Have you returned to God with your heart?

March 10, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

“Even now,” declares the LORD,
    “return to me with all your heart,
    with fasting and weeping and mourning.”
Rend your heart
    and not your garments.
  Return to the LORD your God,
    for he is gracious and compassionate,
  slow to anger and abounding in love,
    and he relents from sending calamity.
(Joel 2:12-13 (NIV))

The words written long ago in the book of Joel still hold true to this very day. I imagine that they will be true until Jesus returns in triumph to the Mount of Olives. Only then, will it be too late for those who have made the wrong decision.

God wants us to turn from our sin and return to Him.

All too often, we do things that are extravagant in nature because we feel that we must do something of great magnitude, or great outward appearance, so that God will know that we mean it this time. Perhaps these acts are more for ourselves and our neighbors than they are for God, after all, God sees our hearts. He doesn’t need to see the flamboyant antics of someone who will break the promises that were just made. This is why we are told to “rend your heart,” for God sees the heart and He knows when it is truth. We can forever rend externally to ourselves and it will never have a lasting impact. When we rend our heart, it is the very center of our existence. We have made the decision to change from the inside out. Perhaps this is why Jesus spoke about what makes a man unclean.

He went on: “What comes out of a man is what makes him `unclean.’ For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man `unclean.’ “
(Mark 7:20-23 (NIV))

Have you taken that ultimate commitment to God? Have you internalized the change by changing your heart? Have you returned to God with your heart?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you abide in the doctrine of Christ?

August 13, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son.
(2 John 1:9 (NKJV))

How many times have you known someone who claims that they are a Christian, yet their actions do not reflect that claim?

A true faith and belief in Jesus Christ will call a person to stay away from the things of this world that are not of God, for they will listen to the Holy Spirit in all that they do. The Holy Spirit will gently guide and encourage the believer to follow the ways of Jesus and to steer clear of the ways of the world.

It is an all too common belief that someone can accept Jesus, and then do whatever they wish. They think that by proclaiming Jesus as Savior, they have salvation. There is another aspect to Jesus. He must also be Lord of your life in order for salvation to be true.

You must ask Jesus into your heart, not your head. It is one thing to acknowledge that Jesus is the way to salvation. It is still another to accept that personally for yourself.

It has been said that there is head knowledge and that there is heart knowledge. Knowing that Jesus is Savior is head knowledge. Claiming that for yourself is heart knowledge. For many people, the distance from their head to their heart is a great chasm that cannot be crossed due to pride or arrogance. Where have you acknowledged Jesus Christ?

Do you abide in the doctrine of Christ?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you accepted God’s grace?

July 23, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.
(Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV))

God knows us better than any of us realize, for He knew that if our salvation was based on something that we had to do in our lives, then we would boast and brag that we had done it. This would result in a personality trait that God does not desire for us to have. We would have an arrogance and a “holier than others” attitude. God also knew that because of the fall of man from grace, no one would ever be able to achieve this on their own.

The Law was a good example of this. God gave us the Law in order to show us what we would have to do to achieve our salvation on our own. Everyone failed this test, and God knew that it would happen. He also knew that some would still try to pass this test and reject any help that He might send.

Luckily, though, He did send us help. This help is Jesus Christ. Only God could ever fully live up to God’s expectations of us in this world, so He elected to come to this world as a man in order to provide us grace and mercy.

I know that some people have a hard time admitting that Jesus was fully God, yet fully man. This is where the Trinity comes into play. Many people do not understand this either, yet, in their own lives, they are more than one persona.

Husband, father, son, employee, boss.

Mother, daughter, wife, employee, boss.

Many people assume all of these titles in their day to day lives. God has also assumed the positions of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. The only difference is that God, as creator of everything, has the ability to separate these into individual entities in order to complete His Will.

When you think about salvation, think about what God has done in order for you to be saved!

Have you accepted God’s grace?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you accept the mystery of godliness?

April 5, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great: He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.
(1 Timothy 3:16 (NIV))

Many people find the words expressed in this passage difficult to comprehend. Some even deny that it could have ever happened at all. The simple fact is that the way that a person accepts these words and their meaning is the direct determination to the relationship that they have with God. If someone believes God is a loving Creator who cares about each one of us, then they readily accept the fact that He sent Jesus Christ to this earth for us. If someone does not comprehend that God the Father is a loving Creator, then they have difficulty grasping the concepts presented here.

