Where does your heart direct you?

June 22, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.
(2 Thessalonians 3:5 (NIV))

In our lives, there are many paths that we can choose to follow. Some days, we make so many decisions that each minute potentially can change the outcome of our day, possibly our whole lives and even our eternity. If we broaden our perspective, we have the potential to impact the day of countless individuals that we encounter. If we follow God’s lead, we can potentially impact their eternal perspectives as well.

This is staggering!

Have you truly stopped to reflect on how our actions can have eternal consequences for not only ourselves, but for countless others as well?

Does this make you want to pray for your heart to be molded into a heart that seeks the Lords direction, love and perseverance?

Take a look at your life. Chances are good that each of us has had moments in our daily lives where we fail miserably at allowing the Lord to direct our hearts. If you are like me, you can probably vividly recall the worst moments when you moved completely opposite of what the Lord desired. Do you wish that you could have a do-over because of the pain that these moments caused?

It is not always easy to allow the Lord to direct our hearts, but it is what we, as members of the Body of Christ, must strive to do. We must pray that our hearts seek after the very heart of God! We must be willing to move in directions that go against our sinful human nature and see each other as God sees them. We must come to the realization what we are not the center of God’s universe. He placed us in His creation, but His creation is much greater than just you or just I. We must learn to see each other with the love that God sees each of us with. We must realize that the Lord is patiently calling to Himself all of those who are lost. We must love them as He loves them! We must be directed to show God’s love.

Where does your heart direct you?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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God’s love is not how the world loves!

February 13, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
(1 Corinthians 13:6-7 (NIV))

Does this sound like the world’s current definition of love?

Society has taken the concept of love and twisted it so far from how God defines love. According to God’s plan, love is sacrificial, but there are some overlooked aspects.

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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
(John 3:16-21 (NIV))

We, as the intended recipients of God’s love, must be willing to walk away from our sin. We must be willing to embrace the truth, the only truth, that is God’s Word. Once we do, we are called to love as God loves, but that doesn’t mean that we condone the sin and the evil in people. I realize that this is often overused, but there is an old saying that, “We are to love the sinner and hate the sin.” Think about that in relation to the following example.

You are a parent who has a child that is involved in things that could get them in trouble with the law. Which of the following options shows true love? Do you overlook these actions because you say that you love them and you don’t want to interfere with their life, or do you try to make them change their life so that they don’t face any consequences from their activities? The first option actually shows that you don’t care enough to take action to prevent something bad. It may appear that you love them in the present, but you don’t love them enough to take action so that they will have a better tomorrow. Love sometimes has to be tough! As a parent, you have to stand in the gap and fight for the well being of your family so that they have a life that is not a result of bad decisions.

Put this into perspective by changing the scenario with respect to eternity. This time the child is rebelling and is lost. Do you overlook these actions or do you pray for them, do you try to reach them, do you love them enough to stand in the gap interceding for them? This time, the consequences have a much different and longer result. If we truly love this child, we will do anything and everything to bring them into a right relationship with the Lord.

My next thought was to ask you how do you think God feels, but I have already told you how He feels. He loves the world so much that He had a plan to redeem the world. That plan was not an easy thing to bring about. It cost the physical life of His only begotten Son, Jesus. Jesus came to defeat evil and sin. He came to protect us from the consequences of sin. God’s love perseveres and because of His great love, we have the glorious hope that we can trust in His Word. All that He asks is that you believe and turn away from the darkness of the evil that is in this world.

The world says that if you love someone, you accept them and don’t try to change them no matter the consequences. God loves us as we are, then calls us to repent so that we don’t face the consequences.

God’s love is not how the world loves!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you embraced the Lord’s great love?

November 29, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
(Lamentations 3:22 (NIV))

When we hear these words, can we honestly claim them as our own?

It is not always easy to claim them because of the burdens of the world and the things that we face every “morning.” Yet, all we have to do is stop and reflect on God’s promises to see that He has gotten us through another day and that we were indeed not consumed by the burdens of this world.

Each day that we have is a gift from God and should be approached with thankfulness and joy for the enemy is all around. Through God’s great love and mercy, we have escaped the enemy to see another day. The enemy that I speak of is death. Death through sin. Physical death and spiritual death are both a part of the enemy’s arsenal of weapons. The spiritual death is the consumption of our souls by the enemy.

Through God’s compassion, He sent His Son Jesus Christ to face the ultimate “consumption” for our behalf. Even though Satan tried to consume Jesus, Jesus defeated Satan, and through this act, we have the ability to claim that we will not be consumed by the enemy, but covered in grace and “compassion.”

What better gift can we receive?

Have you embraced the Lord’s great love?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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And, oh what glory it is!

May 20, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

And I, because of what they have planned and done, am about to come and gather the people of all nations and languages, and they will come and see my glory.
(Isaiah 66:18 (NIV))

What should be important to you as a member of the Body of Christ?

Perhaps I should ask a different question. What is important to the Lord for you if you profess a faith in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior?

