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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Will you be able to withstand the deception?

September 24, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

At that time if anyone says to you, `Look, here is the Christ!’ or, `Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect–if that were possible. So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time.
(Mark 13:21-23 (NIV))

How well do you know Jesus? How well do you know God’s Word?

Do you know them well enough to be able to discern the difference between the truth and a lie?

All too often, the enemy will shroud his lies in bits and pieces of the truth. He will use just enough of the truth to make his lies sound plausible. He will count on people not knowing God’s Word well enough to tell the difference between the truth and his lies. He will use just enough to entrap people.

Entrapment!

Do you honestly think that Satan cares how he tricks people into missing out on God’s grace and mercy? He only cares that he does trick people. It does not matter to him that he deceives people. It does not matter to him that he misuses God’s Word to deceive. He has only one goal and that is keeping as many people as possible from the redeeming grace offered through Jesus. Satan thinks that if he can’t be worshipped, then he will take that from God.

In the high-speed, fast-paced world that we now find ourselves in, we must know what we believe in. We must know what we have faith in.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
(Ephesians 6:10-18 (NIV))

Are you fully armed with the knowledge and truth that is God’s Word? Will you be able to withstand the deception?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Will you take the time to be still and know God?

June 13, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“Be still, and know that I am God;
(Psalms 46:10a (NIV))

I once asked the question, “How often can you take the time to sit in silence?” If you are like me, the hectic lifestyles that we live do not allow many times like this. I still find myself struggling to find time each day to spend quietly with God. Many times it is only for a few minutes an evening as I sit in my office and my family is in another room. I read through the verses that have caught my attention and I find myself reflecting upon what God has placed upon my heart.

Many times, the events of the day will open up an avenue that God will use to reach out to me and ask me if I have done the best that I could possibly do in a situation. Just like any one of us on any given day, I fail miserably when I think about what I should have done. When this happens, I thank God for showing me what a fool I can be and then I praise Him for His grace and mercy. Tomorrow is a new day! It is another day that I, a mere toddler, can attempt to walk with God in all of His glory. I know that each day I will fall short of what He desires for me, but I also know that He will allow me to get back up. He will allow me once again to take my place in my lifelong walk with Him.

Many times I miss the queues that tell me where He is going. I fail to hear that still small voice when He tells me to venture outside of my comfort zone. I long to get better at being able to discern His voice. I long to sit in His presence. I long to feel His guiding hand upon my life in all that I do.

There is no substitute for being in God’s presence and discerning His voice. It is something that we must learn. It takes patience. It takes practice. It takes a conscious effort each and every day. How can you know something if you do not take the time to study, if you do not take the time to learn? If we desire to know God, we must take the time. We must make a decision each and every day to make the time.

What will be your decision for today and every day for the rest of your life? Will you take the time to be still and know God?

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

February 15, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
(Luke 5:15-16 (NIV))

Jesus was and always will be. Yet, when He was on this earth, He did not gloat or boast or brag. He taught humbly, yet powerfully. Even though all knowledge was with Him, He did not forsake His quiet times that He spent in prayer. We can only imagine what His prayers were, but the important thing is that Jesus DID pray. He prayed constantly. As part of the Trinity, He had been with God the Father from the beginning, yet He still felt the need to pray.

Prayer!

What do you think that prayer is?

Is it a one sided request that God do something for you?

Is it a one sided advice giving session?

Or is it a two-sided conversation where you freely talk with the Father?

Jesus held conversations with God the Father. We know the contents of one side of one of His conversations. The prayer in the Garden of Gesthemene is probably the most intense prayer ever recorded, yet it was not a request, it was not advice, it was an earnest discussion with God the Father to discern His Will.

If Jesus, who was with God and who is God, felt the need to pray to God the Father, how can we do any less?

Do you pray like Jesus?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How well are you learning what the Lord is teaching?

August 3, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.
(Titus 2:2 (NIV))

There is an old saying that with age comes wisdom.

