Are we capable of such sincere praise?

June 5, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

There is no one holy like the Lord;
there is no one besides you;
there is no Rock like our God.
(1 Samuel 2:2 (NIV))

I wish that we would learn to stand firm in this truth!

Today, we look at the Lord much differently than Hannah did when she spoke these words. Hannah had been fervently praying for a son. After being barren for a long time, the Lord granted her prayer and she gave birth to Samuel. When she presented Samuel to the Lord, she was overjoyed. She gave thanks and praise exactly where it was due!

This brings to mind two distinct questions.

1. Do we fervently pray for what is burdening our hearts?

Most of the time we utter a few words, but do we seriously pray as if our very heart, our very soul, would explode if what we seek is not granted? Do we feel the anguish that comes with what truly burdens our hearts, or do we only think that it is important? Do we quickly move on when what we pray for is not answered in a few days?

2. Do we truly praise the Lord when our prayers are answered?

Do we give thanks and praise for the outcome, or do we quickly forget our requests to the Lord? Do we look at the outcome as if it just happened without intervention from the Lord? Do we turn away from the Lord or do we turn to the Lord and lift up His name in praise?

Has the Lord lifted you up from a very serious situation? Has the Lord provided relief from your burden? Did you praise the Lord for all that He had done? The worse the situations that we find ourselves in, the greater the opportunity to praise the Lord. Perhaps that is why that history supports the notion that the church experiences more growth when it is being persecuted. People have a tendency to draw close to God when they are facing persecution and burdens. With this in mind, have we, the Body of Christ, become too soft and too comfortable in our lives that we fail to feel the need to pray or praise with all of our being?

Are we capable of such sincere praise?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Honor!

May 28, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.
(John 12:25-26 (NIV))

Think back on the history of this country.

Have we ever had a time when a king or a dictator forced anyone to fight and die?

Have we ever had a time when we turned tail and ran from the responsibilities that we have been given?

We owe our country to our faith in God and to the brave men and women who were willing to sacrifice everything for the principles that our country is founded upon.

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
(John 15:13 (NIV))

Think about that verse.

Our nation was founded by people who were seeking something. Some came seeking adventure. Some came seeking opportunity. But, many were seeking freedom to worship God as they saw fit. It was this freedom that became an integral part of our nation’s mindset. We were founded by people who saw something that they didn’t agree with and were willing to do something about it.

Some spoke out about the things that they saw. Others rallied people behind them. Many gave their lives to battle the very things that they saw as oppressive. We have never been a country to shy away from doing what is right. We have been driven by a desire to see God’s love, grace and mercy prevail. It is true that some people may not have known Jesus as their Lord and Savior, yet they had an inner feeling about right and wrong. It was part of our culture and our society. They answered the call many times even before they knew there was a call.

They gave it all. They were willing to lay down their lives so that others could know the freedoms that God had granted us. They followed the example of Jesus when He went to the cross. It was something that would end in their death, yet they faced it with dignity and pride. They did not run from their responsibility.

They faced the enemy with honor. They did not shy away from the task at hand because it would mean their death. They were living out the words of Jesus.

I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
(John 14:12 (NIV))

They gave their lives in much the same way that Jesus gave His. They knew that without their sacrifice, countless lives would be lost.

Memorial Day is upon us. It is a day that we are supposed to remember the sacrifices. It is a day to say thank you. It is a day to ask ourselves if we are capable of stepping up and defending what we hold to be true. There may come a day when we will be called upon to proclaim our faith and suffer the consequences. It is my prayer that we may all love God more than we love our own lives.

Honor and praise to God and to those who answer His call.

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you praise God with every breath you take?

May 8, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I bless GOD every chance I get; my lungs expand with his praise.
(Psalms 34:1 (MSG))

I don’t often reference the Message translation, but I love the implications of this passage and the way it gives a very unique and powerful example of our need to praise God.

Typically, we see this passage conveyed similar to the following, with each translation using slightly different words to convey what David actually wrote in his native language.

I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.
(Psalms 34:1 (NIV))

Honestly, who uses words like “extol?” I realize that it is a word that many people know, but most people will use the words “bless” or “praise.” Those words are straight to the point. Do you bless God every chance that you get? Perhaps what I love the most about the way that the Message translates this passage, though, is the last half of the passage. Everyone who is alive must breathe. This requires your lungs to expand and collapse as you inhale and exhale. This process is essential for life. Think about the meaning and the implications of that concept. We should consider praising God as essential to life as breathing! Without God, we would not have life.

We should give thanks with every breath that we take for the breath that we take. We should praise God for the life that He has given. We should praise God for the grace and the mercy that He has offered. We should praise God for His unfailing love.

Do you praise God with every breath you take?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you praise God even in the midst of trouble?

April 12, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The wicked are waiting to destroy me, but I will ponder your statutes.
(Psalms 119:95 (NIV))

Do you ever feel like the enemy is out to get you?

If you are like most people, including myself, it often seems that the world is out to steal our joy. With that said, Jesus told us that this would happen. He let it be known that life would not be easy. He told us that we would have trouble.

