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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Do you fully embrace all of the gifts of Christmas?

December 13, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.
(Galatians 4:7 (NIV))

Christmas is first and foremost a celebration of the birth of Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, but if you actually stop to think about it, Christmas means so much more!

Because of Christmas, we are no longer lost to our sin. We are no longer without hope of redemption. We are no longer without faith in the promises of God being fulfilled. We are no longer slaves to the power of sin and death. We can be redeemed by the sacrifices that Jesus would later make for us.

We are no longer cast away, but are welcome into the very presence of God the Father because Jesus has paid the price for our salvation. We have been promised that faith in Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior makes us heirs to the kingdom. If we are heirs to the kingdom, then we are part of the family, for only family is eligible to be heirs.

I want you to slow down and think about all of this when you are caught up in the middle of the hecticness that we have made Christmas. I honestly think that we need to follow a different passage at this time of year so that we don’t lose sight of what we celebrate.

Be still, and know that I am God
(Psalms 46:10a (NIV))

We must make ourselves stop and reflect on exactly what it is we celebrate. It is a gift beyond measure.

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))

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What will we be willing to face for the Gospel?

November 3, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him,
(Philippians 1:29 (NIV))

Wait a second!

Did you just read what I just read?

Did Paul actually write this?

Today’s church needs to learn that proclaiming Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior does not mean that everything will be all rosy and without problems. The early church knew this. Those who left Europe to settle in the new world knew it. Both groups were persecuted because of their faith in Jesus and their desire to worship Him in truth. When you go against the accepted routine of the world and seek to believe in Jesus instead of the world, then you will face hardships. You will suffer at the hands of those who follow the ways of the world.

One way to look at this passage may help clarify things.

What is the one thing in your life that you were willing to make sacrifices for in order to obtain it? For some, that may have been physical training as an athlete. For others, it may have been education in a very specialized field. No matter what it was that you wanted, you were willing to make sacrifices to obtain it. You were willing to suffer in the present in order to gain something in the future.

You were willing to suffer in the present to gain something in the future!

I believe that this is what Paul was implying when he recorded these words. It is not enough to be willing to believe. Even though believing is crucial to salvation, it is only the beginning of our faith journey. Are you willing to suffer for your faith in Jesus? Are you willing to sacrifice in order to believe? Are you willing to suffer or give up something that is important to you in order to gain something that is of far more importance?

Human nature is a strange thing. Too many of us are willing to keep the sinful things that we know because we are afraid of the blessings that we don’t know. When we accept belief in Jesus then we must be prepared to accept that we may suffer temporarily for our belief.

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you still making sacrifices to try to achieve righteousness?

June 12, 2014

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming–not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. If it could, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins, because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
(Hebrews 10:1-4 (NIV))

Law is only a reminder of what we should be like. It cannot force us to be that way. It is only a mirror of what we should be, not what we are.

Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
(1 Corinthians 13:12(NIV))

Perhaps it is this dark, poor reflection that makes us think we need to make sacrifices in order to be good enough, to be righteous before God. After all, it is human nature to try to achieve things on our own. We try in our abilities to bridge the chasm that separates us from God while we ignore the bridge that He has built for us. The law keeps us from crossing that chasm. Perhaps we should consider this “bridge” that God has provided and the roadsigns that God has placed for us as the good things that are coming and our attempts at reaching Him as the sacrifices we feel we must make.

Without Jesus, we are kept in the dark of the shadows. With Jesus, we are free to walk in the light and to bridge the chasm between us and God.

Are you still making sacrifices to try to achieve righteousness?

Copyright 1998 – 2014 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you notice what comes first?

May 5, 2014

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you.”
(Joshua 3:5 (NIV))

Take a good look at the order of events in the passage above.

Do you notice what comes first?

Too many people expect God to do amazing things in their lives before they do anything to prepare themselves for it. They want the rewards before the commitment and the sacrifices are made.

God has an order in which He works. He seeks people who have humbled themselves and have prepared themselves for His presence. Take a look at Jabez. He prayed to have his area of influence increased so that more people would know about God. Take a look at Moses. He was raised in Pharaoh’s palaces, yet, he ended up tending sheep in the desert. During this time, he learned about God and was obedient to what his new place in life meant. Take a look at Mary. She was of such a nature that she found favor with God. You don’t find favor with God by going against everything that He instructs. You find favor through an earnest desire to know God personally.

Take a look at today’s society. We have become a society of instant food, instant credit, and instant divorce. If we want something today, we order it today and get it today. There is no personal patience. We expect everything now and our way. We have even extended this to our outlook and understanding of God. Even preachers are preaching this with all of the prosperity sermons that you hear. Don’t get me wrong. God wants to bless us, but the blessing only comes AFTER you have prepared yourself for that blessing.

What order do you expect in your life?

Copyright 1998 – 2014 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What is your intent?

March 3, 2014

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying:
“I have loved you with an everlasting love;
I have drawn you with loving-kindness.
(Jeremiah 31:3 (NIV))

The Lord is good. He has loved us from before we existed. He does not wish for any to perish. Can we, who are made in His image, do any less than love as He has loved us? Jesus has left instructions to that end.

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: `Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: `Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

“Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 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 12:29-33)

The man fully understood what Jesus was saying. It is better to follow the intent of the law instead of the letter of the law.

What is your intent?

Copyright 1998 – 2014 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What is right in your eyes?

January 20, 2014

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

All a man’s ways seem right to him,
but the LORD weighs the heart.
To do what is right and just
is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.
(Proverbs 21:2-3 (NIV))

People justify to themselves what they are doing. When they do what is wrong in God’s eyes, they often seek out others to justify their actions. It is for this reason that homosexuals tend to seek out other homosexuals, thieves seek out other thieves, and new age spiritualists seek out other new agers.

What is the drive within people that makes them want someone to say that what they are doing is okay? Could it be the fact that God has placed in us a need to be loved and accepted by Him, and that when we stray from His truths, we try to fill this void with mis-aligned love and acceptance from other sources?

Pride also plays a part in this. We do not easily admit wrong doing. We think that we know what is best for us, and then we try to prove it through other actions. The creation is not wiser than the Creator. We do not fully understand ourselves, let alone God. When we say that we are right, we lie to ourselves because we do not have a full picture of all things involved.

God gave us rules, laws, and principles to live by. When we live by these principles and do what is acceptable to God, then all things go as they should. Sacrifices are made as means of atonement to “fix” something that we have done wrong. They are a way to say that we have strayed and we recognize this and are taking actions to repent. Sacrifices are not intended as constant mid-course corrections in the path of life. It is far better to live as God would have us to live and have fewer “sacrifices” that we have to make in order to atone for our mistakes.

Copyright 1998 – 2014 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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