Are you looking to yourself instead of Jesus?

November 13, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.
(Revelation 3:17 (NIV))

Do you consider yourself a follower of Christ?

Do you like to be self-sufficient?

Are you the type of person who has to take care of everything yourself?

Do you feel that unless you do it, it isn’t done right?

Would you rather starve than ask for assistance?

Do you look around and think to yourself that you have your life in order and are prepared for anything that may happen?

Hopefully, everyone who reads this will answer the first question with a resounding “Yes!”

The other questions fall into an area where human ego and pride come into play far too often. To be honest with you, I am guilty of answering these questions with a “yes” more often than I care to admit. Everyone likes to be self-sufficient. Do you feel guilty asking for help? I understand.

For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”
(2 Thessalonians 3:10 (NIV))

Everyone has a certain way that you want things done. Everyone would love to have a nest egg to know that they are taken care of. We like to be able to predict our comfort and our future. But is this what God wants?

He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’
“Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”‘
“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’
(Luke 12:17-20 (NIV))

In case you did not realize this, Revelation 3:17 is about the church at Laodicea. This is the church that Jesus called lukewarm. He even said that He was about to spit them out of His mouth. They had accepted Jesus, yet they failed to leave the comfort of their physical lives. They thought that they had everything covered. They thought that they were self-sufficient. They thought that they didn’t need any assistance and that everything was in order. The sad part of this is that is was all based on their efforts and not on the strength of Jesus! If we take a look at the next sentence from Luke, we see exactly what will happen to those who fail to look to the Lord.

“This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”
(Luke 12:21 (NIV))

Don’t be caught up in your ability. Don’t be so arrogant that you rely on your feeble works. Look to the Lord and grow in your faith.

Are you looking to yourself instead of Jesus?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you able to love in this manner?

October 30, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
(Ephesians 4:2 (NIV))

Excuse the language, but have you ever simply wanted to say, “You idiot!” when dealing with certain people?

Be honest with yourself. You probably had someone pop into your mind when you read that question. Honestly, there are just some people that rub us the wrong way even if we try to not let them bother us. But, do they actually make you lose control or is it entirely up to you how you react?

It is said that love is a choice. We can choose to love even when the person is less than lovable. We can choose to be humble and gentle in our responses even when we are intentionally being provoked. We can choose to be patient even in situations where our patience is being put to the ultimate test. We can choose to bear with one another in love because there will be times when we are less than lovable and we will want someone to love us! If you actually stop to think about human reactions, they can all come down to a simple matter of ego and pride. In essence, our reactions are nothing more than our inner attitudes toward others. We think that we know more, or are better qualified to undertake a task. As already stated, love is a choice. It is only one of many, but it is the correct choice.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,
(Philippians 2:3 (NIV))

How do you value others?

Are you able to humble yourself even in the midst of people who are able to press all of your buttons?

Are you able to love in this manner?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is there freedom in your life?

April 30, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
(2 Corinthians 3:17 (NIV))

What do you think of when you think of God? Are you prone to apply human understanding and limit God as a result? Do you have a mental image of how you think God looks? Does your mental image apply human characteristics to God?

God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.
(John 4:24 (NIV))

No one knows what the Father looks like. His glory cannot be comprehended by human minds. All throughout human history, people have made a vain attempt at creating a likeness of God or what people have called gods. We are told not to worship idols. Nothing that we can imagine comes close to the majesty that is our Lord! He has no physical limitations. He has no spiritual limitations except that He cannot associate with sin.

We think that we have a good idea of what Jesus looked like. Even so, nobody is completely certain. God sent Jesus into this world at a time when people and events were not recorded for all to see. I would probably venture to say that it was never God’s intention to have a perfect likeness of Jesus be a part of His legacy. I can already imagine the human ego being exactly what it is if we knew that Jesus had a certain look or a certain ethnicity. We do know that He was Jewish, but we don’t know how dark His skin was. We don’t know what color eyes He had. All that we do know and all that we need to know is recorded in the Gospels. God wanted us to believe in Jesus on faith and not because we saw a video of Him performing any of His miracles.

Did God exist before creation?

Did Jesus exist before He came to earth?

Does God exist now?

Does Jesus exist now?

In case you are wondering where I am going with this, the answer is simple. God is Spirit – always has been and always will be.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
(John 1:1 (NIV))

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
(John 1:14 (NIV))

He stepped out of eternity and took on human form in order to bring us freedom! This does not mean that we are to worship the form. We are to worship the Lord in all of His majesty and not in the limitations of the form that He took. When you see the cross, what do you see? Do you see a man who was nailed to it or do you see the Spirit of God come to earth to set us free?

