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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What is welling up inside of you?

April 30, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
(John 4:13-14 (NIV))

I want to ask you a question, if I may.

How many times have you felt the presence of God and you actually felt like you had something welling up inside of you? Did you feel like you could “bubble over?” Did you feel refreshed and cleansed?

I have often wondered if this is how we personally experience the Living Water that Jesus gives to us.

Think back on the times when you know that you felt God’s presence the most in your life. How did you feel? Do these thoughts evoke the feelings that you would associate with water? It quenches your thirst. It refreshes. It cleanses. It is cooling. It is soothing. It is comforting. Fresh water is often thought of as bubbling up, or welling up, from a spring. The sounds of bubbling water are relaxing and peaceful. Do these thoughts describe the sensations that you felt when you felt God’s presence?

I find it very interesting that we can go without food for many days, but that we cannot go without water or we will die. Water is essential to our survival. It is so much a part of us. Still, in our physical form, we will eventually not be able to be refreshed. Water is an integral part of each of us.

I have said before that I believe that for every physical aspect of life, there is a corresponding spiritual aspect of life. Water is important to our physical bodies and Living Water is important for our spiritual well being. Just as water is essential to life, Living Water is essential to eternity. Somehow our bodies know this. It is our minds that make us not see the obvious.

Living Water rejuvenates. It cleanses. It soothes, It is calming. It is peaceful.

It is the way that God pours out upon us the closeness of a relationship with Him that we lost at the Garden of Eden. Living Water brings peace. It brings joy. It brings patience. It brings kindness. It brings self-control. Just as physical fruits cannot mature without water, the fruits of the Spirit need the Living Water to grow to maturity.

What is welling up inside of 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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If God was willing while we were enemies, just imagine . . .

February 6, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!
(Romans 5:10 (NIV))

How do you become an enemy of God?

I realize that this is an odd question, but it is relevant to our understanding of God, our severed and fallen relationship with Him, and our way to salvation through God’s love as expressed at the cross.

Basically, the fall from grace in the Garden of Eden is the starting point for each and every single person who has ever lived. All of humanity was doomed to a sinful nature because of our rebellion, our disobedience to what God told us that we could and could not do. One definition of the word “enemy” states it quite clearly as someone who is antagonistic to another. Another definition defines an enemy as a hostile force. When we rebelled against God, we became just that. We became an antagonistic and hostile creation. We became sinners. We became enemies of God!

Thankfully, God did not let it end there! He loves us in spite of ourselves. He devised a plan to redeem us. Condemnation is for enemies. Love is for sons and daughters. He devised a plan to make us sons and daughters instead of enemies.

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))

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
(Romans 5:8 (NIV))

I am so thankful that salvation is freely given, for there is nothing that we could do to earn it. All that we have to do is accept it! God reached out to us in our sinful condition in hope that we would accept His offer to become His sons and daughters. If God was willing while we were enemies, just imagine what He will do for us as sons and daughters!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do you truly understand the fullness of God’s love?

December 13, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
(Ephesians 3:17b-19 (NIV))

How many times do we need to be told about the depth and breadth of God’s love for us?

Sometimes I feel that we could be told every second of our lives and we would still find times that we forget what is so prevalent in God’s message to us. Face the truth of our sinful existence. There have undoubtedly been times within the last twenty four hours that God’s love for you was forgotten.

Do you think that God is trying to tell us something?

Paul wrote about how wide and long and high and deep, and in the very next thought he tells us that God’s love surpasses knowledge. In other words, we cannot comprehend it because it is so vast. Perhaps that is why we constantly need to be reminded about the magnitude of God’s love for us. It is simply beyond human capacity to understand.

God’s love passes our ability to understand. God’s peace is also beyond our understanding.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:7 (NIV))

Even with all of the sinful things in our lives, God loves us. All we have to do is accept it. Once we accept it, embrace it and embrace God’s peace so that you may be filled to the measure of all fullness of God.

Do you truly understand the fullness of God’s love?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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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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Do you understand the value of love?

August 1, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
(1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV))

There are many characteristics that we would like to think that are a part of our personality. It is human nature to think that we are better than we really are. With this in mind, what are your greatest personality traits?

Do you feel that you truthfully exhibit any of the following?

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
(Galatians 5:19-23 (NIV))

I suppose that I should ask whether you feel you exhibit characteristics from the acts of the flesh or from the fruit of the Spirit. Each and every one of us wants to be considered loving, joyful, peaceful, kind, good, faithful and gentle, but to be honest with ourselves, we have to admit that we are only human and that we exhibit the other characteristics more often than we desire to. Even so, we have something to strive for with the Lord’s help. We are told that the greatest that we can present is love. We are also told, by the order of presentation, that love is a crucial fruit of the Spirit. We are also told that love is an identifying characteristic of those who claim to be disciples of Jesus.

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
(John 13:35 (NIV))

If this is the case, then it makes perfect sense that we are to love each other.

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
(1 Peter 4:8 (NIV))

Let’s put this in perspective. We can claim to have faith and we can be condemned by our lack of love. We can claim to have hope, and still be hateful. When we have love, the true love of Jesus, then faith and hope fall into place. We love the Lord and His creation. Out of this love springs the faith and the hope to share that love with the world. I believe that I am beginning to see why love is the greatest to remain.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
(1 Corinthians 13:8 (NIV))

Do you understand the value of love?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What are you willing to give up to be reconciled?

June 26, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation– if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.
(Colossians 1:21-23 (NIV))

It had to be a powerful gospel in Paul’s life. He started off persecuting the church. Yet, something happened in his life that made him give up all that he had earned for himself in the physical world.

Who in their right mind would give up worldly position and wealth for something the world considered of no importance?

Paul saw the power of the Gospel firsthand and was empowered by the Holy Spirit to spread that Gospel. He knew that Jesus is the Messiah and that He is the only way to enter heaven. Paul gave up worldly position for something that he knew was of far greater value than anything the world had to offer.

What are you willing to give up to be reconciled?

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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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.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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