Are you still trying to earn what is freely given?

December 10, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.
(Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV))

There is an old saying that you get what you pay for. This implies that anything of value has a great cost for the one who possesses it. It also implies that if you didn’t pay anything for it, then it is worthless. The thought is that anything of worth and value requires a sacrifice of something of worth or value in order to obtain it.

There is another old saying about something being too good to be true. This actually piggybacks onto the other saying. In essence, if it is supposed to be so valuable and there is no sacrifice to receive it, is it truly worth anything?

There is profound truth in these sayings, but too many people fail to recognize that they only apply to a limited understanding of the world, and that limited understanding is ours! I am certain that everyone reading this can describe at least one situation in your life in the last year in which these old sayings were proven to be true. Get rich quick scams come to mind as one potential situation. However, there is one area in the lives of each and every one of us where we can throw our limited understanding out of the window!

God’s grace is that one and only time!

Are you ready and willing to get what you pay for when you consider that all of us are sinners and the consequences of sin is death? Is this what you want to pay for and receive? Grace is a gift that comes at a great price, but the price was paid by Jesus. None of us have to pay the price that we should rightfully pay. Jesus paid it all. We pay nothing, yet we receive everything! I realize that this sounds too good to be true, but it is far from that. It is our limited human understanding that makes us think that we must pay the price or it is not a valid exchange. On the contrary, the price was so high that no one could ever pay what they owe. We were doomed by our sin with no way of redemption. God saw this and devised a way to pay this high price once and for all for each and every one of us. We can’t earn it. We owe nothing to receive if. All that we have to do is accept!

Are you still trying to earn what is freely given?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Has your love matured to this level?

December 6, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
(1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV))

Have you ever given any thought to this passage and asked yourself why love is the greatest of these?

I realize that 1 Corinthians 13 defines characteristics that we all long to possess, but if you read through it carefully, you realize that these characteristics, no matter how desirable, are useless and meaningless if they are not accompanied by love.

Can we speak eloquently and have hatred in our hearts? Can we possess head knowledge and understanding of God’s Word and what He says will happen and still feel no compassion for those who are not saved? Can we possess a faith in Jesus and still have anger and animosity in our hearts? Is it possible to firmly believe, yet not care for others? Can we claim that we have hope for an eternity with the Lord and still neglect to share Jesus with others?

Each of these scenarios paints a picture of people who truly do possess desirable characteristics, yet, they all lack one crucial aspect.

Love!

Love is the manifestation of all that is best. Love places others above yourself. Love is the culmination of the desire to see others lifted up. In essence, love can be defined as putting your faith and your hope into action for the benefit of others.

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
(John 15:13 (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))

To me, this type of love is the result of a mature faith and hope. Has your love matured to this level?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What do your heart and mouth have to say?

December 5, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.
(Romans 10:10 (NIV))

There is so much truth within God’s Word!

Do you treasure the gift of salvation? Do you treasure Jesus? If this is true of you, does your heart overflow with joy? Do you trust in the Lord so much that your heart is eternally joyous? Think about this and I know that you will agree with the words written in Matthew.

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

With this in mind, I want to ask a personal question. If something fills your heart, what happens to the overflow? How does it present itself to the world? Does it come out in actions? Does it come out in words? It is human nature to overflow in actions and in words what is contained within your heart. If you are filled with joy and belief in Jesus, then this is what will come forth from you in actions and in words. If this is the case, then nothing that the world can send your way, nothing that will be put into your life, will change what is on the inside. Nothing external will defile you. Your treasure is within and what you treasure is more powerful than anything the world has to send your way. Jesus recognized this and Matthew recorded the following words as evidence.

What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.
(Matthew 15:11 (NIV))

If you truly think about it, you have a choice of what you put into your body and into your life. If your treasure is Jesus, then you will choose to only allow things of the Lord in. As previously stated, nothing external will defile you. It is the human heart that defiles. When we allow our own hearts to shift what we treasure, then what our actions and words reflect will no longer be things of the Lord.

