Have you gotten a taste of the Lord’s goodness?

June 29, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Taste and see that the Lord is good;
(Psalms 34:8a (NIV))

Have you ever asked yourself why this passage uses the word taste?

Think about the process of tasting and eating and drinking. We slowly put something into our physical body via our mouth to see if we will like it and if it will be good for us. In essence, we are taking something that is foreign to our bodies and putting it inside of us. It becomes a part of us! We become intimately familiar with what we are tasting.

Ever since the fall from grace, God’s goodness has been foreign to our spiritual being. Due to our sinful nature, we are not sure what to do with what is good and pure. We sample, or taste, just as we do with physical food and drink to see if it is good. We taste of the Lord and find that His love and mercy is sweet and very good for our lives. We ingest bits of His Word and find that it is very palatable and we soon find ourselves wanting more. Just like physical food that tastes good, we find ourselves feeding on the Word of God and we find that it becomes integral to our lives. The more we taste, the more we want.

David wrote much about the goodness of the Lord. He understood it. He longed for it. He never wanted it to end.

Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
(Psalms 23:6 (NIV))

David had gotten a taste of the goodness of the Lord. As a result, he followed the Lord all the days of His life.

Have you gotten a taste of the Lord’s goodness?

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

May 4, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Before them fire devours,
behind them a flame blazes.
Before them the land is like the garden of Eden,
behind them, a desert waste–
nothing escapes them.
(Joel 2:3 (NIV))

I believe that we are in a transitional place, a place of growth and maturity. Each of us may be in a situation that has us literally between a rock and a hard place. We may find ourselves in the midst of so much fire and waste that we do not see any potential end. When we, as believers, find ourselves in this place in our lives, we must remember that God uses these times in our lives to refine us like silver.

This third I will bring into the fire;
I will refine them like silver
and test them like gold.
They will call on my name
and I will answer them;
I will say, `They are my people,’
and they will say, `The LORD is our God.’ ”
(Zechariah 13:9 (NIV))

It is in these times that one of two things may happen. We will either turn from God in our anger or turn toward God in our faith. It is God’s desire to purify us in our faith. He longs for us to mature into the image of Jesus.

I had a conversation not too long ago with someone who questioned whether being in the wilderness was a good thing or a bad thing. Take a look at Jesus after He was baptized. He went into the wilderness for 40 days. He did not do anything bad, yet He had to face the temptation before He could truly minister to those whom He came to seek and to save.

When we find ourselves in the desert or the wilderness, it is all a matter of our outlook, our perspective on the situation. We can either look at the situation and not see beyond our circumstances or we can see the “Light” of Jesus at the end of our journey. If we focus on the “Light,” then we should be able to stand firm in our desert and continually pray for righteousness.

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
(Psalms 51:10 (NIV))

Where are you?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do you long to see God?

April 22, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Blessed are the pure in heart,
     for they will see God.
(Matthew 5:8 (NIV))

Not too long ago I referenced this passage and made a statement about people seeing what they want to see. When I wrote that about this passage, I had no idea exactly what the next few months would bring. Today, I am more convinced of this simple truth than I was just a few short months ago. All that you have to do is take a look at the various reactions of people as we all face this unusual worldwide issue.

It is said that tough times will bring out the true nature of a person. I think that we can safely say that we have seen the gamut of reactions. Some people are panicking. Others are coming up with all kinds of conspiracy theories. Many are blaming the Chinese government, while others are pointing fingers at our own. It appears that many people are consuming more alcohol in a search for something to take their minds off of what is going on. Do you fall into one of these groups?

In addition to these, I have seen a large number of people who appear to be turning to the Lord. If you can judge the numbers based on what you see on social media, many people are turning to the Lord for peace. They are realizing that there is something going on far greater than anything that humanity can control, as if we can control anything.

Human nature is a funny thing. We are told that even in the midst of great tribulation, there will be people who will fail to recognize what is going on and turn to God. Others will turn to God in all things that they do. Somewhere in the middle are those who acknowledge God and only turn to Him in times of trouble. I realize that I have oversimplified the vast range of reactions, but in all honesty, those who long to see God will find Him in all things that they encounter. I think that something I recently saw says that very well. To paraphrase, there were two sides in a conversation.

Side 1: This virus has shut down the schools.

Side 2: Prayer is now back in the classroom.

Side 1: This virus has shut down the churches.

Side 2: The church is not made up of buildings. People are worshipping wherever they are.

