How do you classify greatness?

August 19, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me `Teacher’ and `Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
(John 13:12-17 (NIV))

How do you classify greatness?

Is it military might and power? Is it financial wealth? Is it political power? Is it the ability to hire and fire people at will? Exactly what do you consider greatness?

Chances are that most of the population of the world thinks in terms similar to the questions listed above. We, as humanity, have a tendency to see greatness as an elevation of one person over others to the extent that the one person has power and authority over the others. We do not have a tendency to see greatness as a humble spirit that is willing to do anything for others.

On the contrary, this type of person is seen as weak by our society. We do not think of a person who is willing to be a servant as a great person. They are seen as nothing more than a door mat for others to walk upon. However, God has another opinion.

God sent His Son, Jesus, to be our servant. Jesus was with God, yet, He humbled himself to the point of death so that He could do what the Father asked of Him. Now, through His humility, He sits at the right hand of God the Father as an example of what we are supposed to be like.

Jesus came into this world and turned our perceptions upside down. He died so that many could have life. He arose from the grave to defeat sin and death. He ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of God, the Father.

How do you classify greatness?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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It is through obedience that we have salvation!

April 18, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!
(Philippians 2:8 (NIV))

It is so easy to overlook one crucial component of God’s plan for salvation as it unfolded in Jerusalem a little over two thousand years ago!

We know that ever since the fall from grace in the Garden of Eden, God had a plan to bring redemption, to bring salvation, to the creation that He loves. In God’s perspective, it was not that long, but to humanity, it seems like forever.

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.
(2 Peter 3:8 (NIV))

Even though we feel the passage of time, it is God’s timing that has been put in motion to bring salvation. It was His plan to send His Son to redeem us, to restore us unto Himself.

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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
(John 3:16-17 (NIV))

We all know that Jesus was tempted by Satan, and He rebuked Satan. Jesus knew the plans that the Father had. He chose to be obedient to God the Father and through His obedience, Jesus willingly went to the cross for each of us. He willingly died so that we could have the opportunity to have eternity with God the Father. Jesus was willingly obedient to the Father’s plan. It was His obedience that allowed each of us to be offered salvation and grace. It was His resurrection that sealed the deal!

But . . .

There is one more aspect of obedience that comes into play in God’s plan for our redemption. He is calling each of us to salvation through Jesus. We have to be obedient to answer that call. Because Jesus was obedient, salvation is freely offered. It is a gift. We cannot purchase the gift. We cannot earn the gift. We can either choose to be obedient and accept it, or we can be rebellious and reject God’s gift of grace. Only if we are obedient, can salvation be received. Are you willing to be obedient?

It is through obedience that we have salvation!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you too proud to accept God’s gifts?

October 12, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, `Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

“When he came to his senses, he said, `How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ So he got up and went to his father.
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

“The son said to him, `Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

“But the father said to his servants, `Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
(Luke 15:11-24 (NIV))

Everybody is familiar with the story of the prodigal son. I have heard someone comment on it in such a way as to shed new light on God’s mercy and grace.

God does not wait until we ask for forgiveness to forgive us. We are forgiven even before we ask for it!

We must ask in order to receive it, but He has already decided that He will forgive us. Asking for forgiveness shows a change of heart on our part and this change of heart prepares us to accept the grace that God has already granted us. Without this change of heart, we cannot accept God’s grace. We do not feel that we need it. It is a matter of pride.

Asking for grace shows that we have humbled ourselves. Sadly, far too many people are too proud to ask for anything.

Grace and mercy are free. We pay the personal price by swallowing our pride when we ask for them.

Are you too proud to accept God’s gifts?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you thankful that you are not like others?

June 15, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: `God, I thank you that I am not like other men–robbers, evildoers, adulterers–or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, `God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
(Luke 18:9-14 (NIV))

Are you confident in your righteousness?

Based on the fact that we are all sinners, it is a false confidence.

Do you feel that everything that you say and do is in the will of God?

Make sure that when you answer that question no one is near you. We wouldn’t want them to suffer residual effects from the proverbial lightning strike.

It is so easy to fall into the trap that makes us think that our sins are not as bad as everyone else’s. It is so easy to fall into the trap of being judgmental. It is not our place to judge. It is our place to lead people to Jesus. If we try to judge and condemn, do you think we will have much of an influence on them for Jesus?

We are to lead sinners to Jesus. It is not our job to clean them up, after all, we are still dirty from our own sin. It is Jesus who will offer them salvation and through the Holy Spirit, He will begin to work in their lives just as He has worked in ours.

We have a tendency to look down on certain sin while our favorite sins we brush over. In the eyes of God, sin is sin. We are no better than those whom we look down upon. The only difference, and I say this with a prayerful heart, is that the Body of Christ has accepted the gift of salvation. We are not perfect in our salvation, for we sin daily. It is the attitude that matters. We strive to follow after God’s own heart and not rebel against it.

