Is the Lord your shepherd?

April 24, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
(Psalms 23:1 (NIV))

When you translate anything from one language to another, there are subtle variations in words that the translator can select that can give you a different perspective or a fresh insight. Even when you have a group of people who all speak the same language and you ask them to describe something, you get as many variations in that description as there are people. This does not make any single person right and the rest wrong. It just means that everyone sees and understands things differently. A good example of this is the old tale about three blind men being introduced to an elephant. One person feels the power of a leg. One person feels the strength and agility of the trunk, and the other person comes away from the elephant only having had an interaction with the tail. None of them are wrong. They just came away with a limited comprehension of the truth. If you need another example of how different people can see the same thing and call it something different, all you have to do is consider the different names that people across the country give carbonated drinks.

The same is true when you look at the different translations of the Bible and how they handle different passages of scripture. One of my favorite passages is a good example of that.

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
(Psalms 46:10a (NIV))

In comparison, the New American Standard Bible translates the same passage in this manner.

Cease striving and know that I am God;
(Psalms 46:10a (NASB))

I love the concept of being still in the presence of God, but sometimes I have to be reminded that I need to cease striving and allow God to handle it. Neither concept is wrong. Today’s passage is another example of this. Here is another translation.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
(Psalms 23:1 (NIV))

Do the words “I shall not want” make you think of something different than the words “I lack nothing?” On the surface, they sound like they are conveying the same thing, but it is the subtleties that make you stop and reflect. It is the subtleties that make you stop and realize that the Lord has so much to say to us that our limited language cannot even begin to convey all that the Lord has for us. I love these sublties. Going back to Psalms 46:10, it is these sublties that make me stop and ask the Lord exactly what He is wanting to say to me. I have found that being inquisitive often leads to a deeper understanding. It is the subtleties that allow you to spend time getting to know the Lord and help you to understand His goodness!

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
(Psalms 34:8 (NIV))

Is the Lord your shepherd?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you in a singing mood?

March 11, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

But I will sing of your strength,
in the morning I will sing of your love;
for you are my fortress,
my refuge in times of trouble.
O my Strength, I sing praise to you;
you, O God, are my fortress, my loving God.
(Psalms 59:16-17 (NIV))

What do you think of when you think of someone singing?

If you are like most people, you will probably think that the person who is singing is joyful and happy. Occasionally, you will find someone singing when they are depressed and sad, but you will not find them singing joyful songs. David sang praises no matter how he felt, for he knew that God was the same regardless of what may be happening in his life. God still provided a fortress and a place of refuge in both the good times and in the times of trouble.

I find it difficult to be like David and sing praises in the times of trouble. It is human nature to focus on the situation at hand and complain because we feel abandoned. If we would only stop to realize that God is still there, we could easily turn our attitudes around.

You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
that my heart may sing to you and not be silent.
O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever.
(Psalms 30:11-12 (NIV))

No matter what situation we may find ourselves in, we must always sing praises to God. When we sing praises to God, it does not allow the enemy to gain an entrance into our lives. It does not allow the enemy to use our self-pity to turn us against God. When times are troubled, we must turn to God and rely fully on His grace and mercy. I don’t know about you, but thinking about God’s grace and mercy is always enough to get me singing – well, at least on the inside.

Are you in a singing mood?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you truly able to say this?

January 4, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
(Psalms 91:2 (NIV))

There are many things that I hate about our sinful human nature. Perhaps the one that I hate the most is our ability to say one thing while what is in our heart says something completely different. When I read this passage, my first reaction was to pray that these words would always ring true in my heart and in my life.

Think about that!

Human nature simply gives lip service. We read this passage, as well as many others, and we fail to make it our own. We fail to take it to heart. We fail to realize the depth and breadth of God’s love. There is a belief that we can pray the Bible. I honestly believe this, especially when I read this passage and think of all of the great things that the Lord has done for me.

As I read, my heart and mind are filled with joy. I see the words, but my spirit embellishes them. They take on so much more than what is written.

Lord, help me to always say great things about you, for no one else deserves all honor and praise. You alone are worthy, Lord. May I always look to you and turn to you as my solid rock, as my fortress, for you alone are my refuge in times of trouble. You are my shelter. You are my strength. You are my stronghold. Lord, you are my God. You are the only one in whom I can trust. When everything comes crashing down around me, you are there. When the enemy attacks, you are my strength and my shield. There is no one else whose greatness surpasses yours and there is no one else who is unwavering in his love for me. I long to seek shelter in the comfort of your loving arms!

