When you look at yourself, what do you find?

March 5, 2020

Image

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.
(Ephesians 5:3 (NIV))

Did this hit a little too close to home?

If not, when was the last time that you took a very serious and in-depth look at yourself?

If you examine yourself with God’s Word as the benchmark, you will always come up short. If you aren’t finding anything, then you aren’t looking!

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?
(2 Corinthians 13:5 (NIV))

We have been given other things to look for beside sexual immorality, impurity and greed. We have also been told the consequences if we do not take action to correct these traits.

Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
(Ephesians 5:4-5 (NIV))

If we have professed a faith in Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, then we are called to do the things that Jesus did. I have not found a single passage that says that He possessed any of these traits that we are told are improper. If we truly desire to follow Jesus, then we are to follow Him in all aspects of our lives. Jesus never embraced sin. He rebuked sin. He told people to leave their life of sin and follow Him.

With that said, I want to ask you one more time to take an in-depth look at yourself. Examine your life through the eyes of Jesus.

When you look at yourself, what do you find?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
Subscribe to daily email delivery
Visit us on facebook


Why are we drawn to return to our sin and slavery?

March 2, 2020

Image

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
(Galatians 5:1 (NIV))

What is it about human nature that makes us return to something that we know we should leave behind? We have all been guilty of doing this very thing, and probably much more often than we care to admit. Apparently, human nature since the fall from grace has always had us doing what can only be called self destructive behavior. We know that we shouldn’t, but yet we do. This type of behavior has been pointed out many times, but probably the most accurate and disgusting is the following.

As a dog returns to its vomit,
so fools repeat their folly.
(Proverbs 26:11 (NIV))

As I stated previously, we all do it. Even the man who is credited with bringing the Gospel to the Gentiles fought this aspect in his own walk of faith. Paul was a very intelligent person, but yet he didn’t understand the self destructive nature that he fought against.

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
(Romans 7:15-20 (NIV))

This struggle that all of us face makes it clear why each of us are called to take up our cross daily. We are to deny that part of our human nature. We are to struggle with this sinful nature each and every time that it raises its ugly head in our lives. We are called to repent. Far too many people believe that this is a one-time occurrence, but it should be a daily attitude and activity. Do I even venture to say that, on some days, we may have to humble ourselves continually before the Lord and repent of our actions and our thoughts?

I know that we are a fallen creation, but I wish I had the magic answer as to why we return to our sin when we don’t want to. I wish I knew how to turn off that part of my life so that I never take my eyes off of Jesus. Just like Paul, I find myself doing the very things that I hate! I don’t know why! I long to do only what is good and righteous, yet on my own, this is not possible. I just know that we must be ready to fall on our knees whenever and wherever we may find yourself returning to our sin.

I want to leave you with one question that I hope you will take to heart.

Why are we drawn to return to our sin and slavery?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
Subscribe to daily email delivery
Visit us on facebook


What governs your mind?

February 14, 2020

Image

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.
(Romans 8:6 (NIV))

What lurks in the back of your mind when you have nothing going on?

Perhaps if I ask that another way it will make more sense. So, what do you do when you think that no one is looking?

The human mind is a difficult thing to control. We must keep it engaged with external stimuli or we take the chance that it will wander into something that will have disastrous consequences. Even when we focus on external stimuli, we have a tendency to seek out things that will eventually cause us trouble. We need to be very careful and very deliberate with our thoughts. The old saying, “Garbage in, garbage out” comes to mind. In other words, we become what we choose to fill ourselves with. Since we have two parts to our existence, spiritual and physical, we have two distinct paths we can pursue. We can choose the things that are physical in nature such as wealth, power, greed and lust, or we can choose the spiritual option. Even when we choose the spiritual option, we must be careful to not embrace a demonic spirit, but we must strive to follow the Holy Spirit.

As I sit here praying and writing, I find my mind wandering. It has been a long day, and I still need to spend my time with the Lord. You may find yourself in the very same predicament. It is human nature. With that said, when your mind does wander, are you able to redirect it? What do you redirect to, or do you go through life constantly facing distractions and chasing after the proverbial squirrels that we all encounter? Long ago I made a decision that I must establish my priorities, control my own thoughts and keep them focused on what I truly want to focus on. In other words, I have made the Lord not only a priority, but the priority in my life.

Allowing your mind to be governed by the Spirit of God requires commitment. It requires a maturity that most of us wish we had. Most of all, it requires a desire to seek after God in all things and the ability to recognize when you stray. When you stray, and we all do, repent and refocus! Allow the Holy Spirit to fill your life and to govern your mind. You will find that you do possess a maturity and a peace that passes all understanding.

What governs your mind?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
Subscribe to daily email delivery
Visit us on facebook


What do you hear?

