Be careful how you answer this!

June 24, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.
(Isaiah 40:25 (NIV))

We may not think that we compare God to anyone or to anything, but if we don’t place Him first in our lives, we are guilty of doing just that!

Think about this from a personal perspective. What is it that you desire most in life? Is it wealth? Is it fame? Is it power? Do you model your life on someone who has the things that you desire? Do you look to them as your standard or do you look to God to give you direction and guidance for your life?

Based on those questions, it is extremely easy to compare others to God. It is easy to place God second or even lower in your life. Is this what you want? Perhaps I should ask is this what God wants?

We have a tendency to look at the Lord as some sort of genii who is there to grant our every wish and to stay out of our lives when we think we don’t need anything. In all honesty, when this happens, we are comparing ourselves to God. We may not intend to do this, but in fact, we are guilty of elevating ourselves above the Lord. Is this what you want? Is this what God wants?

Human nature is far too predictable. Even when we profess to know the Lord, we fail miserably at truly recognizing His majesty. We fail when we turn to ourselves or to others for guidance and direction when we have the Creator waiting for us to turn to Him. Are we guilty of comparing ourselves or others to God? Are we guilty of placing ourselves or others above God?

Be truthful!

Be careful how you answer this!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you following the Lord’s plans or your own?

June 4, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
(Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV))

What is it about human nature that makes us want to reject something proven and try to reinvent the proverbial wheel so that we can say that we did it our way?

I realize that was a very lengthy question, but in all honesty, the question is not as lengthy as our actual feeble attempts to thwart God’s plans for us. Some of us never learn and fight God’s plans until the day we die. What is it about surrendering to the Lord’s will that makes us want to rebel? For some people, surrendering to anyone else’s will besides their own is something that will never happen. Their hearts are hardened and pride has control.

If you were presented with a plan that would make you prosperous and hopeful for a better future, it looks like it would be an easy choice to make. That is exactly what has happened with the promises that the Lord has made to us, yet, so many people choose to follow their own plans. They think that they know what is best for them. This often has catastrophic consequences. Think of it in this way. Suppose a light bulb has the ability to think and reason. It was made to shine light, but in its own mind, it wants to be used as a heat source for baking. The goals that the light bulb creates for itself will lead to its own demise, for the amount of energy required to be used as a heat source will destroy the light bulb. It was not made for such a task. The planned task that it was created for is something that only it can fulfill. It was designed to share light for countless others. It will be made prosperous. It will help others to prosper. It will have hope as well as bring hope to others. This sounds like a future worth following.

Are you following the Lord’s plans or your own?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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When you feel far from the Lord, repent!

May 29, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time?
(Psalms 77:18 (NIV))

It’s time to get personal about your faith!

Have you ever had times in your life when it felt like the Lord just wasn’t with you? Perhaps it was a matter of perspective. Let’s ask that question with a slightly different point of view. Have you ever had times in your life when it felt like you weren’t with the Lord? See how different the question is, as well as your answer, when you ask it from a position of aligning with the Lord instead of asking if the Lord is on your side?

Think about your life, your spiritual mountaintops and your spiritual valleys, from this perspective. Do you see a trend? Do you see a need to refocus your attitude? Do you see a need to repent and return to the Lord during certain times in your life?

As I have often stated, human nature is a strange thing. We can ignore warning signs that are directly in front of us and walk headlong into a sinful action that has dreadful ramifications upon us. We can also do everything physically in our power to avoid God and His path for us, and when we do, we wonder why we are in such dire circumstances. Will we ever learn to fully rely on the Lord? Will we ever learn to recognize His guidance? Will we ever stop being drawn into temptation?

The sad part is, that during these times, we blame the Lord, but in all honesty, it is our own actions that drive us into despair. It is the consequences of our own actions that make us think that the Lord is no longer with us. When we find ourselves walking through these times in our life, we must have the wisdom to repent. We must have the wisdom to say, “Lord, I know that it is not You. I know that it is all me. Forgive me! Help me to overcome my sinful nature so that I may walk with you all the days of my life.”

When you feel far from the Lord, repent!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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We must not conform to this world!

May 17, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
(2 Timothy 3:1-5 (NIV))

Whether you think that we are in the last days or not, this is Godly advise to heed. If you stop to think about this, there are many old and wise sayings that come to mind that all say basically the same thing.

Don’t be guilty by association!

If you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.

Birds of a feather flock together.

