Does the Lord have all your heart, soul and strength?

June 17, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
(Deuteronomy 6:5 (NIV))

Do you love the Lord?

Let me ask this in a different way. What are you willing to give up for the Lord? Status? Career? House? Cars? Family? Friends?

Did you cringe at any of these things? Did you find yourself thinking something like, “As long as I don’t have to give up _______!”

What if God called you to sacrifice the thing that you loved most in order to follow Him? Would you respond like Abraham did with Isaac or would you respond like the rich young ruler?

Many people associate the words from Deuteronomy 6:5 with how Jesus responded in the following passage from Matthew.

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
(Matthew 22:36-40 (NIV))

If you truly love the Lord, you realize that everyone is made in the image of God. The way that we treat each other is indicative of how we treat the Lord and ourselves. Unfortunately, society’s definition of love means that we embrace their sins. Is this true love? Would you validate your sinful behavior to the point where you are killing yourself with alcohol or drugs and still claim to love yourself? How can we embrace the sins of others when we know that the same sin in our lives leads to death?

We must love as Jesus loved!

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.
(John 3:16-17 (NIV))

Perhaps we should look at this concept through these words. Love the Lord your God as He first loved us – with all of His heart, with all of His soul and with all of His strength. He had the love and commitment to sacrifice His Son to save us! Doesn’t this merit the gratitude and unfailing love of thankfulness?

Does the Lord have all your heart, soul and strength?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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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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What governs your mind?

February 14, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.
(Romans 8:6 (NIV))

What lurks in the back of your mind when you have nothing going on?

Perhaps if I ask that another way it will make more sense. So, what do you do when you think that no one is looking?

The human mind is a difficult thing to control. We must keep it engaged with external stimuli or we take the chance that it will wander into something that will have disastrous consequences. Even when we focus on external stimuli, we have a tendency to seek out things that will eventually cause us trouble. We need to be very careful and very deliberate with our thoughts. The old saying, “Garbage in, garbage out” comes to mind. In other words, we become what we choose to fill ourselves with. Since we have two parts to our existence, spiritual and physical, we have two distinct paths we can pursue. We can choose the things that are physical in nature such as wealth, power, greed and lust, or we can choose the spiritual option. Even when we choose the spiritual option, we must be careful to not embrace a demonic spirit, but we must strive to follow the Holy Spirit.

As I sit here praying and writing, I find my mind wandering. It has been a long day, and I still need to spend my time with the Lord. You may find yourself in the very same predicament. It is human nature. With that said, when your mind does wander, are you able to redirect it? What do you redirect to, or do you go through life constantly facing distractions and chasing after the proverbial squirrels that we all encounter? Long ago I made a decision that I must establish my priorities, control my own thoughts and keep them focused on what I truly want to focus on. In other words, I have made the Lord not only a priority, but the priority in my life.

Allowing your mind to be governed by the Spirit of God requires commitment. It requires a maturity that most of us wish we had. Most of all, it requires a desire to seek after God in all things and the ability to recognize when you stray. When you stray, and we all do, repent and refocus! Allow the Holy Spirit to fill your life and to govern your mind. You will find that you do possess a maturity and a peace that passes all understanding.

What governs your mind?

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

January 9, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

At once they left their nets and followed him.
(Matthew 4:20 (NIV))

When was the last time that you reacted immediately to a situation?

If you are like me, this probably doesn’t happen very often if at all. To be honest with you, most days I have trouble deciding what I want for dinner.

Each one of us who profess a faith in Jesus did not come to this decision as quickly as Peter and Andrew did. We had heard of Jesus most of our lives before we came to the decision to give our hearts to Jesus. Could we have and would we have been so quick to follow Jesus if He had appeared to us at our work and told us to follow Him? Would we have believed Him? Would we have left the comfort of what we knew and in an instant make a decision to leave it all behind and follow who in essence was a complete stranger? From a logical perspective, this sounds like lunacy. From a worldly perspective, it sounds like lunacy, but from a Godly perspective, it sounds like redemption, grace and salvation!

I have often wondered how I would have reacted if I were Peter or Andrew. Would I have been able to take that leap of faith? Would I have recognized that moment in time that would change my eternity? Would I have been able to place my trust in Jesus so quickly?

Think about that with respect to your life and how you came to faith in Jesus. Was it a well thought out decision or was it a quick and bold move? No matter how quickly the decision was made, the important truth is that you did make that decision. Even so, I want to give you something to think about. Peter gave his commitment “at once.” We do know that Peter was sometimes quick to do things, such as stepping out of the boat to walk on water. We also know that Peter vowed to never abandon Jesus, yet he denied Him three times. We also know that Jesus restored and forgave him. Perhaps Jesus saw something in Peter that is something that we should be willing to take hold of. Peter was willing to place his faith in Jesus even if he didn’t understand. He made the commitment and then relied on Jesus to see him through. We rely on our intellect to come to the decision and then we rely on our intellect to determine how we react. Is this really faith?

Are we able to decide at once to follow Jesus?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you long to see Jesus face to face?

November 13, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name.
(Zechariah 14:9 (NIV))

I pray that everyone who professes a faith in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior earnestly looks forward to this day! It is the culmination of everything that we profess that we believe in.

We profess that Jesus is Lord. We profess that He is King of kings and Lord of lords. We profess that one day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord. We profess that Jesus is the One. We profess that Jesus is the Son. We profess that Jesus is the only name by which we can be saved. We profess that Jesus was crucified, dead and buried. We profess that on the third day He arose from the grave. We profess that He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father. We profess that He will return.

In all these things that we profess, do we truly mean them? Is it our innermost desire to see these things come to pass? Will we be embraced or will we face disgrace?

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))

Too many people simply give lip service to the things that we profess as members of the Body of Christ. Following Jesus is so much more than words. Following Jesus is a full-time commitment. We can say that we long for Jesus to return, but our thoughts, our heart and our actions can say something completely different.

Merriam-Webster defines longing as a strong desire or a craving. They also define craving as an intense desire. If you long for something, you have an intense desire for it to come to pass. Do you have an intense desire to see Jesus? Do you long for the day that Zechariah spoke of? Do you long to see Jesus face to face?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have we switched from exposing to embracing darkness?

September 23, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.
(Ephesians 5:11 (NIV))

If we have expressed a faith in Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, we have made a commitment to repent of our sins and live life as an heir, as a son or daughter of God. We have made a decision to leave the darkness of our sins behind and embrace the light, the true Light.

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
(John 8:12 (NIV))

If you truly follow Jesus, you follow the light. You are called to embrace the light. Unfortunately, we have to overcome human nature even when we accept Jesus. We must be on our guard and make sure that those who embrace the darkness do not have any inroads into our lives.

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.
(John 3:19 (NIV))

Walking with Christ is not easy. Even those who profess a faith in Jesus have to repent on a daily basis. We have to keep our eyes focused on Jesus and fill our lives with His light so that the darkness has no opportunity to regain any hold upon our lives. We are to know the truth of God’s Word so well that we can see the subtle lies that the darkness uses. Today, our society seems to have started embracing the darkness. As members of the Body of Christ, we are called to be His light in a dark world. We are called to expose the darkness by shining His light in the midst of the darkness. Sadly, too many people who claim to be believers in Jesus are embracing the darkness because the darkness is claiming that God made us the way we are and if He made us, then the sin that we embrace is okay in the eyes of God.

Nothing could be further from the truth!

Jesus came to this world to give us freedom from sin. He did not come to give us freedom to sin!

Have we switched from exposing to embracing darkness?

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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The treasure is every moment spent with Jesus!

May 3, 2019

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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))

This has been several years ago, but I still remind myself of the lesson learned. I had spent several months looking forward to my 30th high school reunion. Let’s face it, during high school you can’t imagine life without your friends. I was looking forward to seeing the people that I had spent so much time with and seeing what they had done with their lives. It had become a priority for me. I was nervous and excited at the same time. It was a day that I had hoped would rekindle old friendships.

Unfortunately, the day came and went and I did not make it. My priorities shifted when my family and I got in the car to drive to Augusta for the reunion. Within five minutes after getting in the car, one of my children had a major meltdown and wanted to go home. I was furious. I kept hoping and praying that he would get over it, so we kept going. It just got worse. I finally and reluctantly turned the car around to go home. The twenty minute ride home was not a happy one for any of us. Fortunately, my son finally regained composure and apologized profusely. I didn’t want to hear it. I thought I had a right to be mad and I was going to exercise my right.

Once we did get home, the more I thought about the events, the worse I felt. I had made a commitment to my son to always help him and try to understand the issues that he faces. I had gotten so wrapped up in what I wanted to do that I had completely overlooked where my treasure truly is. I have been blessed with grace and mercy. I have been blessed with a wonderful family. I have been blessed with a son who, if it were humanly possible, I would take upon myself the very things that I had gotten mad about. I was not willing to extend the grace and mercy that I had been freely given.

I was looking towards my past. I was ignoring my present and my future. All I could see was a missed reunion with people from my past. They are not my life. They are a part of what made me who I am, but they are not still a part of me. My son, who will always be my son, will forever be a part of me. I was foolish to get angry. Even God tells us not to look to our past. He tells us not to look for Him in the past or in the future. He tells us to seek Him now. My treasure is my present moment. I may not have another one. I don’t need to dwell on the past or ignore the present because I spend so much time planning for my future.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
(John 10:10 (NIV))

I had allowed the thief to steal the day from me by planting a seed of anger. I had allowed that seed to be planted because I was dwelling on the past.

How can we have a full life if we dwell on the past or spend too much time looking to the future. Life is now! The treasure is every moment spent with Jesus!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you a member of God’s family?

January 14, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
(John 3:3 (NIV))

I was recently given a very interesting glimpse of God’s love for us through the birth of my granddaughter! Let me explain, and for those of you who have recently experienced the birth of a child, you probably already understand.

Is there anything that makes the human heart happier than the birth of a child? It brings joy to the mother and father and all who are related to them. People gather all around to celebrate the birth of the precious new life! They bestow gifts on the parents and on the child. They make a commitment to always be there for the child as they grow and mature. They instantly love with more love than they could possibly imagine.

Think about that in terms of being a child of God’s.

When we are born again, we are born of the Spirit. We accept the grace and mercy freely given to become a son or a daughter of God. In true fashion, we literally are born again. We are birthed into the family of God! Don’t you think that the Lord is filled with joy when someone truly decides to call Him Father? The human joy that we experience when we hold a newborn member of our family is overwhelming. How much greater is the joy that God and all of heaven feel when we are born into God’s family?

There is no greater joy in this world than the birth of a child. There is no greater joy that God can experience than the rebirth of one of His beloved children.

Have you given God great joy? Are you a member of God’s family?

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