Do you strive to practice strict self-control?

February 20, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

All athletes practice strict self-control. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.
(1 Corinthians 9:25 (NLT))

Some translations say that the athletes go into strict training. To me, this translation hits a little closer to home. We may not have any idea of what strict training may be, but we can all understand the idea of strict self-control.

Think about that concept for a moment.

What do you think of when self-control is mentioned?

Is it the will power to not eat the last donut in the box, or is it much more?

Personally, self-control and personal responsibility go hand in hand. Let’s face the truth. Our society no longer believes in personal responsibility. People claim that they were born that way, or they were raised in a bad home, or . . .

I think that you get the picture. Our society, and each of us as a member of the Body of Christ, must be willing to practice self-control. We must be willing to accept the responsibility of our actions. We must strive to live our lives as Jesus taught us.

Using the athlete example, a life in faith is not a sprint that starts and is over quickly. A life in faith is a lifelong journey, a marathon, in which we must be prepared to face any obstacles that the world throws our way. In order to do this, we must practice self-control. We must be willing to accept personal responsibility. If you are willing to accept personal responsibility, then you are capable of learning from your mistakes and focusing once again on the prize that is set before us.

Imagine this scenario.

You are standing in front of Jesus and He is judging your life. You have never accepted His grace and mercy as your own. Every aspect of your life condemns you. Your only response, “It wasn’t my fault. I wasn’t ready!”

I can only imagine the response from Jesus.

Strive for the prize that is won only through Jesus. Don’t allow the things of this world to sway your self-control.

Do you strive to practice strict self-control?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you forgiven as you wish to be forgiven?

March 6, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Then the master called the servant in. `You wicked servant,’ he said, `I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
(Matthew 18:32-34 (NIV))

This is a recurring theme in the Bible. We are forgiven and shown mercy if we can forgive and show mercy to others.

Forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
(Matthew 6:12(NIV))

These are characteristics of God that we are to learn and put into practice. It is the same characteristics that brought Jesus to this earth to die for us.

If Jesus came to this earth to be God’s payment for our debts, if we accept this payment, then we must also be prepared to extend this payment to others. We have been shown unmerited favor and grace. We cannot keep this to ourselves. We cannot hold others to the same laws that we have been granted forgiveness from. If we are not willing to forgive, then how can we truly be forgiven. When we are forgiven, we have a joy that we wish to share with the world. It is a burden that has been lifted.

Does anyone owe you an unpaid debt?

Have you forgiven as you wish to be forgiven?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Pray from the heart for God knows what you need!

February 14, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
(Matthew 6:7-8 (NIV))

Do you babble?

Do you ramble on and on when you pray?

We are all guilty of opening our mouths way too much when we talk, why would it be any different when we pray? It is human nature to want to be heard and we feel that the more we say the better our chances are of getting our point across. Do you have a memory of a time that you wouldn’t stop trying to get your point across? How did that turn out for you? Did you sway your audience to your side? Did you convince anyone besides yourself that you were right?

Excessive words do not mean sincerity. Excessive words often mean a prideful spirit.

When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.
(Proverbs 11:2 (NIV))

Humility is the fear of the Lord; its wages are riches and honor and life.
(Proverbs 22:4 (NIV))

I have heard someone define humility as not thinking less of yourself, but rather, it is thinking of yourself less. I like this definition. How do we put this into practice? Can we start with closing our mouths and stop trying to convince everyone, including God, that we know best? Can we let our hearts and our actions speak for us? Is it humanly possible to keep things short and sweat?

When we humble ourselves before God, we turn our hearts to Him. We seek after His heart and not our own. When we truly seek His heart, we don’t need to spend our time babbling. We don’t need to spend our time trying to convince Him of what we want, for He knows what we need. I honestly believe that when we babble, we are actually trying to convince ourselves.

Pray from the heart for God knows what you need!

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What are you trained to be?

November 3, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I may indeed be untrained as a speaker, but I do have knowledge. We have made this perfectly clear to you in every way.
(2 Corinthians 11:6 (NIV))

Every single one of us is good at something. Every single one of us has a special talent that we have nurtured because we are driven to pursue it in one manner or another. Some of us are driven to excellence in athletic endeavors. Some are driven to excel in music, while others are drawn to drama. Some are good at business, while others are more concerned with hospitality, kindness and caring.