I could probably list quite a few more, but I hope that you get the idea. Human nature is good at falsely thinking that we are capable of associating with others without having their sinful natures impact us. We, as the Body of Christ, are called to be set apart from the rest of the world. We are called to a higher standard. We are called to be guided by the Holy Spirit. The characteristics that the Holy Spirit calls us to follow are contradictory to what the world desires and what we are warned to avoid.

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 5:22-23 (NIV))

Sadly, too many people falsely believe that they can associate with the world and still be a follower of Christ.

No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
(Matthew 6:24 (NIV))

Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
(1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (NIV))

We must turn from those in this world who will lead us astray. We must turn to the Lord. We must not conform to this world!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What have you put behind you?

March 29, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.
(1 Corinthians 13:11 (NIV))

Maturity is something that many of us try to avoid. We have a tendency to fear responsibility and we have a tendency to think of maturity and responsibility as being one and the same. In all honesty, they are closely related, but it is possible to be responsible without actually being mature. In essence, maturity can be considered full development while responsibility often refers to accountability. A good example of this is a child who always cleans their room. They are definitely not mature, but they are responsible in certain aspects of their life.

Human nature tells us that we don’t like to be held accountable. All that you have to do is look at Adam and Eve after being tempted into eating the fruit. When God approached them about what happened, blame was placed elsewhere. They failed to take the responsibility for what happened.

If you look at maturity as the ability to recognize sin and responsibility as the accountability to stay away from sin, then we start to get a clearer picture of this passage.

A child will think, say and do things that are less than desirable. Hopefully, as the child gets older, they recognize the childish nature and desire to take on a more mature nature. They decide to leave the old, childish nature behind them in a similar manner to how a person who repents leaves the old, sinful nature behind them. They step closer to maturity by selecting to put things behind them and move forward without that baggage.

What have you put behind you?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do you find yourself asking this question?

March 28, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

How long, Lord, will the wicked, how long will the wicked be jubilant?
(Psalms 94:3 (NIV))

How do you react when you see the news of the events of this world?

Sadly, I could spend a lot of time just listing everything that makes me shake my head in disbelief. You could probably spend the same amount of time building your own personal list, but neither your list nor my list is going to approach the list that the Lord has made. He sees things that we can only imagine. If the things of this world break our hearts, can you begin to fathom the sadness that the Lord feels for this world and for those who are lost in sin and wickedness? Can you imagine how He feels when He sees the hearts of those who blatantly desire to not only stay in their sin, but to sink to new lows of wickedness and sinfulness?

I long to see God’s righteousness poured out upon the world, yet, at the same time, I pray that the Lord holds off so that those who are immersed in sin and wickedness have an opportunity to repent!

We don’t know God’s exact timing, but we can know the season. One day, though, God’s timing will be perfect! The day that we, as the Body of Christ, long for, will be a day that the wicked will wish they could escape. We all have people that we know who fall into this category. Do you wish to see them miss out on eternity in heaven because they waited too long? Perhaps this gives us an insight into the heart of God.

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))

Still, human nature will continue to ask the question, “How long?” Based on the events of this world, I honestly believe that the Lord is giving us an answer!

Do you find yourself asking this question?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do your thoughts and words please the Lord?

March 27, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
(Psalms 19:14 (NIV))

Reading this passage reminded me of something that I think most people forget to take into consideration, and that is the simple fact that God knows us better than we know ourselves. He sees straight into our hearts and knows our innermost desires. He sees the things that we try to hide even from ourselves.

Are you willing to ask God to search your heart?

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
(Psalms 139:23 (NIV))

Better yet, are you willing to respond to God when He reveals to you things that are not pleasing in His sight? All of us have thoughts and desires that are less than righteous. We all say things that are less than pleasing to God and to ourselves. Are you willing to repent? Are you willing to change? It is human nature to rebel against correction. It is human nature to fall into prideful arrogance because we simply don’t want to change.

In short, we don’t want to please the Lord. We want to please ourselves?

Do your thoughts and words please the Lord?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are we capable of hearing what the Lord says?

January 17, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Whoever has ears, let them hear.
(Matthew 11:15 (NIV))

Everyone likes to think that they are good at paying attention to their physical surroundings. Whether it be by sight, smell or hearing, everyone is usually aware enough of their surroundings to know daylight from night, sunshine from rain, and safety from danger. Still, every single one of us gets into a predicament at times when our physical senses were ignored. All that you have to do to confirm this is look at all of the videos that have been posted where people are looking at their cell phones and walk into a pole. I have even seen situations where people were so engrossed in what they were doing that they didn’t even hear their name being called to warn them against an impending danger.

It is human nature!

We have a tendency to become so wrapped up in certain things that we completely ignore or avoid other things.

