Are you following the Lord?

May 20, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

The whole Israelite community set out from the Desert of Sin, traveling from place to place as the Lord commanded.
(Exodus 17:1a (NIV))

I hope that I am not the only one who finds the intricacies within God’s Word to be fascinating. I love the little things like the way God uses and reinforces meanings. He paints word pictures in order for us to understand Him better. One example is how Jesus is the Bread of Life and that He was born in Bethlehem, the place of bread.

Consider this passage from Exodus.

The Desert of Sin is another great example. Sinning is missing the mark. It is falling short of what God expects. It often leaves us barren and desolate. If you look up the word desert in a dictionary, it will probably be defined as a barren and desolate place. When we are trapped, when we are lost in sin, we are not capable of finding our way out of our desert. We cannot save ourselves. We need the Lord to guide us. What is described in this passage from Exodus is a perfect picture of how humanity is lost in a desert of sin and the only way out is to trust and follow the Lord. This is true collectively as well as individually.

Have you taken the steps to trust the Lord to lead you out of your desert? Have you turned your eyes upon Jesus and repented of the sins that left you barren and desolate? Have you recognized the meaning of the word picture that God has shown us? Without Jesus, each of us are left stranded and dying in the desert. With Jesus, we are lead to safety and righteousness.

Have you left your Desert of Sin?

Are you following the Lord?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you made your move?

March 30, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Come near to God and he will come near to you.
(James 4:8a (NIV))

I am sure that you have heard that God is everywhere and that He will never leave you, so how do you understand and comprehend this passage? If He is everywhere, isn’t He already near us?

God is everywhere, but sadly, too few people realize that He will not force Himself on anyone. We have to turn to Him out of a choice that we make, especially since we, as humanity, chose to turn away from Him as a result of the fall from grace in the Garden of Eden. We thought that we had been given knowledge, but instead, we lost all hope. Until God sent His Son, Jesus, into the world to pay the penalty for sin and death, we only knew the wages of our sin even if we chose good. Thankfully, God had a plan that would bring an end to this.

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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
(John 3:16-21 (NIV))

Each of us must make a decision to come near to God. This is only accomplished by believing in Jesus as God’s one and only Son. Through the gift of grace freely given on the cross, the veil that separated God from humanity has been torn in two. God had set in motion a plan to bring us back to Him and the veil symbolized that completion of that plan. Jesus declared this culmination of God’s redemptive plan with His final words.

When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
(John 19:30 (NIV))

God used these events to unfold His perfect plan to draw each of us near to Him. God may use circumstances to get our attention, but He cannot make the decision for us. Our families and friends cannot make the decision for us. We have to be willing to put aside our pride and move closer to God. When we make that move, we will find that He is already closer than we could ever imagine.

Have you made your move?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Where does your help come from?

March 17, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.
(Psalms 121:1-2 (NIV))

In these days that we are facing, we need to stop walking around with our hands in our pockets and our eyes cast down at our feet. We do not need to respond like the world responds.

Lift up your hands in praise!

Lift up your eyes to heaven!

We have a hope that is far greater than anything this world can send our way.

but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
(Isaiah 40:31 (NIV))

He is our help. He is the Maker of heaven and earth. He is also our refuge at all times, but especially in times of trouble.

God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.
(Psalm 46:1-3 (NIV))

We are all human, and as such, we all are prone to get lost in the physical when we should focus on the spiritual. We focus on what we can see with our eyes when we should be praying to have our spiritual blinders removed so that we can see the Lord.

Do you lift your hands to heaven?

Do you lift your eyes to the Lord?

Do you lift your prayers to the Maker of heaven and earth?

These activities should be our first action and not our last resort. We should instinctively praise the Lord. We should automatically lift our eyes to the Lord. Prayers should be the first thoughts and words that come forth from our spirit and our lips. If this is true, then there is nothing that this world can send our way that will make us lose sight of where our help comes from.

Where does your help come from?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What fills your thoughts?

February 27, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Let heaven fill your thoughts. Do not think only about things down here on earth.
(Colossians 3:2 (NLT))

It is so easy to get caught up in the things of this world, after all, we are physical beings living in a physical world. We know best what we see on a regular basis. Heaven is something that we envision, but have never seen. Our jobs and our daily worries are far more realistic to us than a promise of eternal life.

Isn’t it such a shame that we fall into the trap that the enemy has set for us? Satan wants to distract us from the truth about God’s promises by keeping us so focused on the physical world and the needs that it presents. He knows that if he can keep us focused on the things of this earth, we will forget to think of the things of heaven. He knows that if we forget to think of the things of heaven, then we will soon forget to think of God at all. When we stop thinking of God, then we have become worldly and have lost all hope.

