What do you rejoice in?

May 18, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Though the fig tree does not bud
    and there are no grapes on the vines,
  though the olive crop fails
    and the fields produce no food,
  though there are no sheep in the pen
    and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
    I will be joyful in God my Savior.
(Habakkuk 3:17-18 (NIV))

Think about that passage for a moment.

The society was an agricultural society. What this passage describes is the equivalent of someone saying today:

Though the car breaks down
and the refrigerator needs repaired,
though the lawnmower won’t run
and the bill collectors are calling,
though there are no jobs to be found
and the house is being foreclosed,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.

No matter what the situation, we must rejoice in the Lord. No matter how desperate things may look, we must rejoice in the Lord. We are not the only people to have ever gone through trials and tribulations. We are, however, the ones who are facing them now.

Each generation goes through trials. We undergo tests of our faith. No matter what we may face, we can rest assured that the world cannot take our faith, unless we willingly give it up.

Faith is a choice. It is not something that we lose when things get bad. It is not something that we can set aside when things are going well. Faith should be an integral part of our daily lives. Faith is what sees us through the tough times. Faith is what we rejoice over during the good times. Faith is what we look back on and realize that it was faith that brought us through tough times.

Tough times fall on everyone. It is faith that makes the difference between despair and hope.

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
(Hebrews 11:1 (NIV))

I am certain that things will get better. I am certain that God will see us through this time. I am certain that the fig tree will bud and that there will be grapes on the vines, and that the car will run and the jobs will return. I am certain that no matter to what extent that these things happen, I will rejoice in the Lord. I will strive to maintain my faith.

What do you rejoice in?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you made your move?

March 30, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Come near to God and he will come near to you.
(James 4:8a (NIV))

I am sure that you have heard that God is everywhere and that He will never leave you, so how do you understand and comprehend this passage? If He is everywhere, isn’t He already near us?

God is everywhere, but sadly, too few people realize that He will not force Himself on anyone. We have to turn to Him out of a choice that we make, especially since we, as humanity, chose to turn away from Him as a result of the fall from grace in the Garden of Eden. We thought that we had been given knowledge, but instead, we lost all hope. Until God sent His Son, Jesus, into the world to pay the penalty for sin and death, we only knew the wages of our sin even if we chose good. Thankfully, God had a plan that would bring an end to this.

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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
(John 3:16-21 (NIV))

Each of us must make a decision to come near to God. This is only accomplished by believing in Jesus as God’s one and only Son. Through the gift of grace freely given on the cross, the veil that separated God from humanity has been torn in two. God had set in motion a plan to bring us back to Him and the veil symbolized that completion of that plan. Jesus declared this culmination of God’s redemptive plan with His final words.

When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
(John 19:30 (NIV))

God used these events to unfold His perfect plan to draw each of us near to Him. God may use circumstances to get our attention, but He cannot make the decision for us. Our families and friends cannot make the decision for us. We have to be willing to put aside our pride and move closer to God. When we make that move, we will find that He is already closer than we could ever imagine.

Have you made your move?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you long to see God, or do you see the world?

October 18, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
(Matthew 5:8 (NIV))

It is true that people will see what they want to see. If you give someone a glass and fill it half way, some will say that it is half empty. Others will say that it is half full. The same is true about God. If you give people God, some will choose to see. Others will choose not to see. Those who choose to see God would find God in all things. These are the people who seek God. They will find Him in everything that they see.

Those who fail to see God are those that need Him most. They think that they have all the answers and all of the things of this world are theirs for the taking. They do not realize that God has created everything, and that everything is His. Pray for those people.

Basically, each of us fall somewhere along the spectrum between these two end points. This is human nature, but we can overcome human nature and train ourselves to see. We can repent and focus on the things of God. The closer we draw to God, the more that He works in our lives to give us a pure heart. It is a choice!

Do you long to see God, or do you see the world?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Freedom does not mean that we are to continue to sin!

September 13, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves.
(1 Peter 2:16 (NIV))

Godly freedom is not how the world thinks of freedom. Too many people in this world think that true freedom is the ability to do whatever you want, whenever you want. There are consequences!

Imagine that you have done something that ends up with you being put in prison. You have committed an act that was contrary to the laws of the land. For several years you sit in your prison suffering the consequences of your actions. As fortune would have it, someone comes along and pardons you for your actions. You are released. You have been set free from the consequences of your actions.

What do you do?

Do you return to the very same behavior that put you in prison to begin with? Do you do this knowing that the outcome will be the reinstatement of your prison sentence, or do you make a commitment to follow a new path that leads to a much better place?

I’m sure that you understand that each of us are guilty! Each of us are bound by the sinful nature that we are born with and the sinful actions that we continually do.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
(Romans 3:23 (NIV))

By all legal accounts, we face an eternity separated from God in a place that is far worse than any earthly prison.

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))

We have been pardoned! We have been shown grace and mercy. We simply must make a choice to follow Jesus and repent of our sin just as Jesus told the woman caught in adultery.

Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
(John 8:11b (NIV))

We have been set free from the consequences of sin, but we must make a choice to leave our life of sin. We cannot willfully continue in our sin or we will not like the eternal consequences.

Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
(Matthew 7:22-23 (NIV))

Freedom does not mean that we are to continue to sin!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How good are you at seeing the unseen?

