What are we guilty of doing in our churches?

April 16, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

When Jesus entered the temple courts, he began to drive out those who were selling. “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be a house of prayer’; but you have made it ‘a den of robbers.'”
(Luke 19:45-46 (NIV))

We, as the Body of Christ, have a tendency to gloss over the events between Palm Sunday and the Upper Room, but it is crucial to remember one important event in relation to the temple during this time. Jesus made it a point to criticize the established practices of the day. He made it a point to let Jerusalem and all of Israel know that what they were doing in the temple was not acceptable in the eyes of God. They had turned the concepts of prayer, repentance and sacrifice into a business.

I want you to think about this for a moment. Most people who came to the temple came a long way so it was not easy for them to bring animals to sacrifice. As a result, someone started the practice of having animals and other offerings for sale within the outer courtyard. I am sure that these people thought that they were providing a service to their fellow Israelites who had come a long way, but it appears that they were more concerned about helping themselves get rich by charging high prices for their goods. It appears that they were so much more concerned about profit than honesty and righteousness. Jesus saw their hearts and reacted accordingly.

I want you to stop and consider some of the things that we allow to take place within the boundaries of our churches!

As we move from Palm Sunday into Good Friday and then Resurrection Sunday, it is my desire that everyone who professes a faith in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior would take a serious look at their actions and their motives for these actions. It is my prayer that each of us would reflect on what faith in Jesus and church has become. I want you to ask yourself a few simple questions.

Is this what Jesus had in mind when He went to the cross?

Do my actions and my motives glorify Jesus or do my actions and my motives glorify me?

In essence, we need to make sure that we treat the Lord’s house with the same zeal we know that Jesus had for the temple. Are we doing things that would make Jesus chase us out?

What are we guilty of doing in our churches?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Show others that they can be made new!

April 12, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”
(Matthew 9:16-17 (NIV))

Have you become so set in your ways that God cannot do something new in your life? Is your heart so old that it cannot handle anything new?

If you associate physical age with “oldness,” then let me explain something. I have seen very old men and women who have a “new” heart – one that is open to the love, grace and mercy that God has blessed them with and I have seen people who are physically young who have such an “old” heart. It is closed to anything and everything that has to do with God. Fortunately, God has a way of softening hard hearts. He can reverse the aging process that we have applied to ourselves. Just like the old wineskins that would burst if new wine were poured into them, our old hearts must undergo a change before we can fully accept the love, grace and mercy that God so freely gives.

We are those wineskins!

If God were to pour out new wine of His Spirit upon your heart, would it be able to hold it? Would it be so brittle and break because of the new shape that God desires for it to take, or would it bend and accept the changes from within? Just like the new wine changes the wineskin from within, God changes our heart from within. He pours out His Spirit and allows it to flow into the very recesses of our heart. It works slowly and before you know it, just like with the wine, God has soon changed the vessel that He has used to contain His Spirit.

There is no wrong time to open yourself up to the newness that God wants to bring Allow God to use you to show others that He can bring a newness and a refreshing even when the world is saying that there is no hope.

Show others that they can be made new!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you spent time with God today?

April 8, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I sought the LORD, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame.
This poor man called, and the LORD heard him;
he saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him,
and he delivers them.
Taste and see that the LORD is good;
blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.
Fear the LORD, you his saints,
for those who fear him lack nothing.
(Psalms 34:4-9 (NIV))

This paints a very beautiful picture in your mind. It makes you envision a very loving Father who is there for His children. All He asks is that you turn towards Him.

You must seek after Him and He will deliver those who earnestly seek. Your reward will be a radiant peace that passes all understanding. He does not discrimate based on wealth, power, position, age, sex, or any other factor that humanity uses. For those who call upon Him in truth, He will send the Holy Spirit to guide, direct, and protect you from things of the enemy. God wants to feed you with the fruits that are from Him.

It has been said that of the human senses, taste is the most intimate for you actually take something into your body to experience it. We are to taste and see that the LORD is good, for He can provide the sweetness of life that we all seek. We must also fear God. This is not a fear that He will destroy us if we do something wrong. It is a fear that is built on love and respect.

When you love and respect someone, you are fearfull of the consequences of your actions. If you love and respect your spouse, you will not seek after another for fear of hurting them and yourself. If you love and respect God, then you will not seek after another god for fear of hurting Him and yourself. People have given the term “the fear of God” a bad meaning. It has been used to strike terror into the hearts of people, and not instill in them a true sense of the nature of God.

God has told us to “be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10a), yet, how many of us have actually take the time to do this. In any relationship, time alone with the other person is critical.

Have you spent time with God today?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you desire to be focused on Jesus?

April 4, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
(1 Corinthians 2:2 (NIV))

What is it that you find yourself focusing on? What is it that commands all of your attention? What is is that you treasure more than anything else in all of creation?

