Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord

February 17, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(Ephesians 5:19-20 (NIV))

What do you find yourself doing when you are happy and full of joy?

I honestly don’t think that it is something depressing.

If you are like me, then you find yourself with a light spring in your step and a song in your heart. Chances are that sometimes you may not even recognize the song. Many times it is simply a song of joy that has no words, but it is overpowering just the same.

Think about that for a moment.

This makes sense if you stop and think about the times where you feel that you need to pray and you simply can’t find the words. Your spirit lifts up the concern and it is heard. What makes a joyful spirit different from one in need of close communication through prayer with the Father? Just as the unspoken prayer is lifted up and heard, the unspoken praise is also lifted up and heard. There are moments, and they should be many, where we simply cannot express our love with words and a song of the heart reaches God when our words cannot convey our praise.

We have been given an amazing gift. We have been given grace when we deserve nothing. We have been given a reason to be joyful. We have been given a reason to have a song in our heart.

Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord!

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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I have accepted my position

February 13, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant–not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
(2 Corinthians 3:6 (NIV))

It has been said that the Old Testament and The Law are there to show us what we are supposed to do and how difficult it is to do it. If this is true, then the New Testament is there to show us that we have another way. The Law is there as the letter that we must follow perfectly and never falter or waiver from its course. The Spirit is given to us by the grace and mercy shown at the cross. The Spirit gives us redemption and salvation. It gives us freedom from the Law. This freedom does not mean that we are able to ignore the Law and do whatever we want. It means that we are given grace for we are not capable of being perfect even when we desire it with all of our hearts. It allows us to be human. It allows us to make mistakes and then learn from our mistakes.

The twist to all of this is that through the Spirit, we are all ministers one to another. In the Old Testament and under the Law, ministers had to be set apart from the rest of society. They had to be ceremonially pure. They had to be followers of the letter of the Law. If they did not follow the letter of the Law, they faced the possibility of death in the presence of God.

Today, we have grace and mercy as our mantle. We have salvation through the blood of Jesus. We have the Spirit. Through the Spirit, we are given life in the presence of God, were, before the Spirit, we only faced death. Speaking for myself, I do not long to follow the letter of the Law, for it is inflexible and unforgiving. I want forgiveness and mercy, for I know that I am not perfect and cannot ever achieve perfection on my own.

I need grace!

I need to help others find that grace!

I, in all of my human shortcomings, am a minister of that grace. I have accepted my position.

Have you accepted yours?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Separation is our choice

December 16, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
(Romans 8:35 (NIV))

These are loaded questions, for each of these things pose the potential to draw us closer to Christ, and yet, at the very same time, they each pose the potential to drive us away from Christ. Please notice that I did not say that they could drive Christ away from us, for that is not possible.

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.
(Deuteronomy 31:8 (NIV))

I have come to the conclusion that the only person who is capable of separating us from the love of Christ is us! How we react to each of these things will determine how our relationship will grow. If we see everything that we face as an opportunity to draw closer to God, then each hardship, persecution, famine, and danger will have that very result. If we look upon God as a benevolent being that will keep us from these things, then our reactions will drive us from Him. We will be seeking the wrong things from God. In essence, we will eventually separate ourselves from Jesus because we have a false perception of what He will do for us. Once we turn away, it is our own understandings that have separated us from Christ. His love is still there. We simply deny it or we reject it. It is our doing.

Fortunately, we have the option of doing a U-turn. We can repent of this attitude and without venturing beyond our arrogance, God’s love is there. All that we have to do is turn and accept it. The love of Christ is never very far. It is our attitudes that make it seem so far away. It is our hardened hearts that keep the love of Christ from us. He does not withhold it. We build barriers against it.

Do you allow anything to separate you from the love of Christ?

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Happy Thanksgiving!

November 23, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
Worship the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the LORD is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.
(Psalms 100:1-5 (NIV))

This is the true source of thanksgiving.

To be truly thankful, you must acknowledge that you cannot do it on your own. You must acknowledge that whatever you have is not from your own hand. You must realize that what you have been given could just as easily have been given to someone else. It is true that what you have been given is a direct result of a response that you have made, but the blessings are not something that you have created.

Think about that for a moment.

What happens when someone thinks that they are responsible for all that they have? It is probably safe to assume that each of us have known people who felt that what they have was a direct result of their hard work and determination. It is also safe to assume that most, if not all, of these people looked upon what they had as a reward for their hard work. They may even have looked upon it as something that they earned, that they were owed, and as a result, were very stingy with what they have. This type of attitude places themselves as the provider and most of the time they give thanks for the things, and not the true source.

