Is the Lord your shepherd?

December 2, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
forever.
(Psalms 23:1-6 (NIV))

Have you ever truly looked at this passage in language that can make the Lord’s love personal? What if we paraphrase this passage to help us understand the personal relationship that the Lord desires with each of us and just what He will do for us when we accept His grace and mercy?

If I place my trust in Him, the Lord will be my personal shepherd and guide.
He will provide for all that I need.
He will give me peace and rest.
He will provide direction for my life.
He will provide complete restoration.
He will remove all fear and doubt.
He will provide comfort.
He will sustain us through the troubles of this world.
He will anoint us and bless us because we have placed our faith and trust in Him.
He will pour out His goodness and His love on us as we strive to follow Him.
He will provide us an eternal, permanent residence with Himself where all of the things previously mentioned will continue for all eternity!

I realize that this may sound like prosperity preaching, but it is far from that. What the Lord has promised us is mercy and grace. Through the gift of His Son Jesus, each of us have the opportunity to receive this wonderful gift and all of the blessings that have been promised. These gifts are not for the greedy, for all can possess them equally. These gifts are not for the cynic, for anyone who is a cynic has a hardened heart. These gifts are simply for anyone who will allow the Lord to soften their heart and show them that what they seek is only available through Him.

Do the things that David wrote of in this passage sound like something that you desire? All that you have to do is ask the Lord to be your shepherd!

Is the Lord your shepherd?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you desire to have faith like David?

November 14, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
forever.
(Psalms 23:1-6 (NIV))

David was probably one of the most prolific writers of all times. By today’s standards, he would have been considered a “self-made man,” yet, he focused on God in all that he wrote about. He eagerly embraced all that God had graciously bestowed upon him and gave thanks at all times for what God had done for him. It is true that David strayed, but when he was confronted with this fact, he realized his mistakes and repented. Psalm 23 speaks of the grace and mercy that God has bestowed upon David, and will bestow on anyone if they only seek after God. God will not allow those who earnestly seek Him to follow the paths of unrighteousness or to be troubled by enemies. We will still have troubles, but God is our assurance of victory through the troubles.

David wrote that God would prepare a table before him in the presence of his enemies. He did not say that God would destroy the enemies. It is God’s Will that none should perish. Perhaps the reason that you still have enemies is this fact. God is using you to be an example of His grace and mercy to those who hate you.

How do you react to your enemies? Do they see Jesus in you and in your actions?

Do you desire to have faith like David?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Has your faith saved you?

October 14, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
(Luke 7:50b (NIV))

Jesus spoke these words to a woman who had basically come into the house of Simon. She was not invited by the owner of the house, but she came in anyway to worship and minister to Jesus as He sat as a guest within the house. If you remember the story, she washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and then anointed Him with perfume. This brought ridicule from the “respected” members of society. Jesus responded to them and to Simon by saying that she was doing for Him what Simon, as the host, should have been doing. Simon did not do any of the customary acts of hospitality, yet he considered himself to be a good host and an obedient Jew.

These words and these events mean more than many of us may realize. Let’s take a good look at just how this actually has meaning for us today.

Simon represented the Jewish society set in their ways and oblivious to the true calling that God had placed upon them to bear the good news to the world. Instead of this mission being fulfilled, they acted just as Simon did. They refused to welcome their own Messiah in an appropriate manner. A woman who was an outcast in the eyes of traditional Jewish society saw Jesus for who is was and saw that her redemption was at hand. She went were she was not welcome in order to embrace the grace and mercy that she longed for. The woman is symbolic of the Gentiles, who in the midst of tradition and society, accepted the mission to bear witness in the midst of something that was not truly hers in the eyes of society.

Jesus was a Jew. According to Paul, Jesus had a specific order in which He came.

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.
(Romans 11:6 (NIV))

Just as He went into the house of Simon, He went first for the Jew, then, just as the woman came and accepted Him, the Gentiles accepted Him.

If you are not of Jewish heritage, you are a Gentile. We did not come to Jesus out of tradition. We came to Jesus just as the woman did. Out of faith. Just as He told her that her faith had saved her, we can also lay claim to that same piece of truth if we truly have faith.

Has your faith saved you?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you able to rejoice when the lost is found?

October 8, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, `Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
(Luke 15:8-10 (NIV))

Is there someone in your life that you would rather forget about?

Someone who just seems to be a thorn in your side no matter what you may do or say. Is there someone who just irritates you?

Do you find yourself thinking that it wouldn’t matter to anyone if they just disappeared?

Isn’t life ironic at times? You do your best to do what you know to be the right thing. You devote yourself to being the person that Jesus is calling you to be, yet, still you have issues with other people who just seem to rub you the wrong way.

