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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Is it your desire to persevere?

November 1, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.
(Hebrews 10:36 (NIV))

There is never a good time to give in to the ways of the world!

It is imperative that everyone who professes a faith in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior persevere to finish strongly. Do not let the sins of the world sneak up on you, distract you and make you lose sight of Jesus and what He has called you to. Accepting Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior does not prevent you from sinning. It also doesn’t give you permission to continue in your sin. Accepting Jesus means that you realize that you are a sinner in need of a Savior. Accepting Jesus means that you realize that you cannot escape the consequences of your sin on your own. Accepting Jesus means that you recognize the grace and mercy that God has freely given to those who will simply profess that Jesus is Lord! Accepting Jesus means that you recognize the authority that Jesus has as Lord of your life. Accepting Jesus means that you surrender to that authority. Accepting Jesus means that you turn away from your sin and follow Him!

That is the will of God!

Are you able to accept these conditions? Are you able to persevere in these conditions?

It might be easy to say that you believe, but do your actions reflect your words? Do you thoughts reflect your actions? If you are like me, human nature creeps in and we all do things that we wish we wouldn’t do. When these things happen, do you feel remorse? Do you regret the decisions that lead you to those actions? Do you fall on your knees in repentance?

Have you ever stopped to think about the relationship of repentance to perseverance?

I honestly believe that they go hand in hand, for without true repentance we would never be able to persevere. When we repent, we make a decision to make a course correction and get back to following Jesus. When we persevere, we simply repent and make course corrections all along the way until we get where the Lord leads. We don’t give up. We don’t give in to the sin. We keep our eyes focused on Jesus!

Is it your desire to persevere?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you like Paul?

January 15, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God–through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.
(Romans 7:21-25 (NIV))

I find it very interesting that Paul, the very man whom we all are indebted to for bringing the Gospel to the Gentiles, faced these temptations and issues in his life.

I also find it very comforting to know that he faced these issues in his life!

I know that this sounds strange, that it sounds like I am glad that he faced the issues, but it is not a macabre sense of gloating even though it may sound like it. Paul’s account of his trials gives me comfort, for if someone who faced these tests as often as he says he did can find salvation and favor in the eyes of God, then it is possible for even me to find salvation and favor.

Paul considered himself to be chief among sinners, one of the worst, yet he found salvation. He found grace! He found it in the midst of his sin on the road to Damascus. He found it while on his way to commit a horrendous sin against God and against the Body of Christ. Paul’s life is an example of how God can turn someone around and use them for His glory no matter how off course that person may have been to begin with.

When God finds you, be prepared to have Him show you the things that cause you to sin. You will be amazed at what you do that you wish you didn’t. Rejoice in the good news that in the midst of your sin, Jesus is advocating for you and working within you.

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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I look forward to what God desires to give!

May 28, 2015

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!
(Luke 11:11-13 (NIV))

Would you intentionally give your children something harmful? It is human nature to want to give those we love the best that we can give. Even so, our best is still as filthy rags in the eyes of God for we give from a sinful nature and sin is not capable of producing anything that is truly good.

If God is our Father and He is perfect, how can the things that He gives to us be anything but perfection? God is not capable of anything less than righteousness and perfection. The things that He gives to us out of this perfection are far above the things that we can give in our sinful imperfection.

We must learn to trust God the same way that most of us have learned to trust our earthly parents. We know that they desire good things for us and we accept them without question. Why do we question and sometimes even reject what God desires to give us?

I look forward to what God desires to give. What is your attitude towards His gifts?

Copyright 1998 – 2015 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you walk or do you stumble?

March 21, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Who is wise? He will realize these things.
Who is discerning? He will understand them.
The ways of the LORD are right;
the righteous walk in them,
but the rebellious stumble in them.
(Hosea 14:9 (NIV))

I have one simple question to ask, but your answer may cause some personal reflection and hopefully, it will be honest.

Do you walk or do you stumble?

If you are like me, you probably desire to say that you walk in the ways of the Lord, but, be honest. We all have times that we stumble. We all have times that we fall short of God’s desires and our own. The difference between those who desire to walk and those who stumble is just that – it is their desire. It is their priority.

Let me ask another question for you to consider.

Does a professional basketball player always hit the three pointer? It is their desire, but they often miss the mark. That does not mean that they are intentionally stumbling. It simply means that they are not capable of such a task. Now, does a person who professes a belief in Jesus as their Lord and Savior always do what Jesus would have them do. I know that in my frail humanity, I am not capable of it, yet I still try just as the basketball player still tries to make the three point shot. Sometimes I will fail, but the times that I succeed, I give praise where praise is due.

For those who profess a faith in Jesus, the failed attempts are not the same thing as when a rebellious person stumbles. Perhaps it would be better to put it this way. A rebellious nature is knowing that you aren’t supposed to do something, yet you do it anyway. There is no attempt at having a desire to do what is right. To a rebellious person, placing what is right and true in their path will only make them lash out and bring attention to the fact that they have no desire to follow what is right.

A rebellious person does not desire to walk. They desire to stumble.

With that in mind, let me rephrase my initial question like this.

