It takes faith to turn to God and that pleases Him!

November 11, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
(Hebrews 11:6 (NIV))

I’ve read this particular passage many times and I thought that I understood it, but recently I had an epiphany. I had a new understanding of this passage and I don’t understand why the obvious had not made itself known to me before. It all starts with a fresh understanding of faith.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
(Hebrews 11:1 (NIV))

Have you ever seen God? Are you confident that He exists? If you firmly believe that He exists, that is faith. In this physical world, it takes faith to even acknowledge that God exists. If you do not possess faith the size of a mustard seed, then it is impossible for your mind to even conceive of the idea of God. Faith is the key! Without faith, God doesn’t exist in your heart or in your mind. You have made a decision to shun the Creator of all things! That breaks the very heart of God, for He longs to draw each of us closer to Himself. It only takes a little faith to grow the idea that God is real. Once you have the faith to make this proclamation, you have taken the first step in your journey with the Lord. Each step of that journey draws you closer to the Lord and builds a stronger faith. It pleases the Lord when you draw closer to Him. It pleases the Lord as your faith matures.

How do you grow faith?

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
(Romans 10:17 (NKJV))

We must spend time daily in His Word, for His Word is His heart! When we know His Word, we know Him intimately.

Do you possess a faith that seeks intimacy with the Lord?

It takes faith to turn to God and that pleases Him!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What comforts you through the darkness?

June 8, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Yea, 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.
(Psalms 23:4 (NKJV))

Everyone faces darkness and tough times in their lives. What do you do when this happens? Do you cower in fear? Do you give in to the attacks of the enemy? Do you throw yourself a pity party and lock yourself away from the world in hopes that your tough times will go away? Do you lash out at the world trying to put up a front? Do you attack head-on in such a way that you think that you are able to overcome these times on your own?

To be honest with you, we have all probably used each one of these approaches in our lives when dealing with darkness and tough times. Have any of them truly worked? Did the tough times go away? Did your stress levels return to a peaceful state?

I have been on my journey with Jesus for a long time, and each time that I have faced a tough time in my life over the years, it has actually gotten easier to deal with. With each event, I have learned more about the promises of God. I have learned that I can trust Him to see me through, even when the world seems to be crashing in all around me. It hasn’t come easily, and my journey is still a work in progress, but I know that my faith is firmly placed in the One who created all things. I know that He will see me through all things, even the darkness. With the track record that the Lord has allowed me to experience, I can look back in all honesty and see how He was leading me. With this assurance, I can look ahead in all faith and know that He will lead me according to His will with my maturity in Jesus as the goal.

I don’t know about you, but I find great comfort in this truth even when I do not see any worldly way out of the darkness. I find great comfort in knowing that He is always with me!

What comforts you through the darkness?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Where are you?

May 4, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Before them fire devours,
behind them a flame blazes.
Before them the land is like the garden of Eden,
behind them, a desert waste–
nothing escapes them.
(Joel 2:3 (NIV))

I believe that we are in a transitional place, a place of growth and maturity. Each of us may be in a situation that has us literally between a rock and a hard place. We may find ourselves in the midst of so much fire and waste that we do not see any potential end. When we, as believers, find ourselves in this place in our lives, we must remember that God uses these times in our lives to refine us like silver.

This third I will bring into the fire;
I will refine them like silver
and test them like gold.
They will call on my name
and I will answer them;
I will say, `They are my people,’
and they will say, `The LORD is our God.’ ”
(Zechariah 13:9 (NIV))

It is in these times that one of two things may happen. We will either turn from God in our anger or turn toward God in our faith. It is God’s desire to purify us in our faith. He longs for us to mature into the image of Jesus.

I had a conversation not too long ago with someone who questioned whether being in the wilderness was a good thing or a bad thing. Take a look at Jesus after He was baptized. He went into the wilderness for 40 days. He did not do anything bad, yet He had to face the temptation before He could truly minister to those whom He came to seek and to save.

When we find ourselves in the desert or the wilderness, it is all a matter of our outlook, our perspective on the situation. We can either look at the situation and not see beyond our circumstances or we can see the “Light” of Jesus at the end of our journey. If we focus on the “Light,” then we should be able to stand firm in our desert and continually pray for righteousness.

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

Where are you?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do you strive to practice strict self-control?

February 20, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

All athletes practice strict self-control. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.
(1 Corinthians 9:25 (NLT))

Some translations say that the athletes go into strict training. To me, this translation hits a little closer to home. We may not have any idea of what strict training may be, but we can all understand the idea of strict self-control.

Think about that concept for a moment.

What do you think of when self-control is mentioned?

Is it the will power to not eat the last donut in the box, or is it much more?

Personally, self-control and personal responsibility go hand in hand. Let’s face the truth. Our society no longer believes in personal responsibility. People claim that they were born that way, or they were raised in a bad home, or . . .

