Is your heart in the right place?

December 3, 2020

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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))

I’ve referenced this passage on many occasions, but it has been haunting me the last few days.

I’ve been looking at the current state of the world and my selfish side was longing for the things that I would love to be able to do again, like take my lovely wife on a long vacation. I would love to do this without the ever-present panic mode that has the whole world under various different phases of lock-down. To be honest with you, I have found my mind to be in a fog, in a state of disillusionment, because I was beginning to feel defeated and my hope was fading.

I know that I am not the only one who has been feeling this way because of the very unusual events of this year. I think that I can safely say that a large number of people, even believers, have felt this way at some point during this year.

What do you do when the weight of the world comes crashing in on you? It is human nature to give in to the pressures, to the stress, and slip into a state of mind that does not honor the Lord. What do you do to bring yourself back to Jesus when this happens? Each person is different. Each person who professes a faith in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior has a unique relationship with the Lord. Each of us have a special something that God uses to get our attention. It is this special something, whether it is a Scripture passage, a song, or a sunset, that God uses to reach out to you to bring you back to Himself.

I want you to be able to focus on this aspect of your relationship with the Lord and make this your treasure. Nobody knows what the future may hold. The enemy is doing everything that he can to crush the faith of believers. No matter what may come, each of us must be able to focus on the personal treasure that is the Lord. We must make sure that our hearts belong to Him, for that is the only place that they belong!

Is your heart in the right place?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Does what you ask glorify the Father?

October 9, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
(James 14:13-14 (NIV))

I don’t know just how many times that I have read or heard this passage, but tonight, I saw something that I understood in a new light. As believers, as Christians, we have taken this passage and condensed it to something that only represents the half truth that whatever we ask in the name of Jesus will be done for us. Read the passage again and stop to think about the things that you ask in the name of Jesus. Looking back on your faith walk, do your answers make you feel shameful for the things that you have asked for? What are some of the things that you remember asking? Did you receive an answer that matched your prayer request?

Human nature is selfish and as a result, even people who profess a faith in Jesus still possess this characteristic. Most people ask for things that benefit themselves either directly or indirectly. Even praying for healing of a loved one can be considered selfish if the reason that you pray is because you will miss them. It is a matter of motives. Do the things that you ask bring glory to yourself or to the Father? Do they stroke your ego or do they truly glorify God? Do they fuel a lust for fame and fortune or do they seek to follow God’s own heart?

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))

Do your pleasures glorify God? Do your wrong motives guide you to seek after God’s heart? Each of us ask so much of God and from God, but why do we ask? What are our motives?

Does what you ask glorify the Father?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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The Good News of Jesus is for all people!

September 15, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

In the last days, God says,
    I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
    your young men will see visions,
    your old men will dream dreams.
Even on my servants, both men and women,
    I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
    and they will prophesy.
I will show wonders in the heavens above
    and signs on the earth below,
    blood and fire and billows of smoke.
The sun will be turned to darkness
    and the moon to blood
    before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
And everyone who calls
    on the name of the Lord will be saved.
(Acts 2:17-21 (NIV))

On all people?

Not just believers?

I just watched a video from a pastor and he made a very interesting point that I hadn’t considered before. I believe that it may also be something that you may not have considered before.

In the last days, God says,
    I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
(Acts 2:17a (NIV))

Another translation says it like this.

And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God,
That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh;
(Acts 2:17a (NKJV))

Most people read this and we automatically assume that it means “on my people” or “on those who believe,” but it clearly states “on all people” or “on all flesh.” Think about this from God’s perspective. If He is trying to get the attention of the people of the world, why would He limit what He does to only those who call upon His Name? Why would God not try one last time to reach those who have rejected Him?

The pastor in the video made a very interesting comment about the number of nonbelievers who feel that something big is about to happen in the world. They see what is happening and they have a feeling that they can’t explain. As believers, we recognize that feeling as the prompting of the Holy Spirit, but for those who do not believe, they do not understand. All that they know is that a still, small voice is telling them that something big is about to unfold.

I don’t profess to know if this is true, after all, we are told that His ways are greater than our ways. All that I know is that we are seeing the whole world professing that something different is happening and the world will never be the same. All that I do know is that we, as the Body of Christ, should be witnessing to the world and explaining to them what we profess to believe, after all, the good news of Jesus is for all people!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is there such a place?

September 14, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?
(Psalms 139:7 (NIV))

Based on this passage, how do you react to people who tell believers to take our God and leave? How do you react to people who say that He only belongs in church?

