Are you following the Lord’s plans or your own?

June 4, 2019

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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))

What is it about human nature that makes us want to reject something proven and try to reinvent the proverbial wheel so that we can say that we did it our way?

I realize that was a very lengthy question, but in all honesty, the question is not as lengthy as our actual feeble attempts to thwart God’s plans for us. Some of us never learn and fight God’s plans until the day we die. What is it about surrendering to the Lord’s will that makes us want to rebel? For some people, surrendering to anyone else’s will besides their own is something that will never happen. Their hearts are hardened and pride has control.

If you were presented with a plan that would make you prosperous and hopeful for a better future, it looks like it would be an easy choice to make. That is exactly what has happened with the promises that the Lord has made to us, yet, so many people choose to follow their own plans. They think that they know what is best for them. This often has catastrophic consequences. Think of it in this way. Suppose a light bulb has the ability to think and reason. It was made to shine light, but in its own mind, it wants to be used as a heat source for baking. The goals that the light bulb creates for itself will lead to its own demise, for the amount of energy required to be used as a heat source will destroy the light bulb. It was not made for such a task. The planned task that it was created for is something that only it can fulfill. It was designed to share light for countless others. It will be made prosperous. It will help others to prosper. It will have hope as well as bring hope to others. This sounds like a future worth following.

Are you following the Lord’s plans or your own?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you find yourself among the scoffers?

January 31, 2018

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires.
(2 Peter 3:3 (NIV))

Just for the sake of clarity, the word “scoff” means to have contempt, to scorn or to mock. I realize that members of the Body of Christ are to be in the world, but we are not to be of the world. With this in mind, can any of us go through a single day without hearing about or witnessing firsthand the very things that we are told will happen toward God, Jesus and God’s word? Do we, as the Body of Christ, escape the mocking? Do we feel the urge to mock those who mock God or do we feel the need to pray for these individuals?

Think about that last question for a moment from the perspective of the cross.

When Jesus was arrested and scourged, the soldiers mocked Jesus. How did He respond? When He was taken to Pilate, the crowds mocked Him. How did He respond? When He was hung upon the cross, the soldiers, the crowd and one of the thieves mocked Him. How did He respond?

When we are under attack, it is so easy to fall back upon our human nature and lash out at those who are attacking us. Did Jesus do this in any of the previously mentioned situations? If we all agree that Jesus lived a perfect life as an example for how we should live, what do His actions during these situations tell us about our own lives?

What would Jesus do?

This phrase may be greatly over used, but it is valid in this situation. When we are facing hardship, when we are facing mocking, we must remember how we are to act. We are to follow the example that Jesus set before us.

You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.
(Matthew 5:38-40 (NIV))

Don’t allow the world to make you become as they are. Don’t allow the world to make you react, to make you mock and scoff at the things you know to be true. Keep your eyes focused on Jesus so that you don’t find yourself somewhere you don’t want to be.

Do you find yourself among the scoffers?

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

January 22, 2018

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
(Galatians 5:24 (NIV))

When we commit to following Jesus and claiming Him as our personal Lord and Savior, we are expected to turn over our lives to His guidance. We are expected to have a desire to put an end to our sinful nature. It is true that we can turn to Jesus while still in our sin, but we are expected to allow Jesus to work in our lives and help us to remove the sinful passions and desires. Just as Jesus laid down His perfect life to bear the burden of our sin, we are expected to lay down our sinful life in order to embrace the grace that is freely given.

We are to crucify our sinful nature.

We are to desire to lay our sins and our burdens at the foot of the cross!

It is an even exchange. Jesus picks up our sins and we pick up His righteousness. I know I said that it is an even exchange, but it is not a fair exchange. All of us are sinners condemned by the very nature of sin. Jesus, by His very nature, is righteousness.

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))

If Jesus is willing to give all so that we may have all, we should be willing to surrender ourselves in this exchange. We should be willing to crucify the sinful nature that has condemned us.

What have you crucified?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Where are you in this arrangement?