I realize that many people are afraid to alter anything within God’s Word, and rightly so. We don’t want to change the meaning, or the power that is God’s Word. We must always return to it for our strength and for our guidance. I honestly believe that the Lord finds glory when we use His Word and personalize our worship of Him. Think about that for a moment in the context of this passage. Think about the author of this passage. It was his heartfelt, personal praise of the Lord. It touched the very heart of the Lord. Can you praise the Lord in a similar manner? Can you express your inner thoughts and praise in a way that is truthful and pleasing to the Lord?

Are you truly able to say this?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Which side do you choose to be on?

October 8, 2018

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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,
but with an overwhelming flood
he will make an end of Nineveh;
he will pursue his foes into darkness.
Whatever they plot against the LORD
he will bring to an end;
trouble will not come a second time.
(Nahum 1:7-9 (NIV))

God is good all the time! Those who trust in Him will be rewarded with safety and refuge. Those who do not place their trust in Him will be brought to an end.

Yet, the Lord does not wish for any to perish. It is not too late for those who plot against Him to turn from their ways and turn towards God. Then, they too will find refuge in His Will.

No one is forbidden to come to God through His Son, Jesus Christ. All are welcome who acknowledge and accept that Jesus Christ is their personal Lord and Savior and that He died for their sins.

In this simple act, someone chooses to change sides and accepts the refuge of God.

Which side do you choose to be on?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What is it that you sing of?

September 28, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.
(Psalms 59:16 (NIV))

It is said that everyone has a song in their heart and that it is a direct reflection of what matters most to you. That makes perfect sense when you consider your heart reflects your treasure.

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

The song in your heart is about what makes you happy. It is about what brings you joy in life. It is always about the thing that you place as number one in your life. Just as radio stations are categorized by different genre and play many songs in that genre, our hearts can have multiple songs all related to what brings you joy. For some, this is family. For others, this is worldly matters. Sadly, for many, this is themselves. The greatest song that you can place in your heart is the song where you proclaim your love for the Lord and the power of the Lord over your life. When this is your greatest song, everything that is within your heart will reflect this treasure. You will be filled with such an amazing joy. You will also have peace!

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

One more point to consider.

If you are angry at the world, what song comes out of your heart? Have you ever noticed that when you have joy and peace, you always seem to have a song in your heart that reflects the joy that you feel? What happens when the true reason for that joy and peace is the Lord?

What is it that you sing of?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Find refuge in the Lord!

August 6, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.
Those who know your name will trust in you,
for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.
Sing praises to the LORD, enthroned in Zion;
proclaim among the nations what he has done.
(Psalms 9:9-11 (NIV))

God is a God of hope, not despair!

When we are faced with the troubles that the world brings upon us, look up. God gives us hope. Hope for tomorrow. Hope for justice. Hope for eternity. He is our refuge in times of trouble.

Yet, He is more than that. He is our rock, our foundation. Through Jesus Christ, He has given us hope of salvation for the world. He has given those who believe a knowledge of peace that those who don’t believe do not have. If this is not a place of refuge, then we have no place to truly take refuge. God knows what we need and what we seek. It is a place of safety and hope. That place is provided through Jesus Christ.

Sing praises to God and tell everyone you know what God has done for you. Let them know that what you have been given they can have.

Find refuge in the Lord!

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Where do you hide?

July 24, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.
(Psalms 32:7 (NIV))

Everyone encounters times in their lives when they need a safe and secure place to take refuge from the onslaught of the world. Sometimes the weight of the world just becomes too much and we need a place to escape to. If I’m not mistaken, each one of us can still remember the last time that you felt this way.

Where did you turn?

Where did you hide?

Hopefully, each of us turns to the same hiding place, the same source of comfort, that David turned to.

Have you ever stopped to think why David was called a man after God’s own heart? Perhaps it had something to do with the simple fact David didn’t only turn to God when he needed a place to hide. He turned to God in all things. David didn’t run from trouble. He had such a good relationship with God that he knew that God would be with him no matter what. Think about that from David’s perspective when he faced Goliath. David wasn’t running from Goliath. He confronted him head on with the security that God would deliver the victory.

Perhaps we should change our definition of the word hide. When we think of hiding, we think of escaping, of cowering in fear, and of avoiding trouble. Maybe we should think of hiding as a place of refuge, preparation and as a source of strength. Thankfully, we have a God who allows both, who provides both. We simply have to turn to Him in all things and not just in times of trouble.

Where do you hide?

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