Prior to this verse, Isaiah 66 speaks of the things that people do in hopes of appeasing the Lord, but they fail to look at their own hearts and motives before doing these things. We are clearly told that the Lord looks at something besides our feeble attempts to please God.

“These are the ones I look on with favor:
     those who are humble and contrite in spirit,
     and who tremble at my word.
(Isaiah 66:2b (NIV))

The Lord longs for our hearts! He longs for humility. He longs for a righteous spirit within us. He does not desire sacrifices if our hearts are not His. He has so much that He wants to give to us if we first will give our hearts to Him. Sadly, too many people hold out. The Lord goes on to share all that He will do for those who love Him. He shares examples of what His love is like if we will only focus on following Him.

Unfortunately, there are far too many people who seem to be focused on the gifts instead of the giver. They are focused on the promises instead of the promise maker. Don’t get me wrong. The promises and the gifts are important, but do we have our priorities upside down? We should seek to know the Lord first and these gifts will be freely given. Instead, we seem to focus on what we will receive and completely miss out on the fact that the Lord is calling us to an intimacy with Him that is far more valuable than what we have a tendency to focus on.

Jesus came to bring salvation to anyone, nation, tribe or language, who would call upon His name, to any who would humble their heart and give it to Him. This is the only way that we can see the glory of the Lord! And, oh what glory it is!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How do you define love?

April 1, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
(1 Corinthians 13:4 (NIV))

Love can possess many different characteristics in the minds of those who try to define it. To some people, it is a strong affection such as what a mother has for her child. Others think of love as a sexual attraction. Some people even go so far as to define love by the things that they like.

What is your definition of love? Does it encompass any or all of the above?

How does God define love?

God’s love is not too proud to keep Him from reaching out to save. God’s love for us is kind. He does not reach out to us to condemn us. God’s love for us is not proud. He willingly did what He had to do to bring us salvation.

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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
(John 3:16-17 (NIV))

God’s love is patient.

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
(2 Peter 3:9 (NIV))

I could spend countless hours documenting the depth of God’s love for His creation. It is boundless, yet, it is simple at the same time. It is everlasting, yet it is concerned about your individual moments. It is powerful, yet it is gentle enough to hold each of us in our moments of weakness. It is all encompassing, yet it is able to focus on each of us individually. In essence, God’s love is perfect!

How do you define love?

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

January 10, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The Lord detests the way of the wicked, but he loves those who pursue righteousness.
(Proverbs 15:9 (NIV))

Do you think that you are a lovable person?

If you are like most people, you have a few people whom you are close to. Family members hopefully think that you are lovable. Friends may even think that to a point. What are the criteria on which they base this impression? Do they think that you are lovable because you and they have grown familiar with each other and your interests coincide with theirs? Perhaps they find you lovable because you are willing to sacrifice of yourself for their betterment. What is it that you find lovable in others? Is it the same type of things that others see in you? Do you know what the criteria are that people use to determine in their minds if you are lovable?

What about the Lord?

We know that the Lord loves us very much even though we are all sinners. It is for this reason that Jesus came!

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))

Proverbs 15:9 gives us some very interesting insight into the Lord’s love. It does not state that He hates the wicked, after all, they are also a part of His creation. What we do see is that He detests their wickedness. Based on the fact that we are all sinners, each and every one of us has wickedness within. The Lord detests that wickedness, but has established a way for that wickedness to be washed away and replaced with His righteousness. All that we have to do is admit that we are a sinner, believe in Jesus, and confess that Jesus is our Lord. If you have taken these steps, then you are pursuing righteousness.

Are you detested or loved?

Are you lovable?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What have you conquered because of his love?

December 3, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
(Romans 8:37 (NIV))

There is an old saying that love conquers all.

To be honest with you, love does work wonderful things in the lives of those who show love and those who receive love, but there is one love that is far above any other love that has ever been professed. That is the love that the Lord God, our Father has for His creation. All that it takes to prove this is a simple reading of the following passage.

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 other love is powerful enough to alter your eternal existence? What other love is willing to sacrifice itself in order to offer something so great? What other love gives the recipient the ability to conquer the power of sin, death and the grave? What other love is willing to take on all of the sin and all of the pain in order to offer the recipient the ability to escape an eternal separation from itself?

For those who have accepted this great offer of love, you know exactly what I mean. Sadly, there are many who have not accepted this offer. It is for those who have not accepted this love that we must pray. They may feel that there is not a love so great. They may feel that they are not worthy of such a love. They may even feel that they have done such bad things that the offer could not ever be available to them. Perhaps these are the biggest things that any of us have to conquer, after all it is often our self image that keeps us from being who we are called to be.

Have you ever thought about what you had to overcome in order to even accept God’s love? Did He give up on you or did He keep pressing on until you came to the realization that His love is for you? Was it ego that kept you from God’s love. Perhaps it was envy or pride. It could have even been greed or lust that kept you away from the love of the Lord. This was the first thing that His love conquered. It will not be the last!

