Are you willing to have your heart tested by the Lord?

August 20, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests the heart.
(Proverbs 17:3 (NIV))

Is it just me, or does this passage make you realize that the things that we all go through in our lives can have a positive outcome or they can have a negative outcome? It is a matter of perspective and attitude. We can look at situations in our lives and wallow in self pity, or we can see the situations as a matter of a learning experience. In fact, everything that we face in this life can be seen as a learning experience.

A wise son accepts his father’s discipline, But a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.
(Proverbs 13:1 (NIV))

Consider the crucible and the furnace. They are necessary tools and steps to bring out the best in the precious metals. If you are familiar with refining metals, then you will understand the possibilities. Impure metals are heated to their melting point. Some of the impurities will burn away due to the high heat. Others will float in the molten metal for the metal worker to somehow separate. Then the molten metal is cooled, and, if necessary, the process is repeated until the metal has had the impurities removed. Now, imagine your life. Each of us has things in our life that are less than desirable in the eyes of the Lord. He refines us. He disciplines us in order to bring out the best in us. After all, aren’t we more important to the Lord than precious metals are to us? He is going to use the tools that He has to refine us, to test the very nature of our heart.

The Lord desires for us to have a pure heart. He calls each of us to Himself, and if we answer that call, He will mature us. He will purify us. He will give us opportunities to draw closer to Himself. The closer we draw to Him, the more we know Him and seek after His heart. When we seek after His heart, our hearts become refined. He desires to purify our hearts. The things that we go through in life will either draw us closer to Him and his righteousness and purity, or they will drive us to the evil desires of our hearts. Personally, I desire nothing more than to draw closer to the Lord. If that means that I must face the refiners fire, I am willing. Are you?

Are you willing to have your heart tested by the Lord?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you abide in the doctrine of Christ?

August 13, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son.
(2 John 1:9 (NKJV))

How many times have you known someone who claims that they are a Christian, yet their actions do not reflect that claim?

A true faith and belief in Jesus Christ will call a person to stay away from the things of this world that are not of God, for they will listen to the Holy Spirit in all that they do. The Holy Spirit will gently guide and encourage the believer to follow the ways of Jesus and to steer clear of the ways of the world.

It is an all too common belief that someone can accept Jesus, and then do whatever they wish. They think that by proclaiming Jesus as Savior, they have salvation. There is another aspect to Jesus. He must also be Lord of your life in order for salvation to be true.

You must ask Jesus into your heart, not your head. It is one thing to acknowledge that Jesus is the way to salvation. It is still another to accept that personally for yourself.

It has been said that there is head knowledge and that there is heart knowledge. Knowing that Jesus is Savior is head knowledge. Claiming that for yourself is heart knowledge. For many people, the distance from their head to their heart is a great chasm that cannot be crossed due to pride or arrogance. Where have you acknowledged Jesus Christ?

Do you abide in the doctrine of Christ?

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

August 8, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
(Psalms 73:25 (NIV))

What is more important to you, the people in your life or the things in your life?

Be careful how you answer!

One more question for you. Who is more important to you, the people in your life or the Lord?

I realize that these questions may seem ridiculous, but answered honestly, they will tell you more about yourself than you probably care to admit. If you value things over people, then where is your heart? Where is your love? Some may say that valuing the people in your life is important and should take precedence over the Lord, but let me ask you another question. Who are you going to turn to when everyone in your life has let you down? Who will you turn to when even your spouse, your children or your closest friend disappoints you or are taken from you? When this happens, many people turn to the Lord, but I want to propose that the time to turn to the Lord is long before anything like this happens. When you can truthfully claim that you love the Lord, then your complete perspective on life changes. When you look at things or people as a priority, this is, in most cases, a self-centered outlook on life even if you think that you place yourself low on your priorities list. You are looking at the things or the people to make you happy, to bring meaning to your life, and to make you whole.

Think about these simple facts. Things rust and decay. All people, no matter how good they are, will disappoint you eventually. We are all sinful by nature.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
(Romans 3:23 (NIV))

Only the Lord is unchanging.

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

With this simple truth, we should anchor our lives on a firm foundation that never changes. We should not look to things. We should not look to people. We should only look to the Lord! We only need to accept the grace and mercy freely given at the cross and claim the gift of grace for ourselves. When we honestly and truthfully make this claim, we have the Lord of all creation in our lives and nothing can surpass His majesty and glory!

Whom do you have?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Don’t follow your heart. Follow Jesus!

August 6, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.
(Proverbs 19:21 (NIV))

How many times have you been given advice to follow your heart? How many times have you given this advice? Is this really sound advice when you stop to consider how many times the Bible refers to the human heart as wicked and deceitful? Ever since the fall from grace, our hearts have been filled with selfish and sinful desires.

The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.
(Genesis 6:5 (NIV))

The heart is deceitful above all things
     and beyond cure.
     Who can understand it?
(Jeremiah 17:9 (NIV))

If you don’t think this is true, simply look at your own life. Are there things that you have done, or you think about doing, that would shock your family and your friends if they only knew what was in your heart? Do you look around at those whom you know and find yourself thinking that if they only knew the true you they wouldn’t want to be near you?

