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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How do you consider yourself?

August 21, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
(Philippians 2:5-7 (NIV))

Do you ever feel that you are special, that you are of greater value than other people? Do you feel this way about other members of the Body of Christ? Do you find yourself thinking that because someone is not on a certain church committee that you are of more importance than they are? Do you find yourself thinking that because you give more that you are more important than anyone else?

What does that say about your understanding of the Gospel? What does that say about you?

It is human nature to brag and to gloat, but that is not a Christlike nature. We are to overcome the world and do as Jesus taught us. If anyone has a right to brag and to gloat and to be prideful, it would be Jesus. Did he brag about being the Son of God? Did He gloat about being the Word made flesh? Did He ever respond with an attitude of arrogance and pride by claiming to be the Son of God? Jesus, who had every right if anyone ever had a right, was humble and willingly took on the nature of a servant. Why do we, the creation, feel that we have to elevate ourselves and try to make ourselves something that we are not, something that we could never be? Why do we feel that we have to feel superior to everyone else when we are far from righteous.

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))

Most days I hate being human!

I know that I need to explain this statement. I will start by saying that I love life for it is a wonderful gift. I love family, friends and people in general. It is the fallen, sinful nature of being human that I hate. I see things in the world that I know break God’s heart. I see things in my life that I know break God’s heart.

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.
(Romans 7:15 (NIV))

When we see ourselves as more important than someone else, do you think that it breaks God’s heart?

How do you consider yourself?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Be very careful not to lose your focus!

July 28, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!
(1 Corinthians 10:12 (NIV))

How secure are you in your faith? How confident are you that you can resist temptation? Are you capable of standing firm in the face of the sin that used to hold you captive?

When answering these questions, it is essential that you don’t forget that you are human and have inherited a sinful, fallen nature. It is a nature that is hard to overcome on your own. Even if you have professed a faith in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, it is still possible to fall back into the very sins that you seek forgiveness for. It takes discipline. It takes focus. It takes the grace and mercy that was freely given through Jesus!

No one is perfect. We may desire to walk in the confidence that we will always do what Jesus calls us to do, but we are only capable of claiming our righteousness because Jesus is righteous. Without Jesus, we are nothing.

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))

Walking with Jesus takes effort. It is not easy.

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
(Matthew 7:13-14 (NIV))

The wide gate and the broad road are easier to travel than the narrow road and the small gate. Think of the difference between an interstate highway and a narrow and winding country road. Which is easier to travel on? Which gets you there faster? Which has the twists and turns that build your driving skills? Which holds surprise blessings along the way? If you are traveling the narrow road, you must maintain your focus or you can find yourself in danger of running off of the road. An interstate highway leads you rapidly to where you think you want to go, but is it truly the best way to go? It takes you on a journey that bypasses all of the great things that you would encounter if you focused on traveling the narrow road.

I realize that I took a small detour with the driving comparison. This is a prime example of just how easy it is to fall for a diversion. It shows us just how easy it is to lose our focus.

Be very careful not to lose your focus!

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How do you feel that you test in your actions?

July 25, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else,
(Galatians 6:4 (NIV))

When you were in school, did you ever have to grade your own work? Were you honest?

Let’s face the truth. We are not good at accurate self evaluation. We tend to over estimate our capabilities and achievements while we under estimate our weaknesses. If you don’t believe this about yourself, think back on high school and what you remember. Then ask someone who knew you then and see if the two match up. It is human nature to have an over inflated sense of self worth.

Is this true when we look at our faith and our evaluation of our so-called righteousness? Do we look down on others while we have a tendency to look upon our own relationship with Jesus as close to perfect?

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))

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
(Romans 3:23 (NIV))

No one is above anyone else. We are all sinners. With this in mind, if we must test and compare, then we must limit our evaluation solely to ourselves. How have we matured? How do we respond to others? How do we see ourselves? When we test ourselves, we must be sure to grade ourselves honestly. It may even be wise to err on the side of under evaluation so that we continue to strive for the goals that Jesus has set before us.

How do you feel that you test in your actions?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What are your desires?

July 20, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.
(Galatians 5:17 (NIV))

Do you ever find yourself in internal conflict? Do you find yourself doing exactly what you know that you shouldn’t do? The Spirit tells us to do what we should, but our flesh tells us something else. Even Paul, whom we credit with taking the Gospel to the Gentiles, faced the very same dilemma.

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.
(Romans 7:15 (NIV))

It is human nature. We can’t escape the sin nature that we were born into. Even on our best days, our attempts at fulfilling the desires of the Spirit fall way short.

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))

On our own, we are helpless, hopeless and lost! Thankfully, we are not on our own.

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. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
(John 3:16-18 (NIV))

We have been given a way to proclaim to the Lord that we don’t like our sinful desires and that we want to focus on the desires of the Spirit. It is a simple, yet eternity changing, process. It is a process that exchanges all of our sin for all of the righteousness of Jesus. Are you tired of being condemned without any hope? Do you desire to strive for righteousness? Do you desire grace and mercy? Is it your desire to proclaim that Jesus is your personal Lord and Savior?

What are your desires?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you clean on the inside?

February 21, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“”Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.”
(Matthew 23:25-26 (NIV))

Have you ever wondered why the examples are a cup and a dish? If you think about these two items, upon first inspection you cannot see inside the cup. Depending on the type of dish, it is either stacked or it is of a shape that also hides what is inside. When you first look at these items, they can appear clean, neat and orderly, but once you take a closer look, the part of the item that actually serves the main function can be so filthy that it is not even capable of serving that function.

