Do you trust in God’s plans?

January 18, 2018

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
(Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV))

Did you have your life planned out?

How did that work out for you?

Almost everyone quotes this passage when they think of the blessings of God in their lives, but almost everyone fails to recognize one key piece of information about this passage. They forget the context in which it was delivered!

This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place.
(Jeremiah 29:10 (NIV))

Years prior to these words being recorded, most of the people in Jerusalem were taken into captivity and taken to Babylon. God’s timing was to have the descendants leave Babylon and return to Jerusalem. God spoke these words to the complete group of people who would be fulfilling His will by returning to Jerusalem, by returning to the city that God loves. It was God’s desire to prosper them so that they would not only have a hope and a future, but to be able to give a hope and a future to all of humanity through what would eventually transpire in and around Jerusalem.

I find it saddening that today’s prosperity oriented mindset reads these words and takes what God said to His people in exile and turns it into a promise to make us rich.

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

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 6:23 (NIV))

God had a plan to give us hope even when we were condemned in our sin and even when we were without hope. If we are all sinners and we deserve death, what type of a future do we have? God realized this and set things in motion to give us hope and a future. God knew that in order to fulfill His promises for this hope and future, He had to move the people back to Jerusalem. He had to set the plans in motion that would bring Jesus into the world. God’s plan was to give everyone a hope of overcoming death and a future in His presence.

Do you trust in God’s plans?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What reward do you deserve?

January 8, 2018

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.
(Jeremiah 17:10 (NIV))

Do you ever search your heart and examine your own mind?

Self-examination can be painful!

No one likes to admit their shortcomings, their faults and the sinful nature that holds them captive. Even though we may have professed that Jesus is our Lord and Savior, we still face the issues that we did before this profession. The only difference is that we have acknowledged that we cannot face them on our own. We are to turn to Jesus constantly to help us.

With that in mind, what are your thoughts? What are your deeds? Are they focused on the sinful nature or have you replaced them with thoughts of Jesus?

Without Jesus, none of us deserve anything.

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

Without Jesus, we are lost to our sin and will reap the fullness of what we deserve.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 6:23 (NIV))

If you have accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, then your heart should be filled with the things that Jesus desires for you. It should be filled with the things that God desires. We should be like David who was known to be a man after God’s own heart.

When the Lord searches your heart, what will He find?

What reward do you deserve?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you know the one true Savior?

December 8, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from me there is no savior.
(Isaiah 43:11 (NIV))

We are rapidly approaching Christmas day. It is the time of year that we have set aside to remember a few basic principles and to praise God for His grace and mercy. We celebrate the birth of a baby, but Jesus was no ordinary baby.

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 all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
(John 1:1-5 (NIV))

We celebrate God’s love, even when we were still sinners.

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 64:6 (NIV))

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

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 6:23 (NIV))

We celebrate the fact that God’s love was so great that He took action.

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 celebrate that God’s simple plan of redemption was made personal.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”
(John 11:25-26 (NIV))

We celebrate because our God, our Father and our Lord is alive and seeks a relationship with each one of us.

Do you know the one true Savior?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you believe?

August 8, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
(John 1:1 (NIV))

Do you ever need to be reminded of this?

If you are like me, it is easy to become disillusioned by the events of our day to day lives and the events that transpire in the world. I have to stop and remind myself that the world in its current state is not the same world that God created for us to live in. God literally created a paradise and we blew it! The world that we see and the lives that we live in this world are direct results of what humanity did that caused the fall from grace. I have to constantly remind myself that God created perfection and it is our faith in Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior that will allow us to see perfection, to live life to the full in the presence of God.

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

Are you confident in your faith? Do you believe that something better is coming to those who believe?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Be very careful not to lose your focus!

July 28, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!
(1 Corinthians 10:12 (NIV))

How secure are you in your faith? How confident are you that you can resist temptation? Are you capable of standing firm in the face of the sin that used to hold you captive?

When answering these questions, it is essential that you don’t forget that you are human and have inherited a sinful, fallen nature. It is a nature that is hard to overcome on your own. Even if you have professed a faith in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, it is still possible to fall back into the very sins that you seek forgiveness for. It takes discipline. It takes focus. It takes the grace and mercy that was freely given through Jesus!

No one is perfect. We may desire to walk in the confidence that we will always do what Jesus calls us to do, but we are only capable of claiming our righteousness because Jesus is righteous. Without Jesus, we are nothing.

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 64:6 (NIV))

Walking with Jesus takes effort. It is not easy.

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))

The wide gate and the broad road are easier to travel than the narrow road and the small gate. Think of the difference between an interstate highway and a narrow and winding country road. Which is easier to travel on? Which gets you there faster? Which has the twists and turns that build your driving skills? Which holds surprise blessings along the way? If you are traveling the narrow road, you must maintain your focus or you can find yourself in danger of running off of the road. An interstate highway leads you rapidly to where you think you want to go, but is it truly the best way to go? It takes you on a journey that bypasses all of the great things that you would encounter if you focused on traveling the narrow road.

I realize that I took a small detour with the driving comparison. This is a prime example of just how easy it is to fall for a diversion. It shows us just how easy it is to lose our focus.

Be very careful not to lose your focus!

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How do you feel that you test in your actions?

July 25, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else,
(Galatians 6:4 (NIV))

When you were in school, did you ever have to grade your own work? Were you honest?

Let’s face the truth. We are not good at accurate self evaluation. We tend to over estimate our capabilities and achievements while we under estimate our weaknesses. If you don’t believe this about yourself, think back on high school and what you remember. Then ask someone who knew you then and see if the two match up. It is human nature to have an over inflated sense of self worth.

Is this true when we look at our faith and our evaluation of our so-called righteousness? Do we look down on others while we have a tendency to look upon our own relationship with Jesus as close to perfect?

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 64:6 (NIV))

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

No one is above anyone else. We are all sinners. With this in mind, if we must test and compare, then we must limit our evaluation solely to ourselves. How have we matured? How do we respond to others? How do we see ourselves? When we test ourselves, we must be sure to grade ourselves honestly. It may even be wise to err on the side of under evaluation so that we continue to strive for the goals that Jesus has set before us.

How do you feel that you test in your actions?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you allowed the potter to reshape you?

July 10, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.
(Jeremiah 18:1-4 (NIV))

We are all flawed in one way or the other. There is a good chance that we are all flawed in more ways than one. Ever since the fall from grace in the Garden of Eden, our human nature is a flawed, sinful nature. It is a nature that chooses things it shouldn’t even when we supposedly know better. We are not capable of doing good in the eyes of God, yet He loves us anyway. God has always had a plan to redeem us from our sinful nature. It is a plan that allows Him to remake us from the inside out!

What is the purpose of a pot? The purpose is the same whether the pot is large or small, ornate or plain. A pot is made to be a vessel that will hold something of importance to the owner of the pot. When this passage was written, pots could hold oil, water, wine, wheat, corn or a number of other items that were essential for day to day life.

God designed each of us to hold something essential!

We were designed to hold a part of God in our hearts. That design, and the contents of what we were to hold, made us a creation above all other of God’s creations.

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
(Genesis 1:26 (NIV))

Sadly, in our sinful nature, the vessels that we were made to be have been marred. In order to be able to begin to have a chance to hold anything of value for God, we have to be shaped into something different than our sinful shape. We have to be made right with God and by God. We have to be molded into the image of Jesus. We have to be tested through the fire just as a potter uses a fire to prepare his creation for its intended use. Just as the master’s hands shape the pot, God’s hands shape us. God is the master potter.

Have you allowed the potter to reshape you?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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