His plans are out of this world!

July 22, 2022

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
(Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV))

Do you feel like you have hope and a future?

Your answer to that question is all a matter of perspective.

Do you look at your life in relation to how things are in the world around you or do you look at your life in relation to whose you are?

You can feel helpless, hopeless and lost if you focus on the things of this world, especially when the things of this world are progressing as they have been for the last few years. If your hope is based on worldly things, then you truly are helpless, hopeless and lost for the things of this world are rapidly turning evil and depraved. We can focus on the troubles that we are walking through, or we can focus on the promises that are at the end of those troubles and we can focus on the one who is with us even in the midst of those troubles. Even the disciples of Jesus knew that they would face troubles. They also knew that they had placed their faith in the one who has overcome the troubles of this world.

“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))

The words from Jeremiah were recorded when many had been carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. In essence, they were taken captive and taken to another country. Babylon was not a country you went to for a vacation. They took captives from all of the lands that they had defeated in war. They attacked the other countries in order to extend their kingdom! The words recorded within Jeremiah were a promise to those who were in the midst of very difficult times. They were a promise from the Lord that He still had plans for them. He still knew what the future held even though the people in captivity could see no possible reason to have any hope.

The Lord is still saying this today to those who call upon His name!

He has plans for us. He has given us a hope far greater than the promise of the hope that He gave to the exiles. They were looking for freedom in the physical world. We have been given freedom from the consequences of our sins. He has such amazing plans for those who call upon His name. We should know a peace that passes all understanding even in the midst of the chaos of this world. Our peace comes from the One who has overcome the world by defeating sin and death. Our true prosperity is coming as we are given an eternity in His presence.

His plans are out of this world!

Copyright 1998 – 2022 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
https://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Even the powerful fulfill His Will!

December 20, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.
(Luke 2:1 (NIV))

If I were a betting person, I would say that Caesar Augustus probably thought that the census was his idea.

I love how the Lord makes things happen according to His purpose. I love how He uses people to fulfill His plans. Without the census, Joseph and Mary would not have had to make the trip to be counted. Without the census, Jesus would not have been born where the prophets had said that He would be born. Without this census, God’s timing would not have unfolded as we know it.

To Caesar Augustus, ordering the census was probably all part of an egotistical idea to see how many people fell under his rule, but to God, this was all part of His plan to accurately fulfill the many prophecies of the birth of Jesus. God is the master architect of all creation. He has been working His plan according to His purpose and His timing ever since the fall from grace in the Garden of Eden. This census did not take God by surprise. He knew it would happen exactly when it happened. He knew that it would be the catalyst for Joseph and Mary to be in the right town when Jesus was born.

Do you think that Caesar Augustus understood all of the ramifications of his census? Do you think that he knew what God was using him to bring about?

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
     neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
(Isaiah 55:8 (NIV))

We may not fully understand the details of things that God unfolds as He is unfolding them, but we do know that His plan is the victor in the end. We may not see every single little step or detail, but we know how it ends. We are to keep our eyes on Jesus and firmly place our trust in Him even when things look like they are completely falling apart. Think about that. The last thing that the Jews wanted to do was to be subjugated under Roman authority, yet it was that Roman authority that set in motion the very thing that allowed the birth of Jesus to fulfill prophecy.

Are we seeing anything in the world today that God could be using to fulfill His Will?

Even the powerful fulfill His Will!

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What are your motives?

October 14, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
(Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV))

In this world in which we live, this is a joyous message. The God of all creation has plans for each and every one of us. God wants to give us good things. He wants to prosper us. He wants to protect us from harm. He wants to give us hope.

Carefully consider what God has promised to each of us in this passage. The basic desires of humanity are met in these words. We all desire to be prosperous at what we do. We all desire to be kept from harm. We all desire to have hope for a better tomorrow for ourselves and our families. The words that God gave to us through Jeremiah touch each one of us at our innermost longings, desires and hopes.

