Is the Lord your shepherd?

April 24, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
(Psalms 23:1 (NIV))

When you translate anything from one language to another, there are subtle variations in words that the translator can select that can give you a different perspective or a fresh insight. Even when you have a group of people who all speak the same language and you ask them to describe something, you get as many variations in that description as there are people. This does not make any single person right and the rest wrong. It just means that everyone sees and understands things differently. A good example of this is the old tale about three blind men being introduced to an elephant. One person feels the power of a leg. One person feels the strength and agility of the trunk, and the other person comes away from the elephant only having had an interaction with the tail. None of them are wrong. They just came away with a limited comprehension of the truth. If you need another example of how different people can see the same thing and call it something different, all you have to do is consider the different names that people across the country give carbonated drinks.

The same is true when you look at the different translations of the Bible and how they handle different passages of scripture. One of my favorite passages is a good example of that.

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
(Psalms 46:10a (NIV))

In comparison, the New American Standard Bible translates the same passage in this manner.

Cease striving and know that I am God;
(Psalms 46:10a (NASB))

I love the concept of being still in the presence of God, but sometimes I have to be reminded that I need to cease striving and allow God to handle it. Neither concept is wrong. Today’s passage is another example of this. Here is another translation.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
(Psalms 23:1 (NIV))

Do the words “I shall not want” make you think of something different than the words “I lack nothing?” On the surface, they sound like they are conveying the same thing, but it is the subtleties that make you stop and reflect. It is the subtleties that make you stop and realize that the Lord has so much to say to us that our limited language cannot even begin to convey all that the Lord has for us. I love these sublties. Going back to Psalms 46:10, it is these sublties that make me stop and ask the Lord exactly what He is wanting to say to me. I have found that being inquisitive often leads to a deeper understanding. It is the subtleties that allow you to spend time getting to know the Lord and help you to understand His goodness!

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
(Psalms 34:8 (NIV))

Is the Lord your shepherd?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Can you commit to be a new creation in the new year?

January 2, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
(2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV))

Did you make any resolutions for this new year?

Most of us have the best of intentions when we make resolutions, but how many of us actually follow through with them? We all have made the resolutions to lose weight, find a new job, find love, or to start exercising, but how many of us actually make a resolution to be a better follower, a better disciple, of Jesus?

Is that a resolution that we can all get behind? Can we commit to seeing this resolution through?

Can we do the things that are required to be a better disciple of Jesus? Can we spend time in God’s Word on a daily basis? Can we spend time in prayer on a daily basis? Can we slow down our hectic lives and spend time in God’s presence? Can we make a commitment to get to know the Creator of all things?

Be still, and know that I am God;
(Psalms 46:10a (NIV))

Can we make a commitment to spend five minutes a day, each and every day, getting to know the Creator of all things? I would venture to say that you will soon find that five minute commitment growing into more. You will find yourself building a relationship, and as the relationship grows, so will your understanding.

Are you ready to be still, to cease striving, and spend time with God in the new year?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Don’t get so busy that you miss out on the joy!

December 20, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
(John 15:9-11 (RSV))

Is your joy full?

With only a few days until Christmas, I would venture to say that many people are stressing because they feel that there is so much to do and so little time to do it. Jesus encountered people like this when He walked the earth.

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
(Luke 10:38-40 (NIV))

I think we can all remember how Jesus responded.

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
(Luke 10:41-42 (NIV))

In other words, Jesus told it as plainly as possible. It is more important to spend the time with Him and to not spend it in the preparations. You can be so overwhelmed with the preparations that you miss the greatest gift of all.

You can find yourself missing Jesus in the midst of His presence!

Being in the presence of Jesus is one thing, but to miss out on the relationship that He desires with each of us because you are simply too busy is not what He has in mind.

Don’t get so busy with doing Christmas that you miss out on the true meaning of Christmas!

Be still!

Cease striving!

Stop and sit at the feet of Jesus!

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you desire to exalt God?

October 19, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
(Psalms 46:10 (NIV))

Many of you know that the first part of this passage is one that I refer to often, and rightly so. There is so much wisdom contained in the eight words of the first line. It instructs us to be patient, to be still and wait, to cease striving in our own efforts, and realize that He is God and we are not. It prompts us to recognize our rightful place as creation and His rightful place as Creator. It instructs us to put all of our trust and hope in Him, for we are not capable of doing anything on our own. I could go on with several different reflections on these eight words, and every single reflection would come to the same conclusion and that is that no matter how hard we try, we are an imperfect, fallen and sinful creation and God is the perfect Creator.

