Does pride get in your way?

October 15, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

By the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.
(Romans 12:3 (NIV))

It is easy to have an inflated opinion of your self-worth, especially when you listen to yourself and ignore what God is telling you. We see our own “achievements” and we know what it has taken to accomplish them. We see other people who are at different levels within what God has called them to achieve, and we judge their calling and their achievements.

What we fail to realize is that what we are currently experiencing may be the only thing that God has called us to and that what we see of others is only the tip of the iceberg. We do not know what God has in store for us or for others. We do not truly know what God has in store for us. Do you recall what you were doing ten years ago? Put yourself into that situation once again. Now take a look at your current situation with a ten year perspective. Are you doing what you thought you would be doing?

Our self-esteem, or should I say ego, has a tendency to get in our way, especially when it comes to seeing the big picture and God’s plan for all of us. We tend to over emphasize our role and downplay the roles of others. This starts to sound like one of the sins that we are supposed to avoid in our life – the sin of pride.

How do you think of yourself? Do you inflate your importance or do you accept your current situation as something that is temporary and in God’s hands?

Does pride get in your way?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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How sharp do you want to be?

September 22, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

As iron sharpens iron,
     so one person sharpens another.
(Proverbs 27:17 (NIV))

There is an old saying that you are what you eat. I can hear your thoughts now as you ask what does this have to do with this passage. To put it concisely, who you associate with is who is being used as the sharpening tool for your life.

Who are the people that you surround yourself with?

Are they sharpening and maturing your faith or are they making you dull and immature? Are you sharpening others?

I realize that not everyone in our lives will profess a faith in Jesus. There will be family who are not believers. There will be people whom you work with who will not be believers. There will definitely be people you encounter in the public spaces of this world who are not believers. The key to these interactions is that we must realize that sometimes we are being sharpened and at other times we are being used by God to sharpen others. We must pray for discernment so that we can identify which is which. Perhaps the easiest way to address this issue is to pray that we can be consistent in our thoughts, words and actions no matter who we are around. We must pray for the strength to keep our eyes on Jesus no matter where we are and who we are with!

Can you make that claim?

We may never know how our words and actions will impact others. We may be the only one in someone’s life who attempts to show them Jesus by the simple things that we say and do. We may add a little sharpness into a dull life and that glimpse of sharpness may be just the thing that makes someone want more. We should also strive to sharpen each other so that our faith, our knowledge and our understanding is continually being honed.

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
(Romans 10:17 (NKJV))

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
(Hebrews 4:12 (NIV))

To clarify, it is our use of God’s Word that sharpens us. It is our desire to learn and mature and discuss our thoughts with those who also desire to learn and mature in and through God’s word.

How sharp do you want to be?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Never leave your first love!

July 27, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.
(Revelation 2:4 (NKJV))

The church at Ephesus did many things right, but it all came collapsing down with this single statement!

Have you ever wondered what they had left? Have you ever thought that they simply got in a routine of doing things that were righteous, but forgot the reasons behind why they did them? They did good works. They labored for the sake of the Gospel. They had learned patience and they hated evil. They could even spot false apostles, but what good did it do them if they had left their first love? They had forgotten the love of Jesus and without that love, everything is meaningless. They had faith. They had hope, but they no longer had love!

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

Without love, you soon find yourself focusing on the letter of the law and not the intent. The Pharisees focused on the letter of the law. Jesus came to show that God’s intent was love. In essence, when you lose love, you become a Pharisee, and you insist on telling others what to do while not doing it yourself. You create a double standard in which you judge others but seek grace for yourself. This is completely contrary to what Jesus taught.

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
(Matthew 22:36-40 (NIV))

We are to love each other as we love ourselves!

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
(1 Peter 4:8 (NIV))

It was out of love that Jesus came into the world. It was out of love that He taught. It was out of love that He went to the cross. His love covers all of our sins. What we are called to do is love others in such a way that they are covered in Christ! If you have forgotten how to love, then it is time to follow through on what Jesus told the church at Ephesus.

Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.
(Revelation 2:5 (NKJV))

Never leave your first love!

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Will He find faith in you?

June 30, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?
(Luke 18:8 (NIV))

As the church, we cling to the first half of this passage. We pray for God’s justice to come and for His righteousness to prevail, but we fail to pay any attention to the next sentence.

Why is that?

What makes us ignore this question?

This passage is taken from the parable of the widow and her persistent pleas with an ungodly judge to give her justice. He eventually relents because she is bothering him, but he doesn’t provide justice for the right reasons. He doesn’t do it because the widow deserves it. He gives in because he is getting tired of the constant barrage he is receiving from the widow. He wants to be left alone, so he gives in for selfish reasons and gives her the justice that she seeks.

When we ask God to send His judgment on sinners, what is our reason? Are we doing it because we feel a holier than thou attitude? Do we treat the Lord as our personal Savior while forgetting that the ones we are asking for Him to judge are also able to receive the same grace that we profess? If we are the Body of Christ, we are given a commission to share the Gospel with others.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.
(Matthew 28:19-20a (NIV))

Thankfully, nowhere do I see a command within these words to condemn sinners. After all, we were all condemned before we accepted Jesus.