God has given us an insight into ourselves and into His own heart through these words. He also gave us a glimpse into the ultimate hope through the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ. If we place our faith and hope in Jesus, God will prosper us. He will protect us. He will give us a hope and a future. It is true that God sent His Son, Jesus, so that we could have salvation from our sins, but Jesus also came for other reasons.

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 10:7(NIV))

Don’t get me wrong. God’s sole purpose is not to be our personal wish fulfillment factory. He is not there to turn to when we want something. He is there to be our Father at all times. If we turn to Him as a loving Father and earnestly seek His face in all things, then He will prosper us just as He promised in Jeremiah.

Are you looking for God to prosper you or are you looking to God in all that you do? It is a matter of your heart.

What are your motives?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you fully prepared for what tomorrow may bring?

October 5, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Do not boast about tomorrow,
for you do not know what a day may bring.
(Proverbs 27:1 (NIV))

Have your plans, like those of everyone else, been turned completely upside down this year?

Did you tell friends that you had a big vacation planned only to find yourself stuck inside your home for months on end? Perhaps there was a new activity that you wanted to take up, but couldn’t because of the uncertainty in this world. I remember sitting in a hotel on a little getaway with my wife when we started hearing that the stores were out of toilet paper near our home. By the time we left to head home, we decided that we should probably stop along the way to make a few purchases of our own! Every grocery store along the way was either sold out or almost sold out of toilet paper and paper towels. Only twenty-four hours earlier everything was normal.

If this year has taught us anything, it is the accuracy of this passage. We do not know what a day may bring!

I want you to consider another day that is coming. This day will find us waking up and going through our usual morning routines. It is possible that this day will begin just like any other day that any of us have experienced, but something will happen during the course of the day that will change everything. One scenario is that your physical life will end. If that is the case, are you prepared to stand before God and give an account of your life? Are you ready to face the consequences if you have not accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior? The other scenario is that Jesus returns for His church. Will you be left behind to face the worst times in human history or will you be celebrating in heaven?

There is so much that can happen in the span of a single day!

Are you fully prepared for what tomorrow may bring?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do you claim to be wise?

September 2, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil.
(Proverbs 3:7 (NIV))

Do you see any wisdom in the world?

Based on this passage, perhaps I should rephrase that question.

Do you see people shunning evil and fearing the Lord, or are they more interested in mocking and ridiculing the Lord and anyone who seeks to follow Him? Are these people trying to claim that they are wise? Contrary to what they may think, the Lord doesn’t agree.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
      and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
(Proverbs 9:10 (NIV))

The present state of the world reminds me of the parable of the wheat and the tares. The bad seed that produces the tares are those who do not fear the Lord. They are doing all that they can to disrupt God’s plans. We have known that this time would come. We have known what the people would be like who do not fear the Lord. They claim to be wise in their own eyes. They feel a false sense of self-worth. They feel that only they are right and anyone who doesn’t agree is an enemy.

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))

As members of the Body of Christ, we must pray that we not fall into the traps that the enemy has set. We must fear the Lord and shun all evil. We must not think that we are more than we are – filthy rags.

Do you claim to be wise?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do you place your trust in the Lord?

July 28, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him,
(Nahum 1:7 (NIV))

You can probably figure out exactly what I am going to ask based on this passage. With what is going on right now in the world, trusting in the Lord is more important than ever. With that in mind, do you trust in the Lord?

Do you trust that the Lord is good?

Do you trust that the Lord is our refuge in times of trouble?

Do you trust that no matter how bad things have gotten or how bad they may get, that His plans are perfect?

I love that so many people who profess a faith in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior are at peace through all that is happening. We may be saddened by the events. We may be shocked by the events. We are probably even disgusted by the events, but we, as the Body of Christ, seem to have a peace through all of this.

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

If we truly trust in the Lord, we are promised that He will guard our hearts and our minds. We are promised that He will care for us. With what the world has gone through and with what is probably coming, we can rest assured that placing our faith and trust in the Lord means that we will have peace in the midst of the storms. We will have refuge when the enemy attacks. We will be guarded from the one who longs to keep us eternally separated from the Lord. Placing our trust in the Lord means that He is our salvation. He is our champion. He is our defender. He is our Lord!