We must stay alert and never lose sight of the Lord as our heart’s treasure!

What do your heart and mouth have to say?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is the glory of the Lord your shield?

November 20, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.
(Psalms 3:3 (NIV))

At this time of year, we have a tendency to think of things that we are thankful for.

Do any of these traits of the Lord make it into your list?

I don’t know about you, but reading through this passage of scripture has reminded me that I am so very thankful for everything that the Lord has done for me.

The world is a very dreadful place where people who profess a faith in Jesus are ridiculed and persecuted. The sinful, fallen world tries so much to make you fall for the lies of the enemy to get you to believe that he is winning. If you don’t maintain your focus, it is so easy to take your eyes off of the Lord and miss His glory. If these happen, then it is so easy to fall into the habit of hanging your head because you feel that all is lost!

I for one am thankful that we have the unfailing promises of God to turn to even when we feel that all is lost. Things in this world are never as they appear! I am so thankful that the Lord keeps His promises.

Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.
(Psalms 145:13 (NIV))

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))

He will not forsake those who call upon His name! Do you call upon the name of the Lord?

Is the glory of the Lord your shield?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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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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Be careful of where you travel!

November 12, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The one whose walk is blameless is kept safe, but the one whose ways are perverse will fall into the pit.
(Proverbs 28:18 (NIV))

We see the results of people using their cell phones when they are driving, and it is not a very happy ending.

We see the results of people being distracted by their cell phones while they are walking, and many times they are so ridiculous that we can’t help but laugh. Honestly, these incidents are often quite painful for the person involved.

There are many other types of distractions that have less than stellar consequences, and many people seem to be able to commit quite a few of them. Have you ever been distracted to the point where you caused yourself injury? Were you able to recover from this event? Now, what about the distractions that have a different source? What about the sins that distract you and lead you down a life path that leads you away from God’s grace and mercy? These sins can cause so much more damage to your life and your eternal existence than any episode with a cell phone ever could! Don’t misunderstand me on this. I realize that distractions can cause injury and even death. These events even occur to people who profess a faith in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. The sins that I am referring to are those that take you away from recognizing the need for God’s grace and mercy. These result in a ruined life, and, if repentance does not occur, an eternal separation from the Lord, our God!

If you choose to follow the ways of this world and ignore the gift of salvation offered through Jesus, you will travel through this life with the pit of Hell as your destination. If you choose to walk through life with Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, your destination is eternal life in heaven with the Father. The choice is yours! Each day and each step in your journey is a choice. Keep your eyes focused on Jesus and walk blamelessly as you go through this life. The enemy longs to trick you and to make you stumble as you travel. If you take your eyes off of your destination, you will not like the results.

Be careful of where you travel!

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you turned God’s Word into something less?

November 7, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“You shall have no other gods before me.

“You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

“You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.

“You shall not murder.

“You shall not commit adultery.

“You shall not steal.

“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
(Exodus 20:3-17 (NIV))

Controversy surrounds these simple, yet profound statements in today’s society. All of the Judeo-Christian ethic lies on this foundation which states that there is only one God, life is sacred and to respect others. Many people do not wish to acknowledge these truths as truths, or, even worse, that they even exist at all. They have tried to turn them into the 10 suggestions. Let’s take a look at the wording and how it’s meaning would change if they were not stated as they are.

You shall not murder.

Simple enough! But what would be the ramifications if it were worded differently? Try to remove the “negative” aspect of the Commandment. It might read something like this: Respect all human life.

It doesn’t carry the same impact as “You shall not murder.” Try to restate the others in a positive aspect and see what the meanings sound like when you are through. They do not carry the same message. They become what society has tried to turn them into, the 10 suggestions and not the 10 Commandments.

We, as believers, have a responsibility to uphold these basic premises of faith and life. Truth is not relevant. Truth is always the truth, no matter when and where it may apply.

Have you turned God’s Word into something less?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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