Is Jesus your strong tower?

June 25, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

The name of the LORD is a strong tower; The righteous run to it and are safe.
(Proverbs 18:10 (NKJV))

When this was written, it was long before Jesus had come upon the earth. It was long before humanity experienced the hope of salvation where we, as believers, have been able to firmly place our faith. Still, when this was written, it was known that the Lord was a safe place of refuge for those who truly love and trust Him.

Do you truly love and trust the Lord?

Are you concerned about all that is happening in the world? Are you panicking because of the unrest that is being reported on a constant basis? Or, do you look at all that is going on and faithfully proclaim that the Lord has it all under control?

“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))

I realize that it is difficult to not see the things of this world, but when we focus on Jesus, the things of this world grow strangely dim! We have to decide where we will run to and on what we will focus. It is a matter of priorities. Can we stand firm and, like Joshua, proclaim that we will serve the Lord?

It is a choice that we must make.

Is Jesus your strong tower?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What are the things that you willfully do?

June 24, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression.
(Psalms 19:13 (NIV))

Perhaps we should rephrase this first part to something a little more obvious and upfront.

Keep your servant from deliberate and intentional sins!

In other words, David was asking the Lord to keep him from doing the wrong thing when he knew the right thing to do. Perhaps we should pray what David asked so that we are kept from deliberately planning to sin!

I am going to ask a very blunt question, but I think that you can probably anticipate what it is going to be.

Do you deliberately and intentionally sin? Do you find yourself clinging to an old sinful nature that you simply don’t want to let go of? Do you love the sin more than you love Jesus? Are you willing to give up God’s grace for a momentary sinful pleasure? Please don’t misunderstand me. We are all human and we are all sinners. None of us are perfect. What we desire is often opposite of what we actually do. This is not something new to humanity, but it is something that we must overcome. Even Paul faced this in his life.

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
(Romans 7:15-20 (NIV))

I realize that this passage does not directly say that Paul deliberately and intentionally sinned, but we have to consider that Paul wrote that he had the desire to do what is good but could not carry it out. We probably also have the desire to do what is good, but what do we do with that desire? Paul knew what to do.

Human nature is sinful no matter how much we want to do what is right in the eyes of the Lord. Thankfully, we have been given grace and mercy through Jesus. When we find ourselves guilty of sin, willfully or otherwise, there are two things that we can willfully do. We can accept Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, and we can repent of our sin!

What are the things that you willfully do?

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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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.
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Do you feel as though you are having trouble?

April 28, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

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))

Do the current issues in the world make you feel like you are having trouble?

Did you feel like you were facing troubles before all of this hit?

If you answered “Yes” to either or both questions, let me ask you one more question. Have you been focusing on the world or have you been focusing on Jesus?

There is an old saying that you will find what you look for. There is so much truth to this. If you are looking for wealth, then you will only see things that have a monetary value and you will miss the things that God blesses us with that are priceless. It is a matter of perspective. You see what you want to see. If you look at life through the perspective of the world, then all you will see are troubles. If you look at life through the perspective of being a follower of Jesus, then no matter what the world tries to make you see, you will see grace and mercy.

Don’t get me wrong. We are only human and we all will falter and see things through worldly eyes, but we don’t have to see things that way!

A friend has a saying that I think is fantastic. He says, “I have never had a bad day. I have had bad things happen on a good day, but I have never had a bad day!” I love how his attitude fulfills the very essence of John 16:33. He keeps his eyes on Jesus and by doing so, he reminds himself that Jesus is with him no matter what. I don’t know about you, but knowing that Jesus is with me makes all of my days good! Remind yourself that Jesus has overcome the world the next time that you feel you are facing troubles in this world.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
(Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV))

Do you feel as though you are having trouble?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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We have not been forsaken!

April 1, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
(1 Peter 5:7 (NIV))

As I sit here tonight, I am feeling like many people are probably feeling right now. I’m tired of the isolation. Even churches have gone to live feeds. I’m tired of the inability to socialize. I’m tired of the lack of basic essential supplies in many stores. I’m tired of not knowing how long this will last.

I’m tired of the uncertainty!

Does that sound like you?

Are you tired of all that is going on, or have you grown anxious because of the uncertainty? Perhaps I could even say that many people are borderline fearful. Is there a difference between being tired of a circumstance and being anxious or fearful because of a circumstance? Being tired of something implies that you wish it would go away. I find it interesting that many dictionaries will define the word anxious as an extreme uneasiness or fear and the word fear is defined as an unpleasant anticipation of danger. In essence, do you wish that the current circumstances in the world would go away or do you feel an unpleasant anticipation of danger because of the circumstances?

Depending on the translation and the wording, God tells us to “fear not” or “do not be afraid” 365 times. He knows human nature. He knows that we are creatures of comfort and creatures of habit. He also knows our hearts. He knows what causes fear in our minds and in our hearts. He also knows how to give us peace!

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.
(John 16:33 (NIV))

I have one more thing for your consideration in 1 Peter 5:7, and that is the word “cast.” When you place something, it implies a careful movement into a new position. The word cast implies that you are throwing something away from you and to a new place. You are throwing you anxiety away from you. You are willfully and purposefully taking your anxiety and trading it for His peace! Does this sound like instructions from someone who doesn’t care about us? He is telling us to turn to Him and cast our anxiety onto Him. He does not wish for us to go through these tribulations alone.

In the days ahead, stop and pray for the Lord to take away your anxieties and give you His peace!

We have not been forsaken!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What Goliaths are coming at you?