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.
(Romans 8:1-2 (NIV))

Is this why the question is asked if the Son of Man will find faith on the earth? Are we praying for justice without praying for a change of heart? Are we praying for condemnation without offering grace? Are we praying for selfish reasons? If so, we need to have the faith to pray for God’s Will in the situations and ask for hearts to be turned so that judgment and justice turn into grace and mercy!

Will He find faith in you?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Wait for it!

June 29, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.
(Habakkuk 2:3 (NIV))

Do you await the appointed time?

Sadly, too many people who profess a faith in Jesus only look to Him as their assurance of eternal life once they die, but what about all of the other aspects of Jesus? What about the promise to return for His church? What about the promise to return as a mighty warrior who will defeat Satan and cast him into the Abyss for one thousand years? I know that I summarized all of these events, but we need to realize that Jesus is more than a get out of hell card that we can play if we profess a faith and belief in Him. I know that my wording may make some people question my understanding of Jesus as our Lord and Savior, but we have to look beyond our personal desires and look at what Jesus actually came to do.

Jesus came to bring salvation by living the perfect, sinless life that we are not capable of living. Every single human who has ever lived has been cursed with the results of the fall from grace in the Garden of Eden. Jesus came to offer each of us a way out of the results of that sin by willingly paying the price that our sin merits. Jesus came to give us a gift! Jesus came to defeat death!

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 6:23 (NIV))

Human nature has made too many people stop there.

Not only did Jesus come to offer us salvation by exchanging our sin for His righteousness as He suffered the death that was meant for us, He also came to defeat and bind the devil so that the father of lies could not deceive anyone else. Jesus came to restore the perfect creation that God had planned.

We like to think of Jesus as a baby, as a teacher, preacher and a miracle worker. We also think of Jesus as crucified, resurrected and ascended to the Father. We also think of spending eternity in heaven with Jesus, but we have a hard time with the righteous warrior aspects of Jesus. We don’t like to think about the state of the world that will trigger His return for His church. We don’t like to think of the wrath that will be poured out on the earth because humanity has gone too far and God’s appointed time has come.

Does this frighten you, or, does it make you look up in hopeful anticipation of His return? It is a matter of perspective. If you look at His return through the eyes of one who has accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, the prospect of His soon return should excite you. If you look at His return through the eyes of one who has rejected Jesus, it is not too late to change your mind. It is as easy as ABC.

A is for admit that you are a sinner in need of a savior.

B is for believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and that God raised Him from the dead.

C is for call upon the name of the Lord Jesus.

Once you do that, I pray that you don’t stop there. Embrace Jesus in all aspects of His glory. Do not fear Jesus as the righteous warrior. Wait for the appointed time.

Wait for it!

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do you believe in Jesus?

June 14, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God ; believe also in me.
(John 14:1 (NIV))

For anyone who professes a faith in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior, it should be second nature to do what this passage states. We know and trust these words as well as other words that Jesus has spoken about troubles in this world.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
(John 16:33 (NIV))

The big question that should be evident from these passages is a simple question.

Do you believe in Jesus?

It is your answer that makes this difficult. It is the state of your heart that gives you away. Is your heart troubled by all of the events that have been transpiring and increasing in frequency in the world lately? What does that say about your faith if you look to the state of the world to determine your peace? These events should make you turn to the one who has overcome the world. They should make you lift your eyes in hopeful anticipation of seeing Jesus!

Exactly what do you believe about Jesus, for what you truly believe will dictate how your heart reacts? How confident are you of your salvation, for that confidence will determine the relationship that you have with Jesus?

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
(Hebrews 11:1 (NIV))

How strong is your relationship with Jesus, for this relationship will determine your trust? In other words, do you trust Jesus to be who He is and to fulfill all that He has promised? If you fully trust Jesus to fulfill all of His promises, then why should you let your heart be troubled? Why should you not believe in the Lord?

Do you believe in Jesus?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you confident in your faith?

May 25, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
(Hebrews 4:16 (ESV))

How confident are you of your salvation?

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
(Hebrews 11:1 (NIV))

Such confidence we have through Christ before God.
(2 Corinthians 3:4 (NIV))

The early church leaders knew that we should be confident in our faith. Those who wrote these words had either seen Jesus or they knew those who had witnessed the events that we now cling to as strategic moments of faith. They had witnessed the miracles and were confident in what they saw. They had witnessed the severity of the scourging and the crucifixion and were then completely overwhelmed by the resurrection! They had witnessed the ascension and were given the promise that He would return the same way He left.

Think about that for a moment.

If you had witnessed someone beaten so badly that he was not identifiable after the beating and then they were killed by crucifixion, how confident would you be that the person was dead? If you heard that he was buried, yet was alive again, would you question your confidence in what you had witnessed? What if you met that person and he spoke to you about the things that you had done together, would you be confident that it was the same person? What if that person showed you the scars? How confident would you be that this person had died, was buried and then rose again? If you had witnessed these things first hand, you would not be able to keep quiet about what you saw and what you know. You would proclaim it with complete confidence.

