Beware deceptive words

July 16, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless.
(Jeremiah 7:8 (NIV))

Why do we trust in things that are not true?

Jeremiah spoke to the Israelites what God wanted him to say. Many people were doing exactly that – trusting in deceptive words. I honestly think that we, as a nation, are doing exactly the same thing as the nation of Israel did. We are putting our trust in things that we should not trust. We are doing things that we should not be doing. We are living our lives as if we were the ones who decide what is right and what is wrong.

This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: “Stand at the gate of the LORD’s house and there proclaim this message:
” `Hear the word of the LORD, all you people of Judah who come through these gates to worship the LORD. This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this place. Do not trust in deceptive words and say, “This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD!” If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly, if you do not oppress the alien, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your forefathers for ever and ever.
(Jeremiah 7:1-7 (NIV))

Deceptive words!

How can we expect God to bless this nation, when we don’t bless God with what we hear and what we see? Think about that for a moment. Think about the history of Israel and hopefully you will see God’s truth about deception and turning to other gods. When Israel lost sight of who they worshipped and whose they were, the nation suffered. Only when they turned back to God did the nation prosper. In recent years, this nation has turned to deceptive words and ways, and now we are suffering. The world, and false gods, have taken over our society. People worship money, fame, power and many other things. Many still profess a faith in Jesus, but what is the priority when we sit in church and think about how we can make more money than the next person? Do thoughts about a new car, or a promotion, or a vacation find their way into your mind when you are in worship? Our deceptive words may be our own selfish thoughts and desires.

`Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, burn incense to Baal and follow other gods you have not known, and then come and stand before me in this house, which bears my Name, and say, “We are safe”–safe to do all these detestable things? Has this house, which bears my Name, become a den of robbers to you? But I have been watching! declares the LORD.
(Jeremiah 7:9-11 (NIV))

We all like to place our trust in many things. We want to trust in the economy. We want to trust in government. We want to trust in our family. We seem to place our trust in things that are human in nature, and as such, are prone to fail. We say that we trust in God, yet, we are removing Him more and more from our lives. When we remove God, we are doing the very things that Jeremiah spoke to the Israelites about. We can’t live our lives without God and contrary to God, and then put on a smile and attend church and expect everything to be a blessing.

We need to turn to God and follow His leading.

If someone like Jeremiah came today to this nation, would we listen? Would we believe? It is my prayer that we do listen and we do believe. God gave us His Word to guide us. We aren’t listening to His word like we should.

What deceptive words do you need to let go of?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Foolish?

July 15, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

The fool says in his heart,
“There is no God.”
They are corrupt, their deeds are vile;
there is no one who does good.
(Psalms 14:1 (NIV))

The world thinks that people who believe in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior are the fools.

Take a look at their deeds!

They do whatever they want. They call evil good and what we know to be good, they call evil. Their deeds truly are vile. They lust in their hearts. They place themselves above all others. They think of themselves as their own gods. They do whatever they desire without thinking about the consequences to themselves or to anybody around them.

Just who is the fool?

God gave David words of wisdom and truth. What was wise and true in his lifetime is still wise and true today. Truth does not change. What does change is our perception of the truth. When humanity thought that the world was flat, did that make it flat? Today, when people say that Jesus is not who He claimed to be, does that make it any different from what we know to be the truth?

We, as believers, can let the world think that we are the fools, for their judgment of us is not what matters. What we must do is pray that they will come to the truthful realization that David spoke of them long ago. We must pray that they will realize that they are the fools for saying that there is no God.

Don’t be a fool in the eyes of God!

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you guarded by the peace of God?

July 14, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV))

Are your heart and mind guarded?

I know that this may sound like a ridiculous question, but think about that for a moment. Does the peace of God guard your heart and mind?

It is human nature to be anxious. It is human nature to pace the floor over things that are out of your control. It is human nature to worry over things that will take their own natural course.

Don’t get me wrong. Everybody worries now and then. It takes a strong faith to not worry. Perhaps it takes some episodes where you do find yourself worrying to make you realize that worry will not change a thing. I have been in hospital emergency rooms worrying about my family. I have been in situations were I find myself worrying about finances. Looking back, I realize that all of my worrying had no effect on the outcome. I learned an important lesson through my worrying. The world is still here. My family is still here. I am still here. God is still good.

God is still good!

He never changes. He knows what we can handle. He knows what will happen before it happens. He knows one thing that we must not forget.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose
(Romans 8:28 (NIV))

If we honestly love God, all things will work for the good of those who love Him. If we have the faith to believe His Word, then why should we worry? We are told to put our trust in Him. We are told to not be afraid.

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
(Matthew 10:29-31 (NIV))

I want you to think back on my first question and rethink your answer.