January 30, 2020

Image

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.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
Subscribe to daily email delivery
Visit us on facebook


Is it your desire to have Jesus increase in you?

January 29, 2020

Image

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

He must increase, but I must decrease.
(John 3:30 (NKJV))

This goes against everything that is considered human nature. If left to our own devices, we seek to elevate ourselves while not caring about those whom we step on when we do. Everyone has dreams of power and wealth, and Satan knows this. It is that very thing that Satan used to temp Jesus in the wilderness. Satan made a big mistake in thinking that Jesus would be, could be tempted as we are tempted. He tried to get Jesus to “show off” by turning the stones into bread. He tried to get Jesus to prove His authority by showing that the angels would lift Him up. He tried to offer Jesus all of the worldly kingdoms if Jesus would worship him. Basically, Satan tempted Jesus with physical comfort, power and authority. I am so thankful that Jesus rejected all temptations. Our sinful human nature would have seen any one of us giving in to most, if not all of these. Because Jesus was able to resist temptation, He is elevated to the power and authority that is required for Him to complete the mission that brought salvation.

When we rely on ourselves, we fail miserably. When we rely on Jesus, we are given grace and mercy. The more that we rely on Jesus, the less that our sinful nature comes out. The more that we rely on Jesus, He increases in our lives. We are still the unique individuals that God created us to be. But instead of the sinful creation, we replace our sinful desires with the heart of Jesus. By allowing Jesus to increase in us, we become the best “us” that we can be. I don’t know about you, but I like this concept. I like being able to rely on the strength of Jesus when my weaknesses would see me fail. I like being able to say, “Thank you, Jesus, for carrying me through once again!”

Is it your desire to have Jesus increase in you?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
Subscribe to daily email delivery
Visit us on facebook


What is the condition of your heart?

January 28, 2020

Image

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

The LORD detests men of perverse heart
but he delights in those whose ways are blameless.
(Proverbs 11:20 (NIV))

Have we become a people of perverse hearts? Do we accept what the world calls okay even though God’s Word tells us that it is not okay? Do we have a desire to intentionally disobey God’s Word? How can we truly call ourselves part of the Body of Christ when we do not do what He tells us to do? Basically, how can we ignore the fact that we are not obeying His command to go and sin no more as He told the woman caught in adultery?

When we have perverse hearts, we think that we can do whatever we want. We think that God will overlook what we do. Sadly, many in today’s church and in the non-believing world think this is how God works. Proverbs 11:20 tells us differently.

But wait!

Didn’t Jesus come to forgive our sins?

Jesus did come to offer us grace and mercy. The key word is offer. We have to accept that offer and accept the terms that go with that offer. We are to repent. Just like what Jesus told the woman caught in adultery, we are to go and sin no more. He did not tell us that to get salvation we turn to Him and beg for forgiveness and then keep on deliberately sinning. Too many people falsely believe that believing in Jesus will earn them salvation no matter what they do from that point on. Jesus told us that He would tell these type of people to get away from Him because He never knew them.

With so many passages telling us that we are to turn away from our sin, how can anyone honestly believe that Jesus condones a perverse heart? How can we believe that people who simply give lip service to Jesus will actually see the salvation and grace that they think they will get?

Jesus did not come into this world, live as one of us, teach us, and die on the cross so that we can continue in our sin. We have to have a change of heart. We have to accept all conditions of the offer of grace.

What is the condition of your heart?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
Subscribe to daily email delivery
Visit us on facebook


What will be measured out to you?

January 24, 2020

Image

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
(Luke 6:38 (NIV))

We have all heard the old saying that you get what you give, but have you ever heard it put in such terms as this passage. You have also heard of the concept of the baker’s dozen where you actually get 13 instead of 12. The concepts presented in Luke take both of these ideas and take them up a notch. Think about that in terms of the wording in this passage.

A good measure is when the target measurement is not shorted, but actually is measured out even more than the target measurement. Now, what happens when you press something down? It becomes packed. It becomes compressed. Think about this in terms of vacuum packed. All of the air is removed so that what is measured out is so tightly packed that it takes less space. Shaken together and running over implies that even more is added. Keep in mind the vacuum packed concept. If you fill up a one cubic foot box and then vacuum pack the contents, it will probably only fill half of the box. Now, add more to it and vacuum pack it again. Keep doing this until what is being given is not only packed tightly and much more than you would think you would be given, but then it is topped off so that it is overflowing the box. If you have trouble visualizing this concept, take a look at the vacuum packed coffee “bricks” that you can buy. When you open this package and pour it into another container, it fills an area probably two to three times the size of the vacuum packed package.

I like to think that this is how the Lord gives to us!

