Are you trying to do things your way?

March 12, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”
    “No,” they answered.
He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.
(John 21:4-6 (NIV))

Do you consider yourself an expert in what you do?

Think about that question for a moment.

How willing are you to take the advice of someone who doesn’t know anything about what you do? How willing are you to even consider doing something differently than what you are accustomed to?

Now, is there something in your life that you are struggling with because you know that God is leading you in a certain direction, but you feel that you are constantly encountering roadblocks and obstacles? Have you stopped to consider that you are trying to fulfill your calling using your own strengths and plans? Perhaps you simply need to step back and accept the advice from someone else.

That is exactly what the disciples did, not only in this story, but in other stories as well.

Every time that they attempted to do something without Jesus, it did not go as planned. When they allowed Jesus to guide, things vastly improved. Fortunately for those who can claim spiritual descendancy to the disciples, they allowed someone else to lead them. They soon realized that they could not do it on their own. They needed Jesus.

What in your life is in need of the guidance that Jesus can give? Is it your job? Is it your family? Is it your calling? Is it a ministry that He is longing to use to spread the Gospel? Listen to that still, small voice. I think that you know the one. It is the one that says “Throw your net on the right side of the boat. . . ” It is the one that sounds foolish, but you just can’t seem to get it out of your mind. It is the one that is calling you to trust in something besides your own so-called expertise.

I once heard a story about how a revival got started. To summarize, many people got together to pray that a revival would start in their town. They met regularly, but with no results. Finally, someone asked after a rather lengthy prayer meeting if anyone felt anything. No one answered. This went on for several more prayer meetings, and still no one answered. Finally, at still another prayer meeting, someone reluctantly said that they felt that they were supposed to hit the table. They said that they had felt this way almost since the beginning of their prayer group, but they felt that it was foolish and didn’t mention it. Finally, they broke down and did what they felt they were being told to do. They hit the table.

Can you guess what happened?

Are you ignoring something because you feel that it is foolish? God is not calling the equipped. He is equipping the called. It is up to each of us to answer that call. He will call you in ways that you may think are foolish.

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

Are you trying to do things your way?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Why are we drawn to return to our sin and slavery?

March 2, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
(Galatians 5:1 (NIV))

What is it about human nature that makes us return to something that we know we should leave behind? We have all been guilty of doing this very thing, and probably much more often than we care to admit. Apparently, human nature since the fall from grace has always had us doing what can only be called self destructive behavior. We know that we shouldn’t, but yet we do. This type of behavior has been pointed out many times, but probably the most accurate and disgusting is the following.

As a dog returns to its vomit,
so fools repeat their folly.
(Proverbs 26:11 (NIV))

As I stated previously, we all do it. Even the man who is credited with bringing the Gospel to the Gentiles fought this aspect in his own walk of faith. Paul was a very intelligent person, but yet he didn’t understand the self destructive nature that he fought against.

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
(Romans 7:15-20 (NIV))

This struggle that all of us face makes it clear why each of us are called to take up our cross daily. We are to deny that part of our human nature. We are to struggle with this sinful nature each and every time that it raises its ugly head in our lives. We are called to repent. Far too many people believe that this is a one-time occurrence, but it should be a daily attitude and activity. Do I even venture to say that, on some days, we may have to humble ourselves continually before the Lord and repent of our actions and our thoughts?

I know that we are a fallen creation, but I wish I had the magic answer as to why we return to our sin when we don’t want to. I wish I knew how to turn off that part of my life so that I never take my eyes off of Jesus. Just like Paul, I find myself doing the very things that I hate! I don’t know why! I long to do only what is good and righteous, yet on my own, this is not possible. I just know that we must be ready to fall on our knees whenever and wherever we may find yourself returning to our sin.

I want to leave you with one question that I hope you will take to heart.

Why are we drawn to return to our sin and slavery?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you come to your senses?

October 30, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!’
(Luke 15:17 (NIV))

We all know the story of the prodigal son. We look at it to symbolize the willingness of a loving heavenly Father to welcome us back with open arms. If that is how you understand the prodigal son, then you are correct, for that is exactly how God is, but . . .

It requires a decision on our part first!

It requires us to come to our senses and leave the life that left us in the sinful state that we find ourselves. It requires us to repent.

Repentance implies regret. It implies a sadness over previous actions, a resolution to change as you move forward and a humility to realize that you cannot change on your own. In essence, it means that you have decided to change directions. To most people, the concept of a complete U-turn comes to mind. This represents a complete change of heart and change of mind. When you earnestly repent, you have a realization that you have been wrong and that you wish to return to what is right. Some people would call this an ah-ha moment. I love the way that this passage describes this moment.

He came to his senses!

It is said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results. What is it about human nature that makes us think that we can do it our way and that our way is going to be better than God’s way? We continually walk away from God and expect our lives to be these pictures of perfection in which everything goes our way all of the time. We have been blinded by the lies of the enemy. We have bought into the picture of insanity that the enemy has painted. I want to tell you that the outcome will always be the same. The details may change, but the end result is a life of sin and loneliness far from the loving arms of the Father.

It is important that we come to our senses, leave our sin, and return to the Father. He is waiting!

Have you come to your senses?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How good are you at seeing the unseen?

September 9, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
(2 Corinthians 4:18 (NIV))

Human nature likes the easy way out!

If something is directly in front of us, do most of us go searching for something better?

