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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Will you be cut off or pruned or are you bearing fruit?

August 7, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.
(John 15:1-2 (NIV))

Every believer probably thinks that they are bearing fruit for the Lord, and hopefully that is true. Have you honestly stopped to reflect on your life in relationship to this to seek the Lord and ask if your actions are producing what He desires from you? You may think that since you go to church, you are doing well, but do you witness to others? I realize that all of heaven rejoices when a single sinner comes to salvation, but that is not the end of our responsibility.

We are to share the Gospel so that others may come to a saving knowledge of Jesus. We are to witness. We are to tell others about the Lord in both words and in our actions. How can actions tell someone about Jesus? Just in case you have forgotten the old say, actions do speak louder than words. Our actions are to bear fruit.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
(Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV))

I don’t know about you, but these all sound like actions to me!

We can exhibit these fruits in such a manner that others notice a difference in our lives. We can let them see Jesus in our lives before we even begin to tell them about Jesus! Your actions will open up a window of opportunity that will often have others asking what makes you different. That is when you share Jesus in words.

I just realized something that I want to share with you. If our actions lead us to bear fruit, I want you to consider something. When you see a fruit tree or you see fruit in a store, does it pounce on you and tell you that you need it? You are enticed by what you see and experience. Your senses draw you in. The same thing can be said of the fruit that we bear for Jesus. If we present the fruit in such a way as to allow a person’s senses to draw them in, then they will desire to experience the sweetness of what the Lord has to offer. It is our assignment as members of the Body of Christ to yield fruit. Are we living up to that task?

Will you be cut off or pruned or are you bearing fruit?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you sure you know what is best for you?

August 5, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

This is what the Lord says – your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: ‘I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.’
(Isaiah 48:17 (NIV))

Do you honestly allow God to direct where you should go?

If you are like everyone else, chances are very good that you have probably gotten yourself into situations that have been less than ideal in your eyes. You tried to follow your own direction. How do you think these situations looked to those around you? How do you think they looked to God?

What have you got to lose? If you follow God’s direction, you will not find yourself in situations that will embarrass you because of stupid decisions. You won’t find yourself having to figure out which lies to tell so that you won’t get caught in the first set of lies you told.

Far too many people believe that the Bible is not relevant in today’s society. If you believe that truth is relative, then this is probably you. If you believe that there is no such thing as sin, then this is probably you. If you think that there is no one greater than you, then this is probably you. For the rest of us who know that truth is the same no matter what the circumstance, we know better. For those of us who know that sin is rampant in this world, we know better. For those of us who can’t imagine anyone being worse than we are, we know better.

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))

Filthy rags!

Can a filthy rag direct how to clean itself? Can a filthy rag lift itself out of the filth? Only God can cleanse us. Only God can direct us in the way that we should go. Reflect upon where you are going and repent. Allow God to direct your paths and He will draw you closer to Him.

Are you sure you know what is best for you?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What do your actions produce in your life?

July 12, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.
(Luke 6:37 (NIV))

Jesus often spoke things that were, and still are, considered difficult to follow. They just seem to go against our sinful human nature. Let that sink in a little as you honestly look at your life in relationship to this passage from Luke. When was the last time that you judged someone, or that you condemned someone for something that you felt was wrong? Did you let them know? Perhaps you simply kept your thoughts to yourself. Does that mean that the inward act of judging or condemning is any less real in the eyes of God, especially when we admit to the fact that the Lord knows our thoughts and our hearts!

Do to others as you would have them do to you.
(Luke 6:31 (NIV))

Is forgiveness what you desire from others? If so, then it must be freely given in order to be freely received. This is important to the Lord, for it is not the only time that this principle is given. It is critical to realize that what we call the Lord’s Prayer puts this very bluntly back in our court as our responsibility. If we don’t forgive others, then we can’t expect to be forgiven. This applies not only to other people with whom we interact, but also with the Lord.

And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
(Matthew 6:12 (NIV))

We can’t ask for something that we aren’t willing to freely give and truly expect to receive the very same thing!

If we judge, then we can’t expect not to be judged in return. If we condemn, then we can’t expect to not be condemned. In other words, you get what you give. If you want forgiveness, then it must become your nature to be forgiving in your actions.

