Are we seeing a lack of Godly training in the world?

August 6, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.
(Proverbs 22:6 (NKJV))

It seems like anyone and everyone can quote this passage, even if they don’t know any other passages. Sadly, we appear to be seeing the truth behind these words unfolding right before us.

Just what is training?

In essence, the concept of training implies the teaching of discipline and the importance of following that discipline. Instilling self-discipline into the life of someone starts early in childhood. For example, I am sure that most of you were told at some point early in your life that you were old enough that your wants won’t hurt you. In other words, you had been taught that just because you want something doesn’t mean that it will happen no matter how big of a temper tantrum you may throw. Usually, this statement resulted in the application of a different passage.

He who spares his rod hates his son,
But he who loves him disciplines him promptly.
(Proverbs 13:24 (NKJV))

Am I the only one who sees a direct correlation between training and discipline?

It appears that we are seeing what happens when children who are not disciplined grow up and still act like spoiled brats. Parents who raised their children to think that they can do no wrong have committed a great disservice to their children, to society and to the Lord! Perhaps Proverbs 22:6 could be paraphrased in this manner.

Discipline a child when he does wrong and when he grows up, he will have learned how to behave.

Sadly, no matter what translation you may quote or how you choose to paraphrase this passage, the results of not applying this Godly principle are a lack of discipline and a total lack of respect for anything that is contrary to someone’s feelings. Discipline teaches that feelings can be manipulated. Truth is always the truth. Discipline teaches to seek the truth beyond the feelings.

Are we seeing a lack of Godly training in the world?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Jesus is alive!

April 13, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.
(Matthew 28:6 (NIV))

Looking back at the last several weeks and what the whole world has endured, we need some good news!

There is no better news that we can receive than a heavenly announcement and acknowledgment that Jesus is alive!

When the angels announced that Jesus was not in the tomb, those who followed Jesus probably had been thinking prior to this announcement that their hopes had been shattered at the crucifixion. Can you imagine the joy that these words brought to them? They probably went from a feeling of despair and hopelessness to a feeling of jubilation and a peace that they did not understand.

What type of feelings have you experienced over the last several weeks? Be honest with yourself. Have you focused on the events of this world instead of focusing on God’s promises to those who love Him? If you have focused on God’s promises, I would venture to say that this Resurrection Sunday was probably a unique one as well as a blessed one. We may not have gathered in our church buildings to celebrate, but this reinforces the fact that buildings don’t make the church. People do!

Jesus came into the world to bring salvation to people, to individuals who would place their faith in Him. No matter how many people may be around you, in God’s plan, it doesn’t matter. He can call you in the middle of a large crowd or He can call you in the middle of a desert. If the world tries to keep His people from meeting together, then the Lord can meet with each one of us individually as He sees fit. This can only be done because we have placed our faith in His Son, Jesus, as our personal Lord and Savior. This only matters because of one very important piece of good news!

The grave could not hold Him!

The stone has been rolled away!

He defeated the power of sin and death!

There are many ways to express this absolute truth, but perhaps the one that is best is also the simplest.

Jesus is alive!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 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 mourn for the world?

April 29, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
(Matthew 5:4 (NIV))

We are used to reading this passage and we think that we have a good understanding of its meaning, but I was recently presented something that made me expand my concept of mourning!

When we hear the word mourn, we automatically think of the feelings that we have as the direct result of the loss of a loved one, but perhaps we need to remember what makes the Lord mourn.

He despises sin. It breaks His heart to see His creation that He loves lost in their sin.

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))

With that in mind, how do you think the Lord feels as this world spirals further and further away from Him and further and further into sin? If you are a parent, how would you feel if your children rejected you and all the love that you have for them in order to follow your worst enemy? That is exactly what we have done! We have broken the Lord’s heart! We have made Him mourn because of our actions. It is these very actions that we rejoice over and that we accept as good when at there very core, they are corrupt, vile and sinful. Those who know the Lord’s heart, grieve over what the world declares as good. We should mourn with the Lord, for what breaks His heart should break ours.

Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.
(John 16:20 (NIV))

Do you see the world rejoicing?

Are the things that the world rejoices over something that makes the Lord mourn? Are the things that are occurring in the world escalating more rapidly than ever before? Do you see the world as the Lord sees the world?

Do you mourn for the world?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What kind of heart do you have?

March 26, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
(Ezekiel 36:26 (NIV))

Do you think that what you put into your heart could turn your heart to stone?

Perhaps not literally, but it can definitely harden your heart!

It is possible for someone to fill their heart with such things that leaves them completely self-centered and devoid of any feelings, any sympathy, any empathy for anyone else or for things of the Lord. It is possible for someone to become so absorbed in things of the world and the so-called treasures that it has to offer that they become oblivious to the things of the Lord and the true treasures that He longs to give.

We need to be careful of the things that we allow into our hearts. The wrong things can lead us away from the Lord and harden our hearts. The right things can draw us closer to the Lord and restore the heart of flesh simply because we long to fill it with the things that are important to the Lord.

But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
(Matthew 6:20-21 (NIV))

Have you ever truly stopped to think what those treasures could be?

I honestly believe that we have been told things that we should treasure, things that we should strive to achieve that go hand in hand with our faith 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))

If we strive to possess these characteristics in our walk with Jesus, our priorities have already set what we treasure as things not of this world. Still, we are only human and the world can distract us. We need to stay steadfast in our desires to stay focused on Jesus. We must constantly seek to have a heart that is not hardened.

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
(Psalm 51:10 (NIV))

What kind of heart do you have?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Don’t give in to the fear!

September 21, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, LORD,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.”
(1 Kings 19:3-4 (NIV))

Wow!

Think about that for a moment. Have you ever felt like this? Have you ever faced a situation that you thought would be the end of you and your life as you know it? Have you ever simply wanted to give up and let the enemy win because the battle was too hard?

Even Elijah had these feelings. He feared for his life. In other words, Elijah saw the world and did not rely on God as he should. He was afraid of what the world would throw at him. He was so afraid that he actually ran away and prayed to die. Elijah was a great prophet of God, yet, he had feelings that were not from God.

How do you feel when you have moments like these? Think about how Elijah must have felt. Still, God did not abandon him. He will not abandon you.

Elijah was a great prophet. He heard God and he obeyed. Yet, in a moment of weakness, even a great prophet of God can lose sight of who is in control. God redeemed Elijah and had him speak His word again. Some would even say that Elijah’s greatest moments with God came after this episode.

Just because you have faltered in your faith, it doesn’t mean that God is not capable of using you for His purposes. I am sure that most of you have heard the old say, “God does not call the equipped. He equips the ones He calls.” He will equip you even when you feel that you are of no use to Him.

Don’t let the world make you lose sight of God’s calling. Focus on God, especially in the moments that you feel are your moments of failure. He will turn them into the seed that produces great things for His Kingdom. In stead of saying that you have had enough, boldly proclaim that the Lord is all you need! Don’t give in to the fear!

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What are you hearing from the Spirit?

August 28, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
(Revelation 3:6 (NIV))

When John wrote down what he had been told to record in what we now know as the book of Revelation, he was given several messages for the churches. Each of the seven churches mentioned can be equated to an historical period, plus they can be equated to the conditions of almost any church that is in existence today. Each of the churches received a specific message that told them what they were doing right and what they were doing wrong.

How do you think these messages were received by the different churches?

How do you think these messages were received by the individual members of the different churches?

Now, imagine that you heard the following messages about your relationship with Jesus. How would you react?

You are dead. Wake up!

I am about to spit you out of my mouth!

I hold your sexual immorality against you!

Not very pleasant. Would you take it to heart and repent or would you go off in a huff because you got your feelings hurt? I have a little tidbit of information that you may want to consider. If it hurts your feelings, there is probably some truth to what you are hearing! Think about that from your experiences with different churches and pastors. Perhaps it was a passage of scripture that caused your feelings to be hurt. Whatever the situation may have been, remember the following.