Still, there are those who deny that God even exists because they choose not to believe, or they cannot see Him. These are the people who won’t accept because they don’t want to believe that there is a God, let alone one who loves us.

Isn’t it sad how people will not acknowledge the truth even when it is right in front of them? Those people who saw Jesus perform all of the miracles when He was on this earth rejected Him when He did not fit their expectations of what the Messiah should be. People are still rejecting Him because of the same reason.

Rejection of Jesus is a matter of pride and arrogance. People feel that either they are not worthy of God, or they have the attitude that they do not need (or want) a superior entity in charge of their lives. They will not make an effort to approach God, even though He made a great sacrifice to approach us!

Do you accept the mystery of godliness?

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

March 13, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Give ear, O God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy.
(Daniel 9:18 (NIV))

We do not make requests of you because we are righteous!

This hit me today in a way that it hasn’t hit me before.

How many times have you gone to God and asked for His intervention? Have you ever been guilty of arrogance during these requests? Did you make these requests out of a selfish desire that would benefit you? I think that we have all been guilty of this. I know that I have more times than I care to admit. When we do this, I can almost picture God sitting there shaking His head in disbelief that we are doing it again.

Isn’t it great to know that God does not grant our requests based on our righteousness?

All of us have become like one who is unclean,
    and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
  we all shrivel up like a leaf,
    and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
(Isaiah 64:6 (NIV))

I don’t know about you, but I am eternally grateful for God’s mercy, for without His mercy, I would have no hope. Without mercy, what can a filthy rag do?

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved.
(Ephesians 2:4-5 (NIV))

Are you thankful for God’s great mercy?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you headed for destruction and a fall?

July 30, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.
(Proverbs 16:18 (NIV))

Have you been able to overcome these attitudes?

Human nature is such a strange thing. It is so easy to slip into a state of pride and arrogance. We do it so often that many of us probably don’t ever realize that we are doing it! If you find this difficult to believe, simply look at the last time you experienced something like one of the following at work and how you reacted.

You finish up a large project of which 90% of the project was your contribution, and then someone else gets the credit.

You now the business and the job so well that everyone comes to you for answer, yet, someone else gets the promotion or the raise.

Did you find yourself responding with an attitude like, “How dare they do that. This company wouldn’t even be able to do what we do if it weren’t for me!”

I could go on and on with examples and responses, but the overall idea is that all of us can easily slip into attitudes that are far less than what we know we should do. We slip into pride and arrogance!

We need to keep our eyes on Jesus and recognize our sinful nature when it raises its ugly head. We need to turn away from our sinful nature and turn toward Jesus so that we don’t find ourselves headed for destruction and a fall.

Are you headed for destruction and a fall?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Why do we try to tell God what to do?

April 5, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?
(Romans 11:34 (NIV))

What is it about human nature that makes us want to give advice to anyone and everyone? Why do we think that the world would be so much better off if everyone would simply listen to us? Is it ego, pride, or arrogance that makes us feel that we have all of the answers, or is it a combination of all of these traits and many more? What is so interesting and sad at the same time is the fact that we even do this with God. This is the equivalent of a loaf of bread arguing with the baker who made it. Our perspective, our understanding is nothing in comparison to that of the Lord.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
(Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV))

Who has known the mind of the Lord?

I find that question so laughable since we, as humanity, don’t spend enough time drawing close to the Lord. Through His Word, He has given us insight into His heart and mind, but very few of us spend enough time diving headfirst into this treasure to truly know God. We read something and take it out of context and soon twist it to mean what we think that it should mean. We then point a proverbial finger at the Lord and accuse Him of not doing what we think He should do based on our twisted understanding.

Let’s be honest with ourselves, each other and with the Lord. There is absolutely nothing that we can do or say that will be above and beyond what God has thought. To be perfectly honest, I believe that the following passage, even though it refers to our righteousness, can be applied to our wisdom and understanding.

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
(Isaiah 64:6 (NIV))

Again, I wonder what it is about human nature that makes us want to give advice when we truly don’t understand anything. Why are we so arrogant that we feel that our understanding is far above what it truly is?

Why do we try to tell God what to do?

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