Through the eyes of a little child!

December 15, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For he who is least among you all–he is the greatest.”
(Luke 9:48 (NIV))

I have read this passage many times and tonight it hit me in a way that I had not thought of before. Perhaps it is the time of year with Christmas very close, but something made me look at this in a different light.

I know that many Christians have trouble with the idea of Santa Claus, but if you consider the roots of this “person,” you come away with a different perspective. Nicholas was a 4th century Christian who was known for helping children. He is also known for other things, but his love and help of children has gained him much notoriety. There are various different stories about Nicholas, but the one thing that stands out is how he used his love for Jesus to reach out to the little children.

Perhaps our understanding of Santa Claus could use a true historical perspective based on church history and not on what society has made him. Perhaps our understanding of many things could use a true historical perspective based on church history.

Could you imagine a Christmas not tied up in gifts and decorations, but in the grace and mercy that God gave us through the manger? Could you imagine a Christmas based on the greatest gift of all times instead of the “perfect gift” that will be obsolete in a short time?

Nicholas came to mind because of his ministry to children. Jesus told us that we are to be as little children. We need to look at His love without the sins of the world trying to cling to everything and distort the truth about the greatest gift that humanity could ever be given.

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

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))

Perhaps we need to look at the gift of Christmas through the eyes of a little child once again!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Have you received and believed?

December 7, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—
(John 1:12 (NIV))

Have you been given this gift?

Perhaps I should ask this in a different manner for this gift is freely given to all, but it takes a willingness to receive the gift. You must ask to receive it in order for the gift to be given. This requires that you humble yourself to the point of recognizing that you are a sinner in need of the gift of a savior. This recognition opens the door to receive so much more than anyone could imagine. It opens the door to receive so much more than anyone could ever do for themselves, for we are all sinners by nature.

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))

The gift is offered to everyone who will accept!

This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
(Romans 3:22-24 (NIV))

Nothing in this life is a sure thing. The old saying that we may be hit by a bus is so true. We never know what tomorrow will bring. If tomorrow finds you no longer on this earth, can you say with confidence that you will be with Jesus? Can you say with confidence that you will be recognized as a child of God? It is so simple to ask to receive this wonderful, eternal gift! It is as easy as ABC.

A is for admit that you are a sinner in need of a savior.

B is for believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and that God raised Him from the dead.

C is for call upon the name of the Lord Jesus.

God made it so simple to receive and believe! Have you received and believed?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you filled with confidence and assurance?

November 12, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
(Hebrews 11:1 (NIV))

With everything that is going on in the world, we see countless things that go against everything that we hope for. We see so much that goes against what God calls righteous and good. It has come to a point that many may begin to wonder if they have misplaced their faith. It is so easy to become blinded to the truth if all that we focus on are the lies of the world!

I have found myself focusing on faith quite often lately. The topic comes to mind every time that I see more news about the current state of our nation and the world. I have to remind myself that even though God created this world, it has been turned over to sin and depravity. We may find fleeting glimpses of beauty, but the true beauty has long faded and deteriorated from what God first created. It is at these moments that I remind myself of the truth that we may live in this world but we are not of this world. We must never lose sight of this truth. We must forever keep our eyes fixed on Jesus!

Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.
(1 John 2:15-16 (NIV))

What we are seeing is a direct result of the love of the world. Stand firm, for we are not of this world. Life is a gift. That gift was tarnished and corrupted. We may see hardships. We may even experience hardships, but we must remember that this physical world is not what is important. No matter what we may face in this world, what matters is that we keep our eyes focused on Jesus, for where we focus is where we get our strength.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
(2 Corinthians 4:7-9 (NIV))

If we can stay focused on Jesus, then we can inherit His authority over the world.

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))

Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.
(1 John 5:5 (NIV))

Are you filled with confidence and assurance?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you willing to pay the full price?

October 13, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

But King David replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the LORD what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.”
(1 Chronicles 21:24 (NIV))

Is this your attitude?

