Have you found a new beginning?

October 28, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
(Proverbs 1:7 (NIV))

What is it about human nature that makes us all think that we are capable of anything and everything on our own strength, skills and abilities? It starts as a toddler. I still remember my now adult daughter as a two year old adamantly saying “Me do it!” Now she has a little girl who is almost two. She is just now only beginning to express her independence in a similar manner. I knowingly look forward to the quest for independence that my granddaughter will be going through. Without such a quest, we don’t mature. We don’t grow. But, there comes a point when and where we must also be willing to grow by seeking wisdom and instruction from a source beyond ourselves.

Some people never do grow to that point, and even those who do have relapses where we despise wisdom and instruction. We have all experienced something today where we thought that we could do it better than the person who was doing it. Perhaps some of us even said it out loud!

What happens when that human nature that likes to rebel against authority comes into direct rebellion against the Lord?

Actually, I don’t have enough time to recount all the things that have been recorded when this has happened. Most of the Bible is the story of how God created, man rebelled, God reached out to save, and man rebelled again. Even when Jesus stepped out of heaven to come to this world, that story continued. It will continue until the Lord returns. The big difference is that now we can repent and accept Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior. We can choose to fear the Lord, or should I say that we can choose to fear the consequences from the Lord that result from our sinful actions. I have previously said that this fear is not one of trembling, but of respect. In the same manner that we feared our father when we were growing up, we need to fear the Lord. The Lord is full authority and just in His reprimands. He still loves us. He loves us enough to not allow us to stay in rebellion. He will try to draw us to Him so that we can learn and repent.

Some people have interpreted this fear to mean respect. I agree with this concept. If you respect the Lord, you also fear His reprimand. It is your desire to do what pleases the Lord. It is said that David was a man after God’s own heart. How do you think that this came to be? David feared the Lord, yet he also loved and respected the Lord. When he came to this point in his life, David found a new beginning that led him in step with the Lord.

Have you found a new beginning?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Is this how you wish to pray?

October 16, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.
(Matthew 6:7 (NIV))

Have you ever been accused of babbling?

Merriam-Webster defines babbling as idle, foolish, or nonsensical talk or chatter. When you hear someone talking in this manner, do you feel the urge to tell them to get to the point? Do you even bother to listen to the words that are being uttered. Do you zone out and nod slightly to make it look like you are listening? At times, it appears that the person who is talking simply likes the sound of their own voice. It can get annoying!

With this defined, let’s go back to my first question. Have you ever been accused of babbling? Better yet, have you ever approached the throne room of God in prayer only to babble on and on simply because you were too afraid to ask the Lord for what you seek in a bold and confident manner? Perhaps you found yourself babbling because you knew deep down that your motives for what you ask were wrong.

When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
(James 4:3 (NIV))

Human nature is a funny thing. We think that we can hide what we truly desire and the motives for that desire, but our actions give us away. Simply think about the many times when you were a child where you approached your parents to ask for something. You had probably made up a story that wasn’t quite true and you talked and talked and talked hoping that your words would be convincing. Your parents knew. Now, think about this from God’s perspective. He knows our hearts. He knows the true desires and the true motives that we try to hide from public display when we try using a constant barrage of words.

We put up a facade! We try to convince ourselves and others that our motives are noble when they are simply self-serving.

But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:
“God opposes the proud
    but shows favor to the humble.”
(James 4:6 (NIV))

Humility doesn’t have anything to say. Humility is quiet and unassuming. When we put on humility, we simply surrender to the Lord and fully rely upon His mercy and grace. We surrender our motives and embrace His motives. We put self aside and when we do this, our words don’t matter. What matters is our heart!

Is this how you wish to pray?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Does what you ask glorify the Father?

October 9, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
(James 14:13-14 (NIV))

I don’t know just how many times that I have read or heard this passage, but tonight, I saw something that I understood in a new light. As believers, as Christians, we have taken this passage and condensed it to something that only represents the half truth that whatever we ask in the name of Jesus will be done for us. Read the passage again and stop to think about the things that you ask in the name of Jesus. Looking back on your faith walk, do your answers make you feel shameful for the things that you have asked for? What are some of the things that you remember asking? Did you receive an answer that matched your prayer request?

Human nature is selfish and as a result, even people who profess a faith in Jesus still possess this characteristic. Most people ask for things that benefit themselves either directly or indirectly. Even praying for healing of a loved one can be considered selfish if the reason that you pray is because you will miss them. It is a matter of motives. Do the things that you ask bring glory to yourself or to the Father? Do they stroke your ego or do they truly glorify God? Do they fuel a lust for fame and fortune or do they seek to follow God’s own heart?

