Have you returned to God with your heart?

March 10, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

“Even now,” declares the LORD,
    “return to me with all your heart,
    with fasting and weeping and mourning.”
Rend your heart
    and not your garments.
  Return to the LORD your God,
    for he is gracious and compassionate,
  slow to anger and abounding in love,
    and he relents from sending calamity.
(Joel 2:12-13 (NIV))

The words written long ago in the book of Joel still hold true to this very day. I imagine that they will be true until Jesus returns in triumph to the Mount of Olives. Only then, will it be too late for those who have made the wrong decision.

God wants us to turn from our sin and return to Him.

All too often, we do things that are extravagant in nature because we feel that we must do something of great magnitude, or great outward appearance, so that God will know that we mean it this time. Perhaps these acts are more for ourselves and our neighbors than they are for God, after all, God sees our hearts. He doesn’t need to see the flamboyant antics of someone who will break the promises that were just made. This is why we are told to “rend your heart,” for God sees the heart and He knows when it is truth. We can forever rend externally to ourselves and it will never have a lasting impact. When we rend our heart, it is the very center of our existence. We have made the decision to change from the inside out. Perhaps this is why Jesus spoke about what makes a man unclean.

He went on: “What comes out of a man is what makes him `unclean.’ For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man `unclean.’ “
(Mark 7:20-23 (NIV))

Have you taken that ultimate commitment to God? Have you internalized the change by changing your heart? Have you returned to God with your heart?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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When you look at yourself, what do you find?

March 5, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.
(Ephesians 5:3 (NIV))

Did this hit a little too close to home?

If not, when was the last time that you took a very serious and in-depth look at yourself?

If you examine yourself with God’s Word as the benchmark, you will always come up short. If you aren’t finding anything, then you aren’t looking!

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?
(2 Corinthians 13:5 (NIV))

We have been given other things to look for beside sexual immorality, impurity and greed. We have also been told the consequences if we do not take action to correct these traits.

Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
(Ephesians 5:4-5 (NIV))

If we have professed a faith in Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, then we are called to do the things that Jesus did. I have not found a single passage that says that He possessed any of these traits that we are told are improper. If we truly desire to follow Jesus, then we are to follow Him in all aspects of our lives. Jesus never embraced sin. He rebuked sin. He told people to leave their life of sin and follow Him.

With that said, I want to ask you one more time to take an in-depth look at yourself. Examine your life through the eyes of Jesus.

When you look at yourself, what do you find?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Only the Lord is a perfect fit!

December 6, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

The law of the LORD is perfect,
reviving the soul.
The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
The precepts of the LORD are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the LORD are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever.
The ordinances of the LORD are sure
and altogether righteous.
(Psalms 19:7-9 (NIV))

Some say that there is a God shaped hole inside of our hearts that we strive to fill. Some fill it with wealth; some with power; some with lust; some with greed; and some with false religions. All of the people who try to force fit a “square peg into a round hole” are never truly at peace. They occasionally can make something “fit” temporarily, but due to the mismatched shapes, whatever they place there eventually works its way out.

When this happens, there is much pain, sadness and anger. Filling the space that was intended for God to fill only leads to false hope and aggravation. The Psalmist knew of this and conveyed this truth very eloquently in the above passage. This was before the idea of a “God shaped hole,” but it conveys the same underlying truth.

How are you trying to fill this hole that yearns to be filled?

Only the Lord is a perfect fit!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What type of appetite do you have?

October 7, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The discerning heart seeks knowledge, but the mouth of a fool feeds on folly.
(Proverbs 15:14 (NIV))

Do you feel that you are good at discerning the truth, especially God’s truth?

One good way to truly know the correct answer to this question is to look at what your heart seeks. This can be easily determined by your answers to a few more questions.

What do you spend your money on?

What fills your free time?

Do you spend time daily in God’s word?

What do you and your friends do when you are together?

Do you have to change how you act when around people whom you know who are believers in Jesus?

Do you find any excuse that you can to avoid going to church?

Do you feel empty and unfulfilled when you don’t spend time with the Body of Christ?

I could probably keep going, but your answers to these questions will give you a good and truthful understanding of what you truly seek to fill your life with. Just as each of us have specific foods that we like, we also have specific things that we long to put into our lives. Some have an appetite for destruction. Some have an appetite for lust. For some people, it is greed, while for others it is drunkenness and debauchery. Human nature longs for things that always seem to lead to sin and destruction. We must overcome our sinful human nature and seek after God’s truth, wisdom and knowledge. We must cultivate an appetite for righteousness!