Read Luke 6:8 again and you will see that there is a prerequisite for receiving the abundance that the Lord will give. We must give first! I realize that this sounds like prosperity Gospel, but humor me for a moment. We must give our heart to the Lord. We must give our life to Jesus. We must give our tithes and offerings out of joy, and we must give to others as their needs present themselves. When our heart is in line with the Lord’s, we will desire to be blessed so that we can be a blessing to others. The reason that we are asked to give first is so that the Lord can test our motives and to make sure that we are mature in our faith to follow His desires and not ours.

With this in mind, I have two questions that I still need to ask.

Are you becoming a cheerful giver?

What will be measured out to you?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
Subscribe to daily email delivery
Visit us on facebook


Have you accepted your room reservation?

December 30, 2019

Image

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
(John 14:1-3 (NIV))

This passage came up today and my first reaction was that it wasn’t appropriate as a New Year’s scripture. Then I read it a few more times and the realization of the hope for a better future for those who are in Christ became evident. It also became evident that what society truly desires as they celebrate the beginning of a new year is the ability to wipe away all of the past mistakes and move forward with hope for a better life in the new year. Let’s face the truth. When we make resolutions, we are simply professing a desire to change something about ourselves that we don’t like!

How is that working out for you?

Human nature is a difficult thing to deal with. We say that we want to change, yet most of us after just a few short days are right back at our old habits, our old sins. We cannot do it on our own! Our Father realized this and sent His one and only Son to be offered as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. All that we have to do is earnestly and truthfully accept this and grace is ours! We are forgiven of our sins. We accept the willing sacrifice of the one perfect man who was God with us. We recognize that we must turn to Him and repent of our sins. We must be willing to repent on a daily basis for we will not be free from the temptation of sin. We must accept the truth that temptation will not go away. We must also rejoice in the fact that when the world tries to tempt us, we have Jesus.

One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin,
    but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
(Proverbs 18:24 (NIV))

One day, we will see the Father’s house. What a promise for a better future that is. For the Body of Christ, that is not the beginning of a better future. The beginning is when someone decides to make a personal resolution that consists of three things.

1. Admit that you are a sinner.
2. Believe in your heart that Jesus Christ is Lord.
3. Confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord.

The good news is that we don’t have to wait for a new year to be born again, to start anew, to give our life to Christ! That resolution can be made at any time. Now is that perfect time.

This is one resolution that has eternal rewards with a room!

Have you accepted your room reservation?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
Subscribe to daily email delivery
Visit us on facebook


Do you desire to have faith like David?

November 14, 2019

Image

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
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.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
forever.
(Psalms 23:1-6 (NIV))

David was probably one of the most prolific writers of all times. By today’s standards, he would have been considered a “self-made man,” yet, he focused on God in all that he wrote about. He eagerly embraced all that God had graciously bestowed upon him and gave thanks at all times for what God had done for him. It is true that David strayed, but when he was confronted with this fact, he realized his mistakes and repented. Psalm 23 speaks of the grace and mercy that God has bestowed upon David, and will bestow on anyone if they only seek after God. God will not allow those who earnestly seek Him to follow the paths of unrighteousness or to be troubled by enemies. We will still have troubles, but God is our assurance of victory through the troubles.

David wrote that God would prepare a table before him in the presence of his enemies. He did not say that God would destroy the enemies. It is God’s Will that none should perish. Perhaps the reason that you still have enemies is this fact. God is using you to be an example of His grace and mercy to those who hate you.

How do you react to your enemies? Do they see Jesus in you and in your actions?

Do you desire to have faith like David?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
Subscribe to daily email delivery
Visit us on facebook


Do you long to see Jesus face to face?

November 13, 2019

Image

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name.
(Zechariah 14:9 (NIV))

I pray that everyone who professes a faith in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior earnestly looks forward to this day! It is the culmination of everything that we profess that we believe in.

We profess that Jesus is Lord. We profess that He is King of kings and Lord of lords. We profess that one day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord. We profess that Jesus is the One. We profess that Jesus is the Son. We profess that Jesus is the only name by which we can be saved. We profess that Jesus was crucified, dead and buried. We profess that on the third day He arose from the grave. We profess that He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father. We profess that He will return.

In all these things that we profess, do we truly mean them? Is it our innermost desire to see these things come to pass? Will we be embraced or will we face disgrace?

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))

Too many people simply give lip service to the things that we profess as members of the Body of Christ. Following Jesus is so much more than words. Following Jesus is a full-time commitment. We can say that we long for Jesus to return, but our thoughts, our heart and our actions can say something completely different.

Merriam-Webster defines longing as a strong desire or a craving. They also define craving as an intense desire. If you long for something, you have an intense desire for it to come to pass. Do you have an intense desire to see Jesus? Do you long for the day that Zechariah spoke of? Do you long to see Jesus face to face?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
Subscribe to daily email delivery
Visit us on facebook


%d bloggers like this: