What do you focus on?

April 27, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices–mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law–justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.
(Matthew 23:23-24 (NIV))

Does this sound like anyone that you know? Does it sound like you?

Just as in Jesus’ day, too many people pay more attention to the letter of the law and completely ignore the intent of the law. We need to make sure that we do not become like the Pharisees and perform our “worship” out of ritual and tradition. When this happens, it is easy to forget why the ritual and tradition started.

God gave us the Law as a guidance in how to live so that justice, mercy and faithfulness could thrive. It is human nature to forget the reasons and focus on the details.

Don’t let the reasons be hidden or overshadowed by the details. Focus on justice, mercy and faithfulness.

What do you focus on?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you trying to do things your way?

March 12, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”
    “No,” they answered.
He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.
(John 21:4-6 (NIV))

Do you consider yourself an expert in what you do?

Think about that question for a moment.

How willing are you to take the advice of someone who doesn’t know anything about what you do? How willing are you to even consider doing something differently than what you are accustomed to?

Now, is there something in your life that you are struggling with because you know that God is leading you in a certain direction, but you feel that you are constantly encountering roadblocks and obstacles? Have you stopped to consider that you are trying to fulfill your calling using your own strengths and plans? Perhaps you simply need to step back and accept the advice from someone else.

That is exactly what the disciples did, not only in this story, but in other stories as well.

Every time that they attempted to do something without Jesus, it did not go as planned. When they allowed Jesus to guide, things vastly improved. Fortunately for those who can claim spiritual descendancy to the disciples, they allowed someone else to lead them. They soon realized that they could not do it on their own. They needed Jesus.

What in your life is in need of the guidance that Jesus can give? Is it your job? Is it your family? Is it your calling? Is it a ministry that He is longing to use to spread the Gospel? Listen to that still, small voice. I think that you know the one. It is the one that says “Throw your net on the right side of the boat. . . ” It is the one that sounds foolish, but you just can’t seem to get it out of your mind. It is the one that is calling you to trust in something besides your own so-called expertise.

I once heard a story about how a revival got started. To summarize, many people got together to pray that a revival would start in their town. They met regularly, but with no results. Finally, someone asked after a rather lengthy prayer meeting if anyone felt anything. No one answered. This went on for several more prayer meetings, and still no one answered. Finally, at still another prayer meeting, someone reluctantly said that they felt that they were supposed to hit the table. They said that they had felt this way almost since the beginning of their prayer group, but they felt that it was foolish and didn’t mention it. Finally, they broke down and did what they felt they were being told to do. They hit the table.

Can you guess what happened?

Are you ignoring something because you feel that it is foolish? God is not calling the equipped. He is equipping the called. It is up to each of us to answer that call. He will call you in ways that you may think are foolish.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
       declares the LORD.
(Isaiah 55:8 (NIV))

Are you trying to do things your way?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What do you use to light your way?

January 15, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.
(Psalms 119:105 (NIV))

Have you ever stumbled in the dark? I am sure that each and every one of us has experienced this. We even take measures to make sure that our path is well lit. We have exterior lights going from our car to the front door. We have little night lights that we plug in so that we can determine where the furniture is. For situations where we can’t guarantee that there will be available lighting, we even carry flashlights with us. Still, we all know what it feels like to stumble in the dark, to trip over something because we couldn’t see it, and to walk into the corner of the coffee table!

That is the physical. Sadly, too many of us don’t realize that we need spiritual light. We probably stumble more in the spiritual than we ever would in the physical. We recognize the dangers in the physical realm, but completely ignore the greater dangers in the spiritual realm. Without spiritual light, we walk in blindness. We never know the best path to take. We only know the results of our blindness when we falter. Even then, we simply keep on going in the darkness and in the blindness that it causes. We never know just how much damage we are doing to ourselves in the present and in the future until it is too late.

How would you like to be able to change that? How would you like to have a guide to light your path and to show you the way? How would you like to trust in the guidance that you receive? How would you like to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the light that you follow will never lead you astray?

There is only one source of spiritual light that promises all of this and more. There is only one light that is faithful. There is only one light that will never leave you. There is only one light that came into this world to bring the light. Jesus is that 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))

What do you use to light your way?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you afraid of anything in this world?

