What is in your heart?

June 19, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

In your anger do not sin;
    when you are on your beds,
    search your hearts and be silent.
        Selah
(Psalms 4:4 (NIV))

We all need time where we can stop and evaluate our lives on a daily basis, if not on an hourly basis. Exactly what we should be looking for is anything that is keeping us from God and His righteousness. If we are not careful, the world will creep into our lives and the events of the day will cause us to become angry and may even result in actions that result from this anger.

We need to stop and focus on what is important. We must search our hearts and examine what God is telling us to do in the situations that we find ourselves. Perhaps, we should even listen to see if we are supposed to be in those situations to begin with.

Even in the days of the Psalmist, it was difficult to find time when you could search your heart and be silent before God. There is one good time when this can happen, even if you are fortunate to be able to find other times. The silence of the bed is an excellent opportunity to search yourself and see how your day went. It is also a good opportunity to approach God and ask Him for guidance for tomorrow.

Do not search for yourself the way that the world tells you to, for the world tells us that as long as it feels good, to do it. Instead, focus on Godly reflections and the desire to do God’s will.

What is in your heart?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How is your faith through the wilderness?

May 10, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Immediately the Holy Spirit compelled Jesus to go into the wilderness. He was there for forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was out among the wild animals, and angels took care of him.
(Mark 1:12-13 (NLT))

Do you ever stop to think about what Jesus actually experienced when He went into the wilderness for these forty days?

What temptations do you experience when you face each day of your life?

Do you face greed and lust? What about anger and frustration? Do you have to deal with ego and pride? I think I can safely say that all of us have also had to deal with resentment and bitterness. Now, consider how you have reacted when faced with these temptations. How did you react? Even on our best day, we fail miserably in most if not all of these temptations.

How do you think that Jesus reacted to each of these temptations?

We know that He faced every temptation known to humanity and did not give in to any of them, but I often wonder how he reacted. Did He simply turn away from them or did He reflect upon our weaknesses as He defeated each and every temptation that He was given? Did He think of what He was doing with respect to what it would mean for us? How did He reject the temptation? Did He look at it with disgust and think “How can someone give in to this?” Did He keep His eyes focused on what was at the end of the forty days on the other side of the wilderness?

Each of us face our own wilderness situations and temptations. We must look to Jesus and His experience so that we may keep our faith through our wildernesses. Because Jesus went through His wilderness experience, He now walks with us through ours. He will give us strength. He will give us comfort. He will give us peace.

The world today seems to be sending all of us into the wilderness. How we respond will determine many things. Will we have the faith to see ourselves through the wilderness or will we falter and give in to the temptations we face?

How is your faith through the wilderness?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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The treasure is every moment spent with Jesus!

May 3, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

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

This has been several years ago, but I still remind myself of the lesson learned. I had spent several months looking forward to my 30th high school reunion. Let’s face it, during high school you can’t imagine life without your friends. I was looking forward to seeing the people that I had spent so much time with and seeing what they had done with their lives. It had become a priority for me. I was nervous and excited at the same time. It was a day that I had hoped would rekindle old friendships.

Unfortunately, the day came and went and I did not make it. My priorities shifted when my family and I got in the car to drive to Augusta for the reunion. Within five minutes after getting in the car, one of my children had a major meltdown and wanted to go home. I was furious. I kept hoping and praying that he would get over it, so we kept going. It just got worse. I finally and reluctantly turned the car around to go home. The twenty minute ride home was not a happy one for any of us. Fortunately, my son finally regained composure and apologized profusely. I didn’t want to hear it. I thought I had a right to be mad and I was going to exercise my right.

Once we did get home, the more I thought about the events, the worse I felt. I had made a commitment to my son to always help him and try to understand the issues that he faces. I had gotten so wrapped up in what I wanted to do that I had completely overlooked where my treasure truly is. I have been blessed with grace and mercy. I have been blessed with a wonderful family. I have been blessed with a son who, if it were humanly possible, I would take upon myself the very things that I had gotten mad about. I was not willing to extend the grace and mercy that I had been freely given.