In this time in which we live, we have many opportunities to either offer a hand in grace or offer a fist in rebellion and hate. Think about the fact that Jesus never told the sinners to follow Him and continue in their sin. He told them, or should I say that He told all of us, to go and sin no more.

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How have you responded to God’s gift?

November 25, 2014

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death–
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
(Philippians 2:5-11 (NIV))

It is hard for us to imagine that God could send Jesus who willingly gave up HIs authority while on this earth. He humbled himself to the point of servanthood and, eventually, death. Even in our best moments, we could not be capable of doing this, let alone planning to do it.

It is true, that under certain circumstances, people will rise to the occassion and do something that is selfless. Yet, could you imagine planning to be a servant and knowing that you would die a horrible death because you made the choice to do so? Self centeredness and self-preservation are too strong in us to willingly accept what Jesus accepted on our behalf.

Many people think that Jesus was only a good man, yet, even the best of men could not have done what he did? Only the Son of God could have willingly accepted the burden that he bore, for he knew the rewards that would be gained for all who called upon his name. He went willingly to be our sacrifical lamb so that we would not have to face eternal separation from God.

We have a great gift that has been given to us.

Are you thankful for that gift?

How have you responded to that gift? Are you one who bows your knee and confesses before man, or will you be one who confesses too late?

Copyright 1998 – 2014 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How do you see Jesus?

October 28, 2014

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross!
(Philippians 2:5-8 (NIV))

I think I understand some of the nonbelievers mindset when it comes to Jesus!

Think about human nature and then think about what most people spend a lifetime trying to do. If you came to the conclusion that most people spend a lifetime trying to prove that they are better than everyone else, then I think you may be thinking what I am thinking.

Human nature, in its sinful, fallen state, wants to think that we are better than everyone else. We spend a lifetime trying to elevate ourselves to a place of being worshipped and served. Jesus took the exact opposite approach. He lowered Himself to our level. He left heaven and became a servant. This is a very difficult concept to grasp, especially for those who fail to recognize that being worshipped and served is not what life is about.

We want to have control. We want to be in a position of authority. We want fame. We want people looking to us and worshipping us. In essence, we want to be the god of our little world. We just can’t comprehend the fact that Jesus did not consider equality with God as something to be grasped. He was willing to surrender what each of us have strived for in one way or another.

Jesus came from heaven and lived among us. He did not seek to be worshipped. He came to serve. He did not seek glory. He came in humility. He did not seek power. He deliberately left all power and authority behind. He did not come to be rich. He was born in a stable!

Too many people simply cannot comprehend the idea of deliberately lowering your status to help and serve others. We are always looking for the next pat on the back, the next promotion and the next raise. Where is Jesus in any of these activities?

The attitude of a believer should be exactly opposite of what the world says. Jesus turned the world upside down. Believing requires us to see things as Jesus sees them and not in the way that the world sees them. To many people, this makes absolutely no sense.

Pray for them, for they see Jesus through their senses and the so called logic of this world.

How do you see Jesus?

Copyright 1998 – 2014 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Whose acceptance is more important to you?

May 1, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“I do not accept praise from men, but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?
(John 5:41-44 (NIV))

Ouch! That hurts.

Would Jesus say this to us today? Have we become like the people that He was condemning in this passage?

Many claim to be part of the Body of Christ, but do our actions reflect this? Do we seek acceptance from man more than we seek acceptance from God? Do we look to people who are accepted by man and think that they must be Godly for they have been blessed with fame and fortune? How do we look upon Christian music artists and mega-church pastors? Do we praise them for their fame or do we listen and discern what they are saying with respect to God’s Word?

It doesn’t only apply at the grand scale. It can apply to a local congregation if we seek acceptance from one another instead of from God. Please do not confuse this type of acceptance with what we are called to do as a church. We, as the Body of Christ, are called to accept people as Jesus accepted people. We are not called to place the desire to be accepted by people above accepting Jesus.

After we have done something that the Lord has called us to do, do we seek acceptance from our friends, family and fellow members of the Body of Christ? I honestly believe that the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector has merit in our ways of seeking acceptance.

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: `God, I thank you that I am not like other men–robbers, evildoers, adulterers–or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, `God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
(Luke 18:9-14 (NIV))

When we seek acceptance from anyone else but God, we are trying to exalt ourselves. We are prideful. We want everybody to know who we are and what we have done. Is this how Jesus told us to serve?

“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
(Matthew 6:2-4 (NIV))

We can seek the acceptance of man or we can seek the acceptance of Jesus.

Whose acceptance is more important to you?

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