Humility is the first step!

January 27, 2023

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.
(James 4:10 (NKJV))

God knows sinful human nature far too well.

I believe that the hardest thing for anyone to be is humble. Ever since the fall from grace in the Garden of Eden, it is simply just not in our nature. In fact, the fall was because we were not able to be humble when we were told that we could be just like God. Satan dangled the carrot, or should I say the knowledge of good and evil, and we took the bait. If Adam and Eve had simply realized that they were the creation and that they were not, nor could they be God, then things would have happened so much differently than we have been told in God’s Word. Instead of being humble, Adam and Eve let pride take control and that got them cast away from God’s presence.

If that is the case, doesn’t it make perfect sense that if we are able to be humble, then that could be reversed?

It takes humility to admit that you are a sinner in need of a savior! It takes humility to admit that you are not capable of being God, and it takes humility to admit that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God. When you are capable of humbling yourself before God, He reverses what sin caused and He lifts you up into a relationship with Him, just like the relationship He had with Adam and Eve before the fall.

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

The English Standard Version translates that last part as “he will exalt you.” According to Merriam-Webster, when you are exalted, you are raised in rank, power, or character. You are elevated by praise or in esteem. Humanity was created to walk in fellowship with God. If you reflect on the Garden of Eden, it was not an angel who walked with them. It was God! Even the angels did not get this designation, this familial calling. If you humble yourself in the sight of the Lord, you will be exalted, you will be restored to God’s original plan. You will no longer be cast away because of your sin. In much the same way that the father embraced the prodigal son, our Father in heaven longs to embrace each of us when we humble return to Him!

Humility is the first step!

Copyright 1998 – 2023 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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How are you at treating each other with love?

January 20, 2023

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
(Matthew 7:12 (NIV))

Do you like it when others mistreat you?

I realize that this question is one that appears to have an obvious answer, still we often treat others in ways that we would never want to be treated ourselves. I believe that this is rooted in the fall from grace. Humanity was lied to and told that we could be like God, so now we apply the power without the compassion. We apply the authority without the understanding, and we provide the condemnation without the love. Human nature wants to do exactly the opposite of what God calls us to do. We have a tendency to place ourselves above everyone else, and because of this, we mistreat each other because we think that we are better than they are.

Wrong attitude!

We are no better than anyone else.

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

No matter what you may think of yourself, God sees the real you. He knows all of your sinful past, yet He loves you anyway. When He looks at humanity, He sees a sea of sinful, fallen people who all need a savior. He does not see certain people as better than others. He doesn’t treat anyone differently. What He does do is provide an opportunity of redemption to all who will simply profess a faith in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. Once this happens, He sees you as a redeemed child, but that redemption is nothing that should make us feel superior to anyone else. All that it means is in the sea of sinful, drowning people, we have gotten on the life boat. We should be reaching out to others offering to help them receive what we have received. We must show them the same compassion, understanding and love that we were shown as we found our salvation.

I want to challenge you to look at your actions during the next twenty-four hours. Pray to have your eyes opened to the instances where you treat others in a way that you would not want to be treated. Pray to be able to show God’s love in those situations instead of your shortcomings. I want you to also pray for those who mistreat you, for they may not realize what they do. It is said that it is hard to hate someone when you are praying for them. I think that we can also safely say that it is hard to mistreat someone when you are praying for them.

How are you at treating each other with love?

Copyright 1998 – 2023 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What have you been asking for?

January 18, 2023

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.
(1 John 5:14 (NIV))

Did you notice the stipulation in this passage?

All too often, people ask God for things that are from their will and not His. We are so self-centered that even when we are told to bring our concerns to the Lord, we ask as if we were the center of all creation. We ask as if God is our own personal servant whose only purpose is to fulfill our every desire. If this is how you have been approaching God, how has this been going for you?

Do you even spend time in God’s Word in search of His heart?

Do you even spend time in prayer talking to God and actually listening for His still, small voice?

How can you ask God for things that are according to His Will if you don’t even know what His Will is?

