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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How do you feel that you test in your actions?

July 25, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else,
(Galatians 6:4 (NIV))

When you were in school, did you ever have to grade your own work? Were you honest?

Let’s face the truth. We are not good at accurate self evaluation. We tend to over estimate our capabilities and achievements while we under estimate our weaknesses. If you don’t believe this about yourself, think back on high school and what you remember. Then ask someone who knew you then and see if the two match up. It is human nature to have an over inflated sense of self worth.

Is this true when we look at our faith and our evaluation of our so-called righteousness? Do we look down on others while we have a tendency to look upon our own relationship with Jesus as close to perfect?

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))

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

No one is above anyone else. We are all sinners. With this in mind, if we must test and compare, then we must limit our evaluation solely to ourselves. How have we matured? How do we respond to others? How do we see ourselves? When we test ourselves, we must be sure to grade ourselves honestly. It may even be wise to err on the side of under evaluation so that we continue to strive for the goals that Jesus has set before us.

How do you feel that you test in your actions?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What are your desires?

July 20, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.
(Galatians 5:17 (NIV))

Do you ever find yourself in internal conflict? Do you find yourself doing exactly what you know that you shouldn’t do? The Spirit tells us to do what we should, but our flesh tells us something else. Even Paul, whom we credit with taking the Gospel to the Gentiles, faced the very same dilemma.

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.
(Romans 7:15 (NIV))

It is human nature. We can’t escape the sin nature that we were born into. Even on our best days, our attempts at fulfilling the desires of the Spirit fall way short.

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))

On our own, we are helpless, hopeless and lost! Thankfully, we are not on our own.

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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
(John 3:16-18 (NIV))

We have been given a way to proclaim to the Lord that we don’t like our sinful desires and that we want to focus on the desires of the Spirit. It is a simple, yet eternity changing, process. It is a process that exchanges all of our sin for all of the righteousness of Jesus. Are you tired of being condemned without any hope? Do you desire to strive for righteousness? Do you desire grace and mercy? Is it your desire to proclaim that Jesus is your personal Lord and Savior?

What are your desires?

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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Can you imagine all that God has for those who love Him?

February 3, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”— the things God has prepared for those who love him—
(1 Corinthians 2:9 (NIV))

How good is your imagination?

If you are like me, you can probably imagine some pretty wonderful things. I like to imagine my wife and I on board a long cruise where we are privileged to see some of the most beautiful sights that God has created in this world. I often find myself wondering and imagining what heaven will be like. I often imagine what it will be like to see Jesus face to face for the very first time! I often imagine what it will feel like to bask in the glory of God for all of eternity.

What do you imagine?

Do you have a clear mental image in mind?

I know that what I am about to say may sound condescending, but whatever we, as humanity, are capable of bringing to life in our imaginations is nothing more than the filthy rags that we are.

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))

Think about that concept!

Think about the sinful, fallen nature of humanity. How can we, who have never seen the glory of God, imagine something that even comes close to the reality of all that God has promised to those who love Him? Think about it in terms that you can relate to. What is the one thing in this world that, to you, is so utterly amazing that you simply cannot find words to describe it? Do you have it in mind? What type of feeling does this invoke? What would be your reaction if this feeling were triggered by every single thing that you ever saw? Can you even begin to fathom the joy that you would feel?

I am so glad that God blesses us with imaginations. Our imaginations give us small glimpses into what we will actually see when we are in His presence. Until then, we can get excited with our limited understanding and rest assured in the knowledge that reality will be so much better!

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you committed anything to the glory of God?

November 13, 2015

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

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

If you wholeheartedly commit what you do to the glory of God, what are the chances that what you do is not righteous in the eyes of God? Think about it. If you place God where He should be in your life and worship Him by committing everything to Him, would you do something that was a sin or would you do something only half way?

When you commit something to God, you give it your all. You give it the best that you can do. Even your best is as filthy rags in the eyes of God, but, because you are willing to make that commitment, God will bless your endeavor because of what is in your heart. After all, God looks at the heart to see the true person. If you commit something to God, it is from the heart and God sees that.

Have you committed anything to the glory of God?

Copyright 1998 – 2015 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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I look forward to what God desires to give!

May 28, 2015

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!
(Luke 11:11-13 (NIV))

Would you intentionally give your children something harmful? It is human nature to want to give those we love the best that we can give. Even so, our best is still as filthy rags in the eyes of God for we give from a sinful nature and sin is not capable of producing anything that is truly good.

If God is our Father and He is perfect, how can the things that He gives to us be anything but perfection? God is not capable of anything less than righteousness and perfection. The things that He gives to us out of this perfection are far above the things that we can give in our sinful imperfection.

We must learn to trust God the same way that most of us have learned to trust our earthly parents. We know that they desire good things for us and we accept them without question. Why do we question and sometimes even reject what God desires to give us?

I look forward to what God desires to give. What is your attitude towards His gifts?

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