We must focus on being lovers of God!

June 5, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God-
(2 Timothy 3:1-4 (NIV))

I am sure that you have seen the jokes and the memes on social media about the type of year that 2020 has been so far. We hope and pray that things will get better, but I honestly think that what we are seeing is becoming the norm, especially when you read about what people will be like in the last days. In fact, when I first read this passage this evening, I did not have to struggle to think up very public examples of each one of these traits. I am certain that you can probably think of prime examples of each one of these traits as evidenced in our society as well.

Why have people become so blinded? Why have people become so self-centered and hate-filled? These traits go against every single one of God’s commandments. They also go against other traits that we are told we should strive to possess.

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))

Sadly, these traits are not what seems to be front and center in today’s world. Far too many in this world are being led astray by the enemy. They are being led down a path that comes in direct conflict with anything good – with anything from God! They are being led down a path of sin and evil.

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
(Galatians 5:19-21 (NIV))

I am sure that we have all heard that as followers of Jesus, we live in the world, but we are not of the world. How are we, as the Body of Christ, to respond to people who are in open rebellion against God?

We are to share the Gospel! We are also told what to do if people will not listen.

If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.
(Matthew 10:14-15 (NIV))

We are to pray! We can’t soften hearts. Only God can. We must pray that those who rebel will repent and turn to the Lord. And, we must stand firm in our faith so that we are not led astray.

We must focus on being lovers of God!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are your heart and mind guarded by the peace of God?

May 6, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

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

With everything that has been happening and is happening in the world, what is the state of your heart and mind?

We have all seen the news. We have all seen the shortages at the grocery stores. We have all seen far more than we care to want to experience, yet, some people are at peace while others are experiencing panic and much worse. Where do you fall in this wide array of responses? Are you at peace during all of this?

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
(John 16:33 (NIV))

Think about that for a moment. The whole world has been having trouble. Jesus has overcome the world. He has overcome the trouble. He brings peace in the midst of trouble to all who proclaim His name as their personal Lord and Savior. This doesn’t mean that the trouble goes away. It does mean that we get a better understanding of the world and its troubles. We realize that this world is not our home and that we have something so much better to look forward to. Think about this concept in this context. You are going on vacation to your favorite place in all of the world. Along the way, you end up sitting in some traffic. Does the traffic make you take your eyes off of your destination and the joy that you will experience once you have arrived at your destination? Since the promises of God are so much better than any earthly vacation that we may take, our joy should be so much greater. All that we have to do is keep our eyes on Jesus, after all, we have God’s promises of paradise for those who believe.

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))

I don’t know about you, but the promise of eternal life gives me complete peace. Please don’t misunderstand me. I sometimes worry. That is human nature, but I have a Savior who helps me overcome human nature. All that any of us need to do is take our eyes off of the world and forever place them on Jesus and the peace of God will continually amaze each and every one of us.

Are your heart and mind guarded by the peace of God?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What is welling up inside of you?

April 30, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
(John 4:13-14 (NIV))

I want to ask you a question, if I may.

How many times have you felt the presence of God and you actually felt like you had something welling up inside of you? Did you feel like you could “bubble over?” Did you feel refreshed and cleansed?

I have often wondered if this is how we personally experience the Living Water that Jesus gives to us.

Think back on the times when you know that you felt God’s presence the most in your life. How did you feel? Do these thoughts evoke the feelings that you would associate with water? It quenches your thirst. It refreshes. It cleanses. It is cooling. It is soothing. It is comforting. Fresh water is often thought of as bubbling up, or welling up, from a spring. The sounds of bubbling water are relaxing and peaceful. Do these thoughts describe the sensations that you felt when you felt God’s presence?

I find it very interesting that we can go without food for many days, but that we cannot go without water or we will die. Water is essential to our survival. It is so much a part of us. Still, in our physical form, we will eventually not be able to be refreshed. Water is an integral part of each of us.

I have said before that I believe that for every physical aspect of life, there is a corresponding spiritual aspect of life. Water is important to our physical bodies and Living Water is important for our spiritual well being. Just as water is essential to life, Living Water is essential to eternity. Somehow our bodies know this. It is our minds that make us not see the obvious.

Living Water rejuvenates. It cleanses. It soothes, It is calming. It is peaceful.

It is the way that God pours out upon us the closeness of a relationship with Him that we lost at the Garden of Eden. Living Water brings peace. It brings joy. It brings patience. It brings kindness. It brings self-control. Just as physical fruits cannot mature without water, the fruits of the Spirit need the Living Water to grow to maturity.

What is welling up inside of you?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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You will never find greater riches than this!

April 24, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace
(Ephesians 1:7 (NIV))

What do you think of when you think of riches?

Is it the typical human nature responses such as money, big house, fancy cars and expensive toys?

Let me ask this another way.

What is it that you value the most?

