Is this how you wish to pray?

October 16, 2020

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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.
(Matthew 6:7 (NIV))

Have you ever been accused of babbling?

Merriam-Webster defines babbling as idle, foolish, or nonsensical talk or chatter. When you hear someone talking in this manner, do you feel the urge to tell them to get to the point? Do you even bother to listen to the words that are being uttered. Do you zone out and nod slightly to make it look like you are listening? At times, it appears that the person who is talking simply likes the sound of their own voice. It can get annoying!

With this defined, let’s go back to my first question. Have you ever been accused of babbling? Better yet, have you ever approached the throne room of God in prayer only to babble on and on simply because you were too afraid to ask the Lord for what you seek in a bold and confident manner? Perhaps you found yourself babbling because you knew deep down that your motives for what you ask were wrong.

When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
(James 4:3 (NIV))

Human nature is a funny thing. We think that we can hide what we truly desire and the motives for that desire, but our actions give us away. Simply think about the many times when you were a child where you approached your parents to ask for something. You had probably made up a story that wasn’t quite true and you talked and talked and talked hoping that your words would be convincing. Your parents knew. Now, think about this from God’s perspective. He knows our hearts. He knows the true desires and the true motives that we try to hide from public display when we try using a constant barrage of words.

We put up a facade! We try to convince ourselves and others that our motives are noble when they are simply self-serving.

But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:
“God opposes the proud
    but shows favor to the humble.”
(James 4:6 (NIV))

Humility doesn’t have anything to say. Humility is quiet and unassuming. When we put on humility, we simply surrender to the Lord and fully rely upon His mercy and grace. We surrender our motives and embrace His motives. We put self aside and when we do this, our words don’t matter. What matters is our heart!

Is this how you wish to pray?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you claim to be wise?

September 2, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil.
(Proverbs 3:7 (NIV))

Do you see any wisdom in the world?

Based on this passage, perhaps I should rephrase that question.

Do you see people shunning evil and fearing the Lord, or are they more interested in mocking and ridiculing the Lord and anyone who seeks to follow Him? Are these people trying to claim that they are wise? Contrary to what they may think, the Lord doesn’t agree.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
      and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
(Proverbs 9:10 (NIV))

The present state of the world reminds me of the parable of the wheat and the tares. The bad seed that produces the tares are those who do not fear the Lord. They are doing all that they can to disrupt God’s plans. We have known that this time would come. We have known what the people would be like who do not fear the Lord. They claim to be wise in their own eyes. They feel a false sense of self-worth. They feel that only they are right and anyone who doesn’t agree is an enemy.

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—
(2 Timothy 3:1-4 (NIV))

As members of the Body of Christ, we must pray that we not fall into the traps that the enemy has set. We must fear the Lord and shun all evil. We must not think that we are more than we are – filthy rags.

Do you claim to be wise?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are we thoroughly equipped to be God’s servants?

June 23, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
(2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV))

Most believers are familiar with this passage, but most read it as I have presented it here. We have a tendency to take it as a stand-alone passage and forget the context that it was originally written. It is true that as a stand-alone passage, it does speak truth, for anything from God’s Word is God-breathed and useful in all righteousness, but there is more to this passage than this. These words about all scripture close 2 Timothy 3 after it is opened with these words about the last days.

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
(2 Timothy 3:1-5 (NIV))

We, as the Body of Christ, have taken these two passages and have made them unrelated. We look at the warning about the last days but fail to realize that the closing words from 2 Timothy 3 are instructions for us when we see the things of the last days unfolding right before our eyes. The words written by Paul to Timothy are instructions to continue in the faith. We are to stand firm in the face of adversity. We are to stand firm when we see people are becoming lovers of themselves. We are to stand firm in our faith when we see the world turning into lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. We are to stand firm by firmly rooting ourselves in the scriptures, and not just our favorite passages.

In order to recognize the truth, we must be firmly rooted in God’s truth. There are gems of godly wisdom and truth in every passage. Some truths are only recognizable when you understand the complete truth, for God’s Word is not just a collection of individual, unrelated nuggets. God’s Word is life!

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
(Genesis 1:1 (NIV))

From the first words in Genesis 1 to the last words in Revelation 22, there is an unfolding of God’s truth and in order to understand it, we must read and study it all.