If we can see, do most of us make a choice to gamble on the uncertainty of the unseen? This concept has been put to the test many times. Popular television game shows use this concept to get contestants to agonize over a decision to keep what they have or go after what is behind the door. Human nature likes a gamble, yet, at the same time human nature likes certainty. We always make decisions based on what we think will be best for us, whether immediately or long term.

Think about that with respect to your life. Unless you are striving for something that satisfies a personal desire, most things that you do are the easy option. We take advantage of what we can see and plan. Even with this in mind, it is almost a certainty that the difficult things that a person chooses to do are so that they will have an easier life later. All that you have to do is look at your educational choices and then your career choices to see how this pans out for most of us.

What if we could be guaranteed that what is behind God’s door is so much better than what we can see in this world? The things of this world are in a sinful, fallen state. Do we want to trade sin for sin? What we are promised from God is so much better. We are promised to have our sins removed! We are promised to be able to spend eternity in His presence! Unlike the trickery and uncertainty of the television game shows, what is behind God’s door is so much better than what the world has to offer. The treasure that God promises is worth whatever we have to do in order to attain it!

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.
(Matthew 6:19-20 (NIV))

The treasures on earth are seen. The treasure of heaven are only seen through faith!

How good are you at seeing the unseen?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Don’t follow your heart. Follow Jesus!

August 6, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.
(Proverbs 19:21 (NIV))

How many times have you been given advice to follow your heart? How many times have you given this advice? Is this really sound advice when you stop to consider how many times the Bible refers to the human heart as wicked and deceitful? Ever since the fall from grace, our hearts have been filled with selfish and sinful desires.

The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.
(Genesis 6:5 (NIV))

The heart is deceitful above all things
     and beyond cure.
     Who can understand it?
(Jeremiah 17:9 (NIV))

If you don’t think this is true, simply look at your own life. Are there things that you have done, or you think about doing, that would shock your family and your friends if they only knew what was in your heart? Do you look around at those whom you know and find yourself thinking that if they only knew the true you they wouldn’t want to be near you?

Human nature is so full of secrets and shortcomings that it is a wonder how any of us truly have any family or friends! We are so self-centered that even on our best days we still fail miserably at doing anything close to what the Lord calls us to do. We fail because we listen to our selfish and sinful hearts when we should be listening to the Lord.

Is your heart pure? What plans do you hide in your heart? What sinful desires do you hide in your heart? Life is a series of choices that we all must make. Every single day we are faced with a choice of who to follow. Do we follow our own sinful hearts or do we strive to follow Jesus?

It is easy to say this, but very difficult to walk it through. We must make an effort to follow Jesus and repent when we stray so that the Lord’s purpose prevails.

In other words, don’t follow your heart. Follow Jesus!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is there anything that you are still trying to hide?

July 31, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
(1 John 1:9 (NIV))

What is it about human nature that makes us want to keep secrets?

We keep them from those we love. We keep them from our friends. We keep them from those we work with, and we keep them from those whom we call brothers and sisters in Christ. We may be able to fool others for a while, but our secrets are usually uncovered in one way or another.

What type of things do we feel that we need to keep secret from others?

Most of our secrets are attempts to keep our shortcomings, our embarrassments and our sins from public scrutiny. We feel that we can continue to do things if we just act as if we aren’t doing them. Why do we think that we can act in this manner? Why do we feel that we can continue in our behaviors indefinitely? Too many people simply won’t admit that one day they will have to be held accountable for everything that they have ever done. They will have to stand, not in front of others, but in front of the Lord where they will be judged based on a standard that no one can attain on their own. If you have repented and placed your faith in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, you will be judged righteous. Still, we are only human. We are a sinful, fallen creation. We must repent of our sin and turn away from our nature continually. We must search our hearts, for the Lord knows our hearts. We must seek to uncover things that we attempt to keep hidden from ourselves. We must seek to replace what we desire to keep hidden with things that are of the Lord.

Think of the sinful, hidden things in your life and think about the old saying, “Garbage in. Garbage out!” It is time to replace the garbage of sin with the grace and mercy offered to us through the cross. Allow the Lord to cleanse the garbage and to purify our hearts. Ask the Lord to remove any hidden sin!

Is there anything that you are still trying to hide?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you praying for God’s Will?

July 22, 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 them.
(2 Timothy 3:1-5 (NIV))

We are facing terrible times and they seem to be increasing. The attitudes of society seem to be getting more rebellious. Our whole society seems to be self centered, money grabbing and arrogant. The generations that are alive today have seen the removal of God from our school systems and our public affairs because of one group’s misinterpretation of the phrase “separation of church and state.”

How could we have let this happen?

Have we, as believers, become complacent in our attitudes towards others, or have the people around us been infected with the lies from the powers that control this world? Whatever the reason, people are not what they should be in the eyes of God.

It is God’s Will that the events spoken of in Daniel and in Revelations come to pass. I do not know if we are seeing these things about to start, but one thing I do know is that we should be praying.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
(Ephesians 6:18 (NIV))

I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone– for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
(1 Timothy 2:1-4 (NIV))

Prayer is the most effective weapon that we have. If the timing is right for God’s plan, then our prayers will help to prepare us and hopefully have an impact on someone for Jesus. If the timing is not right for God’s plan, and our society is just rebellious, then our prayers will help to turn the nation back to God. No matter what the timing, pray!

The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
(James 5:16b (NIV))

Are you praying for God’s Will?

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