I’m sure that you’ve seen something similar. As previously stated, those who long to see God will find Him in all things, while those who are focused on the world will never see God in anything.

Do you long to see God?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Only the Lord is a perfect fit!

December 6, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

The law of the LORD is perfect,
reviving the soul.
The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
The precepts of the LORD are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the LORD are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever.
The ordinances of the LORD are sure
and altogether righteous.
(Psalms 19:7-9 (NIV))

Some say that there is a God shaped hole inside of our hearts that we strive to fill. Some fill it with wealth; some with power; some with lust; some with greed; and some with false religions. All of the people who try to force fit a “square peg into a round hole” are never truly at peace. They occasionally can make something “fit” temporarily, but due to the mismatched shapes, whatever they place there eventually works its way out.

When this happens, there is much pain, sadness and anger. Filling the space that was intended for God to fill only leads to false hope and aggravation. The Psalmist knew of this and conveyed this truth very eloquently in the above passage. This was before the idea of a “God shaped hole,” but it conveys the same underlying truth.

How are you trying to fill this hole that yearns to be filled?

Only the Lord is a perfect fit!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you long to see God, or do you see the world?

October 18, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
(Matthew 5:8 (NIV))

It is true that people will see what they want to see. If you give someone a glass and fill it half way, some will say that it is half empty. Others will say that it is half full. The same is true about God. If you give people God, some will choose to see. Others will choose not to see. Those who choose to see God would find God in all things. These are the people who seek God. They will find Him in everything that they see.

Those who fail to see God are those that need Him most. They think that they have all the answers and all of the things of this world are theirs for the taking. They do not realize that God has created everything, and that everything is His. Pray for those people.

Basically, each of us fall somewhere along the spectrum between these two end points. This is human nature, but we can overcome human nature and train ourselves to see. We can repent and focus on the things of God. The closer we draw to God, the more that He works in our lives to give us a pure heart. It is a choice!

Do you long to see God, or do you see the world?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What things fill your thoughts?

October 16, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
(Philippians 4:8 (NIV))

What fills your mind when you have nothing tugging on you such as work or family obligations?

Most people simply cannot sit and think of absolutely nothing. Even when we are preoccupied with something, our thoughts often interrupt us with glimpses of our inner desires. These vary by individual and most of us would be ashamed to let anyone know what those thoughts are. Some people are even able to force themselves to redirect their thoughts. It takes dedication and maturity to make yourself truly change your thoughts.

Why do we want to change our thoughts?

To put it simply, our thoughts reflect what is truly in our hearts. Our thoughts reflect what we truly treasure! If we treasure something, it is a driving force in our lives.

Are you driven by money or by power? Are you driven by fame? Are you driven by hidden desires for things that the Lord calls sin? There is an old saying that you are what you eat. In other words, what you fill your life with is what you will eventually have coming forth from your life. If you think on sinful matters, you will sin. If you think on godly matters, then you will reflect God’s righteousness.

Human nature is such a fickle thing. It allows the enemy to take something that God has created and twist it to the point where it becomes a sinful obsession. Focus your thoughts on the things of God!

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

What things fill your thoughts?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Have you accepted your job as a minister?

August 21, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant–not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
(2 Corinthians 3:6 (NIV))

It has been said that the Old Testament and The Law are there to show us what we are supposed to do and how difficult it is to do it. If this is true, then the New Testament is there to show us that we have another way. The Law is there as the letter that we must follow perfectly and never falter or waiver from its course. The Spirit is given to us by the grace and mercy shown at the cross. The Spirit gives us redemption and salvation. It gives us freedom from the Law. This freedom does not mean that we are able to ignore the Law and do whatever we want. It means that we are given grace for we are not capable of being perfect even when we desire it with all of our hearts. It allows us to be human. It allows us to make mistakes and then learn from our mistakes.

The twist to all of this is that through the Spirit, we are all ministers one to another. In the Old Testament and under the Law, ministers had to be set apart from the rest of society. They had to be ceremonially pure. They had to be followers of the letter of the Law. If they did not follow the letter of the Law, they faced the possibility of death in the presence of God.

Today, we have grace and mercy as our mantle. We have salvation through the blood of Jesus. We have the Spirit. Through the Spirit, we are given life in the presence of God, were, before the Spirit, we only faced death. Speaking for myself, I do not long to follow the letter of the Law, for it is inflexible and unforgiving. I want forgiveness and mercy, for I know that I am not perfect and cannot ever achieve perfection on my own.

I need to repent and turn away from my sin!

I need grace!