Human nature is so full of secrets and shortcomings that it is a wonder how any of us truly have any family or friends! We are so self-centered that even on our best days we still fail miserably at doing anything close to what the Lord calls us to do. We fail because we listen to our selfish and sinful hearts when we should be listening to the Lord.

Is your heart pure? What plans do you hide in your heart? What sinful desires do you hide in your heart? Life is a series of choices that we all must make. Every single day we are faced with a choice of who to follow. Do we follow our own sinful hearts or do we strive to follow Jesus?

It is easy to say this, but very difficult to walk it through. We must make an effort to follow Jesus and repent when we stray so that the Lord’s purpose prevails.

In other words, don’t follow your heart. Follow Jesus!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What will your inheritance be?

July 18, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

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 5:5 (NIV))

If you are human and you are completely honest with yourself, this passage should make you stop and reflect on your life. If you didn’t take a look at your life with respect to these traits then you are either lying to yourself, you are in complete denial or you are not fully aware of what these human traits truly are. Basically, you are placing too much faith in your ability to live a Godly, perfect life even when we are told that all of us are sinners.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
(Romans 3:23 (NIV))

Contrary to what you or society may say about what God calls sin, your opinion doesn’t count. There is only one law giver. There is only one judge. There is only one definition that matters. We cannot change that no matter what we may desire to do. What God has defined as sin is still a sin today!

If we sit in a pew for an hour on Sunday and then live as the world dictates the remaining days and hours of the week, are we truly following Jesus? If we tithe on money that was made through immoral or impure ways, is our tithe honored when we present it? Are we truly followers of Christ, or are we simply going through the motions?

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 7:22-23 (NIV))

It all comes down to what is in your heart, and the human heart is not to be trusted.

The heart is deceitful above all things
and beyond cure.
Who can understand it?
(Jeremiah 17:9 (NIV))

The next time that you feel that your motives and your heart are pure, remember that you are only human and are not capable of this on your own. We must all learn to stay focused on Jesus and repent whenever we fall short of that one task. If we are steadfast in our faith, then we can claim our inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God!

What will your inheritance be?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do people you know see Jesus in you?

July 17, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

And they took offense at him.
But Jesus said to them, “Only in his hometown and in his own house is a prophet without honor.”
And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.
(Matthew 13:57-58 (NIV))

Carefully consider the words written above. How true these words have proven to be throughout history. Jesus knew that He would not be embraced in His own hometown, for they did not see Him as the Messiah, but as the little boy that they watched grow up. In other words, familiarity brought about doubt.

Let’s consider another possible meaning of these words. When we ask Jesus into our hearts, He comes to live there. He is basically making our heart His home. If we do not honor Him as our Lord and Savior, Jesus is without honor in the very place that He longs to be in residence. He longs to reside in our hearts to guide us and to teach us. If we do not honor him once we accept Him, He will not be able to do what He longs to do. He will not be able to guide us and mature us into His image. He will have encountered a luke-warm heart – a heart that gives an invitation and then locks itself away once the invitation is accepted.

If we have asked Him into our heart, He will not truly be rejected. He will simply not be fully embraced. People can possess a faith in Jesus and yet not understand all that He desires to do. It is sad that these people do not fully receive what Jesus came to give.

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 can we have life in Jesus to the full if we do not allow Him to do what He can do? How can He do these things if we do not allow Him into our hearts completely?

I am certain that each and every single person reading this has been on a job interview. How many times have you left an interview wondering if the person conducting the interview even listened to anything that you were saying? You were invited to come in and meet with the person conducting the interview, but they could have been so engrossed in their own agenda that they never truly understand what is being offered in your experiences and capabilities.

Think about that for a moment.

Did the people of His hometown truly understand what was being offered? Do you think that Jesus was truly rejected by His hometown, or was He simply not fully embraced for who He truly is and what He came to give? If Jesus is not fully embraced as Lord and Savior, He will not force people to seek miracles? How can He force them to see miracles in what He brings? He will not do many miracles, for He does not work where faith is lacking. Just as the person who was conducting the interview did not get to see all that you had to offer, those who do not fully embrace Jesus as Lord and Savior will not see all the Jesus has to offer.

Is Jesus working miracles in your life? Is your faith strong enough to allow the miracles to happen? Is Jesus honored in your heart? Do others see the miracles that Jesus is performing through you? Do people you know see Jesus in you?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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It is better to place our trust in the Lord!

July 3, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.”
(Jeremiah 17:9-10 (NIV))

We have all heard the instructions to follow our heart, but based on this passage, is that truly wise counsel?

Do you truly desire to follow your heart when it will always lead you astray?

For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.”
(Mark 7:21-23 (NIV))

Sadly, we think that we know what is best for us. We think that we know what will make us happy, but is worldly happiness what we truly desire when we can have eternal joy through one simple redirection of our priorities? Worldly happiness is fleeting. It is here today and gone tomorrow. It doesn’t last. Placing your faith in Jesus and following Him brings joy in all circumstances, even when everything around you is falling apart!

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:7 (NIV))

I don’t know about you, but it sounds like we are being told that when we accept Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, He actually protects us from our deceitful heart! In other words, He guards us from ourselves and our sinful nature.

It is better to place our trust in the Lord!

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