Have you ever truly thought about the next two lines of this passage?

I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
(Psalms 46:10b (NIV))

Has it ever occurred to you that once we truly stop to know God, we will see Him for all of His majesty and splendor and we will desire to exalt Him?

Take another look at this passage from a different perspective. Look at it from an end times point of view. Was the psalmist telling us to know and to trust in God no matter what we may face, for when God’s timeline unfolds, He will be exalted and those who know Him will be by His side?

No matter what perspective you choose to use to understand this passage, there is one very clear message that we must never forget. We are to take the time to get to know God in all of His glory. We are to spend time in prayer. We are to spend time in God’s Word. We are to commit to knowing God the way that we commit to knowing anyone that we love. We should desire to know God’s very heart. We should desire to seek His presence. We should desire to see His will be done.

What do you desire?

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is God just an item on your to-do list?

April 12, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Be still, and know that I am God:
(Psalms 46:10a (NIV))

I try to not fill up my time with so many things to do, but it is human nature to do things that we don’t mean to do. Soon, in order to prioritize what we feel that we must do, we create to-do lists and then we prioritize the things that we put on the list. Soon, we find ourselves spending too much time maintaining the list and we soon lose track of the things that we should truly be focusing on.

Let’s face the truth!

How many of us actually create to-do lists? What is currently on your list? Do you put everything on your list, or is it used only for a reminder of the things that you don’t really want to do?

After those reflective questions, I have another question for you that may not sit too well with you depending on your answers.

Is God on your to-do list? Is He your top priority? Have you relegated your relationship with the Lord to a list item that you check off when you feel that you have it completed? Is God above or below the items like painting the house or cutting the grass?

It is sad that too many people actually treat God in this manner. We may not physically put Him as an item on our to-do lists, but we tend to overlook Him and focus on what we do place on our list. We then get so busy completing the tasks that we have assigned ourselves that we forget to do what God has told us to do. We forget to sit in the presence of God. We fail to sit at the feet of Jesus, and like one translation states, we never cease striving. Personally, I strive to spend time in God’s presence, but that is not what that means. We need to cease our busyness. We need to cease our frantic existence and be still in the presence of God.

We must make God the foundation of everything that we do, including the items that we place on our to-do lists. It is so easy to relegate God to an individual checklist item.

Is God just an item on your to-do list?

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you put forth the effort?

November 18, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“Be still, and know that I am God;
(Psalms 46:10a (NIV))

What are the things in life that you feel that you know so well that you can correct someone if they say something wrong? What did it take for you to come to this knowledge of this subject? Did it just come to you naturally? Were you born with the understanding that you possess? Did you wake up one morning to find that you had become the recognized expert in that topic?

If you are like me, none of these things have happened to you. You may possess a God given talent or understanding , but you still do not possess a complete knowledge of the subject. Where God has planted the seed of talent or understanding, you must work to expand that knowledge. If you love mathematics, you cannot become a college calculus teacher without expending the effort to further your knowledge and understanding. If you love football and can quote stats of each team and player, what drove that knowledge? Even if you have a so-called photographic memory, it requires an effort to place things in your memory. It requires an effort – a decision to pursue the very thing that you love.

Do you love God? Do you put forth the effort to get to know Him and come to a fuller understanding of Him?

Think about those questions in relation to the concepts previously introduced.

Have you put forth the effort, have you made a conscious decision to pursue God and to know Him and His Word? The sad thing about this is that you do not need to pursue Him, for He is pursuing you. He is always there waiting for you to turn to Him. He is waiting for you to ask if you can sit at His feet and get to know Him.

I still love the New American Standard Bible translation of this passage:

Cease striving, and know that I am God:
(Psalms 46:10a (NASB))

All of our lives we strive to possess something. We even feel that we need to strive to possess God. To some extent, we do, but not in the same way that we strive for other things in our lives. When we seek God, He gives us rest. When we strive for things of this world, we have no rest. When we cease striving, we find God in all of His glory because we find the time to simply sit in His presence. The work that we are called to do in order to know God is to stop and listen. The definition of work is an activity in which one exerts strength or faculties. Too many of us make knowing God a major work task. It is much easier than we make it. All we need to do is to “Be still” or “Cease striving” and allow God to open our hearts and our minds.

Do you need to cease striving in the worldly sense so that you may know that He is God?

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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