What do your actions produce in your life?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Hold on to what you have!

July 11, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
(Revelation 3:11-13 (NIV))

Hold on to what you have!

Have you honestly given thought to what you do have? What was the first thing that came to mind when you read that question? Was it your home? Perhaps it was your car. Perhaps you are not as material obsessed and what you thought of was your family. Perhaps you even went to the point of thinking about your life and all that you have been blessed with.

Now, step back and take a look at all of these things through the eyes of God. Did He send Jesus to die on the cross so that you could have a nice home or a nice car? Did He send Jesus so that you could have a loving family? Do you honestly think that Jesus came so that you could live your life in any manner that you choose?

Jesus came to offer to us the most prized possession that we could ever be given. He came to offer us salvation from our sins and the laws of sin and death. If you profess Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, then that is what you have. It is a possession that cannot be taken away, but it can be relinquished by turning away. It can be lost by not recognizing the tricks and lies of the enemy and turning to these life robbing sins once more. Professing a belief in Jesus as your Lord and Savior is only the beginning. It is a starting point, but it is not the finish line of the race. Paul often spoke of faith in Jesus as a race, a race that we must not only start, but one that we must finish.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
(Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV))

We cannot sign up to run the race and then sit on the sidelines. We will not receive the prize. We must hold on to what we have. We must embrace what we have been given. We must not allow anything or anyone to keep us from the finish that will allow us to receive the prize.

Hold on to what you have!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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When do you turn to the Lord?

May 1, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed,
     a stronghold in times of trouble.
Those who know your name will trust in you,
     for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.
Sing praises to the LORD, enthroned in Zion;
     proclaim among the nations what he has done.
(Psalms 9:9-11 (NIV))

Do you seek the Lord?

Do you seek Him at all times or only when things are not going the way that you want them to go?

He is a refuge for the oppressed and a stronghold in times of trouble, but, if those are the only times that you seek the Lord, then are you truly seeking Him?

It is human nature to turn to someone when you feel that you cannot handle things on your own, but when things seem to be going our way, it is human nature to take the credit. We seem to want God in our lives only when we fail on our own.

Is that how you see God? Is that the only time that you honestly seek the Lord?

Let me pose a question.

For those of you who are married, do you honestly think that the relationship is strong and that you honestly know you spouse if the only time that you turn to them is when you want something from them? Can you honestly say that you know the very heart and desires of your spouse if you never spend time with them?

God is the same way. If we only turn to Him in times of trouble, how do you think the relationship is going? Can you honestly say that you have spent time at the feet of the Lord? Can you honestly say that you know the heart of God and what makes Him rejoice and what makes Him sad?

The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, but He is so much more than that if you will simply spend time in His presence. In order to know someone, you must spend time with them. You must learn what makes them happy and what makes them sad. You must learn what they love. You cannot learn this when you are seeking refuge. You learn it when the focus is off of you.

Be still, and know that I am God
(Psalm 46:10a (NIV))

When do you turn to the Lord?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What are the reasons for what you seek?

October 16, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tested him by asking him to show them a sign from heaven.
He replied, “When evening comes, you say, `It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ and in the morning, `Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” Jesus then left them and went away.
(Matthew 16:1-4 (NIV))

Ouch !

I often wonder how Jesus would have answered if they had come honestly seeking the truth instead of seeking to test him. They were asking for a sign to prove to them who He is. They came in their doubt. How would Jesus have reacted if they had honestly came in faith?

Think about that and then think of the following story told in Matthew.

The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, `Go,’ and he goes; and that one,`Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, `Do this,’ and he does it.”
(Matthew 8:8-9 (NIV))

What was the difference in attitude of the people coming to Jesus? What was Jesus’ reaction in both cases?

Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! It will be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that very hour.
(Matthew 8:13 (NIV))

Have you ever stopped to think that the way that we approach Jesus actually makes a difference? Have you ever approached Jesus and then later realized that you were testing Him, and not approaching Him in faith?

The Pharisees and the Sadducees came to Jesus seeking a miracle so that they could test him and then decide whether to believe. The centurion came to Jesus seeking a miracle because he believed.

Jesus could see within their hearts. He knew the reasons behind their requests. It was, and still is, a matter of priorities and faith.

What are the reasons for what you seek?

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