who would you rather be judged by – a perfect Creator in God, or God who became human so that He could fully understand our temptations? In order for God to set a day of judgment, He had to have appointed someone to act as judge. He had to appoint someone to act as a mediator between Himself and sinful man. He had to come into this world to live as we live and to set an example for each of us. He had to face the same temptations that we face. He had to overcome them and offer Himself as a replacement for our punishment.

Judgment is something that we all dread. It is something that we would rather not think about. It is something that we will face if we do not turn to the One whom God sent.

The first time that Jesus came into this world, He came to offer salvation. He came to show us how to avoid judgment. We can accept this offer or we can face judgment.

Do you accept the proof?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What do you hear?

January 30, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.
(John 8:47 (NIV))

Contrary to what the world thinks, God does speak to us if we only know how to listen.

Just like in any relationship, we have to know the heart of the other person. We have to know them on a deeper level than just a casual acquaintance. We must be able to pick up on subtle intents based on our knowledge of the person. For all of the married men who are reading this, I am sure that a subtle roll of the eyes by your wife carries a meaning that only you understand. With this as an example, perhaps it is easy to understand that intimacy with someone means that not all communications are with words. Sometimes we are able to “hear” things because we know someone so well that we can understand things that others would not pick up on.

Does God always speak in an audible voice?

If we have accepted His Son, Jesus, as our personal Lord and Savior, we can be called His children. That is God reaching out to us in love. If we spend time with His Word, we know His heart. That is us reaching out to God in love. We draw closer to Him and we begin to know what breaks His heart and what bring Him joy. We begin to recognize the subtle differences in us as we mature in our faith and our relationship with the Lord. We feel peace and joy when we walk with Him and we feel anxiety and sorrow when we stray.

We have also been given the Holy Spirit to guide us. That is God walking with us in love. He is that still, small voice that lives in us to teach us how to walk with the Lord in a relationship as a loving Father and His child.

There are so many ways that we are able to hear what God says. We just have to be open to hearing and be willing to respond. We must desire a relationship with God in order to hear Him.

Do you desire that relationship?

What do you hear?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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How do you define love?

April 1, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
(1 Corinthians 13:4 (NIV))

Love can possess many different characteristics in the minds of those who try to define it. To some people, it is a strong affection such as what a mother has for her child. Others think of love as a sexual attraction. Some people even go so far as to define love by the things that they like.

What is your definition of love? Does it encompass any or all of the above?

How does God define love?

God’s love is not too proud to keep Him from reaching out to save. God’s love for us is kind. He does not reach out to us to condemn us. God’s love for us is not proud. He willingly did what He had to do to bring us salvation.

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.
(John 3:16-17 (NIV))

God’s love is patient.

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
(2 Peter 3:9 (NIV))

I could spend countless hours documenting the depth of God’s love for His creation. It is boundless, yet, it is simple at the same time. It is everlasting, yet it is concerned about your individual moments. It is powerful, yet it is gentle enough to hold each of us in our moments of weakness. It is all encompassing, yet it is able to focus on each of us individually. In essence, God’s love is perfect!

How do you define love?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What have you put behind you?

March 29, 2019

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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))

Maturity is something that many of us try to avoid. We have a tendency to fear responsibility and we have a tendency to think of maturity and responsibility as being one and the same. In all honesty, they are closely related, but it is possible to be responsible without actually being mature. In essence, maturity can be considered full development while responsibility often refers to accountability. A good example of this is a child who always cleans their room. They are definitely not mature, but they are responsible in certain aspects of their life.

Human nature tells us that we don’t like to be held accountable. All that you have to do is look at Adam and Eve after being tempted into eating the fruit. When God approached them about what happened, blame was placed elsewhere. They failed to take the responsibility for what happened.

If you look at maturity as the ability to recognize sin and responsibility as the accountability to stay away from sin, then we start to get a clearer picture of this passage.

A child will think, say and do things that are less than desirable. Hopefully, as the child gets older, they recognize the childish nature and desire to take on a more mature nature. They decide to leave the old, childish nature behind them in a similar manner to how a person who repents leaves the old, sinful nature behind them. They step closer to maturity by selecting to put things behind them and move forward without that baggage.

What have you put behind you?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you a member of God’s family?

January 14, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
(John 3:3 (NIV))

I was recently given a very interesting glimpse of God’s love for us through the birth of my granddaughter! Let me explain, and for those of you who have recently experienced the birth of a child, you probably already understand.

Is there anything that makes the human heart happier than the birth of a child? It brings joy to the mother and father and all who are related to them. People gather all around to celebrate the birth of the precious new life! They bestow gifts on the parents and on the child. They make a commitment to always be there for the child as they grow and mature. They instantly love with more love than they could possibly imagine.

Think about that in terms of being a child of God’s.

When we are born again, we are born of the Spirit. We accept the grace and mercy freely given to become a son or a daughter of God. In true fashion, we literally are born again. We are birthed into the family of God! Don’t you think that the Lord is filled with joy when someone truly decides to call Him Father? The human joy that we experience when we hold a newborn member of our family is overwhelming. How much greater is the joy that God and all of heaven feel when we are born into God’s family?

There is no greater joy in this world than the birth of a child. There is no greater joy that God can experience than the rebirth of one of His beloved children.

Have you given God great joy? Are you a member of God’s family?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do we still look at things from the same perspective?

September 19, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
(1 Corinthians 13:11 (NIV))

Our ability to understand things changes as we mature and grow.

Looking back at your childhood, did you fully understand how things were in the world? Did you know about such things as death and taxes? Did you fully understand the grace and mercy that God showed the world through His Son, Jesus Christ, or did you spend your days thinking about playing and what happens to tadpoles to make them change into frogs?

Just as that tadpole changed, God has planned for us to change and to grow, both physically, mentally, and spiritually. Are you the same as you were when you were six years old? Do you expect to be the same when you are sixty? Do you expect to be the same when you are with Jesus?

Our ability to understand changes just as our bodies change. Perhaps it is this change that makes us more and more grateful for what God has given to us through Jesus! Hopefully, we no longer look at sin through the understanding of a child. Hopefully, we realize the full ramifications of our sin and the eternal consequences that it brings.

Do we still look at things from the same perspective?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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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.
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