What are you ensnared by?

October 11, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The images of their gods you are to burn in the fire. Do not covet the silver and gold on them, and do not take it for yourselves, or you will be ensnared by it, for it is detestable to the Lord your God.
(Deuteronomy 7:25 (NIV))

There are many things in this world that vie for our attention. If we are not careful, some of them may actually cause us to do something that we know that we shouldn’t do. This passage speaks of images of their gods. If you stop to think about it, and are honest with yourself, anything can become a god to someone. Anything can ensnare us and cause us to falter. In today’s society, we don’t speak of god’s, we speak of obsessions.

Human nature finds it easy to become obsessed with things. Basically, anything that is so important to us that we fixate on it is an obsession. Anything that we make a priority can easily overstep the fine line and become something that we fixate on. When this passage was written, it was easy to fixate on silver and gold. It was the benchmark for wealth. Today, wealth is measured in dollars, but no matter how it is measured, wealth is definitely one type of god that someone can worship. There are many more.

Power!

Fame!

Lust!

Drugs and alcohol!

These things and many more can easily become a means for the enemy to ensnare us. It starts off with a subtle temptation and then it grows into a full blown obsession. Once we become obsessed with anything other than Jesus, we have become ensnared by the enemy.

What are you obsessed with?

What are you ensnared by?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Whom do you have?

August 8, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
(Psalms 73:25 (NIV))

What is more important to you, the people in your life or the things in your life?

Be careful how you answer!

One more question for you. Who is more important to you, the people in your life or the Lord?

I realize that these questions may seem ridiculous, but answered honestly, they will tell you more about yourself than you probably care to admit. If you value things over people, then where is your heart? Where is your love? Some may say that valuing the people in your life is important and should take precedence over the Lord, but let me ask you another question. Who are you going to turn to when everyone in your life has let you down? Who will you turn to when even your spouse, your children or your closest friend disappoints you or are taken from you? When this happens, many people turn to the Lord, but I want to propose that the time to turn to the Lord is long before anything like this happens. When you can truthfully claim that you love the Lord, then your complete perspective on life changes. When you look at things or people as a priority, this is, in most cases, a self-centered outlook on life even if you think that you place yourself low on your priorities list. You are looking at the things or the people to make you happy, to bring meaning to your life, and to make you whole.

Think about these simple facts. Things rust and decay. All people, no matter how good they are, will disappoint you eventually. We are all sinful by nature.

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

Only the Lord is unchanging.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
(Hebrews 13:8 (NIV))

With this simple truth, we should anchor our lives on a firm foundation that never changes. We should not look to things. We should not look to people. We should only look to the Lord! We only need to accept the grace and mercy freely given at the cross and claim the gift of grace for ourselves. When we honestly and truthfully make this claim, we have the Lord of all creation in our lives and nothing can surpass His majesty and glory!

Whom do you have?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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The treasure is every moment spent with Jesus!

May 3, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
(Matthew 6:21 (NIV))

This has been several years ago, but I still remind myself of the lesson learned. I had spent several months looking forward to my 30th high school reunion. Let’s face it, during high school you can’t imagine life without your friends. I was looking forward to seeing the people that I had spent so much time with and seeing what they had done with their lives. It had become a priority for me. I was nervous and excited at the same time. It was a day that I had hoped would rekindle old friendships.

Unfortunately, the day came and went and I did not make it. My priorities shifted when my family and I got in the car to drive to Augusta for the reunion. Within five minutes after getting in the car, one of my children had a major meltdown and wanted to go home. I was furious. I kept hoping and praying that he would get over it, so we kept going. It just got worse. I finally and reluctantly turned the car around to go home. The twenty minute ride home was not a happy one for any of us. Fortunately, my son finally regained composure and apologized profusely. I didn’t want to hear it. I thought I had a right to be mad and I was going to exercise my right.

Once we did get home, the more I thought about the events, the worse I felt. I had made a commitment to my son to always help him and try to understand the issues that he faces. I had gotten so wrapped up in what I wanted to do that I had completely overlooked where my treasure truly is. I have been blessed with grace and mercy. I have been blessed with a wonderful family. I have been blessed with a son who, if it were humanly possible, I would take upon myself the very things that I had gotten mad about. I was not willing to extend the grace and mercy that I had been freely given.

I was looking towards my past. I was ignoring my present and my future. All I could see was a missed reunion with people from my past. They are not my life. They are a part of what made me who I am, but they are not still a part of me. My son, who will always be my son, will forever be a part of me. I was foolish to get angry. Even God tells us not to look to our past. He tells us not to look for Him in the past or in the future. He tells us to seek Him now. My treasure is my present moment. I may not have another one. I don’t need to dwell on the past or ignore the present because I spend so much time planning for my future.

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 had allowed the thief to steal the day from me by planting a seed of anger. I had allowed that seed to be planted because I was dwelling on the past.

How can we have a full life if we dwell on the past or spend too much time looking to the future. Life is now! The treasure is every moment spent with Jesus!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What are you willing to lose?

December 18, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.
(Mark 8:35 (NIV))

It is human nature to not want to lose. This is especially true if losing means that you lose your life! Most of us aren’t even willing to lose if by our losing, everyone else wins. We have to come out on top. We have to prove that we are best at everything! This often means that we think that we are right even when we are eternally wrong!

Take a look at the words in the first part of the passage above. Saving your life implies that you place nothing above yourself. You will go to any extreme to make sure that your physical life is protected even at the expense of others. You are your first and often, your only priority. You possess no love. You possess no joy. You often possess no peace, patience, or kindness. Little about your life is good. Since you place yourself first, you possess little or no faith. You treat others as lower than yourself, so you lack gentleness and self-control. Does this sound like a life that you would want to live? Does this sound like a life that you would want?

