When you look at things, are they possible or impossible?

February 9, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
(Matthew 19:26 (NIV))

We like to take Matthew 19:26 out of context and apply it to whatever we may be facing that appears to be a no win situation. To be honest with you, nothing is impossible with God, so it is a good application. Still, we tend to overlook the original message.

This particular passage was directed at His disciples and it comes at the end of a discourse with a rich young man.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”
(Matthew 19:23-25 (NIV))

In case you didn’t catch the implication, Jesus was saying that salvation was only possible through God. Think about that for a moment. Each of us have something that we cherish. Each of us have something that we long to hold on to, that we don’t want to surrender. For some, it is money. For others, it may be power. For others, it may be any number of things. For this particular young man, it was his wealth. Jesus told him that it was necessary to surrender what he held dear to himself and choose to follow Jesus. I think that the disciples caught on to what Jesus was saying because they asked, “Who then can be saved?” The disciples knew human nature. They knew how difficult it is to surrender what is closest to your heart. They knew that it was and is a matter of priorities. They had made the choice to trade everything for the ultimate treasure.

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
(Matthew 13:44 (NIV))

Jesus let them know that a person cannot change their heart, but God can. God can take a cold and hardened heart and bring it back to life. God can take the “wealth” that a person holds dear and make it all look worthless in comparison to what He has to offer. If you think about this, Jesus also let us know that people are not in the business of saving each other. We don’t have the power or authority, but God does! How do you look at things, from your perspective or from God’s?

When you look at things, are they possible or impossible?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you confident of your rescue?

January 30, 2018

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
(2 Timothy 4:18 (NIV))

When Paul wrote these words to Timothy, he had already been through many trials for his work in spreading the Gospel to the Gentiles. Even in the midst of the troubles that he faced, he was confident that he was in good hands. In all of his travels, Paul faced being run out of town. He had been thrown in jail. He had been beaten and stoned. He had been shipwrecked. He faced starvation and would eventually be thrown in a Roman prison. It was from this prison that Paul reached out to Timothy. His words speak of the faith that was used to reach the Gentiles with the Gospel.

I want you to put yourself into Paul’s situation as he sat in the Roman prison.

How would you feel, how would your attitude hold up if you spent what many believe to have been two years locked away in a dungeon? It is believed that where Paul was kept was simply a cold, dark room under the main building. The only access into this room was to be lowered by rope through a hole. Even the Roman guards had to enter and exit in this manner. Would you be able to express the faith that Paul displayed? Would you be able to hold onto the promise that the Lord would rescue you from every evil attack?

Far too many people hold fast to the promise that these words contain, yet when they are faced with any hardship, they quickly lose all faith.

Would we be reading the letters that Paul wrote if he had decided to throw a pity party for himself? What if the letters that he wrote had been self reflections and full of “Why did this happen to me?” Paul was confident in his faith. Paul was an excellent example of faith under pressure. He knew that no matter what the enemy may send his way, the Lord would rescue him and bring him into his heavenly kingdom.

Perhaps you are going through trials in your life. Is you faith strong enough to face what Paul faced?

Are you confident of your rescue?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How big is your mustard seed?

January 29, 2018

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches.”
(Matthew 13:31-32 (NIV))

The kingdom of heaven is indeed like a mustard seed. Like something small, it is there for us to find. Yet, if you are not looking for it, it will be missed. Once it is found, it grows within us until it is all consuming, until it is the focus of our lives.

God intended it to be this way. We must find it by faith. If it were visible to everyone, where would faith be? God planned it that way. He knew that if everyone could see the visible effects of the kingdom of heaven, then people would choose without testing their faith. God wants people to come to Him of their own free will, not because of His power.

How big is your mustard seed? Has it grown or is it still the smallest of all seeds?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What is it that you seek first?

December 18, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

So do not worry, saying, `What shall we eat?’ or `What shall we drink?’ or `What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
(Matthew 6:31-33 (NIV))

What is it that you seek first?

With Christmas almost here, many people turn ino materialistic animals. They think that they have to give the perfect gift. They think that they have to have the latest gadget because it will make their life complete. They think that they have to give more expensive gifts because they are being judged by their gift.

