What is it that you seek?

September 28, 2022

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
(Matthew 6:33 (NIV))

What is it that you seek?

In our society, we have a tendency to seek after luxuries. That has been the human condition for as long as we have recorded history. To be honest with you, I am not exactly certain what God will give us, for He gives to each person according to His Will and His plan. All that you have to do is take a look at those whom He has blessed. Each blessing is different and each blessing is custom tailored to the person and their situation.

All throughout the Bible there have been examples of people that God has blessed with luxuries because they earnestly sought Him. Solomon comes to mind as one of these people whom God blessed with wisdom, power and riches. There are also examples of people who devoted their lives to God and only had locusts and wild honey to show for it. Don’t get me wrong. John the Baptist was thoroughly blessed by God for his devotion. It was simply a blessing that many people have trouble understanding.

Matthew, in writing this passage, speaks not of luxuries, but of every day necessities such as food and clothing. God provides exactly what we need. Take another look at John the Baptist. He was blessed by God for He provided John the Baptist with locusts and wild honey. I don’t think that we would consider that a blessing, but it truly was. It allowed John to preach repentance, to do God’s Will, and not worry about what he would eat or what he would wear. God provided just what John needed so that John could fulfill his unique calling.

This is an important concept!

God provided just what was needed! He does not send blessings in the same way to everyone. He knows us so well that His blessings are as unique as we are.

He sent locusts and wild honey to John to sustain him. He also sent manna to the Israelites while they wandered in the desert. Even when they did not seek first His kingdom, He provided. He provided wisdom to Solomon because he wanted to rule justly and righteously. As a result, God provided so much more.

Take a look at all that you have. What do you seek first – more possessions or God’s Word?

Life is ironic at times. When we seek after earthly security, it never comes. When we seek after God, He gives us Himself, His security, and all of these other things, too.

Seek after God’s kingdom and not the luxuries of this world. He will surprise you with what He does give you, especially when you don’t know what tomorrow will bring. Seek after the peace that passes all understanding. Seek after the One who can overcome all the troubles of this world! If you seek after these things, He will provide all that you need. In addition, you will be given eternity in His presence!

What is it that you seek?

Copyright 1998 – 2022 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
https://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you set your mind on Jesus?

September 22, 2022

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
(Colossians 3:2 (NIV))

Unlike any other time in human history, now is the time to look up!

Do the things of this world have you worried? Look up!

No matter what the news may say and no matter what they do not say, we have a mighty God who is in control. We have a mighty Savior who, in the eyes of the world, has done the unthinkable. He willingly died to save us from our sins. All that we have to do is believe in Him! We have the promises that God has given, and they are many! Not only do we have the promises that foretold of Jesus, we also have the promises that foretell of His return.

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.
(2 Corinthians 1:20 (NIV))

Think about that for a moment. If God cannot associate with sin, then we know that He is not capable of committing a sin. He is not capable of telling a lie. Because He is not capable of lying, we know that every single word that proceeds from His mouth is truth. In other words, if He said it, it WILL happen just as He said. The sad thing is that we, as sinful, fallen humanity have a hard time comprehending that there is someone who is always truthful no matter what the situation. Even those who always try to tell the truth will find themselves slipping up and twisting things unintentionally. In other words, we lie even when we don’t want to!

We must focus on the perfect image of God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Only when we keep our focus in this direction are we capable of discerning the truth from the lies of the enemy, and right now, the enemy is on a rampage! Every single day I learn more and more about the things that are unfolding in this world. I learn of things that, if I didn’t keep my eyes focused on Jesus, would scare me to death. Troubles are increasing exponentially. I also learn of things that have me fascinated because God is unfolding things just as He foretold. The troubles in this world may be increasing exponentially, but we must take heart, for the things of God are falling into place exponentially as well. Things are happening so fast that many people are saying that something major is going to happen by the end of this month. I don’t claim to be a prophet, nor do I claim to know the hour or the day, but I do recognize the season that we are in. I do recognize the need for repentance. I do recognize the need to set our minds on things above, for they are eternal. The things of this world are fleeting and can change in the twinkling of an eye.

No matter what may happen in this world, we must look to Jesus!

No matter what the enemy may do, we must remember that we have a risen Savior who has overcome the enemy.

No matter what may happen in this world, we know who wins.

Have you set your mind on the winner?

Have you set your mind on Jesus?

Copyright 1998 – 2022 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
https://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you pray to be cleansed and renewed?

July 14, 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 (ESV))

Some translations say a pure heart instead of a clean heart. In your mind, what is the difference between cleanliness and purity? Have you ever given any thought to this? Whatever translation and whatever word that you use, David is asking the Lord to take control of his heart and to remove all instances of sin. It is the heart that directs a person. It is the heart that hides what you truly desire. It is the heart that guides our actions and our words.

But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.
(Matthew 15:18 (NIV))

Where does your heart guide you? What does your heart make you say and do?

