Have you been made a part of the family?

April 3, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.
(Hebrews 2:11 (NIV))

Did you fully grasp the meaning behind these words in this passage?

It is commonly stated that those who believe in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior are part of the family of God, but has this concept truly taken hold of your life? It is human nature to say things so much that we soon begin to miss the true meaning of the words and the concepts because we begin to take things for granted. Sadly, it is human nature to become so familiar with something, that the excitement starts to fade!

For those of you who are married, I wish to present an example of what I am talking about. When you first said the words “I love you” to your spouse, there was a very strong emotion that was tied to those words. As the years progressed, you may say the same words, but there is a familiarity that is there. The meaning behind the words has slightly shifted in the relationship. The relationship is strong, but the words no longer convey the same strong emotion. Does your heart still race at the sound of their voice? Do you long for the times that you will be together? Or, do you simply sit on the couch and quietly enjoy each other’s company? Are you comfortable in your relationship? Are you confident of your standing in that relationship?

When you fist accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, how was your excitement level? How is it now? Are you still overwhelmed to be called a child of God, or have you grown so accustom to that concept that you don’t get excited about it anymore? Do you fidget and stammer for words when you pray or is there a comfort zone that has developed, just like there is a comfort zone in a healthy earthly family? Do you feel that you can know the Lord so well that He does truly feel like a brother?

Have you been made a part of the family?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Why do we fail to remember what God has done?

March 23, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

But do not be afraid of them; remember well what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt.
(Deuteronomy 7:18 (NIV))

In case you haven’t noticed, human nature is a strange thing!

We have a tendency to forget things that have happened and, at the same time, we are likely to remember things that didn’t happen.

If there was ever a group of people that should have no problem remembering things, it was the Israelites that Moses lead out of Egypt. They had witnessed the plagues. They had lived through the Angel of Death at the first Passover. They had watched God part the waters of the Red Sea so that they could walk across dry land. They had been given manna to eat in the desert. They had seen water gush forth after Moses struck a rock at God’s command.

Still they muttered and were afraid of what lie ahead!

They and their descendants had all too quickly forgotten all that the Lord had done for them to get them to that point. They looked at the problems before them and failed to remember the huge problems that God had delivered them from and through in the not so distant past.

What is it about being human that makes us forget and makes us worry? Perhaps it is the very same thing that makes us look at our surroundings when we are driving on a high and curvy mountain road. We know that we should have nothing to worry about, but there is something about the potential danger that makes us forget successful endeavors in the past. We simply overreact in fear when we should fully realize that we have nothing to fear.

We panic!

And in our panic, it’s as if all of our memories and ability to reason go flying out the window!

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
(Romans 8:31 (NIV))

Why do we fail to remember what God has done?

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.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What is it that you possess?

February 21, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Better the little that the righteous have than the wealth of many wicked;
(Psalms 37:16 (NIV))

What is it that you desire?

Do you seek after the riches of the world or the righteousness that is only available from the Lord?

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.
(Matthew 6:19-20 (NIV))

Human nature is such a strange thing. To be honest with you, I am surprised that we can even begin to say that we long for the righteousness of the Lord when we are so self centered by nature. The fall from grace in the Garden of Eden really placed us in a no win situation. We say that we want to be righteous in God’s eyes, but we do so many things that take us in the exact opposite direction. That has been our lot in this sinful, fallen world ever since we disobeyed God in the garden. Even the strongest of us fail to do what we know that we should do. Paul, who is credited with spreading the Gospel to the Gentiles, fought with this.

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.
(Romans 7:15 (NIV))

Thankfully, we have a God who knows that we are not capable of overcoming this on our own. He has provided His Son as a Savior to those who truly desire to overcome human nature and seek after righteousness. Even so, we all face the wickedness of the world. We all face the glitter of the gold.

I have read studies that show the most generous group of people by income levels are those who we consider the middle class, and some studies actually say the lower middle class. On average, they give so much more as a percentage than those who are considered wealthy. People whom you would think can afford to be generous are actually the least generous. Have they been blinded by wealth to the point that it has become their god? How sad it is to see people place their priorities and faith in something that can be gone in an instant.

I have come to the conclusion that there are two possible scenarios in this life. We can have and use possessions, or they can have and use us!

What is it that you possess?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Pray from the heart for God knows what you need!

