When do you turn to the Lord?

May 1, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed,
     a stronghold in times of trouble.
Those who know your name will trust in you,
     for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.
Sing praises to the LORD, enthroned in Zion;
     proclaim among the nations what he has done.
(Psalms 9:9-11 (NIV))

Do you seek the Lord?

Do you seek Him at all times or only when things are not going the way that you want them to go?

He is a refuge for the oppressed and a stronghold in times of trouble, but, if those are the only times that you seek the Lord, then are you truly seeking Him?

It is human nature to turn to someone when you feel that you cannot handle things on your own, but when things seem to be going our way, it is human nature to take the credit. We seem to want God in our lives only when we fail on our own.

Is that how you see God? Is that the only time that you honestly seek the Lord?

Let me pose a question.

For those of you who are married, do you honestly think that the relationship is strong and that you honestly know you spouse if the only time that you turn to them is when you want something from them? Can you honestly say that you know the very heart and desires of your spouse if you never spend time with them?

God is the same way. If we only turn to Him in times of trouble, how do you think the relationship is going? Can you honestly say that you have spent time at the feet of the Lord? Can you honestly say that you know the heart of God and what makes Him rejoice and what makes Him sad?

The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, but He is so much more than that if you will simply spend time in His presence. In order to know someone, you must spend time with them. You must learn what makes them happy and what makes them sad. You must learn what they love. You cannot learn this when you are seeking refuge. You learn it when the focus is off of you.

Be still, and know that I am God
(Psalm 46:10a (NIV))

When do you turn to the Lord?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Show others that they can be made new!

April 12, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”
(Matthew 9:16-17 (NIV))

Have you become so set in your ways that God cannot do something new in your life? Is your heart so old that it cannot handle anything new?

If you associate physical age with “oldness,” then let me explain something. I have seen very old men and women who have a “new” heart – one that is open to the love, grace and mercy that God has blessed them with and I have seen people who are physically young who have such an “old” heart. It is closed to anything and everything that has to do with God. Fortunately, God has a way of softening hard hearts. He can reverse the aging process that we have applied to ourselves. Just like the old wineskins that would burst if new wine were poured into them, our old hearts must undergo a change before we can fully accept the love, grace and mercy that God so freely gives.

We are those wineskins!

If God were to pour out new wine of His Spirit upon your heart, would it be able to hold it? Would it be so brittle and break because of the new shape that God desires for it to take, or would it bend and accept the changes from within? Just like the new wine changes the wineskin from within, God changes our heart from within. He pours out His Spirit and allows it to flow into the very recesses of our heart. It works slowly and before you know it, just like with the wine, God has soon changed the vessel that He has used to contain His Spirit.

There is no wrong time to open yourself up to the newness that God wants to bring Allow God to use you to show others that He can bring a newness and a refreshing even when the world is saying that there is no hope.

Show others that they can be made new!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do your thoughts and words please the Lord?

March 27, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
(Psalms 19:14 (NIV))

Reading this passage reminded me of something that I think most people forget to take into consideration, and that is the simple fact that God knows us better than we know ourselves. He sees straight into our hearts and knows our innermost desires. He sees the things that we try to hide even from ourselves.

Are you willing to ask God to search your heart?

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
(Psalms 139:23 (NIV))

Better yet, are you willing to respond to God when He reveals to you things that are not pleasing in His sight? All of us have thoughts and desires that are less than righteous. We all say things that are less than pleasing to God and to ourselves. Are you willing to repent? Are you willing to change? It is human nature to rebel against correction. It is human nature to fall into prideful arrogance because we simply don’t want to change.

In short, we don’t want to please the Lord. We want to please ourselves?

Do your thoughts and words please the Lord?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Whose strength helps you in your weakness?

March 15, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.
(Romans 8:26-27 (NIV))

As I read this passage, the events of the day seem to overwhelm me. I am sure that each and every single person who has ever lived has had those types of days. They are the days that leave you drained and depleted. You feel like you have nothing left. You feel completely weak and vulnerable to anything and everything that the world may throw at you.

When that happens, human nature tells us to simply give up. It tells us that we have failed and that there is nothing that can lift us up out of the quagmire that we find ourselves in. It is the time when we long to be left alone.

Yet, at the very same moment that we feel that we should simply give up and give in, something stirs within us that brings us back to an amazing reality. That reality is that God loves us. He sent His Son to die for us. He sent His Spirit to live within us. He longs to hold us close and tell us of His great love for us. And, we answer. Our words are not enough. Our actions are not enough. Our desires are not enough to thank the Creator of all things. When this happens, the strongest statement of love is our groanings, for they are the groanings of a soul that longs for God’s righteousness and mercy. We cry out even when we don’t know what we long for. We simply know that we long for something to fill the void that we hold in our hearts. This is a void that is primal in nature. It aches and it longs to be filled. In fact, it is at this very moment that we realize that we are indeed in need of salvation.

