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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True freedom is being released from darkness!

July 3, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
      because the LORD has anointed me
      to preach good news to the poor.
   He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
      to proclaim freedom for the captives
      and release from darkness for the prisoners,
(Isaiah 61:1 (NIV))

How do you define freedom?

July 4th is the day that we, as a nation, celebrate our freedom, but does freedom go deeper than what we have defined in our Declaration of Independence?

What can we, as humanity, be held captive by?

There is tyranny. There is political oppression. There is physical confinement. There is addiction. I am certain that if we try hard enough that we can come up with other things that are capable of holding us captive.

What about fear? What about death? What about the fear of death?

We can celebrate our freedoms that were signed into existence July 4, 1776, and we should rejoice over those freedoms, but there is another freedom that is far more important.

Humanity was condemned by the laws of sin and death, for we had sinned against God. In our sin, all were condemned to be captives of death. All were prisoners of a life that offered no escape from the consequences of this sin. We were, to use a line from a movie, “dead men walking.” We had no hope.

God had another plan!

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
(John 3:16-18 (NIV))

Jesus came into the world to offer us grace and mercy. His willingness to go to the cross for us paved the way for His resurrection. His resurrection gives freedom to all who will profess that Jesus is Lord and Savior.

July 4th is an important date in our history, for it gave us freedoms that no other government had ever granted to its citizens. No matter how great these freedoms may be, they pale in comparison to the freedom that was given to us through the cross. As you celebrate with family and friends, don’t forget where true freedom comes from. It is not through a man-made declaration written in ink. It is from a God ordained declaration written in the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ. It is a declaration that was validated at the resurrection. It is a declaration that has no specific date. It is a declaration that each of us must accept for ourselves.

Only this declaration offers what no other can offer.

True freedom is being released from darkness!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What do you rejoice in?

May 18, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Though the fig tree does not bud
    and there are no grapes on the vines,
  though the olive crop fails
    and the fields produce no food,
  though there are no sheep in the pen
    and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
    I will be joyful in God my Savior.
(Habakkuk 3:17-18 (NIV))

Think about that passage for a moment.

The society was an agricultural society. What this passage describes is the equivalent of someone saying today:

Though the car breaks down
and the refrigerator needs repaired,
though the lawnmower won’t run
and the bill collectors are calling,
though there are no jobs to be found
and the house is being foreclosed,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.

No matter what the situation, we must rejoice in the Lord. No matter how desperate things may look, we must rejoice in the Lord. We are not the only people to have ever gone through trials and tribulations. We are, however, the ones who are facing them now.

Each generation goes through trials. We undergo tests of our faith. No matter what we may face, we can rest assured that the world cannot take our faith, unless we willingly give it up.

Faith is a choice. It is not something that we lose when things get bad. It is not something that we can set aside when things are going well. Faith should be an integral part of our daily lives. Faith is what sees us through the tough times. Faith is what we rejoice over during the good times. Faith is what we look back on and realize that it was faith that brought us through tough times.

Tough times fall on everyone. It is faith that makes the difference between despair and hope.

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
(Hebrews 11:1 (NIV))

I am certain that things will get better. I am certain that God will see us through this time. I am certain that the fig tree will bud and that there will be grapes on the vines, and that the car will run and the jobs will return. I am certain that no matter to what extent that these things happen, I will rejoice in the Lord. I will strive to maintain my faith.

What do you rejoice in?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Can you do these things?

May 8, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Rejoice always,
(1 Thessalonians 5:16 (NIV))

I am the first to admit that this is not always the easiest thing to do. God didn’t stop there!

pray continually,
(1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NIV))

Am I the only one who has trouble doing this even though I long to be able to say that I do pray continually?

give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
(1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV))

Third strike!

If this were a baseball game, I am sure that my batting average is far less than perfect.

Have you ever wondered why the easiest sounding instructions that God has given us are always the most difficult to carry through with? Sadly, because of our fallen, sinful human nature, it usually just gets worse from here. Thankfully, even when we are at our worst, God’s love for us is at His best.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
(John 3:16 (NIV))

Do you believe?

I realize that this is another seemingly easy thing to answer, but God realized that He needed to make things simple for us. We will still mess up on the easy things, but we have a simple way to be restored and be embraced by God’s love. We must believe. We may not always be able to say that we are able to rejoice. We may not be able to pray continually, and we definitely will have problems giving thanks in all circumstances, but we can rest assured that our belief in Jesus as God’s one and only Son will redeem us.