Is there freedom in your life?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Why do we try to tell God what to do?

April 5, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?
(Romans 11:34 (NIV))

What is it about human nature that makes us want to give advice to anyone and everyone? Why do we think that the world would be so much better off if everyone would simply listen to us? Is it ego, pride, or arrogance that makes us feel that we have all of the answers, or is it a combination of all of these traits and many more? What is so interesting and sad at the same time is the fact that we even do this with God. This is the equivalent of a loaf of bread arguing with the baker who made it. Our perspective, our understanding is nothing in comparison to that of the Lord.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
(Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV))

Who has known the mind of the Lord?

I find that question so laughable since we, as humanity, don’t spend enough time drawing close to the Lord. Through His Word, He has given us insight into His heart and mind, but very few of us spend enough time diving headfirst into this treasure to truly know God. We read something and take it out of context and soon twist it to mean what we think that it should mean. We then point a proverbial finger at the Lord and accuse Him of not doing what we think He should do based on our twisted understanding.

Let’s be honest with ourselves, each other and with the Lord. There is absolutely nothing that we can do or say that will be above and beyond what God has thought. To be perfectly honest, I believe that the following passage, even though it refers to our righteousness, can be applied to our wisdom and understanding.

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))

Again, I wonder what it is about human nature that makes us want to give advice when we truly don’t understand anything. Why are we so arrogant that we feel that our understanding is far above what it truly is?

Why do we try to tell God what to do?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you able to bring this sacrifice?

November 29, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.
(Psalms 51:17 (NIV))

We all make sacrifices. Some of us sacrifice for our spouses. Some sacrifice for their children. Some people will sacrifice for their jobs and some will make sacrifices for their church, but how hard is it to overcome human nature? It is this human nature that at times makes each of us think that we are the center of the universe.

Does this sound like a broken spirit?

Does this sound like a broken and contrite heart?

The sacrifice that God does not despise is the one in which we come humbly into His presence. It is a sacrifice in which we offer up our humility, our ego and our pride. It is a sacrifice that places our needs and desires much lower than our selfish human nature demands. It is a sacrifice that recognizes that we are not capable of doing anything that will make us righteous in God’s eyes.

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))

It is a sacrifice that places God first and others as equals with ourselves.

To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.
(Mark 12:33 (NIV))

Our sinful human nature makes it so difficult to sacrifice ourselves in this manner, but it is exactly what we must be able to do.

Are you able to bring this sacrifice?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What has the Spirit enabled you to do?

September 13, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
(Acts 2:4 (NIV))

How many times have you witnessed what the Holy Spirit was doing only to wish that it would be done to or through you?

I know! Human ego gets in the way far too often. We see how God is moving in and through the lives of others. We focus on the others so much that we fail to see what is being done in our own lives. What do other people see happening in your life when they look at you? Do they see the things that you have grown blind to? Do they wish that they had the gifts of the Spirit that you have been blessed with?

Why do we have such a difficult time recognizing our gifts and abilities? Why do we envy and desire the gifts and abilities that have been given to others? Why do we desire what we don’t have and ignore what we do have even when what we do have is far greater than what we don’t have? I honestly believe that it is a combination of ego, greed and envy. We like to think that we are capable of anything that anyone else can do and that we can do it better!

God did not make us to all be the same. He gave us each unique gifts.

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?
(1 Corinthians 12:27-30 (NIV))

We are all unique creations. We have all been enabled to do things that no one else can do.

What has the Spirit enabled you to do?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What do you like to boast about?

March 24, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

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))

Do you like to boast?

We are all guilty of it. It is human nature to toot our own horn. I have often wondered if this happens because we know ourselves and we are afraid to allow others to truly know us like we know ourselves. We say and do things to elevate ourselves in the eyes and minds of those around us so that they don’t see the real us. I suppose that you could say that we are all guilty of deception by the proverbial smoke and mirrors.

Paul had every reason to be able to boast based on his position in the Jewish society of his day. After his Damascus Road encounter, he realized that all of his accomplishments were nothing when compared to what Jesus had done for each and every one of us. His boasting went from that of self-centered, look at me actions to an I am nothing, look at Jesus type of action.

Why do we think that we have to elevate ourselves? Is it the sinful nature that is central to humanity? If you stop to think about it, boasting is an outward manifestation of pride.

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.
(Proverbs 16:18 (NIV))

Is this what we want to have happen? Do we want to be prideful and boast about ourselves, or do we want to change?

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
(James 4:10 (NIV))

What do you like to boast about?

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