Does the Lord have all your heart, soul and strength?

June 17, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
(Deuteronomy 6:5 (NIV))

Do you love the Lord?

Let me ask this in a different way. What are you willing to give up for the Lord? Status? Career? House? Cars? Family? Friends?

Did you cringe at any of these things? Did you find yourself thinking something like, “As long as I don’t have to give up _______!”

What if God called you to sacrifice the thing that you loved most in order to follow Him? Would you respond like Abraham did with Isaac or would you respond like the rich young ruler?

Many people associate the words from Deuteronomy 6:5 with how Jesus responded in the following passage from Matthew.

“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. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
(Matthew 22:36-40 (NIV))

If you truly love the Lord, you realize that everyone is made in the image of God. The way that we treat each other is indicative of how we treat the Lord and ourselves. Unfortunately, society’s definition of love means that we embrace their sins. Is this true love? Would you validate your sinful behavior to the point where you are killing yourself with alcohol or drugs and still claim to love yourself? How can we embrace the sins of others when we know that the same sin in our lives leads to death?

We must love as Jesus loved!

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.
(John 3:16-17 (NIV))

Perhaps we should look at this concept through these words. Love the Lord your God as He first loved us – with all of His heart, with all of His soul and with all of His strength. He had the love and commitment to sacrifice His Son to save us! Doesn’t this merit the gratitude and unfailing love of thankfulness?

Does the Lord have all your heart, soul and strength?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Don’t fall for ungodly deception!

June 12, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Jesus said to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you.
(Mark 13:5 (NIV))

Jesus knew that strange times would come and that people would potentially be deceived by what would be happening. He told His disciples point blank to be on their guard so that they, and we, would not be deceived when situations arise. We must stand firm in our faith and be firmly rooted in God’s Word so that we can recognize false teachings when they are presented to us. It is my prayer that we will be so firmly grounded in God’s Word that we will instantly know the enemy’s attempts to deceive us when we see them. You have to realize that the enemy knows God’s Word and can twist it in ways that are designed to confuse those who are not totally immersed in God’s truth. Consider that the serpent tricked Adam and Eve by twisting the truth in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve walked with God. They knew Him in a way that we can’t possibly know God today. Still, they fell for the deception that the serpent used, and humanity has been paying the price ever since that day!

The enemy uses things out of context, or just a partial quote of scripture. He will twist just enough of God’s Word so that it still sounds right, but with the subtle change, it is now a lie. Consider what happens if he leaves out the last instructions from Jesus to the woman caught in adultery.

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
(John 8:9-11 (NIV))

If you twist this passage by removing “Go now and leave your life of sin,” it takes on a whole new meaning. It takes on a meaning completely opposite of what Jesus truly said and meant. Without those eight words, it sounds as if Jesus is telling the woman that whatever she does is okay, when what He is really saying is that she must repent and change her ways. The whole passage, when twisted like this, is now able to be a lie from the mouth of the enemy.

We must not take things at face value. We must know God’s Word. We must search God’s Word for verification and not for our sinful gratification. We must be Bereans!

Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.
(Acts 17:11 (NIV))

When someone is not educated in certain aspects of life, it is easy for them to be deceived in those areas. With everything that is going on in the world, be very careful with respect to what you embrace as truth. When you are firmly grounded in God’s Word, the Holy Spirit will be in communication with your spirit. Allow the Holy Spirit to guide you through the subtle lies of the enemy.

Don’t fall for ungodly deception!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you see the Lord as Holy Glorious?

June 10, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

And they were calling to one another:
    “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;
     the whole earth is full of his glory.”
(Isaiah 6:3 (NIV))

There are two basic premises outlined in this passage. Two very true details that we need to fully embrace. How we embrace them determines our whole outlook and understanding of God the Father, Jesus His Son, and the Holy Spirit.

First and foremost, the LORD is holy. I am not certain if the word “holy” is repeated three times because of a subliminal reference to the Trinity, or whether it is repeated simply as a matter of driving the concept home. It may even be both. No matter why it is repeated, we must never forget that the LORD is holy. If we treat God in any way less than holy, we have sinned. We have taken the Creator of all things and redefined Him within our comfort zone. We do not praise Him if we make Him less than He is.

Ouch!

I hate to say this, but human nature finds us doing just that. We have a tendency of not understanding just how magnificent that He is. We tend to define God and our relationship to Him by our own thought processes and our own relationships. God is holy.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
      declares the LORD.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.
(Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV))

We cannot comprehend God. We must simply trust Him and accept that He is holy.

The second premise that is presented is the fact the the whole earth is full of His glory.

Everywhere that you look, you see wondrous things that God has created. Can man imagine a rainbow into existence? Can humanity divide the waters above from the waters below? Can anybody create a continent and clothe it in the vast splendor that we see?

God’s glory is manifested through His creation. Not only is He holy, but everything that He creates is glorious.

