Are you praying for a clean heart?

March 31, 2022

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
      and renew a right spirit within me.
(Psalms 51:10 (NIV))

Do you find yourself praying this more often in the last few years?

I realize that this could sound like a trick question, but I promise that it is not.

As believers, we should continually pray this. I find myself needing to pray it as I watch the current state of this world. It is human nature to want to go on the offensive when we see things that aren’t right. Our own nation was founded by men and women who did just that. They felt emboldened to the point where they drafted a document that said enough was enough. They went to war and they laid down their lives to do what was right. Today, I find myself in a predicament. Our founding fathers were fighting against tyranny. We are facing a different adversary and many times it is family members, friends and people we work with. The struggle is spiritual and the struggle is real. We must remember that those who are currently against us are also part of God’s creation and that He loves them.

We must never look at these individuals as an enemy not worth saving!

Have you ever been guilty of this? Are you guilty of this at this very moment? What would have happened if the person who lead you to Jesus had the very same type of thoughts about you?

Think about that!

This is why we must pray for God to create a clean heart in us and to renew a right spirit within us. We can’t demonstrate the love and redemption that God has freely given if we cannot, if we will not, show that love to those who need it most. With that in mind, I have a homework assignment for you. The next time that you encounter someone who is against you, pause and pray for God to give you a clean heart so that you will see that person through His eyes. Pray that God will renew a right spirit within you so that you will love that person simply because He loves them.

You will find that your outlook on the world will change. You will also grow closer to the Lord because you will understand just how great His love truly is.

Are you praying for a clean heart?

Copyright 1998 – 2022 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is this your prayer?

January 28, 2022

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults.
Keep me from deliberate sins! Don’t let them control me.
(Psalms 19:12-13 (NLT))

We like to think that we know how we would react in certain situations. We think that if we were placed in a situation that could easily lead us into sin, we would spot it a mile away and avoid it. It is human nature to think that it can happen to everybody else, but not to me.

That is exactly how Satan tricks us into the very things that we say we detest. He places just a little there to temp us and then plants the idea in our minds that anything in moderation is okay. Once he has this idea planted, moderation goes out the door. We can easily find ourselves in the midst of the very things that we detest. The bad thing about this is that we no longer detest them. We crave them!

We don’t know what is lurking within our hearts. We don’t know what and when something will surface. We may present an outward appearance of righteousness, but have an inner darkness that no one sees but God.

No one sees, but God !

We think that we can hide our faults from everyone including God. Nothing could be further from the truth. The only one that we are fooling is ourselves.

Take a close look at yourself. Closer still!

We all need to make the words of this passage our prayer, for without a conscious effort and God’s grace, each of us will fall to the sins lurking within our hearts.

Is this your prayer?

Copyright 1998 – 2022 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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We are called to return His love!

January 25, 2022

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
(Deuteronomy 6:5 (NIV))

There are truly no better instructions on how we are to love the Lord, but have you ever stopped to truly think about how He loves us? I have often wondered if we are given this passage because that is how He loves us. In our limited understanding, are we being told to mirror the Lord’s love for us back to Him?

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))

How great is His love for us that He would give His one and only Son in order to save us? He did not hesitate to create a plan of redemption knowing what price had to be paid. He willingly paid the price. It sounds like the Lord loves us with all His heart!

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
     He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
     He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
     for his name’s sake.
(Psalm 23:1-3 (ESV))

How great is His love for us that He desired to give us peace, that He desires to restore our souls?

So God created man in his own image,
      in the image of God he created him;
      male and female he created them.
(Genesis 1:27 (ESV))

If you think about that with an understanding of Genesis, we are created in His image. God loves us because we are His creation. We are His children. Each of us are unique and each of us are important in His eyes. It is not a difficult leap of faith to conclude that the Lord loves us with all His soul, or should I say with all His Holy Spirit?

Have you ever tried to truly comprehend the sacrifices, the torture and the pain of the crucifixion? The physical implications are staggering. The spiritual implications are not as visible to us, but they are overwhelming. Jesus took on the sin of all humanity. He paid the price for that sin. The Father had to turn His back on the Son so that this could transpire. God loves us so much that He bore the weight of all sin for all of humanity. I can’t assume to know if this was all of the strength that He possessed. I just know that it was far greater than anything that had ever been seen before. To summarize this, I think that it is clearly obvious that the Lord loves us with all His strength, even to the point of death, descending into hell, and then arising again!

