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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Be very careful not to lose your focus!

July 28, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!
(1 Corinthians 10:12 (NIV))

How secure are you in your faith? How confident are you that you can resist temptation? Are you capable of standing firm in the face of the sin that used to hold you captive?

When answering these questions, it is essential that you don’t forget that you are human and have inherited a sinful, fallen nature. It is a nature that is hard to overcome on your own. Even if you have professed a faith in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, it is still possible to fall back into the very sins that you seek forgiveness for. It takes discipline. It takes focus. It takes the grace and mercy that was freely given through Jesus!

No one is perfect. We may desire to walk in the confidence that we will always do what Jesus calls us to do, but we are only capable of claiming our righteousness because Jesus is righteous. Without Jesus, we are nothing.

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))

Walking with Jesus takes effort. It is not easy.

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
(Matthew 7:13-14 (NIV))

The wide gate and the broad road are easier to travel than the narrow road and the small gate. Think of the difference between an interstate highway and a narrow and winding country road. Which is easier to travel on? Which gets you there faster? Which has the twists and turns that build your driving skills? Which holds surprise blessings along the way? If you are traveling the narrow road, you must maintain your focus or you can find yourself in danger of running off of the road. An interstate highway leads you rapidly to where you think you want to go, but is it truly the best way to go? It takes you on a journey that bypasses all of the great things that you would encounter if you focused on traveling the narrow road.

I realize that I took a small detour with the driving comparison. This is a prime example of just how easy it is to fall for a diversion. It shows us just how easy it is to lose our focus.

Be very careful not to lose your focus!

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What are you trying to become?

February 17, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“He must become greater; I must become less.”
(John 3:30 (NIV))

Everybody strives to become more than they are. We take classes. We get degrees. We strive to win awards. We drive expensive cars. We buy bigger homes.

What does all that get us?

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))

No matter what we do, no matter how much we try to elevate ourselves, we are nothing! The very best that we can do is still tainted and overshadowed by the sin that we are trapped by. This is especially true when you consider that ego and pride drive our desire to elevate ourselves. In other words, it is sin that drives us. This makes perfect sense! After all, it was the sin of pride that drove Satan to rebel against God. All of sinful, fallen humanity still strives to do this very same thing. We try to elevate ourselves in an attempt to tell God that we don’t need Him. We fall for the same sin and try to elevate ourselves above God.

Pride, unfortunately, is all a part of the fallen human experience.

It takes a person who is strong in their faith to overcome pride. It takes a very strong desire and commitment to not elevate yourself, especially in the eyes of God. Satan’s downfall occurred because he wanted to become greater than God.

What are you trying to become?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you weary in your walk with Christ?

January 30, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
(Galatians 6:9 (NIV))

Do you get tired of seeing the terrible, ungodly things that happen in the world? Do you ever think that you are only one person and are not capable of changing anything on your own? Do you grow tired of doing what is right in the eyes of God and not seeing anything happen?

It is so easy to get discouraged by the events in this sinful, fallen world, especially when your only desire is to see God glorified through His Son, Jesus. Sadly, too many people rely on their strength to do what God has called them to do. Are you strong enough to carry the weight of sin on your shoulders? Are you strong enough to provide a way for people to escape their sin? Are you strong enough to bridge the gap between humanity and God?

None of us are strong enough!

Thankfully, we are not called to be strong enough. We are called to allow God to work through us. We are not the ones called to carry the burdens. We are called to be obedient and answer God’s call. If we become weary, there is a good chance that we are trying to rely on our strengths and not on God’s strengths. I can think of so many mental pictures for this concept, but the one that seems to represent this concept the best is the story about the footprints in the sand. In this story, we learn of Jesus walking side by side with an individual. Then, all of a sudden we see only one set of footprints. Jesus is asked why He abandoned them and He replies that He did not abandon them, but He was carrying them!

Do the things of this world make you weary? Keep in mind that Jesus bore all of this for us. It is not our calling to reinvent grace. It is not our calling to save people. Only Jesus can save. It is our calling to be willing to answer His call. He will equip the called. He will give you His strength and His peace to do what He has called you to do.

Don’t try to do it on your own!

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you desire to exalt God?

October 19, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
(Psalms 46:10 (NIV))

Many of you know that the first part of this passage is one that I refer to often, and rightly so. There is so much wisdom contained in the eight words of the first line. It instructs us to be patient, to be still and wait, to cease striving in our own efforts, and realize that He is God and we are not. It prompts us to recognize our rightful place as creation and His rightful place as Creator. It instructs us to put all of our trust and hope in Him, for we are not capable of doing anything on our own. I could go on with several different reflections on these eight words, and every single reflection would come to the same conclusion and that is that no matter how hard we try, we are an imperfect, fallen and sinful creation and God is the perfect Creator.

Have you ever truly thought about the next two lines of this passage?

I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
(Psalms 46:10b (NIV))

Has it ever occurred to you that once we truly stop to know God, we will see Him for all of His majesty and splendor and we will desire to exalt Him?

Take another look at this passage from a different perspective. Look at it from an end times point of view. Was the psalmist telling us to know and to trust in God no matter what we may face, for when God’s timeline unfolds, He will be exalted and those who know Him will be by His side?

No matter what perspective you choose to use to understand this passage, there is one very clear message that we must never forget. We are to take the time to get to know God in all of His glory. We are to spend time in prayer. We are to spend time in God’s Word. We are to commit to knowing God the way that we commit to knowing anyone that we love. We should desire to know God’s very heart. We should desire to seek His presence. We should desire to see His will be done.

What do you desire?

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you have the faith to be justified by Jesus?

June 16, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

We who are Jews by birth and not `Gentile sinners’ know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.
(Galatians 2:15-16 (NIV))

. . . by observing the law no one will be justified.

If God calls for us to observe His laws, many people don’t understand why we cannot be justified if we observe His laws. Sadly, humanity is a fallen creation and we are not capable of perfection. God’s laws require perfection. No matter how hard we may try, we will fail miserably. We will miss the mark. We will sin!

It takes a confident person to admit that they are less than perfect. It takes a confident person to admit that they need help. Too many of us are stuck in the mindset that reminds me of my daughter when she was two years old. I am sure you know what I am talking about. I can still hear her saying, “I do it!”

“I do it!”

Except for the grammatical errors, every one of us has been guilty of saying something similar to this. We think that we are capable of much more than we truly are. We don’t like to admit that we lack the ability to do anything.

I know that it is human nature to learn from our mistakes, but do we really learn if we fail to acknowledge that we make mistakes? I often wonder what the scene is in heaven and if God is shaking His head in disbelief as He watches us. I picture the same scene as Jesus points out someone who has accepted Him as their personal Lord and Savior. I can almost hear Jesus saying, “See that one who is acting like a stubborn child. He has placed his faith in me. He is mine! He may fail, but since he has accepted me, he will eventually learn to do the right things.”

Do you have the faith to be justified by Jesus?

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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