November 7, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
(2 Timothy 1:7 (NIV))

The Creator of the universe is on our side. If God is for us, then we do not need to be timid about anything that we ask in His name. We do not need to fear anything or anyone. We should face the world with what God has given us through Jesus Christ. We should face the world with hope, faith, love, power, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

It is through the full acceptance of what God has planned for us that we become what God has called us to. If we have accepted God’s gift of grace and mercy, and God is the Creator of all things, why do we need to be timid and fearful of what the world will do to us? God made the world. Through our sin, we have died in the world. Through grace, we are alive in the world, and for eternity! The world can do nothing to us if we look at the “BIG PICTURE” that God has planned. The only danger that we face is the loss of our current life, but we have the assurance of eternal life through Jesus. Satan cannot take that from us. Only when you truly face danger do you really have a spirit of timidity and fear. As long as we trust in Jesus, we have no reason to fear for there is no danger that can separate us from His love!

What danger can overcome us if we have truly accepted the grace of God through Jesus?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What do you do when the unexpected happens?

October 25, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
(Acts 1:9 (NIV))

I can picture the moment. Everybody is gathered around Jesus and everyone there is asking Him questions. They are filled with excitement. They have spent three years with Jesus. They saw Him perform miracles. They saw Him beaten and crucified. They saw Him die. And, they saw Him in His resurrection. Now, after the resurrection, they are eagerly looking for Jesus to bring God’s kingdom to this world.

And then . . .

The unexpected happens.

At least in their eyes, it does.

They were expecting Jesus to take His authority then and there, but He disappears!

Can you imagine how these people felt? Everything that they had seen. Everything that they had been a part of. Everything that they now expected was completely changed. I can imagine that their first reaction was that they were being abandoned. How would you feel?

God knew their hearts. He knew that they were expecting something that was not in His plan. God had compassion on these people. He sent messengers to tell them that their timing was not His timing.

They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
(Acts 1:10-11 (NIV))

Instead of despair, these people had a reason to believe. They had a reason to hope. They had a reason to pray. And pray they did.

Then they returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city. When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.
(Acts 11:12-14 (NIV))

How do you react when things don’t go as you expect them to?

We should take a lesson from these first believers. When things don’t go as we expect them to go, we should pray for God’s guidance and His wisdom.

What do you do when the unexpected happens?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you willing to step into Godly authority?

July 19, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations.
(Revelation 2:26 (NIV))

We should not seek power for the sake of power, however, Jesus has promised us that we would have authority.

Power that comes from the world is self-serving and is self-centered. It feeds a person’s ego and allows Satan to enter with lies about “no one will know, and you deserve it.”

The old saying that absolute power corrupts absolutely is true. No single person in all of history has been able to resist the temptation that comes with absolute authority. Notice that I said no single “person.” Jesus was fully man and fully God. Jesus resisted the temptation, and as a result, if we can follow Him and allow Jesus into our lives as our Lord and Savior, then we, too, can resist temptation. By resisting this temptation in our lives and focusing on Jesus, we are placing all authority for our lives in His hands. By surrendering our authority, we will be given authority through Jesus Christ.

I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
(John 14:12 (NIV))

Most people don’t think of authority as one of the things that they will do. However, it is. Jesus was given the authority. His authority He gives to those who allow Him into their lives.

It is promised. If we do the Will of God through the authority given to Jesus, then we will be given authority in a similar manner. This authority is not to be looked upon as the world looks upon authority, for even God given authority still requires a willing submission to the Father who has granted the authority.

Do not boast about authority, but pray for guidance in your authority that God has given you?

The passage speaks about the Millennial Kingdom, but the same principles apply today. Focus on Godly authority to enforce whatever authority you may have, and you will be blessed as well as be a blessing. Are you willing to step into Godly authority?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Be careful how you answer this!

June 24, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.
(Isaiah 40:25 (NIV))

We may not think that we compare God to anyone or to anything, but if we don’t place Him first in our lives, we are guilty of doing just that!

Think about this from a personal perspective. What is it that you desire most in life? Is it wealth? Is it fame? Is it power? Do you model your life on someone who has the things that you desire? Do you look to them as your standard or do you look to God to give you direction and guidance for your life?

Based on those questions, it is extremely easy to compare others to God. It is easy to place God second or even lower in your life. Is this what you want? Perhaps I should ask is this what God wants?

We have a tendency to look at the Lord as some sort of genii who is there to grant our every wish and to stay out of our lives when we think we don’t need anything. In all honesty, when this happens, we are comparing ourselves to God. We may not intend to do this, but in fact, we are guilty of elevating ourselves above the Lord. Is this what you want? Is this what God wants?

Human nature is far too predictable. Even when we profess to know the Lord, we fail miserably at truly recognizing His majesty. We fail when we turn to ourselves or to others for guidance and direction when we have the Creator waiting for us to turn to Him. Are we guilty of comparing ourselves or others to God? Are we guilty of placing ourselves or others above God?

Be truthful!

Be careful how you answer this!

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