I suppose that all depends on your definition of wisdom!

Far too many people falsely think that knowledge is wisdom, but they fail to recognize the fact that what you may know can lead to bad results. Wisdom is so much more than knowing facts, especially when you consider that facts can be twisted to make you come to wrong conclusions. Wisdom takes the facts and allows you to discern truth. It is the application of good judgment to the facts. It is possible to be filled with knowledge yet still be unwise. It is also possible to be older and unwise. Sometimes even the wisest among us will still have things that they need to learn so that they can be better at discerning the truth.

I love the fact that this passage starts with “Teach the older men.” Instantly it implies that each of us still have much to learn with respect to our faith walk no matter what our age may be. It also implies that not a single one of us is completely mature. Each of us may need to realize that we may not be as mature in our faith as we think.

We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.
(Hebrews 5:11-13 (NIV))

We have so much to learn in our faith journey with Jesus. Not a one of us is perfect. We all have lessons that we are learning and many that we still need to learn.

How well are you learning what the Lord is teaching?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you able to discern the truth from the lies?

March 7, 2016

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))

I hear people say all the time that they are still a kid at heart. Think about that in relation to this passage. Do you still feel that you are a kid at heart?

He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
(Matthew 18:2-4 (NIV))

Does this passage from Matthew seem like it contradicts the passage from 1 Corinthians?

On the surface, they seem to be one of the things that too many people reference when they say that the Bible is full of contradictions. Are they really contradictions?

There are many aspects to being a child. Some are playfulness and silliness. How many of you would agree that as you grow older you stopped being as playful and as silly? You started to think differently and to see the world differently. In other words, you put away childish things and started looking at the world as a serious and dangerous place. It is not the world where your childhood imagination conjures up fantasy worlds of toys and unicorns. It is a place where these types of dreams, once looked upon as cute, will get you in trouble and lead to a life of problems.

Another aspect of childhood is innocence and trust. To some people, innocence and trust are just different words for childish silliness. Do you think like that? It is these characteristics that I believe Jesus was speaking of when He said that we need to come to Him like little children. Is this so silly of a notion?

Words have subtle nuances in meaning that are truly only understandable when you take things in complete context. Even today, calling someone childish paints a different image than saying someone is a trusting child. The first in intended as a derogatory cut while the second is a label of endearment. This is just one example of how knowing God’s Word can give you ammunition to explain to someone that the Bible is not full of contradictions. It takes faith and study to be able to truly discern what is truth and what is from the enemy.

Are you able to discern?

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is that pet sin that you won’t let go of worth it?

October 1, 2014

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ–to the glory and praise of God.
(Philippians 1:9-11 (NIV))

Do you think that you are able to discern what is best?

Do you think that you are able to remain blameless until the day of Christ?

Are you filled with the fruit of righteousness?

On the surface, these sound like simple questions, but have you actually tried to look at your life and honestly provide an answer? Do you believe your answers?

We all think that we can discern what is best, but do we always use God’s Word as the benchmark? Do we pick and choose what we think is good based on our own desires or do we honestly look to follow God in all that we do?

Do we, as the Body of Christ, do as society has us believe that truth is relative? How can we remain blameless if what we measure ourselves by is not a fixed target, but it is in the eyes of God? How can we claim to be righteous when the concept of righteousness is a moving target in our own eyes?

God has given us standards. He has given us instructions as to what is good and what is righteous. It is our fault, society and individually, that we have lost track of what is expected of us. In some cases, many of us have deliberately turned our backs on what God desires, yet, we still profess to follow Him.

I can hear His response now.

“Not everyone who says to me, `Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he 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 perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, `I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
(Matthew 7:21-23 (NIV))

It doesn’t get much clearer than this. If we are not able to discern what is good, remain blameless and stay righteous, we will be cast aside. Jesus will have never known us.

Is that pet sin that you won’t let go of worth it?

Copyright 1998 – 2014 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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