I think that you get the picture. Our society, and each of us as a member of the Body of Christ, must be willing to practice self-control. We must be willing to accept the responsibility of our actions. We must strive to live our lives as Jesus taught us.

Using the athlete example, a life in faith is not a sprint that starts and is over quickly. A life in faith is a lifelong journey, a marathon, in which we must be prepared to face any obstacles that the world throws our way. In order to do this, we must practice self-control. We must be willing to accept personal responsibility. If you are willing to accept personal responsibility, then you are capable of learning from your mistakes and focusing once again on the prize that is set before us.

Imagine this scenario.

You are standing in front of Jesus and He is judging your life. You have never accepted His grace and mercy as your own. Every aspect of your life condemns you. Your only response, “It wasn’t my fault. I wasn’t ready!”

I can only imagine the response from Jesus.

Strive for the prize that is won only through Jesus. Don’t allow the things of this world to sway your self-control.

Do you strive to practice strict self-control?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do you have the wisdom to rest in the presence of God?

November 20, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, LORD,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep.
(1 Kings 19:3-5 (NIV))

Have you ever been put to the test and simply wanted to give up and die?

It is not uncommon for people to feel that way. Elijah, who had just called down the fire of God upon a wet alter and proved that God was the true God and not he false prophet’s gods, felt this very thing when he was confronted with an attack from the enemy. Queen Jezebel had just threatened his life as a result of what had happened and Elijah ran for his life. Think about this. Elijah had just called upon God in a mighty way and He showed up, yet, at the threats of a single woman he forgot who was fighting on his side and ran. He literally wanted to die!

We all face situations in which we want to throw in the towel and give up, but we must remember who is on our side. We must also remember that God is not in the mighty deeds at all times. Just as with Elijah in 1 Kings 19:11-13, He was in the whisper. He was not in the wind, the earthquake or the fire.

What is it in your life that is currently testing you? Have you spent quiet time alone with God to hear His Will, or have you buried yourself with activity? Have you simply stopped everything because of the stress of the situation? Remember that Elijah rested and then traveled farther away from what was troubling him before he was able to discern God’s voice.

Perhaps we must simply place our trust and faith in God to deliver us. When we simply do this, He will answer in that whisper that only we can hear. We cannot hear it when we are in the heat of the battle.

What do you hear when you are faced with a test? Do you have the wisdom to rest in the presence of God?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What are you convinced of?

November 27, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 8:38-39 (NIV))

An old friend referenced this passage a few days ago. Sadly, she has been through a lot in the last few years, yet she clings to this passage, and rightly so. She taught me a lesson that I will not forget!

With all that we face in life, nothing is constant. Never take anything for granted in this physical, fallen world. Laughter and love will fade away and turn to tears and loneliness for every single one of us. We will all face things in this life that, if we aren’t properly grounded, will completely decimate us. In all that this world has to offer and all that this world will throw at us, nothing in this world will stand by us forever.

There is only one constant in this journey that we call life. Even though it came into this world, it is not of this world. It is not a part of the created order of things. It is the love that the Creator of all things has for us.

I love the words, “Abba, Father.” Someone once implied that the closest that they could come to understanding these words and the love that they represent is to think of them as “Daddy!” It is not a formal relationship that these words represent. They are the words that represent a loving relationship between creation and Creator in a way that reflects a relationship of a child to a father. The mere mention of “Daddy” elicits such a loving response from the child. It also elicits such a loving response from the father for the child. He bends down and wraps his arms around his child and lifts them up to be face to face with himself.

This is a love that exceeds all things!

Now, let’s take what we know of earthly love and elevate that love heavenward. Each one of us are loved by God in such a way and with such fervor, that our Father did not wish for any of us to be separated from Himself. He bent down to earth by sending His only begotten Son, Jesus, to offer us outstretched arms of love on the cross. These outstretched arms were opened wide to embrace us and lift us up to Him so that we can be face to face with God for eternity. This is a love that can withstand all things!

Thank you, Jody, for reminding me of this unfailing love that our Father has for us.

I am so convinced of the strength of God’s love, that I rely on that knowledge each and every day of my life.

What are you convinced of?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Be careful of where you travel!

November 12, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The one whose walk is blameless is kept safe, but the one whose ways are perverse will fall into the pit.
(Proverbs 28:18 (NIV))

We see the results of people using their cell phones when they are driving, and it is not a very happy ending.

We see the results of people being distracted by their cell phones while they are walking, and many times they are so ridiculous that we can’t help but laugh. Honestly, these incidents are often quite painful for the person involved.

There are many other types of distractions that have less than stellar consequences, and many people seem to be able to commit quite a few of them. Have you ever been distracted to the point where you caused yourself injury? Were you able to recover from this event? Now, what about the distractions that have a different source? What about the sins that distract you and lead you down a life path that leads you away from God’s grace and mercy? These sins can cause so much more damage to your life and your eternal existence than any episode with a cell phone ever could! Don’t misunderstand me on this. I realize that distractions can cause injury and even death. These events even occur to people who profess a faith in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. The sins that I am referring to are those that take you away from recognizing the need for God’s grace and mercy. These result in a ruined life, and, if repentance does not occur, an eternal separation from the Lord, our God!

