Do you struggle with wrong motives?

September 17, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

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))

What is the one thing that you want more than anything else in this life?

Why do you desire that particular thing?

Are you able to be honest with yourself with the answers to these two questions? If you are like most people, you will give vague answers to both even if you honestly do know the real answers. Human nature is a very strange thing in that respect. We can say that our desires are in one direction while our actions and our thoughts take us in a completely different direction. Have you ever found yourself thinking that you could help people if only you had more money? Have you ever found yourself thinking that you would stop complaining about work if you could just get that promotion? Have you ever found yourself thinking that you would go on a mission trip after you get all of your bills paid off? I could go on and on with different scenarios, but I think that you get the picture. Many times human nature has us saying one thing when we mean the exact opposite of what we say. Human nature always wants for itself and not for the benefit of others. We may claim it, but our true motives soon come to light.

Have you found this to be true when you ask God for something in prayer?

Think about that. If He knows our thoughts, if He knows us better than we know ourselves, then He knows our true motives for the things that we ask of Him. Perhaps what we should be praying for is an honest heart and pure motives that will line up with what God desires. Can we truthfully say that we will pray in such a manner? Can we truthfully profess that we long to be known as David was known? Can we pray to have a heart after God’s own heart?

Each of us must examine our motives for the things that we want, for the things that we ask of God. Hopefully, it won’t be a painful realization!

Do you struggle with wrong motives?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Have you put on your armor?

September 4, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.
(Romans 13:12 (NIV))

I’m feeling weary tonight!

I’m sure that you have felt this way at some point in this last year. There is more worldly uncertainty and pressure than any of us have ever experienced before. I don’t need to tell you that we are living in and through very unusual times. We are seeing good being called evil and evil being called good. We are seeing lawlessness. We are seeing saber rattling and wars. We are seeing peace treaties that are foretold in prophecy. We are seeing what the world labels as racial tensions. We are told that nation will rise against nation. The original Greek could actually be translated as ethnicity groups.

Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.
(Matthew 24:7 (NIV))

And the one thing that is on everyone’s mind, whether you believe that it is a true risk or greatly exaggerated, is COVID-19. I’ve even read that the suicide rate is up for a group of people that should know where to turn for their strength. Perhaps you have seen this as well. The reports are saying that pastors are committing suicide at an alarmingly high rate. Why has faith disappeared? Why are people who should be encouraging the Body of Christ to look up now doing such a thing as what is being reported? The Body of Christ should recognize the signs and dress for battle for our Savior will soon be here!

When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.
(Luke 21:28 (NIV))

With everything that is going on in the world, who can you turn to in order to get an unbiased and honest perspective on events? We are to look up! We are to keep our eyes focused on Jesus. We are to prepare for what is coming. We are to arm ourselves with His Word, for when we know God’s Word, we don’t lose site of the promises that God is unfolding before us.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
(Ephesians 6:10-17 (NIV))

Have you put on your armor?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What are you clothed in?

August 25, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
(Colossians 3:12 (NIV))

Is it just me, or do these sound very similar to something else that we are told about?

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))

We are to clothe, or cover, ourselves with these traits. We, as the Body of Christ, are to strive to live our lives in such a way that we shine the light of Jesus in our circle of influence. When the world shows us sexual immorality, idolatry, hatred, jealousy, rage, selfish ambition, envy and drunkenness, we are to show them the light and love of Jesus.

I want you to think of this in relationship to putting on the full armor of God. Nobody puts on armor without clothing themselves with the proper attire beforehand. We must prepare ourselves with the correct attire before put on the armor and before we are truly prepared to go into battle for the Lord. We do battle against the enemy because we love the light. We do battle against the enemy because we long to see his captives set free. We are former prisoners and must clothe ourselves with compassion for the lost, kindness to the sinner, humility to the enemy, gentleness and patience with the captives as we share the good news of salvation. Without these as a proper foundation, are we truly able to put on the full armor of God?

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
(Ephesians 6:10-17 (NIV))

There are certain seasons of the year where it is recommended to dress in layers. We are in a season where we must spiritually dress in layers, starting with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Once we are clothed in these, we will be better prepared to add armor!

What are you clothed in?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How do we see each other?

