Whose acceptance is more important to you?

November 22, 2019

Image

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
Subscribe to daily email delivery
Visit us on facebook


Aren’t you glad that Jesus welcomes sinners?

November 11, 2019

Image

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
(Luke 15:1-2 (NIV))

Which group of people would you have been in if you were alive when Jesus walked the earth?

Each of us like to think that we would recognize Jesus and understand what He was doing if we were alive at that time. Is that true? Sadly, I am not certain that many of us would have recognized Jesus and understood what He was doing. Think about that for a moment in relation to our recognition and understanding of Jesus in this current time. To help with this, I want to do what I often do and ask a few questions that will hopefully cause you to reflect on your life and your understanding.

Do you believe that Jesus came to offer redemption to those who are sinners? If you believe this, then how can Jesus reach sinners if He didn’t associate with them? How could He call them out of their sin if He was chastising them from a distance?

Are you perfect? Are you a sinner? Did Jesus reach you because you were perfect according to your church, or did He reach you because you realized that you are a sinner in need of a Savior? Why do we, the members of the Body of Christ, look at sinners any differently than Jesus does? Why do we look at the sins of others as greater than our own sins? Why do we look at certain individuals who have professed a faith in Jesus and claim that their past sins are too great for them to be a member of the Body of Christ? When someone who is a very blatant sinner repents and professes that Jesus is their personal Lord and Savior, we should rejoice just as the angels rejoice!

In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.
(Luke 15:10 (NIV))

Unfortunately, not everyone who professes a faith in Jesus is able to see beyond what that person was and embrace them as the new creation that they are! They are not able to understand that the love that Jesus has shown to them is also available to all who will accept it. They seem to have forgotten that their sin was great when they turned to Jesus. Don’t let the distance from the point of your salvation blind you to what you used to be. Don’t let your life since your salvation blind you to the fact that there is still sin in this world and that the world still needs Jesus!

Pray that you don’t find yourself acting like the Pharisees and the teachers of the law?

I want to ask one more question. It is a question that I have asked before, but I feel that it needs to be asked again.

What would you do if, when you get to heaven, you find that Adolph Hitler had repented and accepted Jesus? Do you think that his sin was too great? Do you think that the Lord thinks his sin is too great? Would you storm out of heaven because you think that he shouldn’t be there? Would you question Jesus or would you understand that we are all sinners in need of a savior?

Aren’t you glad that Jesus welcomes sinners?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
Subscribe to daily email delivery
Visit us on facebook


Are you willing to surrender your will to the Lord?

August 14, 2019

Image

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
(Isaiah 6:8 (NIV))

Willingness!

This seems to be a characteristic that is disappearing from many aspects of society. Is it disappearing from the people who claim to be members of the Body of Christ? Are we willing to stand up and say that we will go where the Lord sends us? It’s time to be honest with yourself and truthfully acknowledge the last time that you stepped forward when you saw a need or felt the Holy Spirit tugging at you. In hindsight, did you respond in a way that left you sitting there or did you wholeheartedly embrace the unknown for the Lord?

Being willing to respond and carry through with that response often places us outside of our comfort zones. We feel uncertainty when facing the unknown even when it is the Lord who is calling us to go. Think about this in respect to Abram. He heard the Lord tell him to leave the country where he lived and trust the Lord to lead him to a new land. Consider how different the outcome if Abram had simply said that he was afraid and wanted to stay where he was.

The Old Testament as well as the New Testament are full of people who were willing to answer and go. Abram went and we now know him as Abraham. Noah went and built an arc. Moses went and lead God’s people out of Egypt. Jacob went and scouted out the land. David went and fought Goliath. The disciples answered the call and followed Jesus.

We have a choice, but how do you think the Lord responds when we make a choice that is contrary to His calling? The Old and New Testaments are also full of people who heard God’s call and decided not to follow. Jonah ran and was swallowed. He eventually surrendered to God’s will. The rich young man heard the call from Jesus and turned and walked away. We never hear of him again. The two thieves on the cross answered differently from each other. One accepted Jesus and is with Him in paradise. The other cursed Jesus, and . . .

Take a very serious soul-searching look at yourself. Are you willing to do what the Lord asks?

Are you willing to surrender your will to the Lord?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
Subscribe to daily email delivery
Visit us on facebook


Are you truly free?

