What have you been asking for?

January 18, 2023

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.
(1 John 5:14 (NIV))

Did you notice the stipulation in this passage?

All too often, people ask God for things that are from their will and not His. We are so self-centered that even when we are told to bring our concerns to the Lord, we ask as if we were the center of all creation. We ask as if God is our own personal servant whose only purpose is to fulfill our every desire. If this is how you have been approaching God, how has this been going for you?

Do you even spend time in God’s Word in search of His heart?

Do you even spend time in prayer talking to God and actually listening for His still, small voice?

How can you ask God for things that are according to His Will if you don’t even know what His Will is?

We know that God loves us. This is evident through the gift of salvation freely given through the cross. But, do we love Him in return? Do we simply give lip service to this gift and then continue to live as if we are still a part of this sinful, fallen world? Or, do we actually have a change of heart and see the world for what it is? Do we realize that the things that we had desired are now simply last grasps at the world that we say we want to leave behind?

God is not going to hear us if we ask for things of this world. God is not going to answer us if we are only being selfish in our desires.

Think about a young child in a toy store. Every other word out of their mouth is asking for the latest thing that has caught their eye. The parents know what is good and what is proper, yet the child still goes on and on about the things that they want. We are those children. The world is the toy store. God is ushering us through this world while trying to mature us enough so that what we ask for is not what is seen at every selfish turn of our heads. God is not going to give us the toy store of the world. He is going to give us things that are from Him according to His Will. He is going to give us things that will draw us closer to Him while they mature us in our faith.

God does want to bless us, but what we think of as a blessing is not how God thinks of blessings.

If you have been approaching God and you feel that He has not heard you, then you need to ask yourself one very important question.

What have you been asking for?

Copyright 1998 – 2023 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
https://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you watching and waiting with high expectations?

October 25, 2022

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way.

For the Day will not come until after the Apostasy has come and the man who separates himself from Torah has been revealed, the one destined for doom.
(2 Thessalonians 2:3 (CJB))

There are times that I wish that I could read the scriptures in the original Hebrew or Greek with a full understanding of those original languages. There are subtleties and nuances in these words that have baffled translators for countless years. For example, the word translated as “Apostasy” comes from the original Greek word “apostasia.” The Liddell and Scott Greek Lexicon defines apostasia first as “defection, revolt;” then secondly as “departure, disappearance.” Depending on which definition you use, the whole meaning of this passage can change.

Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.
(2 Thessalonians 2:3 (NIV))

Most translations use the first definition, but since we don’t truly know what Paul intended, and the possibility that the definitions may have shifted over the years, the best that anyone can do is make an educated guess based on the context of the passage. If we simply use a word substitution, you begin to see the conundrum. One speaks of a rebellion while the other speaks of the Rapture.

…that day will not come until the revolt occurs
or
…that day will not come until the disappearance occurs

It is in these situations that I rely on a different source than human translations. I seek the Lord in prayer and prayerfully ask for discernment and understanding. As is the case for this passage, I often have to wait for the Lord’s timing. We know that we cannot know the hour or the day, but we can know the season. I venture that this also applies to God giving us insight into the clarity of passages such as this. If you think about it, people have been debating over the meanings of Scripture passages for a very long time. Only as the events described within the passage come into focus does the true meaning come to light.

Something just made my whole body tingle. We know that God’s Word often has a short term and a long term meaning. Is it possible that Paul’s choice of the word “apostasia” and the two very distinct meanings was intentional? Let’s try one more word substitution in order to convey what just came to mind.

…that day will not come until the revolt and the disappearance occur

Does this make sense? Humanity has to cross a line of no return in their rebellion against God AND the true church has to be taken out of the picture before the man of lawlessness will come on the scene. Does this indicate that God will judge the world’s rebellion and then remove the church based on His judgment? In many of my readings, this coincides with what many people believe will happen. Is it possible that the translators picked a single definition when Paul meant that both definitions were to be applied?

