Is the Lord your shepherd?

April 24, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
(Psalms 23:1 (NIV))

When you translate anything from one language to another, there are subtle variations in words that the translator can select that can give you a different perspective or a fresh insight. Even when you have a group of people who all speak the same language and you ask them to describe something, you get as many variations in that description as there are people. This does not make any single person right and the rest wrong. It just means that everyone sees and understands things differently. A good example of this is the old tale about three blind men being introduced to an elephant. One person feels the power of a leg. One person feels the strength and agility of the trunk, and the other person comes away from the elephant only having had an interaction with the tail. None of them are wrong. They just came away with a limited comprehension of the truth. If you need another example of how different people can see the same thing and call it something different, all you have to do is consider the different names that people across the country give carbonated drinks.

The same is true when you look at the different translations of the Bible and how they handle different passages of scripture. One of my favorite passages is a good example of that.

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
(Psalms 46:10a (NIV))

In comparison, the New American Standard Bible translates the same passage in this manner.

Cease striving and know that I am God;
(Psalms 46:10a (NASB))

I love the concept of being still in the presence of God, but sometimes I have to be reminded that I need to cease striving and allow God to handle it. Neither concept is wrong. Today’s passage is another example of this. Here is another translation.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
(Psalms 23:1 (NIV))

Do the words “I shall not want” make you think of something different than the words “I lack nothing?” On the surface, they sound like they are conveying the same thing, but it is the subtleties that make you stop and reflect. It is the subtleties that make you stop and realize that the Lord has so much to say to us that our limited language cannot even begin to convey all that the Lord has for us. I love these sublties. Going back to Psalms 46:10, it is these sublties that make me stop and ask the Lord exactly what He is wanting to say to me. I have found that being inquisitive often leads to a deeper understanding. It is the subtleties that allow you to spend time getting to know the Lord and help you to understand His goodness!

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
(Psalms 34:8 (NIV))

Is the Lord your shepherd?

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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Talk to Him!

January 30, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.
(Mark 1:35 (NIV))

All too often we say that we do not have the time to pray. Our lives have become so hectic that the most important aspect is often overlooked.

Jesus knew what it was like to be “wanted” by so many different people and things in His earthly life. People were always asking Him to heal them or to help them in some other way. It would have been very easy to “forget” to pray, yet, He knew that it was the source of His authority.

Nothing is given to anyone, even Jesus, without it being allowed by God. Jesus set a perfect example for us in what we should do in our daily lives. Even though Jesus is part of God and is God, He did not forget that He needed to “talk” to God the Father. He needed to spend quiet time to maintain the relationship that had been since the beginning of time.

We must take this example and live it out in our daily lives so that we do not forget that we are not the masters of our own lives. We have a loving Creator who wishes to be in fellowship with us. He is our master. He is our Father. He loves us more than you can imagine!

Talk to Him!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How do you see others? How do you see yourself?

January 28, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, `Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
(Luke 6:41-42 (NIV))

Isn’t it typical human nature to see the minor faults in others while we overlook the major faults within ourselves?

We simply like to point out the faults in others and exaggerate them so that our own faults are not noticed. We make others look worse than they really are so that we can make ourselves look better in the eyes of others.

How did Jesus handle this?

He simply pointed out the fact that we cannot be in any shape spiritually to “assist” others with their faults if we completely ignore all of ours. Jesus came into the world to teach and be an example of what we should be and how we should act. He never ridiculed or accused people of things. He simply taught by example. His example was flawless. He was perfect. He could point out someone else’s flaws and be justified in doing so publicly, yet, He chose to treat others with love, grace and mercy.

How can we, who are sinful, treat others as if we are sinless when He who was truly sinless treated others as if He were one of them?

How do you see others? How do you see yourself?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you setting a good example for others to follow?

January 21, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.
(1 Corinthians 11:1 (NIV))

It is said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. It is also said that the word “Christian” originally was used to refer to someone as a “little Christ,” for they imitated Jesus in all of His actions. In essence, the early Christians were trying to be exactly like Jesus in all things!

Can the same be said of us?

Jesus came into the world to show us how to live. He came into the world to give us an option to the way the world says we should live. He came into the world to overcome the enemy, the thief of our very souls.

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))

If we profess a faith in Jesus, we are saying that we believe. We are saying that we accept Him as our personal Lord and Savior. We are saying that we desire to follow Him with all of our heart and with all of our life.

Is that what we are doing? Do our lives lead people to Christ? Do our lives present a good example of what being a follower of Christ truly means?

Preach always. When necessary, use words.
(attributed to St. Francis of Assisi)

Are you setting a good example for others to follow?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you have God’s good gifts in your life?

January 7, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
(James 1:17 (NIV))

Have you ever watched the ways of the world? They change to match the current view of what is “good.” In today’s society, “good” is described in terms of me, myself, and I and what is in it for “me.” This shows a complete disregard for others in many situations.

We, as a church, are often guilty of the same thing without even realizing it. When we pray, it is often for concerns and situations that are a direct influence on our lives. This can be taken in various ways. Perhaps, because we are part of the family of God through Jesus Christ, we extend our circle of influence to more people than we would if we did not accept Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior. This then results in more people directly affecting our lives in return.

Either way, God provides the true “good” that we seek. When the good that comes from God is bestowed on people, it does not change how God interacts with us and for us. He is constant in His dealings with us. It is us who are not consistent in our dealings with Him. He is steadfast and true. We are headstrong and wavering. He holds the truth and all goodness. We seek our own truth and what is good only for us. His love is perfect. Our love is selfish and self-centered. He loves all. We love only those who love us in return.

Perfection is His example. We can only be made perfect through His love and the grace and mercy granted us through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Do you have God’s good gifts in your life?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you desire to be above reproach?

October 29, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.
(1 Timothy 3:2-3 (NIV))

The word overseer implies someone in a position of authority in the church. Typically, this is translated as pastor, elder or deacon, but if you stop to think about it, everyone who professes a faith in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior is in a position of authority. We are all able to minister to each other and to those around us. We are all called to tell the world about Jesus. We are all able to lead someone to eternal salvation, and, sadly enough, we can all fall short of our calling.

Everyone who professes to be a member of the Body of Christ is in the spotlight. We are being watched by those who do not believe. Every action and every word is under constant scrutiny by an unbelieving world. We should all strive to be above reproach. We should all be faithful, temperate and self-controlled. We should all be respectable and hospitable. Everyone who professes a faith in Jesus should be able to teach others about the one who has set them free. We must set a good example, a high benchmark, for others to follow as we strive to follow Jesus.

Our actions should reflect the character of Christ! We should strive to fulfill the instructions put forth for an overseer.

Think about that.

Have you ever lost your temper, even in the privacy of your own home? Have you ever lost self-control? Do those who live with you and work with you think that you are respectable and above reproach? Have you ever been less than gentle? Have you ever participated in or started a quarrel? Do you treat those around you with respect and dignity even when you are in a position of authority over them?

If we are human, the answer to these will probably be a yes, for we are all far from perfect.

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

Thankfully, we don’t have to rely on our lack of ability to be perfect. We never will be perfect on our own. It is when we take our eyes off of Jesus and look to ourselves, or the world, that we fail miserably. Only when we keep our eyes on Jesus are we able to begin to come close to possessing these characteristics. We may never hold a position of pastor, elder or deacon, but we can all strive to fulfill these Godly characteristics in our lives. We can all strive to be above reproach!

Do you desire to be above reproach?

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