July 2, 2019

Image

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
(Ephesians 2:19-22 (NIV))

This was written to the church at Ephasus when Gentiles were not looked upon by Jewish believers as true heirs to the promises of God. Paul’s words were meant as a reassurance to those people at Ephasus, as well as to those of us today, who had heard all of the legalistic requirements that some people were trying to impose upon them.

Other people were saying that the promises fulfilled through Jesus Christ were only available to the Jews. Paul corrected these wrongs and set the record straight so that the freedom from the Law that Jesus brought would not be compromised by people who did not understand.

Jesus came as a means of God’s grace. Grace does not require legalism or any other human intervention in order to work. It does not apply only to a certain group of people. It is available to everyone who will ask. As we remember a day that is celebrated for our political freedom, we must not lose sight of the true freedom and the one who brings it!

Are you truly free?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
Subscribe to daily email delivery
Visit us on facebook


Are you able to be content in all things?

May 23, 2019

Image

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
(Philippians 4:12-13 (NIV))

Sadly, this is a lesson that I am still learning just as I would venture to say that many of you are also still learning.

Have you ever considered what it means to be content? Basically, it means satisfied or pleased. If you stop to look up the word satisfied, one definition means paid in full! Where have we heard that proclamation before? Is your life paid in full?

If we have accepted Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, our sin debt has been paid in full. Our debt has been satisfied and we should be content, for we have inherited so much more than the things in this world that can bring discontentment! Things like jobs, money, relationships, difficult times and ignorant people may get to us in the moment, but we have to keep our focus on Jesus. Our eternity with Him is not dictated by the things of this world. In fact, the things of this world should draw us closer to Him.

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, as members of the Body of Christ, should find eternal contentment in His arms no matter the situation!

Are you able to be content in all things?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
Subscribe to daily email delivery
Visit us on facebook


What do you hold to?

February 11, 2019

Image

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
(Hebrews 10:23-25 (NIV))

The church (people, and not buildings) must not forsake meeting together. The people of God need each other to lift each other up, encourage each other, and to pray for each other.

Members of all sorts of organizations hold weekly or monthly meetings. If a bridge club can meet weekly to play cards, can we, as believers, not meet to share what God has done in our lives? These other clubs are trivial when compared to the “group” leader that we have.

Can a deck of cards grant eternal salvation?

Can a tennis club membership redeem you?

Can a country club free you from the consequences of the laws of sin and death?

Do you give more time to your social “clubs” and hobbies than you do to God?

What are your priorities? What do you hold to?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
Subscribe to daily email delivery
Visit us on facebook


Does your life preach the good news?

December 4, 2018

Image

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

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 read this and think to yourself that you are thankful you aren’t called to preach? Are you silently thankful that you have trouble stringing words together in a way that will make people understand? Have you bought in to the false assumption that preachers minister and church members receive? Is this in line with the words that Jesus left us with?

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.
(Mark 16:15 (NIV))

When we think of preaching, we have a tendency to think of someone who stands in front of a congregation on Sunday morning. I honestly don’t think that this is what Jesus meant. I have read this passage in context many times, and nowhere do I see anything that indicates that Jesus was only speaking to those who were eloquent of speech. There are many ways to “preach,” or to share the Gospel of Jesus. Standing in front of a crowd and proclaiming the Gospel is only one way. Whether you believe that these words were spoken by St. Francis of Asisi, they hold much truth and wisdom.

“Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.”
(St. Francis of Asisi)

We are not all gifted in the same ways, but as members of the Body of Christ, we are all called to the same task.

Let me ask a simple question for your consideration. How many remember having to write papers when you were in school? I remember all too well having to do this, yet, every time that a class was given an assignment, no two people did it exactly the same way. We readily accept this fact that we are all different in our lives, yet we feel that we have to follow a pattern to share Jesus. To be completely honest with you, if any of us had to convince someone else to follow Jesus based on our strengths, I seriously doubt that anyone would ever follow Jesus. It is when we allow Jesus to work through us and when we show what Jesus has done in our lives that people take notice. They will not pay any attention to our words or our strengths, but they will take notice of how Jesus turned our weaknesses into something wonderful. They will begin to see that Jesus can take their weaknesses and do the very same thing.

Take a serious look at your life. Do people see Jesus in you?