It is important to spend time within God’s Word each and every day. It is important to spend time in prayer each and every day. We must take the time to learn what are God’s desires for the world, for our nation, for our neighborhood, for our church, for our family, and for ourselves. God cannot teach us if we do not spend time reflecting upon His Kingdom and His Word. We must be still within His presence and let God fill our thoughts.

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

What fills your thoughts?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you sharing the true Jesus with others?

January 27, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

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

What have you been taught about Jesus? In particular, what have you been taught about the reason that He came into this world?

Did He come to be a social justice warrior? Did He come to advocate for the poor? Did He come to spread peace and love, or did He come to call a lost and sinful humanity to repentance?

I realize that Jesus did many things when He walked this earth, and many of those things can be classified as falling into these categories that I listed, but they were all ways to reach the lost. Did Jesus teach on being just and fair in our dealings with each other? I can point out many situations where He did just that. He pointed out our sinful nature in these matters and asked us to seek God and follow His commands. Not following God’s commands is a sin. Jesus was telling us to repent and follow Him. Did Jesus teach on helping the poor? If you look back at Old Testament laws, that was already in place. A landowner was not supposed to harvest all the way to the corners of his fields. This was to be left for the poor. In other words, love your neighbor as yourself. Not doing so is a sin. Jesus was calling us to repent of our sin. When asked what the greatest commandments are, He responded that you are to love God and love your neighbor as yourself. The example that He gave involved a Samaritan man. In the culture of the day, Jewish people hated the Samaritans. In other words, Jesus was telling us to repent of our sin of hatred.

What is your definition of being lost? According to God, being lost is being a sinner.

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

And being a sinner has drastic consequences!

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

Jesus walked among us telling us to live according to what God had planned. He called us to repent of our shortcomings, our sins, and to turn to God in all things. He used every situation that He was in as a teachable moment to drive this home. Repent in your dealings with others. Repent of your treatment of the poor. It is possible to do these things yet still miss out on the only reason that Jesus came. All of these can be labeled as works of the flesh if we do not have a repentant heart and a desire to follow Jesus in all that we do. A repentant heart is a result of the most important aspect of why Jesus came. Jesus calls us to love God and to love your neighbor as yourself. When we do this, our desires change. Our actions are no longer selfish in nature. We see ourselves and others as God sees them.

We are called to also seek and save the lost by sharing Jesus with them.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
(Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV))

Sadly, I believe that we, as the church, have missed the mark. We share Jesus only when we are comfortable, and we don’t emphasize where Jesus tells us to teach people to obey everything that He has commanded. We sugar coat it, and as a result, we see people developing incorrect images of Jesus. I know that this hasn’t been a saying in several years, but we must pay attention to “What Would Jesus Do?” According to the words recorded in Luke, Jesus clearly said that He came to seek and save the lost!

Are you sharing the true Jesus with others?

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

October 9, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“Don’t be afraid; just believe.”
(Mark 5:36b (NIV))

Do you know the first part of this story?

Jesus was asked by a ruler of a synagogue to come and heal his daughter. Along the way, a woman touched the hem of his robe and was healed. Jesus was sidetracked from his plans. During this time, some men came and told the ruler of the synagogue that his daughter had died. It appeared that Jesus was too late. It appeared that all hope was lost.

With that scene laid out before you, can you imagine the feelings of despair that the ruler of the synagogue probably felt. I can also imagine that he was probably also feeling anger toward the woman who had distracted Jesus. He was afraid that he had failed his daughter and that he had failed his family and himself. I can imagine the deep anguish that I would feel if I had gone to get someone who could save my son or daughter only to discover that circumstances had delayed the saving grace that I had been so sure of.

“Don’t be afraid; just believe.”
(Mark 5:36b (NIV))

Words.

Words that are so easy to say, yet, are so difficult to hold on to when all around you seems to be falling apart.

I want you to ask yourself this one question – Have any of the promises that God has made ever been broken?

Jesus, the word made flesh, had willingly gone with the man to heal his daughter. He had promised to go. It is not in his nature to break a promise, even when in the eyes of the world, things are too far gone for anything to happen. But, happen it did.

Jesus healed the girl. He brought her back from the dead. According to all worldly knowledge, it was too late, but according to God’s timing, it was not. In fact, the timing of this resurrection was perfect, for it magnified God through the actions that transpired.

With God, things may never be too late. Is there something in your life that just will not change, something that has been troubling you for a very long time? It is not too late for God to turn that around. Is there a dream that you feel that God has given to you, but it has not come to fruition and you are getting older? It is not too late for God to make it happen.

In all honesty, I believe that these five words can be used to define a faith in Jesus. They can be used to help us walk through the darkest shadows of life. They can be used to encourage us when we walk through whatever wilderness we find ourselves in.

Don’t be afraid.

For I am the LORD, your God,
    who takes hold of your right hand
  and says to you, Do not fear;
    I will help you.
(Isaiah 41:13 (NIV))

Just believe!

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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