I have been writing and sending these out for almost twenty-five years. Honestly, there have been times when my heart is not where it should be. My spirit is not where it should be. I am only human, and we all go through highs and lows, even when we profess a faith in Jesus. Sometimes we can get stuck in a rut, a routine, and miss the big picture because we are focusing on the small stuff. This happens to everyone, and when it happens, we must recognize our condition and bring it to the Lord. I have found that the greater the frequency of turning to God, the better the outcome, for He always brings cleanliness, purity, and renewal when you ask.

How often do you ask?

If you find yourself thinking that you are good and don’t have to ask that often, then I think a very thorough self-reflection is called for. All of us are human and as sinful, fallen humanity, we can’t go very long without sinning. We may make it a day. We may make it a few hours, or we may only make it a few minutes. No matter how long we may make it without sinning, it is not long enough.

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

Personally, there are several things that I try to discipline myself to do. Some of them include:
1. Being still in His presence
2. Reading and studying His Word
3. Praying for cleansing and righteousness
4. Praying in general

I could add more, but these are the ones that come to mind at the moment. I love to be still in His presence, yet, I am fearful for I know that I am a sinner. I long to be cleansed and renewed so that I may mature into the image of Christ.

Do you pray to be cleansed and renewed?

Copyright 1998 – 2022 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you willing to have this done in you?

May 13, 2022

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
(John 15:2 (ESV))

Let’s face facts. We don’t like change, especially if it takes us outside of our comfort zones. Even when dealing with things in our lives that we know need to be addressed, we would rather simply ignore them instead of dealing with them. It is just human nature.

That is not how God works.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
     neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
     so are my ways higher than your ways
     and my thoughts than your thoughts.
(Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV))

We like to hold onto our sins. God calls us to let them go.

We like to hide our sins. God calls us to confess them.

We like to embrace our sins. God calls us to embrace Him.

In essence, God calls us to accept the gift of salvation freely offered through the cross. Through this gift, He is calling us to allow our sins to be removed from our lives and replaced with His righteousness. I don’t know about you, but I like His ways far more than I like my ways. I long to freely surrender what needs to be taken away and to allow other areas to be pruned. I long to bear so much more fruit according to His will.

Are you willing to have this done in you?

Copyright 1998 – 2022 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Does it overwhelm you?

April 15, 2022

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
(Matthew 26:38 (NIV))

I hope that this puts the crucifixion into a more realistic context. Over the years, the church has so whitewashed this event that I honestly do not think that we realize just how excruciatingly painful and traumatic it was, even if the one going to the cross is the Son of God. We subconsciously think that because He was fully God that the pain and the fear were somehow less traumatic for the human aspects of Jesus. I have heard that people had speculated that He was able to disconnect from what He was going through, but this passage clearly indicates that this was not the case.

In order for God to forgive our sins, there had to be a man to live a perfect, sinless life. In order for God to forgive our sins, that perfect man had to willingly die in our place as a payment for our sins. We are familiar with God’s plan of salvation, but I want to emphasize one crucial word, one crucial aspect.

Man!

In order for God’s plan to be legally binding according to His Laws, the one who died for our sins had to be fully man. Jesus had to set aside his deity and fully embrace all of the sin, all of the pain, and all of the trauma of the crucifixion. He made a choice to be fully human, including all of the fear and all of the sorrow, as He faced the events of the crucifixion.

He did not take the easy way out! He did not abandon His fully human side in order to avoid the pain and the sorrow.

He bore all of our sin.

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
(2 Corinthians 5:21 (NIV))

To use a theater term, Jesus never broke character. He was fully God who came to the world to be fully man, and He did just that even to death on the cross!

Have you ever tried to put yourself into His shoes? Have you ever taken a very realistic look at all that Jesus faced so that He could be the sacrificial lamb that saves us from our sins?

It overwhelmed Jesus. Does it overwhelm you?

Copyright 1998 – 2022 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you overwhelmed by His love for us?

December 2, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Who, being in very nature God,
     did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
     by taking the very nature of a servant,
     being made in human likeness.
(Philippians 2:6-7 (NIV))

Is it in your nature to submit to someone? Is it in your nature to willingly be a servant to others?

Human nature is a strange thing. We are fraught with anxiety, fear, distrust, pride, and so many other characteristics that don’t allow us to willingly submit, to willingly be a servant. Each of us are focused on three people: me, myself and I. It is true that some of us are better at hiding it than others, but even the so-called best of us are guilty of trying to elevate ourselves over anyone and everyone that we can. Sadly, we inherited these characteristics from the father of lies because of the fall from grace in the Garden of Eden. It is that same fall from grace that separated us from God. It is that fall from grace that made us like satan in that we long to be in authority of others.

That was not God’s plan!

He created us to be in intimate fellowship with Himself and with others. Ever since the Garden of Eden, God has unfolded a plan to restore us to that relationship, that intimate fellowship. He did something that we can’t fathom because of our ego and pride. He sent His Son, Jesus, to be one of us. The God of creation came into His creation not as God, but as a man. He came into this world as a servant. He came to show us how to live. He came to show us how to relate to each other. He came to show us how to relate to Himself, and He came to do what was required to bring restoration to a sinful humanity.