Thanksgiving is not only a holiday that we celebrate, it should be a life long attitude of gratitude for your true source of all things. Can we create life? Can we create the seasons? Can we create the food that we need? Too many people take these things for granted and only focus on the materialistic aspects of life. They miss out on the joy that God has provided to us in a sunset. They miss out on the grace that we have been given through the atoning blood of Jesus. They miss out on all things eternal because they are focused on the treasures of this world.

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
(Matthew 6:19-21 (NIV))

Are you thankful for things that moth and rust will destroy?

I have a philosophy that I like to remind myself of every once in a while. I look at the things of this world and find myself thinking that it would be nice to have some of these “treasures.” When I find myself in this line of thought, I ask myself one simple question.

In 100 years, will it really matter if I had these things?

What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?
(Matthew 16:26 (NIV))

What does matter is setting your priorities according to God’s priorities. What does matter is instilling God’s Word within your family. What does matter is being thankful to God for the blessings that He has given.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you one in 365?

November 22, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
(Colossians 3:15-17 (NIV))

Thanksgiving is almost upon us. We, as believers, truly have something to be thankful for. But, are we also guilty of setting aside only one day to give thanks. We have the ultimate reason to be thankful 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year for all of our lives. Can we, in all honesty, limit this thankfulness to only one day in 365.

We are told “whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
(Colossians 3:17)

Every day when we get up, when we go to work or school, when we eat, when we share time with family, when we are in church, all should be spent with a reverence and thankfulness that is light to the world.

One day of thanks is good, but it also leaves us empty if that is all that we do. Our gratitude should overflow just as His mercy overflows upon us. We can be thankful one day in 365, or we can be filled with an attitude of thanksgiving each and every day.

Are you one in 365, or are you full?

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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The bread and the wine

November 21, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
(1 Corinthians 11:23-26 (NIV))

Many of us know these verses and the other verses from Matthew, Mark and Luke describing what is called The Last Supper. It is this simple act that we have come to know as Holy Communion.

I wish to propose that, based on what is written, we do not partake often enough, for it says that we should do this in remembrance of Jesus. Should we, as believers, remember Jesus more than once a month, or once every 6 months? It does not say, as the Laws of Moses did, to have celebrations on certain days. Jesus commanded us to remember Him “whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup”, not the first Sunday of every month. We can partake of the simple act of thanksgiving and remembrance whenever we sit down to a meal.

Jesus was, and still is, “… the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.”
(John 6:35b)

Perhaps, since Jesus is the bread of life and we are to partake of Holy Communion whenever we eat, does this mean that we are to partake of Jesus all of the time? Consider that without bread, we will physically grow weak and die. Is that also true of the spiritual bread that Jesus gives us?

We can be thankful and acknowledge that Jesus is our Lord and Savior in all that we do.

How often do you give thanks for the “bread” and the “wine”?

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you ready to remodel?

September 19, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Unless the LORD builds the house,
its builders labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
the watchmen stand guard in vain.
(Psalms 127:1 (NIV))

When did the government take prayer out of public schools?

When did abortion become legal?

When did the rights of the criminal become more important than the common good of society?

When did we start allowing the vocal minority to remove God from our society?

When did it become socially unacceptable to mention Jesus in the military, in government and in everyday life?

The LORD may have built this house, but we have allowed it to be remodeled in a way that has excluded God. It is time to remodel it again and rebuild it with God’s help.

I often wonder what the founding fathers would say about what has happened. History books are being rewritten. Men and women who were once revered as godly and righteous are now simply mentioned as owning slaves. I don’t condone slavery, but to relegate all of the great achievements to a lost bit of information simply because they happened to own slaves. No one is perfect, yet these very same people followed God’s leading and established the tenants that would later bring freedom to all.

We need to allow God to not only rebuild, but to also watch over this country and this world. In order for that to happen, we must turn to Him. He will not do it if we do not ask.

if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
(2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV))

People wonder why we have such troubles and such insecurity. We have been given the answer. I pray that we, as the body of Christ, will rise to the occasion and allow God to rebuild us and to watch over us once again.

Are you ready to remodel?

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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He who trusts in himself is a fool

September 15, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

He who trusts in himself is a fool,
but he who walks in wisdom is kept safe.
(Proverbs 28:26 (NIV))

In today’s world, there are far too many “fools” who have placed their trust in themselves and in others who have also placed their own trust in themselves. In other words, too many of our society think that they are in control and can solve every problem. They feel that they can make society better if only they can enforce their ways upon others.