May 28, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
(Galatians 3:28 (NIV))

I long for the day that we truly see each other as Jesus sees us!

I have lived long enough to honestly say that I am tired of people treating each other differently simply because we may not look the same. I want it to end, but since we live in a sinful, fallen world, we are going to continue to see these types of things happen. It breaks my heart just as I am certain that it breaks the very heart of God. What is it about human nature that makes us want to lash out at someone because of our shortcomings, our sins? Ever since the fall from grace in the Garden of Eden, humanity has had to struggle with a vast array of sins including ego, pride and selfishness.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
(Philippians 2:3-4 (NIV))

The world is upside down. We are seeing things that our ancestors never saw. We also are doing things that our ancestors would have never dreamed about doing. This goes both ways. Some things are better while some things are worse. We, as the Body of Christ, recognize the intolerance and hatred. We also know that there is truly only one solution to this sinful nature. Unfortunately, not everyone will accept Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. It is also sad to realize that not everyone who professes a faith in Jesus is mature enough to embrace what the author of Acts recorded for us.

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.
(Acts 20:24 (NIV))

We must all come to the realization that each person is a unique creation and is loved by God. We must treat each individual with this in mind. For those individuals whom we see who have accepted Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior, we can embrace them as part of the family. For those who haven’t yet accepted Jesus, we can show them the love of Jesus and invite them into the family.

How do we see each other?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Why are we drawn to return to our sin and slavery?

March 2, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
(Galatians 5:1 (NIV))

What is it about human nature that makes us return to something that we know we should leave behind? We have all been guilty of doing this very thing, and probably much more often than we care to admit. Apparently, human nature since the fall from grace has always had us doing what can only be called self destructive behavior. We know that we shouldn’t, but yet we do. This type of behavior has been pointed out many times, but probably the most accurate and disgusting is the following.

As a dog returns to its vomit,
so fools repeat their folly.
(Proverbs 26:11 (NIV))

As I stated previously, we all do it. Even the man who is credited with bringing the Gospel to the Gentiles fought this aspect in his own walk of faith. Paul was a very intelligent person, but yet he didn’t understand the self destructive nature that he fought against.

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
(Romans 7:15-20 (NIV))

This struggle that all of us face makes it clear why each of us are called to take up our cross daily. We are to deny that part of our human nature. We are to struggle with this sinful nature each and every time that it raises its ugly head in our lives. We are called to repent. Far too many people believe that this is a one-time occurrence, but it should be a daily attitude and activity. Do I even venture to say that, on some days, we may have to humble ourselves continually before the Lord and repent of our actions and our thoughts?

I know that we are a fallen creation, but I wish I had the magic answer as to why we return to our sin when we don’t want to. I wish I knew how to turn off that part of my life so that I never take my eyes off of Jesus. Just like Paul, I find myself doing the very things that I hate! I don’t know why! I long to do only what is good and righteous, yet on my own, this is not possible. I just know that we must be ready to fall on our knees whenever and wherever we may find yourself returning to our sin.

I want to leave you with one question that I hope you will take to heart.

Why are we drawn to return to our sin and slavery?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you ready to be hated?

February 28, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.
(Matthew 10:22 (NIV))

Following Jesus apparently has its drawbacks! The world looks at us with disdain. The enemy looks at us and sees our former sinful selves. We will be shunned and ridiculed by the world. We will be hated, despised, rejected and accused of being ignorant fools. We will be laughed at, mocked and possibly so much more, yet, we who have professed a faith in Jesus are ready to stand firm in our faith. We pray that we are prepared to face the battles that will come our way.

We must be prepared!

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
(Ephesians 6:10-17 (NIV))

I know that this sound like an impossible task, but we must remember who is for us if we profess a faith in Jesus.

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

With these scriptural truths, I pray that we are fully prepared for what the world, for what the enemy may send our way. They can hate us all they want as long as we have a God who loves us for proclaiming that Jesus is Lord!

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))

We are given a choice. We can love the world and be despised by God or we can be hated by the world and loved by God?

Are you ready to be hated?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you ready and able to stand?

February 19, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
(Ephesians 6:12-13 (NIV))

This is so hard to remember when we are faced with trials and tribulations from all sides. Sometimes it even feels that all that we do is thwarted by an unseen enemy who hates what we love.

