Do you see yourself in this list?

April 24, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
(2 Timothy 3:1-5 (NIV))

What is it about human nature that makes us want to make lists? What is it about human nature that makes us want to place ourselves right at the top of the lists that we make?

We like to classify and identify almost every aspect of our lives as well as the lives of others. Have you noticed that if someone likes to make lists of the faults of others, they are usually trying to hide their own faults? We like to think that by pointing out the problems in the lives of others, we draw attention away from our faults and make ourselves look much better than we truly are. In essence, we like to toot our own horn! We like to be the center of attention.

Does this sound anything like the characteristics listed in the passage above?

We are told the characteristics that people will possess in the last days. In today’s world, are people lovers of themselves and lovers of money? Are people boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient, ungrateful and unholy? Are people loveless, unforgiving, slanderous, lacking self-control and brutal? Do people love good or are they treacherous, rash, conceited and lovers of pleasure? If you answered yes to these questions, then by logical reasoning, what can you claim is true of the times in which we live?

As previously stated, people like to make lists. God also makes lists. He has defined the characteristics that He despises in humanity and how they will be very evident in the last days. These are characteristics that we do not wish to possess. This is a list that we do not wish to be on.

Do you see yourself in this list?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Which law do you want to live under?

April 16, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.
(Romans 8:1-2 (NIV))

In our lives, we all have to answer to many different types of laws.

There are physical laws such as the law of gravity. I have yet to meet anyone who has tested these laws and lived. It is true that we have learned to bend these laws and apply them to our daily lives, but there is no way that you can ever truly know with complete certainty that when you bend these laws that your efforts will succeed. Referring back to the law of gravity, it is possible to jump out of an aircraft and rely on a parachute to open and allow you to ride the air currents to slow you down. This only works as long as the parachute does what it was designed to do. If it does not, then you suffer the consequences!

There are man made laws that quite often are based on what is hopefully a common sense application of physical laws, moral laws and spiritual laws. Murder is a prime example. With man made laws, they are open to creation and interpretation of those who are in authority. Human authority can change!

There are moral laws, which are quite often derived from spiritual laws. Once again, murder is a good example. Almost everyone knows that it is wrong to kill someone, yet, there are many times when people ignore or bend this law to suit their needs.

Most of us are able to claim that we have lived a “good” life and that we have not tempted physical laws. We try to avoid breaking man made laws, especially the ones that we consider to be a moral or spiritual no-no. However, there are other things that we need to consider with spiritual laws. We all miss the mark. We all sin.

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

In other words, we have all broken God’s laws. Because of what we have done, we are all condemned to death, but God has placed another law into play that we can rightfully use to claim freedom. Through the law of the Spirit who gives life, we can claim forgiveness. We can throw ourselves on the mercy of God and claim the blood of Jesus Christ. We can acknowledge that Jesus is our personal Lord and Savior.

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 have two choices as to what law applies to our lives. We can live under the law of sin and death, or we can find grace by living under the law of the Spirit who gives life.

Which law do you want to live under?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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So let there be praise! So let there be praise!

March 5, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Praise be to the Lord forever! Amen and Amen.
(Psalms 89:52 (NIV))

The psalmist wrote about all of the things that have happened, both good and bad, and closed with these words. He felt so strongly about the need to praise God in all circumstances that he repeated a single word at the end to emphasize the importance of lifting up praise to the Lord!

The word “Amen” means “so let it be.” He felt so strongly that the Lord should be praised forever that he said “So let it be and so let it be.” Think about that simple repetition and human nature and how it applies to the following statements.

“I didn’t do it. I didn’t do it!”

“Go to your room. Go to your room!”

“I’m innocent, I tell you. I’m innocent!”

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry!”

Do you see a trend with respect to human nature and how we try to emphasize something that is really important to us by repeating it?

All that we are is due to what God has done. He created us. He placed us in the Garden of Eden. He loved us even when we sinned. He loved us so much that He devised a plan to redeem us for Himself. With the Lord, His Word is truth. If it is said once, it will happen. With sinful humanity, we feel the need to stress what we truly mean by repeating it. Repetition builds habit. Habits can be either good or bad. Praising God is definitely good. With this in mind, it is important that we continually praise God!

So let there be praise! So let there be praise!

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Have you put your childhood ways behind you?

February 16, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.
(1 Corinthians 13:11 (NIV))

Spiritual maturity is a wonderful thing. When you are new in your faith, it is easy to become disoriented and allow the world to knock you off balance. You have a hunger, but you are uncertain about what you are feeling and experiencing. At this early stage of faith, just as in the childhood years, you are limited in your understanding and your ability to fully comprehend all that you experience. You are still being spoon fed. Perhaps I could and should say that you are still in the milk stages of your faith.

Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
(Hebrews 5:13-14 (NIV))

In essence, being a child can mean that you are naive to the ways of the world and the enemy. Spiritual maturity brings an understanding, an ability to discern what is right and wrong in God’s eyes. It means that you are diving deeper into God’s Word and your understanding is getting much deeper. Consider this case in point as an example. When you were a child, could you comprehend and solve complex mathematical problems? Could you develop and communicate complex thoughts in such a manner so that others could understand?