No matter how you choose to translate that word, one thing is certain. We must not allow ourselves to be deceived. We MUST keep our eyes focused on Jesus.

Are you watching and waiting with high expectations?

Copyright 1998 – 2022 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
https://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you hope to be effective?

June 6, 2022

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
(James 5:16b (NIV))

I don’t know about you, but there are many times that I just don’t feel effective. I simply feel overwhelmed, overpowered and overshadowed by the things in my life. These are the things that have a tendency to make us groan in agony because we simply have no other response that we can bring forth. I simply utter a few simple words and they always help me through whatever I am facing.

“God, help me. I don’t know what to do.”

Have you ever uttered these or similar words? I often wonder just how many people do say things likes this on a daily basis. I believe that everyone utters words like this at some point in their lives, whether they believe in God or not. I firmly believe that those who are strong enough in their faith to admit that we need God each and every day are the ones who will usher up simple prayers like this on a daily basis. We might even find ourselves saying them all throughout the day.

Perhaps this is what makes someone righteous in the eyes of God. We turn to Him daily because we cannot make it without Him. Contrary to what the world may say, I do not see this as a weakness. I see this as a strength that is firmly rooted in a hope and a faith that this world does not understand. When you see acts of terrorism, do you rejoice in what the world is doing or do you offer up a prayer to God? When you see wars and rumors of wars, do you find comfort in the circumstances or do you go to God and ask for peace? When you see injustice, do you think that this is how it should be or do you ask God for the strength to help you change it? When you see the lost, do you turn up your nose and think that they deserve what they get, or do you pray that God will touch them through you?

These types of prayers do not take long, but they show your heart. It shows a desire for the things that God calls righteous. If you seek the things that God calls righteous, then it stands to reason that God will call you righteous. It is when you pray for God’s Will that you find your prayers become powerful and effective, even when you do not feel powerful and effective.

Do you feel effective? Keep praying those short prayers asking for God’s help. He will show you His Will and then you will be effective.

Do you hope to be effective?

Copyright 1998 – 2022 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you fully devoted to Jesus?

May 27, 2022

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
(Acts 2:42 (NIV))

They had something to be thankful for. They had something to share. They had something to celebrate!

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
(John 3:17 (NIV))

They had recognized and accepted God’s gift of salvation and they were not lukewarm in their faith. In fact, the early church felt that their faith required their full devotion and not just for a weekly twenty minute sermon. Why do we fail to do the same?

What have we lost?

It is common thinking that today we are far more intellectual, far more studied and educated than at any other time in history. Are we? We turn on a screen to keep us entertained. We click a button to play our favorite music. We scroll through endless amounts of mindless chatter and think that we are smarter and that we are far more educated on subjects than our ancestors. What we fail to realize is that now we are being spoon fed what someone else wants us to know. If something doesn’t fit into our way of thinking, we tend to brush it off and move on. If something does catch our attention, we don’t put an extended effort into anything because we think that it is too difficult. We think that if we need to know it, we can simple ask Google. Is this the more abundant life that Jesus died on the cross to give us?

When was the last time that you spent any time in God’s Word? Do you have a consistent time that you set aside for God’s Word and for prayer? It is said that the Bible is God’s love letter to us. If that is true, then if we profess a faith in Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, we should be hopelessly devoted to the One who loves us enough to save us from our sins. We should be hopelessly devoted to getting to know our Lord and Savior. We should be devoted to the apostles’ teaching. We should be devoted to fellowship with other believers. We should break bread with other believers, and we should pray individually and collectively.

Today, if someone is totally devoted to Jesus, if they do these things, people call them various different names including Bible thumper. Do you care what people call you? Do you care what the world thinks of you or do you long to be like Paul?

For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
(1 Corinthians 2:2 (NIV))

Are you fully devoted to Jesus?

Copyright 1998 – 2022 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you being powerful and effective?

May 9, 2022

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
(James 5:16 (NIV))

What do you pray for?