You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
(James 4:2-3 (NIV))

Do your pleasures glorify God? Do your wrong motives guide you to seek after God’s heart? Each of us ask so much of God and from God, but why do we ask? What are our motives?

Does what you ask glorify the Father?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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God is in the business of miracles!

September 22, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

They only heard the report: “The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” And they praised God because of me.
(Galatians 1:23-24 (NIV))

We all know someone who has lived a life completely contrary to God’s Word. In fact, we probably all know someone who goes out of their way to torment, mock and ridicule anyone who professes a faith in Jesus. We have all heard of fairly recent professions of faith from very public people in entertainment. These are also people whom most of us would never have thought it possible for such as change.

What is your reaction when you hear of someone like that who suddenly starts sharing the very Gospel that they have mocked in the past? Do you find yourself saying things like it must be a publicity stunt? Do you find yourself thinking that it must be a facade and that they are up to something? Why do we, as the Body of Christ, pass judgment on those who have made such as drastic change in their lives? I realize that human nature is skeptical, and sometimes it is warranted, but how often do we do tremendous harm to the faith of a new believer because of our failure to accept that someone could have such a drastic change of heart? How long would Paul have put up with people with this type of attitude? How long would God have put up with this type of attitude toward Paul?

I pray that we learn a lesson from this passage and learn to praise God for working in the lives of those whom we thought were beyond reach. Think about this next question for a moment. How many people did you surprise when they found out that you had accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior?

We need to learn to praise God when He reaches someone whom we thought was completely lost, after all, God is in the business of miracles!

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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Are you practicing what you have learned?

August 17, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
(Philippians 4:9 (NIV))

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. If that is the case, do you flatter Jesus?

When Paul wrote his letter to the church at ‭‭Philippi, he was encouraging the believers there to take what they have learned from him about Jesus and put it into practice. In other words, he was encouraging them to imitate Jesus by following His teachings. Two thousand years later, that is still the very best advise that anyone can give.

How are you living up to imitating Jesus in all that you do?

It isn’t easy, is it?

No matter how sincere we may be in our desires, human nature keeps getting in the way. Our sinful nature keeps raising its ugly head and we soon find ourselves doing things that we truly wish that we could avoid. Perhaps we need to truly take a lesson from Jesus and pay attention to how much time that He spent in prayer with the Father. I would venture to say that if we start practicing this lesson more often, the other things that we are called to imitate would be so much easier to actually imitate. Spending time in honest, heartfelt communication with the Lord will lead to a stronger relationship, and a better understanding of and a stronger desire to be like Jesus!

There is only so much that we can learn if we don’t start practicing what we have learned. Obedience is critical. Obedience means doing what Jesus instructs us to do. Obedience means putting away our sinful nature and following Jesus. Obedience means that we imitate Jesus by putting into practice what we have learned.

Are you practicing what you have learned?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Have you been placing your trust in the Lord?

July 20, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
(Psalms 20:7 (NIV))

It is so easy to say that we trust in the name of the Lord when everything is going as we want it to go.

How is your trust in God now?

Do you still trust in the Lord like you have in the past?

It is human nature to get discouraged when things look bad, but we must remember that we aren’t supposed to look at this sinful, fallen world through eyes that have a human perspective. If we look at the world in this manner, all we will ever see is gloom, despair and agony. This is not what Jesus died on the cross to allow us to see! He gave us the ability to see grace and mercy as it is unfolding according to God’s plan. What began on the cross is not the complete picture. It is true that through the Blood of Jesus we can proclaim Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, but there is more. That victory is on the personal level, and I am truly eternally thankful for that victory, but there is more than just what Jesus did for us on the personal level. All too often we fail to recognize the big picture as it applies to the whole world.

Do you long for the day when the enemy will be bound and all who call evil good will no longer be able to do so? God’s ultimate plan that bought us salvation is the same plan that will bring this about. That plan is not completed, yet! We have been told that certain things will need to happen, and many believe that what we are seeing is part of that plan unfolding. We may not know all the details. We may not know when everything will unfold, but there is one thing that we should know.

If we have proclaimed Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, then we should know without a doubt one important fact.

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.
(2 Corinthians 1:20 (NIV))

If you have read God’s Word, you know that He wins. That is promised. It is also promised that those who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved. When faced with this truth and all that is going on in the world, where do you place your faith?

Have you been placing your trust in the Lord?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you capable of waiting?

