Where does your heart direct you?

June 22, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.
(2 Thessalonians 3:5 (NIV))

In our lives, there are many paths that we can choose to follow. Some days, we make so many decisions that each minute potentially can change the outcome of our day, possibly our whole lives and even our eternity. If we broaden our perspective, we have the potential to impact the day of countless individuals that we encounter. If we follow God’s lead, we can potentially impact their eternal perspectives as well.

This is staggering!

Have you truly stopped to reflect on how our actions can have eternal consequences for not only ourselves, but for countless others as well?

Does this make you want to pray for your heart to be molded into a heart that seeks the Lords direction, love and perseverance?

Take a look at your life. Chances are good that each of us has had moments in our daily lives where we fail miserably at allowing the Lord to direct our hearts. If you are like me, you can probably vividly recall the worst moments when you moved completely opposite of what the Lord desired. Do you wish that you could have a do-over because of the pain that these moments caused?

It is not always easy to allow the Lord to direct our hearts, but it is what we, as members of the Body of Christ, must strive to do. We must pray that our hearts seek after the very heart of God! We must be willing to move in directions that go against our sinful human nature and see each other as God sees them. We must come to the realization what we are not the center of God’s universe. He placed us in His creation, but His creation is much greater than just you or just I. We must learn to see each other with the love that God sees each of us with. We must realize that the Lord is patiently calling to Himself all of those who are lost. We must love them as He loves them! We must be directed to show God’s love.

Where does your heart direct you?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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God’s love is not how the world loves!

February 13, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
(1 Corinthians 13:6-7 (NIV))

Does this sound like the world’s current definition of love?

Society has taken the concept of love and twisted it so far from how God defines love. According to God’s plan, love is sacrificial, but there are some overlooked aspects.

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))

We, as the intended recipients of God’s love, must be willing to walk away from our sin. We must be willing to embrace the truth, the only truth, that is God’s Word. Once we do, we are called to love as God loves, but that doesn’t mean that we condone the sin and the evil in people. I realize that this is often overused, but there is an old saying that, “We are to love the sinner and hate the sin.” Think about that in relation to the following example.

You are a parent who has a child that is involved in things that could get them in trouble with the law. Which of the following options shows true love? Do you overlook these actions because you say that you love them and you don’t want to interfere with their life, or do you try to make them change their life so that they don’t face any consequences from their activities? The first option actually shows that you don’t care enough to take action to prevent something bad. It may appear that you love them in the present, but you don’t love them enough to take action so that they will have a better tomorrow. Love sometimes has to be tough! As a parent, you have to stand in the gap and fight for the well being of your family so that they have a life that is not a result of bad decisions.

Put this into perspective by changing the scenario with respect to eternity. This time the child is rebelling and is lost. Do you overlook these actions or do you pray for them, do you try to reach them, do you love them enough to stand in the gap interceding for them? This time, the consequences have a much different and longer result. If we truly love this child, we will do anything and everything to bring them into a right relationship with the Lord.

My next thought was to ask you how do you think God feels, but I have already told you how He feels. He loves the world so much that He had a plan to redeem the world. That plan was not an easy thing to bring about. It cost the physical life of His only begotten Son, Jesus. Jesus came to defeat evil and sin. He came to protect us from the consequences of sin. God’s love perseveres and because of His great love, we have the glorious hope that we can trust in His Word. All that He asks is that you believe and turn away from the darkness of the evil that is in this world.

The world says that if you love someone, you accept them and don’t try to change them no matter the consequences. God loves us as we are, then calls us to repent so that we don’t face the consequences.

God’s love is not how the world loves!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you understand real knowledge and wisdom?

October 4, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ;
(Philippians 1:9-10 (NIV))

Just what is real knowledge?

Several years, I went by my wife’s office only to find that her parking lot was roped off as a crime scene. This is where the police believe that a college professor parked while he went next door and killed his wife and two other people. This professor was supposed to possess knowledge. In fact, I understand that he was well respected in his field. Unfortunately, one moment of rash and erroneous decisions have made it so that he will never be able to practice his profession again. All of that knowledge and no outlet.

Human knowledge has its limitations. It has its errors in judgment and reasoning. It is flawed and no matter how much humanity claims that it can perfect human knowledge, there will always be circumstances that push us beyond our human ability to understand, reason and to respond.

All of us have become like one who is unclean,
      and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
   we all shrivel up like a leaf,
      and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
(Isaiah 64:16 (NIV))

With this truth before us, there is only one true knowledge. There is only one real knowledge. God is good and that Jesus Christ is His only begotten Son.

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))

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.
Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.
(John 1:1-5 (NIV))

When you gain knowledge, it is said that you are enlightened. Jesus is the light. Knowing Jesus and following Jesus will not result in senseless results of rash decisions based on false knowledge. Jesus will walk with you in all that you do. He will be with you. The knowledge of the Holy Trinity will be with you. He will give you wisdom. And, yes, there is a difference.

Do you know the real knowledge that God desires for you to know? Do you understand real knowledge and wisdom?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you listening to your Father’s instructions?

June 18, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction
    and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.
(Proverbs 1:8 (NIV))

I am afraid that we have become a society were the parents look to the children for answers. Too many parents allow the children to make the decisions for themselves and sometimes even for the whole family. We, as parents, have become afraid of losing our children’s friendship. As a result, we lose our children and the roles get reversed.

Society has become too permissive with respect to allowing things to get out of hand. We no longer teach our children right from wrong. We live in a society that tells us there is no absolute truth, so consequently, there is no absolute right and wrong. Truth is relative. What is correct in one situation may not be the correct thing to do in another situation. We no longer have a moral compass by which we can steer our lives. It is permissible to do anything as long as no one gets hurt. I want to know who is responsible for this idiotic idea.

All throughout the Bible we are taught that there is a way that we should live. If we don’t live in that manner, then we sin. We miss the mark that God has set before us. Sin is not only the actions that hurt others. Sin is also the private acts that only scar the individual. Sin never leaves anything as flawless and pristine as before it occurred.

I don’t know what you think, but it seems to me that we, as a society, have stopped trying to reach that higher standard. We no longer desire to better ourselves in the eyes of God. We have not only stopped striving for God’s standard, in far too many cases, we have turned one hundred and eighty degrees in the opposite direction. How can we face ourselves? How can we face God? We have allowed leniency to take the place of love. We have allowed permissiveness to take the place of instruction. We have allowed rebellion to take the place of respect.

We, as a nation, need to return to the basic principles that God has given us. Here is where we can start.

Train a child in the way he should go,
    and when he is old he will not turn from it.
(Proverbs 22:6 (NIV))

Are you listening to your Father’s instructions?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you have the faith to not be afraid?

June 20, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
(Isaiah 41:10 (NIV))

Every single one of us, at some point, liked to think that we were capable of handling whatever may come our way.

How’s that going for you?

The world can be a pretty fearful place once everything starts hitting the fan! Chances are, if you are like me, you have run into far too many things in your life that have left you helpless, hopeless and lost. We have found out the hard way that we are not capable of handling things on our own. We soon grow to fear the unknown. We fear the possibilities that are beyond our control. We fear uncertainty, and we end up fearing fear itself!

What is it about human nature that has us so afraid? Do we fear the realization that we honestly don’t have the control over our lives like we want to have? On our own, we make wrong decisions and wrong turns every single day of our lives. It doesn’t help that the enemy and the sinful, fallen world are constantly distracting us so that we don’t make the right decisions.

Even through all of this, there is hope where there is faith!

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
(Hebrews 11:1 (NIV))

Have you placed your faith in Jesus? If so, then you have been made a part of the family of God. God is our Father. He will stand with you when you face the enemy. He will ease our fears.

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
(Romans 8:31 (NIV))

Do you have the faith to not be afraid?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What are the consequences?

June 11, 2015

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. He could bring about no change of mind, though he sought the blessing with tears.
(Hebrews 12:14-17 (NIV))

I have to honestly ask myself if I can remember the last time I lived through a day when I did not witness a conflict. I also wonder if society has completely forgotten what it means to be holy, or if most people even care anymore?

Everyone is concerned with what is in it for them and as a result, too many people simply will do whatever it takes so that they come out on top. With this type of mentality, people fail to see that any of their actions are sinful and have consequences. It’s almost as if people have become ignorant and arrogant as opposed to thoughtful and well mannered. I may be naive, but when I was a child, if I even thought about doing any of the things that I see children and teenagers doing, I would have been taught otherwise.

Consequences!

These still exist no matter what society may say.

Can a person commit murder, ask for forgiveness, and simply walk away?

Can a person rob a bank, say that they needed the money to feed their family, and get to stay out of prison?

What is true in the physical world is true in the spiritual world.

God will forgive you if you accept Jesus and earnestly repent, but He does not alter the consequences of your sin. If you have committed sinful acts that have altered your health, your health will probably still be the same after you repent. Decisions that you make in life are things that you have to live with. Just like Esau, things that we do will come back to haunt us. Grace and mercy are there for all who will simply ask, but the physical consequences of an imperfect life in an imperfect world will be a reminder of the sins that we have been set free of. I know that God will restore what the locust has destroyed, but it may never be the same.

Copyright 1998 – 2015 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What gate does your road lead to?

October 15, 2014

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

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))

Have you ever read Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken?” The symbolism and the parallels between the poem and this passage of scripture are definitely there. I do not know much about Robert Frost’s life, but I know the longing and searching that he portrayed through his words. They portray a person at a decision point in their life. In both pieces, we are encouraged to follow the path that is not as well traveled.

The differences between Matthew 7:13-14 and “The Road Not Taken” end there, though. The words in Matthew cause us to pause and reflect on the most important aspect of our lives, our salvation. Robert Frost’s words cause us to look at each aspect of our life, but do not point us directly to the salvation that is ours if we only make the right choice. It is good to reflect on your life and the decisions that you make, but, we must not lose site of the one and only decision that can effect eternity.

In addition, life decisions cannot be undone easily. There will always be consequences for our earthly decisions. However, a decision for salvation can be made at any time in our lives. no matter how far we go done the wide road, it is only a matter of the will to change our course and travel on the narrow road.

God allows U-turns!

What gate does your road lead to?

Copyright 1998 – 2014 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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