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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Is Jesus your strong tower no matter what may come?

April 27, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

The name of the LORD is a strong tower;
the righteous run to it and are safe.
(Proverbs 18:10 (NIV))

No matter what the world may say or do, God is not dead. No matter how many people say that right is wrong and evil is right, God is not dead. No matter how many things are ridiculed as old fashioned and bigoted, God is not dead.

Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.

“The owner’s servants came to him and said, `Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’

” `An enemy did this,’ he replied.
“The servants asked him, `Do you want us to go and pull them up?’

” `No,’ he answered, `because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’ ”
(Matthew 13:23-30 (NIV))

We have been told that righteousness and evil will grow in the world. We have also been told that those who trust in the Lord shall be saved. The parable from Matthew 13 and the passage from Proverbs 18:10 tell us the very same thing. We are to turn to the Lord. He is our refuge. He is our shelter. He is our strength.

When was the last time that you willingly walked out into a violent storm? It is probably a safe assumption that instead of doing this, you took shelter in a warm and welcoming place of refuge. You spent the time watching the storm, knowing that you were safe from the bad things that the storm could bring. You found strength in the safety of your shelter.

Is Jesus your shelter in times of trouble? Is He your shelter only during these times, or do you take refuge in Him at all times? Just as a shelter is welcoming during a storm, it is also a bright and fulfilling place in other times. It is a safe harbor to call home. It is a place of familiarity and comfort. To most people, their home is such a place.

Is Jesus such a place? Is Jesus your home no matter what may come?

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you prepared for His return?

March 4, 2015

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.
(Matthew 16:27 (NIV))

How many times have you heard someone say that Jesus isn’t coming back anytime soon, or, some have even said that He will not be coming back at all?

We know better than that. We have the promises that God has made to us as proof. Every promise that God has ever made to humanity has been kept in His time. Some are still waiting to be kept, but they will be kept. If you study the laws of probability, the odds of these promises fulfilling themselves is astronomical, especially when you consider that not one promise or prophecy has been wrong.

With that type of a track record, if I were a betting person, I would say that my money is on this promise being fulfilled. If that is the case, then how do you want to be rewarded for what you have done? Do you need to take a serious look at your actions and ask for forgiveness and guidance?

Remember that parable of the bridesmaids and their lamps. You never know when the groom will return, so be prepared in thought and action.

Copyright 1998 – 2015 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What do you think of when you think of the kingdom of God?

August 8, 2014

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds of the air can perch in its shade.”
(Mark 4:30-32 (NIV))

What do you think of when you think of the kingdom of God?

Do you think of the pearly gates and the streets paved in gold? I know that we have all read the passages that describe it as such, but have you ever stopped to think about the kingdom of God beyond these stories?

How does faith relate to the kingdom of God?

How does faith work in your life?

It starts small and as you see things that God does, faith grows. Just like the mustard seed, a small amount of faith can blossom into a life of faith that is bigger than we could ever have imagined.

Do you think that God’s kingdom is bigger than we could ever have imagined? Have we put God in a box of our own design and limited understanding of size? There is so much more to God than we can understand in this lifetime.

Picture yourself as the mustard seed. You would feel small and insignificant. You would feel like your were worth nothing. But, . . .

All it takes is for the mustard seed to be planted and nurtured and soon you would feel the majesty of what you have become. You would be able to face anything that your part of the world could send your way. You would no longer be that small, insignificant and weak mustard seed. you would be strong and mature and able to face whatever the world would send your way.

Faith is the same way!

God’s kingdom is the same way!

We think that it is small and insignificant and it grows beyond our feeble attempts at understanding it and is the strongest think in our world. God’s strength is there for us if we simply accept it. God’s grace is there for us if we simply accept it.

God’s kingdom is there whether we accept it or not. We can allow it to be planted into our lives and watch it grow, or we can reject it and it will never take root in our lives.

Do you allow the seed of God’s kingdom to grow, or do you let it die within your life?

It is your choice!

Copyright 1998 – 2014 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you even care?

June 10, 2014

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

He told them this parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near.
(Luke 21:29-31 (NIV))

What is it that you see going on in the world?

Do you even care?

There is so much happening in the world that makes me wonder what people are thinking anymore! There is so much turmoil. There is so much hatred. There is so much persecution, and there is so much mockery of Jesus and the Body of Christ.

Has the world turned its back on things that are good? Has the world replaced good with evil?

I follow numerous prophecy sites just as a way to get the latest on what is happening. I want to day that I don’t take everything literally as the truth from these sites. I weigh what is presented and compare it to Scripture. I also compare the sites to other sites to see if there is any continuity between the messages that are given. I study and pray for discernment.

It is true that many things contradict each other. I do not argue that fact. What I do see is an increase in the things that are being reported. I see an awareness that is growing. It may be tomorrow or it may be ten years from now or it may be one hundred years. One thing that many of the scholars agree upon is that the conditions have never aligned before as they are aligning now. Will more things come into play? I am sure that they will. Will we see false alarms and people falsely shouting “He is there?” I am sure that we will.

I want you to think about this concept for a moment. I will use a political election as the example.

Under normal circumstances, most of the time you do not hear heavily weighted arguments that are meant to distract from the political truth in a country. Most of the time these start to build as the time draws closer for the election. Like clockwork, things start to happen that let you know it is that time. Each side wants to make their case.

There are things that are happening all around the world that appear to make the case for the time getting closer.

No matter when the true church is removed and when Jesus does return, we must realize that we cannot sit idly by and accept what the world is telling us. If we do, are we truly followers of Jesus? If we do, are we truly part of the Body of Christ?