July 14, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.
(Psalms 27:14 (NIV))

There is something about human nature that doesn’t like to wait!

Do you have the patience to wait? Do you know of anyone who has the patience to wait? Have you ever thought about this passage in that context?

God uses things that are contrary to the sinful, fallen world to bring people to Him, and this is no different. Since waiting goes against human nature especially since the fall from grace, perhaps God uses the concept of waiting to teach us and to explore our hearts. He uses waiting to see if we are willing to go against our sinful nature. Let’s face facts. Waiting is not easy! Is God using this to see who is willing to go the extra mile and deny themselves in order to spend time with Him?

Think about that from the standpoint that humanity likes instant gratification!

I am sure that when you were growing up, you were constantly told, “Good things come to those who wait.” What better thing is there than the Lord, our God? Is He worth waiting for? Is He worth going against the world in order to receive Him? What do we receive when we what for the Lord? We come away with a wonderful understanding of who He is. We come away with a thankful heart because of what He has done. We receive an eternity in His presence! I find these to be the ultimate good that I long for while I wait for the Lord.

Are you capable of waiting?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do you see the Lord as Holy Glorious?

June 10, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

And they were calling to one another:
    “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;
     the whole earth is full of his glory.”
(Isaiah 6:3 (NIV))

There are two basic premises outlined in this passage. Two very true details that we need to fully embrace. How we embrace them determines our whole outlook and understanding of God the Father, Jesus His Son, and the Holy Spirit.

First and foremost, the LORD is holy. I am not certain if the word “holy” is repeated three times because of a subliminal reference to the Trinity, or whether it is repeated simply as a matter of driving the concept home. It may even be both. No matter why it is repeated, we must never forget that the LORD is holy. If we treat God in any way less than holy, we have sinned. We have taken the Creator of all things and redefined Him within our comfort zone. We do not praise Him if we make Him less than He is.

Ouch!

I hate to say this, but human nature finds us doing just that. We have a tendency of not understanding just how magnificent that He is. We tend to define God and our relationship to Him by our own thought processes and our own relationships. God is holy.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
      declares the LORD.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.
(Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV))

We cannot comprehend God. We must simply trust Him and accept that He is holy.

The second premise that is presented is the fact the the whole earth is full of His glory.

Everywhere that you look, you see wondrous things that God has created. Can man imagine a rainbow into existence? Can humanity divide the waters above from the waters below? Can anybody create a continent and clothe it in the vast splendor that we see?

God’s glory is manifested through His creation. Not only is He holy, but everything that He creates is glorious.

I hope that you fully caught what I just said. Everything that God creates is glorious. God created you and I. It is simple deductive reasoning that allows us to draw the conclusion that we are intended to be glorious. Even though we have fallen from grace through our sin, we are intended to be glorious. Even though we may not always follow God’s call, we are intended to be glorious.

God sent His glory into the world so that we could gain salvation and grace. Jesus, the son of God and the son of man, came into this world so that we could be washed clean and reunited with God in all of His glory.

Holy. Glory.

How do you see God in relationship to these two simple words? Do you see the Lord as Holy Glorious?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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How do we see each other?

May 28, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
(Galatians 3:28 (NIV))

I long for the day that we truly see each other as Jesus sees us!

I have lived long enough to honestly say that I am tired of people treating each other differently simply because we may not look the same. I want it to end, but since we live in a sinful, fallen world, we are going to continue to see these types of things happen. It breaks my heart just as I am certain that it breaks the very heart of God. What is it about human nature that makes us want to lash out at someone because of our shortcomings, our sins? Ever since the fall from grace in the Garden of Eden, humanity has had to struggle with a vast array of sins including ego, pride and selfishness.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
(Philippians 2:3-4 (NIV))

The world is upside down. We are seeing things that our ancestors never saw. We also are doing things that our ancestors would have never dreamed about doing. This goes both ways. Some things are better while some things are worse. We, as the Body of Christ, recognize the intolerance and hatred. We also know that there is truly only one solution to this sinful nature. Unfortunately, not everyone will accept Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. It is also sad to realize that not everyone who professes a faith in Jesus is mature enough to embrace what the author of Acts recorded for us.

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.
(Acts 20:24 (NIV))

We must all come to the realization that each person is a unique creation and is loved by God. We must treat each individual with this in mind. For those individuals whom we see who have accepted Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior, we can embrace them as part of the family. For those who haven’t yet accepted Jesus, we can show them the love of Jesus and invite them into the family.

How do we see each other?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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