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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Is the light of Jesus visible in you?

June 9, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
(Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV))

It is impossible to be a “quiet” believer.

I think everyone has met someone who says that they believe but they do not wish to “force” their beliefs on others. They are not fully aware of what Jesus meant when he spoke the words that Matthew wrote down. A light shines because it is light. You cannot stop a light from shining. By it’s very nature, it will illuminate everything that comes into contact with it.

The same is also true of people who have experienced the “Light” of Jesus Christ. If they truly have been exposed to this “Light”, then they will radiate with it in all things that they do and to all people that they see. It is not something that you can keep inside, hidden from the world.

These people quote, “My belief is a personal matter.” They are correct. Every person must decide for themselves. But, once you make that decision, it will work in your life and your “glow” will become evident by your actions, words, and deeds.

Do not hide the “Light” that has illuminated your life. Share it. Someone else needs to have the “Light”. Do not be pushy with the Light. Let Light do what it does naturally. Expose something to light, and it becomes radiant in color, completely washed by the light. Are you radiant?

Is the light of Jesus visible in you?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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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.
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Do you strive to practice strict self-control?

February 20, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

All athletes practice strict self-control. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.
(1 Corinthians 9:25 (NLT))

Some translations say that the athletes go into strict training. To me, this translation hits a little closer to home. We may not have any idea of what strict training may be, but we can all understand the idea of strict self-control.

Think about that concept for a moment.

What do you think of when self-control is mentioned?

Is it the will power to not eat the last donut in the box, or is it much more?

Personally, self-control and personal responsibility go hand in hand. Let’s face the truth. Our society no longer believes in personal responsibility. People claim that they were born that way, or they were raised in a bad home, or . . .

I think that you get the picture. Our society, and each of us as a member of the Body of Christ, must be willing to practice self-control. We must be willing to accept the responsibility of our actions. We must strive to live our lives as Jesus taught us.

Using the athlete example, a life in faith is not a sprint that starts and is over quickly. A life in faith is a lifelong journey, a marathon, in which we must be prepared to face any obstacles that the world throws our way. In order to do this, we must practice self-control. We must be willing to accept personal responsibility. If you are willing to accept personal responsibility, then you are capable of learning from your mistakes and focusing once again on the prize that is set before us.

Imagine this scenario.

You are standing in front of Jesus and He is judging your life. You have never accepted His grace and mercy as your own. Every aspect of your life condemns you. Your only response, “It wasn’t my fault. I wasn’t ready!”

I can only imagine the response from Jesus.

Strive for the prize that is won only through Jesus. Don’t allow the things of this world to sway your self-control.

Do you strive to practice strict self-control?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do we love each other enough to fulfill the law?

February 18, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

The commandments, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not covet,’ and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
(Romans 13:9-10 (NIV))

I hate to say this, but there are people who populate the pews of many churches throughout this world who harm other believers on a regular basis. What does that say about the way that we have faithfully taught what Jesus has commanded us to teach? It is easy to blame the people who harm others, but it is not so easy to take upon yourself the responsibility for their actions.

Should we bear the burden of the responsibility of the actions of other members of the Body of Christ?

I think that we are taught that we do!

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
(John 13:34-35 (NIV))

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.
(Romans 12:10 (NIV))

You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
(Galatians 5:13-15 (NIV))

If members of the Body have not been taught how to stop doing harm, then the Body has not properly fed them the Word of God. They have not been nourished to the point where they know what is Godly and righteous. They have not been allowed to mature in their faith.

Suppose parents have a child and this child starts to eat solid food. As soon as the child starts to eat, the parents do not turn this child loose and tell him to prepare his own meals. The child must be taught what to eat, what is good for them, and what is bad. All of this must happen before the child can be entrusted to prepare his own meals.

Perhaps the church is guilty of being this neglectful parent. We expect people to intuitively know what God wants them to do, what they are to read and study, and how they are supposed to live. We have not taught them how to not be harmful to others. We have not taught them how to love one another.

What have you taught your “children” in the faith? Do we love each other enough to fulfill the law?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Can you endure?

February 17, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

“For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow . . .for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.”
(James 1:3-4 (NLT))

What are you ready for?

Is your faith as strong as it should be? I cannot answer that question for anybody but myself. I can honestly say that I like to think that my faith is strong, yet, I doubt what my actions would be if I were to face certain situations. If someone were to hold a gun to my head and tell me to deny Jesus or die, I pray that I would have the faith to do what I know that I should.

Think about what I just stated.

If our faith were not tested and our endurance not given a chance to grow, I know exactly how I would react if I would be placed in the situation I described earlier. It is a learning process. When we are in school, we do not take college calculus in kindergarten. We start off with lessons that we can grasp fully and then we move on to another, bigger lesson. Our spiritual maturity follows a similar path. If, as a new believer, we are faced with major situations, we will fail. It is by God’s grace that we can be redeemed when we do fail, but we will fail. Each test of our faith gets us closer to what God desires for us, but we must embrace the faith lessons that we are being taught.