Are your heart and mind guarded by the peace of God?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Sin

July 13, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. So watch yourselves.
“If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, `I repent,’ forgive him.”
(Luke 17:1-4 (NIV))

Everyone knows and understands that God wants us to live a sin-free life. It is because we, in our frail humanity, cannot live sin-free that Jesus came to redeem us from our sin.

Equally important are two other aspects of sin. We must not cause others to sin through our actions or words and we must forgive those who sin against us just as God has forgiven our sins.

If we cause others to sin, then we have actually sinned ourselves. Does a good deed cause anger? With this same reasoning, what could cause others to sin?

If someone sins against us we should forgive them. What makes us not want to forgive someone? Pride! We are too proud and we think that we are better than the person who sinned against us. Isn’t pride a sin?

God not only longs for us to live a sin-free life, He also does not want sin to enter into our lives in other ways.

Have you caused someone to sin? Have you forgiven everyone who has sinned against you?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What do you long to hear?

July 12, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“His master replied, `Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
(Matthew 25:23 (NIV))

“Come and share your master’s happiness!”

I want you to think about who will hear these words.

These people will not be the ones who have chased after everything that this world has to offer. They will not be the ones who have experienced sin without remorse. They will not be the people who say that they do not need a savior. And, they will not be the ones who casually claim Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

These words will be spoken to those who have longed to know God and His heart. They will be spoken to those who have earnestly accepted Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. They will be spoken to those people who have called upon the name of Jesus in honesty and sincerity and not only when they are in need of help.

We all know people who only pray when they want something. These are the type of people who look upon God and the gift of His Son, Jesus, as some magical genii who will come to their rescue whenever they call.

It would be an interesting world if God were like this, but it would not be a world where I would want to live. God is not in the business of granting wishes.

God longs for each of us to learn His heart and to live accordingly. This means that we always follow His heart and His will in all of our actions, and not only when we want something. God longs for us to mature in the image of Jesus. God wants us to become a dedicated follower of His word and His Son. He wants each of us to become a good and faithful servant, yet, this servant hood is not one of duty. It is a servant hood of love. It is a servant hood of faith in the promises that God has made.

I long to stand firm in my faith. I long to do the will of God in the least of things, so that He can trust me to do them in all things. I long to know God’s heart so that I may do His will.

I long to hear those words.

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What do you love?

July 9, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Oh, how I love your law!
I meditate on it all day long.
Your commands make me wiser than my enemies,
for they are ever with me.
I have more insight than all my teachers,
for I meditate on your statutes.
I have more understanding than the elders,
for I obey your precepts.
(Psalms 119:97-100 (NIV))

What do you love?

I want you to think about that question for a moment and consider the following.

When you say you love something, you devote time to it.

When you say you love something, you willingly give up other things to have what you love.

When you say you love something, it is a priority in your life.

We all say that we love. We love our spouses. We love our children. We love our church. We love our friends, and, yes, some people even say that they love their job. We seldom hear anybody saying that they love God’s Word. We may say that we love God, or that we love Jesus, but do we truly fit the description of love.

I want you to truthfully answer the following questions, no matter how they may turn out. I have had to make some adjustments in my life based on my answers.

What do you devote your time to?

What is the one thing that you will give up everything else in order to possess it or participate in it?

What is the priority in your life?

Did any of your answers point you toward God?

There is a very strong concept running through God’s Word. David knew it well. It wrote about it often.

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

David spent time in God’s presence. He meditated on God’s Word. He loved God and His Word. As a result, God, through David’s devotion, made David wise. He gave Him insight. He gave him understanding.

There is a valuable lesson to be learned from David. He knew the importance of spending time with God in His Word. He longed to know God, and God blessed David.

After removing Saul, he made David their king. He testified concerning him: `I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’
(Acts 13:22 (NIV))

What do you love? Will it bring you blessings in the eyes of God?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Love priorities – God and others

July 8, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Jesus replied: ” `Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: `Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
(Matthew 22:37-40 (NIV))

I don’t know about you, but to me, this sounds likes Jesus is telling us that if we love God with all our heart, soul and mind and love others as much as we love ourselves, everything else would become easy to uphold.

Think about that for a minute.

If we loved others as much as we love ourselves, would we need to be told not to murder? Would we need to be told not to steal? After all, we would be so concerned about the well being of others that we would not covet what they have enough to steal.

If we loved God with all that we are, would we need to be told to not have any other gods before Him? Would we even consider doing anything that would break His heart?

Combine those two commands and look inward. Would we need to be told to not do anything that would be a sin? We would simply be of a heart and mind that would not even consider breaking any of God’s commands.

I have often heard that we are to set our priorities as God, others, and then self. We seem to have that in some very distorted circular sequence where is is self, self, and self. We allow God within our circle for an hour on Sunday and all too often we don’t even include others at all. If we can redefine our priorities in accordance with God’s priorities, then all would be much better. They are not circular. They are linear. I find it very interesting, though, that when we focus on God’s priorities, our distorted priorities change and God’s amazing grace will bring it back full circle. If you think only of yourself, when you are in need, you may feel that no one will help you. As a result, you feel that you must steal to get what you need. If you have God as your priority and then others, God will provide. The blessings that He pours out upon others will be used to bless you just as you have used your blessings to bless others.