What type of appetite do you have?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How is your faith through the wilderness?

May 10, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Immediately the Holy Spirit compelled Jesus to go into the wilderness. He was there for forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was out among the wild animals, and angels took care of him.
(Mark 1:12-13 (NLT))

Do you ever stop to think about what Jesus actually experienced when He went into the wilderness for these forty days?

What temptations do you experience when you face each day of your life?

Do you face greed and lust? What about anger and frustration? Do you have to deal with ego and pride? I think I can safely say that all of us have also had to deal with resentment and bitterness. Now, consider how you have reacted when faced with these temptations. How did you react? Even on our best day, we fail miserably in most if not all of these temptations.

How do you think that Jesus reacted to each of these temptations?

We know that He faced every temptation known to humanity and did not give in to any of them, but I often wonder how he reacted. Did He simply turn away from them or did He reflect upon our weaknesses as He defeated each and every temptation that He was given? Did He think of what He was doing with respect to what it would mean for us? How did He reject the temptation? Did He look at it with disgust and think “How can someone give in to this?” Did He keep His eyes focused on what was at the end of the forty days on the other side of the wilderness?

Each of us face our own wilderness situations and temptations. We must look to Jesus and His experience so that we may keep our faith through our wildernesses. Because Jesus went through His wilderness experience, He now walks with us through ours. He will give us strength. He will give us comfort. He will give us peace.

The world today seems to be sending all of us into the wilderness. How we respond will determine many things. Will we have the faith to see ourselves through the wilderness or will we falter and give in to the temptations we face?

How is your faith through the wilderness?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is sharing the good news of Jesus your priority?

November 16, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.
(Acts 20:24 (NIV))

What is your biggest priority in your life?

Some people might answer that their biggest priority is family. To be honest with you, that is a good priority to have. but is it the biggest priority?

Some people might answer that their biggest priority is to leave their mark in the world. Do you think that whatever mark they may try to leave will even be remembered one hundred years from now?

Some people might answer that their biggest priority is to make lots of money. This, in and of itself, is not bad. What is bad is the love of money. If you want to make lots of money simply because of greed, what does that get you?

No matter what your priorities are in life, if you are a believer in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, then everything pales in comparison to placing the Lord first.

You shall have no other gods before me.
(Genesis 20:3 (NIV))

Is there any priority in your life where placing the Lord first would not be a better option? If you place your family as a priority, imagine how much better it would be if you, and your family, placed the Lord first. What if leaving your mark on the world meant that you shared the Gospel with those around you and you lead many to a saving grace in Jesus? You would be remembered for all eternity by those whom you led to Jesus. If you desire to bring in lots of money, what if it was a priority to bring in lots of money to buy Bibles to distribute to those who desperately want God’s Word.

What we place as a priority is only bad if that priority is not Christ centered. Each of us have a different calling. Each of us have a unique way to share the Gospel. Our gifts and our desires should not be our priorities. How we use them to testify to the good news of God’s grace should be the utmost priority.

Is sharing the good news of Jesus your priority?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What’s in your heart?

April 18, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
(Psalms 119:11 (NIV))

Everybody has something that they hide away. Some people will keep just about anything hidden in their hearts only to be let out when they think that no one is paying attention or when no one that they know will see. It is sad to see what some people will hide away. Greed, envy, lust and pride are just a few of the things that people will hide in order to avoid people seeing their sinful nature.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
(Matthew 6:21 (NIV))

I find it disheartening that what people hide in their hearts is actually what they treasure. How can anybody treasure greed, envy, lust or pride? In essence, I suppose that all of these actually reflect three people – me, myself and I! If you get right to the point, most things that people hide in their hearts are all centered around what they treasure most – themselves. Everything else is simply how to make themselves feel more important or superior to others. They simply try to fill the selfish void with worldly things.

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.
(Matthew 6:19-20 (NIV))

Human history is full of stories of how people have filled their hearts with the wrong things. We see how they sought to secure the worldly things to make the outward appearances match the inner desires. Some people have taken this to extremes with wars to expand kingdoms. Others are less domineering, yet, they still focus on the worldly that thief, moth and rust can take.

There is something so much better to hide in your heart!

Do you seek after God’s Word? Do you desire to fill your life with obedience to the Lord? Do you treasure every word that has been recorded in God’s Word? Do you love the truth? Do you hide God’s word in your heart? Think about that in relationship to the following passage.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
(John 1:14 (NIV))

Jesus is the Word made flesh!

Do you hide Jesus in your heart?

What’s in your heart?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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