Whose acceptance is more important to you?

November 22, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“I do not accept praise from men, but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?
(John 5:41-44 (NIV))

Ouch! That hurts.

Would Jesus say this to us today? Have we become like the people that He was condemning in this passage?

Many claim to be part of the Body of Christ, but do our actions reflect this? Do we seek acceptance from man more than we seek acceptance from God? Do we look to people who are accepted by man and think that they must be Godly for they have been blessed with fame and fortune? How do we look upon Christian music artists and mega-church pastors? Do we praise them for their fame or do we listen and discern what they are saying with respect to God’s Word?

It doesn’t only apply at the grand scale. It can apply to a local congregation if we seek acceptance from one another instead of from God. Please do not confuse this type of acceptance with what we are called to do as a church. We, as the Body of Christ, are called to accept people as Jesus accepted people. We are not called to place the desire to be accepted by people above accepting Jesus.

After we have done something that the Lord has called us to do, do we seek acceptance from our friends, family and fellow members of the Body of Christ? I honestly believe that the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector has merit in our ways of seeking acceptance.

    To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: `God, I thank you that I am not like other men–robbers, evildoers, adulterers–or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
    “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, `God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
    “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
(Luke 18:9-14 (NIV))

When we seek acceptance from anyone else but God, we are trying to exalt ourselves. We are prideful. We want everybody to know who we are and what we have done. Is this how Jesus told us to serve?

“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
(Matthew 6:2-4 (NIV))

We can seek the acceptance of man or we can seek the acceptance of Jesus.

Whose acceptance is more important to you?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What are you ensnared by?

October 11, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The images of their gods you are to burn in the fire. Do not covet the silver and gold on them, and do not take it for yourselves, or you will be ensnared by it, for it is detestable to the Lord your God.
(Deuteronomy 7:25 (NIV))

There are many things in this world that vie for our attention. If we are not careful, some of them may actually cause us to do something that we know that we shouldn’t do. This passage speaks of images of their gods. If you stop to think about it, and are honest with yourself, anything can become a god to someone. Anything can ensnare us and cause us to falter. In today’s society, we don’t speak of god’s, we speak of obsessions.

Human nature finds it easy to become obsessed with things. Basically, anything that is so important to us that we fixate on it is an obsession. Anything that we make a priority can easily overstep the fine line and become something that we fixate on. When this passage was written, it was easy to fixate on silver and gold. It was the benchmark for wealth. Today, wealth is measured in dollars, but no matter how it is measured, wealth is definitely one type of god that someone can worship. There are many more.

Power!

Fame!

Lust!

Drugs and alcohol!

These things and many more can easily become a means for the enemy to ensnare us. It starts off with a subtle temptation and then it grows into a full blown obsession. Once we become obsessed with anything other than Jesus, we have become ensnared by the enemy.

What are you obsessed with?

What are you ensnared by?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Be careful how you answer this!

June 24, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.
(Isaiah 40:25 (NIV))

We may not think that we compare God to anyone or to anything, but if we don’t place Him first in our lives, we are guilty of doing just that!

Think about this from a personal perspective. What is it that you desire most in life? Is it wealth? Is it fame? Is it power? Do you model your life on someone who has the things that you desire? Do you look to them as your standard or do you look to God to give you direction and guidance for your life?

Based on those questions, it is extremely easy to compare others to God. It is easy to place God second or even lower in your life. Is this what you want? Perhaps I should ask is this what God wants?

We have a tendency to look at the Lord as some sort of genii who is there to grant our every wish and to stay out of our lives when we think we don’t need anything. In all honesty, when this happens, we are comparing ourselves to God. We may not intend to do this, but in fact, we are guilty of elevating ourselves above the Lord. Is this what you want? Is this what God wants?

Human nature is far too predictable. Even when we profess to know the Lord, we fail miserably at truly recognizing His majesty. We fail when we turn to ourselves or to others for guidance and direction when we have the Creator waiting for us to turn to Him. Are we guilty of comparing ourselves or others to God? Are we guilty of placing ourselves or others above God?

Be truthful!

Be careful how you answer this!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What do you see being produced in your life?

May 30, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
(John 15:5 (NIV))

Sadly, too many people have twisted this concept around to mean that if you believe in Jesus, then you are surely to be blessed with worldly treasures and positions. This concept has slowly invaded our churches as many people flock to those who claim the fruit is of this world. The last time I read anything about fruit, it had nothing to do with riches or worldly attributes. If you stop to think about physical fruit, you think of a food group that doctors always tell us to eat more of. Fruit is healthy. Fruit builds you up. It helps to make you stronger, just as the fruit you will bear if you remain in Jesus!

