What is the condition of your heart?

May 12, 2020

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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))

Have the last few weeks made you stop and take a long, hard look at your life?

Have you found that the things of this world that you once thought were important no longer hold that exalted place in your life? Have your priorities shifted to the point where you feel that you have had a change of heart?

There are many characteristics of a life that is self-centered and self-absorbed. Most of these are described by a reference to the heart. Hardhearted. Cold-hearted. Heart of stone. I am sure that you can probably think of others, but I think that you understand the concept. The more time that we spend focused on the world and what it can provide to us often leads us to become non-caring with respect to other people that we see. Let’s face facts. When we are focused on the world, it tells us go for all that we can get no matter the consequences.

Does this sound like the type of life that we were created for?

Sadly, when we live our lives in this manner, we also lose sight of God! Our hearts become hardened to anything that relates to our relationship with the Lord. We can even get to the false conclusion that we are good and that we do not need God, Jesus or the grace that is freely given through the cross.

This is definitely not the way that God created us to live!

I want to ask the same question once again. Have the last few weeks made you stop and take a long, hard look at your life? The world may see these last few weeks as an attempt to avoid a pandemic, but God had other plans. What has He shown you about yourself? Has He been trying to remove your heart of stone?

What is the condition of your heart?

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

May 4, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Before them fire devours,
behind them a flame blazes.
Before them the land is like the garden of Eden,
behind them, a desert waste–
nothing escapes them.
(Joel 2:3 (NIV))

I believe that we are in a transitional place, a place of growth and maturity. Each of us may be in a situation that has us literally between a rock and a hard place. We may find ourselves in the midst of so much fire and waste that we do not see any potential end. When we, as believers, find ourselves in this place in our lives, we must remember that God uses these times in our lives to refine us like silver.

This third I will bring into the fire;
I will refine them like silver
and test them like gold.
They will call on my name
and I will answer them;
I will say, `They are my people,’
and they will say, `The LORD is our God.’ ”
(Zechariah 13:9 (NIV))

It is in these times that one of two things may happen. We will either turn from God in our anger or turn toward God in our faith. It is God’s desire to purify us in our faith. He longs for us to mature into the image of Jesus.

I had a conversation not too long ago with someone who questioned whether being in the wilderness was a good thing or a bad thing. Take a look at Jesus after He was baptized. He went into the wilderness for 40 days. He did not do anything bad, yet He had to face the temptation before He could truly minister to those whom He came to seek and to save.

When we find ourselves in the desert or the wilderness, it is all a matter of our outlook, our perspective on the situation. We can either look at the situation and not see beyond our circumstances or we can see the “Light” of Jesus at the end of our journey. If we focus on the “Light,” then we should be able to stand firm in our desert and continually pray for righteousness.

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

Where are you?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Don’t allow your faith and your love to grow cold!

May 1, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold,
(Matthew 24:12 (NIV))

Are you old enough to remember when you could disagree with someone and still call them a friend?

In all honesty, I could probably stop there and most of you would stop and reflect on how society and we, as individuals, have changed. There used to be a time when the disagreements weren’t over good being called evil and evil being called good. Most of us could agree on basic principles and we could have a rational, sane conversation over the differences that we did not agree on. Now, our differences are growing ever farther apart from each each and the chasm is growing deeper. Biblical principles are frowned upon by some and others take this to an extreme by saying that Biblical principles are hate speech.

I saw something today that made me stop and reflect on the concept that was being presented. With the shelter in place, social distancing and the concept that we must wear a mask in public, people appear to be isolating themselves from each other. Random instances where you accidentally bump into someone at the store are now being treated as threats to the individuals involved. Instead of a gracious smile and an “Excuse me,” people are becoming hostile to each other in these situations. Are we becoming so consumed by our own selfish attitudes and self-preservation, that we fail to recognize the humanity of others. We have been pushed farther apart in basic social values and now we are being urged to stay away from each other and hide behind a mask. Are we getting to a point where we will forget to love our neighbors? Will we become so engrossed with selfishness that we will no longer take the time to show a kindness to others?

If we profess a faith in Jesus, we are called to love our neighbor.

Don’t allow your faith and your love to grow cold!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you feel as though you are having trouble?

April 28, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
(John 16:33 (NIV))

Do the current issues in the world make you feel like you are having trouble?

Did you feel like you were facing troubles before all of this hit?

If you answered “Yes” to either or both questions, let me ask you one more question. Have you been focusing on the world or have you been focusing on Jesus?

There is an old saying that you will find what you look for. There is so much truth to this. If you are looking for wealth, then you will only see things that have a monetary value and you will miss the things that God blesses us with that are priceless. It is a matter of perspective. You see what you want to see. If you look at life through the perspective of the world, then all you will see are troubles. If you look at life through the perspective of being a follower of Jesus, then no matter what the world tries to make you see, you will see grace and mercy.

Don’t get me wrong. We are only human and we all will falter and see things through worldly eyes, but we don’t have to see things that way!

A friend has a saying that I think is fantastic. He says, “I have never had a bad day. I have had bad things happen on a good day, but I have never had a bad day!” I love how his attitude fulfills the very essence of John 16:33. He keeps his eyes on Jesus and by doing so, he reminds himself that Jesus is with him no matter what. I don’t know about you, but knowing that Jesus is with me makes all of my days good! Remind yourself that Jesus has overcome the world the next time that you feel you are facing troubles in this world.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
(Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV))

Do you feel as though you are having trouble?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What do you focus on?

April 27, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices–mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law–justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.
(Matthew 23:23-24 (NIV))

Does this sound like anyone that you know? Does it sound like you?

Just as in Jesus’ day, too many people pay more attention to the letter of the law and completely ignore the intent of the law. We need to make sure that we do not become like the Pharisees and perform our “worship” out of ritual and tradition. When this happens, it is easy to forget why the ritual and tradition started.

God gave us the Law as a guidance in how to live so that justice, mercy and faithfulness could thrive. It is human nature to forget the reasons and focus on the details.

Don’t let the reasons be hidden or overshadowed by the details. Focus on justice, mercy and faithfulness.

What do you focus on?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you come to your senses?

April 23, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

When he came to his senses, he said, `How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!
(Luke 15:17 (NIV))

How far have you wandered from your Father? What caused you to wander? Did you see something that looked appealing to you? Did you think to yourself that you would do something for a little while and then return? Perhaps you simply found yourself drifting away and did not even realize it until it was too late.

I like the words “When he came to his senses.” The son had realized that he was a fool for choosing to stay in the squalor that he found himself in. He realized that he had a way out of his predicament and he was going to accept the consequences, humble himself and ask for forgiveness.

When did you come to your senses? Did you wake up one morning and not remember were you were? Did you look in the mirror and not recognize the person you saw? Maybe your personal story is not as bad as these examples, but each of us has a story. We realized that we had been foolish to think that we could do things on our own. We came to our senses and returned to the Father. Isn’t it nice to know that no matter how far we stray, it is only a single step back to the loving embrace of God. Isn’t it good to know that our sins have been forgiven through the atoning blood of Jesus. Through Jesus, we are offered grace, mercy and eternal salvation. All that we have to do is come to our senses and accept it by accepting Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior.

Have you come to your senses?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you long to see God?

April 22, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Blessed are the pure in heart,
     for they will see God.
(Matthew 5:8 (NIV))

Not too long ago I referenced this passage and made a statement about people seeing what they want to see. When I wrote that about this passage, I had no idea exactly what the next few months would bring. Today, I am more convinced of this simple truth than I was just a few short months ago. All that you have to do is take a look at the various reactions of people as we all face this unusual worldwide issue.

It is said that tough times will bring out the true nature of a person. I think that we can safely say that we have seen the gamut of reactions. Some people are panicking. Others are coming up with all kinds of conspiracy theories. Many are blaming the Chinese government, while others are pointing fingers at our own. It appears that many people are consuming more alcohol in a search for something to take their minds off of what is going on. Do you fall into one of these groups?

In addition to these, I have seen a large number of people who appear to be turning to the Lord. If you can judge the numbers based on what you see on social media, many people are turning to the Lord for peace. They are realizing that there is something going on far greater than anything that humanity can control, as if we can control anything.

Human nature is a funny thing. We are told that even in the midst of great tribulation, there will be people who will fail to recognize what is going on and turn to God. Others will turn to God in all things that they do. Somewhere in the middle are those who acknowledge God and only turn to Him in times of trouble. I realize that I have oversimplified the vast range of reactions, but in all honesty, those who long to see God will find Him in all things that they encounter. I think that something I recently saw says that very well. To paraphrase, there were two sides in a conversation.

Side 1: This virus has shut down the schools.

Side 2: Prayer is now back in the classroom.

Side 1: This virus has shut down the churches.

Side 2: The church is not made up of buildings. People are worshipping wherever they are.

I’m sure that you’ve seen something similar. As previously stated, those who long to see God will find Him in all things, while those who are focused on the world will never see God in anything.

Do you long to see God?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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