Perhaps I should ask if you even pray. Too many people think that they pray but in all honesty, all that they do is approach God with their wish list of things that will benefit them. Please don’t misunderstand that comment. We have a God who is concerned about our needs, but we are supposed to be concerned about someone besides ourselves. We are supposed to be concerned with being obedient to God’s will.

God desires our righteousness and not our selfishness.

What does God see as righteousness?

Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.
(Genesis 15:6 (NIV))

And if we are careful to obey all this law before the Lord our God, as he has commanded us, that will be our righteousness.
(Deuteronomy 6:25 (NIV))

I could find many passages that define righteousness; but in essence it is being right with God! It is what God calls good.

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))

Do you act justly in all that you do? Do you treat everyone with love and compassion?

Do you love mercy? Do you show mercy or do you only expect mercy to be shown to you?

Do you walk humbly with God? Do you understand that you are not the center of the universe and that God doesn’t love you more than He loves anyone else? Are you willing to put others first instead of being self-centered?

Based on these criteria, righteousness is not as easy as we would like to think. It results from a desire to be so in tune with God that we see the world and ourselves through His eyes. When this happens, we desire what God desires. Is this what you desire? If this is your desire, then your prayers for what God desires will be powerful and effective!

Are you being powerful and effective?

Copyright 1998 – 2022 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Keep your eyes focused on Jesus!

May 4, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
(Romans 12:12 (NIV))

Are any of us truly able to do these three things?

Some of us may be good at one of these three, but it is a rare individual who can honestly do all three on a regular basis.

We have all known the individual who was always joyful, hopeful and optimistic. We have all known people who, no matter what hardships come their way, they patiently move in the same direction without complaining. We also have all known people who are powerful prayer warriors and will willingly petition the Lord on any occasion.

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
(Philippians 4:12 (NIV))

Am I the only one who sees all of these characteristics in Paul?

Take a look at his life after his Damascus Road experience. From the writings that we have, we see that he was always joyful and hopeful, even in the midst of troubles. We see that he was patient in his afflictions. His writings tell us that he was willing to face affliction if it meant that the Gospel would be spread as a result. We also see from his writing that he was always praying for those whom he had discipled and he was always praying for the Gospel to be made known among the nonbelievers.

What made Paul this unique individual that seems to have possessed all three characteristics and lived them out to the glory of the Lord?

I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
(Philippians 4:13 (NIV))

In other words, Paul kept his eyes on Jesus! He knew where his strength came from. He knew that as long as he kept his eyes on Jesus, he would be guided to live out these characteristics and so much more.

When do you lose joy?

When do you lose hope?

When do you lose patience?

When do you fail to be faithful in prayer?

If you are like me, the answer to all of these questions is the same. All of these happen when we fail to keep our eyes on Jesus. We fail to look to Him. We fail to rely on His strength. We fail to surrender authority to the name that we profess as having all power and authority. If we keep our eyes on Jesus, He is our joy. He is our hope. He is our patience and He is our faithfulness.

Keep your eyes focused on Jesus!

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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We must be thankful and not anxious!

November 26, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV))

Patience is a virtue.

We all know that patience is a fruit of the Spirit. If that is the case, then anxiety is what? A fruit of Satan? I don’t admit to knowing, but it would appear that it is not a desirable trait.

Patience comes from an inner peace. This peace can only come from God. Anxiousness does not come from peace. It comes from an inner restlessness and a thirst that is longing to be quenched. There is only one way to quench that thirst, and that is by accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Once you do this, God’s peace will come upon you.

Still, the world has a way of creeping into our lives even when we do not want it to. If we are not anxious, but are patient and wait on God, then He will provide and protect us from the world. It is when we do not wait on God that the world gets into our lives and ruins the peace.

Are you anxious for anything? We must learn to be thankful in all circumstances and surrender our anxiety to the one who is in control!

We must be thankful and not anxious!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Does what you ask glorify the Father?

