Is your faith strong enough for this?

January 16, 2023

Image

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
Support Daily Living Ministries
Subscribe to daily email delivery
Visit us on facebook


Why do we think we have it under control?

January 12, 2023

Image

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.
https://www.dailylivingministries.org
Support Daily Living Ministries
Subscribe to daily email delivery
Visit us on facebook


What have you set your mind on?

November 14, 2022

Image

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
(Colossians 3:2 (NIV))

We all have those things that we constantly think about. These are the things that fill our thoughts when we are not being distracted by other things such as work, family, sporting events, and other such worldly pursuits. What we think about is a choice! In all honesty, it is so very easy for these very things that I just listed to become what we set our minds on, for we often choose to think on these things and completely neglect what we are truly called to think about.

My son, keep my words
     and store up my commands within you.
Keep my commands and you will live;
     guard my teachings as the apple of your eye.
Bind them on your fingers;
     write them on the tablet of your heart.
(Proverbs 7:1-3 (NIV))

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
(Matthew 6:21 (NIV))

God knows us all too well. He knows that what we think about is what we hold in our hearts. He knows the sinful, fallen human nature all too well. He knows that we are driven by desires. He knows that our sinful nature is what we will think of by default. I love the message in Colossians for it tells us distinctly to abandon our sinful nature and think only of the things of God.

Just how do you go about setting your mind on things above?

It takes a commitment!

You must dive deeply into God’s Word and search the scriptures so that you can know God intimately. You must love the Lord with all your heart, all your mind, and all your soul. You must long for His truth above all else and you must recognize your own sinful nature.

That last one hurts! It is human nature to not want to admit that we are anything less than perfect. Too many of us think that we are masters of our own domain, our own destiny, and that anything that we do is perfectly acceptable. We don’t want to admit that we need help, let alone that we need a Savior to rescue us from our sin. That whole attitude changes when you recognize that you are a sinner in need of a Savior, and start focusing on the Lord and not on yourself. We soon realize that we are not the center of our own little world. It is a matter of perspective. How we look upon our lives will determine what we set our minds on. If you see this life as your chance to get all that this world has to offer, then you will think of the things of this world.

What have you set your mind on?

Copyright 1998 – 2022 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
https://www.dailylivingministries.org
Support Daily Living Ministries
Subscribe to daily email delivery
Visit us on facebook


Don’t you think it’s time to accept this amazing gift of grace?

October 31, 2022

Image

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.
(Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV))

Do you like gifts?

I realize that I just asked a rhetorical question. Human nature seeks things that are self gratifying, so I can honestly say that I have never met anyone who hates gifts. In fact, most people love to receive gifts. Since this is part of our nature, why do so many people fail to receive the greatest gift of all?

It simply doesn’t make sense!

Thankfully, there are people who have received this amazing gift of grace and are doing all that they can to share the knowledge of this gift to all who will hear, no matter where it may lead them. As I write this, I am tracking a flight that is going half way around the world so that a group of nine men, including my youngest son, can share the Gospel with an unreached tribe in a mountainous region of a country that I don’t want to currently name. They feel called to go and share the good news in a place that is so far outside of the comfort zones of most people in this country. They are flying for two days, and then hiking for three days just to reach this group of people. They know that this gift is so great that it must be shared!

And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
(Romans 10:15 (NIV))

Do you feel that you are being sent to share this amazing gift of grace?

Let me ask another question. Have you even claimed this gift for yourself?

In most of the westernized world, there are churches everywhere. There are preachers and teachers sharing the good news. You can find Bibles in almost every hotel room and in almost every major retail store. You can turn on the television or go to a video website and watch people sharing the Gospel. You can turn on the radio and hear people proclaiming the good news, yet, so many people still turn a blind eye to the truth that can set them free from the power of sin and death. If you are one of these people, don’t wait until it is too late! If people are willing to go half way around the world for people whom they don’t know, don’t you think that there is something to this good news that you need to look at?

Don’t you think it’s time to accept this amazing gift of grace?

Copyright 1998 – 2022 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
https://www.dailylivingministries.org
Support Daily Living Ministries
Subscribe to daily email delivery
Visit us on facebook


We must all learn to patiently wait for the Lord!

July 20, 2022

Image

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 just does not like to wait. We are impatient and this is probably a direct result of the fall from grace. To take this one step further, not only are we to wait for the Lord, but we are to do it patiently. We are to wait for His timing and His purpose.

I waited patiently for the Lord;
     he turned to me and heard my cry.
(Psalm 40:1 (NIV))

I found myself today asking what am I to do, what am I to write about that people need to understand. I do not profess for this to be what you may take it to mean, but instantly I found myself thinking that I need to wait for the Lord.

How about you?

Do you need to patiently wait for the Lord?

With all that is going on in your life, are you able to wait?

With all that is going on in the world, are you able to wait?

Each of us have things in our lives that we want God to resolve for us instantly. We all want God to resolve the world issues instantly. We are seeking these resolutions, these fixes, these prayers to be met on our timeframe. Every single person who professes a faith in Jesus is asking for things done on their timeframe. Some things will happen sooner than later, but everything will happen according to God’s timing. His ways are perfect. His timing is perfect. I am sure that you are familiar with the saying that God is never late and He is also never early. We want the early answer, but we must learn to be patient and wait for the never late timing that God is so good at doing.

When things seem like you can’t wait another minute, remind yourself that He is not on our timeframe. We are on His!

We must all learn to patiently wait for the Lord!