No one knows human nature better than our Creator. He knows our innermost desires. He sees the things that make us long for Him and He cringes at the things that draw us into sin. He knows our hearts. He knows our minds. He also knows that we can become very easily distracted, especially when it comes to the things that appeal to our sinful nature. The Lord is constantly calling us to Him so that we can walk with Him and avoid that sinful nature. Sadly, all too often we are so engrossed in the worldly things that we fail to hear the Lord calling us away from them.

I know that the words from this passage are used many times throughout the Bible, but have you ever truly stopped to think about them? Perhaps if I paraphrased this concept it might stick with you a little stronger. In essence, God is say, “I gave you two ears. Use them! Pay attention to what I am telling you.” I realize that the Lord has never been recorded as saying something with this type of an attitude, but He is telling us to pay attention and listen to what He is trying to tell us. It is our sinful human nature that gets in the way.

Are we capable of hearing what the Lord says?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What are you willing to lose?

December 18, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.
(Mark 8:35 (NIV))

It is human nature to not want to lose. This is especially true if losing means that you lose your life! Most of us aren’t even willing to lose if by our losing, everyone else wins. We have to come out on top. We have to prove that we are best at everything! This often means that we think that we are right even when we are eternally wrong!

Take a look at the words in the first part of the passage above. Saving your life implies that you place nothing above yourself. You will go to any extreme to make sure that your physical life is protected even at the expense of others. You are your first and often, your only priority. You possess no love. You possess no joy. You often possess no peace, patience, or kindness. Little about your life is good. Since you place yourself first, you possess little or no faith. You treat others as lower than yourself, so you lack gentleness and self-control. Does this sound like a life that you would want to live? Does this sound like a life that you would want?

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 5:22-23 (NIV))

Does the second half of the passage start to sound better and make more sense?

We can’t live a life that is Christ centered if we strive to save our earthly life. We are called to be witnesses. We can’t witness to others if all we think about is ourselves. We can’t be willing to go because we would be outside of our comfort zone.

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.
(Mark 16:15 (NIV))

I know that I am forever thankful that Jesus was willing to lose His earthly life for the sake of others. What if He had balked at the idea of dying for our sins? What if he had decided to not leave the Father to come to earth? What if Jesus had decided that it was simply not worth leaving the glory of heaven to come into this world? The majesty of the story as told in Luke 2 would never have happened. The tearing of the veil of the Temple would never have taken place. Faith, hope and love would only be a dream of something that could happen. Grace and mercy would simply be nonexistent. John 3:16 would not be true.

All of this was made possible because Jesus was willing to lose His life for others. Most of us aren’t even willing to lose our place in line! It takes a sacrifice to place others first.

What are you willing to lose?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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We must pray for the enemy to be bound!

November 8, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.
(1 Timothy 2:1-2 (NIV))

It would be so nice to live in peace with all people!

Unfortunately, human history has a track record of exactly opposite of this desire. Once sin was introduced into the world, we have been at each other’s throats nonstop. Adam turned on Eve and placed the blame solely on her. Eve turned to the serpent and placed the blame on him. Cain turned on Abel and killed him because God accepted Abel’s offering and not his own. Ever since then, all of human history has been the never ending story of one group of people trying to control other groups of people. If you stop to think about this, it is actually the power of the enemy to influence one group of people to do harm to another group of people.

There is something about human nature that longs to be in control, to be in charge, to be able to enforce their will over the will of others. Satan knows this and uses this to his advantage. We have appointed people to be in positions of authority. Some people have gone so far as to kill others to end up in positions of authority. All throughout human history, we have had slavery. The conqueror enslaves the conquered. Sin is rampant!

Sinful human nature all too often prevails. People still become violent if they do not get their way!

With all of this history, Jesus came to break that trend and to offer us a new future. We don’t have to turn to anger and bitterness. We don’t have to control. We don’t have to get angry and wage war. We were not created to live in that manner. We were created to live in a loving fellowship with each other and with the Lord. We can live peaceful and quiet lives!

It starts with proclaiming that Jesus is your personal Lord and Savior. It matures through prayer and study. It continues to mature as we become more and more like Jesus.

Think about that last sentence!

When Jesus was facing crucifixion, what did He do?

He prayed!

He prayed for those who were entrusted to Him. When He was on the cross, He prayed for the Father to forgive those who crucified Him. He realized that the power behind the events of the world were not human, but were actually works of the enemy. When He prayed, and when we pray for those in authority, the enemy is bound! Only when the enemy has been bound can we live in peace!

We must pray for the enemy to be bound!

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