Do you think that this is how God loves us?

We are called to return His love!

Copyright 1998 – 2022 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What do you treasure?

December 22, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
(Luke 2:19 (NIV))

When you are the mother of Jesus, what else would you treasure?

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

For the rest of us who did not experience the angel announcing that she had found favor in the eyes of God and that she was chosen to be the mother of His Son, we have to work to make sure that we treasure Jesus. With that said, have you ever truly given any thought to all that Mary experienced? The next questions can even be answered by the men reading this. Have you ever tried to imagine the wide range of emotions that Mary felt from conception to birth? How would you react if you were told that you had found favor in the eyes of God? How would you react if you were the only one in all of history to be told that?

Did those last questions leave you speechless?

We are only to worship the Lord, but can you even begin to comprehend, to imagine, the faith that Mary possessed? God used such an obedient faith to bring forth His Son into the world. Even though she found favor, Mary was not the Savior. She was only the vessel. The child that she bore was and is the Savior of all mankind.

In today’s world, we must never forget to always look to Jesus and not to the one who brings the Good News. We must remember that Jesus is the message and anyone who spreads the Gospel is only the messenger. We must make sure that we only treasure Jesus!

What do you treasure?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What do you find yourself doing?

October 20, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
(Proverbs 4:23 (NIV))

What do you find yourself doing?

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

Is it just me, or does this look like it could easily become a self-perpetuating cycle? You treasure something, therefore you hide it in your heart. What you hide in your heart flows out into all that you do. You notice what is flowing out and you treasure it even more, and then you try to hide more of it in your heart, which then flows out even greater. What you treasure is what you will begin to hoard. It is what you will begin to hide away. It almost seems that once this gets started, it is not easy to change course, so we must be extremely careful to watch what we truly treasure.

With that said, do you guard your heart? Do you keep it from the things of this world? Do you keep it focused on the things of God? In essence, what do you treasure? What do you put into your heart? What do you find yourself hoarding away because you just can’t seem to let it go?

I am simply going to leave this in your hands and in your heart. Take a long hard look at what you hide in your heart. Take a long hard look at what flows from your heart. Just remember that what you try to hide in your heart will manifest itself in all that you do. With that said, I just have to ask this one more time.

What do you find yourself doing?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Can you hide your heart from the Lord?

September 29, 2021

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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 a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve.
(Jeremiah 17:9-10 (NIV))

It is human nature to try to hide what is really in your heart. People put up facades that they use to hide what they truly are. We may have each other fooled, but there is no way that we can fool God!

What is in your heart will surface when you are all alone, or when you think that those who know you will not see your actions. God sees everything! He also knows what is in your heart. He knows your thoughts before you can finish thinking them. We cannot fool God into thinking we are what our facade presents. He knows us better than we know ourselves!

Carefully consider this concept. Imagine having someone with you 24/7. What would your actions be like? What would you focus on if you knew that someone could read your mind? Now, accept that reality in the presence of God. He knows our every thought. He knows our innermost desires.

Can you honestly say that your heart does not entice you into unrighteousness when you are not around others? Would you think, say or do these things if someone were with you? Remember when you asked Jesus into your heart. You invited Him in to take up a full-time residence and to guide you. He sent the Holy Spirit to be your counselor.

Can you hide your heart from the Lord?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you trust in the Lord?

August 13, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
(Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV))

How true this is!

Our understanding of what happens in this physical world is only a small portion of what really happens. Now, consider that all events in the physical world have a corresponding event or series of events in the spiritual realm, and you soon realize that our understanding is practically nothing.

I once heard a commentary in which T.S. Elliot asked God why his wife had been taken from him in death. God told him that he could explain it to him, but he would not understand it. Think about that in the context of education and comprehension. Can you imagine a nuclear physicist telling an infant how things work at the atomic level. He could explain it all he wants, but the capability to understand is not there. The same is true of how things happen in this world. God could explain them, but we are as infants and lack the capability to understand. We are limited by our current state.

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
(1 Corinthians 13:12 (ESV))

Consider how an infant must trust his or her parents for everything that they need. When we realize that we are truly infants in the faith and in our understanding, we soon come to the conclusion that all things work together if we simply trust in the Lord.

We must be as infants and trust in God to lead us and guide us in His truth just as an infant loves and trusts their parents. We learn as we go. We take a step and look back to see if God is still there. We take a few more steps and realize that He is walking at our side. We take a few more steps and realize that He is leading and guiding us.