Sadly, they have no understanding of just who God is and exactly how everything came into being. They fail to acknowledge Him and they also fail to understand that they cannot go anywhere in all of creation where His Spirit will not be. They fail to realize that He knows every single time that they reject Him!

This simple truth, as painful as it may be for those who choose to reject the Lord, is also a welcome truth for the time when they do have a change of heart. Because He is everywhere, all that anyone needs to do is simply say, “Lord, I am a sinner in need of a Savior!” Because of what Jesus did on the cross, we no longer have to go to a temple, the Temple, to sacrifice for forgiveness of our sins. We can repent and turn to the Lord anywhere we may find ourselves. It is a process as simple as A, B, C.

A. Admit that you are a sinner.
B. Believe in your heart that Jesus died for your sins, was buried and that God raised Him from the dead.
C. Call upon the name of the Lord by confessing that Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords.

If what David wrote were not true, how could any of us be saved? How could we be heard? How could the stirrings in our hearts and the thoughts of our minds be known? How could we be saved by simply following these steps to salvation if the Spirit of God was not everywhere?

Too many people try to place God in a box based on their own understanding. They try to limit where God can go!

Is there such a place?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Is there a difference between gathering and assembling?

September 1, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
(Hebrews 10:25 (NIV))

It is amazing how subtle nuances in a translation can make something take on a completely different meaning. Since we have to rely on translations from the original Aramaic and Greek, the understanding of the full meanings of the original language and how it is translated into English can vary slightly. Each translation conveys the meaning, but sometimes the subtleties give a much better understanding of the depth of the original language. This is why I like to cross reference between many different translations to try and fully understand the intentions behind the words. This passage is an excellent example of just this.

What do you think of when you read the phrase “meeting together”? Do you simply think of a gathering of individuals that come together for a short time and then go their separate ways?

Now, let’s take this one step further and reference a different translation.

not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
(Hebrews 10:25 (NKJV))

What do you think of when you read the phrase “assembling of ourselves together”? Does this paint a mental picture of unity and purpose where people come together for a common goal?

I heard something today that brought these two phrases into a much better understanding. I think that this analogy will also paint a very interesting picture for you as well.

The example was of a watch. When you gather the components of a watch into one location, everything is there, yet it has no purpose. They are still just individual parts that do not work together. But, when those parts are assembled in the correct way, the result is a fully functioning time piece. Now, how does this apply to believers who simply gather together versus being assembled into a functioning body of believers? We, as the church, should be more than the sum of our individual parts. We should rely on the Lord to assemble us in such a way that we bring glory to Him by uniting in the task that we have been assigned.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
(Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV))

If all that we do is gather, then we are not fulfilling our calling. We must be willing to assemble!

Is there a difference between gathering and assembling?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you practicing what you have learned?

August 17, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
(Philippians 4:9 (NIV))

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. If that is the case, do you flatter Jesus?

When Paul wrote his letter to the church at ‭‭Philippi, he was encouraging the believers there to take what they have learned from him about Jesus and put it into practice. In other words, he was encouraging them to imitate Jesus by following His teachings. Two thousand years later, that is still the very best advise that anyone can give.

How are you living up to imitating Jesus in all that you do?

It isn’t easy, is it?

No matter how sincere we may be in our desires, human nature keeps getting in the way. Our sinful nature keeps raising its ugly head and we soon find ourselves doing things that we truly wish that we could avoid. Perhaps we need to truly take a lesson from Jesus and pay attention to how much time that He spent in prayer with the Father. I would venture to say that if we start practicing this lesson more often, the other things that we are called to imitate would be so much easier to actually imitate. Spending time in honest, heartfelt communication with the Lord will lead to a stronger relationship, and a better understanding of and a stronger desire to be like Jesus!

There is only so much that we can learn if we don’t start practicing what we have learned. Obedience is critical. Obedience means doing what Jesus instructs us to do. Obedience means putting away our sinful nature and following Jesus. Obedience means that we imitate Jesus by putting into practice what we have learned.

Are you practicing what you have learned?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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How is your confidence?

August 5, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
(Hebrews 4:16 (NIV))

Today is not the time to be timid with your faith!

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
(Hebrews 11:1 (NIV))

How is your confidence in what you profess to believe?

We are facing very unusual circumstances in today’s world. Many people believe that what we are seeing unfolding is what is foretold in the books of Revelation and Daniel. To be honest with you, there are so many evil things happening in the world during this time that it wouldn’t surprise me if we are seeing these things unfold. With this high possibility, I have one very important question for you to ask yourself.