If you choose to follow the ways of this world and ignore the gift of salvation offered through Jesus, you will travel through this life with the pit of Hell as your destination. If you choose to walk through life with Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, your destination is eternal life in heaven with the Father. The choice is yours! Each day and each step in your journey is a choice. Keep your eyes focused on Jesus and walk blamelessly as you go through this life. The enemy longs to trick you and to make you stumble as you travel. If you take your eyes off of your destination, you will not like the results.

Be careful of where you travel!

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What does the Lord do with you?

October 5, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The Lord watches over all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy.
(Psalms 145:20 (NIV))

It is said that your life is defined by your choices!

Think about that in context to the following and see if you don’t agree.

Who you date and who you marry.

If you go to school and where you go to school.

The things that you love to do and the things that you do to earn a living.

How you see the world and how the world sees you.

If you have children or if you don’t.

If you got that promotion or if you quit your job.

I could go on and on about the choices that we all face and how each choice impacts our life far beyond what we could possibly imagine at that moment. Think about the choices that you have made in your life. Your life, as it is, is a direct result of your choices with each choice taking you down a path that is completely different from the one if you had only chosen differently. With that in mind, it is often said that life is a journey. You never truly know where you will go in life until you are there. Some people try to control that journey by making choices that they feel are the ones that will lead to wealth and power only find themselves alone and miserable. Others will make choices in life based on friendship and love only to find themselves surrounded by people who love them deeply no matter what they may have of value in this world.

I realize that I have avoided the biggest choice that anyone can make in this life, and that is the choice you make about the Lord.

To put it simply, the choice you make about who you say He is will impact you for all eternity. He is waiting with open arms to embrace you and to show you such grace and mercy, but you have to accept it. You have to claim it. You have to love the truth and love the Lord. You have to proclaim it! If this is your choice, then the Lord will watch over you. Sadly, you must be prepared for horrible consequences if you do not, for we are told what will happen to all who do not profess that Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords and their personal Lord and Savior!

What does the Lord do with you?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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You will find blessings when your journey is through!

September 20, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold. My feet have closely followed his steps; I have kept to his way without turning aside.
(Job 23:10-11 (NIV))

Job was tested to the limits of human understanding and tolerance. All throughout his ordeal, his friends kept trying to get him to turn away from God. Many of them even accused Job of doing something against God and his ordeal was a punishment.

Do you have any friends like that?

Maybe the term “friend” is not the best way to describe these type of people. A friend is one who always has your best interest at heart. They will do things for you that others will not. They will defend you when you need defending. They will stand by you in times of trouble. Did this happen with Job?

In his ordeal, Job knew in his heart that he had done nothing wrong in the eyes of God. He knew his own heart. He knew that what was happening was not of God. He knew that he was not going to waiver in his faith. He kept his eyes focused on the promise of a better tomorrow and a hope of redemption.

Have you ever felt like everything was against you even though you did what you knew to be the right thing? Stand firm in your faith just as Job did. Don’t allow the enemy to weaken you by the attacks that come your way. Keep your eyes focused on Jesus and allow His strength to carry you even when you feel that you cannot go on. Tomorrow is another day. It brings hope. It brings a new beginning. Placing your faith in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior also brings grace and mercy. Where there is grace and mercy, love abounds.

Stay close to the love of God and allow Him to guide your paths. Follow closely in His steps and do not turn aside.

You will find blessings when your journey is through!

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How well are you learning what the Lord is teaching?

August 3, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.
(Titus 2:2 (NIV))

There is an old saying that with age comes wisdom.

I suppose that all depends on your definition of wisdom!

Far too many people falsely think that knowledge is wisdom, but they fail to recognize the fact that what you may know can lead to bad results. Wisdom is so much more than knowing facts, especially when you consider that facts can be twisted to make you come to wrong conclusions. Wisdom takes the facts and allows you to discern truth. It is the application of good judgment to the facts. It is possible to be filled with knowledge yet still be unwise. It is also possible to be older and unwise. Sometimes even the wisest among us will still have things that they need to learn so that they can be better at discerning the truth.

I love the fact that this passage starts with “Teach the older men.” Instantly it implies that each of us still have much to learn with respect to our faith walk no matter what our age may be. It also implies that not a single one of us is completely mature. Each of us may need to realize that we may not be as mature in our faith as we think.

We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.
(Hebrews 5:11-13 (NIV))

We have so much to learn in our faith journey with Jesus. Not a one of us is perfect. We all have lessons that we are learning and many that we still need to learn.

How well are you learning what the Lord is teaching?

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