What do you truly want?

September 30, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
(Psalms 23:1 (NASB))

Have you ever given any serious thought to the meaning of this passage?

Most people read this and take it to mean that anything that we could possibly want in this physical world is ours. Let’s take a step back and take a look at the word “want.” Our society has shifted the meaning of this word to mean something that we desire. We say things like, “I want a new car” or “I want a bigger house,” but is this the type of want that the Lord provides for? With this type of attitude, too many people fail to get what they want and, as a result, they fall away from faith. They misunderstand this passage and think that is means that the Lord our God is nothing more that a genie who is there to grant our every wish, our every desire. When this doesn’t happen, they falsely assume that since this isn’t true, nothing is true.

If this is your vision of God, then it makes sense why our society has become so self-centered and self-entitled.

If we look at this passage from the perspective and understanding of when it was written, we get a much clearer picture. A shepherd has multiple sheep under his care. He provides for the needs of the whole flock. He will lead them to green pastures for food. He will care for the sick. He will search for the lost. The shepherd makes sure that all under his care are protected from attack. The sheep know his voice and they follow him. They know and they trust him to provide for their needs both collectively and individually.

Did you pick up on that?

The shepherd provides for the needs of his flock. He does not provide for the selfish desires. The shepherd knows what is best for each sheep. He makes sure that each need is provided for. With this in mind, is wanting a bigger house a need or a selfish desire? For some people, it truly may be a need, while for others, it is a selfish desire. The Lord sees each of our needs and knows how best to provide for us. When David wrote these words, he understood this concept. He understood that the Lord, as his shepherd, was guiding his steps and that all of his needs would be provided for. David realized that everything was on the Lord’s timeframe and not his.

Sadly, our society has lost this understanding. We seek instant gratification in all aspects of our lives. We falsely believe that we can guide our own lives. We desire anything and everything under the sun, and sin runs rampant because we are so focused on the proverbial me, myself and I. Slow down and spend time in the Lord’s presence and you will begin to grasp the understanding that David had. The focus is not about us and our selfish desires. It is about the Lord’s plans and what is best for us.

I believe that it is time for us to reexamine what we truly want! What do you truly want?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have we switched from exposing to embracing darkness?

September 23, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.
(Ephesians 5:11 (NIV))

If we have expressed a faith in Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, we have made a commitment to repent of our sins and live life as an heir, as a son or daughter of God. We have made a decision to leave the darkness of our sins behind and embrace the light, the true Light.

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
(John 8:12 (NIV))

If you truly follow Jesus, you follow the light. You are called to embrace the light. Unfortunately, we have to overcome human nature even when we accept Jesus. We must be on our guard and make sure that those who embrace the darkness do not have any inroads into our lives.

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.
(John 3:19 (NIV))

Walking with Christ is not easy. Even those who profess a faith in Jesus have to repent on a daily basis. We have to keep our eyes focused on Jesus and fill our lives with His light so that the darkness has no opportunity to regain any hold upon our lives. We are to know the truth of God’s Word so well that we can see the subtle lies that the darkness uses. Today, our society seems to have started embracing the darkness. As members of the Body of Christ, we are called to be His light in a dark world. We are called to expose the darkness by shining His light in the midst of the darkness. Sadly, too many people who claim to be believers in Jesus are embracing the darkness because the darkness is claiming that God made us the way we are and if He made us, then the sin that we embrace is okay in the eyes of God.

Nothing could be further from the truth!

Jesus came to this world to give us freedom from sin. He did not come to give us freedom to sin!

Have we switched from exposing to embracing darkness?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Freedom does not mean that we are to continue to sin!

September 13, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves.
(1 Peter 2:16 (NIV))

Godly freedom is not how the world thinks of freedom. Too many people in this world think that true freedom is the ability to do whatever you want, whenever you want. There are consequences!

Imagine that you have done something that ends up with you being put in prison. You have committed an act that was contrary to the laws of the land. For several years you sit in your prison suffering the consequences of your actions. As fortune would have it, someone comes along and pardons you for your actions. You are released. You have been set free from the consequences of your actions.

What do you do?

Do you return to the very same behavior that put you in prison to begin with? Do you do this knowing that the outcome will be the reinstatement of your prison sentence, or do you make a commitment to follow a new path that leads to a much better place?

I’m sure that you understand that each of us are guilty! Each of us are bound by the sinful nature that we are born with and the sinful actions that we continually do.

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

By all legal accounts, we face an eternity separated from God in a place that is far worse than any earthly prison.

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 have been pardoned! We have been shown grace and mercy. We simply must make a choice to follow Jesus and repent of our sin just as Jesus told the woman caught in adultery.

Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
(John 8:11b (NIV))

We have been set free from the consequences of sin, but we must make a choice to leave our life of sin. We cannot willfully continue in our sin or we will not like the eternal consequences.

Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
(Matthew 7:22-23 (NIV))

Freedom does not mean that we are to continue to sin!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Don’t follow your heart. Follow Jesus!

August 6, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.
(Proverbs 19:21 (NIV))

How many times have you been given advice to follow your heart? How many times have you given this advice? Is this really sound advice when you stop to consider how many times the Bible refers to the human heart as wicked and deceitful? Ever since the fall from grace, our hearts have been filled with selfish and sinful desires.