I challenge each of us to do as Jesus spoke.

Love God and love others as we love ourselves.

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What are you doing with your time?

July 7, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
(Acts 1:7-8 (NIV))

I have been guilty of desiring to know God’s timeline. Let’s face the truth. most of us would like to know God’s plans in detail so that we would know exactly what everything happening in the world actually means. Perhaps we are all also guilty of wanting to know God’s plans so that we can make sure that they benefit us in the way that we want them to come about.

We are not to know these details!

Think about that for a moment.

If we knew the details, where would faith come into play? We would know exactly what is to happen and our faith would never be tested. We would know the outcome to the exact timing and we would not need to rely on God or on our faith in Him. We would simply be able to say that it happened exactly as expected.

Exactly as expected!

When in this course of days that we are blessed with has anything ever gone exactly as expected? We know that the sun will come up in the morning and that we should expect to go to work, come home, spend time with our families and friends, and then go to bed in preparation for another sunrise. Now, think back on your day that you just had. Did it go in that manner? Chances are that most of us spent our most recent day in a similar fashion to my outline. However, it is the details within that outline of a day that gives each of us a unique life. It is the thrill, and sometimes the anguish, of the uncertainty that makes us human.

As humans, we live our lives based on what is known. As for me, I know a few things worth sharing. I know that Jesus is the Son of God. I know that He was born of the Virgin Mary. I know that He came to teach. I know that He came to die for our sins. I know that on the third day He was resurrected from the grave. I know that He ascended into heaven. I know that He sits at the right hand of God the Father. I know that through His atoning blood, my sins are forgiven. I know that my understanding of God’s infinite wisdom is only a very small understanding.

I also know that if I knew God’s timing for His plans, I would probably still be the same way that I am. I would still have difficulty grasping how and why He does things. I would probably spend so much time reflecting on His timing that I would miss out on the life that He has blessed me with.

All that we need to do is to understand God’s plans. He will unveil His timing when it is right. When He does unveil His timing, He will send the Holy Spirit to guide us. He will not burden us with knowledge that we don’t need at the time. All that we can do until that time is be His witness.

What are you doing with your time?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Acceptance

July 6, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.
(Titus 3:3-5a (NIV))

Mercy. What a wonderful thing to have been given. It cannot be bought, yet it has a price. A price too high for any of us to pay.

Just how was mercy given to us? God sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ to live a life of perfection as an example, to die on the cross for our sins, and to be resurrected as our personal Lord and Savior. Now, Jesus sits at the right hand of God the Father interceding for us. All we have to do is call upon Jesus and accept Him into our hearts.

It doesn’t seem totally equal, does it? We gain everything and Jesus gave up everything in this trade. This must be the ultimate act of love ever!

Have you accepted this love?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Prayer and freedom do mix

July 5, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

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

As I sit here contemplating the events of the last few days, this July 4th weekend was a good weekend.

Hundreds of people lined the streets of a small town to see a parade that will never match the production value of the parades in New York, but the heart and soul of this country were represented in that parade. Local businesses, the high school band, local volunteer fire departments, local farmers and their horses, and politicians who have a sincere desire to see this country return to the values that made it great all willingly walked a three mile course in the Georgia heat to show their love of country.

My youngest son and I visited a church where some of his friends attend. The sermon was a very interesting historical account of the writings of the founding fathers. Some things I knew, such as the first official act of the first Congress was to order a large amount of Bibles to be printed. Did you know that each of the original 13 states started their documents of statehood giving praise and honor to God? I would love to read the personal thoughts and public documents of the founding fathers, for most of them professed a belief in the sovereign grace of God in guiding this nation.

I want you to think of the words to “America the Beautiful.”

“God shed His grace on thee.”

Why do you think that God has shed His grace upon this nation? Our history is based upon allowing people to worship Him as they see fit. It is built upon the idea that we have been blessed to be a blessing to others. What other nation has been willing to help rebuild war-torn countries? What other nation has been willing to come to the aid of countries when they could not defend themselves?

Looking back at the events of this weekend, I don’t think that the people have lost site of what is important. This can be proven by the heartfelt responses we see to terrorist strikes, hurricanes, and accidents. What I believe has happened is that the government that we elect has forgotten that they are not above the law, and that they are not to make laws contrary to the heart and desires of the people, and contrary to God’s Word.

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

We have a choice to make. We can allow things to run their course in a way that is contrary to God’s Word, or we can pray for His forgiveness, His desires and His direction. In this prayer, there should be neither Democrat nor Republican, but only those who earnestly seeks after the heart of God.

Lord, guide us in your desires for this world, this nation, this state, this community and this household. May our actions always be tempered with your wisdom and grace.

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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