What do you think about?

July 2, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
(Philippians 4:8 (NIV))

There are so many things in this world that can compete for our thoughts.

If you are like me, you have had multiple things come to mind just at the reading of that last sentence. Are you embarrassed by any of them? Would you feel shame if anyone knew some of the thoughts that came to your mind? Would you be willing to share any of these thoughts with family or friends?

Just what did come to mind?

The human condition is so wrapped up in sin that it seems that all we can think about is something of a sinful nature. Even the best things that are of this world are wrapped in sin. All of creation is in a fallen and sinful state. Are you beginning to see a trend in this series of questions? Perhaps we should think of things that are not of this world! Perhaps we should think of things that are beyond our limited human understanding.

We should strive to focus on the things of God!

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.
(Isaiah 55:8 (NIV))

God is true! God is noble! God is right! God is pure! God is excellent and praiseworthy!

What do you think about?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are we capable of such sincere praise?

June 5, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

There is no one holy like the Lord;
there is no one besides you;
there is no Rock like our God.
(1 Samuel 2:2 (NIV))

I wish that we would learn to stand firm in this truth!

Today, we look at the Lord much differently than Hannah did when she spoke these words. Hannah had been fervently praying for a son. After being barren for a long time, the Lord granted her prayer and she gave birth to Samuel. When she presented Samuel to the Lord, she was overjoyed. She gave thanks and praise exactly where it was due!

This brings to mind two distinct questions.

1. Do we fervently pray for what is burdening our hearts?

Most of the time we utter a few words, but do we seriously pray as if our very heart, our very soul, would explode if what we seek is not granted? Do we feel the anguish that comes with what truly burdens our hearts, or do we only think that it is important? Do we quickly move on when what we pray for is not answered in a few days?

2. Do we truly praise the Lord when our prayers are answered?

Do we give thanks and praise for the outcome, or do we quickly forget our requests to the Lord? Do we look at the outcome as if it just happened without intervention from the Lord? Do we turn away from the Lord or do we turn to the Lord and lift up His name in praise?

Has the Lord lifted you up from a very serious situation? Has the Lord provided relief from your burden? Did you praise the Lord for all that He had done? The worse the situations that we find ourselves in, the greater the opportunity to praise the Lord. Perhaps that is why that history supports the notion that the church experiences more growth when it is being persecuted. People have a tendency to draw close to God when they are facing persecution and burdens. With this in mind, have we, the Body of Christ, become too soft and too comfortable in our lives that we fail to feel the need to pray or praise with all of our being?

Are we capable of such sincere praise?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Focus on what unites us in Christ!

May 22, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.
(1 Corinthians 1:10 (NIV))

Can you imagine such a thing! What would the world think of the church if we could agree on all things as Jesus would direct us? What could the church do within this world if we all had the same mind and no divisions among us?

It is so nice to be able to think of these things. If we, as the body of believers, could put aside all of our petty differences that are so divisive and agree upon the things that unite us, we would be able to show the world that following Jesus is all that we claim it to be. In fact, it is much more.

Unfortunately, the church is made up of imperfect people who are still prone to sin. We want to do what is right, but we often get our own desires in the way. When that happens, someone else’s desires get in their way, and soon we have divisions. We cannot allow the enemy to take control of us because we have these divisions. We must constantly remind ourselves of what unites us – the atoning blood of Jesus – versus he who divides us while we are in this world.

This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.
(1 John 5:3-5 (NIV))

When it all comes down to what unites us, it is simple. It is our faith in Jesus Christ as the only begotten son of God and God’s plan to give us unmerited grace and mercy through Jesus.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
(John 3:16 (NIV))

What is divisive within your heart that needs to be set aside so that you can focus in what unites us?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Turn from arrogance and turn to God!

December 4, 2015

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
(James 4:7-10 (NIV))

People surround themselves with things that they are comfortable with. Take a look at somebody’s home and you will see how that this is true. If you could take a look at somebody’s heart, you would also see that this is true in spiritual matters. People surround themselves with what they know.

Closely examine what you have surrounded yourself with. Is it Godly or is it worldly? The two are opposite extremes. You cannot be surrounded with worldly matters and still be able to focus on God. You cannot walk the middle ground between the two. It is time to break out of the comfort zone and focus exclusively on one.

By focusing on God, you will resist Satan, and, as the verse claims, he will flee. A relationship with God is like a relationship with anyone. If you are willing to become friends with someone, they are more receptive. The more that you learn about the other person, the more that they will learn about you. Do not present the world with an arrogant attitude, for that attitude is from the devil.