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))

God’s Word is not a sugar coated, feel good type of message. Truth can hurt. Are you willing to hear the truth even if it hurts your feelings? Are you willing to repent if the truth requires it?

What are you hearing from the Spirit?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Who do you speak to please?

March 7, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts.
(1 Thessalonians 2:4 (NIV))

Paul wasn’t afraid to say what he knew to be true. I often wonder what he would think of our politically correct society? Perhaps I should take that one painful step further and ask the question that too many of us are thinking. How do you think Paul would react when confronted with our politically correct churches?

I hate to say this, but have we become too concerned with pleasing people, with not telling the truth because it would hurt their feelings?

Did Paul ever hold back the truth because it would hurt feelings?

Let’s go one step further. Did Jesus ever hold back the truth because it would hurt feelings? I’ll give you a little hint. Go ask the group of people whom He called a brood of vipers.

Sugar coating the truth does more damage than it does good.

Imagine that you are in a situation where you come across a group of people who are badly injured and dying. You look around and you see that there is a hospital across the street. Do you calmly tell them to be patient and that they will be all right, or do you tell them the truth?

If you want to live, follow me! I will take you to someone who can save you.

Paul knew the urgency of the words that he had been given to preach. He spoke with the desire to help people find salvation no matter what they may think or feel. He knew that his words would make some people angry. He knew that his words would make some people want to imprison him or kill him.

If given a choice between speaking words that please people of that please God, who do you speak to please?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Who are we to judge if God does a new thing?

January 8, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.

See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert
and streams in the wasteland.
(Isaiah 43:18-19 (NIV))

What does this verse have to do with the following?

“No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”
(Matthew 9:16-17)

I’m going to throw still one more curve ball into the mix and ask how do these two passages tie into the saying that I am sure we are all familiar with and that is, “That’s not how we do things around here!”

I heard something today that I think will tie all of these together and also satisfy a little bit of human nature in the process.

Have you ever stopped to think about why God has to do a new thing? Have you ever stopped to think about the old wineskins and new wine in a different light? Have you ever wondered why people are so set in their ways that they will say things like “That’s not how we do things?”

We are creatures of habit!

God knows this and He has let us know that He does things differently with different groups of people. He does things differently with different ages of people. If God tried to reach someone who likes contemporary music with old hymns, it would drive them away. If God tried to reach someone who is an intellectual type with a feelings based approach, it would not work. If God tried to reach someone whose heart has been hardened by using an overwhelming emotional appeal of love, that person would not be able to handle it. They have to be prepared. They have to be made new in order to handle the love that God wants to pour out.

I am going to go out on a limb and ask that we try to withhold our judgmental human nature and look at the deeper issues, look at the deeper reasons that things are different. The only thing that we should be concerned with is whether the new things are true to God and to God’s Word. We don’t need to worry about whether they are the way that we have always done things!

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

December 28, 2015

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

But Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”
(Exodus 3:11 (NIV))

Who am I?

Have you ever said these words or thought these words? If you have, then you have not been the only one. You are in some pretty good company, for these very words were uttered by Moses and they were uttered by David.

Think about that last statement.

Two of the greatest heroes of the Bible have said the very words that you have said, and they said them to God! They were no different than you and I. They had human feelings and faults. They doubted their own worth in the eyes of God. They doubted that God could ever use them for His purposes.

Does any of that sound familiar?

It sounds human!

We have all experienced these very same feelings, yet having and expressing these feelings does not mean that God is giving up on you. It just means that He is still leading you to the place where He wants you to be. These words are only the end if we start to believe that we are of no use and importance to God.

I want to challenge everyone as we approach the beginning of another new year. I want to challenge each and everyone who reads this to realize that God has a plan for us. I want you to realize that the next time that you start to feel like you are of no use and you utter the words, “Who am I,” I want you to remember that you are the person that God sent His Only Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for. If God has called you to do something, remember who calls you. He will not call you for something that He plans to be a failure!

Copyright 1998 – 2015 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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