Can we truthfully say why we are thankful?

November 24, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
        and his courts with praise;
        give thanks to him and praise his name.
(Psalms 100:4 (NIV))

Have you ever wondered why we give thanks to the Lord? The very next passage tells us why the psalmist chose to give thanks.

For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
        his faithfulness continues through all generations.
(Psalm 100:5 (NIV))

His reasons should be our reasons, but are they? Can we go deeper? Can we truthfully say why we are thankful?

Have you ever found yourself stopping what you were doing and lifting up a heartfelt thank you to God? Have you ever simply told the Lord that you are thankful for all that He has done for you? Have you ever faced something so overwhelming that you had no idea how you would make it through those circumstances only to find that He had gotten your through it? I could go on and on asking questions about different scenarios that should elicit thankfulness to the Lord, but I believe that I can stop. Hopefully you understand that there are so many different reasons to give thanks to the Lord. The psalmist chose to say that the Lord is good. He chose to tell us that His love endures forever. He chose to tell us that His faithfulness will never end. I honestly believe that there are some things within these three characteristics that we should focus on.

How has the Lord been good to you? Chances are good that they are too numerous to ever mention all of them.

How has the Lord shown you His enduring love? Besides the obvious one where He sent His Son, Jesus, to save us from our sins, there are probably far too many instances to count.

How has the Lord been faithful to you? Has He ever turned His back on you when you called out to Him? There is a much better chance that we have turned our backs on Him far more times than we care to admit. If we repent, He is faithful to forgive!

I would like to challenge you to personalize your reasons for entering His gates with thanksgiving.

Can we truthfully say why we are thankful?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you meeting these requirements?

November 15, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
(Micah 6:8 (NIV))

We are required to do three things. I started to say that we are required to do three simple things, but with the history that humanity has, these three things are not simple to do. Humanity has failed miserably at these three things ever since the fall from grace in the Garden of Eden.

How do you do with respect to these three requirements?

Do you act justly one hundred percent of the time or do you find yourself showing favoritism or even selfishness at times? Do you think of others or do you only look out for yourself? Take a long hard look at your motives and your actions before you say whether you act justly.

Do you love mercy at all times or do you find yourself only desiring mercy when it is applied to you? Do you hold a grudge against someone for something that they did to you? Are you willing to forgive?

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
(Matthew 6:14 (NIV))

Do you walk humbly with your God at all times or do you sometimes forget the relationship that you have with God as the Creator while you are the creation? Do you try to tell God how He should do things? Do you try to convince God that you should be His priority because everyone around you is not worth His time? Do you suffer from the dreaded human characteristics of ego and pride?

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.
(Proverbs 16:8 (NIV))

Based on these three requirements, every single one of us has very severe shortcomings. If we were undergoing a performance evaluation for our employment based on these three requirements, what type of evaluation would be recorded for you? Isn’t God’s evaluation of us based on these three requirements so much more important than a job evaluation? If we can’t successfully pass a worldly evaluation, how can we expect to pass God’s evaluation of us?

I know that we have been given grace through the atoning blood of Jesus, but that does not excuse us from continuing to do poorly on these three requirements. We are called to mature in our faith, in our walk with Jesus, so that we begin to take on the very characteristics of Christ. In this world, we will never be perfect, but we are called to be continually perfected in order to reflect Jesus in all that we do.

Are you meeting these requirements?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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There is nothing better!

September 24, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Taste and see that the Lord is good;
(Psalms 34:8a (NIV))

What is your favorite food?

What is it about that food that you like so much?

Is it the sweetness, the texture, the combination of ingredients, or is it all of these and more?

It is said that eating and drinking are the most intimate of our senses. Most of our other senses are external to us, but taste requires us to take something into our mouth and eventually into our body. We can touch something and immediately determine if it is hot or cold, smooth or rough, and many other possible options. We can look at something and know if it is still or moving, big or small or a number of other possible options. Many times, our external senses deceive us when we look at food. It may look strange, but once we take it into our body, we can and often have a different conclusion.

I am sure that you have heard the saying, “Garbage in. Garbage out.” This applies to so many areas of our lives. Habits, relationships, work ethic and many more all suffer when we put something into them that is garbage. The same can be said for our spiritual life. If we associate with sin, then we will increase in our sins. If we associate with righteousness, our sins will hopefully decrease. If we turn to the Lord and taste of His goodness, we can put the garbage behind us and partake only of the sweetness of the salvation freely given to us at the cross. What the Lord offers is far better than anything the world has to offer. What the Lord offers is an intimacy that changes us from the inside out. In order for this to happen, we must taste of His goodness and accept His goodness through the atoning blood of Jesus.

Salvation is a personal matter. It is a very intimate matter. You have to trust the Lord enough to invite Him into your heart. You have to be willing to take that first taste of His goodness and mercy.

Have you taken that first taste?

There is nothing better!

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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He is our one true hope!

July 16, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Why are you downcast, O my soul?
      Why so disturbed within me?
   Put your hope in God,
      for I will yet praise him,
      my Savior and my God.
(Psalms 43:5 (NIV))

It seems that people turn to God in times of trouble, only to turn away when things begin to get better. Think back a few years ago to the aftermath of September 11, 2001. Churches were filled with people praying. Where did they all go? Why are they still not there? It seems that when tragedy hits, people realize that they are not in control, but arrogance soon takes over once things begin to return to normal. People tend to forget God in the good times.

I find it interesting that the psalmist wrote about what seems to be the opposite scenario. He praised God during the good times, thanking Him for all that He has done. When things begin to go less than desirably, he wanted to grovel. He was depressed. He was sad. It sounds like he almost turned away from God. He wanted to forget God in the bad times.

Both scenarios are common place. We are an arrogant, yet fickle creation. We have been blessed with individuality, but sometimes that can be our biggest problem. Don’t get me wrong. God created us to be individuals. He created each of us to be unique in all of creation. He cherishes our individuality. It is through this individuality that we each must learn to earnestly seek God, even when we feel like turning from Him. We need to make it an every day occurrence and not just at the times in our lives that are contrary to our natures. For some, this is when we lose control. For others, it is when things are going good. Perhaps it is simply a matter of our personality, but regardless of how God created us, we are to praise Him in all things.

Carefully consider how long a marriage would last if one person only turned to the other for just a few days a month. Now, consider your relationship with God through Jesus. Do you turn to God in much the same manner?

Do you praise God at all times for being your Savior and your God?

He is our one true hope!

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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