Is the Lord truly your refuge?

May 20, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

The Lord is good,
     a refuge in times of trouble.
He cares for those who trust in him,
(Nahum 1:7 (NIV))

With the escalation of all that has been happening in the world over the last several years, and especially this last year, have you taken refuge in the Lord?

I find great pleasure in the fact that the Lord is our refuge in times of trouble, especially since we seem to be facing troubles like we have never seen before. Based on Ezekiel, Daniel and Revelation, many people firmly believe that these troubles are just beginning. No matter what we may face in this world, we must keep our eyes on Jesus. We must remember the things that He has told us. We must cling to the promises that He has given us. We must turn our attention away from the troubles of this world and look to the One who created this world and the One who is unfolding His plan to restore this world.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
(John 16:33 (NIV))

How is your relationship with the Lord? Do you completely trust in Him? Do you turn to Him in times of trouble? Perhaps I should ask if that is the only time that you turn to the Lord. Do you go about your life with no thought of God until times get bad? Do you only turn to the Lord when you want something or when you need the Lord to rescue you? If this is your idea of a relationship built on trusting the Lord, you may find yourself in for a surprise.

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

Do you do the will of the Father? Do you spend enough time with the Father to even know what His will is? Do you spend enough time in His Word to truly know His heart? Do you truly know Jesus as your personal Savior and also as your Lord, for when you call someone Lord, they are in authority over you. When you call someone Lord, you have a responsibility to obey. When you call someone Lord, you can turn to them for refuge and shelter.

Is the Lord truly your refuge?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What do you claim about yourself?

May 6, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
(1 John 1:8 (NIV))

Do you think that you are a good person?

Have you bought into the lie of the enemy that we are basically good?

Even Jesus did not consider Himself to be good when He walked this earth.

“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone.”
(Mark 10:18 (NIV))

To be honest with you, this one has me a little perplexed.

Even if you look upon Jesus as God with us, He was fully human. Did He say this because of this human side that theoretically could sin, or did He say this because He had not completed what He came to do and had not been glorified yet? Perhaps it was for the same reason that He often told people whom He healed to not tell anyone. Perhaps it was because it was not part of the plan for Jesus to be glorified as a man before the appointed time.

One thing to look at during His time on earth is the simple statement of His mission.

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.
(Luke 19:10 (NIV))

We are all lost because of sin. Not a single one of us is without sin. Not a single one of us is righteous on our own.

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))

Take a serious look at your life. Do you now or have you ever thought that you were a good person? Do you make claims that Jesus refused to make?

What do you claim about yourself?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What does your life show?

April 29, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.
(Luke 6:27-31 (NIV))

What has happened to these basic tenants of life?

These words were written as directions on how to live life for those who placed the value of others above themselves. Today, we have become a society of “me” oriented, selfish people who seem to have only one thing on their minds – What do I get out of this?

Is this what Jesus came to this earth to teach us? Did He come to tell us to place ourselves above all others and to hold selfishness, lust, greed and power as our primary objectives for living?

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))

How do we have a full life?

Take another look at the words of Luke 6:27-31. All of the actions that we are told to do have a very strong undertone to them. They all have the core fundamentals of love. This love is not the romantic type that our society has come to expect, but, rather, it is the self-sacrificing type of love that requires a spiritual commitment far above the hormonally induced “romantic” love that we see in our lives.

The mark of a true follower of Jesus is a purposeful and deliberate decision to do what Jesus would do. Jesus would offer love, yet He would also offer a way for redemption. We can’t offer redemption, but we can lead people to Jesus, who can give redemption. Perhaps it is this simple task that shows our love the most. We show a hurting world a means of grace and mercy.

What does your life show?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you hearing groans?

March 10, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan.
(Proverbs 29:2 (NIV))

Sadly, people have been groaning ever since the fall from grace!

There are many times throughout history where the wicked have ruled. It is not difficult to identify many of these. Each continent has had their share of wicked rulers. Some are currently groaning under the weight of oppression. If you stop to honestly think about it, God’s Word has many examples of wicked kingdoms from the past. We are even given a very detailed picture of many of them from the stories of the Tower of Babel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace, Daniel in the lion’s den, the Roman occupation of Jerusalem and all of Israel, and the crucifixion of Jesus at the hands of the Romans.

We are also told of a time when wickedness will rule the whole world. When good is called evil and evil is called good. The whole world will be groaning in anguish during this seven year period of tribulation. With what is going on in the whole world at this moment and what is currently happening in this country, many people are in anguish. They are groaning because of what they see currently and what they see as the next logical step as it leads down a path from which many feel there is no return to what we now long for as normal.