King David wanted to create an alter to the Lord at the site of the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. Just a few verses before this, we learn that the angel of the Lord had appeared at this very site and was visible to David, to Araunah and to Araunah’s sons. Araunah did something that I am not sure too many today would do. He offered to give the property to David and to also provide David with all of the animals, the wood and the grain for the offering. In essence, David would not have had to make any personal sacrifice to build the alter on what would become the location of the Temple. By today’s standards, David would have been considered a shrewd businessman if he had agreed to these terms.

David was not there to get all that he could for little or nothing!

He knew the importance of personal sacrifice when worshipping the Lord. He knew that everything that he had been given and had attained belonged to the Lord. He was not about to approach the Lord to make a sacrifice when he wasn’t making a sacrifice at all. He wasn’t going to lie to the Lord and make a sacrifice of someone else’s property. David knew that the sacrifice, the gift to the Lord, had to come from himself.

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
(2 Corinthians 9:6-7 (NIV))

Do you give to the Lord? Do you sacrifice or do you give when someone gives to you or for you?

Do not sacrifice to the Lord your God an ox or a sheep that has any defect or flaw in it, for that would be detestable to him.
(Deuteronomy 17:1 (NIV))

In other words, we are to give our best to the Lord! David understood this. He knew that if it was to be considered his best, then it actually had to come from him. David knew that he had to pay the full cost.

Are you willing to pay the full price?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What are you waiting for?

October 12, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.
(Revelation 22:17 (NIV))

Think back upon the last invitation that you received. Maybe it was an engraved, formal invitation to a wedding. Perhaps it was an email telling you of an event, the time and place. Perhaps it was a televised invitation to a concert. Better yet, was it a simple exchange between friends where one friend willingly opened his heart and home to you as a simple act of fellowship and love?

Now, imagine the best invitation that you have ever received is nothing more than filthy rags. That is exactly what it is in comparison to the invitation that all of us are given. All other invitations are to events that are fleeting in nature and are soon forgotten. The invitation that we are given by the Spirit is one to an eternal celebration of grace and mercy!

“Come!”

There is no other invitation needed. There is no other explanation needed. God, in all of His infinite wisdom and glory is freely offering us grace and mercy through the redeeming blood of His Son, Jesus Christ. All we have to do is accept the invitation.

Are you thirsty?

Do you long to have the water of life?

What are you waiting for? Grace and mercy are yours through this glorious invitation.

“Come!”

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What are you doing?

October 8, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
(John 14:12 (NIV))

I may offend a few people with today’s passage and thoughts. I pray that perhaps I will make you think about this passage and the things that we, as the Body of Christ, should be doing.

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))

Do you believe in Jesus? Do you believe that Jesus is God’s one and only Son? Do you claim the gift of eternal life that this belief entitles you to? Sadly, that is where far too many people stop with their faith. They fail to respond by putting their faith into actions such as sharing the Gospel. We are called to go into all the world and preach the good news, but how many of us actually do anything for the Lord? How many of us read these passages that tell us that we have a responsibility and then simply choose to ignore them. What is recorded in John tells us that Jesus expects those who believe in Him to do what He spent His life doing. What is recorded tells us that He expects even greater things from us.

Are we living up to expectations?

We are not saved by works, but since we have been given the greatest gift that has ever been given, we should desire to share this gift with others. We should desire to do all that we can do to share the good news of Jesus!

What are you doing?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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How is your mind governed?

September 9, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.
(Romans 8:6-7 (NIV))

In case you were thinking this, no, it is not possible to be governed by both!

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

Before I am accused of mixing scripture passages and meanings, it is important to understand that the love of money serves the flesh. It is the ultimate worldly and fleshly control on the human mind. It is the embodiment of lust, power and ego. When your mind is governed by the things of this physical world, it seeks carnal satisfaction. It seeks sin!

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

We must strive to overcome human nature and focus on Jesus. We must follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. When we falter, and we will, we must recognize our failures, repent and return to the Lord. We must desire to possess true peace as only it can be found in the Lord.