Wait a minute!

That sounds just like Satan and he does hate what we love.

And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down–that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.
(Revelation 12:7-9 (NIV))

Because of his rebellion against God, he and his fallen angels have been cast out of heaven. They hate God and desire nothing more than to usurp God’s authority. That is what happened when Adam and Eve allowed Satan to become the prince of this world. Our ancestors legally gave the authority that God gave them to Satan. Satan and his followers work in the shadows to deceive and destroy all that is God’s creation and all who call upon the name of the Lord. Just like we cannot see God, we cannot see Satan, but we feel the effects of his wrath against those who love God.

There is constant warfare in the spiritual realm because of these events. What happens in the physical world is only a shadow of what happens in the spiritual realm.

We are at war!

Our enemy cannot be seen, but we can arm ourselves with God’s armor and we can overcome the enemy.

Are you prepared for the struggle? Are you focusing your battle tactics where they belong? Are you ready and able to stand?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you strong in the Lord?

February 14, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 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 6:10-18 (NIV))

No soldier in history has ever won a battle by not being prepared to face the enemy. We are in a battle. We either choose to accept God’s Son, Jesus Christ, as our personal Lord and Savior, or we reject Him. By rejecting Him, we have allowed the enemy to have victory.

Even if we accept the gift that God has given us, we must be prepared to face the attacks of the enemy. A good soldier will ready his weapons and his body for combat.

We are in spiritual combat. How do we prepare ourselves for this combat? By embracing the sword that is the Word of God. The more that we read and study, the more that we will be prepared to determine what is from God and what is from the enemy.

Soldiers have instructions on how to maintain and use their physical weapons. We also have instructions on how to use our spiritual weapons. Read the Bible and meditate on the meanings that the words have even today, for God is the same yesterday, today and forever.

Are you strong in the Lord?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What are you conscious of?

October 25, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.
(Romans 3:20 (NIV))

Do you try to obey God’s laws?

How is that going for you?

If you are like me, the moment I wake up I start having trouble doing everything that I should be doing. Let’s face the truth. None of us can even obey the speed limit one hundred percent of the time! We think that we are doing good if we are driving 60 mph in a 55 mph speed zone. In essence, we are breaking the law.

Think about God’s laws. Let’s look at one that we all think that we are capable of keeping.

You shall not murder.
(Exodus 20:13 (NIV))

It is probably safe to say that most people have not committed murder, not would they even consider it. But, what about the times when you are so angry at someone and you utter words that don’t even sound that bad in the grand scheme of things. Have you ever called someone a fool? Think about that the next time someone cuts you off in traffic!

But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
(Matthew 5:22 (NIV))

Let’s take a look at another one of God’s laws.

You shall not commit adultery.
(Exodus 20:14 (NIV))

Pretty straight forward. No sex outside of marriage. There are those who think that they can get away with it, but most people will agree with the basic concept.

But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
(Matthew 5:28 (NIV))

Most of God’s laws sound simple, yet they are so very hard to obey. The one thing that God’s laws do a good job of is reminding people of the daily struggle required to even attempt to be righteous in God’s eyes. God’s laws bring our shortcomings front and center. They make us conscious of the fact that we can’t do it in our own strength. We need a Savior. We need Jesus!

What are you conscious of?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you claim all the power in God’s Word?

August 2, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word.
(Psalms 119:114 (NIV))

I want to ask a very telling question if I may.

In which part of God’s Word do you place you hope? Is it Genesis? Perhaps it is Proverbs or Psalms. Is it Matthew or Mark? Is it Revelation? Perhaps it is a different book where you find your hope is firmly grounded. Perhaps you like to pick and choose exactly what you claim as truth and then discard what you don’t like.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
(Ephesians 6:10-17 (NIV))

How can anyone claim that God is their refuge and shield if they don’t accept all of God’s Word as truth and power? It is like someone putting on armor for protection during battle and saying that they don’t like the way the breastplate makes them feel, so they refuse to wear it. It is like someone refusing to put on the helmet because it would mess up their hair. Every page of God’s Word is power. It is life!

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))

Do you claim all the power in God’s Word?

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