Do you strive to practice strict self-control?

February 20, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

All athletes practice strict self-control. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.
(1 Corinthians 9:25 (NLT))

Some translations say that the athletes go into strict training. To me, this translation hits a little closer to home. We may not have any idea of what strict training may be, but we can all understand the idea of strict self-control.

Think about that concept for a moment.

What do you think of when self-control is mentioned?

Is it the will power to not eat the last donut in the box, or is it much more?

Personally, self-control and personal responsibility go hand in hand. Let’s face the truth. Our society no longer believes in personal responsibility. People claim that they were born that way, or they were raised in a bad home, or . . .

I think that you get the picture. Our society, and each of us as a member of the Body of Christ, must be willing to practice self-control. We must be willing to accept the responsibility of our actions. We must strive to live our lives as Jesus taught us.

Using the athlete example, a life in faith is not a sprint that starts and is over quickly. A life in faith is a lifelong journey, a marathon, in which we must be prepared to face any obstacles that the world throws our way. In order to do this, we must practice self-control. We must be willing to accept personal responsibility. If you are willing to accept personal responsibility, then you are capable of learning from your mistakes and focusing once again on the prize that is set before us.

Imagine this scenario.

You are standing in front of Jesus and He is judging your life. You have never accepted His grace and mercy as your own. Every aspect of your life condemns you. Your only response, “It wasn’t my fault. I wasn’t ready!”

I can only imagine the response from Jesus.

Strive for the prize that is won only through Jesus. Don’t allow the things of this world to sway your self-control.

Do you strive to practice strict self-control?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What do you think of at Christmas?

December 24, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Why are you downcast, O my soul? 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))

Even when it looks like the world is going to win, look again. God is with us.

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

If we follow after God’s own heart, then God will not dessert us. He is our hope. Through Him we shall overcome. The world may appear to win as we judge things according to the world, but take heart, God IS in control. Knowing this, we must not stop praising God for what He has done and for what He is going to do.

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.
(2 Corinthians 1:20 (NIV))

Do you still have hope?

Christmas is the time we remember that God sent us hope!

What do you think of at Christmas?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is there any doubt as to what will happen?

November 21, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the LORD your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed.
(Joshua 23:14 (NIV))

When somebody looks at how something performs, they look at what they refer to as their “track record”. Nothing or no one ever has a track record that is perfect, except God. With God, all promises He makes will be kept. When choosing sides, isn’t it wise to choose a perfect track record. You know that He will not lose, and therefore, you will not lose. Better yet, you will win. It is the goal of everyone to be on the winning side. We have God. We have God’s track record. We have God’s Word. We know what He has done in the past, and we have a written record of what He will do in the future.

Is there any doubt as to what will happen?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you long for the light?

December 12, 2018

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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))

We have been called out of darkness into His marvelous light!

When Romans was written, Saul had already experienced his meeting with Jesus on the Damascus Road. He was left blinded but he was also left with a new perspective. It was only a few days before his eye sight returned, but he gained so much more than just the return of his physical eyes. He had witnessed the darkness of the world through the eyes of Jesus. He had come away with the realization that he had been a part of that darkness. He had come away from this experience with a new name. He was no longer called Saul. He was to put the past behind him and follow Jesus wherever He would lead. He was to be a witness to the Gentiles of the power of the light. He was to be called Paul! He was called out of the darkness of his former self and called into the marvelous light as a servant of the Lord Jesus!

Think about that. Paul was given the light. He knew that his path was to follow Jesus, yet, he still had to navigate through the darkness of this world. The darkness tried to stop him. Even so, Paul pressed on toward the light. He made it a priority to always pursue the light and to show others how to find it themselves.

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 3:13-14 (NIV))

Once you have found the light and have accepted His saving grace over your life, your night is nearly over. There will always be things in your life that remind you of the darkness. They will try to drag you back into it, but take heart. You have seen the light! You have encountered Jesus!

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
(John 8:12 (NIV))

Do you long for the light?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Don’t give in to the fear!