We know that God loves us. This is evident through the gift of salvation freely given through the cross. But, do we love Him in return? Do we simply give lip service to this gift and then continue to live as if we are still a part of this sinful, fallen world? Or, do we actually have a change of heart and see the world for what it is? Do we realize that the things that we had desired are now simply last grasps at the world that we say we want to leave behind?

God is not going to hear us if we ask for things of this world. God is not going to answer us if we are only being selfish in our desires.

Think about a young child in a toy store. Every other word out of their mouth is asking for the latest thing that has caught their eye. The parents know what is good and what is proper, yet the child still goes on and on about the things that they want. We are those children. The world is the toy store. God is ushering us through this world while trying to mature us enough so that what we ask for is not what is seen at every selfish turn of our heads. God is not going to give us the toy store of the world. He is going to give us things that are from Him according to His Will. He is going to give us things that will draw us closer to Him while they mature us in our faith.

God does want to bless us, but what we think of as a blessing is not how God thinks of blessings.

If you have been approaching God and you feel that He has not heard you, then you need to ask yourself one very important question.

What have you been asking for?

Copyright 1998 – 2023 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
https://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is your faith strong enough for this?

January 16, 2023

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
(Matthew 5:44 (NIV))

This goes against everything that our sinful human nature desires!

We instinctively only love those who love us in return. We only want to pray for those whom we love, yet, we are called to break with our sinful human nature and do what we don’t desire to do.

Have you ever stopped to reflect on why we are called to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us? Perhaps the answer is so simple that we don’t want to see it.

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))

If you have come to the realization that our enemies are part of the world that God loves, then you begin to understand why we are called to love our enemies. God loves them just as He loves you and I. In fact, the only difference in God’s eyes are whether they have accepted the gift of grace freely given through the cross. The cross is the ultimate example of love.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
(Romans 5:8 (NIV))

If you stop to consider that you were once an enemy of God, then you realize that God showed you love when you were His enemy. As the Body of Christ, we are called to do the very same thing. We are called to show love to those who are our enemies, for it is through love and prayer that an enemy is lost and a friend is won. This takes a faith that goes far beyond what our sinful human nature can comprehend. It takes a faith firmly grounded in God’s word and in His promises. It takes a faith strong enough to realize that through God’s love anything is possible, even turning an enemy into a brother or sister in Christ! Do you possess a faith strong enough to surrender to God’s Will as He calls you to embrace your enemies with love?

Today’s society is uncertain. Evil is called good and good is called evil. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but we do know one thing – Jesus will come again! When He walked the earth, He called people to repent. He called them to this action out of love. If you have professed a faith in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, then you have shown a faith strong enough to accept that gift. Now, we are called to show a faith strong enough to share that gift even with our enemies.

Is your faith strong enough for this?

Copyright 1998 – 2023 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
https://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you long for Godly wisdom?

January 13, 2023

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools
(Romans 1:22 (NIV))

Do you remember what we are told is God’s definition of a fool?

The fool says in his heart,
     “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, their deeds are vile;
     there is no one who does good.
(Psalm 14:1 (NIV))

In essence, it is rejecting God. This can mean that someone never believed. It can also mean that this can come about from those who claim to know Him and then reject or turn away from Him.

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.
(Romans 1:21-23 (NIV))

We seem to be living in a time when fools are increasing in number. People are looking at the world as if they are in control. People feel as if they have all of the answers and all of the knowledge.

I want to let you in on a little secret. I have all of the answers.

To the world, that last statement may sound arrogant. It may sound just like all of the power hungry people all throughout history, but if you profess a faith in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, then you also have all of the answers!

I can proclaim this with complete certainty due to the following facts.

– We are all sinners
– We all are in need of a Savior

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.
(Acts 4:12 (NIV))

I have come to realize that it takes faith to be a fool, to say that there is no God. People who make this profession see themselves as wise, but in all honesty, they are suffering from something that many people confuse for wisdom. They have been educated, they have been given false knowledge that makes them believe that there is no God. Personally, I don’t want the type of faith that it takes to be a fool. I long for Godly wisdom!

