Is the Lord your shepherd?

December 2, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
forever.
(Psalms 23:1-6 (NIV))

Have you ever truly looked at this passage in language that can make the Lord’s love personal? What if we paraphrase this passage to help us understand the personal relationship that the Lord desires with each of us and just what He will do for us when we accept His grace and mercy?

If I place my trust in Him, the Lord will be my personal shepherd and guide.
He will provide for all that I need.
He will give me peace and rest.
He will provide direction for my life.
He will provide complete restoration.
He will remove all fear and doubt.
He will provide comfort.
He will sustain us through the troubles of this world.
He will anoint us and bless us because we have placed our faith and trust in Him.
He will pour out His goodness and His love on us as we strive to follow Him.
He will provide us an eternal, permanent residence with Himself where all of the things previously mentioned will continue for all eternity!

I realize that this may sound like prosperity preaching, but it is far from that. What the Lord has promised us is mercy and grace. Through the gift of His Son Jesus, each of us have the opportunity to receive this wonderful gift and all of the blessings that have been promised. These gifts are not for the greedy, for all can possess them equally. These gifts are not for the cynic, for anyone who is a cynic has a hardened heart. These gifts are simply for anyone who will allow the Lord to soften their heart and show them that what they seek is only available through Him.

Do the things that David wrote of in this passage sound like something that you desire? All that you have to do is ask the Lord to be your shepherd!

Is the Lord your shepherd?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you cheerfully sowing into God’s kingdom?

June 10, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
(2 Corinthians 9:6-7 (NIV))

Giving is a difficult thing to do sometimes, especially when you are facing hard times.

Has your giving changed recently? Have you cut back on the money that you give to your church and to other organizations? Have you found yourself thinking that “Just this once I’ll not give” only to find yourself with a knot in the pit of your stomach? Have you stopped giving of your time because you are using your time in efforts to bring in more money? Has your attitude changed about what God has given you and will give you?

We are all creatures of habit. No matter what our intentions may be, we often find ourselves responding as the world responds. We look upon the worldly situation as the only situation that will provide for our needs. When things turn bad, we quickly find ourselves forgetting what God has promised. We worry.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, `What shall we eat?’ or `What shall we drink?’ or `What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
(Matthew 6:25-34 (NIV))

Have you ever stopped to reflect upon the fact that God uses us to bless others? What you give will bless someone, who in turn will bless someone else. What you give will return to you in ways that only God can imagine. Are you cheerfully sowing into God’s kingdom?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Lord, enlarge my territory so that you may be glorified!

May 22, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, “I gave birth to him in pain.” Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.
(1 Chronicles 4:9-10 (NIV))

Oh, that you would bless me!

This is something that we all think, and probably most of us actually pray it as well. Many sermons have been taught on the principle that God wants to bless us. The good thing is that He does want to bless us!

He wants to bless us so that we can be a blessing to others. He does not want to bless those who will hoard his blessings and keep them for themselves. He wishes to bless those who will, in turn, bless others through what He has blessed them with. A pastor once put it in a way that tells it well. He said that he did not want to be a jar for God to pour His blessings into. He wanted to be a teapot or a pitcher that was designed to pour out for others. He wished to received the blessings so that he could pour out the blessings to others.

Perhaps this is why God granted the prayers of Jabez, for he did not simply ask to be blessed. He asked to have his territory enlarged. Jabez honored God by asking for God to be with him. If God is with you, He will use you to spread the news of what He has done. If you are used by God to spread His Gospel, then you will be blessed. Your circle of influence will increase so that God can be glorified.

Look at the men and women of today who glorify God in all that they do. God has increased their circle of influence so that more people can be blessed through them.

Be careful in your heart when asking God to bless you. Do not let human nature take control and simply ask to be a blessing to others so that you will be blessed, after all, God knows what is in your heart.

It is my prayer for all who fervently seek the Lord to have their territory enlarged so that they may be His witness in all that they do. I also seek to enlarge my territory. Perhaps I should rephrase that. I desire to enlarge the territory that God has granted me so that I can tell more people about the Lord.

Lord, enlarge my territory so that you may be glorified!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you accepted the vastness of that goodness and love?

September 14, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

But the lovingkindness of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children.
(Psalms 103:17 (NAS))

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
his love endures forever.
(1 Chronicles 16:34 (NIV))

Both verses tell of the unending, unfailing love that God has for His creation, especially those who call upon His name in love and righteousness.

Don’t get this wrong! God loves everyone, and He does not wish any to perish. He shows unsaved people His love, but in many times that love goes unrecognized by the intended recipient. He does show His love to those who show Him their love. Perhaps it is the fact that they wish to express love in return that allows them to see the love that God pours out on them.

