Have you learned to listen?

March 4, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Then Eli realized it was the Lord who was calling the boy. So he said to Samuel, “Go and lie down again, and if someone calls again, say, ‘Yes, Lord, your servant is listening.'” So Samuel went back to bed. And the Lord came and called as before, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel replied, “Yes, your servant is listening.”
(1 Samuel 3:8-10 (NLT))

Samuel had something that most people do not have. Can you figure out what that something was?

Samuel had someone who was experienced at hearing God!

Eli gave Samuel the benefit of his experience and helped Samuel realize that God was calling. How many of us are called by God only to miss the calling. We do not realize that it was the Lord who called? Perhaps this is why we need to establish a relationship with a mentor; someone who is more mature in the ways of the Lord. This mentor will guide us and provide a confirmation to what God is speaking.

Have you ever heard that if it is truly God, then He will provide confirmation. Sometimes it will come from complete strangers, but He will provide it. The confirmation is not the problem, for once we learn to hear God, then it is easier to accept His commands. What is difficult is learning to hear and recognize Him to begin with. Perhaps this requires someone with experience to assist us to recognize Him. Perhaps it takes adherence to Psalms 46:10 (Be still, and know that I am God.). Perhaps it takes more commitment than we can initially do on our own.

Let’s face facts. When you first learned to ride a bicycle, you needed help. You needed support. Once you discovered the secrets to riding, you started to solo. You eventually became proficient at riding. You no longer need that support.

I would venture to say that learning to hear God also requires some initial support.

Do you have your support? Do you have an Eli, or perhaps you have learned to “solo?”

Have you learned to listen?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Repent and rekindle the fire!

February 4, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.
(Acts 17:30 (NIV))

There are many types of things that we can be ignorant of. We can be ignorant of the Law. We can be ignorant of our sin. We can be ignorant of our need for a savior, and we can be ignorant of God’s calling upon our lives.

We can also be ignorant of our need to repent!

This applies individually and as a society.

As I look around, I see evil being called good and good being called evil. Our world is turned upside down. I recently saw that only 49% of our country profess to a belief in Jesus. Sadly enough, in the age range of young adults, that is only about 25%. We, as a society, are rapidly turning and are greatly in need of repentance. How can we, as a society, repent, when the people who feel the need to repent are now in the minority?

There is an old Jewish saying that if the whole world repents, then the Messiah will come. One man sat out to bring the world to repentance. However, he found that the world was too big, so he decided to focus on his country. This, too, was too big, so he decided to focus on his town. He soon found that this, too, was too big. He decided to start with his street. Then his house. He finally decided that he needed to start with himself.

Start with yourself!

We all have things that we tend to push under the rug, so to speak. These things are the sins that we have become familiar with and tend to ignore. In God’s eyes, these sins are no different from the ones that we have a tendency to point our fingers at.

We have become ignorant of our own sins. Have we been focusing so much on the sins that we see in the world that we ignore our own? We need to stop and take a look at our own lives in context. We need to pray that we are following God’s will. We need to pray that we can be that light that the world will see and not a spent candle slowly devouring itself.

“You are the light of the world. A city 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. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
(Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV))

What good will we be if our light is going out?

Repent and rekindle the fire!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you sharing the true Jesus with others?

January 27, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.
(Luke 19:10 (NIV))

What have you been taught about Jesus? In particular, what have you been taught about the reason that He came into this world?

Did He come to be a social justice warrior? Did He come to advocate for the poor? Did He come to spread peace and love, or did He come to call a lost and sinful humanity to repentance?

I realize that Jesus did many things when He walked this earth, and many of those things can be classified as falling into these categories that I listed, but they were all ways to reach the lost. Did Jesus teach on being just and fair in our dealings with each other? I can point out many situations where He did just that. He pointed out our sinful nature in these matters and asked us to seek God and follow His commands. Not following God’s commands is a sin. Jesus was telling us to repent and follow Him. Did Jesus teach on helping the poor? If you look back at Old Testament laws, that was already in place. A landowner was not supposed to harvest all the way to the corners of his fields. This was to be left for the poor. In other words, love your neighbor as yourself. Not doing so is a sin. Jesus was calling us to repent of our sin. When asked what the greatest commandments are, He responded that you are to love God and love your neighbor as yourself. The example that He gave involved a Samaritan man. In the culture of the day, Jewish people hated the Samaritans. In other words, Jesus was telling us to repent of our sin of hatred.

What is your definition of being lost? According to God, being lost is being a sinner.

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

And being a sinner has drastic consequences!

