What do you pursue?

April 23, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.
(1 Timothy 6:11 (NIV))

There are so many things in this world that vie for our attention and our time. Too many of us pursue things that we shouldn’t, and it shows.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
(Matthew 6:21 (NIV))

We chase after things of this world. We chase after riches. We chase after power and we chase after whatever feels good. Most people don’t care about the consequences of any of their actions. All that they are concerned about is themselves!

Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
(1 Timothy 6:9-10 (NIV))

Don’t fall into the trap of pursuing things of this world, for this world is in a sinful, fallen state. Anything that you pursue, by its very nature, will also be in a sinful, fallen state. It will not last. Thieves can steal and moth and rust will destroy it. It will lead to destruction. When you die, these things that you felt that you have to pursue now will soon belong to someone else. Your wealth that you seek, that you pursue in this world will not save you from the consequences of your sins in this world.

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
(Matthew 6:31-33 (NIV))

What do you pursue?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you understand the mystery?

April 19, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great: He appeared in the flesh, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.
(1 Timothy 3:16 (NIV))

For many people, this is easily understood and makes perfect sense. To others, it is complete foolishness.

If you stop to think about the word foolishness, it means a ridiculous act or idea. Just what is so ridiculous about the idea of God as a loving creator? If God can create with words, why can’t His words reflect love and beauty? Why can’t they shine grace and mercy into a world that has fallen into sin and evil desires? Why is there such a mystery around the concept that God loves us enough to do something that will bring redemption to 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.
(John 3:16 (NIV))

I once heard a story that puts a unique perspective to this!

A man who questioned the whole story of Jesus found himself out on his property during a bad snow storm. There was a huge flock of birds who were unable to fly away due to the weather. They were also freezing to death in the snow. He had a large barn so he went out to open the doors to let the birds go in, but no matter what he did, they would not go. He tried everything and still no luck in getting the birds to move. In desperation he thought, “If only I were a bird. I could lead them where they can find safety.” At that moment, he realized that this is what God had done. He became a man in order to show us the way to life! In an instant, he understood the mystery of God’s plan of salvation. It was not foolishness!

Do you understand the mystery?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What comes from within you?

March 8, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come — sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.
(Mark 7:21-22 (NIV))

Some people say that society has gone downhill. I actually believe that society has simply allowed what is within to be let out without any repercussions.

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

In today’s society, it is possible to find numerous people with like-minded evil thoughts. No matter what the thought may be, there are others who also have them. To be honest with you, people have been experiencing these thoughts ever since the fall from grace. There have always been thieves. There have always been murderers. People have always been greedy and envious. Deceit and arrogance have always existed, as well as sexual immorality and adultery.

What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
(Ecclesiastes 1:9 (NIV))

If this is the case, then why does it seem that we, as a society, are straying further and further away from God’s desires?

Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ ‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ ‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.'”
(Matthew 13:24-30 (NIV))

We are that field of wheat. The enemy has sown weeds within each of us that crop up in our lives and show themselves as what is within our hearts. We can choose to focus on the weeds and ignore the good wheat or we can focus on the good wheat and choose to ignore the weeds. Too many people are focusing on the wrong things and allowing the weeds that come from within to overshadow their lives.

I have heard the following told much more eloquently, but imagine that within each of us there are two wolves – a good wolf and a bad wolf. The one that becomes prominent in our lives is the one that we feed. We all have the potential to do much evil. If we feed that potential, evil will come from within.

What comes from within you?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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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.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you find yourself among the scoffers?

January 31, 2018

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires.
(2 Peter 3:3 (NIV))

Just for the sake of clarity, the word “scoff” means to have contempt, to scorn or to mock. I realize that members of the Body of Christ are to be in the world, but we are not to be of the world. With this in mind, can any of us go through a single day without hearing about or witnessing firsthand the very things that we are told will happen toward God, Jesus and God’s word? Do we, as the Body of Christ, escape the mocking? Do we feel the urge to mock those who mock God or do we feel the need to pray for these individuals?

Think about that last question for a moment from the perspective of the cross.

When Jesus was arrested and scourged, the soldiers mocked Jesus. How did He respond? When He was taken to Pilate, the crowds mocked Him. How did He respond? When He was hung upon the cross, the soldiers, the crowd and one of the thieves mocked Him. How did He respond?

When we are under attack, it is so easy to fall back upon our human nature and lash out at those who are attacking us. Did Jesus do this in any of the previously mentioned situations? If we all agree that Jesus lived a perfect life as an example for how we should live, what do His actions during these situations tell us about our own lives?

What would Jesus do?

This phrase may be greatly over used, but it is valid in this situation. When we are facing hardship, when we are facing mocking, we must remember how we are to act. We are to follow the example that Jesus set before us.

You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.
(Matthew 5:38-40 (NIV))

Don’t allow the world to make you become as they are. Don’t allow the world to make you react, to make you mock and scoff at the things you know to be true. Keep your eyes focused on Jesus so that you don’t find yourself somewhere you don’t want to be.

Do you find yourself among the scoffers?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you like to boast?

September 26, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil.
(James 4:16 (NIV))

Why is it within our nature to boast about what we can do or will do?

I honestly believe that it is due to pride. If you stop to think about what caused Satan to rebel against God, it makes perfect sense. He wanted to be greater than God. He wanted everyone to look upon him as the ultimate in all of heaven. For this, he was cast out of heaven. In his cunning, he tricked Adam and Eve into sinning. He convinced them that they knew better than God. He convinced them that their understanding of what God meant was different from what He truly meant. In Satan’s efforts to elevate himself above God, he caused all of humanity to suffer the same evil desire. We want to elevate ourselves!

I believe that boasting is an offshoot of the sinful nature that wanted to be elevated above God. Boasting is the prideful, arrogant scheming that speaks from the heart of the person who is boasting. Because boasting comes from pride and arrogance, it is a sin. It is evil.

Boasting is a prideful and sinful expression where the one who boasts desires to elevate themselves even to the point of trying to be greater than God.

Do you like to boast?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is there anything that God cannot do?

September 6, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?
(Jeremiah 32:27 (NIV))

I have had this verse at my fingertips for a few days. I have been thinking about it. Something in these words has made me stop and reflect on them. Several things have made me pause on this passage.

The biggest question that I have is why do we even need to be reminded of this? Is humanity so completely idiotic that we have forgotten what has been common knowledge since creation? Of course we are! All throughout the Old Testament and the New Testament, as well, humanity has ignored God. We have rebelled against God. We have embraced evil and called it good. We have embraced false gods. We have created our own gods when we couldn’t find one that we liked that someone else had created. We have limited God in so many ways that by the time that Jeremiah walked the earth, God had to speak through Jeremiah to remind creation that only He is Lord. Keep in mind that this was not the first time that God had to remind people exactly who He is. God used Noah to let creation know that He is Lord. God used Moses to let people know that He is Lord.

These are just a few of the instances when God reminded His creation that He is Lord, still, there is something about the words from Jeremiah that stand out!

“Is anything too hard for me?”

Why is humanity so fickle? Why do we place limitations where no limitations can be placed? Why do we try to define God in terms that we can understand? If we can understand everything about whom we worship, then it is not the one true God, but a god of our own creation.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord,
(Isaiah 55:8 (NIV))

Do you try to limit God?

Is there anything that God cannot do?

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