Whose acceptance is more important to you?

November 22, 2019

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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 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you have faith?

October 24, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
(Galatians 3:26-29 (NIV))

Have you ever stopped to think about the number of times that faith is mentioned in God’s word? In one translation alone, faith is mentioned 246 times and faithful is mentioned another 78 times. Faithfulness is mentioned another 59 times. I hope that you are seeing what I see.

I have a database of scripture verses that God has placed on my heart, and in my database, nearly twenty-five percent of the entries that I have reference faith, faithful or faithfulness.

Faith is important!

Can you honestly proclaim anything in this life without having a faith to back it up? Can you claim that tomorrow will come? Can you know that the seasons will come? Can you know that the next breath that you take will fill your lungs and prolong your life?

Can you proclaim that God is good?

Can you proclaim that God loves you?

Can you proclaim that you know where you will be after you leave this world?

Think about these questions. Can you see any of these with your physical eyes? And, yes, this also applies to the concept of tomorrow, the seasons, and air.

Have you ever seen God?

If you haven’t seen God, then how do you know that He exists? How do you know that He loves you? How do you know where you will be after this life?

I bet most of you are thinking of that line from the children’s song – “Because the Bible tells me so.” What makes these printed words on a page different from the other books that are in this world?

FAITH

To believe anything, to accept anything, you have to have faith. You have to understand and accept the basic principles that support the ideas being presented. You have to accept the idea that this world was created. You have to accept the idea that the creator is God. You have to accept the idea that God loves us. You have to accept the idea that we, as His creation, are sinful. You have to accept the idea that God wanted to wash away our sins. You have to accept the idea that He sent His Son, Jesus, to live among us and to die for our transgressions. You have to accept the idea that Jesus arose on the third day and sits at the right hand of God, the Father. You have to accept the idea that only through Jesus will you receive grace.

Perhaps we can define faith as a joyful acceptance of what we have never seen, yet we know to be true.

Do you joyfully accept Jesus and all of the promises that are fulfilled through Him? In other words, do you have faith?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What are you ensnared by?

October 11, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The images of their gods you are to burn in the fire. Do not covet the silver and gold on them, and do not take it for yourselves, or you will be ensnared by it, for it is detestable to the Lord your God.
(Deuteronomy 7:25 (NIV))

There are many things in this world that vie for our attention. If we are not careful, some of them may actually cause us to do something that we know that we shouldn’t do. This passage speaks of images of their gods. If you stop to think about it, and are honest with yourself, anything can become a god to someone. Anything can ensnare us and cause us to falter. In today’s society, we don’t speak of god’s, we speak of obsessions.

Human nature finds it easy to become obsessed with things. Basically, anything that is so important to us that we fixate on it is an obsession. Anything that we make a priority can easily overstep the fine line and become something that we fixate on. When this passage was written, it was easy to fixate on silver and gold. It was the benchmark for wealth. Today, wealth is measured in dollars, but no matter how it is measured, wealth is definitely one type of god that someone can worship. There are many more.

Power!

Fame!

Lust!

Drugs and alcohol!

These things and many more can easily become a means for the enemy to ensnare us. It starts off with a subtle temptation and then it grows into a full blown obsession. Once we become obsessed with anything other than Jesus, we have become ensnared by the enemy.

What are you obsessed with?

What are you ensnared by?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Whom do you have?

August 8, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
(Psalms 73:25 (NIV))

What is more important to you, the people in your life or the things in your life?

Be careful how you answer!

One more question for you. Who is more important to you, the people in your life or the Lord?

I realize that these questions may seem ridiculous, but answered honestly, they will tell you more about yourself than you probably care to admit. If you value things over people, then where is your heart? Where is your love? Some may say that valuing the people in your life is important and should take precedence over the Lord, but let me ask you another question. Who are you going to turn to when everyone in your life has let you down? Who will you turn to when even your spouse, your children or your closest friend disappoints you or are taken from you? When this happens, many people turn to the Lord, but I want to propose that the time to turn to the Lord is long before anything like this happens. When you can truthfully claim that you love the Lord, then your complete perspective on life changes. When you look at things or people as a priority, this is, in most cases, a self-centered outlook on life even if you think that you place yourself low on your priorities list. You are looking at the things or the people to make you happy, to bring meaning to your life, and to make you whole.