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

Jesus walked among us telling us to live according to what God had planned. He called us to repent of our shortcomings, our sins, and to turn to God in all things. He used every situation that He was in as a teachable moment to drive this home. Repent in your dealings with others. Repent of your treatment of the poor. It is possible to do these things yet still miss out on the only reason that Jesus came. All of these can be labeled as works of the flesh if we do not have a repentant heart and a desire to follow Jesus in all that we do. A repentant heart is a result of the most important aspect of why Jesus came. Jesus calls us to love God and to love your neighbor as yourself. When we do this, our desires change. Our actions are no longer selfish in nature. We see ourselves and others as God sees them.

We are called to also seek and save the lost by sharing Jesus with them.

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))

Sadly, I believe that we, as the church, have missed the mark. We share Jesus only when we are comfortable, and we don’t emphasize where Jesus tells us to teach people to obey everything that He has commanded. We sugar coat it, and as a result, we see people developing incorrect images of Jesus. I know that this hasn’t been a saying in several years, but we must pay attention to “What Would Jesus Do?” According to the words recorded in Luke, Jesus clearly said that He came to seek and save the lost!

Are you sharing the true Jesus with others?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Only the Lord is a perfect fit!

December 6, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

The law of the LORD is perfect,
reviving the soul.
The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
The precepts of the LORD are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the LORD are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever.
The ordinances of the LORD are sure
and altogether righteous.
(Psalms 19:7-9 (NIV))

Some say that there is a God shaped hole inside of our hearts that we strive to fill. Some fill it with wealth; some with power; some with lust; some with greed; and some with false religions. All of the people who try to force fit a “square peg into a round hole” are never truly at peace. They occasionally can make something “fit” temporarily, but due to the mismatched shapes, whatever they place there eventually works its way out.

When this happens, there is much pain, sadness and anger. Filling the space that was intended for God to fill only leads to false hope and aggravation. The Psalmist knew of this and conveyed this truth very eloquently in the above passage. This was before the idea of a “God shaped hole,” but it conveys the same underlying truth.

How are you trying to fill this hole that yearns to be filled?

Only the Lord is a perfect fit!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Time to repent and turn toward the blessing!

July 5, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people he chose for his inheritance.
(Psalms 33:12 (NIV))

Our history is riddled with things that we should not be proud of, but is that a reason to not love our nation?

Think about that in terms of your families. Are they perfect? Do your children always do what you wish that they would do? Do you still love them even when they do something wrong?

Think about this in relationship to God’s love for us. Do we always do the right thing? Did that stop Him from sending Jesus to die for our sins so that we could have salvation?

Our nation is made up of people and not a single one of us is perfect.

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

We can’t expect something that is comprised of sinful people to be perfect. There is only one who is perfect! Only when we repent and turn to the Lord and keep His commands will we be blessed and guided by His hand. We have to choose to follow the Lord. We have to live our lives in a way that honors God. We have to decide individually and as a nation.

But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
(Joshua 24:15 (NIV))

Jesus came to set the captives free. He came to bring us true freedom – a freedom from the law of sin and death. That freedom is far greater than any worldly independence. We have the ability to have both. We have the ability to be free as individuals and as a nation. Both require one simple action on our part. We must individually accept Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior and we must, as a nation, turn to the Lord in repentance. Where are each of us personally in our acceptance? Where are we as a nation in our repentance?

Time to repent and turn toward the blessing!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Does the Lord hear from you when you call upon His name?

June 20, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Know that the LORD has set apart the godly for himself;
    the LORD will hear when I call to him.
(Psalms 4:3 (NIV))

Does the Lord hear from you when you call upon His name?

Too many people only call upon God when they are in need. They ignore God when things are going well. They forget that God is the one who has given them every blessing that they have. They ignore the fact that they need to be in God’s presence all of the time and not just in times of need.

Just what makes someone Godly?

“You acted foolishly,” Samuel said. “You have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. But now your kingdom will not endure; the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people, because you have not kept the LORD’s command.”
(1 Samuel 13:13-14 (NIV))

Samuel was speaking of David. David was a man after God’s own heart. David kept God’s commands at all times, and not just when things were bad. This is what made David godly.

Are you godly as David was godly? Do you keep God’s commands at all times? Do you try to keep them? Is it your desire to always walk in the ways of God’s Word? If this is your desire, then you will be considered godly and the Lord will hear when you call to Him.

Does the Lord hear from you when you call upon His name?

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

June 5, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person.
(1 John 2:4 (NIV))

I am sure that everyone is familiar with the old saying that actions speak louder than words. In fact, I hate to say this, but I bet that every single one of us has contradicted their own words with their own actions at some point in their life. Knowing human nature, it may even be safe to say that this could possibly happen on a daily basis!