There will come a day very soon when each believer will face a test so big that we MUST fully rely on our faith to see us through. We must allow our Godly character to be developed now so that when we do face this test, we will know exactly how to respond. We must be ready to face the enemy head on and confidently denounce and rebuke his plans no matter what the consequences may be to us. We must embrace our faith and head fully into the power of Jesus’ name.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
(Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV))

Can you endure?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do you accept the proof?

February 7, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.
(Acts 17:31 (NIV))

Far too many people simply think of Jesus as the baby in the manger. They see the sweet innocence and gladly embrace a child. Some even fully embrace that He was sent by God.

Some see more than this.

Some see a teacher. Some see a prophet. Some see a martyr. Some see even more than this.

I fully embrace the description that the Bible gives to Jesus. This is a combination of Old Testament prophecy that is mirrored in New Testament fulfillment. I see Jesus as all of these things and more. He was a sweet and innocent babe. He was a teacher. He was a prophet. He was a martyr in that He came to die for our sins. But, there is more.

He is God’s only begotten Son. He is the son of man. He is both fully God and fully human. Jesus came to teach us. He came to show us God’s plan for salvation. He came to die so that plan of salvation could be realized. He died and was buried. On the third day, He arose again to being hope and fulfill the promises that had been made. He ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of God the Father, and He will return to judge the world.

There, I said it. Too many people simply do not want to admit that God’s plan also includes a day of judgment. They don’t want to admit that there will be consequences for their actions.

Think about that for a moment, though.

Who would you rather be judged by – a perfect Creator in God, or God who became human so that He could fully understand our temptations? In order for God to set a day of judgment, He had to have appointed someone to act as judge. He had to appoint someone to act as a mediator between Himself and sinful man. He had to come into this world to live as we live and to set an example for each of us. He had to face the same temptations that we face. He had to overcome them and offer Himself as a replacement for our punishment.

Judgment is something that we all dread. It is something that we would rather not think about. It is something that we will face if we do not turn to the One whom God sent.

The first time that Jesus came into this world, He came to offer salvation. He came to show us how to avoid judgment. We can accept this offer or we can face judgment.

Do you accept the proof?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you seeing miracles in your life?

January 13, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.
(Matthew 13:58 (NIV))

Do you constantly see things happening in the lives of other people and wish that something similar would happen in your life?

Let me ask you a question and I want you to truly stop and think about your answer. Don’t simply just read through this without stopping to look at your life in respect to this question.

How is your faith?

We all like to think that we possess a strong faith, but do your actions reflect your self assessment? Do you read your Bible on a daily basis? Do you spend time in prayer on a daily basis? Do you spend time fasting from aspects of this world so that you can focus on Jesus? Do you seek after God’s heart so that you can know Him better? Do you seek to do His will in your life in all things? Do you seek the Lord and ask for things that burden your heart? Each of us desire things in this life. We must be careful how we act upon those desires. We can do a vast number of things, ranging from something wrong to nothing at all to seeking God’s desires for us. The Lord knows this.

You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
(James 4:2-3 (NIV))

Seeing miracles in your life is part of this spectrum of desires, our actions, and, consequentially God’s reaction to all of this. It comes down to faith. If we go through life not expecting to see miracles, guess what! You won’t. If you go through life with a faith that says we serve a God who can and will do great things, you will see God move in ways that you never expect!

Are you seeing miracles in your life?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Whose acceptance is more important to you?

November 22, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“I do not accept praise from men, but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?
(John 5:41-44 (NIV))

Ouch! That hurts.

Would Jesus say this to us today? Have we become like the people that He was condemning in this passage?

Many claim to be part of the Body of Christ, but do our actions reflect this? Do we seek acceptance from man more than we seek acceptance from God? Do we look to people who are accepted by man and think that they must be Godly for they have been blessed with fame and fortune? How do we look upon Christian music artists and mega-church pastors? Do we praise them for their fame or do we listen and discern what they are saying with respect to God’s Word?

It doesn’t only apply at the grand scale. It can apply to a local congregation if we seek acceptance from one another instead of from God. Please do not confuse this type of acceptance with what we are called to do as a church. We, as the Body of Christ, are called to accept people as Jesus accepted people. We are not called to place the desire to be accepted by people above accepting Jesus.

After we have done something that the Lord has called us to do, do we seek acceptance from our friends, family and fellow members of the Body of Christ? I honestly believe that the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector has merit in our ways of seeking acceptance.

    To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: `God, I thank you that I am not like other men–robbers, evildoers, adulterers–or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
    “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, `God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
    “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
(Luke 18:9-14 (NIV))

When we seek acceptance from anyone else but God, we are trying to exalt ourselves. We are prideful. We want everybody to know who we are and what we have done. Is this how Jesus told us to serve?

“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
(Matthew 6:2-4 (NIV))

We can seek the acceptance of man or we can seek the acceptance of Jesus.

Whose acceptance is more important to you?

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