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
(Matthew 6:21 (NIV))

Are you willing to admit what has your focus, what has your attention and what has your heart?

This is a very tough question and one that I am sure many of us have wanted to avoid at some point in our lives. Be completely honest with yourself. Can you openly admit in front of family and friends the one thing that is your treasure? Can you admit to what is the one thing that has your focus? I can’t answer those questions for anyone except myself. No one can answer for you and you definitely can’t answer for anyone else.

If you primary focus is not a relationship with Jesus, what does that say about your life and your salvation? You claim to know who Jesus is, but does He know you?

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
(Matthew 7:21-23 (NIV))

As a professing believer in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, He should be the primary authority and focus in your life.

Do you desire to be focused on Jesus?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What kind of heart do you have?

March 26, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
(Ezekiel 36:26 (NIV))

Do you think that what you put into your heart could turn your heart to stone?

Perhaps not literally, but it can definitely harden your heart!

It is possible for someone to fill their heart with such things that leaves them completely self-centered and devoid of any feelings, any sympathy, any empathy for anyone else or for things of the Lord. It is possible for someone to become so absorbed in things of the world and the so-called treasures that it has to offer that they become oblivious to the things of the Lord and the true treasures that He longs to give.

We need to be careful of the things that we allow into our hearts. The wrong things can lead us away from the Lord and harden our hearts. The right things can draw us closer to the Lord and restore the heart of flesh simply because we long to fill it with the things that are important to the Lord.

But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
(Matthew 6:20-21 (NIV))

Have you ever truly stopped to think what those treasures could be?

I honestly believe that we have been told things that we should treasure, things that we should strive to achieve that go hand in hand with our faith in Jesus.

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))

If we strive to possess these characteristics in our walk with Jesus, our priorities have already set what we treasure as things not of this world. Still, we are only human and the world can distract us. We need to stay steadfast in our desires to stay focused on Jesus. We must constantly seek to have a heart that is not hardened.

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
(Psalm 51:10 (NIV))

What kind of heart do you have?

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

March 22, 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. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. “
(Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NIV))

What is it that you seek after will all your heart?

Is it wealth? Is it fame? Is it fortune?

Is it God?

Far too many people seek other things before they seek God. They give “lip service” to God and then live as if they did not proclaim Him as Lord. In other words, they do not seek Him with all their heart. They have replaced God with a multitude of personal “gods” that they let control their lives. All of this is done in the name of prosperity, greed, security, and a number of other ideals that they have set for themselves. They look upon God as a benevolent, jolly “old man” who watches as his children do something not quite righteous. They then expect God to tell them that what they are doing is ok because they are loved and can do no wrong.

God is not like that!

He wants each of us to turn from our sinful ways and to turn one hundred percent toward Him. He longs for us to seek after His heart, for He longs to prosper us in ways that we cannot imagine. He longs to give us hope and a future. Unfortunately, too many of us look toward ourselves for the hope of the future and we look to God as our “parachute,” our safety net.

We need to look to God first in all things!

God created each of us for a purpose. That purpose was not to lay devastated within our sin. He created us to be with Him. Do you think that the creator of all the universe lacks for anything? He is ready to prosper each of us according to His riches, but first we must have a change of heart. We must stop seeking after the prosperity and seek after God first.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
(Matthew 6:33 (NIV))

Are you seeking after God’s plans?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are these words fixed in your heart and mind?

March 21, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.
(Deuteronomy 11:18 (NIV))

Jesus has risen and we should be rejoicing with all of our being. We should be praising God for His greatness. We should be lifting up Jesus for His sacrifice. We should be embracing the Holy Spirit so that He can guide us in all that we do. We should be studying God’s Word so that we may be able to discern what is righteous and what is not. Accepting God’s grace and mercy is only the beginning. We must study so that we may know what God is calling us to do.

Do you remember when you first took an avid interest in your favorite hobby? Chances are you immersed yourself into anything and everything that you could find about your interest. For some of you, it may be a sport such as golf. For others, it may be reading. For others, it may be kayaking. No matter what you interest is, you spent a considerable amount of time learning as much as you could for it became an integral part of who you are. It filled an emptiness. It gave you excitement. It gave you peace.

Now comes the painful moment of truth.

When you accepted Jesus as your Savior, did you have the same hunger for knowledge about Him and God’s Word as you did for your favorite hobby? Did you hunger for His words? Did you long to learn as much as you could about the saving grace that you accepted as your own? Did you allow it to become an integral part of you? Did you allow it to fill the biggest emptiness in your life? Did it give you excitement? Did it give you peace?

Accepting Jesus as your savior is more than simply lip service. He also wants to be Lord of your life. This is not a subservient or demeaning attitude to take. It shows a desire to fully embrace God’s grace and mercy.

Are these words fixed in your heart and mind?

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