Are you overflowing with thankfulness?

November 25, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
(Colossians 2:6-7 (NIV))

Once again, we, as a nation, are coming up on our Thanksgiving holiday. I want to offer a challenge to everyone.

It is human nature to be thankful for family and friends. It is human nature to be thankful for things that impact us in this physical world where moth and rust destroy. There is so much more!

I want to ask you to reflect on what you are truly thankful for. I realize that this is not much of a stretch for this time of year, but here is the twist. I want you to take a look at your lives from an eternal perspective. I want you to reflect on the things in your life that have had an eternal impact. I want you to reflect on the things in your life that are important to your eternal well being and your eternal soul.

There are many things that we can claim to be eternally thankful for, including family and friends, but there is only one thing that gives us all of eternity to be able to express our thankfulness. There is only one thing that has been freely given to each of us that has such longevity. As part of the human race, we were born into sin. That sin came with a very heavy price. All of us fell short of the glory of God.

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

Our sinful nature condemned us and rightfully earned us a death sentence, yet, through God’s grace, we can know eternity with the Lord. It is a simple thing to receive God’s grace. All that any of us have to do is admit that we are a sinner in need of a savior and admit that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God and that He is that Savior. These admissions will change your life. They will lead you to repentance. they will change your eternal outlook.

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,
(Romans 8:1 (NIV))

This simple truth is so important in our eternal outlook. Without Jesus, we are condemned. With Jesus, we have an eternity to express our overflowing thankfulness.

Are you overflowing with thankfulness?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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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 things fill your thoughts?

October 16, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
(Philippians 4:8 (NIV))

What fills your mind when you have nothing tugging on you such as work or family obligations?

Most people simply cannot sit and think of absolutely nothing. Even when we are preoccupied with something, our thoughts often interrupt us with glimpses of our inner desires. These vary by individual and most of us would be ashamed to let anyone know what those thoughts are. Some people are even able to force themselves to redirect their thoughts. It takes dedication and maturity to make yourself truly change your thoughts.

Why do we want to change our thoughts?

To put it simply, our thoughts reflect what is truly in our hearts. Our thoughts reflect what we truly treasure! If we treasure something, it is a driving force in our lives.

Are you driven by money or by power? Are you driven by fame? Are you driven by hidden desires for things that the Lord calls sin? There is an old saying that you are what you eat. In other words, what you fill your life with is what you will eventually have coming forth from your life. If you think on sinful matters, you will sin. If you think on godly matters, then you will reflect God’s righteousness.

Human nature is such a fickle thing. It allows the enemy to take something that God has created and twist it to the point where it becomes a sinful obsession. Focus your thoughts on the things of God!

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:7 (NIV))

What things fill your thoughts?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you believe?

October 9, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“Don’t be afraid; just believe.”
(Mark 5:36b (NIV))

Do you know the first part of this story?

Jesus was asked by a ruler of a synagogue to come and heal his daughter. Along the way, a woman touched the hem of his robe and was healed. Jesus was sidetracked from his plans. During this time, some men came and told the ruler of the synagogue that his daughter had died. It appeared that Jesus was too late. It appeared that all hope was lost.

With that scene laid out before you, can you imagine the feelings of despair that the ruler of the synagogue probably felt. I can also imagine that he was probably also feeling anger toward the woman who had distracted Jesus. He was afraid that he had failed his daughter and that he had failed his family and himself. I can imagine the deep anguish that I would feel if I had gone to get someone who could save my son or daughter only to discover that circumstances had delayed the saving grace that I had been so sure of.

“Don’t be afraid; just believe.”
(Mark 5:36b (NIV))

Words.

Words that are so easy to say, yet, are so difficult to hold on to when all around you seems to be falling apart.

I want you to ask yourself this one question – Have any of the promises that God has made ever been broken?

Jesus, the word made flesh, had willingly gone with the man to heal his daughter. He had promised to go. It is not in his nature to break a promise, even when in the eyes of the world, things are too far gone for anything to happen. But, happen it did.

Jesus healed the girl. He brought her back from the dead. According to all worldly knowledge, it was too late, but according to God’s timing, it was not. In fact, the timing of this resurrection was perfect, for it magnified God through the actions that transpired.

With God, things may never be too late. Is there something in your life that just will not change, something that has been troubling you for a very long time? It is not too late for God to turn that around. Is there a dream that you feel that God has given to you, but it has not come to fruition and you are getting older? It is not too late for God to make it happen.