He wants to bless us!

God’s love is not limited to only those who are on His “good side.” Anyone can receive God’s love. If anyone turns to Him and repents, then He will be waiting for them with love, grace and mercy that will never end. Isn’t that amazing?

We are limited by human knowledge and capacity and probably every single one of us has trouble grasping the infinite capacity that God has to love us. We cannot comprehend the unlimited love that God has for us and how that love manifested itself for our salvation in and through Jesus Christ. Just as the human mind has trouble with understanding the vastness of the mathematical concept of infinite, we are also limited in understanding the height, depth, and breadth of God’s love.

God is good! Have you accepted the vastness of that goodness and love?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you praise God with every breath you take?

May 8, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I bless GOD every chance I get; my lungs expand with his praise.
(Psalms 34:1 (MSG))

I don’t often reference the Message translation, but I love the implications of this passage and the way it gives a very unique and powerful example of our need to praise God.

Typically, we see this passage conveyed similar to the following, with each translation using slightly different words to convey what David actually wrote in his native language.

I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.
(Psalms 34:1 (NIV))

Honestly, who uses words like “extol?” I realize that it is a word that many people know, but most people will use the words “bless” or “praise.” Those words are straight to the point. Do you bless God every chance that you get? Perhaps what I love the most about the way that the Message translates this passage, though, is the last half of the passage. Everyone who is alive must breathe. This requires your lungs to expand and collapse as you inhale and exhale. This process is essential for life. Think about the meaning and the implications of that concept. We should consider praising God as essential to life as breathing! Without God, we would not have life.

We should give thanks with every breath that we take for the breath that we take. We should praise God for the life that He has given. We should praise God for the grace and the mercy that He has offered. We should praise God for His unfailing love.

Do you praise God with every breath you take?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you shine with the ever increasing light of the Lord!

March 19, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.
(Proverbs 4:18 (NIV))

Have you ever sat outside and watched the sunrise?

With the sky still dark, you begin to see a glow on the eastern horizon. As the glow spreads, the darkness begins to subside. Soon, the sun breaks the horizon line and the sky grows lighter and lighter as it chases away the shadows of the night. Soon, the sun has completely broken free of the horizon and the morning light takes on a golden glow as it passes through the trees. It’s as if the new day is being blessed with God’s radiance. As the sun climbs higher into the sky, the shadows decrease even further and the warmth of the sun causes everyone to lift their faces to greet the blessings that God has freely given. As the day progresses, the darkness is completely chased away from anyplace that the sun reaches. The only places that it is not capable of reaching are the recesses of the deepest, darkest places on earth. Everywhere that it does reach, it brings warmth, hope and life!

Is this how you see yourself?

Is this what you allow your faith, your righteousness, to do each day as you go about in the world?

Do you shine brighter for the Lord each day than you did the day before?

Does your righteousness and faith break the boundaries of the darkness? Does it chase away the shadows of the night? Does it bless with God’s radiance? Does it cause everyone to lift their faces to the Lord? Does it spread the warmth, hope and life that comes only from the Lord?

You are the light of the world. A town built 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.
(Matthew 5:14-15 (NIV))

Do you shine with the ever increasing light of the Lord!

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Blessings to all in the new year!

January 2, 2018

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

” ` “The LORD bless you
and keep you;
the LORD make his face shine upon you
and be gracious to you;
the LORD turn his face toward you
and give you peace.” ‘
(Numbers 6:24-26 (NIV))

I honestly don’t think that there is a better prayer to pray for someone than these words.

Think about that for a moment.

There is absolutely nothing in these words except asking for God to bless. There is nothing in these words that is self-centered. Contrary to today’s societal norms, it all focuses on someone else. There is absolutely nothing in these words that asks for anything for the person who is praying.

All too often our prayers are self-centered. We claim that we are believers in Jesus, yet, we still focus only on ourselves in our prayers lives. Is this what Jesus taught us? Is this what Jesus would do?

“This, then, is how you should pray:
” `Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one. ‘
(Matthew 6:9-13 (NIV))

Jesus taught us to focus on God. If we focus on God, it only makes sense that we will seek to have God bless those around us, for we will already have experienced God’s blessings. We will have seen the world through His eyes, and, like David, we will hopefully become a man after God’s own heart. We will not see the world through selfish eyes, but through eyes that long to see God’s Glory manifested in the lives of everyone in the world.

For this coming year, and every year, it is my prayer that God will turn His face toward you and bless you. Are you ready to be blessed? Are you ready to have God bless others through you?

Happy New Year!

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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