Therefore I despise myself
    and repent in dust and ashes.
(Job 42:6 (NIV))

It is at these times that God also teaches us a lesson in humility. Think about that statement. Would a proud person be caught anywhere near dust and ashes? It is when God also begins the process of lifting us out of our weakness by giving us His strength to rely on.

Whose strength helps you in your weakness?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What have you been able to get rid of?

February 20, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.
(Ephesians 4:31 (NIV))

These traits are not from God. In fact, they go against everything that we are told is a fruit of the Spirit if we are truly a follower of Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
(Galatians 5:22-25)

We are to follow this example if we truly belong to Jesus. How can anyone who claims to have allowed Jesus into their lives as Lord and Savior exhibit the traits that are spoken of in Ephesians? If we truly allow Jesus into our hearts, then the Holy Spirit will enter our lives and begin to transform us into the likeness of Jesus.

Did you ever see Jesus exhibit bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, or any other negative trait that was directed at a person? Jesus was angered by the moneychangers’ actions, but He would not have kept them from asking for forgiveness if they had approached Him with that in mind.

We must not allow any of these traits to enter into our lives or they will destroy us by separating us from the saving grace that God has given us through Jesus Christ.

What have you been able to get rid of?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are we capable of hearing what the Lord says?

January 17, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Whoever has ears, let them hear.
(Matthew 11:15 (NIV))

Everyone likes to think that they are good at paying attention to their physical surroundings. Whether it be by sight, smell or hearing, everyone is usually aware enough of their surroundings to know daylight from night, sunshine from rain, and safety from danger. Still, every single one of us gets into a predicament at times when our physical senses were ignored. All that you have to do to confirm this is look at all of the videos that have been posted where people are looking at their cell phones and walk into a pole. I have even seen situations where people were so engrossed in what they were doing that they didn’t even hear their name being called to warn them against an impending danger.

It is human nature!

We have a tendency to become so wrapped up in certain things that we completely ignore or avoid other things.

No one knows human nature better than our Creator. He knows our innermost desires. He sees the things that make us long for Him and He cringes at the things that draw us into sin. He knows our hearts. He knows our minds. He also knows that we can become very easily distracted, especially when it comes to the things that appeal to our sinful nature. The Lord is constantly calling us to Him so that we can walk with Him and avoid that sinful nature. Sadly, all too often we are so engrossed in the worldly things that we fail to hear the Lord calling us away from them.

I know that the words from this passage are used many times throughout the Bible, but have you ever truly stopped to think about them? Perhaps if I paraphrased this concept it might stick with you a little stronger. In essence, God is say, “I gave you two ears. Use them! Pay attention to what I am telling you.” I realize that the Lord has never been recorded as saying something with this type of an attitude, but He is telling us to pay attention and listen to what He is trying to tell us. It is our sinful human nature that gets in the way.

Are we capable of hearing what the Lord says?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is sharing the good news of Jesus your priority?

November 16, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.
(Acts 20:24 (NIV))

What is your biggest priority in your life?

Some people might answer that their biggest priority is family. To be honest with you, that is a good priority to have. but is it the biggest priority?

Some people might answer that their biggest priority is to leave their mark in the world. Do you think that whatever mark they may try to leave will even be remembered one hundred years from now?

Some people might answer that their biggest priority is to make lots of money. This, in and of itself, is not bad. What is bad is the love of money. If you want to make lots of money simply because of greed, what does that get you?

No matter what your priorities are in life, if you are a believer in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, then everything pales in comparison to placing the Lord first.

You shall have no other gods before me.
(Genesis 20:3 (NIV))

Is there any priority in your life where placing the Lord first would not be a better option? If you place your family as a priority, imagine how much better it would be if you, and your family, placed the Lord first. What if leaving your mark on the world meant that you shared the Gospel with those around you and you lead many to a saving grace in Jesus? You would be remembered for all eternity by those whom you led to Jesus. If you desire to bring in lots of money, what if it was a priority to bring in lots of money to buy Bibles to distribute to those who desperately want God’s Word.

What we place as a priority is only bad if that priority is not Christ centered. Each of us have a different calling. Each of us have a unique way to share the Gospel. Our gifts and our desires should not be our priorities. How we use them to testify to the good news of God’s grace should be the utmost priority.

Is sharing the good news of Jesus your priority?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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