Personally, I honestly believe that these people are no accident. They are placed in your life for a reason. I find it best to take on the attitude of prayer, not only for these type of people, but more often for myself. I have to remind myself that heaven rejoices just as much for this person as it does for me. I am no better than the person in question and I need to repent of my thoughts.

With this in mind, have you ever pictured what heaven would be like? Do you envision vast numbers of people exactly like you? How will you handle seeing people from different cultures and different nationalities who will not be like you? How will you handle being among people with whom the only thing that you may have in common is the fact that you have accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior? What will you do when you see the person or persons from your life that were those people who were the thorns in your side? Will you rejoice with all of heaven or will you ask why they are there?

I have often heard this question asked, “How would you react when you got to heaven and discovered that Adolf Hitler had repented and accepted Jesus as his personal Lord and Savior?”

If heaven can rejoice when a sinner repents, then we should rejoice as well. In fact, we must pray for those who are lost.

Are you able to rejoice when the lost is found?

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

September 30, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
(Psalms 23:1 (NASB))

Have you ever given any serious thought to the meaning of this passage?

Most people read this and take it to mean that anything that we could possibly want in this physical world is ours. Let’s take a step back and take a look at the word “want.” Our society has shifted the meaning of this word to mean something that we desire. We say things like, “I want a new car” or “I want a bigger house,” but is this the type of want that the Lord provides for? With this type of attitude, too many people fail to get what they want and, as a result, they fall away from faith. They misunderstand this passage and think that is means that the Lord our God is nothing more that a genie who is there to grant our every wish, our every desire. When this doesn’t happen, they falsely assume that since this isn’t true, nothing is true.

If this is your vision of God, then it makes sense why our society has become so self-centered and self-entitled.

If we look at this passage from the perspective and understanding of when it was written, we get a much clearer picture. A shepherd has multiple sheep under his care. He provides for the needs of the whole flock. He will lead them to green pastures for food. He will care for the sick. He will search for the lost. The shepherd makes sure that all under his care are protected from attack. The sheep know his voice and they follow him. They know and they trust him to provide for their needs both collectively and individually.

Did you pick up on that?

The shepherd provides for the needs of his flock. He does not provide for the selfish desires. The shepherd knows what is best for each sheep. He makes sure that each need is provided for. With this in mind, is wanting a bigger house a need or a selfish desire? For some people, it truly may be a need, while for others, it is a selfish desire. The Lord sees each of our needs and knows how best to provide for us. When David wrote these words, he understood this concept. He understood that the Lord, as his shepherd, was guiding his steps and that all of his needs would be provided for. David realized that everything was on the Lord’s timeframe and not his.

Sadly, our society has lost this understanding. We seek instant gratification in all aspects of our lives. We falsely believe that we can guide our own lives. We desire anything and everything under the sun, and sin runs rampant because we are so focused on the proverbial me, myself and I. Slow down and spend time in the Lord’s presence and you will begin to grasp the understanding that David had. The focus is not about us and our selfish desires. It is about the Lord’s plans and what is best for us.

I believe that it is time for us to reexamine what we truly want! What do you truly want?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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When was the last time that you truly prayed?

September 27, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

And foreigners who bind themselves to the LORD
      to serve him,
   to love the name of the LORD,
      and to worship him,
   all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it
      and who hold fast to my covenant–
these I will bring to my holy mountain
      and give them joy in my house of prayer.
   Their burnt offerings and sacrifices
      will be accepted on my altar;
   for my house will be called
      a house of prayer for all nations.
(Isaiah 56:6-7 (NIV))

For my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations!

When we, as believers go to our churches, what is it that we spend most of our time doing once we get there?

Chances are, if you are like most other congregations, you spend a good amount of time singing and an even larger amount of time hearing someone preach. Don’t take what I am about to say wrong, but, God did not say that His house was a house of singing or a house of preaching. It is a house of prayer. All throughout the Old Testament, we see God moving when His prophets prayed.

Jesus knew this principle. He became very angry when people turned the Temple into a place to make a profit.

“It is written,” he said to them, ” `My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a `den of robbers.’ “
(Matthew 21:13 (NIV))

Take a look at all of the great things that God accomplished through the apostles in Acts. Every time that one of these great works of God happened, you will find the words “they prayed.”

It is through prayer that God moves. It is through a fervent desire to see God move that He moves.

When was the last time that the Body of Christ got together in your church group and fervently prayed from the heart? Was it something that was so distressful that your very spirit cried out for God to intervene?

This is true prayer! When we turn to God out of a deep despair or desire, God will hear.

When was the last time that you truly prayed?

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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