I need to help others find that grace!

I, in all of my human shortcomings, am a minister of that grace. I have accepted my position.

Have you accepted your job as a minister?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you willing to have your heart tested by the Lord?

August 20, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests the heart.
(Proverbs 17:3 (NIV))

Is it just me, or does this passage make you realize that the things that we all go through in our lives can have a positive outcome or they can have a negative outcome? It is a matter of perspective and attitude. We can look at situations in our lives and wallow in self pity, or we can see the situations as a matter of a learning experience. In fact, everything that we face in this life can be seen as a learning experience.

A wise son accepts his father’s discipline, But a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.
(Proverbs 13:1 (NIV))

Consider the crucible and the furnace. They are necessary tools and steps to bring out the best in the precious metals. If you are familiar with refining metals, then you will understand the possibilities. Impure metals are heated to their melting point. Some of the impurities will burn away due to the high heat. Others will float in the molten metal for the metal worker to somehow separate. Then the molten metal is cooled, and, if necessary, the process is repeated until the metal has had the impurities removed. Now, imagine your life. Each of us has things in our life that are less than desirable in the eyes of the Lord. He refines us. He disciplines us in order to bring out the best in us. After all, aren’t we more important to the Lord than precious metals are to us? He is going to use the tools that He has to refine us, to test the very nature of our heart.

The Lord desires for us to have a pure heart. He calls each of us to Himself, and if we answer that call, He will mature us. He will purify us. He will give us opportunities to draw closer to Himself. The closer we draw to Him, the more we know Him and seek after His heart. When we seek after His heart, our hearts become refined. He desires to purify our hearts. The things that we go through in life will either draw us closer to Him and his righteousness and purity, or they will drive us to the evil desires of our hearts. Personally, I desire nothing more than to draw closer to the Lord. If that means that I must face the refiners fire, I am willing. Are you?

Are you willing to have your heart tested by the Lord?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Don’t follow your heart. Follow Jesus!

August 6, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.
(Proverbs 19:21 (NIV))

How many times have you been given advice to follow your heart? How many times have you given this advice? Is this really sound advice when you stop to consider how many times the Bible refers to the human heart as wicked and deceitful? Ever since the fall from grace, our hearts have been filled with selfish and sinful desires.

The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.
(Genesis 6:5 (NIV))

The heart is deceitful above all things
     and beyond cure.
     Who can understand it?
(Jeremiah 17:9 (NIV))

If you don’t think this is true, simply look at your own life. Are there things that you have done, or you think about doing, that would shock your family and your friends if they only knew what was in your heart? Do you look around at those whom you know and find yourself thinking that if they only knew the true you they wouldn’t want to be near you?

Human nature is so full of secrets and shortcomings that it is a wonder how any of us truly have any family or friends! We are so self-centered that even on our best days we still fail miserably at doing anything close to what the Lord calls us to do. We fail because we listen to our selfish and sinful hearts when we should be listening to the Lord.

Is your heart pure? What plans do you hide in your heart? What sinful desires do you hide in your heart? Life is a series of choices that we all must make. Every single day we are faced with a choice of who to follow. Do we follow our own sinful hearts or do we strive to follow Jesus?

It is easy to say this, but very difficult to walk it through. We must make an effort to follow Jesus and repent when we stray so that the Lord’s purpose prevails.

In other words, don’t follow your heart. Follow Jesus!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you clothed as a new born?

December 17, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.
(John 3:5-6 (NIV))

When we were born of flesh, we were born of this world and of the things in it.

Unfortunately, being born of this world and the things in it meant that we were born into sin. Not a single one of us was born into this world without the power and the consequences of sin looming over us.

Satan is the god of this world and all of its fleshly sins. We are born of flesh. God cannot associate with Satan, so we must be “born again” of the Spirit.

In order to escape sin, we must be born of the Spirit to be of God. The Spirit is of God. Jesus came into this world to offer us a way to be clothed in the things of God. He offered us a way to become a new creation in the eyes of God! Jesus provided a way for each of us to be born anew. In order to enter into God’s kingdom, we must “shake off” the world and put on the Spirit and clothe ourselves in things that are of God and not of this earth.

Through inheritance, we become just as pure as the new born infant that we celebrate. We think of becoming more and more like Jesus, but have you ever stopped to think that we have to truly become a new creation for all that we know was of this world. All that we cling to as good was of this world. We must leave all of the behind and start anew. We must be clothed in the innocence of a new born baby.

Are you clothed as a new born?

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