Think about these simple facts. Things rust and decay. All people, no matter how good they are, will disappoint you eventually. We are all sinful by nature.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
(Romans 3:23 (NIV))

Only the Lord is unchanging.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
(Hebrews 13:8 (NIV))

With this simple truth, we should anchor our lives on a firm foundation that never changes. We should not look to things. We should not look to people. We should only look to the Lord! We only need to accept the grace and mercy freely given at the cross and claim the gift of grace for ourselves. When we honestly and truthfully make this claim, we have the Lord of all creation in our lives and nothing can surpass His majesty and glory!

Whom do you have?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What does your life consist of?

July 9, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?
(Matthew 6:25 (NIV))

There are many things in this physical world that can distract you in the course of your lifetime. Everyone faces times when they are worried about having enough to eat. If you have ever had children, then you can also relate to the notion of not having clothes that fit, or perhaps you have needed better clothes for a job interview. Let’s throw one in that is truly a modern issue – when your car breaks down. It is these types of distractions that Jesus was addressing. Think about this from another perspective. Jesus was telling us to not get so involved in our day to day lives that we forget to enjoy life. We should not get so overwhelmed by the things of this world that we forget to turn to the Creator of this world.

He knows what we need even before we need it!

This precious gift of life that we have is far more than the physical needs and desires that we all have. It is so much more than that. If we can focus on Jesus, then we will have all that we ever need, for what Jesus offers is eternal. We will be hungry again. We will be thirsty again. Our clothes will grow old and fall apart. Our cars will break down. We will face issues that will try to distract us, but life is not about these issues. Everyone faces trials. Everyone faces trouble. It is a matter of priorities. If we focus on Jesus and not on the things of this world, then we focus on what is truly important.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
(John 16:33 (NIV))

We can overcome the worries of this world if we focus on Jesus. Our lives don’t have to consist of the worries brought about by the things of this world.

What does your life consist of?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What is in your heart?

June 19, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

In your anger do not sin;
    when you are on your beds,
    search your hearts and be silent.
        Selah
(Psalms 4:4 (NIV))

We all need time where we can stop and evaluate our lives on a daily basis, if not on an hourly basis. Exactly what we should be looking for is anything that is keeping us from God and His righteousness. If we are not careful, the world will creep into our lives and the events of the day will cause us to become angry and may even result in actions that result from this anger.

We need to stop and focus on what is important. We must search our hearts and examine what God is telling us to do in the situations that we find ourselves. Perhaps, we should even listen to see if we are supposed to be in those situations to begin with.

Even in the days of the Psalmist, it was difficult to find time when you could search your heart and be silent before God. There is one good time when this can happen, even if you are fortunate to be able to find other times. The silence of the bed is an excellent opportunity to search yourself and see how your day went. It is also a good opportunity to approach God and ask Him for guidance for tomorrow.

Do not search for yourself the way that the world tells you to, for the world tells us that as long as it feels good, to do it. Instead, focus on Godly reflections and the desire to do God’s will.

What is in your heart?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Be sure you do it in the correct order!

May 24, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
(James 4:7 (NIV))

We have a tendency to see things and ignore the obvious. This passage is one that often falls into that category. We read this and all that most of us come away with is that if we resist the devil, he will flee. That is true, but there is a crucial step that is vitally important that it happen in the sequence as presented in this passage.

Submit yourselves to God!

First and foremost, we need to submit ourselves to the Lord and His will, for without this submission, without this relationship, there is no power to force the devil to flee! We cannot do it on our own. We do not possess the power or authority to make the prince of the air do anything. I would venture to say that the enemy finds it humorous when we try to do this relying on our own power. But, when we submit ourselves to God, we become more than conquerors. Through the presence of the Lord in our lives, we inherit the power and authority to make the devil flee. We have the authority to rebuke the devil. We have the authority to bind the enemy. That authority can only be found in one name.

But, there is a catch! There is an order. The enemy knows when you don’t know the Lord. The enemy knows when you fake it!

Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?” Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.
(Acts 19:13-16 (NIV))

That authority is yours when you call upon the name of Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior. No other name has such power! Don’t forsake the power and go straight for the warfare.

Be sure you do it in the correct order!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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