In all honesty, I believe that these five words can be used to define a faith in Jesus. They can be used to help us walk through the darkest shadows of life. They can be used to encourage us when we walk through whatever wilderness we find ourselves in.

Don’t be afraid.

For I am the LORD, your God,
    who takes hold of your right hand
  and says to you, Do not fear;
    I will help you.
(Isaiah 41:13 (NIV))

Just believe!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you know the heart of God?

September 25, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.
(Matthew 24:37-41 (NIV))

Isn’t it amazing how easily we get so wrapped up in our own little worlds that we ignore the things that we should truly be wrapped up in?

Some people take this to the extreme with respect to the blessings they have been given in this world. They ignore spouse, children, other family and friends all for the sake of doing something that truly has no value beyond the day. No wonder the coming of the Son of Man will be as it is foretold. Even if we, as humanity, are given blatant signs that the time is drawing near, we will miss them because we are so wrapped up in our daily lives that are completely focused on our own little worlds.

Perhaps Psalms 46:10 is more appropriate than we care to admit when it tells us “Be still, and know that I am God.” We have let the worldly things become our gods and we pay homage to them in our frantic pace while we ignore the one, true God. God gave us our lives to enjoy. We are to enjoy each other. We are to use the talents that He has given us. We are to care for the world that He created for us. We are to embrace the salvation that He has given to us, and, especially, we are to enjoy our time with God.

Don’t get so wrapped up in this world that you miss what is truly important in your life.

Where is family?

Where is friendship?

Where is quiet time to sit at the feet of Jesus and to be still and know God?

Don’t be left behind because you did not know the heart of God!

Do you know the heart of God?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Never stop rejoicing in the Lord!

August 28, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
(Philippians 4:4 (NIV))

What brings joy and great delight in your life?

There are many things in this life that we can and should be thankful for, such as family, friends, laughter and love, but what is it that brings you joy? What brings you happiness beyond measure? If you have truly professed a faith in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, I can’t think of anything more appropriate that can bring joy and happiness beyond measure.

Think about that in relationship to the concept of grace and salvation!

Does spending eternity in the presence of the Lord make you joyful? There is really only one other option and it is not one that I want to even think about. Imagine an eternity of joy and praise when the other option is an eternity of separation from the Lord. The separation also brings eternal suffering and torment. I rejoice in the gift of salvation. There are days that things don’t go as I would have them to go, but we have been told we would have such days. We are to keep our eyes on Jesus.

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))

Even with the not so good days on this earth, we know that something better is coming. We should never think of throwing our eternal future of grace away for something of this world that results in torment. I love the way that the psalmist expressed it.

Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
(Psalms 84:10 (NIV))

If being in the Lord’s presence for only one day is better than a thousand elsewhere, just imagine the joy that an eternity will bring. Does this make your heart jump for joy? Does this give you a fresh understanding of the last stanza of Amazing Grace by John Newton?

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’d first begun.

Are you fully prepared to never stop rejoicing in the Lord!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Don’t follow your heart. Follow Jesus!

August 6, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.
(Proverbs 19:21 (NIV))

How many times have you been given advice to follow your heart? How many times have you given this advice? Is this really sound advice when you stop to consider how many times the Bible refers to the human heart as wicked and deceitful? Ever since the fall from grace, our hearts have been filled with selfish and sinful desires.

The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.
(Genesis 6:5 (NIV))

The heart is deceitful above all things
     and beyond cure.
     Who can understand it?
(Jeremiah 17:9 (NIV))

If you don’t think this is true, simply look at your own life. Are there things that you have done, or you think about doing, that would shock your family and your friends if they only knew what was in your heart? Do you look around at those whom you know and find yourself thinking that if they only knew the true you they wouldn’t want to be near you?

Human nature is so full of secrets and shortcomings that it is a wonder how any of us truly have any family or friends! We are so self-centered that even on our best days we still fail miserably at doing anything close to what the Lord calls us to do. We fail because we listen to our selfish and sinful hearts when we should be listening to the Lord.

Is your heart pure? What plans do you hide in your heart? What sinful desires do you hide in your heart? Life is a series of choices that we all must make. Every single day we are faced with a choice of who to follow. Do we follow our own sinful hearts or do we strive to follow Jesus?

It is easy to say this, but very difficult to walk it through. We must make an effort to follow Jesus and repent when we stray so that the Lord’s purpose prevails.

In other words, don’t follow your heart. Follow Jesus!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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