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

We have all seen what happens in this world when government is bad. People suffer. We have also seen what happens in this world when government tries to do what is righteous in the eyes of God. We have our own personal election each and every moment of every day. We can choose to be governed by the flesh and suffer the consequences, or we can choose to be governed by the Spirit and find peace.

How is your mind governed?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Is this our attitude?

September 3, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen and paid fifty shekels of silver for them.
(2 Samuel 24:24 (NIV))

David knew that giving to the Lord meant sacrifice!

How many people today share this attitude and are willing to give even when they may not have an abundance from which to give? This is a difficult lesson to learn, and it is one that I personally struggled with for a long time as a new believer. It is so easy to get wrapped up in the concept that if I give, then I won’t have enough for myself. Did David have that attitude? David was king and probably did not lack for money. As king, he was probably used to people giving him gifts to honor his position. This was one such instance where the owner of the threshing floor probably offered it to David for that reason. Still, David realized that the gift and the sacrifice wasn’t truly from him if someone else gave it for him to use. Even though David was used to receiving gifts, he knew that he had to make a sacrifice out of his own resources in order to truly give to the Lord.

If we were in this situation, would we have accepted the offer and then tried to justify this in our own hearts and minds by trying to claim that they gave it to me so, therefore, it is mine? If I am giving it to the Lord, it is coming from me!

Did it cost you anything?

Perhaps a better question to ask is would you have given it if it had cost you something?

Everyone seeks to receive something from God, and rightly so, for He is a loving God who wishes to do good things for those who call upon His name. In fact, each one of us can receive eternal salvation if we will only accept it. Think about that for a moment. We are not willing to sacrifice when we give to the Lord, but when He gives to us, we think that it didn’t cost us anything so we can’t accept. We expect to sacrifice when we receive, but not when we give. We have accepted the lie that we must work for and pay for anything that is good. We have accepted the lie that says nothing is free.

David knew the cost of giving to the Lord. He knew that a true gift came from a personal sacrifice that reflects the heart of the giver.

Is this our attitude?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do you freely speak of God’s faithfulness?

August 24, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

I do not hide your righteousness in my heart;
      I speak of your faithfulness and salvation.
   I do not conceal your love and your truth
      from the great assembly.
(Psalms 40:10 (NIV))

David was not ashamed of God. He proclaimed His greatness whenever and wherever he was. David slipped and sinned, but that did not stop him from praising God. David praised God for the salvation that was yet to come.

How can we, who live on the other side of that salvation gift, praise God any less? David had a great faith. It is hard enough to believe in Jesus when there is historical evidence that He lived and that what is written is true. David believed in God and salvation without this evidence. It takes a greater faith to believe when all you have are promises, even if those promises are from God. It is human nature, probably due to our fall from grace, to be skeptical and unbelieving, yet David believed. He had enough faith to be called a man after God’s own heart.

Can we be called that when we have received not only the promise but the actual gift of salvation? Are you willing to share the promise? Do you freely speak of God’s faithfulness?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Who do you say that Jesus is?

July 23, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
(Matthew 16:15-16 (NIV))

What about you?

Have you truly given thought to the question that Jesus asked Peter? Have you proclaimed your answer? Where you confident in your proclamation?

If the time comes that proclaiming an answer like Peter’s answer means that you will be killed, will you still boldly proclaim that Jesus is the Son of the living God?

My heart is heavy. I pray for those who have not, nor will not, proclaim that Jesus is their Lord and Savior. I suppose that having a heart after God’s heart means that your heart breaks when you see people who simply refuse to repent. All they have to do is accept the grace and mercy that is theirs through Jesus. Even without the current state of the world, we are not promised tomorrow. Our worldly existence could end with the very next heartbeat. If that were to be the case, are you confident of your eternal destination?

It is simple. It is a gift from God. All that we have to do is accept that gift by believing that Jesus is that gift!

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))

What about you?

Who do you say that Jesus is?

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