Do you long for Godly wisdom?

Copyright 1998 – 2023 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Why do we think we have it under control?

January 12, 2023

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
     and lean not on your own understanding;
(Proverbs 3:5 (NIV))

What is it about human nature that makes us think that we are smart enough to be the masters of our own fate? Why do we think that we can control anything in our lives when we can’t even control the events of a single day?

If you stop and analyze the fall from grace, it was a sin of pride. Humanity was tricked into wanting to be just like God, and as a result, all of human history has been about our feeble attempts to be our own gods, to be in control. We like the self-made man concept. We like the long shot. We like the one who bucks the status quo and does it there way. In fact, there was a very popular song titled “I Did it My Way!”

If you look at the history of humanity since the fall from grace, it has been a shambles. One person wants to be in control and the next thing we have is conflict due to the fact that what one person wants is not what another person wants. Everyone trusts only in themselves! Everyone is only looking out for the best interests of numero uno, number one, themselves.

Can you tell with one hundred percent certainty what a day will bring?

Can you tell with one hundred percent certainty that you will even live one more day?

If we are not capable of answering yes to these two questions, why do we only put stock in our own understanding? Why do we only trust in ourselves?

Take a look back on your life. We all have times where we feel that we are facing stress, and there are also times when we feel that we have a glimpse of peace. These is a very good probability that stress far outweighs any peace that you may have had due to your own endeavors. I have found that even in the midst of stress all that I need to do is turn it over to the Lord in prayer. I have found that He is so much better at being God than I am or could ever be.

To put it simply, let go and let God . . .

Why do we think we have it under control?

Copyright 1998 – 2023 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do your deeds glorify God?

January 11, 2023

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
(Matthew 5:16 (NIV))

How good are you at letting your light shine?

Let me rephrase that question and ask it like this.

Do others see Jesus in everything that you do?

Several years ago there was a big movement with WWJD – What Would Jesus Do? You would see wristbands and stickers and many other things with this prominently displayed. This did quite a lot in regard to reminding people how to act if they wanted to truly follow Jesus. I also think that this was also used by the enemy to trick believers into being submissive out of “love” when they saw something that was not right in the eyes of God. My favorite thing that I saw that someone created to clarify this statement reminded people that at one point Jesus fashioned a whip and turned over the tables of the money changers.

Does this sound like the type of “love” that the enemy has tricked us into believing about Jesus?

Jesus was compassionate toward the people lost in their sin as He encountered them, but He was also extremely passionate about the Father. He would never do anything that was contrary to what the Father instructed. He would never do anything contrary to God’s Word. His compassion for people, for us, was never to affirm them in their sin. It was to call them home to a loving Father. He was calling sinners to repent and return to the Father through Him!

With that in mind, I venture to say that there will be times when we are called to let our light shine and it will actually mean that we will be filled with the righteous passion for the Father and for His Word that made Jesus turn over tables.

Are you willing to take a stand for what is right in the eyes of the Father? Are you willing to make a public profession that you do not agree with the sinful practices that are being done? Sometimes shining your light means that you are to go into battle against the darkness and not simply try to make friends with it.

If Jesus said that only the Father is good, then in order to do good deeds, we must point people to the only one who is good. Our deeds must point to Jesus as the only way to the Father! That is how we glorify God.

Do your deeds glorify God?

Copyright 1998 – 2023 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do you believe in the gift of God?

January 10, 2023

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

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

I don’t know about you, but that is one wage that I do not want to collect, and if you don’t repent, it is one that you will collect.

I realize that this statement is rather harsh, but if you stop to think about the consequences of not repenting and accepting Jesus, then this statement is actually sugar coated.

