What do you ask for? What do you seek?

August 30, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
(Matthew 7:7-8 (NIV))

Many people know this verse, but they take it all wrong. They ask for worldly things that only benefit themselves. They do not fully understand and comprehend that what this speaks of is actually a desire for the knowledge of God and not for a desire for personal gain of worldly things.

What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?
(Matthew 16:26a (NIV))

Worldly possessions are not what God is speaking of, for we already know that God does not see worldly possessions as human nature sees them. To God, the ultimate treasure is an intimate knowledge of Him. It is for this knowledge that Jesus came and died so that we may have a relationship with God the way that God designed us to be in relationship with Him. We ask for this intimacy and we eagerly knock at the door to be allowed into this intimate relationship.

God did not send His Son, Jesus, to die so that we could have material possessions. Jesus died so that we could be reunited with God in spite of our sinful nature.

What do you ask for? What do you seek?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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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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Will you be cut off or pruned or are you bearing fruit?

August 7, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.
(John 15:1-2 (NIV))

Every believer probably thinks that they are bearing fruit for the Lord, and hopefully that is true. Have you honestly stopped to reflect on your life in relationship to this to seek the Lord and ask if your actions are producing what He desires from you? You may think that since you go to church, you are doing well, but do you witness to others? I realize that all of heaven rejoices when a single sinner comes to salvation, but that is not the end of our responsibility.

We are to share the Gospel so that others may come to a saving knowledge of Jesus. We are to witness. We are to tell others about the Lord in both words and in our actions. How can actions tell someone about Jesus? Just in case you have forgotten the old say, actions do speak louder than words. Our actions are to bear fruit.

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))

I don’t know about you, but these all sound like actions to me!

We can exhibit these fruits in such a manner that others notice a difference in our lives. We can let them see Jesus in our lives before we even begin to tell them about Jesus! Your actions will open up a window of opportunity that will often have others asking what makes you different. That is when you share Jesus in words.

I just realized something that I want to share with you. If our actions lead us to bear fruit, I want you to consider something. When you see a fruit tree or you see fruit in a store, does it pounce on you and tell you that you need it? You are enticed by what you see and experience. Your senses draw you in. The same thing can be said of the fruit that we bear for Jesus. If we present the fruit in such a way as to allow a person’s senses to draw them in, then they will desire to experience the sweetness of what the Lord has to offer. It is our assignment as members of the Body of Christ to yield fruit. Are we living up to that task?

Will you be cut off or pruned or are you bearing fruit?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Pray to be able to avoid the fool and his folly!

July 24, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Better to meet a bear robbed of her cubs than a fool bent on folly.
(Proverbs 17:12 (NIV))

I’m sure that everyone understands the nature of the relationship between a mother and her children. If the children are threatened, the maternal instincts kick into high gear to the point that anything within striking distance is fair game. Couple that instinct with the size of a bear and the size of the claws and you have a very fierce and dangerous presence to contend with.

Do you find it interesting that this passage states that a fool is more dangerous?

What is your definition of a fool? What is God’s definition of a fool?

The fool says in his heart,
    “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, their deeds are vile;
    there is no one who does good.
(Psalms 14:1 (NIV))

Are you beginning to see that a fool is more dangerous than a bear?

Most people know enough to stay away from a bear, especially a mother bear who is protecting her cubs. The very physical presence tells you to stay clear. All it takes is just one look at the bear to assess the situation, but we don’t know that someone is a fool just by looking at them. We can’t tell the dangers that may be present because we cannot see the heart nor the mind. The surface situation is not a good indicator of the danger when someone practices deception and folly, for the deceit is hidden within. The true impact of the folly may not be made known until the damage is done.

Most of us are wise enough to stay away from danger that is obvious. God warns us to be wary of the dangers that are not obvious. Pray for discernment. Pray for wisdom. Pray for God’s insight into the hearts and minds of those whom you encounter. Pray to be able to avoid the fool and his folly!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What do your actions produce in your life?