What have you conquered because of his love?

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

November 27, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 8:38-39 (NIV))

An old friend referenced this passage a few days ago. Sadly, she has been through a lot in the last few years, yet she clings to this passage, and rightly so. She taught me a lesson that I will not forget!

With all that we face in life, nothing is constant. Never take anything for granted in this physical, fallen world. Laughter and love will fade away and turn to tears and loneliness for every single one of us. We will all face things in this life that, if we aren’t properly grounded, will completely decimate us. In all that this world has to offer and all that this world will throw at us, nothing in this world will stand by us forever.

There is only one constant in this journey that we call life. Even though it came into this world, it is not of this world. It is not a part of the created order of things. It is the love that the Creator of all things has for us.

I love the words, “Abba, Father.” Someone once implied that the closest that they could come to understanding these words and the love that they represent is to think of them as “Daddy!” It is not a formal relationship that these words represent. They are the words that represent a loving relationship between creation and Creator in a way that reflects a relationship of a child to a father. The mere mention of “Daddy” elicits such a loving response from the child. It also elicits such a loving response from the father for the child. He bends down and wraps his arms around his child and lifts them up to be face to face with himself.

This is a love that exceeds all things!

Now, let’s take what we know of earthly love and elevate that love heavenward. Each one of us are loved by God in such a way and with such fervor, that our Father did not wish for any of us to be separated from Himself. He bent down to earth by sending His only begotten Son, Jesus, to offer us outstretched arms of love on the cross. These outstretched arms were opened wide to embrace us and lift us up to Him so that we can be face to face with God for eternity. This is a love that can withstand all things!

Thank you, Jody, for reminding me of this unfailing love that our Father has for us.

I am so convinced of the strength of God’s love, that I rely on that knowledge each and every day of my life.

What are you convinced of?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you accepted the vastness of that goodness and love?

September 14, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

But the lovingkindness of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children.
(Psalms 103:17 (NAS))

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
his love endures forever.
(1 Chronicles 16:34 (NIV))

Both verses tell of the unending, unfailing love that God has for His creation, especially those who call upon His name in love and righteousness.

Don’t get this wrong! God loves everyone, and He does not wish any to perish. He shows unsaved people His love, but in many times that love goes unrecognized by the intended recipient. He does show His love to those who show Him their love. Perhaps it is the fact that they wish to express love in return that allows them to see the love that God pours out on them.

He wants to bless us!

God’s love is not limited to only those who are on His “good side.” Anyone can receive God’s love. If anyone turns to Him and repents, then He will be waiting for them with love, grace and mercy that will never end. Isn’t that amazing?

We are limited by human knowledge and capacity and probably every single one of us has trouble grasping the infinite capacity that God has to love us. We cannot comprehend the unlimited love that God has for us and how that love manifested itself for our salvation in and through Jesus Christ. Just as the human mind has trouble with understanding the vastness of the mathematical concept of infinite, we are also limited in understanding the height, depth, and breadth of God’s love.

God is good! Have you accepted the vastness of that goodness and love?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Who do you say that God is?

April 11, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”
(Revelation 1:8 (NIV))

To paraphrase this passage, God is the beginning and the end. He is all things in between. He has always been. He is now, and He will always be. He is the Creator of all things. He holds all power and authority. His power and authority were in the beginning and they will be in the end. He is unchanging and no one can come close to His power and authority!

Humanity has spent thousands of years trying to define just who they think that God is. Along the way, various different groups of people have created false gods. Most of these are simply attempts at putting a limited understanding of creation onto a persona that they could understand and define. People have even gone so far as to create idols that they assign godlike attributes to.

I want you to stop and ask yourself a question.

Who do you say that God is?

Are you able to comprehend the God of the Bible or do you try to make up your own definition, your own mental image, of what you believe God to be?

We know that God is called “Father.” Is your understanding of a loving father swayed by an earthly father who was less than loving?

We know that God is called “Creator.” Do you struggle with the concept that God has the power and that everything was simply spoken into existence?

We know that God is called “Healer.” Are you so blinded to the fact that humanity allowed sin and death into the world that you can’t understand why God allows things to happen to those you love?

We know that God created us in His image. Do you struggle with the idea that He loves you so much that He took the time to create you? We know that He created us to be in fellowship, in relationship, with Him. Do you understand the concept of sin and the consequences of sin and how that relationship was broken in the Garden of Eden? Do you struggle with the idea that God did not want to spend eternity without us, so He devised a plan to redeem us so that He could call us His own? I could go on and on, but we are simply not capable of fully grasping all that God is.

Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty?
(Job 11:7 (NIV))

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
(Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NIV))

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.
(Isaiah 40:28 (NIV))

All of His wisdom and righteousness we cannot even begin to understand, but there is one thing that we can understand if we will simply humble ourselves.

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))

I feel that I need to ask this one question once again. It is my prayer that you dwell on this question and pray to come to a true understanding.

Who do you say that God is?

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