August 14, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.
(Matthew 19:30 (NIV))

It’s time for a little self examination!

Exactly how do you see yourself in this passage? How do you interpret this to show where you will be when this happens? Are you the type of person who always has to be first in everything? Is your well being your number one priority even when it means that others will suffer? Are you the type of person who asks “What’s in it for me?” before you decide if you want to participate in anything? What are your priorities? Are you selfish and self-centered?

It is human nature to be like this. Sadly, far too many people seem to have an overabundance of this trait and very little humility.

We like to look out for ourselves while forgetting that those whom we trample under foot are also part of God’s creation. We are no better than they are, and if we act like I described above, we are probably worse. Putting others first is not a natural instinct. We are born with a character flaw that is best described by one of two phrases uttered by any child in their terrible twos. “Mine” or “I do it” are the battle cry for many who are only interested in placing themselves above everyone else. Learning how to share and how to place the well being of others first is a difficult thing for people to do. Perhaps that is why Jesus responded in this manner.

He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”
(Luke 10:27 (NIV))

Learning to love others is hard. It is one of the things that Jesus told us that we must do. Who said that following Jesus would be easy?

Where are you in this arrangement?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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There is definitely power in the Word!

January 27, 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))

Have you ever heard that there is power in the spoken word?

Perhaps you’ve heard the saying that the pen is mightier than the sword?

If you stop to think about these two statements and what they convey, then it makes perfect sense if you fix the foundation for both of these firmly in the Word of God. Can you think of any other word that has the power that is contained within the Word of God? It can bring the earth, moon and the stars into existence. It can bring beauty out of a formless void. It can bring life with the mere mention of life existing!

I realize that we are far from being able to do what God can do with words, but we seem to be able to do a great deal of wrong with our words. Think about that for a moment. Humanity turned over dominion of the earth to the greatest liar of all time. We turned it over to the father of all lies.

We, as a fallen creation, are torn. We are divided. We are made in the image of God, and inherently, that means that we have the power to speak good into the world. We have fallen as a result of believing the lies of the enemy, and as a result, we have learned to lie. Our words can be used to lift up or they can be used to tear down. Even on our best days, we are not capable of firmly following good no matter how hard we may try. It is just not possible for a sinful creation to be perfect.

It is said that the tongue is the strongest muscle in the body. It’s wag can be extremely hurtful if we don’t control it. If we watch what we say and exercise it sparingly, the tongue can have the opposite effect. We must remember that we have the power to speak into existence either love or hate, wisdom or foolishness, peace or hostility. If we base all of our words on the Word of God, then the outcome is much better for everyone.

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you following your will or God’s?

August 17, 2015

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“Not everyone who says to me, `Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 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 perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, `I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
(Matthew 7:21-23 (NIV))

Are you following your will or God’s?

Do you know the difference?

Most people may not know that there is a difference. Too many pray for things to happen because it is their will. All too often, when things don’t work out the way that they think they should, they search for another way to make them happen. Is this truly following God’s will or is it following your own will and your own desires?

I know far too many people who seem to beat their heads against the wall with respect to things in their lives. They never see a blessing and they never see encouragement, yet, they still claim to be following God’s will.

Does this sound like your life?

I realize that God is not slow in keeping His promises and the lack of blessings and the lack of encouragement may be God saying that the time is not right. I know that this is a tough call. What do you do in these circumstances? What do you do when you feel that God is calling you into something, yet you are not seeing anything come to fruition?

Look at David. He was called to be king of Israel, yet he faced many years of persecution. The one thing about David that stands out is that he had a personal relationship with God. He longed to know God and he longed for God to know him.

Can you say the same thing?

Are your thoughts in line with God’s thoughts? Are your actions in line with what God is telling you? Perhaps the best way to say this, to cut to the chase, is to look at your priorities. Do you focus on yourself first and then everything that you claim to do for God is only done so that you can receive the accolades of people? God looks at the heart.

What does your heart long for?

Copyright 1998 – 2015 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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