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))

Does the second half of the passage start to sound better and make more sense?

We can’t live a life that is Christ centered if we strive to save our earthly life. We are called to be witnesses. We can’t witness to others if all we think about is ourselves. We can’t be willing to go because we would be outside of our comfort zone.

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.
(Mark 16:15 (NIV))

I know that I am forever thankful that Jesus was willing to lose His earthly life for the sake of others. What if He had balked at the idea of dying for our sins? What if he had decided to not leave the Father to come to earth? What if Jesus had decided that it was simply not worth leaving the glory of heaven to come into this world? The majesty of the story as told in Luke 2 would never have happened. The tearing of the veil of the Temple would never have taken place. Faith, hope and love would only be a dream of something that could happen. Grace and mercy would simply be nonexistent. John 3:16 would not be true.

All of this was made possible because Jesus was willing to lose His life for others. Most of us aren’t even willing to lose our place in line! It takes a sacrifice to place others first.

What are you willing to lose?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you long for the light?

December 12, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.
(Romans 13:12 (NIV))

We have been called out of darkness into His marvelous light!

When Romans was written, Saul had already experienced his meeting with Jesus on the Damascus Road. He was left blinded but he was also left with a new perspective. It was only a few days before his eye sight returned, but he gained so much more than just the return of his physical eyes. He had witnessed the darkness of the world through the eyes of Jesus. He had come away with the realization that he had been a part of that darkness. He had come away from this experience with a new name. He was no longer called Saul. He was to put the past behind him and follow Jesus wherever He would lead. He was to be a witness to the Gentiles of the power of the light. He was to be called Paul! He was called out of the darkness of his former self and called into the marvelous light as a servant of the Lord Jesus!

Think about that. Paul was given the light. He knew that his path was to follow Jesus, yet, he still had to navigate through the darkness of this world. The darkness tried to stop him. Even so, Paul pressed on toward the light. He made it a priority to always pursue the light and to show others how to find it themselves.

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 3:13-14 (NIV))

Once you have found the light and have accepted His saving grace over your life, your night is nearly over. There will always be things in your life that remind you of the darkness. They will try to drag you back into it, but take heart. You have seen the light! You have encountered Jesus!

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
(John 8:12 (NIV))

Do you long for the light?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is sharing the good news of Jesus your priority?

November 16, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.
(Acts 20:24 (NIV))

What is your biggest priority in your life?

Some people might answer that their biggest priority is family. To be honest with you, that is a good priority to have. but is it the biggest priority?

Some people might answer that their biggest priority is to leave their mark in the world. Do you think that whatever mark they may try to leave will even be remembered one hundred years from now?

Some people might answer that their biggest priority is to make lots of money. This, in and of itself, is not bad. What is bad is the love of money. If you want to make lots of money simply because of greed, what does that get you?

No matter what your priorities are in life, if you are a believer in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, then everything pales in comparison to placing the Lord first.

You shall have no other gods before me.
(Genesis 20:3 (NIV))

Is there any priority in your life where placing the Lord first would not be a better option? If you place your family as a priority, imagine how much better it would be if you, and your family, placed the Lord first. What if leaving your mark on the world meant that you shared the Gospel with those around you and you lead many to a saving grace in Jesus? You would be remembered for all eternity by those whom you led to Jesus. If you desire to bring in lots of money, what if it was a priority to bring in lots of money to buy Bibles to distribute to those who desperately want God’s Word.

What we place as a priority is only bad if that priority is not Christ centered. Each of us have a different calling. Each of us have a unique way to share the Gospel. Our gifts and our desires should not be our priorities. How we use them to testify to the good news of God’s grace should be the utmost priority.

Is sharing the good news of Jesus your priority?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you fulfilling your duty?

October 22, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.
(Ecclesiastes 12:13 (NIV))

Everyone has things that they feel they need to do. Some people call them obligations. Some call them responsibilities. Some people call them their duty. Others may say that these things are their priority, while some simply refer to them as the right thing to do. No matter what you may call them, we all have something that we feel we must do.

What are the things in your life that you place as a priority, as your duty?

Is one of your duties to provide for your family? Perhaps you are a business owner and you have employees and customers that are a central part of your daily life. Perhaps you are called to be a first responder and you feel that your duty is to protect and to serve. If that is you, thank you for your selflessness!

No matter what you may feel that your duty or obligation may be, there is one that is far greater and a lot of people fail to ever do anything about it! In fact, Jesus was asked point blank and responded without any hesitation.

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.
(Matthew 22:36-38 (NIV))

I can hear it now. Some may say that these two passages contradict each other. One says to fear God and the other says to love God with all your heart. How can fear and love mean the same thing? To be honest with you, that is a concept that may be difficult for people to grasp, but the basic sentiment behind this is that you should desire to do what is right in God’s eyes. Perhaps a better way to refer to this potential contradiction is to look at it in terms of respect. When you respect God for who He is, you both love and fear Him at the same time. The fear comes from the simple fact that we are all sinners who deserve whatever judgment we have earned. The love comes from the fact that even though He is a just and righteous God and we are all guilty of our sins, He has freely offered grace and mercy in place of the judgment.

I find it interesting that the passage in which we are told to fear God is from the Old Testament and it was recorded long before grace was freely given. I love the fact that the passage in which Jesus told us to love God is in the New Testament. Jesus took the liberty to paraphrase the commandments and let it be known that we no longer had to fear God, but through Him, God reached out to us in love. Through God’s act of love for us, we can now approach God in love.

I don’t know about you, but I both fear God and love God. As a part of His creation, it is my duty to the Lord our God as Creator!

Are you fulfilling your duty?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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