What is it that you seek first?

December 18, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

So do not worry, saying, `What shall we eat?’ or `What shall we drink?’ or `What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
(Matthew 6:31-33 (NIV))

What is it that you seek first?

With Christmas almost here, many people turn ino materialistic animals. They think that they have to give the perfect gift. They think that they have to have the latest gadget because it will make their life complete. They think that they have to give more expensive gifts because they are being judged by their gift.

I pray that people will come to the realization that it is not about bigger and better gifts. It is not about finding the perfect clothes to wear. It is not about preparing the perfect meal or making sure that the supply of drinks does not run out. It is simply a matter of priorities.

I pray that people will come to the realization that all that they truly need is found in a manger and at the foot of the cross!

Focus on Jesus and seek His righteousness as your priority. When you find yourself aligning your life along God’s plan and His grace, then everything else will slowly come into focus. What better time to realign your priorities than at the time of year that we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior. Birth represents a new beginning. The birth of Jesus gives each of us that opportunity for a new beginning – a beginning without the baggage of the failed priorities of the world.

Again, I ask the simple question. What is it that you seek first?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you accepted God’s compassion for you?

November 27, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him.
(Psalms 103:13 (NIV))

How many times, as a child, did you do something terribly wrong? You knew that you were going to be in BIG trouble! You knew that there was going to be punishment for your actions. Many times you did receive punishment for what you had done. Think back and take a look at what you did and what you received in return.

Chances are that the punishment was far less serious than the action really deserved. Your earthly father had compassion on you and tempered the punishment with love. Our heavenly Father is far more compassionate than any person can ever be. No matter what you have done in your life, it can all be forgiven through one simple act of faith.

Profess the name of Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and the severe punishment for your sins is wiped away. You may still suffer the immediate consequences of your actions, but the long term consequences of sin are no longer to be applied to you. The wages of sin is death. God, through His compassion, has given us a way to escape what is rightfully ours to face.

Have you accepted God’s compassion for you?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you willing to forgive?

October 10, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
(Matthew 6:14-15 (NIV))

Most people like to ignore this passage because it is difficult to admit that grace received is based on grace that is given. We like to think that it is okay to withhold forgiveness to those who have wronged us. We like to think that we are above what others are called to do. Let’s be honest! Everyone is self-centered. Everyone is prideful. It is human nature to think that we are better than everyone else, and since we are better, then we don’t have to forgive others.

What if God had that attitude in dealing with us?

It would not be a pretty picture. In fact, if you think about this stipulation that we are forgiven in the same manner that we forgive, you begin to see that God is trying to make us realize that we are all in need of forgiveness. We need to forgive each other for the things that they have done to us. No one is perfect and it is impossible to live life without having someone sin against you. It is also impossible to live life without sinning against someone else. No one is perfect. No one is able to claim righteousness on their own.

Jesus taught on this concept many times.

Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.
(Matthew 18:32-35 (NIV))

Are you beginning to understand God’s heart and forgiveness? What is freely given to others is freely given to us!

Are you willing to forgive?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you love, fear and respect God?

January 13, 2015

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me, freeing me from all my fears. Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces. I cried out to the Lord in my suffering, and he heard me. He set me free from all my fears. For the angel of the Lord guards all who fear him, and he rescues them.
(Psalms 34:4-7 (NLT))

Everybody longs for what this passage describes. We all want God to answer our prayers. We all want God to come to our rescue. We all want God to bless us.

Did you catch the caveat in this passage?

There are four words that most people have a tendency to overlook. They see the words and think that it could not be as written, after all, God is love. They falsely think that God will answers our prayers and come to our rescue no matter what we do. They think of God as a genie who is there to grant our every wish. They fail to recognize the two way relationship that four little words bring to the table.

All who fear Him!

God is not going to answer the prayers of those who mock Him. He is not going to come to the rescue of those who rebel against Him. It is true that God does not wish for any to perish, but it is up to us. He has given us free will. If we choose to turn from Him, then He will not bless us. He will still be there hoping that we will repent and turn to Him, but He cannot do for us if we do not accept His grace and mercy. With that acceptance comes a fear of Him. Perhaps that fear is better understood as a respect.

Think about that concept.

Do you love you earthly father? When you were growing up, how many times did you hear your mother tell you, “Just wait till your father gets home!” Did you fear your father at these times? You knew he loved you, but you also knew that he was capable of dealing with your bad behavior, your sins.

Why do people have such a different view of God, our heavenly Father, than they do of their earthly father? Even for those who profess a faith and actively strive to be righteous in the eyes of God, we have a tendency to look upon God in ways that we shouldn’t.

Do you love, fear and respect God?

Copyright 1998 – 2014 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What prize do you really seek?

May 21, 2014

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
(1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (NIV))

What is the prize that you seek in this race that we call life? Is it fame, fortune, wealth, power? Or is it something of far greater value?

If you look at life through the eyes of the world, you may be asking yourself what is of greater value than these things. Look inward! God has created something of far greater value that He watches it daily.

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
(Matthew 6:26 (NIV))

What value do birds have? How could that be more valuable than fame, fortune, wealth or power?

God looks at things very differently than the world does. He can make gold if He desires. He can perform miracles that bring fame if He desires. God does not love these things. He loves the birds of the air and He feeds them. The good news is that He loves each of us more than He loves the birds.

With this in mind, the prize that we seek should not be of this earth. It should be an earnest and sincere faith in God, in Jesus, and in the Holy Spirit. This faith will get you the ultimate prize – eternal life. What prize could compare with that?

What prize do you really seek?

Copyright 1998 – 2014 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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It is the intimate times that lead to a closer relationship

September 19, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
(Matthew 6:14-18 (NIV))

Following the words of Jesus is often a contradiction of what the world would have you believe. These two examples are excellent proof of that.

Forgiveness is not something that human nature automatically and freely gives. In the eyes of society, and especially with men, forgiveness is often seen as weakness. Weakness is not a trait that is welcome in this world. Strength and power are the goals in the worldly life.

Prayer is another area that the world sees as a weakness. It is either considered a weakness if you pray, or, in certain aspects of society, it is considered a weakness if you do not pray loudly and in public.

Prayer is a conversation with God. God does not call you to yell to Him in front of many people. That is not a relationship. It is more like cheerleading. God calls us to be in a relationship with Him. Relationships require one-on-one time and close, intimate conversation. How many times has a man won a bride by yelling at her in public? Not too often, if any! It is the intimate times that lead to a closer relationship.

Do you go against the world view?

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you hiding unforgiveness in your heart?

June 17, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
(Matthew 6:14-15 (NIV))

Does this bother you?

Do you ignore scriptures like this because it goes against what you want to believe? Does it remind you of someone that you still have not forgiven because of something that happened years ago? You did not realize that your salvation could possibly hinge on your ability to forgive others. God’s grace and mercy are truly a gift, for we cannot earn our salvation. Yet, these words speak of the possibility of losing that gift.

How could this happen?

Take a look at the true meaning behind God’s grace. Does He hate us or does He love us? Hate would not offer a gift such as grace. Hate would call for revenge. Love is the only thing that can offer a gift such as grace. When we accept Jesus with our whole heart, mind and spirit, we fully accept His love for us and then His love indwells us in the form of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is part of the Triune God that we worship. If the Holy Spirit indwells us, then we have love for others within us. This love would cause us to pass God’s grace and mercy on to others. It would not allow us to harbor hatred and unforgiveness if we truly face what we have hidden from ourselves.

Closely examine every hiding place within your memory to search for those that you have not forgiven, for how can we accept forgiveness when we cannot give it?

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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