What is it that you see going on in the world?

Do you even care?

Copyright 1998 – 2014 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you feel that you are too sinful to receive grace?

October 18, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Now the tax collectors and “sinners” were all gathering around to hear him. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, `Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
(Luke 15:1-7 (NIV))

Some people believe that they have done so many terrible things in their life that there is no way that God could forgive them. They feel that God’s grace is for everyone but them.

Have you ever felt that way?

I think that it is human nature to fall prey to the lies of the enemy. He tells us that we are so vile a sinner that God has abandoned us. If we hear it often enough, we start to believe it. Isn’t human nature a sad thing sometimes? Repetition can change the minds of many people and make them believe the worst of lies.

Even though we may feel that we are too bad for grace, God never feels that way. God reached out to all sinners through His Son, Jesus, so that none should perish. All of heaven rejoices when a soul that is close to eternal separation from God returns to the Father. This passage should tell people that they are not too far removed from God’s grace. All that has to be done is to turn toward God and He will meet you with open arms and rejoicing. Don’t let the enemy tell you any different.

Rejoice in your salvation! Rejoice in the saving grace as it reaches others. Join all of heaven in rejoicing when a fellow sinner returns to God.

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Has your faith grown or is it still the smallest of all seeds?

July 10, 2013

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 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Can a blind man lead a blind man?

June 13, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

He also told them this parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.
(Luke 6:39-40 (NIV))

How many people today are blind leading the blind or are blind following the blind? People are searching for answers, and are looking in all the wrong places. This is Satan’s great desception. He is keeping people from seeing the truth by placing lies and stumbling blocks in their way.

God placed in us the desire to belong to Him. When people do not know Jesus, they try to satisfy that desire with whatever they can find, or whoever they can find that will verify their sense of being, even if it is a false verification.

Each person has a piece missing from them that only God can fill perfectly. Nothing or no one can fill it like Jesus. We must open the eyes of the blind and lead them to the light and the piece (and peace) that can satisfy that void.

Jesus said that we, as students or desciples, can not be greater than He. We must strive to be fully in God’s will and let the Holy Spirit fill us and train us so that we may be like Jesus. When this happens, we will truly be able to lead the “blind” to Jesus as Jesus, Himself, lead the “blind”. Perhaps, we, too, can open the eyes of the “blind” in a similar fashion to the way Jesus opened blind eyes, both physically and spiritually.

Are you leading, following or are you studying under the Master, or are you blind to what God has called you to?

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you willing to do likewise?

June 10, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. `Look after him,’ he said, `and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
(Luke 10:30-37 (NIV))

I experienced something over the weekend that brings this parable to light in today’s world.

I had pulled into a McDonalds to get something to drink and I noticed a car that was in a very precarious predicament. The front tires had gone over a poorly marked construction barricade and had dropped off the edge until the only thing touching the concrete was about 1/4” of the frame leaving the driver side rear tire about a foot off of the ground. The occupants of the car were okay, but there was no way that they could get the vehicle out of the construction ditch.

During this time, I saw countless people drive by and look, but only two fifty-three year old men even thought of coming to help. They looked and drove on by. Many even actually hung out of the passenger windows to get a better look. Still, no one bothered to offer assistance.

It is a sad commentary on society and on the hearts of people when they see someone in need and only think of it as a situation to be gawked at. Thankfully, the other fifty-three year old lived nearby and he was willing to make several trips to his house to get additional tools as they were needed. Some people simply looked and drove right on by. This man went out of his way to offer assistance. He was inconvenienced. He offered to do things that were not in his plans. He went the extra mile to do what was right.

Thousands of people go by this place every single day. In the two hours that it took to get the car out of the ditch, there were probably hundreds of people who went by. What does that say about our society? What does that say about our priorities?

With the assistance of a young police officer, we finally got the car out and I drove it around the parking lot to make sure that everything was okay. The lady and her 8 year old grand daughter were very happy to be rescued from their predicament. After she thanked us, I got in my car and drove the last hour to get home.

I am not relaying these events to draw attention to myself, Rather, to point out the way in which most of the people simply ignored the situation, or they looked and went on about their business. It was a bother to them. It was inconvenient for them to help.

We are to be neighbors to those in need. We cannot have a society that turns a blind eye to those in need. We must be good neighbors to all. We must be the hands and feet of Jesus to all who are in need.

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
(Luke 10:37b (NIV))

Are you willing to do likewise?

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you

March 12, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you–guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.
(2 Timothy 1:13-14 (NIV))

It is easy to hear something and have it register that it is a good thing to do. It is far more difficult to retain that teaching and to be able to live by it. We must let the Word of God take root in our lives just as Jesus told in the parable of the seed.

Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop–a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. He who has ears, let him hear.”
(Matthew 13:3-9(NIV))

Whether we look upon the Word of God as something that we must retain or as a seed that must take root in our lives, it is a living and life changing acquisition. Without the Word of God in our lives, we flounder and fall into sin. With the Word of God, we stop and consider what we are doing. We have a beacon in the darkness that is guiding us and allowing the truth to bloom and grow within us.

Jesus came to teach and to offer salvation. He is the Word made flesh. He is what we should retain. He is the seed that we should allow to take root and to grow. He is our only means of salvation.

Whether you look upon the Word of God as something to retain or as something to let take root and grow, it is something that must be central to your life. It must be nurtured through study, discipline and prayer. These are the elements that allow the Word of God to grow in your life. Are you providing the elements that are needed?

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