It all starts with trust!

Do you trust in the Lord?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What does the Lord see when He looks at you?

August 4, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
(1 Samuel 16:7 (NIV))

Do you ever wish that you could see people the way that God sees them? Do you ever wonder what others would see if they could see what is inside your heart? In both scenarios, what is in our hearts is made manifest in our actions and our words. It may not be completely accurate, but our actions and words give a hint as to what is truly in our hearts. Outward appearances are not who we are. They are simply a facade that the world sees. They are a facade that we use to try to hide our true selves behind. They are a part of us, but they are not us!

God see the real us!

He sees beyond outward appearances and the idiosyncrasies that we develop to keep our true selves hidden from the world. He sees desires. He sees motives. He sees heartbreak, and He sees the little child who longs to crawl up on daddy’s lap. He sees what you hide away in your heart. He knows what you treasure.

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

He also calls us to give up the treasures we hide in our hearts and treasure Him. He calls us to maturity, to perfection in His image.

Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
(Matthew 19:21 (NIV))

If we treasure the Lord, then our hearts should be a storehouse of His love, His righteousness, and His own heart. We should reflect His heart. We should project what is in our hearts so that it is only seen seen by the Lord, but it should be readily visible to all who see us. Before we can do this, we have to have our hearts right with the Lord.

What does the Lord see when He looks at you?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you willing to be searched?

July 14, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
(Psalms 139:23 (NIV))

What imagery comes to mind when you think of being searched?

Is it invasive? Is it forceful? Is it a scenario where you feel extremely uncomfortable? Is your imagery of being searched something that you would want to be put through? Is this how you envision God searching you?

We have a choice. We can profess a faith in Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, and then open up our heart to the searching and guidance of the Holy Spirit, or we can wait until the appointed time when Jesus returns. We can surrender to the gentle searching that will lead to a maturity in Christ, or we can be defiant now and face something that none of us want to face. Those who don’t profess a faith in Jesus now will acknowledge His Lordship too late!

that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
     in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
     to the glory of God the Father.
(Philippians 2:10-11 (NIV))

Asking God to search your heart means that you surrender to Him and to His plans for you. Asking God to search your heart indicates that you are ready and willing to take a step toward realizing the hope of a future in His presence.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
(Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV))

If you ask the Lord to search your heart, you better be prepared for God to remove some things from your life. You better be prepared to experience some spiritual growing pains as the Lord refines you and makes you into someone that He can use.

Remove the dross from the silver,
     and a silversmith can produce a vessel;
(Proverbs 25:4 (NIV))

Asking the Lord to search your heart is the first step.

Are you willing to be searched?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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He knows just how to renew your spirit!

July 2, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
     and renew a right spirit within me.
(Psalms 51:10 (ESV))

What is the state of your spirit within you?

If you are anything like me, if you suffer as part of humanity, then the things that happen around us and to us have an impact on us whether we want to admit it or not. With what the whole world has experienced over the last year or more, it impacts even those who profess a faith in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. Sometimes I just look at the things of this world and sigh because I can’t put my thoughts into accurate words. I sigh because of the unrighteous things that I see. I sigh because I long for God’s righteousness and not the world’s evil. If you are like me, you can understand how Elijah felt when he ran from Jezebel.

But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.”
(1 Kings 19:4 (NIV))

Elijah had fled Jezebel. He was afraid and he was tired. Human nature took control and he wanted to have God end his life. He was physically, mentally and spiritually exhausted.

And he lay down and slept under a broom tree. And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, “Arise and eat.” And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank and lay down again. And the angel of the Lord came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.” And he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God.
(1 Kings 19:5-8 (NIV))

Elijah was a prophet. He heard from God on many different occasions, and yet he still had a crushed spirit due to the events in the world in his life. How can we assume that we will have the strength to achieve on our own what Elijah was unable to achieve on his own?

A day’s journey into the wilderness means that he found a place to escape his troubles and rest. This allowed for the Lord to send comfort and renewal not once, but twice. Because he was able to find rest in the Lord, he was prepared to face the journey ahead. That journey had him face many dark days, but he was able to face them because he found rest in the Lord and the Lord renewed his spirit.

When you sigh and groan under the weight of the world, remember Elijah. Seek the Lord and seek rest in His presence. Our sighs and groans are not incomprehensible to the Lord.

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.
(Romans 8:26 (NIV))

He knows just how to renew your spirit!

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