What are you drawn to?

If you are like everyone else, you read, study or practice to get better at what you are drawn to. You become a sponge who is willing to absorb all that you can about your passion, about what drives you, about what you are drawn to. You grow in knowledge and wisdom. You grow in your training, whether it is from someone who is a mentor, or if it is through trial and error all on your own. Some people, like Paul, even have a divine calling. Even with the calling during his Damascus Road experience, Paul had to gain knowledge. He had to study. He had to wait for the Lord to lead him to the right place and time for his study and his passion to come together.

Today, we read the words that Paul recorded in his endeavors of spreading the Gospel to the Gentiles. We read his words of encouragement. We read his words of instruction. We read his words of chastisement when it was due. We know Paul as a great man of God, still, I have often wondered just what Paul was referring to when he said that he was given a thorn in his flesh.

Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.
(2 Corinthians 12:7b (NIV))

There has been much speculation about what this could be, but the one thing that is obvious is that Paul did not focus on this thorn in his flesh. Out of all of the writings that we have from Paul, this is the only instance that this thorn in his flesh is mentioned. He used the talent and the passion that he did have to spread the Gospel.

We all have knowledge and a passion for something. We all have that specific thing that we have been trained to be in our lives. It is time to use that training, that one passion, and let it be brought to the forefront in such a way that it leads people to Jesus!

What are you trained to be?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you practice what you preach?

March 10, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.”
(Matthew 23:1-3 (NIV))

I’m sure that you have heard the old saying, “Do as I say, not as I do!”

Have you ever been guilty of saying it?

Did you grimace after reading that question? I know that I did.

It is human nature to tell people that they should do one thing when you are doing the exact opposite of what you say they should do. Jesus knew that people in authority do this. He knew that all people do it. We like to think that what applies to everyone else doesn’t apply to us. If you stop to think about it, we see a lot of this in our political system. Laws are made that apply to everyone except themselves.

We are all called to obey God’s Word. We are all called to repentance. We are all called to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves. We are called to accept Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior. These are all things that each of us are called to practice. We are also called to preach these truths to those who don’t know them. Our actions are supposed to match our words.

Do you practice what you preach?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What are the results of sin and its approval?

February 9, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.”
(Romans 1:32 (NIV))

Does this sound like the current world view?

It takes no stretch of the imagination to see people rebelling against God’s righteous decrees. What they are doing is being practiced, tolerated and flaunted by society. Certain groups within our society seem to take great pleasure in thumbing their proverbial noses at those who seek after righteousness as well as God, Himself.

There is even division in the church!

Some people have embraced sin under the false concept that God loves everyone, and that since He created them, He must be okay with the sin. They erroneously think that God loving the individual and God loving the sin is the same thing. Nothing could be further from the truth!

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

In other words, no one is worthy to be in God’s presence because we are all sinners.

Where do we belong as a result of our sinful nature? How do we escape what is our rightful condemnation?

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 6:23 (NIV))

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
(Matthew 7:13-14 (NIV))

Jesus is the narrow gate!

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
(John 14:6 (NIV))

With it clearly spelled out for all to see, what I don’t understand is why anyone would choose the sinful nature? Why does anyone approve of the sinful nature?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do you practice your faith?

December 12, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
(James 1:2-4 (NIV))

Imagine an athlete who did not practice his sport. Imagine a musician who did not practice their instrument. They would not be able to perform what they profess to be able to do.

Now, imagine a Christian who did not practice their faith! Faith requires patience, perseverance, and, yes, trials. It is through these adversities that our faith is strengthened, our righteousness made complete in the eyes of God. We may profess a faith in Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, yet, when trials come, do we abandon the faith or do we hold stronger to it?

Think of the trials as practice in the same way the musician practices to become better. Think of trials in the same way as physical conditioning of the athlete so that they may endure long periods of physical activity. No one who claims to be well versed in any area is that way without a devotion to that activity. The same is true of faith.

It requires a spiritual conditioning in order to be strengthened and utilized the way God intended. Therefore

” Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
(James 1:2-4(NIV))

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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