Being a child is supposed to be a simple, joyful time. It is the time to develop trust and belief.

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
(Matthew 19:14 (NIV))

Even though we are called to be like little children in our faith, we are also called to a maturity. This is a maturity that prepares us to face the enemy. It is a maturity that firmly grounds us in Jesus.

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.
(Ephesians 4:14-15 (NIV))

As members of the Body of Christ, we are all called to maturity in Christ. We must long for the substance of solid faith. We must realize that faith is something that we are to desire to grow and mature. We are to change our ways of thinking so that we are in line with what Jesus desires. We are to desire to mature into the likeness of Christ!

Have you put your childhood ways behind you?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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When you look at things, are they possible or impossible?

February 9, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
(Matthew 19:26 (NIV))

We like to take Matthew 19:26 out of context and apply it to whatever we may be facing that appears to be a no win situation. To be honest with you, nothing is impossible with God, so it is a good application. Still, we tend to overlook the original message.

This particular passage was directed at His disciples and it comes at the end of a discourse with a rich young man.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”
(Matthew 19:23-25 (NIV))

In case you didn’t catch the implication, Jesus was saying that salvation was only possible through God. Think about that for a moment. Each of us have something that we cherish. Each of us have something that we long to hold on to, that we don’t want to surrender. For some, it is money. For others, it may be power. For others, it may be any number of things. For this particular young man, it was his wealth. Jesus told him that it was necessary to surrender what he held dear to himself and choose to follow Jesus. I think that the disciples caught on to what Jesus was saying because they asked, “Who then can be saved?” The disciples knew human nature. They knew how difficult it is to surrender what is closest to your heart. They knew that it was and is a matter of priorities. They had made the choice to trade everything for the ultimate treasure.

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
(Matthew 13:44 (NIV))

Jesus let them know that a person cannot change their heart, but God can. God can take a cold and hardened heart and bring it back to life. God can take the “wealth” that a person holds dear and make it all look worthless in comparison to what He has to offer. If you think about this, Jesus also let us know that people are not in the business of saving each other. We don’t have the power or authority, but God does! How do you look at things, from your perspective or from God’s?

When you look at things, are they possible or impossible?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Don’t be ashamed to praise His name!

February 5, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I will praise you, LORD, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples.
(Psalms 108:3 (NIV))

Do you and I have the faith to praise the Lord among the nations?

Think about that for a moment. Are we willing to step outside of our comfort zones and risk the ridicule of people that we don’t know if we take a stand for God? Are we willing to look foolish in the eyes of the world and speak out in praise of the God of creation? Are we willing to tell the world, or even only the people that we know, the great things that the Lord has done?

Think about those questions and then answer a few simple questions about whether you praise the Lord when gathered with other believers.

Do you lift you hands in praise or do you sit there with arms folded? Do you lift your eyes to the Lord or do you look around the room trying to see who is doing what? Do you lift you voice in song or do you refuse to utter a single sound? Do you feel the power of the Holy Spirit or do you feel the call of you watch?

We were created to praise God. We were created to acknowledge the Lord before others.

Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven.
(Matthew 10:32 (NIV))

Have you ever heard the saying “dumb as a box of rocks?”

If we don’t have the common sense and intelligence to give praise where praise is due, then we are told exactly what will happen.

I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.
(Luke 19:40 (NIV))

In other words, if we are ashamed to acknowledge the Lord and praise Him, then God will make the rocks cry out in His praise. Can you imagine how you will be received in heaven if God has to make the rocks cry out because you failed to lift Him up in praise among the people? I honestly don’t think that you will hear the following words.

His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
(Matthew 25:21 (NIV))

There is one thing that we must faithfully remember.

Don’t be ashamed to praise His name!

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you trust in God’s plans?

January 18, 2018

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
(Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV))

Did you have your life planned out?

How did that work out for you?

Almost everyone quotes this passage when they think of the blessings of God in their lives, but almost everyone fails to recognize one key piece of information about this passage. They forget the context in which it was delivered!

This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place.
(Jeremiah 29:10 (NIV))

Years prior to these words being recorded, most of the people in Jerusalem were taken into captivity and taken to Babylon. God’s timing was to have the descendants leave Babylon and return to Jerusalem. God spoke these words to the complete group of people who would be fulfilling His will by returning to Jerusalem, by returning to the city that God loves. It was God’s desire to prosper them so that they would not only have a hope and a future, but to be able to give a hope and a future to all of humanity through what would eventually transpire in and around Jerusalem.

I find it saddening that today’s prosperity oriented mindset reads these words and takes what God said to His people in exile and turns it into a promise to make us rich.

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

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

God had a plan to give us hope even when we were condemned in our sin and even when we were without hope. If we are all sinners and we deserve death, what type of a future do we have? God realized this and set things in motion to give us hope and a future. God knew that in order to fulfill His promises for this hope and future, He had to move the people back to Jerusalem. He had to set the plans in motion that would bring Jesus into the world. God’s plan was to give everyone a hope of overcoming death and a future in His presence.

Do you trust in God’s plans?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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