I pray that people will come to the realization that it is not about bigger and better gifts. It is not about finding the perfect clothes to wear. It is not about preparing the perfect meal or making sure that the supply of drinks does not run out. It is simply a matter of priorities.

I pray that people will come to the realization that all that they truly need is found in a manger and at the foot of the cross!

Focus on Jesus and seek His righteousness as your priority. When you find yourself aligning your life along God’s plan and His grace, then everything else will slowly come into focus. What better time to realign your priorities than at the time of year that we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior. Birth represents a new beginning. The birth of Jesus gives each of us that opportunity for a new beginning – a beginning without the baggage of the failed priorities of the world.

Again, I ask the simple question. What is it that you seek first?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you long for a pure heart?

December 5, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
(Psalms 51:10 (NIV))

What is a pure heart?

Do you think that it has anything to do with the following?

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
(Galatians 5:19-21 (NIV))

Perhaps I should ask if you think that it has anything to do with the lack of those characteristics and the presence of the following characteristics.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
(Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV))

Perhaps the best way to describe a pure heart is in a similar manner that God used to describe David.

After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’
(Acts 13:22 (NIV))

In essence, a pure heart despises the worldly, sinful nature and seeks the things of God. A pure heart longs to have the same desires that God has in His heart. Is this something that you truly desire? Think about that the next time someone cuts you off in traffic, or the next time that someone takes the credit for something that you have done.

Do you long for a pure heart?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What is it that you will receive?

November 15, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
(1 Peter 1:8-9 (NIV))

When I read this passage, the word “faith” and how the book of Hebrews defines it come to mind.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
(Hebrews 11:1 (NIV))

If you stop to think about it, loving someone whom you have never seen and having the faith to believe with confidence that this person can bring salvation are probably the two most difficult things to do. Both require a wisdom and a faith beyond what is humanly possible, especially if you look at these aspects from a so-called mature perspective.

Take a look back at your life.

Was there ever a time when you could display such characteristics in your life? Was there ever a time when you could be so innocent that it was actually possible for you to love without seeing and believe without seeing? I think I now have a better understanding of why Jesus told his disciples the following.

He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.
(Matthew 18:2-5 (NIV))

The world and all of the sinful natures that we experience take a toll on our innocence. It takes a toll on our ability to love and believe. It takes a toll on our ability to recognize grace and to receive salvation. Don’t allow the world to take away your ability to love. Don’t allow the world to take away your ability to believe. Don’t allow the world to take away the joy of your salvation.

What is it that you will receive?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you allowed the Lord to get close to you?

October 31, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
(Psalms 34:18 (NIV))

Think back on the times in your life when you felt closest to the Lord.

What do you remember about the events of your life during these times? Were you going through a particularly rough time in your life? Were you crushed by the weight of the world coming down on you? Did someone or something leave you feeling brokenhearted? Most people reach out to God more during these kind of moments than when things are going good.

It is human nature to think that we have everything under control and think that everything is smooth sailing, and then we get hit with something that makes us realize that we are not in control. This makes perfect sense if you think how a small child will react when confronted with something that is not pleasant. They instinctually want to climb up into the lap of a parent for security. They want to feel the warm and reassuring embrace that lets them know that everything will be okay.

How does a child react when they feel that everything is safe? They slowly climb down and resume their playful activities. At first, they will look to the parent for reassurance. Then, the longer that they feel safe, the less that they look to the parent. They know that the parent still loves them and is there for when they need them, but they begin to think that they are the ones in control of their immediate surroundings.

Does this sound anything like how we treat God?

When we feel brokenhearted and insecure, we want to crawl into the lap of the Lord where we know that we will find comfort. The wonderful thing about this is that God will never turn us away. We are His children. Jesus said something that makes me firmly believe that God loves for us to crawl into His lap.

He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.
(Matthew 18:2-5 (NIV))

When we sit in the Father’s lap, we draw closer to Him. It is the times that we run off and do our own thing that finds us lost.

Have you allowed the Lord to get close to you?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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