Did you answer family and friends? Perhaps you thought of the gift of life itself. These are valuable to most people, yet, there is something that has far greater worth. It is of far greater worth than all of the riches of the world.

What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?
(Mark 8:36 (NIV))

Everything in this life is here today and gone tomorrow. With that said, how can we place value on something that does not last? How can we spend our lives striving for something that can be taken from us in the blink of an eye?

We are trapped in a world of sin and death. A world that we allowed to fall away from God. It is a world badly in need of something that is eternal, something that will not rust or decay with time. That something is God’s grace.

I know of nothing in this world that can bring eternal life, even though man has searched for just such a thing for a long time. I know of nothing in this world that can bring peace, even though we all long for it. I know of nothing in this world that can bring everlasting joy, even though there are things that bring us fleeting glimpses of joy. Nothing in this world can redeem us. Nothing in this world can provide forgiveness, and nothing in this world can give us grace.

With that said, the greatest riches of all is the very thing that can bring all of this. It is not of this world, for this world is fallen. It is from the very One who created this world. It is designed to bring each and every one of us back into the pre-sin relationship that we were supposed to have with God.

Let me ask a few more questions.

Does money make you happy? Do big houses make you happy? Do expensive toys make you happy? All of these things soon become the reason for living and then you discover that they leave you cold and empty. Only one thing can leave you joyfully filled and warm with the love of God.

Have you accepted the riches that God offers through His glorious gift of grace? Have you accepted the gift of salvation that was purchased at the cross by Jesus?

You will never find greater riches than this!

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

April 13, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.
(Matthew 28:6 (NIV))

Looking back at the last several weeks and what the whole world has endured, we need some good news!

There is no better news that we can receive than a heavenly announcement and acknowledgment that Jesus is alive!

When the angels announced that Jesus was not in the tomb, those who followed Jesus probably had been thinking prior to this announcement that their hopes had been shattered at the crucifixion. Can you imagine the joy that these words brought to them? They probably went from a feeling of despair and hopelessness to a feeling of jubilation and a peace that they did not understand.

What type of feelings have you experienced over the last several weeks? Be honest with yourself. Have you focused on the events of this world instead of focusing on God’s promises to those who love Him? If you have focused on God’s promises, I would venture to say that this Resurrection Sunday was probably a unique one as well as a blessed one. We may not have gathered in our church buildings to celebrate, but this reinforces the fact that buildings don’t make the church. People do!

Jesus came into the world to bring salvation to people, to individuals who would place their faith in Him. No matter how many people may be around you, in God’s plan, it doesn’t matter. He can call you in the middle of a large crowd or He can call you in the middle of a desert. If the world tries to keep His people from meeting together, then the Lord can meet with each one of us individually as He sees fit. This can only be done because we have placed our faith in His Son, Jesus, as our personal Lord and Savior. This only matters because of one very important piece of good news!

The grave could not hold Him!

The stone has been rolled away!

He defeated the power of sin and death!

There are many ways to express this absolute truth, but perhaps the one that is best is also the simplest.

Jesus is alive!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What a glorious day this will be!

February 26, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
(Psalms 100:1 (NIV))

If we base our joy on things of this earth, it is fleeting.

Think about the things of this world that bring you joy. Do you realize how quickly these things could change? Not only is it possible for your joy to be quickly changed, it is also possible for it to turn to grief. As humans, we place far too much emphasis on the things of this world. Even family and friends can change and turn our joy upside down. How do we focus on a joy that will never fade when all around us is temporary?

Nehemiah understood.

…for the joy of the Lord is your strength.
(Nehemiah 8:10b (NIV))

We are to find our true joy in the Lord!

The psalmist took that concept even further. He instructed the whole earth to shout for joy to the Lord. Can you imagine the majesty and the glory when the whole world, with one voice, lifts up their joyous praise to the Lord? If you look at the current situations in the world, it is easy to think that this is never going to happen, but God has other plans. It will happen at some point in the future. It will happen when everything is made new.

It will happen…

Do you desire to see and hear this shout to the Lord?

What a glorious day this will be!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Can you endure?

February 17, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

“For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow . . .for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.”
(James 1:3-4 (NLT))

What are you ready for?

Is your faith as strong as it should be? I cannot answer that question for anybody but myself. I can honestly say that I like to think that my faith is strong, yet, I doubt what my actions would be if I were to face certain situations. If someone were to hold a gun to my head and tell me to deny Jesus or die, I pray that I would have the faith to do what I know that I should.

Think about what I just stated.

If our faith were not tested and our endurance not given a chance to grow, I know exactly how I would react if I would be placed in the situation I described earlier. It is a learning process. When we are in school, we do not take college calculus in kindergarten. We start off with lessons that we can grasp fully and then we move on to another, bigger lesson. Our spiritual maturity follows a similar path. If, as a new believer, we are faced with major situations, we will fail. It is by God’s grace that we can be redeemed when we do fail, but we will fail. Each test of our faith gets us closer to what God desires for us, but we must embrace the faith lessons that we are being taught.