Let’s face facts. We are a sinful, fallen creation.

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

Even on our best day, we are nothing!

All of us have become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
(Isaiah 64:6a (NIV))

Even in the midst of our sinful nature, we have been given a fantastic gift through the atoning blood of Jesus. All that we have to do is repent and accept that gift of grace. Sadly, far too many people think that they can skip the repentance and simply accept. Without repentance, their is no desire to leave a life of sin, and without that desire, there is no grace. We can’t pick and choose what sins we leave behind and what sins we take with us. Sin is sin and God cannot associate with sin. If we claim to know Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, we are called to repentance. We are called to take up our cross and follow Him. Just as Jesus told the woman caught in adultery, we are to leave our life of sin.

“No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
(John 8:11 (NIV))

Have you left your life of sin? Are you someone who desires to leave your life of sin, but are caught in a struggle? We must all learn to repent daily. We must learn to turn away from our sin and run after Jesus. We must learn to follow His commands. We must learn to discern the real truth and run away from what the world says is true. If we profess a faith in Jesus and profess that we follow Him, then our actions must say the same thing as our words. Perhaps we need to understand that if we profess that we follow Jesus, our actions may be the only sermon that nonbelievers will see.

“Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.”
(St. Francis of Asisi)

What do your actions say about you?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Will you find shelter in what you seek?

April 11, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the Lord’s anger.
(Zephaniah 2:3 (NIV))

Human nature is an interesting thing. We like to think that we are complex in our thoughts and actions, but in reality, we are simple in nature. We all have a need for shelter. We all have a need for food, and we all have a need for acceptance and love. Each of us have things that drive us; things that we seek in order to fill these basic needs. One of those needs is the need for love and acceptance. It is said that we all have a God-shaped hole that we are trying to fill in order to fulfill that need. All of our efforts in life are our attempts to fill that hole with something besides what it was intended to be filled with. Some of the things that we seek to fill that hole will lead to death and destruction. Some will lead to pain and misery. Some will lead to fame and fortune, but the most important thing that we can choose to fill that God-shaped hole with is God!

There is an old saying that he who lives by the sword, dies by the sword. In other words, whatever you choose to focus on in your life to try to fill that hole is what will eventually cause your downfall.

There is only one thing that you can seek that will overcome the results of filling that hole with the wrong thing!

Perhaps we should put a new twist on the old saying. Perhaps we should say he who lives by God’s Word, dies to the world and lives in righteousness!

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
(Matthew 7:13-14 (NIV))

In all honesty, we all seek something. Make sure that what you seek is not a quick fix that will lead to destruction.

Will you find shelter in what you seek?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do you desire to be focused on Jesus?

April 4, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
(1 Corinthians 2:2 (NIV))

What is it that you find yourself focusing on? What is it that commands all of your attention? What is is that you treasure more than anything else in all of creation?

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
(Matthew 6:21 (NIV))

Are you willing to admit what has your focus, what has your attention and what has your heart?

This is a very tough question and one that I am sure many of us have wanted to avoid at some point in our lives. Be completely honest with yourself. Can you openly admit in front of family and friends the one thing that is your treasure? Can you admit to what is the one thing that has your focus? I can’t answer those questions for anyone except myself. No one can answer for you and you definitely can’t answer for anyone else.

If you primary focus is not a relationship with Jesus, what does that say about your life and your salvation? You claim to know who Jesus is, but does He know you?

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 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 7:21-23 (NIV))

As a professing believer in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, He should be the primary authority and focus in your life.

Do you desire to be focused on Jesus?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Don’t get things out of sequence!

February 5, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Love the LORD your God and keep his requirements, his decrees, his laws and his commands always.
(Deuteronomy 11:1 (NIV))

If you love the Lord with all your heart, His requirements will be placed there as a result. It is easier to first love God and then do His will for the simple fact that we will desire to know and do His will because of our love for Him. God does not expect us to first make ourselves perfect and keep His requirements. That is from the Law of Moses. God knew that man could not keep this law, but He had to give it to us in order to have something to base righteousness on.

Instead of being perfect and approaching God, God has given us the opportunity to come to Him in spite of our imperfections by coming through Jesus Christ. Once we come to Him, He fills us and perfects us in His time.

Are you trying to be perfect on your own, or are you letting God perfect you in His time? God loving us as we are comes first. Loving God comes next! Drawing closer to God and His requirements, decrees, laws and commands come next.

Don’t get things out of sequence!

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