Let me take a step back and ask one important question. What do you think of when you think of death? If you only think of the cessation of the physical body, you are missing out on the eternal aspect and consequences of your existence. Humanity is not simply a physical creature. We are not simply a temporary physical existence with a spirit and soul. We are an eternal spirit and soul with a temporary physical body. We are only passing through this world. This world is not our home! With this in mind, there is another type of death that is far worse than physical death. There is an eternal death that the enemy wants you to not know about. He will do anything that he can to make you think that it isn’t real. He wants to destroy you, both body and soul, for he hates humanity.

Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
(Matthew 10:28 (NIV))

If you have never heard this in this way, it may be time to pay attention. God doesn’t want any to perish, but that decision is your. He can’t make it for you. All that He can do, and has done, is offer a way for you to escape this death. He has provided a sinless, spotless sacrifice through Jesus to take all of the sin of everyone who has ever lived. All that you have to do is accept this great gift of amazing grace!

You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.
(Romans 6:18 (NIV))

All that you have to do is believe!

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))

I have one more very important question to ask.

Do you believe in the gift of God?

Copyright 1998 – 2023 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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This is the best new years resolution ever!

January 2, 2023

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

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

Did you make a new years resolution?

If you are like many each year who do just that, I hope that you know the probability of those resolutions being kept. I don’t have the official stats, but I know that they are not good. Too many people simply give up far too soon!

If you want to make a resolution that will benefit you far greater than the proverbial exercise more, lose weight, find love, or change jobs, then I recommend that you do what the Lord told us to do in Psalm 46. I challenge you to take time each day and be still in the presence of God.

You don’t have to buy a gym membership. You don’t have to update your resume. You don’t have to go on some fad diet, and you don’t have to be someone whom you are not in order to find someone to spend time with. All that it takes is a Bible or Bible app, and a commitment to spend time getting to know the very heart of God. I realize that this sounds scary, but it is anything but scary. When you spend time diving deeper into His Word, you will find that it is actually a loving message from a Father to His children. I urge you to recall when you were young and your father or grandfather would have you climb up on their lap and then shower you with love. Getting to know God will give you the same type of feeling.

When you are still in the presence of God, it is a matter of reading His Word, talking to Him, and listening for His still, small voice.

In today’s hectic world, this can mean many different things for different people. It can mean getting up earlier and opening up your Bible before anyone else is up. It can mean staying up after everyone else is in bed and diving into His Word. It can mean changing what you listen to in the car on your daily commute to an audio Bible. There are no right or wrong ways if you are truly earnest about your desire to know God. Don’t think that you don’t have the time. Take a serious look at your day and where you can make a few adjustments to be still in His presence.

Don’t miss out on what He has in store for you!

This is the best new years resolution ever!

Copyright 1998 – 2023 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Don’t overlook what is right in front of you!

December 27, 2022

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”
(Luke 2:28-32 (NIV))

What do you do now that you have seen your salvation?

We just celebrated the birth of Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Unlike Simeon, we don’t have to wait our entire lives to see God’s promise fulfilled. We can see it every single day of our lives. We should see it in everything that we do. We have grace and mercy given to us in all circumstances of our lives. All that we have to do is repent and seek forgiveness for our sinful actions.

Have you ever thought that this is why we have things in our lives that we shouldn’t have? Let me ask this in a slightly different approach. Have you ever had something so readily available to you that you took it for granted? Have you ever gone to the extreme and waited until it was too late to realize just what you had available to you?

It is human nature to miss what is right before us. We do it with missed relationships, missed job opportunities, missed witnessing opportunities, and so many more. I have seen people, and I have also been one to miss opportunities. We all do it. Why do we miss things right in front of us while we long for the very things that we miss? Do we think things have to be complicated and because of this, miss the simple things that will have the most meaning and impact?

Simeon knew what he and the whole world were missing. He had prayed for salvation all of his life. He knew what it was that he was expecting and he knew it when he saw it. Why don’t we know God’s grace and mercy when we see it? Why do so many people look right at Jesus and see something else than what He truly is?

Do you recognize your salvation?

Don’t overlook what is right in front of you!

Copyright 1998 – 2022 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
https://www.dailylivingministries.org
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