September 21, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, LORD,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.”
(1 Kings 19:3-4 (NIV))

Wow!

Think about that for a moment. Have you ever felt like this? Have you ever faced a situation that you thought would be the end of you and your life as you know it? Have you ever simply wanted to give up and let the enemy win because the battle was too hard?

Even Elijah had these feelings. He feared for his life. In other words, Elijah saw the world and did not rely on God as he should. He was afraid of what the world would throw at him. He was so afraid that he actually ran away and prayed to die. Elijah was a great prophet of God, yet, he had feelings that were not from God.

How do you feel when you have moments like these? Think about how Elijah must have felt. Still, God did not abandon him. He will not abandon you.

Elijah was a great prophet. He heard God and he obeyed. Yet, in a moment of weakness, even a great prophet of God can lose sight of who is in control. God redeemed Elijah and had him speak His word again. Some would even say that Elijah’s greatest moments with God came after this episode.

Just because you have faltered in your faith, it doesn’t mean that God is not capable of using you for His purposes. I am sure that most of you have heard the old say, “God does not call the equipped. He equips the ones He calls.” He will equip you even when you feel that you are of no use to Him.

Don’t let the world make you lose sight of God’s calling. Focus on God, especially in the moments that you feel are your moments of failure. He will turn them into the seed that produces great things for His Kingdom. In stead of saying that you have had enough, boldly proclaim that the Lord is all you need! Don’t give in to the fear!

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Will you confess or deny Jesus before men?

August 10, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.
(Matthew 10:32-33 (NKJV))

Have you ever been in a situation in which you honestly hoped that the subject of Jesus did not come up? I don’t know if that is the same as actually denying Jesus before men, but it is too close for comfort.

This is a tough saying to deal with, for everyone probably has times when they at least thought about it. Only when your faith has matured do you face the question with a more stable attitude. Even so, everyone likes to think that they would not deny Jesus before men, that they would die rather than deny Him. I pray that this is true, yet no one really can say for certain until they are actually in that situation.

Faith is a strong thing if it is firmly rooted in God’s Word. Self preservation is also a strong thing, and unless faith is stronger, self preservation will win. How can you strengthen faith? Faith is very much like a muscle in that if you do not use it, it atrophies. If you practice acts of faith, your faith will increase.

Do not let your faith “muscle” atrophy from lack of use. If it does, the results may be denial. You will deny God and He will deny you.

Will you confess or deny Jesus before men?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Press on!

June 26, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 3:14 (NIV))

Has God called you heavenward in Christ Jesus?

Have you answered or are you answering that call?

Human nature makes it difficult to stay on track. I started to say that we like to be sidetracked, but I think it is not so much as we like to be sidetracked, but it is more like we don’t know how to avoid being sidetracked. Anything that we do, we lose focus. How do we stay focused? How do we keep from going down the proverbial rabbit hole chasing after each and every distraction that comes our way?

Paul knew human nature. He also knew that he had to deal with the same problems that we all have to face if he was going to be able to share the Gospel with the Gentiles. He recognized the fact that he stilled sinned even when he didn’t want to. He recognized the fact that to answer God’s call and to follow Jesus required a commitment that did not end the first time that he failed to do what he should. Paul used athletes as an example to teach others how to persevere. He pointed out how athletes train to win the prize and they don’t give up simply because they encounter an obstacle or they don’t do as well as they would like to. They are committed to achieve their goals. They are committed to winning the prize.

As followers of Jesus, the prize that we desire to win is of far greater value than anything given as a prize in an athletic competition, yet, we have a tendency to not be willing to go after what we want. We don’t press on. We don’t press through the difficult times. If you are a runner, there is a saying that you have hit the wall when you have reached a point where you feel as though you can’t go on. An avid runner will not stop when this happens. An avid runner will press on toward the goal that they have set. They press on and press through!

Just because you may falter in your daily walk, press on!

Just because you may not see yourself the way that God sees you, press on!

Just because the world does not see you as God sees you, press on!

God is calling each of us heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Are you pressing on?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do we have trouble forgetting what is behind us?

November 16, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 3:13-14 (NIV))

With all of the writings that are attributed to Paul, there is a major theme running through them that would make many of today’s mental health professionals say that Paul suffered from low self esteem.

We, as the Body of Christ, know better!

Paul, after his Damascus Road experience, simply knew his place and his relationship with His God in Jesus Christ. Paul knew that he fell drastically short of what God calls us to be. He knew that he was lost in sin and, on his own, could do absolutely nothing about it. He knew with certainty that Jesus was the Messiah. He knew, through his Damascus Road experience, that the one whom he had persecuted was the only way to the Father. He also knew that he needed to press on toward becoming the person that Jesus was calling him to be.

He would forever be on a journey toward that calling.

Barring the occasional yearning for regained youth, do you ever look back at the person you used to be and long to be that person once again? Paul did not long to be the person he used to be. He had been lost in sin and was guilty of persecution of Jesus and His followers. He longed to forget that version of himself and longed to be the person that Jesus was maturing him to be. He did not want to look back because he did not like what he saw.

Do you like what you see when you look at your former self?

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Let God fill you with His Spirit in the coming year!

December 31, 2015

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”
(Matthew 9:16-17 (NIV))

With the new year rapidly approaching, what are we going to fill ourselves with?

Society looks at the new year as a chance to make a clean start. We make resolutions about things that we plan on doing differently. We tell ourselves and others that we will lose weight, that we will exercise, that we will go to church more, that we will . . .

I could go on and on and list the things that we say we are going to do. Have you ever stopped to think that what we say we are going to do is comparable to the new wine and that we are the old wineskins? We cannot handle the new things without changing ourselves first. It is a matter of the heart. It is a matter of priorities.

If you go into an activity to lose weight and get in shape and you try to start full throttle, it usually doesn’t last long. We must start slowly and build up to what we long to do. The same is true of our spirituality and our relationship with Jesus. We must learn to crawl before we can walk. We must learn to walk before we can run. To use the concept that we are familiar with, we must be fed milk until we are mature enough for solid food.

Walking with Jesus, just like anything in this life, is not an activity that we can achieve perfection instantly. We will stumble. We will fall, and we will all have times when we will think that Jesus must really be shaking His head because of all of our failures.

Don’t give up!

A life spent walking with Jesus is just that. It is a life long event. It is a journey and not a destination. You can’t simply arrive at a point where you are perfect in your walk. You will be made new every single day of your life. You will be filled with new wine as your old wineskin is made anew.

I pray that we go in to this new year with the attitude that we will stand firm and stay the course that is laid out before us.

I like the way that Paul described it as a race and that he was in it to win it!

Happy New Year!

Copyright 1998 – 2015 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Don’t ever forget the real reason for the season!

December 8, 2015

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.
(Psalms 59:16 (NIV))

Do you have a refuge in which to take cover in times of trouble? Do you have a fortress that will protect you when all around you is in chaos?

We are rapidly approaching the day that we celebrate the birth of the one who offers love, protection and salvation. The world tends to think of Jesus as the baby in the manger. Everything must have a start, a beginning. If God sent His Son to live and walk among us, then He had to experience all aspects of this life that we cling to. Jesus had to come into the world as one of us. He had to live as one of us. He had to grow up and experience the things that each of us face in our lives. He had to be able to face temptation and win.

I realize that we think of Christmas as a festive time, and it is, but we must not forget that no matter what the times may bring, we have a fortress to shelter us. We have a refuge to keep us safe. We have an advocate who loves us enough to experience all that we face, even unto death. We have a Savior who has defeated death. We have a champion who sits at the right hand of God the Father and He is interceding for us.

Christmas is not about gifts and family. It is not about good food and fellowship. It is not about parties and presents.

Christmas is about the beginning of grace and the hope that we can all know salvation in our lives. Christmas is about Jesus! Don’t ever forget the real reason for the season!

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