July 12, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.
(Luke 6:37 (NIV))

Jesus often spoke things that were, and still are, considered difficult to follow. They just seem to go against our sinful human nature. Let that sink in a little as you honestly look at your life in relationship to this passage from Luke. When was the last time that you judged someone, or that you condemned someone for something that you felt was wrong? Did you let them know? Perhaps you simply kept your thoughts to yourself. Does that mean that the inward act of judging or condemning is any less real in the eyes of God, especially when we admit to the fact that the Lord knows our thoughts and our hearts!

Do to others as you would have them do to you.
(Luke 6:31 (NIV))

Is forgiveness what you desire from others? If so, then it must be freely given in order to be freely received. This is important to the Lord, for it is not the only time that this principle is given. It is critical to realize that what we call the Lord’s Prayer puts this very bluntly back in our court as our responsibility. If we don’t forgive others, then we can’t expect to be forgiven. This applies not only to other people with whom we interact, but also with the Lord.

And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
(Matthew 6:12 (NIV))

We can’t ask for something that we aren’t willing to freely give and truly expect to receive the very same thing!

If we judge, then we can’t expect not to be judged in return. If we condemn, then we can’t expect to not be condemned. In other words, you get what you give. If you want forgiveness, then it must become your nature to be forgiving in your actions.

What do your actions produce in your life?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Time to repent and turn toward the blessing!

July 5, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people he chose for his inheritance.
(Psalms 33:12 (NIV))

Our history is riddled with things that we should not be proud of, but is that a reason to not love our nation?

Think about that in terms of your families. Are they perfect? Do your children always do what you wish that they would do? Do you still love them even when they do something wrong?

Think about this in relationship to God’s love for us. Do we always do the right thing? Did that stop Him from sending Jesus to die for our sins so that we could have salvation?

Our nation is made up of people and not a single one of us is perfect.

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

We can’t expect something that is comprised of sinful people to be perfect. There is only one who is perfect! Only when we repent and turn to the Lord and keep His commands will we be blessed and guided by His hand. We have to choose to follow the Lord. We have to live our lives in a way that honors God. We have to decide individually and as a nation.

But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
(Joshua 24:15 (NIV))

Jesus came to set the captives free. He came to bring us true freedom – a freedom from the law of sin and death. That freedom is far greater than any worldly independence. We have the ability to have both. We have the ability to be free as individuals and as a nation. Both require one simple action on our part. We must individually accept Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior and we must, as a nation, turn to the Lord in repentance. Where are each of us personally in our acceptance? Where are we as a nation in our repentance?

Time to repent and turn toward the blessing!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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This is the one test that you need to pass!

June 14, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you — unless, of course, you fail the test?
(2 Corinthians 13:5 (NIV))

This is one of those verses that most people wish that they could ignore!

No one likes to fail a test. Think about the implications of this concept of failing this test. This is not the only place where we hear that it is possible to fail in your faith. We are told that it is possible to do things in the name of Jesus, but not have a relationship with Jesus, to not have Jesus in your heart.

Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
(Matthew 7:22-23 (NIV))

This goes hand in hand with the truth that you cannot earn salvation.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.
(Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV))

We must also come to the realization that there is a difference between doing work for the Lord and truly knowing the Lord. I can demonstrate this concept with a simple question about the people with whom you work. You may spend eight hours a day with them, but do you know their inner most secrets and desires? Do you know the pains that they feel and what causes them pain and what causes them joy? Doing work around the Lord does not draw you close to the Lord in exactly the same way as working with someone does not bring you close to them. That requires effort and intimacy that cannot be had when you are constantly doing.

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
(Luke 10:38-42 (NIV))

We must choose Jesus in all things in order to grow in intimacy with Jesus. The closer you draw to the Lord, the stronger your faith becomes. As your faith grows, your belief grows as well. When you believe and truly know the Lord, you desire to do things that will draw others to Him. These are the works that matter, for they are done out of a love of Jesus and not out of an effort to impress Jesus. It is a matter of perspective and priorities.

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
(John 14:12-13 (NIV))

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 they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
(John 3:16-18 (NIV))

God does truly love the world! Have you allowed that love to permeate your life so that your life reflects the love of the Lord and not you?

This is the one test that you need to pass!

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