They have lost sight of wisdom. They have lost sight of the fact that the very nature of fallen, sinful humanity takes its very essence from the one who fell from grace. Satan thought that he could do a better job, so he became obsessed with taking God’s place. Arrogance, ego and pride can lead even the angels of heaven to do things that are foolish. We all have the capabilities of doing the very same thing if we forget where our strength and our wisdom comes from.

As created beings, it is not from within us that we find something that we can trust. We can only place our trust in the wisdom that comes from God and His Son, Jesus Christ. If something points to anything else but God, then we should not place any amount of trust in it at all.

Is there anything within this world that we can place our trust in?

Can we trust in the governments of the world?

Can we trust in corporations?

Can we trust in our jobs?

Can we trust in our friends?

Can we trust in our families?

I think that we have already established that we should not place trust in ourselves.

Everything that is in this world has been tainted by sin, and in spite of the best of intentions, nothing is perfect. If you doubt that, consider yourself.

All of us have become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
we all shrivel up like a leaf,
and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
(Isaiah 64:6 (NIV))

We cannot trust in our own wisdom, for our own wisdom is tainted. It is like filthy rags. We have only one place in which to put our trust, and that is in the wisdom of God.

Do you trust in God, or are you a fool?

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you flatter God?

September 7, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
(Ephesians 5:1-2 (NIV))

When you were growing up, was there an adult that you wanted to be just like? Perhaps it was a parent, or perhaps a grandparent, or even an aunt or uncle. No matter who it may have been, chances are very good that you did have someone in your life that you tried to model everything after.

I can safely say that you probably imitated what they did down to the smallest of details.

What, in your mind, made that person such an object of your devotion?

There are probably two main reasons. They loved you and they did not hesitate to let you know.

Think about God in that perspective.

He created you. He sent His only begotten Son to die for you. Again, love and a strong way of letting you know.

Do we imitate God in the same way that we imitated that special adult when we were younger? Do we strive to be just like Him? Do we impatiently wait to be in His presence? Do we find joy in His presence? Do we eagerly go with Him wherever He may lead?

Simple questions, yet the answers are not so simple.

What is the difference?

As we became adults, have we “outgrown” the ability to imitate? Have we spent so much time trying to establish our own identity that imitation is the farthest thing from our minds?

We do not lose ourselves in imitation. It is how we learn. We imitate our teachers as they tell us about what we must learn. We imitate our peers in social environments so that we can learn what is appropriate. We imitate our bosses so that we can work more efficiently and get that much wanted raise and promotion.

If we profess a faith in Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, and a faith in God, then we should strive to learn all that we can. The best way is by imitating what Jesus said and did.

There is an old saying that “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”

Do you flatter God?

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What type of attitude?

August 30, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

This is what the LORD says:
“Heaven is my throne,
and the earth is my footstool.
Where is the house you will build for me?
Where will my resting place be?
Has not my hand made all these things,
and so they came into being?”
declares the LORD.
“This is the one I esteem:
he who is humble and contrite in spirit,
and trembles at my word
(Isaiah 66:1-2 (NIV))

I am going to ask you a very difficult question. I want you to be honest with your answer.

Have you ever had the attitude that God couldn’t get something done if it weren’t for you?

Ouch !!!

If you are like me, your answer probably hurt.

What goes with that type of an attitude? Is it humility or pride? Is it patience of arrogance?

I hate to say this, but we are all guilty of this at one time or another. It is important that we put a quick stop to this attitude and realize that God is in control and that we are not. I know that sometimes, from our limited perspective, it appears that nothing would get done if it weren’t for us. Have you ever stopped to think that maybe God is trying to teach us patience, or that He is trying to teach someone else responsibility?

We cannot presume to know the mind of God, but our human nature wants to tell Him how to run things. God longs for us to learn how to be in a different role in our relationship with Him. He wants us to take a role of a young son in the presence of a wise father. We have nothing to give, except love, and everything to learn. We must realize that God is far above our ways and that we are simply His creation. When we accept that relationship, we begin to learn humility. When we learn humility, we accept the fact that we are sinners in need of grace. When we accept that simple truth, we see ourselves differently. Hopefully, we will soon see ourselves in a relationship with God that has us sitting humbly at His feet, waiting for His wisdom to be perfected in us and not our filthy rags staining Him.

With what type of attitude do you approach your relationship with God?

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