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
(Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV))

Do you see anything in this passage that says that we will bear fortune or fame? Do you see anything in this passage that says that we will be promised worldly riches? God does not measure things as the world measures them. In fact, with recent history in mind, if the world claims that something is good, run as far and as fast as you can away from it, for it will be opposed to the true goodness that comes only from God. What the world claims as good is not healthy. It does not build you up. It only serves to destroy.

When you look at your life, what do you see? Perhaps I should ask this another way. When others look at your life, what do they see? Do they see love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control or do they see things of the world?

What do you see being produced in your life?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you seeking after God’s plans?

March 22, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. “
(Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NIV))

What is it that you seek after will all your heart?

Is it wealth? Is it fame? Is it fortune?

Is it God?

Far too many people seek other things before they seek God. They give “lip service” to God and then live as if they did not proclaim Him as Lord. In other words, they do not seek Him with all their heart. They have replaced God with a multitude of personal “gods” that they let control their lives. All of this is done in the name of prosperity, greed, security, and a number of other ideals that they have set for themselves. They look upon God as a benevolent, jolly “old man” who watches as his children do something not quite righteous. They then expect God to tell them that what they are doing is ok because they are loved and can do no wrong.

God is not like that!

He wants each of us to turn from our sinful ways and to turn one hundred percent toward Him. He longs for us to seek after His heart, for He longs to prosper us in ways that we cannot imagine. He longs to give us hope and a future. Unfortunately, too many of us look toward ourselves for the hope of the future and we look to God as our “parachute,” our safety net.

We need to look to God first in all things!

God created each of us for a purpose. That purpose was not to lay devastated within our sin. He created us to be with Him. Do you think that the creator of all the universe lacks for anything? He is ready to prosper each of us according to His riches, but first we must have a change of heart. We must stop seeking after the prosperity and seek after God first.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
(Matthew 6:33 (NIV))

Are you seeking after God’s plans?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is what you value seen as valuable by God?

March 7, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.
(Luke 16:15 (NIV))

What do you value?

Are you blinded by what the world considers to be valuable? Do you long for fame and fortune, money and power? These things are fleeting. They will pass. They will even cause problems in and of themselves, for if you seek after them, your heart longs for these things above all else. When this happens, you lose sight of the truly important things in life.

Which would you rather have?

Fame or peace of mind
Fortune or love
Power or grace

When you focus on the things of the world, you lose sight of what God wants you to focus on. Humanity is easily swayed by flash and glitz that soon fades and rusts. Only the things of God are eternal and have true value.

When you are about to die, do you think that you will say something about having made more money or will you wish that you had been a better friend, spouse, and parent? It is at this time that your true values will surface. Don’t wait until then to let them be right in the eyes of God.

Is what you value seen as valuable by God?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Have you overcome your pride?

January 9, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
(Mark 16:16 (NIV))

People say that it takes faith to believe in Jesus. I agree.

But I think it also takes faith to not believe in Jesus. It is a misguided faith, but it is a strong faith, none the less.

Think about that for a moment. Those who do not believe are saying that they are placing their future in the concept that God does not exist, or that Jesus is not who the Bible says that He is, or that there are multiple ways to get to heaven. No matter what their reason for not believing, they are willing to place the outcome of their eternity in their belief that they will not suffer the consequences of their sins. To me, that takes a very strong faith

I have heard it said that those who cling to religion are weak. That may be true, but I have also known some very weak-minded individuals who cling to other things, such as money, power and fame. These individuals try to fill their lives with something that will give them meaning. They are simply placing their faith in the wrong place. Often, they are placing it in themselves. Again, their faith is strong, but it is misguided.

If someone possesses that strong a faith, can you imagine once that faith is correctly placed, just how strong of a witness that they can be for God? Every single believer was once a nonbeliever. Every single believer has had an experience that made them see things as they really are. They had something happen to them that changed their priorities. At one point, every single believer was condemned, not by God but by their own sinful actions. It took a realization that we are not perfect. It took a realization that we can never be perfect. It took a personal realization that God’s grace is for me.

Think about that. God does not condemn, but we condemn ourselves when we chose to ignore His offer of grace and mercy. It is not unlike a drowning man refusing to be helped out of the water. God is offering that help to everyone.