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.
(Luke 19:10 (NIV))

It takes a servant’s heart to do what Jesus did. Could you give up your comfort, your security, and your position to go into a location that didn’t know you and didn’t recognize you? Could you give up your life to reach those to whom you went? Perhaps you would have simply sent someone else to do it for you? Think about who Jesus is and what He did.

Are you overwhelmed by His love for us?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you forever thankful to the Lord?

November 30, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
(Psalms 136:1 (NIV))

Just how long is forever?

To be honest with you, I actually don’t think that the human mind can truly understand that concept, especially when you consider our limited vantage point. Our minds think back to our days in school when we were watching the clock and impatiently waiting for the end of the day. It seemed like it took forever! Perhaps you remember Christmas Eve as a child. It seemed like the night would never end. With these and other examples that you may have in mind, we have a tendency to look at the concept of forever as a period of time that we must endure. We don’t usually think of forever as a joyous time.

Is that how God sees forever? Is that how God sees us in relationship to forever?

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.
(2 Peter 3:8 (NIV))

If this is the way that God sees time, then His concept of forever is so very different from how we see forever. If God’s love endures forever, then He has loved us from the beginning of time, if there is such a thing, and He will continue to love us to what our frail human minds call the end of time. In all honesty, the concept of the end of time is a human construct because we can’t truly grasp eternity. All that we can truly understand is that the Lord never changes.

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

If His love endures forever, then His love for us never changes and that is the best thing that anyone can ever experience.

If God loves us this much, how do we express our gratitude?

Are you forever thankful to the Lord?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Share the good news!

October 23, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.
(Romans 8:1-2 (NIV))

Do you obey the law?

Do you always drive the speed limit? Do you ever throw something from your car? Do you sometimes cross busy streets in places other than the crosswalks? If you do any of these, then you do not obey the laws one hundred percent of the time.

If you are ever caught doing any of these things, then there will be a penalty to pay.

Do you obey God’s laws?

Have you ever murdered? Probably not.

Have you ever taken the Lord’s name in vain? Many of us probably have done so out of frustration or anger.

Have you ever committed adultery? Hopefully not.

Have you ever stolen anything? Probably. Even an ink pen on accident could be considered stealing. It did not belong to you and you left with it.

What type of penalties would you expect for any of these breaches of God’s law?

Think of the worst possible penalty that could be paid and that is exactly what Jesus paid on the cross for each of us. He willingly paid the penalty for all of the things that we have done or ever will do. He paid the price for the law of sin and death so that we could claim freedom from its hold on us. Through Jesus, we can claim that our penalties have been paid in full. All that we have to do is accept this grace and mercy.

We will still slip up and break God’s laws just like we break human laws, but we can be forgiven for these transgressions. It is a matter of the heart. We must long to do what God desires us to do. If this is our true heart, then God will see and forgive through the atoning blood of Jesus.

We are free from the law of sin and death! Share the good news!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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How is your mind governed?

September 9, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.
(Romans 8:6-7 (NIV))

In case you were thinking this, no, it is not possible to be governed by both!

No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
(Matthew 6:24 (NIV))

Before I am accused of mixing scripture passages and meanings, it is important to understand that the love of money serves the flesh. It is the ultimate worldly and fleshly control on the human mind. It is the embodiment of lust, power and ego. When your mind is governed by the things of this physical world, it seeks carnal satisfaction. It seeks sin!

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 6:23 (NIV))

We must strive to overcome human nature and focus on Jesus. We must follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. When we falter, and we will, we must recognize our failures, repent and return to the Lord. We must desire to possess true peace as only it can be found in the Lord.

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

We have all seen what happens in this world when government is bad. People suffer. We have also seen what happens in this world when government tries to do what is righteous in the eyes of God. We have our own personal election each and every moment of every day. We can choose to be governed by the flesh and suffer the consequences, or we can choose to be governed by the Spirit and find peace.

How is your mind governed?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you a member of God’s household?

August 31, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household,
(Ephesians 2:19 (NIV))

Think about this passage for a moment.

When darkness falls and the doors to the home are locked, who remains inside the home when the homeowner turns out the lights? Who relies on the head of the household to provide security and rest?

I don’t know about you, but I have never seen someone who had the lives of family and friends under the safety of their roof leave doors unlocked so that the enemy could attack. By professing a faith in Jesus, we have been welcomed into the household of God. We have been given not only grace and mercy. We have been given a home that is far more secure than anything we can ever imagine. This world is not our home! We must never forget that we are only passing through on our way to a place that the Lord has prepared for us. We are to be citizens of heaven and we are to be called children of God. Human nature is sinful, but most of us love and provide for our children. How much more will the Lord do for us?

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
(Matthew 7:11 (NIV))

Have you ever stopped to truly think about what actually happens when we accept Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior? I realize that there is so much more, but the symbolism of these are represented very eloquently in Ephesians 2:19.

We trade being foreigners and strangers with God to being His children.

We trade being children of sin to being foreigners and strangers to the sinful world.

With all that is happening in this world, we must remember to not be a stranger to God. Are you a member of God’s household?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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