What do you desire? Do you long to walk in the ways of the Lord, or do you desire to stumble against God in an attempt to avoid Him?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Change

June 24, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“Even now,” declares the LORD,
“return to me with all your heart,
with fasting and weeping and mourning.”
Rend your heart
and not your garments.
Return to the LORD your God,
for he is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and abounding in love,
and he relents from sending calamity.
(Joel 2:12-13 (NIV))

The words written long ago in the book of Joel still hold true to this very day. I imagine that they will be true until Jesus returns in triumph to the Mount of Olives. Only then, will it be too late for those who have made the wrong decision.

God wants us to turn from our sin and return to Him.

All too often, we do things that are extravagant in nature because we feel that we must do something of great magnitude, or great outward appearance, so that God will know that we mean it this time. Perhaps these acts are more for ourselves and our neighbors than they are for God, after all, God sees our hearts. He doesn’t need to see the flamboyant antics of someone who will break the promises that were just made. This is why we are told to “rend your heart,” for God sees the heart and He knows when it is truth. We can forever rend externally to ourselves and it will never have a lasting impact. When we rend our heart, it is the very center of our existence. We have made the decision to change from the inside out. Perhaps this is why Jesus spoke about what makes a man unclean.

He went on: “What comes out of a man is what makes him `unclean.’ For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man `unclean.’ ”
(Mark 7:20-23 (NIV))

Have you taken that ultimate commitment to God? Have you internalized the change by changing your heart?

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Greater love

May 30, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.
(John 15:13-14 (NIV))

Jesus must have counted the whole world’s population, before, then and in the future, to be His friends. He did exactly what was stated in John 15:13, and He did it without any hesitation. He could have easily changed the course of events that lead up to His crucifixion, yet, He let them play out exactly as God the Father had intended for them to happen.

Why would anyone be willing to do such a thing? Faith, hope and love! Faith that you are not ending your existence, but are placing your eternal existence in the hands of God the Father. Hope that those who receive the benefit of your sacrifice will turn from their ways and follow the Will of God. Love of others to such an extent that you do not think of the consequences to yourself if you follow through with your actions.

We think that we would be able to lay down our lives for those that we love, such as spouse and children, yet, how many of us would be willing to perform the same act for someone we do not know? We may never know the truth about our intentions versus our actual actions, yet, we must be ready to do whatever is called on from us no matter what or who is involved.

What if Jesus had stopped to think and came to the realization that Bob, Joe, Mary, and Sue will never amount to anything, I will not do what I need to do. They do not deserve it. But, he did not do this. He went to the cross for all of us. Are we ready to do what we must do when the time comes?

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

May 20, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
(2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV))

What is your favorite Scripture passage? What makes it your favorite? Did God use it to reach out to you at a time of terrible trouble? Did He speak to you through that passage when you were alone and lost? Did He use it to call you to Him and confirm your salvation?

God has given us so much of Himself through His Word. Think about your favorite Scripture passage. At best, it is only a few words. A few select words that God has used to touch your life. If God can soften your heart with only a few words, imagine what He can do with every word that is recorded as part of His Word. If we took to heart every morsel that is freely given to us, how would we be different? If we studied and memorized more of Scripture the way that we memorize our favorite passage, imagine how our lives would be changed!

If your favorite passage is looked upon as an appetizer to a grand feast, are we missing all that God has laid out before us? If you are offered an appetizer, do you simply stop with one morsel? An appetizer is simply the thing that awakens your hunger for what is to come. Your favorite passage is that appetizer. It should be looked upon as the morsel that awakens your hunger for all of God’s Word.

Are you hungry?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Your best or your second best?

April 26, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“Cursed is the cheat who has an acceptable male in his flock and vows to give it, but then sacrifices a blemished animal to the Lord. For I am a great king,” says the LORD Almighty, “and my name is to be feared among the nations.
(Malachi 1:14 (NIV))

Do you give your second best to God? Do you expect God to give you His best?

“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead?
(Luke 11:11 (NIV))

It is true that all of our righteousness is as filthy rags, but we often tend to make them even more filthy because we do not offer our very best to God. We offer Him the blemishes of our life and expect Him to take them as our very best. We, in turn, eagerly await God to grant us our every desire for His blessings to be poured out upon us. If we expect God to bestow His best upon us, we should desire to give God our very best in gratitude. Lets face it, our best is still so far inferior to the least that God could give us. If we simply desire to give God our best, then we will not only be doing what we should, but, we will probably be blessed as a result. Perhaps we should even consider this act as an act of generosity, for out of the desires of our hearts we give.

A generous man will prosper;
he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.
(Proverbs 11:25 (NIV))

Perhaps we should even consider this act an act of faithful obedience. God is testing each of us to see what we are willing to give to Him so He will know what He can give to us. I would even venture to say that the story of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30 applies.

Do you desire to give God your best or your second best?

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

April 14, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

In you, O LORD, I have taken refuge;
let me never be put to shame;
deliver me in your righteousness.

Turn your ear to me,
come quickly to my rescue;
be my rock of refuge,
a strong fortress to save me.
(Psalms 31:1-2 (NIV))

This world can be a very vicious place. Often, we need to simply hide from the pressures that this world dishes out. Isn’t it great to know that the God who created the universe is also our place of refuge. We can hide in Him and rest in His presence. We can walk quietly and drink in His majesty. We can, as it states in Ruth 2:12b “May you be richly rewarded by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.”

As for me, I long to take refuge with the Lord. There is no one else who can provide the peace that can come from refuge under His wings.

Lord, may we find the refuge that we seek and may we seek the refuge that you offer.

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