February 14, 2018

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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. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
(Matthew 6:7-8 (NIV))

Do you babble?

Do you ramble on and on when you pray?

We are all guilty of opening our mouths way too much when we talk, why would it be any different when we pray? It is human nature to want to be heard and we feel that the more we say the better our chances are of getting our point across. Do you have a memory of a time that you wouldn’t stop trying to get your point across? How did that turn out for you? Did you sway your audience to your side? Did you convince anyone besides yourself that you were right?

Excessive words do not mean sincerity. Excessive words often mean a prideful spirit.

When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.
(Proverbs 11:2 (NIV))

Humility is the fear of the Lord; its wages are riches and honor and life.
(Proverbs 22:4 (NIV))

I have heard someone define humility as not thinking less of yourself, but rather, it is thinking of yourself less. I like this definition. How do we put this into practice? Can we start with closing our mouths and stop trying to convince everyone, including God, that we know best? Can we let our hearts and our actions speak for us? Is it humanly possible to keep things short and sweat?

When we humble ourselves before God, we turn our hearts to Him. We seek after His heart and not our own. When we truly seek His heart, we don’t need to spend our time babbling. We don’t need to spend our time trying to convince Him of what we want, for He knows what we need. I honestly believe that when we babble, we are actually trying to convince ourselves.

Pray from the heart for God knows what you need!

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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I pray that this is what we truly want!

February 13, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
(Matthew 6:10 (NIV))

Everyone who professes a faith in Jesus knows these words as part of what we refer to as the Lord’s Prayer. Do we truly desire what we lift up with these words? Do we long for the Lord’s kingdom to come into the world, to enter into our lives, or do we want our will, our personal kingdom, to manifest itself in our lives?

Human nature, no matter how hard we try, always tries to put personal interest above all else. We all must face the truth. Each of us have had moments when we are reciting these words only to have our minds diverted by our own desires. Does this mean that we really don’t long for God’s kingdom or does it just show that even in our best moments, we are all creatures caught in the sinful natures that we long to leave behind?

When you experience one of these moments, and we all have them, do you regret the diversion from God’s Will to your will? Do you feel like Paul?

We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.
(Romans 7:14-15 (NIV))

I hate to say this, but I do this far more than I care to admit. In the time span of the last fifteen minutes, I have been distracted from my task far too many times. My thoughts wander. My attention shifts and my writing gets delayed. Even the disciples, who were asked to wait while Jesus went to pray in Gethsemane, could not avoid the pitfalls of the frailty that is humanity.

Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.
(Mark 14:38 (NIV))

Just because our human nature and our human frailties divert us should not be our main concern. What we should be concerned about is if we choose to never refocus on Jesus. We can repent and return to seeking God’s Will and His kingdom or we can choose to stay chasing the diversion. When we repent, we show what we truly want.

I pray that this is what we truly want!

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you accept the hard teachings?

February 12, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”
(John 6:60 (NIV))

Far too many people only consider the easy things that Jesus taught, ignoring the things that they find difficult to understand or to put into practice. If you stop to think about this, everything that Jesus said has been difficult for us to put into practice. Human nature simply wants to do what it wants to do! It is a daily struggle to admit that we are sinners. It is a daily struggle to admit that we are not capable of anything on our own. We don’t like to admit that even on our best day, we are far from perfect.

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
(Isaiah 64:6 (NIV))

John 6:60 catches the disciples asking this question after Jesus tells the crowd something that just didn’t make sense from their perspective. Does it make sense to you?

Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me.
(John 6:53-57 (NIV))

Even though we have the benefit of two thousand years and much analysis, far too many people still have problems with this concept.

Think about it from this perspective.

What is the most intimate thing that you can do with something? You make it a part of yourself by either eating or drinking it. When this happens, the items that were consumed get broken down into the basic elements that you need and they become a part of you. There is no way to tell where you end and where these elements begin. I don’t know about you, but this sounds exactly like what Jesus wants for each of us. He wants each of us to consume Him in such a way that the very life that He came to give has become inseparable from the life that He has renewed within us. Just how do you consume Jesus? How do you make His teachings and His life inseparable from your? I love the simple instructions that we were given in Deuteronomy.

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.
(Deuteronomy 11:18 (NIV))

Focus on the Lord. Focus on the Word. Focus on the teachings even when they are hard. Accept them. Bind them. Make them integral to who you are!

Do you accept the hard teachings?

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