Turn from arrogance and turn to God.

Copyright 1998 – 2015 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you have the faith to survive your wilderness?

December 1, 2014

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

I would flee far away
and stay in the desert;
Selah
I would hurry to my place of shelter,
far from the tempest and storm.
(Psalms 55:7-8 (NIV))

What is your place of shelter?

Do you think of the desert as this place?

Most of us do not think of the desert as a place of refuge, after all, a desert is a harsh place that brings about pain and death.

Perhaps it is our perspective on our situation and our location that gives us this attitude. All throughout the Bible, people who had to experience the desert often came out stronger on the other side. Perhaps this is due to the fact that human nature expects to find God in the lush and plentiful. Let’s face facts. God often appears to us when we do not expect it and in situations that we do not expect. That is exactly why God uses the desert to draw us closer to Him.

The desert lacks the distractions of this world. We can either choose to focus on the fact that we must rely upon God, or we can focus on our situation. If we focus on our situation, if we come out of the desert, we will be weakened and lack focus. Satan will have won.

If we focus on God and what He can provide, then we will come out of the desert stronger in our faith and ready to be the servant that God is calling us to be. In the Bible, “desert” and “wilderness” are often used to indicate a place of testing. A desert is used to indicate a crossing or a right of passage where refuge may be found, while a wilderness indicates an untamed place. Many times throughout each of our lives, we will find ourselves in such a place. How we look upon it will determine our outcome. If we have the faith to look upon our situation as a place of shelter because we have found God to be there, then we will not only survive, God will make us thrive in our work for Him.

Do you have the faith to be in the desert or the wilderness?

Copyright 1998 – 2014 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you paying attention to God?

July 16, 2014

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, `A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”
Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, `The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.”
(John 1:29-34 (NIV))

Do you listen to the Holy Spirit?

Do you even try?

Is there something that God is trying to tell you, but you are too engrossed in the world that you don’t even know that He is talking to you?

Unfortunately, today’s society is all about “me.” It is all about self gratification. It is all about self fulfillment. It is all about drawing your attention away from God and focusing it on you!

How can we focus on God when we focus on our smart phones? How can we focus on God when we focus on our bank accounts? How can we focus on God when we focus on our careers?

This passage is a prime example of what God can accomplish if we will simply focus on Him.

Can you imagine how frustrated God gets with us when we pay more attention to digital angry birds than we do to Him?

I am so glad that John was willing to listen to God. I am so thankful for the important role that John played in introducing Jesus to the world. I am so thankful for the selfless acts that John and countless others have been willing to do to further God’s kingdom.

They did these selfless acts without thinking about themselves. They allowed God to speak to them and through them. They allowed God to use them to get the attention of the world.

Is God trying to use you? Are you paying attention, or are you so engrossed in yourself that you fail to recognize God at all?

Copyright 1998 – 2014 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How do we grow away from God?

August 28, 2013

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))

It is so difficult to not be anxious about the situations in the world today. People are losing their jobs. People are losing their homes. Prices are increasing. Natural disasters abound. Terrorism and wars are all the news. People no longer respect other people.

I find it difficult some days to remember that God is in control. It is human nature to want to be in control. When we are not in control, we grow anxious. We grow irritated. We grow away from God.

How do we grow away from God?

That is a simple matter of whom we place at the center of our lives and whom we place in control. When we grow anxious, we are saying to ourselves and to the world that we are the ones responsible for our happiness and our status. We ignore God and focus entirely on us. The more that we grow anxious, the further away that we get from God. It is a viscous cycle. The further we get from God, the more anxious we become and then the more we focus on us and our pitiful situations. I would venture to say that our problems as a society all stem from the single fact that as a society, we strive to do it on our own. We have removed God from far too many aspects of our lives. The more we remove God from our society, the more anxious we become about our own fate. We have become too focused on the wrong individual. Instead of focusing on God, we focus on ourselves. We no longer know peace. We no longer know God.

I do not pretend to know what tomorrow will bring. I do know that I can face anything that the world may throw at me as long as I keep God at the center of my life. I also know that I cannot face a single day without talking to my Lord and Savior. Sometimes it is only an internal groan from deep within my soul. Sometimes it is much more. No matter how the conversation goes, I find myself resting in God’s grace and reflecting on what He has done for us – for me. I find the anxiety melts away. I find peace overtaking me.

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

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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