Privacy is going.

You have to think a certain way. Anything different is vilified.

Sin is embraced and righteousness is ridiculed.

There is talk in many countries and regions in this world of having to have a vaccine passport in order to take part in society. Some places are even going so far as to hint at requiring this to even go to work, or to buy and sell basic commodities such as food. This is rapidly looking like it could evolve into what the Body of Christ refers to as the mark of the beast.

It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name.
(Revelation 13:16-17 (NIV))

There is a time rapidly approaching when the father of lies will have his way with the whole world. Does this make you groan? I know that this is all part of God’s plan, but it still makes me groan deep in my spirit. I ache for those who have not come to a saving knowledge given to all through the atoning blood of Jesus. I can only imagine that if this makes my spirit groan, what is it doing to God?

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))

If you are hearing groans or are groaning yourself, imagine what this is doing to the very heart of God!

Are you hearing groans?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do we listen to His voice?

December 16, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
(John 10:1-3 (NIV))

Whom do you follow?

Whom do you trust?

All throughout history humanity has been deceived by one lie after another. Why do we look for something and expect it to be as promised when we can’t verify the credibility of the source? There is only one source that is credible. There is only one source that knows us by name. There is only one source that enters through the gate.

Why must people make it so difficult?

Why do people take a look at what Jesus teaches and tell themselves that it cannot be that simple? Why do they think that it will work for everyone else except them? Why do they listen to those who have come into their lives through something other than the “gate?” Why do we, as humanity, prefer to listen to the thief and the robber? Is this the same desire or gullibility that has allowed con men and the proverbial snake oil salesmen?

What is it about human nature that makes us want to look for an alternative when we are told that there is only one way? Why do we want to test the warning signs that boldly proclaim danger, yet ignore the wisdom and direction that leads to life?

With Christmas rapidly approaching, why do so many ignore the gift that God gave to His creation? Why do we look for alternatives to what God has given?

Perhaps it is due to the old saying, “It is too good to be true.”

Think about that. Our society has been telling us for a while that we must beware of things that are too good to be true, because they are not true. I honestly believe that our society has become jaded by this and now, too many apply this to faith in Jesus.

Jesus is not too good to be true! He is the truth.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
(John 14:6-7 (NIV))

Jesus is the shepherd. He enters through the gate. He knows our names. He calls us out.

Do we listen to His voice?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you forever thankful to the Lord?

November 30, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
(Psalms 136:1 (NIV))

Just how long is forever?

To be honest with you, I actually don’t think that the human mind can truly understand that concept, especially when you consider our limited vantage point. Our minds think back to our days in school when we were watching the clock and impatiently waiting for the end of the day. It seemed like it took forever! Perhaps you remember Christmas Eve as a child. It seemed like the night would never end. With these and other examples that you may have in mind, we have a tendency to look at the concept of forever as a period of time that we must endure. We don’t usually think of forever as a joyous time.

Is that how God sees forever? Is that how God sees us in relationship to forever?

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.
(2 Peter 3:8 (NIV))

If this is the way that God sees time, then His concept of forever is so very different from how we see forever. If God’s love endures forever, then He has loved us from the beginning of time, if there is such a thing, and He will continue to love us to what our frail human minds call the end of time. In all honesty, the concept of the end of time is a human construct because we can’t truly grasp eternity. All that we can truly understand is that the Lord never changes.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
(Hebrews 13:8 (NIV))

If His love endures forever, then His love for us never changes and that is the best thing that anyone can ever experience.

If God loves us this much, how do we express our gratitude?

Are you forever thankful to the Lord?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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How is your strength?

November 13, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

He gives strength to the weary
     and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
     and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the LORD
     will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
     they will run and not grow weary,
     they will walk and not be faint.
(Isaiah 40:29-31 (NIV))

I don’t know about you, but I am weary in my own strength. I don’t have the ability to face the world on my own. I am tired! Perhaps I could even go so far as saying that I am exhausted.

The world in which we live has become so polarized. People rage against anything and everything that God considers good. They openly embrace anything that God considers evil. They mock anyone who clings to the sole source of truth. They censor the name of Jesus who is the source of this truth because they don’t want to offend those who do evil. They don’t want to offend the enemy!

Do you understand why I am weary?

I, like every single person who has ever lived, do not have the strength to face the enemy on my own. Thankfully I can turn to the ultimate source of strength. I can rely on the strength of someone much greater than I. I can rely on the strength of my Lord and Savior. I can rely on the strength of my God! With this strength, I have the ability to face whatever the world may send my way. I have the strength to face whatever the enemy may send my way.

The Lord is my strength and my shield;
     my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
My heart leaps for joy,
     and with my song I praise him.
(Psalms 28:7 (NIV))

He gives us strength by letting us rest in His presence. He gives us strength when we need shelter from the world. He gives us strength by equipping us with His truth. He gives us strength when we are still. When we desire to live out His truth, He fights the battles.

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.
(Exodus 14:14 (NIV))

When you are on the side of the Lord, that should be enough to give you the strength to overcome the weariness caused by the evil in the world!

How is your strength?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you filled with confidence and assurance?

November 12, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

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

With everything that is going on in the world, we see countless things that go against everything that we hope for. We see so much that goes against what God calls righteous and good. It has come to a point that many may begin to wonder if they have misplaced their faith. It is so easy to become blinded to the truth if all that we focus on are the lies of the world!

I have found myself focusing on faith quite often lately. The topic comes to mind every time that I see more news about the current state of our nation and the world. I have to remind myself that even though God created this world, it has been turned over to sin and depravity. We may find fleeting glimpses of beauty, but the true beauty has long faded and deteriorated from what God first created. It is at these moments that I remind myself of the truth that we may live in this world but we are not of this world. We must never lose sight of this truth. We must forever keep our eyes fixed on Jesus!

Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.
(1 John 2:15-16 (NIV))

What we are seeing is a direct result of the love of the world. Stand firm, for we are not of this world. Life is a gift. That gift was tarnished and corrupted. We may see hardships. We may even experience hardships, but we must remember that this physical world is not what is important. No matter what we may face in this world, what matters is that we keep our eyes focused on Jesus, for where we focus is where we get our strength.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
(2 Corinthians 4:7-9 (NIV))

If we can stay focused on Jesus, then we can inherit His authority over the world.

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
(John 16:33 (NIV))

Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.
(1 John 5:5 (NIV))

Are you filled with confidence and assurance?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Have you found rest?

November 5, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Be at rest once more, O my soul,
    for the LORD has been good to you.
For you, O LORD, have delivered my soul from death,
    my eyes from tears,
    my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before the LORD
    in the land of the living.
(Psalms 116:7-9 (NIV))

The Lord gives us rest. In a world where uncertainty is the way, one thing is certain. God never changes. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. If we rest in His presence, then we can truly be at rest.

God is in control!

With everything that is going on in this world this year, this is very comforting. It is very reassuring to know that the Creator of all things is still in complete control. Even when it seems like the world is in total chaos, He is in complete control. It is all part of His plan. It is unfolding just as He told us that it would so that we would be aware of what is going on.

I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe.
(John 14:29 (NIV))

Do you believe?

With everything that is happening in the world, do you believe?

With good being called evil and evil being called good, do you believe?

Belief and faith go hand in hand. By placing our faith in Him, all the worldly matters no longer are important. We rest in the knowledge that God will guide us in His will and if we keep focused on Him, He will guide our paths so that no matter what the world sends our way, we can have peace and rest in Him.

Have you found rest?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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We must humble ourselves to His desires!

November 3, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

“When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
(2 Chronicles 7:13-14 (NIV))

The Bible instructs us to pray for those who are in authority over us. The need to pray for the President of the United States and other world leaders has never been more urgent. This country, and the world, are at a strategic point in history. We can turn towards God or turn farther from God.

It is our choice.

Our leaders reflect this choice, and often guide this choice. It is for this reason that we should pray for the President. We must pray for God’s Will in the election. Do we, as a nation, vote for a platform that has removed God or one that has embraced God? All that we have to do is look at Israel. Their ancient history is filled with them not only turning their back on God, but embracing the gods of the world. Every time that they did evil in the eyes of God, they faced wars and captivity. When they embraced the Lord and followed His ways they were blessed. Our choices are not about the individuals who are running. It is about the ideals that they have embraced. Pray for wisdom. Pray for discernment.

I would rather have a brash person who seeks the will of God over a likable person who flaunts corruption and evil.

As we enter the final day of this election, we must pray for God’s guidance. We must pray for His Will. We must act as the Body of Christ and seek to further His kingdom in this world. We must continue to do so until He returns!

We have a choice! We can turn towards God or away from God.

“Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
(Joshua 24:14-15 (NIV))

If we choose to serve the Lord, that means that we must learn to listen. We must learn to discern His Will. We must learn to be obedient to what He calls good and shun what He calls evil. We must stand firmly with Him and not against Him.

I would rather stand with God and be judged by the world than stand with the world and be judged by God.

We must humble ourselves to His desires!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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