September 9, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
(2 Corinthians 4:18 (NIV))

Human nature likes the easy way out!

If something is directly in front of us, do most of us go searching for something better?

If we can see, do most of us make a choice to gamble on the uncertainty of the unseen? This concept has been put to the test many times. Popular television game shows use this concept to get contestants to agonize over a decision to keep what they have or go after what is behind the door. Human nature likes a gamble, yet, at the same time human nature likes certainty. We always make decisions based on what we think will be best for us, whether immediately or long term.

Think about that with respect to your life. Unless you are striving for something that satisfies a personal desire, most things that you do are the easy option. We take advantage of what we can see and plan. Even with this in mind, it is almost a certainty that the difficult things that a person chooses to do are so that they will have an easier life later. All that you have to do is look at your educational choices and then your career choices to see how this pans out for most of us.

What if we could be guaranteed that what is behind God’s door is so much better than what we can see in this world? The things of this world are in a sinful, fallen state. Do we want to trade sin for sin? What we are promised from God is so much better. We are promised to have our sins removed! We are promised to be able to spend eternity in His presence! Unlike the trickery and uncertainty of the television game shows, what is behind God’s door is so much better than what the world has to offer. The treasure that God promises is worth whatever we have to do in order to attain it!

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.
(Matthew 6:19-20 (NIV))

The treasures on earth are seen. The treasure of heaven are only seen through faith!

How good are you at seeing the unseen?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you willing to surrender your will to the Lord?

August 14, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
(Isaiah 6:8 (NIV))

Willingness!

This seems to be a characteristic that is disappearing from many aspects of society. Is it disappearing from the people who claim to be members of the Body of Christ? Are we willing to stand up and say that we will go where the Lord sends us? It’s time to be honest with yourself and truthfully acknowledge the last time that you stepped forward when you saw a need or felt the Holy Spirit tugging at you. In hindsight, did you respond in a way that left you sitting there or did you wholeheartedly embrace the unknown for the Lord?

Being willing to respond and carry through with that response often places us outside of our comfort zones. We feel uncertainty when facing the unknown even when it is the Lord who is calling us to go. Think about this in respect to Abram. He heard the Lord tell him to leave the country where he lived and trust the Lord to lead him to a new land. Consider how different the outcome if Abram had simply said that he was afraid and wanted to stay where he was.

The Old Testament as well as the New Testament are full of people who were willing to answer and go. Abram went and we now know him as Abraham. Noah went and built an arc. Moses went and lead God’s people out of Egypt. Jacob went and scouted out the land. David went and fought Goliath. The disciples answered the call and followed Jesus.

We have a choice, but how do you think the Lord responds when we make a choice that is contrary to His calling? The Old and New Testaments are also full of people who heard God’s call and decided not to follow. Jonah ran and was swallowed. He eventually surrendered to God’s will. The rich young man heard the call from Jesus and turned and walked away. We never hear of him again. The two thieves on the cross answered differently from each other. One accepted Jesus and is with Him in paradise. The other cursed Jesus, and . . .

Take a very serious soul-searching look at yourself. Are you willing to do what the Lord asks?

Are you willing to surrender your will to the Lord?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What do you do with your freedom?

August 2, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.
(Galatians 5:13 (NIV))

How do you define freedom?

You may find yourself among the group of people who look at freedom as a political right, as in being free to do whatever you desire. If this is the case, then you may be surprised to find that this definition is not the primary definition in many dictionaries. In many dictionaries, freedom is defined as personal liberty from bondage, slavery or confinement. No matter how you look at freedom, it is generally accepted to mean a state of being free, whether from confinement, bondage or in actions. It is the subtle nuances of the definitions that catch people off guard and have them making choices that are not the true definition of freedom.

In this country, we have many freedoms. We are free to choose how to live our lives. We are free to choose to do things that should probably be left undone. Yet, too many people make these choices simply because they think that they have a right to do so. Let’s put these types of choices in perspective. We have the freedom to go to the top of a tall building to enjoy the view. Some people take that freedom to extreme and jump! When a choice that someone makes under the guise of freedom harms themselves or others, is it really freedom? Would you want to be free in this manner, especially when you consider the consequences of the choices made in this type of freedom?

The freedom that Jesus came to offer is not this type of freedom!

We, as humanity, have been sentenced to a physical world where we simply cannot live without making mistakes. Those mistakes are called sin. No one is perfect.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
(Romans 3:23 (NIV))

Because of our sin, we have been tried, convicted and condemned.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 6:23 (NIV))

The freedom that we have been given through Jesus is a washing clean of our sin and the consequences of that sin. Let’s look at it from a perspective not many of us will ever know, but hopefully one that will help us to understand. Imagine that you are convicted of murder and sentenced to death for your crime. You spend every day knowing that one day you will face the consequences of your actions and there is absolutely nothing that you can do. You desire to escape the consequences, yet you know that you deserve all that is coming.

With this image still fresh in your mind, the best way to describe true freedom is this.

Godly freedom is being given a pardon for the consequences of your actions and you are so thankful that you joyfully refrain from any similar actions. You also joyfully share the story of how you gained your freedom so that others may find theirs. Is this how you see freedom through Jesus?

What do you do with your freedom?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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