Appearances aren’t everything?

It is what comes from within that makes things unclean!

Take a look at your life. What do you show to the world? We all like to put up a good front. Take a look at your heart. Are you harboring anything that is less than righteous in the eyes of God? We all like to look like we are upstanding citizens and model followers of Jesus, but is that true? Is there something on the inside that would surprise your family and friends?

Do we spend too much time polishing our outward appearances and too little time cleaning up the sin that is in our hearts?

Are you clean on the inside?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What are you trying to become?

February 17, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“He must become greater; I must become less.”
(John 3:30 (NIV))

Everybody strives to become more than they are. We take classes. We get degrees. We strive to win awards. We drive expensive cars. We buy bigger homes.

What does all that get us?

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))

No matter what we do, no matter how much we try to elevate ourselves, we are nothing! The very best that we can do is still tainted and overshadowed by the sin that we are trapped by. This is especially true when you consider that ego and pride drive our desire to elevate ourselves. In other words, it is sin that drives us. This makes perfect sense! After all, it was the sin of pride that drove Satan to rebel against God. All of sinful, fallen humanity still strives to do this very same thing. We try to elevate ourselves in an attempt to tell God that we don’t need Him. We fall for the same sin and try to elevate ourselves above God.

Pride, unfortunately, is all a part of the fallen human experience.

It takes a person who is strong in their faith to overcome pride. It takes a very strong desire and commitment to not elevate yourself, especially in the eyes of God. Satan’s downfall occurred because he wanted to become greater than God.

What are you trying to become?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Can you imagine all that God has for those who love Him?

February 3, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”— the things God has prepared for those who love him—
(1 Corinthians 2:9 (NIV))

How good is your imagination?

If you are like me, you can probably imagine some pretty wonderful things. I like to imagine my wife and I on board a long cruise where we are privileged to see some of the most beautiful sights that God has created in this world. I often find myself wondering and imagining what heaven will be like. I often imagine what it will be like to see Jesus face to face for the very first time! I often imagine what it will feel like to bask in the glory of God for all of eternity.

What do you imagine?

Do you have a clear mental image in mind?

I know that what I am about to say may sound condescending, but whatever we, as humanity, are capable of bringing to life in our imaginations is nothing more than the filthy rags that we are.

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))

Think about that concept!

Think about the sinful, fallen nature of humanity. How can we, who have never seen the glory of God, imagine something that even comes close to the reality of all that God has promised to those who love Him? Think about it in terms that you can relate to. What is the one thing in this world that, to you, is so utterly amazing that you simply cannot find words to describe it? Do you have it in mind? What type of feeling does this invoke? What would be your reaction if this feeling were triggered by every single thing that you ever saw? Can you even begin to fathom the joy that you would feel?

I am so glad that God blesses us with imaginations. Our imaginations give us small glimpses into what we will actually see when we are in His presence. Until then, we can get excited with our limited understanding and rest assured in the knowledge that reality will be so much better!

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Have you told God that you are sorry?

June 6, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Who is it you have insulted and blasphemed?
Against whom have you raised your voice
and lifted your eyes in pride?
Against the Holy One of Israel!
(2 Kings 19:22 (NIV))

When we do what we want to, we are rebelling against God.

You may ask, “What about free will?”

It is true that we have free will, but that free will that people claim as a blessing only has two options. We either accept God or we reject God. If we accept God, then we accept His Son, Jesus, as our personal Lord and Savior. We accept the salvation that was freely given and we repent of all sin in our lives. When we sin, we miss the mark and that mark was defined by God. Anything less than a perfect life on our own merits is still a life of sin. No matter how hard we try in the natural, we are not capable of a perfect, sinless life. Any sin is ultimately a rebellion, a rejection, an insult and a blasphemy against God.

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))

Fortunately, we don’t have to do it on our own. We don’t have to approach God on our own merits.

“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. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”
(John 3:16-21 (NIV))

Since the fall from grace in the Garden, everything that everyone has ever done has been a sin against God. We are not capable of anything but sin in our fallen state. I am so thankful that God has provided a way for us to repent of our sins against Him.

Have you told God that you are sorry?

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Focus on Jesus and not on man-made theology!

October 28, 2015

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
(Hebrews 10:19-23 (NIV))

No matter what denomination you may be a member of, the true source of our faith is Jesus and Him crucified and resurrected. All else is trivial, for the differences that we have established in the name of our particular brand of faith in Jesus are all man made attempts at reaching God.

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))

We cannot reach God through our own righteousness. God had to reach us and pull us out of our sin. We could not lift ourselves out of it. We are completely helpless without God and His gift of grace and mercy through the blood of Jesus.

Reread Hebrews 10:19-23. There is even an illustration of one of the primary differences that marks our denominations today, the debate over baptism and whether to sprinkle or submerge. This passage clearly states that our hearts have been sprinkled and our bodies washed. Baptism is, first and foremost, an act of total submission to God. We cannot judge others in their outward expression of this submission. Only God can judge, for He sees the heart.

Consider John the Baptist. His methods and outward appearance were contrary to everything the established religion of the day said he should be. Who did God’s Will? John the Baptist or those who condemned him?

How can we, who are not worthy to judge, judge each other in the trivial issues yet ignore the true source of our common faith?

Copyright 1998 – 2015 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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