Can you do these things?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What has the Lord done for you to make you rejoice?

March 11, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
(Psalms 118:24 (NIV))

Each day is a blessing from God. We may not know what tomorrow will bring, but we do know who brings tomorrow. No matter what each day may bring, rejoice in it for life is a very precious gift that we all too often take for granted. Even the gift of our health is something that we take for granted. I know how quickly things can change. Still, I rejoice in the fact that I trust in God to take care of my needs.

Even when the enemy throws adversity and troubles upon you, rejoice. Jesus has overcome the enemy.

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 wish I could say that my walk with Jesus has been one of perfect rejoicing and that I have lived it to the fullness that Jesus desires for me. I am only human and my weaknesses get in my way. Still, I attempt to walk through this life with faith, hope and love. I may not always make it as I should, but still I rejoice, for I have been blessed to have Jesus with me even when I didn’t realize it. For this I rejoice!

What has the Lord done for you to make you rejoice?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Let’s continue to turn to God in righteousness!

January 20, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice;
when the wicked rule, the people groan.
(Proverbs 29:2 (NIV))

Ouch !!!

Have we been rejoicing or groaning?

Think about the implications of that simple question.

Have we lost track of the principles upon which we were founded? Have we grown so accustom to looking out for only ourselves, that we forget that what we do has an affect on others? Have we allowed wickedness to replace righteousness? Do we look upon sin as something that is wrong, or do we look upon sin as an alternative lifestyle? Do we see those around us as individuals whom God created, or do we simply see someone who is an obstacle in our way?

I could go on and on with these types of questions, but I hope you understand my point.

Woe to those who call evil good
    and good evil,
  who put darkness for light
    and light for darkness,
  who put bitter for sweet
    and sweet for bitter.
Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes
    and clever in their own sight.
Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine
    and champions at mixing drinks,
who acquit the guilty for a bribe,
    but deny justice to the innocent.
(Isaiah 5:20-23 (NIV))

Does any of this sound familiar? It does to me.

Fortunately, God allows us to turn away from our sin and return to Him.

“When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
(2 Chronicles 7:13-14 (NIV))

The heavens may not be shut so that there is no rain, but I think I see the telltale signs of a different type of locust. This locust devours just like the type referred to in this passage, and just like we are told, if we will humbly turn to God in prayer, and turn toward Him, He will heal our land.

I don’t know about you, but I am tired of groaning. Join me in prayer! Let’s continue to turn to God in righteousness!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Our God is a mighty warrior!

December 9, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.
        Selah
(Psalms 46:1-3 (NIV))

The events of the last several years have had me relying upon this verse far more than I have in the past. Let’s face it, recent events are very fear inducing. Wars. Rumors of wars. Terrorism. Bank failures. Energy shortages. Economic financial collapse. How can those who do not cling to the promises held within this passage face each day. Their only hope is in the institutions of the world. These institutions are man made and man is not perfect. Everything that man creates will eventually fall apart. Even institutions created with the very best of intentions will eventually fade from memory once the people who presented those intentions have left this world.

What can we hold on to? What can we cling to that will give us the hope and the peace that we all so earnestly seek?

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 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 4:4-7 (NIV))

Hold firmly to the Lord, for He will be with us. Even in the midst of the worst imaginable troubles, rejoice and give thanks for He is with us. I know that this is not easy to do, for human nature controls us even when we want God to fill us. Satan will torment us. He will do all that he can to keep us from praising God, for he knows that if we are not praising God we will be groveling in despair in the very situations that he has placed us in.

Praise God and give thanks for all that He has done, all that He is doing, and all that He will do. Use your praise to turn your fear into a celebration of God’s victory. After all, our God is a mighty warrior!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Aren’t you glad that Jesus welcomes sinners?

November 11, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
(Luke 15:1-2 (NIV))

Which group of people would you have been in if you were alive when Jesus walked the earth?

Each of us like to think that we would recognize Jesus and understand what He was doing if we were alive at that time. Is that true? Sadly, I am not certain that many of us would have recognized Jesus and understood what He was doing. Think about that for a moment in relation to our recognition and understanding of Jesus in this current time. To help with this, I want to do what I often do and ask a few questions that will hopefully cause you to reflect on your life and your understanding.

Do you believe that Jesus came to offer redemption to those who are sinners? If you believe this, then how can Jesus reach sinners if He didn’t associate with them? How could He call them out of their sin if He was chastising them from a distance?