March 25, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.
(1 Samuel 17:45 (NIV))

Have you ever had something come against you that seemed impossible to overcome?

We all know the story of David and Goliath. We know that Goliath was a giant of a man. We know that he taunted the men of the armies of Israel to the point that they were afraid of him. Not a single man was willing to face Goliath in combat. The problem arose from the same human characteristic that we still suffer from today. Humanity looks at the physical and sees impossibilities. David, in his youth and faith, saw that his God was far greater than the enemy that he faced. He saw Goliath as merely another enemy for the Lord to defeat.

We know what happened. David picked up five smooth stones and secured them in his bag. One day we can ask David why he picked up five stones, for the very first stone found its mark. God guided the stone and killed Goliath. The enemy that had come up against God’s people to kill them had been defeated and the remaining solders tried to flee for their lives. It took the faith of a young man, some say a boy, to stand up against the enemies of God’s people.

Is there anything that we should learn from this?

Every day, those who profess a faith in Jesus face untold enemies. Do we, as the Body of Christ, act like the men of the armies of Israel and fear the battle? Do we try to appease the enemy by giving in a little and compromise our faith? Do we turn and run from the enemy? Do we see the physical and forget the spiritual?

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.
(1 John 4:4 (NIV))

Look at what God accomplished because David knew this?

In the middle of all that we face in this world, do you know this?

What Goliaths are coming at you?

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

March 19, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

The days of punishment are coming,
      the days of reckoning are at hand.
      Let Israel know this.
Because your sins are so many
      and your hostility so great,
the prophet is considered a fool,
      the inspired person a maniac.
(Hosea 9:7 (NIV))

These words were written to and about Israel long ago, but do you see anything in them that is true today?

Let me rephrase that general question into a few distinct questions.

When you look at the things that are going on in this country and in the world, are you overcome with the vast number of ways that humanity has found to sin against God? We take innocent life and call it choice. We take all the things that God has called a sin and an abomination and call it good. Anyone who points out that the world is going against God is ridiculed, chastised and labeled an old-fashioned fool. Anyone who speaks about Jesus as the only begotten Son of God and the only way to get to the Father is labeled a bigot and a lunatic. Do I need to go any further? Do you see these things happening more frequently or are you looking at the world through blinded eyes?

If Israel was warned of days of punishment coming for doing these things, where does that leave today’s society and world?

You may call me a fool and a maniac, but I need to ask more questions. I will say that many people are thinking about the world in its current state, for I am seeing many people who are posting Bible verses, ideas on how to love our neighbors, and even very strongly worded instructions to pray for God to protect His people. With this in mind, I want you to seriously think about your answers to the questions that are probably already lingering in your thoughts and hopefully your prayers.

Are you following God’s Word and have you accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior?

Does it break your heart to see the things that go against God’s Word?

Is it possible that everything is coming to pass just as God has foretold?

Is it possible that we are too blinded by the world to truly recognize what is in front of our eyes?

Would you recognize unfolding events as part of God’s plan?

Do you believe that God will punish His creation for their sinful nature?

Do you believe that the world is becoming more engrossed in sin?

Sadly, most of us go about our daily lives with no thought about what is going on around us. We need to open our eyes. We need to be aware of the times and our surroundings. We need to wrap ourselves in God’s Word. We need to wrap ourselves in God’s love by accepting Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior. We need to embrace the truth that God has a timeline and it is drawing close to His fulfillment of that timeline. We must be prepared to be called a fool for Jesus and a maniac for God.

Are you prepared?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What has the Lord done for you to make you rejoice?

March 11, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
(Psalms 118:24 (NIV))

Each day is a blessing from God. We may not know what tomorrow will bring, but we do know who brings tomorrow. No matter what each day may bring, rejoice in it for life is a very precious gift that we all too often take for granted. Even the gift of our health is something that we take for granted. I know how quickly things can change. Still, I rejoice in the fact that I trust in God to take care of my needs.

Even when the enemy throws adversity and troubles upon you, rejoice. Jesus has overcome the enemy.

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))

I wish I could say that my walk with Jesus has been one of perfect rejoicing and that I have lived it to the fullness that Jesus desires for me. I am only human and my weaknesses get in my way. Still, I attempt to walk through this life with faith, hope and love. I may not always make it as I should, but still I rejoice, for I have been blessed to have Jesus with me even when I didn’t realize it. For this I rejoice!

What has the Lord done for you to make you rejoice?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you ready and able to stand?

February 19, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
(Ephesians 6:12-13 (NIV))

This is so hard to remember when we are faced with trials and tribulations from all sides. Sometimes it even feels that all that we do is thwarted by an unseen enemy who hates what we love.

Wait a minute!

That sounds just like Satan and he does hate what we love.

And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down–that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.
(Revelation 12:7-9 (NIV))

Because of his rebellion against God, he and his fallen angels have been cast out of heaven. They hate God and desire nothing more than to usurp God’s authority. That is what happened when Adam and Eve allowed Satan to become the prince of this world. Our ancestors legally gave the authority that God gave them to Satan. Satan and his followers work in the shadows to deceive and destroy all that is God’s creation and all who call upon the name of the Lord. Just like we cannot see God, we cannot see Satan, but we feel the effects of his wrath against those who love God.

There is constant warfare in the spiritual realm because of these events. What happens in the physical world is only a shadow of what happens in the spiritual realm.

We are at war!

Our enemy cannot be seen, but we can arm ourselves with God’s armor and we can overcome the enemy.

Are you prepared for the struggle? Are you focusing your battle tactics where they belong? Are you ready and able to stand?

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