That is exactly what the disciples and the early church leaders did! They were so full of confidence that they told everyone the good news of Jesus.

Sometimes I think that we, as the modern church, have lost our confidence. We read the words and we watch reenactments, but do we truly comprehend what happened? If we did, I feel that we would be doing what the disciples and the early church leaders were doing. We would be telling everyone about Jesus. I feel that we couldn’t be made to be quiet. Even the threat of persecution or death would not detract from what we boldly and confidently proclaimed.

Take a serious look at your faith. Do you believe without any doubt? Do you fully understand what you profess to believe?

Are you confident in your faith?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do you pass this test?

May 19, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

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))

How did you do at taking tests when you were in school?

Personally, I did good with tests but I hated the prep work needed for the tests. You could spend days reviewing and studying for a test and in less than an hour it would be over. These type of tests were designed to see how well you are able to learn and apply the material in a given subject. To be completely honest with you, the material that I would spend days reviewing is all trivial when you consider the test that each of us must face. The most important test that you will ever take has eternal consequences. It is a test of your faith that is administered by you on you every single day of your life! In essence, this is the prep work for the final exam when each of us stand before God when we hope to hear these words.

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
(Matthew 25:21 (NIV))

Just how do you test to see whether you are in the faith?

It starts with admitting that you are a sinner in need of a Savior. It starts with professing a faith in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior. It starts with surrendering your life to the authority and Lordship of Jesus. It starts with deciding to follow Jesus in all that you do.

To put it simply, it all starts with Jesus!

Each day I make it a priority to spend time in God’s Word. I look forward to my quiet time where I can cease my worldly striving and simply be still in His presence. I reflect on the meaning of the words and the lessons that the Lord is conveying. I look inward to ask myself if I am doing what I need to do with respect to the Scripture. That last aspect is of utmost importance, for if you only read the words and don’t apply them to your life, if you don’t learn and mature from these words, then you are only fooling yourself. This is how you examine yourself. You read and pray for insight and wisdom and then reflect and pray for maturity with respect to applying this to become more like Jesus.

I think I just stated the ultimate way to examine yourself to see whether you are in the faith. Do you desire to be more like Jesus in all that you do?

Do you pass this test?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you keeping His commands?

April 19, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

If you love me, keep my commands.
(John 14:15 (NIV))

Is it just me, or are the last three words extremely difficult to achieve?

If you truly profess a faith in Jesus, then you should truly love Jesus for who He is and for what He has done, but human nature always creeps into the picture!

Ever since the fall from grace, human nature has been incapable of perfectly following God’s instructions. We always miss the mark. We always sin. Even after the grace and mercy freely given to us at the cross, we are incapable of perfectly following God’s instructions. But, if you truly stop to think about this, that is exactly why we were given the gift of grace and mercy. Even after acknowledging our sinful nature, we still sin. Accepting Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior does not make you perfect on your own merit. It makes you perfect because you have exchanged your imperfections and sin for His perfection and righteousness in the eyes of God.

What does change is the desire to keep His commands!

What does change is the understanding that you will constantly fail.

What does change is your realization that He died to save you from the consequences of your sins.

What does change is your sinful, selfish attitude to a thankful, loving attitude.

What does change is your desire to strive to follow Him in all that you do.

Keeping His commands is not easy. If it were easy, Jesus would not have come into this world to die for our sins. What is easier is repenting when we fall short. What is easier is having a thankful heart for His grace and mercy. As I stated, keeping His commands is not easy, but striving to follow Jesus is the ultimate sign of your love for Him.

Are you keeping His commands?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What are you willing to do for the Lord?

March 23, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
(Isaiah 6:8 (NIV))

I read this passage and I realized that this type of willingness requires a strength of faith, and then I realized that we choose to have that strength through the things that we do. We can cower in fear or we can realize where our strength truly comes from and step boldly into that strength.

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.
(Ephesians 6:10-11 (NIV))

When we choose to put on the full armor of God, we choose to embrace that strength. We choose to side with the God of creation. We choose to accept His authority and His protection. When we realize that His strength is imparted to us when we are doing His Will, what reason would we have for not stepping out in faith and saying, “Here am I. Send me!”

Are you willing to step out in faith and go where He sends and do what He asks?

Think about that for just a moment.

The Lord has freely given each of us so very much. We should be so thankful that we are delighted to do His will. We should be eager in our zeal for the Lord. Sadly, too many of us think only of our own comfort zones. We think only of the sacrifices that we would be called to make. What would our world, what would our salvation be if Jesus had thought only of His comfort?

Is there something that constantly tugs at your spirit that you know is from the Lord? Do you need to slow down long enough to listen to what the Lord is saying? Do you need to listen to that still, small voice? Do you need to respond?

What are you willing to do for the Lord?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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