October 9, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
(James 14:13-14 (NIV))

I don’t know just how many times that I have read or heard this passage, but tonight, I saw something that I understood in a new light. As believers, as Christians, we have taken this passage and condensed it to something that only represents the half truth that whatever we ask in the name of Jesus will be done for us. Read the passage again and stop to think about the things that you ask in the name of Jesus. Looking back on your faith walk, do your answers make you feel shameful for the things that you have asked for? What are some of the things that you remember asking? Did you receive an answer that matched your prayer request?

Human nature is selfish and as a result, even people who profess a faith in Jesus still possess this characteristic. Most people ask for things that benefit themselves either directly or indirectly. Even praying for healing of a loved one can be considered selfish if the reason that you pray is because you will miss them. It is a matter of motives. Do the things that you ask bring glory to yourself or to the Father? Do they stroke your ego or do they truly glorify God? Do they fuel a lust for fame and fortune or do they seek to follow God’s own heart?

You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
(James 4:2-3 (NIV))

Do your pleasures glorify God? Do your wrong motives guide you to seek after God’s heart? Each of us ask so much of God and from God, but why do we ask? What are our motives?

Does what you ask glorify the Father?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you practicing what you have learned?

August 17, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
(Philippians 4:9 (NIV))

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. If that is the case, do you flatter Jesus?

When Paul wrote his letter to the church at ‭‭Philippi, he was encouraging the believers there to take what they have learned from him about Jesus and put it into practice. In other words, he was encouraging them to imitate Jesus by following His teachings. Two thousand years later, that is still the very best advise that anyone can give.

How are you living up to imitating Jesus in all that you do?

It isn’t easy, is it?

No matter how sincere we may be in our desires, human nature keeps getting in the way. Our sinful nature keeps raising its ugly head and we soon find ourselves doing things that we truly wish that we could avoid. Perhaps we need to truly take a lesson from Jesus and pay attention to how much time that He spent in prayer with the Father. I would venture to say that if we start practicing this lesson more often, the other things that we are called to imitate would be so much easier to actually imitate. Spending time in honest, heartfelt communication with the Lord will lead to a stronger relationship, and a better understanding of and a stronger desire to be like Jesus!

There is only so much that we can learn if we don’t start practicing what we have learned. Obedience is critical. Obedience means doing what Jesus instructs us to do. Obedience means putting away our sinful nature and following Jesus. Obedience means that we imitate Jesus by putting into practice what we have learned.

Are you practicing what you have learned?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you following God’s will?

July 13, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV))

If you profess a faith in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, I pray that it is your heart’s desire to be in God’s Will for your life. If you are like me, you desire to be in God’s Will in all aspects of your life, but it isn’t always easy. We are still humans and are bound by much more than we care to admit. Even though we profess a faith in Jesus, we still cling to our sinful nature even when we want to leave it all behind. The Lord knows that we have trouble with ten things that we are asked to obey. Perhaps this is why we are given three simple things to do.

Rejoice always!

We are to be thankful for the grace that has been freely given to us. We must remember that no matter what our circumstances, God’s grace is still there for us. We must rejoice when things are going well and we must rejoice when things are not going so well, for our circumstances are temporary. Grace is eternal. For this reason, we must rejoice in all things!

Pray continually!

Prayer in communication with God. We must learn to seek Him and hear Him in all things. When we are sad. When we are mad. When we are happy. When we feel all alone and scared. God is there to guide us and to comfort us. This only happens when we are truly in a relationship with the Lord and not just an “I need something, God” type of attitude.

Give thanks in all circumstances!

Are you able to be thankful for hardship? Most people only give thanks when something truly good happens in their lives. I want to propose that there is a reason that this is the last of the three things that we are called to do. If we learn how to rejoice always and then learn how to pray continually, giving thanks will come easier. We will have already cultivated the proper attitude. We will have already learned to rejoice in all things. We will have learned to pray in all things. The next logical step is to give thanks in all things. It makes sense to me that this is the last thing that truly proves that you love the Lord.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
(Romans 8:28 (NIV))

Are you following God’s will?

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