If what we are seeing is what is foretold, will your confidence and faith bring you grace and mercy?

We have been given a blessed hope. That hope is firmly rooted in Jesus as our Lord and Savior. We know that God has a plan of salvation. We know that God has a plan to defeat the enemy. We know how God’s plan unfolds, yet we fail to see the signs that say that it is unfolding.

He replied, “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.
(Matthew 16:2-3 (NIV))

All through out this unusual year, I have heard numerous believers say that they wish things would get back to normal. They are planning for a return to what we used to know. They are either overlooking the idea that they will not return because they love the way things used to be more than they love the Lord, or they are too afraid to admit that they don’t know enough about what the Lord has told us. Either way, they are looking at the world and placing their hope in man and the creation instead of placing their hope and confidence in the Creator.

We have been given an insight. We know who wins. We should be confident of that as we face the hours, days and months ahead. There is a saying that comes to mind. “I don’t know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future.” As we face the future, we must face it with confidence in the One who holds the future.

How is your confidence?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is Jesus your strong tower?

June 25, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

The name of the LORD is a strong tower; The righteous run to it and are safe.
(Proverbs 18:10 (NKJV))

When this was written, it was long before Jesus had come upon the earth. It was long before humanity experienced the hope of salvation where we, as believers, have been able to firmly place our faith. Still, when this was written, it was known that the Lord was a safe place of refuge for those who truly love and trust Him.

Do you truly love and trust the Lord?

Are you concerned about all that is happening in the world? Are you panicking because of the unrest that is being reported on a constant basis? Or, do you look at all that is going on and faithfully proclaim that the Lord has it all under control?

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
(John 16:33 (NIV))

I realize that it is difficult to not see the things of this world, but when we focus on Jesus, the things of this world grow strangely dim! We have to decide where we will run to and on what we will focus. It is a matter of priorities. Can we stand firm and, like Joshua, proclaim that we will serve the Lord?

It is a choice that we must make.

Is Jesus your strong tower?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are we thoroughly equipped to be God’s servants?

June 23, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
(2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV))

Most believers are familiar with this passage, but most read it as I have presented it here. We have a tendency to take it as a stand-alone passage and forget the context that it was originally written. It is true that as a stand-alone passage, it does speak truth, for anything from God’s Word is God-breathed and useful in all righteousness, but there is more to this passage than this. These words about all scripture close 2 Timothy 3 after it is opened with these words about the last days.

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 such people.
(2 Timothy 3:1-5 (NIV))

We, as the Body of Christ, have taken these two passages and have made them unrelated. We look at the warning about the last days but fail to realize that the closing words from 2 Timothy 3 are instructions for us when we see the things of the last days unfolding right before our eyes. The words written by Paul to Timothy are instructions to continue in the faith. We are to stand firm in the face of adversity. We are to stand firm when we see people are becoming lovers of themselves. We are to stand firm in our faith when we see the world turning into lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. We are to stand firm by firmly rooting ourselves in the scriptures, and not just our favorite passages.

In order to recognize the truth, we must be firmly rooted in God’s truth. There are gems of godly wisdom and truth in every passage. Some truths are only recognizable when you understand the complete truth, for God’s Word is not just a collection of individual, unrelated nuggets. God’s Word is life!

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
(Genesis 1:1 (NIV))

From the first words in Genesis 1 to the last words in Revelation 22, there is an unfolding of God’s truth and in order to understand it, we must read and study it all.

He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.”
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.
(Revelation 22:20-21 (NIV))

It is said that all of scripture after the fall from grace details God’s plan to bring salvation and to restore His creation. How well do you know the story? How well do you know what the outcomes are for those involved in this story?

Are we thoroughly equipped to be God’s servants?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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We should never grow tired of doing good!

June 18, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
(Galatians 6:7-10 (NIV))

The old saying “You are what you eat” has a lot of truth to it. But, in this case, it should say “You are what you feed on!” If you feed on the Word and things of the Spirit, you can’t help but reap things of the Spirit.

God wants us to do this in all ways, not just in our spiritual life, but also in our physical life within this world. We must be the light that shines for the world to see. This light must be allowed to shine on everyone at all times.

It is easy to do good to those who do good to us. Everyone is capable of doing this. We, as believers, must do good to everyone, whether they do good to us or not. We must show God’s grace and mercy to all that we encounter so that they may see God through us.

Jesus allowed that grace to be shown to us. We did not deserve it, yet, it was given to us freely. How can we, who did not deserve that grace and mercy, show nothing but grace and mercy to others who are as worthy as we are?

We should never grow tired of doing good!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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