Do you place your trust in the Lord?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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How well are we fulfilling these requirements?

June 3, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
      And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
      and to walk humbly with your God.
(Micah 6:8 (NIV))

This world has a habit of trying to destroy anything that remotely resembles justice, mercy and humility. This is especially true when it is focused on the Lord!

From the beginning in the Garden of Eden, and all throughout history, God has told us what is good. Every single time that the Lord has told us what is good, even if we start off doing good, we have failed miserably at everything. Ever since the fall from grace, it has become human nature. We are drawn to the exact opposite of what we are told is good. It has now gotten to the point where a large portion of the world’s population has resorted to calling good evil and evil good. Think about that in context to this response from Jesus.

As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone.
(Mark 10:17-18 (NIV))

If you take the concept of calling good evil, then the next logical step is that those who are making this claim are actually making a statement that they think God is evil!

How could anybody in their right mind ever say that?

Sadly, in this sinful, fallen world, too many people have rejected God. There seems to be an ever increasing number of people who prefer sin. This falls right in line with the parable about the wheat and the tares. Until the Lord brings in the harvest, we, as the Body of Christ, must strive to reach those who are lost in sin. We must continue to spread the Gospel no matter what we may face. If you stop to think about it, spreading the Gospel covers all requirements as set forth in Micah.

We are to act justly by sharing the truth of the Gospel with anyone and everyone. We cannot withhold such a great gift because of our preconceived ideas. That is a sin.

We are to love mercy by sharing the mercy that we have been given with those who need mercy.

We are to walk humbly with our God by placing His plans for the salvation of others above our own selfish desires.

How well are we fulfilling these requirements?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you ready to stand with the Lord?

May 14, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

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 6:13 (NIV))

It is my prayer that all believers have not only put on the full armor of God, but that they have also been reviewing the battle plans that we have been given. In all honesty, the full armor of God and His battle plans are one and the same. The full armor is the protection that we have been given through His Word, but we must also realize that His Word is also the battle plans for facing the enemy. Battle plans require a much deeper insight and knowledge than simply putting on armor. Battle plans require knowing the heart and mind and desires of the one whom we follow.

What are His objectives?

How can we achieve those objectives?

As members of the Body of Christ, we have been given a mission.

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,
(Matthew 28:19 (NIV))

I am sure that everyone has seen movies in which there is an alert and all military personnel scramble to get to their stations. In some cases it appears that they have been caught off guard and don’t know what to do.

Is that the Body of Christ?

Have we grown too comfortable and have we let the armor tarnish? If we have allowed our armor to tarnish, how do we expect to be prepared? How do we expect to know what the Lord is doing in response to what the enemy is doing in the world? Are we prepared?

Are you ready to stand with the Lord?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What is the condition of your heart?

May 12, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
(Ezekiel 36:26 (NIV))

Have the last few weeks made you stop and take a long, hard look at your life?

Have you found that the things of this world that you once thought were important no longer hold that exalted place in your life? Have your priorities shifted to the point where you feel that you have had a change of heart?

There are many characteristics of a life that is self-centered and self-absorbed. Most of these are described by a reference to the heart. Hardhearted. Cold-hearted. Heart of stone. I am sure that you can probably think of others, but I think that you understand the concept. The more time that we spend focused on the world and what it can provide to us often leads us to become non-caring with respect to other people that we see. Let’s face facts. When we are focused on the world, it tells us go for all that we can get no matter the consequences.

Does this sound like the type of life that we were created for?

Sadly, when we live our lives in this manner, we also lose sight of God! Our hearts become hardened to anything that relates to our relationship with the Lord. We can even get to the false conclusion that we are good and that we do not need God, Jesus or the grace that is freely given through the cross.

This is definitely not the way that God created us to live!

I want to ask the same question once again. Have the last few weeks made you stop and take a long, hard look at your life? The world may see these last few weeks as an attempt to avoid a pandemic, but God had other plans. What has He shown you about yourself? Has He been trying to remove your heart of stone?

What is the condition of your heart?

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