Are you able to praise God through the tough times?

November 9, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
(Psalms 42:11 (NIV))

I realize that it may seem like the whole world is out to get you at times, but there is one key thing that we need to remember as members of the Body of Christ.

“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))

With hope and assurance like this, how can we ever be downcast, even in the face of trouble? We need to remember Paul’s words. We need to do more than remember them. We need to make them our own. We need to fully embrace the very realistic truth that Paul shared in Romans.

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
(Romans 8:31 (NIV))

God is so “for us” that He sent His only Son, Jesus, into this world as an atoning sacrifice so that we could be restored to a right relationship with God. For those who earnestly repent and call upon the name of Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior, God is now on your side. Perhaps I should phrase that differently. For those who earnestly repent and call upon the name of Jesus, you have realized that you are a sinner in need of a Savior. You have turned from your way to following God’s way. When you chose to follow Jesus, you became a member of the Body of Christ. Your past sins are no longer held against you. If you have been able to be called out of the tough times when you were lost in sin, what makes you think that the Lord of all creation will not be with you and see you through the tough times that you face after you chose to follow Jesus?

If you look at life from this perspective, we have been called to be God’s chosen people.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
(1 Peter 2:9 (NIV))

If we are exactly as described, then why would God abandon us during the tough times. He will not leave us nor forsake us!

It is a matter of our attitude!

Are you able to praise God through the tough times?

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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Are you thankful that Jesus faced this hour?

March 28, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”
(John 12:23 (NIV))

It is hard to imagine the idea of crucifixion as a means of glorification, but that is exactly what transpired!

Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.
(John 12:24 (NIV))

When Jesus went to the cross, He knew exactly what would transpire. He knew that He would die a painful death as an atoning sacrifice for all sin that had ever happened or ever would happen. He knew that Satan would think that he had won. Jesus also knew that the power of sin and death would forever be broken three days later when He would be resurrected. Jesus knew that He was the single seed of hope. In order for hope to mature and grow in this world, He had to make the ultimate sacrifice. Crucifixion is definitely not glorious, but overcoming the power of sin and death and being elevated to the right hand of God the Father is the ultimate glory.

It is a glory that we can share! It is a glory that removes condemnation!

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,
(Romans 8:1 (NIV))

It is a glory that intercedes for those who believe!

Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.
(Romans 8:34 (NIV))

From a human perspective, it is difficult to be thankful for suffering. No one in their right mind would look on the sufferings of others as a good thing, but in the case of what Jesus did, it is an amazing thing. It is amazing how the sin of one condemned all to death and the sin free sacrifice of one settled the debt for the wages of sin and death. Personally, I hate the fact that my sin is why Jesus suffered and died, yet, at the same time, I am thankful that He faced that hour!

Are you thankful that Jesus faced this hour?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you planted seeds that will provide an increase?

March 20, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 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 12:23-26 (NIV))

The day is rapidly approaching when we celebrate the truth that Jesus spoke of. He willingly fell and died so that the seed of salvation could be planted. From that willing sacrifice, millions of people since then have reaped the fruits of that sacrifice as they multiply. Easter is the time that we celebrate that glorious gift of redemption and grace.

However, that seed does not stop there. Jesus planted the seed. Since that day, redemptive grace has sprouted from that seed. When a seed dies, it gives life to grow more seeds. When these seeds mature, they too will die to allow more seeds to grow. This cycle is how one can produce one hundred and one hundred can produce ten thousand. Each seed can bring forth other seeds to continue the work. Jesus planted the seed. Now it is our turn. By accepting the grace and mercy freely given at the cross, we become seeds. We have a small kernel of grace within us. We must allow that grace to produce.

I am not saying that we must physically die in order for that seed to produce. It is possible to die to self, to give up your desires, in order that God’s desires may be fulfilled. Just as Jesus obeyed God in order for His seed to produce, we must also be obedient so that our seed may produce.

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))

I believe that we have been given instructions to do as Jesus did and produce many seeds.