Are you perfect? Are you a sinner? Did Jesus reach you because you were perfect according to your church, or did He reach you because you realized that you are a sinner in need of a Savior? Why do we, the members of the Body of Christ, look at sinners any differently than Jesus does? Why do we look at the sins of others as greater than our own sins? Why do we look at certain individuals who have professed a faith in Jesus and claim that their past sins are too great for them to be a member of the Body of Christ? When someone who is a very blatant sinner repents and professes that Jesus is their personal Lord and Savior, we should rejoice just as the angels rejoice!

In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.
(Luke 15:10 (NIV))

Unfortunately, not everyone who professes a faith in Jesus is able to see beyond what that person was and embrace them as the new creation that they are! They are not able to understand that the love that Jesus has shown to them is also available to all who will accept it. They seem to have forgotten that their sin was great when they turned to Jesus. Don’t let the distance from the point of your salvation blind you to what you used to be. Don’t let your life since your salvation blind you to the fact that there is still sin in this world and that the world still needs Jesus!

Pray that you don’t find yourself acting like the Pharisees and the teachers of the law?

I want to ask one more question. It is a question that I have asked before, but I feel that it needs to be asked again.

What would you do if, when you get to heaven, you find that Adolph Hitler had repented and accepted Jesus? Do you think that his sin was too great? Do you think that the Lord thinks his sin is too great? Would you storm out of heaven because you think that he shouldn’t be there? Would you question Jesus or would you understand that we are all sinners in need of a savior?

Aren’t you glad that Jesus welcomes sinners?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you able to rejoice when the lost is found?

October 8, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, `Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
(Luke 15:8-10 (NIV))

Is there someone in your life that you would rather forget about?

Someone who just seems to be a thorn in your side no matter what you may do or say. Is there someone who just irritates you?

Do you find yourself thinking that it wouldn’t matter to anyone if they just disappeared?

Isn’t life ironic at times? You do your best to do what you know to be the right thing. You devote yourself to being the person that Jesus is calling you to be, yet, still you have issues with other people who just seem to rub you the wrong way.

Personally, I honestly believe that these people are no accident. They are placed in your life for a reason. I find it best to take on the attitude of prayer, not only for these type of people, but more often for myself. I have to remind myself that heaven rejoices just as much for this person as it does for me. I am no better than the person in question and I need to repent of my thoughts.

With this in mind, have you ever pictured what heaven would be like? Do you envision vast numbers of people exactly like you? How will you handle seeing people from different cultures and different nationalities who will not be like you? How will you handle being among people with whom the only thing that you may have in common is the fact that you have accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior? What will you do when you see the person or persons from your life that were those people who were the thorns in your side? Will you rejoice with all of heaven or will you ask why they are there?

I have often heard this question asked, “How would you react when you got to heaven and discovered that Adolf Hitler had repented and accepted Jesus as his personal Lord and Savior?”

If heaven can rejoice when a sinner repents, then we should rejoice as well. In fact, we must pray for those who are lost.

Are you able to rejoice when the lost is found?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Never stop rejoicing in the Lord!

August 28, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
(Philippians 4:4 (NIV))

What brings joy and great delight in your life?

There are many things in this life that we can and should be thankful for, such as family, friends, laughter and love, but what is it that brings you joy? What brings you happiness beyond measure? If you have truly professed a faith in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, I can’t think of anything more appropriate that can bring joy and happiness beyond measure.

Think about that in relationship to the concept of grace and salvation!

Does spending eternity in the presence of the Lord make you joyful? There is really only one other option and it is not one that I want to even think about. Imagine an eternity of joy and praise when the other option is an eternity of separation from the Lord. The separation also brings eternal suffering and torment. I rejoice in the gift of salvation. There are days that things don’t go as I would have them to go, but we have been told we would have such days. We are to keep our eyes on Jesus.

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))

Even with the not so good days on this earth, we know that something better is coming. We should never think of throwing our eternal future of grace away for something of this world that results in torment. I love the way that the psalmist expressed it.

Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
(Psalms 84:10 (NIV))

If being in the Lord’s presence for only one day is better than a thousand elsewhere, just imagine the joy that an eternity will bring. Does this make your heart jump for joy? Does this give you a fresh understanding of the last stanza of Amazing Grace by John Newton?

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’d first begun.

Are you fully prepared to never stop rejoicing in the Lord!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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