Copyright 1998 – 2022 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
Support Daily Living Ministries
Subscribe to daily email delivery
Visit us on facebook


What flows from your heart?

June 28, 2022

Image

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Above all else, guard your heart,
     for everything you do flows from it.
(Proverbs 4:23 (NIV))

It is said that everything that we hold dear we hide in our hearts. The following passage confirms this.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
(Matthew 6:21 (NIV))

What do you typically do with things that you treasure?

It is human nature to want to protect the things that you treasure, so it makes perfect sense to guard your heart if what you hold dear, what you treasure, is hidden away inside your heart. We think of guarding our heart so that we don’t allow our treasure to slip away, but we also guard our heart to prevent something from slipping in and corrupting or stealing what we treasure.

Your heart provides a glimpse into what you treasure. If you love music, your heart will seek out music. If you love nature, your heart will seek the outdoors. Conversely, if you love sin, then your heart will seek out sin. Each of these examples had to be planted into your life. What do you allow to be planted? What do you allow to be nurtured? What do you allow to flow from your heart?

I realize that these are tough questions, but they are questions that you must ask yourself on a regular basis. And, you must answer truthfully. Sometimes your answers will shock you, but they will be evident to those around you. They will see what flows from your heart.

I realize that it is easier said than done, but we must all guard our hearts. We must desire for godliness and righteousness to flow from our heart.

What flows from your heart?

Copyright 1998 – 2022 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
Support Daily Living Ministries
Subscribe to daily email delivery
Visit us on facebook


Are you willing to love like Jesus?

May 30, 2022

Image

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

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

How many people do you know for whom you would give up your life in order to save theirs?

If you are like most people, that number is relatively small and is probably limited to immediate family and maybe a few close friends. Some of us may even venture to say that we would do it for the greater good of humanity, but in all honesty, self preservation is a powerful human trait and not many of us would actually carry through with what we profess.

Jesus did!

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
(John 15:13 (NIV))

Jesus willingly laid down His life for anyone who has lived or will ever live just so that they can have their sins washed clean! He laid down His life for His friends. He laid down His life for you and I.

What makes us His friends?

You are my friends if you do what I command.
(John 15:14 (NIV))

What does Jesus command?

This is my command: Love each other.
(John 15:17 (NIV))

If we simply rely on our own human nature, we cannot love each other. We need help. We need to admit that we are sinners in need of a Savior. We must be willing to repent and follow Jesus. We must be willing to set our selfish natures aside and live our lives as Jesus lived His. We must be willing to follow Jesus and love those whom He loves. We must be willing to show that love in ways that may go beyond our comfort zones.

Are you willing to love like Jesus?

Copyright 1998 – 2022 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
Support Daily Living Ministries
Subscribe to daily email delivery
Visit us on facebook


Do you hope to draw closer to the Lord?

May 12, 2021

Image

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
(Galatians 5:25 (NIV))

Have you ever read something that made you do a double-take?

This passage did just that for me. Paul made some very profound and bold statements in these few short words.

Reread this passage and be honest with yourself when you answer the following questions.

Do you honestly live by the Spirit?

I know that I long to live by the Spirit, but human nature prevents me from fulfilling this with any consistency. Paul expressed in his writing that his readers were living by the Spirit. What did they know and do that we do not?

Do you keep in step with the Spirit?

If you are like me, you long to keep in step, but all too often you find yourself several paces behind, or at best, you find that you have been distracted and are not even in the same zip code.

I often wonder how Paul was able to live by the Spirit, and to keep in step with the Spirit , but then I remember that Paul had an encounter that left a permanent impression upon his life. He encountered Jesus in a way that would leave even the biggest skeptic in a state of complete obedience.

Is that what it takes for us? Do we need such an amazing encounter that we can’t help but obey? I hope that is not the case, for we have to remember that Paul was persecuting the church. Jesus had to do something to change the course of Paul’s life. Hopefully, we are not persecuting His church. At best, we may be slightly engrossed in our lives and not give all that we can, but I honestly do not think that we can be accused of persecuting the church.

Drastic times call for drastic measures!

That is what Jesus did in the life of Paul. He drastically changed Paul. He changed him to the point of being able to live by the Spirit. Paul tried to weigh everything and do everything according to what the Spirit told him to do. Can you imagine how things would be different if Paul lived his life as we have a tendency to live ours? Imagine the way things would have unfolded IF Paul had gone back to Jerusalem to seek medical help for his sudden blindness. He would have not followed the leading of the Spirit to go to Damascus. Ananias would not have been needed because Paul was not there. Paul would not have been healed. He would not have started his mission to the gentiles. You would probably not be reading this right now.

I often wonder if I am living by the Spirit and if I am in step with the Spirit. This is something that I pray. I long to become able to better discern the gentle voice of the Spirit. This may be food for those who claim that Christians are weak minded, but I like to think that I would want to become like an obedient dog following his master. I long for this type of a relationship not because I am weak minded, but because I know the bond of love that is present in this type of relationship. Wherever the master goes, you guessed it, the dog follows. The dog is so in tune to his master that he instinctively knows where the master is leading.

Are you instinctively in tune to where the Spirit is leading? Are you even in the same zip code?

Do you hope to draw closer to the Lord?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
Support Daily Living Ministries
Subscribe to daily email delivery
Visit us on facebook


Have you found a new beginning?

October 28, 2020

Image

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.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
Support Daily Living Ministries
Subscribe to daily email delivery
Visit us on facebook


Is this how you wish to pray?

October 16, 2020

Image

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.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
Subscribe to daily email delivery
Visit us on facebook


%d bloggers like this: