Are you listening to your Father’s instructions?

June 18, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction
    and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.
(Proverbs 1:8 (NIV))

I am afraid that we have become a society were the parents look to the children for answers. Too many parents allow the children to make the decisions for themselves and sometimes even for the whole family. We, as parents, have become afraid of losing our children’s friendship. As a result, we lose our children and the roles get reversed.

Society has become too permissive with respect to allowing things to get out of hand. We no longer teach our children right from wrong. We live in a society that tells us there is no absolute truth, so consequently, there is no absolute right and wrong. Truth is relative. What is correct in one situation may not be the correct thing to do in another situation. We no longer have a moral compass by which we can steer our lives. It is permissible to do anything as long as no one gets hurt. I want to know who is responsible for this idiotic idea.

All throughout the Bible we are taught that there is a way that we should live. If we don’t live in that manner, then we sin. We miss the mark that God has set before us. Sin is not only the actions that hurt others. Sin is also the private acts that only scar the individual. Sin never leaves anything as flawless and pristine as before it occurred.

I don’t know what you think, but it seems to me that we, as a society, have stopped trying to reach that higher standard. We no longer desire to better ourselves in the eyes of God. We have not only stopped striving for God’s standard, in far too many cases, we have turned one hundred and eighty degrees in the opposite direction. How can we face ourselves? How can we face God? We have allowed leniency to take the place of love. We have allowed permissiveness to take the place of instruction. We have allowed rebellion to take the place of respect.

We, as a nation, need to return to the basic principles that God has given us. Here is where we can start.

Train a child in the way he should go,
    and when he is old he will not turn from it.
(Proverbs 22:6 (NIV))

Are you listening to your Father’s instructions?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Does this describe you?

May 9, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
(Romans 12:12 (NIV))

It is so easy to let this world get to you!

How many of us start the day less than enthusiastic and then it goes downhill from there? We face traffic, long days at work and then more traffic to get back home. We turn on the news and see things that bring us to tears. We watch as people profess that what the Bible calls sin is now acceptable and that believing in Jesus is wrong. In our despair, we simply shake our heads and ask why?

Are we missing something?

if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
(2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV))

Are we, as the Body of Christ, giving up or are we standing firm in our calling to be joyful and patient prayer warriors? We know that God’s plans are unfolding, but that does not mean that we simply sit back and watch as spectators who don’t have a stake in the outcome. We have professed a faith in Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, yet we act like we expect everything to be done for us. Too many of us fail to realize that we are at war and if we don’t wage war against the enemy, the enemy will gain ground in areas of our lives and in the lives of our families, friends and communities. We must remember that we are called!

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
(James 5:16 (NIV))

Does this describe you?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What kind of heart do you have?

March 26, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
(Ezekiel 36:26 (NIV))

Do you think that what you put into your heart could turn your heart to stone?

Perhaps not literally, but it can definitely harden your heart!

It is possible for someone to fill their heart with such things that leaves them completely self-centered and devoid of any feelings, any sympathy, any empathy for anyone else or for things of the Lord. It is possible for someone to become so absorbed in things of the world and the so-called treasures that it has to offer that they become oblivious to the things of the Lord and the true treasures that He longs to give.

We need to be careful of the things that we allow into our hearts. The wrong things can lead us away from the Lord and harden our hearts. The right things can draw us closer to the Lord and restore the heart of flesh simply because we long to fill it with the things that are important to the Lord.

But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
(Matthew 6:20-21 (NIV))

Have you ever truly stopped to think what those treasures could be?

I honestly believe that we have been told things that we should treasure, things that we should strive to achieve that go hand in hand with our faith in Jesus.

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))

If we strive to possess these characteristics in our walk with Jesus, our priorities have already set what we treasure as things not of this world. Still, we are only human and the world can distract us. We need to stay steadfast in our desires to stay focused on Jesus. We must constantly seek to have a heart that is not hardened.

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
(Psalm 51:10 (NIV))

What kind of heart do you have?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What comes from your mouth?

March 19, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
(Ephesians 4:29 (NIV))

Words are a powerful device. Words can be uplifting and encouraging. Words can be sad and convey despair. Words can convey affection and in the next breath, they can convey anger. We have a tendency to use words rashly and in haste. It is so easy to let the wrong words slip off of your tongue. I would venture to say that every one of us on this planet has said something today that they wish could be taken back.

Most people think of unwholesome talk as the proverbial four letter words that we all tend to know even if we hate to admit it. However, have you stopped to think about what else may be considered unwholesome?

Words said in anger or in hatred destroy instantly. Words said in frustration never make the situation any better. Words aimed directly at provoking hurt are never able to be recalled. All of these types of words can be unwholesome for they destroy. They do not build up.

Jesus rarely used words that did not build up. I can only think of a few situations that He used terms less than uplifting. I do not think that being called a brood of vipers made those people feel good about themselves. However, even when Jesus said words such as these, they were not expressed in the rage and hatred that we often use. I picture the use of these words more out of pity than out of anger.

Unwholesome talk is anything that destroys what God is trying to accomplish in and through another person. Guard your tongue, for Satan can use it to do just that. Give pause to your words. Let your tongue be guided by the Holy Spirit. He will not give you unwholesome words. He will fill your mouth with words that will be a blessing to all who hear.

What comes from your mouth?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you overcome your pride?

January 9, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
(Mark 16:16 (NIV))

People say that it takes faith to believe in Jesus. I agree.

But I think it also takes faith to not believe in Jesus. It is a misguided faith, but it is a strong faith, none the less.

Think about that for a moment. Those who do not believe are saying that they are placing their future in the concept that God does not exist, or that Jesus is not who the Bible says that He is, or that there are multiple ways to get to heaven. No matter what their reason for not believing, they are willing to place the outcome of their eternity in their belief that they will not suffer the consequences of their sins. To me, that takes a very strong faith

I have heard it said that those who cling to religion are weak. That may be true, but I have also known some very weak-minded individuals who cling to other things, such as money, power and fame. These individuals try to fill their lives with something that will give them meaning. They are simply placing their faith in the wrong place. Often, they are placing it in themselves. Again, their faith is strong, but it is misguided.

If someone possesses that strong a faith, can you imagine once that faith is correctly placed, just how strong of a witness that they can be for God? Every single believer was once a nonbeliever. Every single believer has had an experience that made them see things as they really are. They had something happen to them that changed their priorities. At one point, every single believer was condemned, not by God but by their own sinful actions. It took a realization that we are not perfect. It took a realization that we can never be perfect. It took a personal realization that God’s grace is for me.

Think about that. God does not condemn, but we condemn ourselves when we chose to ignore His offer of grace and mercy. It is not unlike a drowning man refusing to be helped out of the water. God is offering that help to everyone.

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

In order to accept God’s grace, we must have the strength to admit that we are a sinner. Grace is freely given, but it has a price. Jesus paid the price and we must also pay a price. We must come to the realization that we need salvation. We must overcome our pride. It is our pride that can condemn us.

Have you overcome your pride?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you mature in your faith?

December 27, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
(Ephesians 4:14-16 (NIV))

As we mature in Christ, we should not be easily misguided by the enemy. The more we study the truth, the more we will recognize the lies of the world.

When you are a child, it is easy to be misguided. A child does not know the truth about anything. As it grows, it learns what is right and wrong.

How many of you can remember getting into trouble when you were a child because you listened to the wrong “friends”? Now that you are older, would you get into that trouble again? We have matured and are no longer as easily misguided. We should constantly be in God’s Word so that we can not be easily misguided by the lies of the enemy.

Are you mature in your faith?

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

December 18, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.
(Mark 8:35 (NIV))

It is human nature to not want to lose. This is especially true if losing means that you lose your life! Most of us aren’t even willing to lose if by our losing, everyone else wins. We have to come out on top. We have to prove that we are best at everything! This often means that we think that we are right even when we are eternally wrong!

Take a look at the words in the first part of the passage above. Saving your life implies that you place nothing above yourself. You will go to any extreme to make sure that your physical life is protected even at the expense of others. You are your first and often, your only priority. You possess no love. You possess no joy. You often possess no peace, patience, or kindness. Little about your life is good. Since you place yourself first, you possess little or no faith. You treat others as lower than yourself, so you lack gentleness and self-control. Does this sound like a life that you would want to live? Does this sound like a life that you would want?

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))

Does the second half of the passage start to sound better and make more sense?

We can’t live a life that is Christ centered if we strive to save our earthly life. We are called to be witnesses. We can’t witness to others if all we think about is ourselves. We can’t be willing to go because we would be outside of our comfort zone.

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.
(Mark 16:15 (NIV))

I know that I am forever thankful that Jesus was willing to lose His earthly life for the sake of others. What if He had balked at the idea of dying for our sins? What if he had decided to not leave the Father to come to earth? What if Jesus had decided that it was simply not worth leaving the glory of heaven to come into this world? The majesty of the story as told in Luke 2 would never have happened. The tearing of the veil of the Temple would never have taken place. Faith, hope and love would only be a dream of something that could happen. Grace and mercy would simply be nonexistent. John 3:16 would not be true.

All of this was made possible because Jesus was willing to lose His life for others. Most of us aren’t even willing to lose our place in line! It takes a sacrifice to place others first.

What are you willing to lose?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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