Have your seeds been scattered in good soil?

Have you planted seeds that will provide an increase?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you willing to suffer for the sake of the Gospel?

January 23, 2018

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.
(2 Corinthians 11:27 (NIV))

Your first reaction to this passage was probably like mine!

This is not something that I would willingly put myself through, nor would I want to find myself unwillingly in this type of situation.

Let’s face it. We have become creatures of habit. Perhaps I should say that we have become creatures of comfort! We have become so used to the air conditioned house with our refrigerators and entertainment devices that we forget what real sacrifice is. We leave our air conditioned homes, get in our air conditioned cars and drive to an air conditioned building to worship. Are we really sacrificing anything to praise God? Are we sacrificing anything to help spread the Gospel?

What if Paul had the same attitude that many of us have?

What if Paul was not willing to suffer for the Gospel?

How many of us would willingly do something that could land us in prison? How many of us would go head first into a situation knowing that the outcome could mean stoning, prison or death? Paul was willing to do this and so much more! Because of his desire to share the Gospel and his willingness to do whatever it took, we can claim our salvation. Can anyone claim their salvation because of what you are willing to do?

Are you willing to suffer for the sake of the Gospel?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What are you willing to sacrifice?

November 30, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

And King Solomon offered a sacrifice of twenty-two thousand head of cattle and a hundred and twenty thousand sheep and goats. So the king and all the people dedicated the temple of God.
(2 Chronicles 7:5 (NIV))

If you are like me, you probably had to read this passage a few times to fully comprehend the size of the sacrifice that Solomon offered when the temple was dedicated. Perhaps the following will help you understand the size.

22,000 cattle at $500 a head equals $11 million in today’s value.

120,000 sheep and goats at $150 a head equals $18 million in today’s value.

In total, Solomon sacrificed approximately $29 million to dedicate God’s temple.

I can hear some people saying that the sacrifice could have been used to feed the hungry or could have been used to provide farm animals to the poor. Solomon, in all of his wisdom, realized that because God had blessed him so greatly, he needed to make sacrifices in proportion to the size of that blessing. Solomon was the wisest and richest man to have ever lived. How would you have expected him to praise the Lord for what He had done?

Think about what you give, what you sacrifice, for God. None of us can claim to be as blessed as Solomon, but do we give back to God with the same spirit and attitude that Solomon had? Do you tithe? Do you give offerings? Do you wish that your ten percent would increase as you see increase, or do you give less as you get more? Sadly, too many people who are blessed try to keep all of the blessings for themselves. Studies have shown that as people earn more money, they give less and less. Instead of giving ten percent, it decreases to less than two percent. Is this a sacrifice? Is this considered robbing God?

I have heard of some people who have increased what they give, what they sacrifice, without increasing what they receive. They are thankful for the blessings and are willing to sacrifice in thanks and praise to God.

What are you willing to sacrifice?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you able to bring this sacrifice?

November 29, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.
(Psalms 51:17 (NIV))

We all make sacrifices. Some of us sacrifice for our spouses. Some sacrifice for their children. Some people will sacrifice for their jobs and some will make sacrifices for their church, but how hard is it to overcome human nature? It is this human nature that at times makes each of us think that we are the center of the universe.

Does this sound like a broken spirit?

Does this sound like a broken and contrite heart?

The sacrifice that God does not despise is the one in which we come humbly into His presence. It is a sacrifice in which we offer up our humility, our ego and our pride. It is a sacrifice that places our needs and desires much lower than our selfish human nature demands. It is a sacrifice that recognizes that we are not capable of doing anything that will make us righteous in God’s eyes.

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
(Isaiah 64:6 (NIV))

It is a sacrifice that places God first and others as equals with ourselves.

To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.
(Mark 12:33 (NIV))

Our sinful human nature makes it so difficult to sacrifice ourselves in this manner, but it is exactly what we must be able to do.

Are you able to bring this sacrifice?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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