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

In order to accept God’s grace, we must have the strength to admit that we are a sinner. Grace is freely given, but it has a price. Jesus paid the price and we must also pay a price. We must come to the realization that we need salvation. We must overcome our pride. It is our pride that can condemn us.

Have you overcome your pride?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Has the Lord established your plans?

January 10, 2018

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.
(Proverbs 16:3 (NIV))

What are you doing with your life?

Are you trying to go after wealth and fame?

Are you trying to start a business?

Are you lost and without a focus or direction?

Human nature tells us that we will do what we want to do when we want to do it, but I have a question for you. How is that attitude working out? Are you succeeding or are you spinning your proverbial wheels?

So many of us try to separate our faith from our profession. We have a tendency to segment our lives and we fail to recognize the fact that God did not intend for us to keep our faith at arms length and away from all other aspects of our lives. Our faith, no matter how you may think of it, is an integral part of every aspect of our lives. Our faith should be the driving factor in everything that we do. Faith means that we do not do things on our own. Faith means that we take everything to the Lord to seek His guidance and direction.

Consider Abraham for a moment. Abraham committed his life to following God. God called Abraham to a distant land. Abraham did not know what would unfold, yet he trusted God to establish where he would go. Abraham trusted God. Abraham committed his life to God and God set things in motion that have unfolded and are still unfolding to this very day. When Abraham began, he and his wife were without any children. Today, their descendants are vast. All of this is because Abraham trusted and committed his life to God and God established a course for Abraham’s life that we still acknowledge to this very day.

Be still, and know that I am God,
(Psalms 46:10a (NIV))

It is time to slow down and ask God for guidance and direction. Commit your life to serving the Lord and He will set a path before you that will lead to things that only God has foreseen.

Has the Lord established your plans?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do you long for this day?

August 11, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and his name the only name.
(Zechariah 14:9 (NIV))

Some people dream of wealth. Some people dream of fame. Others dream of power. There are many more things, much darker things, that people keep hidden in their hearts.

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

There are those who long to see what is described in Zechariah. They long to stand before the Lord and to be forever in His presence. Above all else, they pray for the day that the Lord will return. The things of this earth, wealth, fame, power and other things, mean nothing to them. Their one and only desire is to be with Jesus!

Do you fear the day that the Lord will return or do you desire it with all of your heart? Perhaps you fall somewhere in between. You think that you don’t fear it, but at the same time, you don’t want it to happen because you are afraid that you will miss out on all of the things that a life in this physical world has to offer. What are your thoughts on the return of Jesus? Are you ready to leave this sinful world and spend eternity in God’s presence or are you enjoying the things of this world? One day sooner than we might expect, Jesus will return for those He calls His own. He will establish His kingdom and we will be with Him.

Is this what you pray for?

Do you long for this day?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do you struggle with humility?

April 4, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

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

This is so hard to do in today’s world, especially when everybody seems to seek their proverbial fifteen minutes of fame. If you don’t seek recognition, society tends to look down upon you, to think that you don’t matter. I hate to say this, but this type of thinking has even infiltrated our churches. We are guilty of judging our brothers and sisters in Christ through the eyes of the world. We get to the point where we look upon someone for what they can do for the particular congregation or even for ourselves. We even start to look for opportunities to elevate ourselves within our congregations so that we become the center of attention.

It is so difficult to be humble!

Humility is the act of being humble, of being not proud or arrogant. It is also categorized as having a spirit of deference or submission.

Submission ! There is that word that everybody seems to hate. It carries so much negative context that people feel that it is a derogatory and shameful state of being. I venture to say that we have misunderstood how we are to be humble before the Lord because of the negative context that society has placed upon the concept of humility and submission.

Do you believe that God has created you for a specific purpose and calling? Do you fully understand what that purpose and calling is? Just as a young child must earn the trust of his parents, we must earn the trust of God. A child does not receive the full inheritance from their parents immediately. God is the same way. He will not give us more than we can handle. He will not simply dump the full weight of our calling upon us before we are ready to receive it. Humility before God is simply recognizing His authority and waiting for His will to unfold. It places you firmly at the feet of God in a position open and receptive to whatever He may ask or give. This is not a sign of weakness as the world sees it. It is a sign of strength. It is a sign that the person who strives to be humble is not concerned with what the world may think. It is a sign that you have the strength to defy what the world claims we should be.

No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.
(Matthew 6:24 (NIV))

Humbleness before the Lord is a sign to the world whom you choose to serve. What does your sign say?

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