He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.”
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.
(Revelation 22:20-21 (NIV))

It is said that all of scripture after the fall from grace details God’s plan to bring salvation and to restore His creation. How well do you know the story? How well do you know what the outcomes are for those involved in this story?

Are we thoroughly equipped to be God’s servants?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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We must focus on being lovers of God!

June 5, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God-
(2 Timothy 3:1-4 (NIV))

I am sure that you have seen the jokes and the memes on social media about the type of year that 2020 has been so far. We hope and pray that things will get better, but I honestly think that what we are seeing is becoming the norm, especially when you read about what people will be like in the last days. In fact, when I first read this passage this evening, I did not have to struggle to think up very public examples of each one of these traits. I am certain that you can probably think of prime examples of each one of these traits as evidenced in our society as well.

Why have people become so blinded? Why have people become so self-centered and hate-filled? These traits go against every single one of God’s commandments. They also go against other traits that we are told we should strive to possess.

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))

Sadly, these traits are not what seems to be front and center in today’s world. Far too many in this world are being led astray by the enemy. They are being led down a path that comes in direct conflict with anything good – with anything from God! They are being led down a path of sin and evil.

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))

I am sure that we have all heard that as followers of Jesus, we live in the world, but we are not of the world. How are we, as the Body of Christ, to respond to people who are in open rebellion against God?

We are to share the Gospel! We are also told what to do if people will not listen.

If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.
(Matthew 10:14-15 (NIV))

We are to pray! We can’t soften hearts. Only God can. We must pray that those who rebel will repent and turn to the Lord. And, we must stand firm in our faith so that we are not led astray.

We must focus on being lovers of God!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you praying for God’s Will?

July 22, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God– having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.
(2 Timothy 3:1-5 (NIV))

We are facing terrible times and they seem to be increasing. The attitudes of society seem to be getting more rebellious. Our whole society seems to be self centered, money grabbing and arrogant. The generations that are alive today have seen the removal of God from our school systems and our public affairs because of one group’s misinterpretation of the phrase “separation of church and state.”

How could we have let this happen?

Have we, as believers, become complacent in our attitudes towards others, or have the people around us been infected with the lies from the powers that control this world? Whatever the reason, people are not what they should be in the eyes of God.

It is God’s Will that the events spoken of in Daniel and in Revelations come to pass. I do not know if we are seeing these things about to start, but one thing I do know is that we should be praying.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
(Ephesians 6:18 (NIV))

I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone– for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
(1 Timothy 2:1-4 (NIV))

Prayer is the most effective weapon that we have. If the timing is right for God’s plan, then our prayers will help to prepare us and hopefully have an impact on someone for Jesus. If the timing is not right for God’s plan, and our society is just rebellious, then our prayers will help to turn the nation back to God. No matter what the timing, pray!

The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
(James 5:16b (NIV))

Are you praying for God’s Will?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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We must not conform to this world!

May 17, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
(2 Timothy 3:1-5 (NIV))

Whether you think that we are in the last days or not, this is Godly advise to heed. If you stop to think about this, there are many old and wise sayings that come to mind that all say basically the same thing.

Don’t be guilty by association!

If you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.

Birds of a feather flock together.

I could probably list quite a few more, but I hope that you get the idea. Human nature is good at falsely thinking that we are capable of associating with others without having their sinful natures impact us. We, as the Body of Christ, are called to be set apart from the rest of the world. We are called to a higher standard. We are called to be guided by the Holy Spirit. The characteristics that the Holy Spirit calls us to follow are contradictory to what the world desires and what we are warned to avoid.

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))

Sadly, too many people falsely believe that they can associate with the world and still be a follower of Christ.

No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
(Matthew 6:24 (NIV))

Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
(1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (NIV))

We must turn from those in this world who will lead us astray. We must turn to the Lord. We must not conform to this world!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How do you define love?

April 1, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
(1 Corinthians 13:4 (NIV))

Love can possess many different characteristics in the minds of those who try to define it. To some people, it is a strong affection such as what a mother has for her child. Others think of love as a sexual attraction. Some people even go so far as to define love by the things that they like.

What is your definition of love? Does it encompass any or all of the above?

How does God define love?