I was looking towards my past. I was ignoring my present and my future. All I could see was a missed reunion with people from my past. They are not my life. They are a part of what made me who I am, but they are not still a part of me. My son, who will always be my son, will forever be a part of me. I was foolish to get angry. Even God tells us not to look to our past. He tells us not to look for Him in the past or in the future. He tells us to seek Him now. My treasure is my present moment. I may not have another one. I don’t need to dwell on the past or ignore the present because I spend so much time planning for my future.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
(John 10:10 (NIV))

I had allowed the thief to steal the day from me by planting a seed of anger. I had allowed that seed to be planted because I was dwelling on the past.

How can we have a full life if we dwell on the past or spend too much time looking to the future. Life is now! The treasure is every moment spent with Jesus!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What comes from your mouth?

March 19, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
(Ephesians 4:29 (NIV))

Words are a powerful device. Words can be uplifting and encouraging. Words can be sad and convey despair. Words can convey affection and in the next breath, they can convey anger. We have a tendency to use words rashly and in haste. It is so easy to let the wrong words slip off of your tongue. I would venture to say that every one of us on this planet has said something today that they wish could be taken back.

Most people think of unwholesome talk as the proverbial four letter words that we all tend to know even if we hate to admit it. However, have you stopped to think about what else may be considered unwholesome?

Words said in anger or in hatred destroy instantly. Words said in frustration never make the situation any better. Words aimed directly at provoking hurt are never able to be recalled. All of these types of words can be unwholesome for they destroy. They do not build up.

Jesus rarely used words that did not build up. I can only think of a few situations that He used terms less than uplifting. I do not think that being called a brood of vipers made those people feel good about themselves. However, even when Jesus said words such as these, they were not expressed in the rage and hatred that we often use. I picture the use of these words more out of pity than out of anger.

Unwholesome talk is anything that destroys what God is trying to accomplish in and through another person. Guard your tongue, for Satan can use it to do just that. Give pause to your words. Let your tongue be guided by the Holy Spirit. He will not give you unwholesome words. He will fill your mouth with words that will be a blessing to all who hear.

What comes from your mouth?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What have you been able to get rid of?

February 20, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.
(Ephesians 4:31 (NIV))

These traits are not from God. In fact, they go against everything that we are told is a fruit of the Spirit if we are truly a follower of Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
(Galatians 5:22-25)

We are to follow this example if we truly belong to Jesus. How can anyone who claims to have allowed Jesus into their lives as Lord and Savior exhibit the traits that are spoken of in Ephesians? If we truly allow Jesus into our hearts, then the Holy Spirit will enter our lives and begin to transform us into the likeness of Jesus.

Did you ever see Jesus exhibit bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, or any other negative trait that was directed at a person? Jesus was angered by the moneychangers’ actions, but He would not have kept them from asking for forgiveness if they had approached Him with that in mind.

We must not allow any of these traits to enter into our lives or they will destroy us by separating us from the saving grace that God has given us through Jesus Christ.

What have you been able to get rid of?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Has your love matured to this level?

December 6, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
(1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV))

Have you ever given any thought to this passage and asked yourself why love is the greatest of these?

I realize that 1 Corinthians 13 defines characteristics that we all long to possess, but if you read through it carefully, you realize that these characteristics, no matter how desirable, are useless and meaningless if they are not accompanied by love.

Can we speak eloquently and have hatred in our hearts? Can we possess head knowledge and understanding of God’s Word and what He says will happen and still feel no compassion for those who are not saved? Can we possess a faith in Jesus and still have anger and animosity in our hearts? Is it possible to firmly believe, yet not care for others? Can we claim that we have hope for an eternity with the Lord and still neglect to share Jesus with others?

Each of these scenarios paints a picture of people who truly do possess desirable characteristics, yet, they all lack one crucial aspect.

Love!

Love is the manifestation of all that is best. Love places others above yourself. Love is the culmination of the desire to see others lifted up. In essence, love can be defined as putting your faith and your hope into action for the benefit of others.

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
(John 15:13 (NIV))

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
(John 3:16 (NIV))

To me, this type of love is the result of a mature faith and hope. Has your love matured to this level?

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