There will come a day very soon when each believer will face a test so big that we MUST fully rely on our faith to see us through. We must allow our Godly character to be developed now so that when we do face this test, we will know exactly how to respond. We must be ready to face the enemy head on and confidently denounce and rebuke his plans no matter what the consequences may be to us. We must embrace our faith and head fully into the power of Jesus’ name.

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))

Can you endure?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What do you hear?

January 30, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.
(John 8:47 (NIV))

Contrary to what the world thinks, God does speak to us if we only know how to listen.

Just like in any relationship, we have to know the heart of the other person. We have to know them on a deeper level than just a casual acquaintance. We must be able to pick up on subtle intents based on our knowledge of the person. For all of the married men who are reading this, I am sure that a subtle roll of the eyes by your wife carries a meaning that only you understand. With this as an example, perhaps it is easy to understand that intimacy with someone means that not all communications are with words. Sometimes we are able to “hear” things because we know someone so well that we can understand things that others would not pick up on.

Does God always speak in an audible voice?

If we have accepted His Son, Jesus, as our personal Lord and Savior, we can be called His children. That is God reaching out to us in love. If we spend time with His Word, we know His heart. That is us reaching out to God in love. We draw closer to Him and we begin to know what breaks His heart and what bring Him joy. We begin to recognize the subtle differences in us as we mature in our faith and our relationship with the Lord. We feel peace and joy when we walk with Him and we feel anxiety and sorrow when we stray.

We have also been given the Holy Spirit to guide us. That is God walking with us in love. He is that still, small voice that lives in us to teach us how to walk with the Lord in a relationship as a loving Father and His child.

There are so many ways that we are able to hear what God says. We just have to be open to hearing and be willing to respond. We must desire a relationship with God in order to hear Him.

Do you desire that relationship?

What do you hear?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What will be measured out to you?

January 24, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
(Luke 6:38 (NIV))

We have all heard the old saying that you get what you give, but have you ever heard it put in such terms as this passage. You have also heard of the concept of the baker’s dozen where you actually get 13 instead of 12. The concepts presented in Luke take both of these ideas and take them up a notch. Think about that in terms of the wording in this passage.

A good measure is when the target measurement is not shorted, but actually is measured out even more than the target measurement. Now, what happens when you press something down? It becomes packed. It becomes compressed. Think about this in terms of vacuum packed. All of the air is removed so that what is measured out is so tightly packed that it takes less space. Shaken together and running over implies that even more is added. Keep in mind the vacuum packed concept. If you fill up a one cubic foot box and then vacuum pack the contents, it will probably only fill half of the box. Now, add more to it and vacuum pack it again. Keep doing this until what is being given is not only packed tightly and much more than you would think you would be given, but then it is topped off so that it is overflowing the box. If you have trouble visualizing this concept, take a look at the vacuum packed coffee “bricks” that you can buy. When you open this package and pour it into another container, it fills an area probably two to three times the size of the vacuum packed package.

I like to think that this is how the Lord gives to us!

Read Luke 6:8 again and you will see that there is a prerequisite for receiving the abundance that the Lord will give. We must give first! I realize that this sounds like prosperity Gospel, but humor me for a moment. We must give our heart to the Lord. We must give our life to Jesus. We must give our tithes and offerings out of joy, and we must give to others as their needs present themselves. When our heart is in line with the Lord’s, we will desire to be blessed so that we can be a blessing to others. The reason that we are asked to give first is so that the Lord can test our motives and to make sure that we are mature in our faith to follow His desires and not ours.

With this in mind, I have two questions that I still need to ask.

Are you becoming a cheerful giver?

What will be measured out to you?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you childlike in your faith?

January 17, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
(Matthew 18:2-3 (NIV))

I pray that you have little children in your life!

There is something special about the innocence of a little child. Their smile is infectious. The sparkle in their eyes is so joyous. Their laugh is genuine. Their love is unconditional. Their trust has not been broken by the world, and their faith is still strong! They haven’t been tricked by the world or by the enemy which means that they have not grown callous and hard hearted. They have not been beaten down by the weight of sin.

No wonder Jesus said that we need to become like little children.

Think back on your childhood. Hopefully your childhood was wonderful. You probably didn’t have a care in the world. You trusted that all of your needs would be met and you spent your time being happy and filled with joy. You knew that you were loved and you knew just how to ask for the things that you needed, and probably the things that you wanted as well. You possessed a faith in the family and friends who were your whole world. They sheltered you from the evils of the world that you didn’t even know about. We should be just like this in our faith in the Lord. Can we say that we are filled with joy? Can we say that we love unconditionally? Can we say that we trust? Can we say that we are sheltered? It is my prayer to be childlike in my faith.

Are you childlike in your faith?

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