The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.
(Genesis 6:5 (NIV))

The heart is deceitful above all things
     and beyond cure.
     Who can understand it?
(Jeremiah 17:9 (NIV))

If you don’t think this is true, simply look at your own life. Are there things that you have done, or you think about doing, that would shock your family and your friends if they only knew what was in your heart? Do you look around at those whom you know and find yourself thinking that if they only knew the true you they wouldn’t want to be near you?

Human nature is so full of secrets and shortcomings that it is a wonder how any of us truly have any family or friends! We are so self-centered that even on our best days we still fail miserably at doing anything close to what the Lord calls us to do. We fail because we listen to our selfish and sinful hearts when we should be listening to the Lord.

Is your heart pure? What plans do you hide in your heart? What sinful desires do you hide in your heart? Life is a series of choices that we all must make. Every single day we are faced with a choice of who to follow. Do we follow our own sinful hearts or do we strive to follow Jesus?

It is easy to say this, but very difficult to walk it through. We must make an effort to follow Jesus and repent when we stray so that the Lord’s purpose prevails.

In other words, don’t follow your heart. Follow Jesus!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you sure you know what is best for you?

August 5, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

This is what the Lord says – your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: ‘I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.’
(Isaiah 48:17 (NIV))

Do you honestly allow God to direct where you should go?

If you are like everyone else, chances are very good that you have probably gotten yourself into situations that have been less than ideal in your eyes. You tried to follow your own direction. How do you think these situations looked to those around you? How do you think they looked to God?

What have you got to lose? If you follow God’s direction, you will not find yourself in situations that will embarrass you because of stupid decisions. You won’t find yourself having to figure out which lies to tell so that you won’t get caught in the first set of lies you told.

Far too many people believe that the Bible is not relevant in today’s society. If you believe that truth is relative, then this is probably you. If you believe that there is no such thing as sin, then this is probably you. If you think that there is no one greater than you, then this is probably you. For the rest of us who know that truth is the same no matter what the circumstance, we know better. For those of us who know that sin is rampant in this world, we know better. For those of us who can’t imagine anyone being worse than we are, we know better.

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))

Filthy rags!

Can a filthy rag direct how to clean itself? Can a filthy rag lift itself out of the filth? Only God can cleanse us. Only God can direct us in the way that we should go. Reflect upon where you are going and repent. Allow God to direct your paths and He will draw you closer to Him.

Are you sure you know what is best for you?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What do your actions produce in your life?

July 12, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.
(Luke 6:37 (NIV))

Jesus often spoke things that were, and still are, considered difficult to follow. They just seem to go against our sinful human nature. Let that sink in a little as you honestly look at your life in relationship to this passage from Luke. When was the last time that you judged someone, or that you condemned someone for something that you felt was wrong? Did you let them know? Perhaps you simply kept your thoughts to yourself. Does that mean that the inward act of judging or condemning is any less real in the eyes of God, especially when we admit to the fact that the Lord knows our thoughts and our hearts!

Do to others as you would have them do to you.
(Luke 6:31 (NIV))

Is forgiveness what you desire from others? If so, then it must be freely given in order to be freely received. This is important to the Lord, for it is not the only time that this principle is given. It is critical to realize that what we call the Lord’s Prayer puts this very bluntly back in our court as our responsibility. If we don’t forgive others, then we can’t expect to be forgiven. This applies not only to other people with whom we interact, but also with the Lord.

And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
(Matthew 6:12 (NIV))

We can’t ask for something that we aren’t willing to freely give and truly expect to receive the very same thing!

If we judge, then we can’t expect not to be judged in return. If we condemn, then we can’t expect to not be condemned. In other words, you get what you give. If you want forgiveness, then it must become your nature to be forgiving in your actions.

What do your actions produce in your life?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you acknowledge the One to whom scripture points?

July 10, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.
(John 5:39-40 (NIV))

Have you ever known people like those whom Jesus spoke of?

You know the type. They can quote scripture. They know God’s Word thoroughly. They can argue any passage for they know the letter of the Law. They take pride in their knowledge, yet they fail to see that the letter of the Law is condemning and restricts life. These people enjoy learning about God, yet they miss the point that perfection is not attainable. They miss the simple fact that grace is attainable. It is a free gift.

Prayerfully, none of us are that type.

It is true that God’s Word holds the truth. It is true that God’s Word leads to salvation, for it points to the Word made flesh.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John testifies concerning him. He cries out, saying, “This was he of whom I said, `He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ ” From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.
(John 1:14-18 (NIV))

We must study the Scriptures, but we must realize that eternal life is not found in knowledge of facts, it is found in the truth that the Scriptures point to. The truth is Jesus Christ.

It is my prayer that no one would study God’s Word without the willingness to follow where that study leads. Countless prophecies foretold of the coming of Jesus. Countless more told of His crucifixion and resurrection. Many more tell of His return. Allow God’s Word to lead you to this conclusion.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
(John 14:6 (NIV))

Are you full of Biblical facts or do you fill yourself with the truth of Jesus? Do you acknowledge the One to whom scripture points?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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