Does your life preach the good news?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
Subscribe to daily email delivery
Visit us on facebook


Are you alert to the prowling of the enemy?

July 20, 2018

Image

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
(1 Peter 5:8 (NIV))

Do you find that you are the focus of more attacks from the enemy since you professed a faith in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior?

There is a very good chance that this question is answerable in the affirmative. The enemy couldn’t care less about people who don’t profess a faith in Jesus, since, in his mind, they already belong to him. But, if you profess a faith in Jesus, he becomes the roaring lion with the intent to devour the person he just lost!

We, as members of the Body of Christ, must be ever vigilant to keep our eyes focused on Jesus and open to the instruction of the Holy Spirit so that we can recognize the devil in all of his prowlings. We must also hold fast to the faith that we possess and hold fast to the promises that we have been given.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
(Isaiah 41:10 (NIV))

Are you able to recognize physical danger when it draws near? Most people are capable of this, yet, far too many fail to recognize spiritual danger when it draws near. The enemy is a sly trickster. He is the father of all lies. We must be ever on our guard and ever diligent of our spiritual well being just as much, if not more so that with our physical well being. We have so much more to lose than just our physical life!

But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.
(Luke 12:5 (NIV))

The enemy will use anything and everything at his disposal to trick you, ensnare you and devour you. Never forget that by professing a faith in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, you have declared yourself an enemy combatant of the devil. Each of us are in a war against the devil. He will use do all in his limited power to devour you.

Are you alert to the prowling of the enemy?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
Subscribe to daily email delivery
Visit us on facebook


Do you find yourself among the scoffers?

January 31, 2018

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires.
(2 Peter 3:3 (NIV))

Just for the sake of clarity, the word “scoff” means to have contempt, to scorn or to mock. I realize that members of the Body of Christ are to be in the world, but we are not to be of the world. With this in mind, can any of us go through a single day without hearing about or witnessing firsthand the very things that we are told will happen toward God, Jesus and God’s word? Do we, as the Body of Christ, escape the mocking? Do we feel the urge to mock those who mock God or do we feel the need to pray for these individuals?

Think about that last question for a moment from the perspective of the cross.

When Jesus was arrested and scourged, the soldiers mocked Jesus. How did He respond? When He was taken to Pilate, the crowds mocked Him. How did He respond? When He was hung upon the cross, the soldiers, the crowd and one of the thieves mocked Him. How did He respond?

When we are under attack, it is so easy to fall back upon our human nature and lash out at those who are attacking us. Did Jesus do this in any of the previously mentioned situations? If we all agree that Jesus lived a perfect life as an example for how we should live, what do His actions during these situations tell us about our own lives?

What would Jesus do?

This phrase may be greatly over used, but it is valid in this situation. When we are facing hardship, when we are facing mocking, we must remember how we are to act. We are to follow the example that Jesus set before us.

You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.
(Matthew 5:38-40 (NIV))

Don’t allow the world to make you become as they are. Don’t allow the world to make you react, to make you mock and scoff at the things you know to be true. Keep your eyes focused on Jesus so that you don’t find yourself somewhere you don’t want to be.

Do you find yourself among the scoffers?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
Subscribe to daily email delivery
Visit us on facebook


How are you known?

November 13, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
(John 13:35 (NIV))

After reading this passage, I have a very difficult question for you to consider!

Is there someone in the church that you do not love?

I started to ask this question using the following words. Is there someone in your church that you do not love? I quickly realized one thing that was drastically wrong with that wording, for it is not your church. It is not my church. It is THE church. It is the Body of Christ! It is not your body. It is not my body! We cannot claim ownership.

What we can claim, by the grace and mercy shown on the cross, is membership in the body!

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
(Romans 12″3-8 (NIV))

Do you hate your physical body?

We may have parts of our physical bodies that grow weak with age, but do we hate these parts? If we have a knee that can no longer support the weight that it once could, we do not inflict damage and hurt upon that knee. Do we hate the knee and reject it because it is not capable of doing what it once could? On the contrary, we bandage the knee. We treat the knee with care and sympathy. We do not inflict more pain and anguish upon it.

Why do we even think about doing this with other members of the Body of Christ? We should love each other just as Jesus has loved us! Do you wish to be known as the member of the Body who hates the knee?

How are you known?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
Subscribe to daily email delivery
Visit us on facebook


%d bloggers like this: