Do you desire to give God your best or your second best?

April 2, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

“Cursed is the cheat who has an acceptable male in his flock and vows to give it, but then sacrifices a blemished animal to the Lord. For I am a great king,” says the LORD Almighty, “and my name is to be feared among the nations.
(Malachi 1:14 (NIV))

Do you give your second best to God? Do you expect God to give you His best?

“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead?
(Luke 11:11 (NIV))

It is true that all of our righteousness is as filthy rags, but we often tend to make them even more filthy because we do not offer our very best to God. We offer Him the blemishes of our life and expect Him to take them as our very best. We, in turn, eagerly await God to grant us our every desire for His blessings to be poured out upon us. If we expect God to bestow His best upon us, we should desire to give God our very best in gratitude. Lets face it, our best is still so far inferior to the least that God could give us. If we simply desire to give God our best, then we will not only be doing what we should, but, we will probably be blessed as a result. Perhaps we should even consider this act as an act of generosity, for out of the desires of our hearts we give.

A generous man will prosper;
    he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.
(Proverbs 11:25 (NIV))

Perhaps we should even consider this act an act of faithful obedience. God is testing each of us to see what we are willing to give to Him so He will know what He can give to us. I would even venture to say that the story of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30 applies.

Do you desire to give God your best or your second best?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you following His lead?

March 23, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
(Psalms 23:1-3 (NKJV))

I think that I can safely say that this passage is very well known. Even many nonbelievers have heard this passage, but have we, as the Body of Christ, taken it to heart?

When you read this passage, something becomes evident. In fact, the concept is mentioned twice in these few lines. Have you found it yet?

He leads me!

In these seven lines of scripture, David repeated these three words twice. If you understand the concept behind the word “lead,” this word does not mean that you are forced to follow. It implies that others will freely follow someone because they desire to understand and possess what the one person has. They believe in something about the one who leads.

What does Jesus have that you desire? What does Jesus offer that makes you want to follow? What makes you believe that you can possess what He offers? Are you following Him with enough desire and passion to find what He is trying to give you? All of the answers to these questions require a faith in Jesus and the promises we are given as well as a determination to take hold of those promises for ourselves. In the physical world, when we are promised something, we stick with it with a very tenacious determination. We don’t want to lose out on the promise. Are we the same with the promises from the Lord? Are we as tenacious in our determination to take hold of what we have been promised?

David thought it important enough to mention that the Lord leads him and then tells where he is taken. David did not say that he didn’t follow the Lord’s leading. In fact, he trusted the Lord enough to follow Him to very beautiful and peaceful places. He trusted the Lord to protect him, shelter him, love him, nurture him and give him rest. Do you trust the Lord in this manner?

Are you following His lead?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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When you look at yourself, what do you find?

March 5, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.
(Ephesians 5:3 (NIV))

Did this hit a little too close to home?

If not, when was the last time that you took a very serious and in-depth look at yourself?

If you examine yourself with God’s Word as the benchmark, you will always come up short. If you aren’t finding anything, then you aren’t looking!

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?
(2 Corinthians 13:5 (NIV))

We have been given other things to look for beside sexual immorality, impurity and greed. We have also been told the consequences if we do not take action to correct these traits.

Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
(Ephesians 5:4-5 (NIV))

If we have professed a faith in Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, then we are called to do the things that Jesus did. I have not found a single passage that says that He possessed any of these traits that we are told are improper. If we truly desire to follow Jesus, then we are to follow Him in all aspects of our lives. Jesus never embraced sin. He rebuked sin. He told people to leave their life of sin and follow Him.

With that said, I want to ask you one more time to take an in-depth look at yourself. Examine your life through the eyes of Jesus.

When you look at yourself, what do you find?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Why are we drawn to return to our sin and slavery?

March 2, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
(Galatians 5:1 (NIV))

What is it about human nature that makes us return to something that we know we should leave behind? We have all been guilty of doing this very thing, and probably much more often than we care to admit. Apparently, human nature since the fall from grace has always had us doing what can only be called self destructive behavior. We know that we shouldn’t, but yet we do. This type of behavior has been pointed out many times, but probably the most accurate and disgusting is the following.

As a dog returns to its vomit,
so fools repeat their folly.
(Proverbs 26:11 (NIV))

As I stated previously, we all do it. Even the man who is credited with bringing the Gospel to the Gentiles fought this aspect in his own walk of faith. Paul was a very intelligent person, but yet he didn’t understand the self destructive nature that he fought against.

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
(Romans 7:15-20 (NIV))

This struggle that all of us face makes it clear why each of us are called to take up our cross daily. We are to deny that part of our human nature. We are to struggle with this sinful nature each and every time that it raises its ugly head in our lives. We are called to repent. Far too many people believe that this is a one-time occurrence, but it should be a daily attitude and activity. Do I even venture to say that, on some days, we may have to humble ourselves continually before the Lord and repent of our actions and our thoughts?

I know that we are a fallen creation, but I wish I had the magic answer as to why we return to our sin when we don’t want to. I wish I knew how to turn off that part of my life so that I never take my eyes off of Jesus. Just like Paul, I find myself doing the very things that I hate! I don’t know why! I long to do only what is good and righteous, yet on my own, this is not possible. I just know that we must be ready to fall on our knees whenever and wherever we may find yourself returning to our sin.

I want to leave you with one question that I hope you will take to heart.

Why are we drawn to return to our sin and slavery?

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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What do you hear?

January 30, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.
(John 8:47 (NIV))

Contrary to what the world thinks, God does speak to us if we only know how to listen.

Just like in any relationship, we have to know the heart of the other person. We have to know them on a deeper level than just a casual acquaintance. We must be able to pick up on subtle intents based on our knowledge of the person. For all of the married men who are reading this, I am sure that a subtle roll of the eyes by your wife carries a meaning that only you understand. With this as an example, perhaps it is easy to understand that intimacy with someone means that not all communications are with words. Sometimes we are able to “hear” things because we know someone so well that we can understand things that others would not pick up on.

Does God always speak in an audible voice?

If we have accepted His Son, Jesus, as our personal Lord and Savior, we can be called His children. That is God reaching out to us in love. If we spend time with His Word, we know His heart. That is us reaching out to God in love. We draw closer to Him and we begin to know what breaks His heart and what bring Him joy. We begin to recognize the subtle differences in us as we mature in our faith and our relationship with the Lord. We feel peace and joy when we walk with Him and we feel anxiety and sorrow when we stray.

We have also been given the Holy Spirit to guide us. That is God walking with us in love. He is that still, small voice that lives in us to teach us how to walk with the Lord in a relationship as a loving Father and His child.

There are so many ways that we are able to hear what God says. We just have to be open to hearing and be willing to respond. We must desire a relationship with God in order to hear Him.

Do you desire that relationship?

What do you hear?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is it your desire to have Jesus increase in you?

January 29, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

He must increase, but I must decrease.
(John 3:30 (NKJV))

This goes against everything that is considered human nature. If left to our own devices, we seek to elevate ourselves while not caring about those whom we step on when we do. Everyone has dreams of power and wealth, and Satan knows this. It is that very thing that Satan used to temp Jesus in the wilderness. Satan made a big mistake in thinking that Jesus would be, could be tempted as we are tempted. He tried to get Jesus to “show off” by turning the stones into bread. He tried to get Jesus to prove His authority by showing that the angels would lift Him up. He tried to offer Jesus all of the worldly kingdoms if Jesus would worship him. Basically, Satan tempted Jesus with physical comfort, power and authority. I am so thankful that Jesus rejected all temptations. Our sinful human nature would have seen any one of us giving in to most, if not all of these. Because Jesus was able to resist temptation, He is elevated to the power and authority that is required for Him to complete the mission that brought salvation.

When we rely on ourselves, we fail miserably. When we rely on Jesus, we are given grace and mercy. The more that we rely on Jesus, the less that our sinful nature comes out. The more that we rely on Jesus, He increases in our lives. We are still the unique individuals that God created us to be. But instead of the sinful creation, we replace our sinful desires with the heart of Jesus. By allowing Jesus to increase in us, we become the best “us” that we can be. I don’t know about you, but I like this concept. I like being able to rely on the strength of Jesus when my weaknesses would see me fail. I like being able to say, “Thank you, Jesus, for carrying me through once again!”

Is it your desire to have Jesus increase in you?

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