God’s love is not too proud to keep Him from reaching out to save. God’s love for us is kind. He does not reach out to us to condemn us. God’s love for us is not proud. He willingly did what He had to do to bring us salvation.

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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
(John 3:16-17 (NIV))

God’s love is patient.

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
(2 Peter 3:9 (NIV))

I could spend countless hours documenting the depth of God’s love for His creation. It is boundless, yet, it is simple at the same time. It is everlasting, yet it is concerned about your individual moments. It is powerful, yet it is gentle enough to hold each of us in our moments of weakness. It is all encompassing, yet it is able to focus on each of us individually. In essence, God’s love is perfect!

How do you define love?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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How difficult do you make this?

November 6, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
(Romans 12:16 (NIV))

This passage is taken out of a section that many translations refer to as “Love in Action.”

Think about that concept for a moment. Are you able to put these words into action?

Do you strive to live in harmony with others, both believers and nonbelievers? I realize that it is easier to do this when you are dealing with someone who shares your beliefs, but we are called to show love to everyone. How do you live in harmony with someone who takes great pleasure in taunting and tormenting you because of your faith?

Then there is pride! It is a nasty human trait. We can’t even get a job without having to convince someone that we are better than anyone and everyone else. What happens if you start to act like you truly believe this about yourself? Do you begin to develop tendencies to elevate yourself at the expense of others? Is this how we are called to show love?

As a member of the Body of Christ, we must remember that we were shown love when we didn’t deserve it. We must remember that we were shown grace and mercy when we didn’t deserve it. All too often, we do not show love as were are called to show love. Sadly, many times we show the exact opposite and we make it difficult for others to see Jesus in us or through us.

How difficult do you make this?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you too proud to accept God’s gifts?

October 12, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, `Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

“When he came to his senses, he said, `How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ So he got up and went to his father.
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

“The son said to him, `Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

“But the father said to his servants, `Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
(Luke 15:11-24 (NIV))

Everybody is familiar with the story of the prodigal son. I have heard someone comment on it in such a way as to shed new light on God’s mercy and grace.

God does not wait until we ask for forgiveness to forgive us. We are forgiven even before we ask for it!

We must ask in order to receive it, but He has already decided that He will forgive us. Asking for forgiveness shows a change of heart on our part and this change of heart prepares us to accept the grace that God has already granted us. Without this change of heart, we cannot accept God’s grace. We do not feel that we need it. It is a matter of pride.

Asking for grace shows that we have humbled ourselves. Sadly, far too many people are too proud to ask for anything.

Grace and mercy are free. We pay the personal price by swallowing our pride when we ask for them.

Are you too proud to accept God’s gifts?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Don’t get caught up in the moment!

July 9, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
(Romans 8:18 (NIV))

Have you ever faced ridicule or suffering because you proclaim a faith in Jesus?

How did you react?

Did you hold your head up high and proud because the enemy has identified you as a follower of Jesus or did you turn tail and try to hide? Did you stay true to your beliefs or did you change course with the slightest sign of trouble? Do you hate the idea of any type of discomfort in this life and simply hope that an hour on an occasional Sunday will not come up on the enemy’s radar?

If these questions didn’t make you stop and think about the sincerity of your faith, then perhaps these will!

Do you possess a bold faith in Jesus? Are you willing to stand your ground on the behalf of Jesus when confronted by the enemy? Think about that for a moment. Jesus was more than willing to stand His ground on your behalf when confronted by the enemy. He was willing to step out of heaven and face a few years of suffering so that each of us could have an opportunity to experience salvation. Shouldn’t we be willing to face ridicule and suffering from the enemy because we have accepted this? If you truly stop to think about this, the attacks make sense. Before Jesus came into the world to bring grace and mercy, legally all of us belonged to the enemy due to sin. We have been redeemed! In essence, the legal claim that the enemy had over us has been made null and void. He is angry. He will do anything and everything to make us reject God’s grace and mercy! He will attack anyone who professes a faith in Jesus in an effort to make us change our mind.

In the grand scheme of God’s plan, these attacks are only momentary in comparison to all of eternity that we will gain. Don’t be so focused on the things of this world that you trade eternity in heaven for comfort in this world!

In other words, don’t get caught up in the moment!

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