“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))

Sometimes it feels like the wicked are waiting to destroy.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
(John 10!0 (NIV))

Just as Jesus told us that we would face troubles in this world, He also told us that by placing our faith in Him, He will be with us. He will overcome the evils of this world. Placing our faith in Jesus and calling upon Him as our Lord and Savior does not mean that we will have an easy life, but it does mean that He will be with us every step of the way.

There is an old saying that there are only two things for certain in this life – death and taxes. Jesus told us to render unto Caesar what is his. That is a worldly debt. Jesus has overcome death. He has overcome the wages of sin. Before Jesus, life meant sin and sin meant death, both physically and spiritually. He has overcome the spiritual debt that we could never pay on our own. Since our debt of spiritual death has been paid, what do we have to fear? Because we do not have to fear spiritual death, we should lift praise unto God even when the enemy is trying to destroy us. We should praise God in the good, for He has blessed us, and in the bad, for He will provide.

Do you praise God even in the midst of trouble?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you thankful to be called a Christian?

April 10, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.
(1 Peter 4:16 (NIV))

Have you ever faced anything simply because you are a believer in Jesus?

Perhaps I should ask if you have ever been in a situation where you would have suffered if it was known that you were a Christian? Think about that for a moment as you answer the following. Did you withhold the fact that you were a Christian or did you deny that you were a Christian? There is a difference! Regardless of how you handled yourself in that situation, do you regret not standing up and identifying as a follower of Jesus? Do you feel that you have abandoned Jesus through your actions and words?

Consider Peter.

He denied Jesus three times during the events between Jesus being arrested and being taken to Pilate. All of us can put ourselves into the events and justify the actions that Peter took that night. In all honesty, it is not told in detail how Peter truly felt. We can only imagine what Peter was facing within himself as these events transpired and afterward. What we do know is that after the resurrection, Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him. Peter was able to put his shame behind him and accept the grace that Jesus was extending to him.

Think about that!

Peter denied Jesus three times. He had seen Jesus beaten so badly that He was not recognizable. Peter had seen Jesus crucified, dead and buried. The guilt of his denial of Jesus must have been unbearable. Even after Jesus arose, what was Peter thinking? Was he thinking that Jesus would never forgive him for what he had done? Was Peter thinking that he had committed something so bad that he would be condemned to suffer for all eternity?

Grace is amazing!

What Peter did discover is that Jesus forgave him. Three times he was asked if He loved Jesus and three times he responded that he did. I can almost imagine that with each response Peter gave Jesus, the burden of guilt was being lifted until it was completely gone!

That is what Jesus does! He lifts the burden of guilt and replaces that burden with a joy that comes from knowing that all of your sins are forgiven! There is nothing greater to give thanks for.

Are you thankful to be called a Christian?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What would Jesus do?

March 27, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.
(Romans 15:7 (NIV))

Have you ever stopped to ask yourself one simple but important question?

What if Jesus treated us the way that we treat each other?

If Jesus had decided that He didn’t want to come to earth because we are so different than the angels in heaven that He knew, where would we be? If Jesus had decided that He didn’t want anything to do with us because our life style was different than what God had commanded, where would we be? If Jesus had decided that humanity was not worth coming to earth to save, where would we be?

I could go on and on using every single reason that we offer up as an excuse to treat each other in ways that are less than what God desires, but I think that you can probably get the picture by now. Why do we treat each other, as members of the Body of Christ and potential members of the Body of Christ, with such contempt and callousness that we can’t even be recognized as followers of Jesus.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
(John 13:34-35 (NIV))

These words do not say that we are to love only those who look like us. They do not say that we are to love only those who have the same life style as us. They do not say that we are to love only those whom we deem to be worthy of our love. We are to love one another. There are no words in that statement that can be taken in any way, shape, form or fashion as an authorized limitation to whom we are to love.

What if Jesus had limited His love to only the nation of Israel? If that had been the case, the passages that we all know and love would not read as they do.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
(John 3:16 (NIV))

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.
(Romans 1:16 (NIV))

If Jesus has accepted everyone through what He came to accomplish at the cross, then why do we have such a difficult time doing the same?

The next time that we have a moment where we want to shun someone, remember four simple words. What would Jesus do?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is this how you know the Lord?

March 6, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.
(Psalms 88:15 (NIV))

Everyone in the world has an image of how they see God!

Some see an angry old man. Some see a vindictive character. Others see someone who just doesn’t care about us, while others see Him as someone who takes great joy in each of us. Even atheists, who claim that He doesn’t exist, have a mental image of Him, or should I say the absence of Him, for it takes a very vivid imagination to claim that He doesn’t exist.

What is your image of God?

Is you image of God distorted by the characteristics that your earthly father displayed?

Do you find it difficult to believe that someone who created everything that exists knows you intimately? We are told that He does!

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
(Psalm 139:13-14 (NIV))

When you think of God, do you see Him in this manner?

Is this how you know the Lord?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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