I hope that you fully caught what I just said. Everything that God creates is glorious. God created you and I. It is simple deductive reasoning that allows us to draw the conclusion that we are intended to be glorious. Even though we have fallen from grace through our sin, we are intended to be glorious. Even though we may not always follow God’s call, we are intended to be glorious.

God sent His glory into the world so that we could gain salvation and grace. Jesus, the son of God and the son of man, came into this world so that we could be washed clean and reunited with God in all of His glory.

Holy. Glory.

How do you see God in relationship to these two simple words? Do you see the Lord as Holy Glorious?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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We must focus on being lovers of God!

June 5, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God-
(2 Timothy 3:1-4 (NIV))

I am sure that you have seen the jokes and the memes on social media about the type of year that 2020 has been so far. We hope and pray that things will get better, but I honestly think that what we are seeing is becoming the norm, especially when you read about what people will be like in the last days. In fact, when I first read this passage this evening, I did not have to struggle to think up very public examples of each one of these traits. I am certain that you can probably think of prime examples of each one of these traits as evidenced in our society as well.

Why have people become so blinded? Why have people become so self-centered and hate-filled? These traits go against every single one of God’s commandments. They also go against other traits that we are told we should strive to possess.

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))

Sadly, these traits are not what seems to be front and center in today’s world. Far too many in this world are being led astray by the enemy. They are being led down a path that comes in direct conflict with anything good – with anything from God! They are being led down a path of sin and evil.

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
(Galatians 5:19-21 (NIV))

I am sure that we have all heard that as followers of Jesus, we live in the world, but we are not of the world. How are we, as the Body of Christ, to respond to people who are in open rebellion against God?

We are to share the Gospel! We are also told what to do if people will not listen.

If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.
(Matthew 10:14-15 (NIV))

We are to pray! We can’t soften hearts. Only God can. We must pray that those who rebel will repent and turn to the Lord. And, we must stand firm in our faith so that we are not led astray.

We must focus on being lovers of God!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How well are we fulfilling these requirements?

June 3, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
      And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
      and to walk humbly with your God.
(Micah 6:8 (NIV))

This world has a habit of trying to destroy anything that remotely resembles justice, mercy and humility. This is especially true when it is focused on the Lord!

From the beginning in the Garden of Eden, and all throughout history, God has told us what is good. Every single time that the Lord has told us what is good, even if we start off doing good, we have failed miserably at everything. Ever since the fall from grace, it has become human nature. We are drawn to the exact opposite of what we are told is good. It has now gotten to the point where a large portion of the world’s population has resorted to calling good evil and evil good. Think about that in context to this response from Jesus.

As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone.
(Mark 10:17-18 (NIV))

If you take the concept of calling good evil, then the next logical step is that those who are making this claim are actually making a statement that they think God is evil!

How could anybody in their right mind ever say that?

Sadly, in this sinful, fallen world, too many people have rejected God. There seems to be an ever increasing number of people who prefer sin. This falls right in line with the parable about the wheat and the tares. Until the Lord brings in the harvest, we, as the Body of Christ, must strive to reach those who are lost in sin. We must continue to spread the Gospel no matter what we may face. If you stop to think about it, spreading the Gospel covers all requirements as set forth in Micah.

We are to act justly by sharing the truth of the Gospel with anyone and everyone. We cannot withhold such a great gift because of our preconceived ideas. That is a sin.

We are to love mercy by sharing the mercy that we have been given with those who need mercy.

We are to walk humbly with our God by placing His plans for the salvation of others above our own selfish desires.

How well are we fulfilling these requirements?

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

June 2, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.
(Romans 6:12 (NIV))

With each passing day, my heart breaks just a little more!

Is this what you expect to be the Lord’s response to what is happening in the world? Is this your response to what is happening in the world? Do you desire to have a heart that breaks when God’s heart breaks? If this is your claim, then what can the Body of Christ do when sin seems to be rampant?

Pray!

We must pray for those who have given in to sin. We must pray that they will come to the light that can save. We must pray that our leaders will make Godly decisions. We must pray that we don’t fall into the trap that the enemy is using to ensnare us in sin. Dare I say that we must pray for Jesus to return?

I realize that I have said in the past that things seem to be escalating. Is it just me, or do you feel like this escalation is accelerating far more rapidly in the last few months? Just how much more can the Lord allow before He returns? I have been watching and studying for several years, and many of the sources that I reference besides God’s Word are all saying the same thing.

Time is short!

What if Jesus returns for His true church next month? Are you ready? What if Jesus returns for His true church tonight? Are you still obedient to sin or are you ready? If you profess that Jesus is your Lord and Savior, you are claiming that He is your master. Is this true?

No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
(Matthew 6:24 (NIV))

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.
(1 Timothy 6:10a (NIV))

What master are you obedient to?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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In all things we must seek God!

June 1, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
(Matthew 7:12 (NIV))

Isn’t it sad that something so simple and profound as this truth has been twisted into what has literally become the motto of way too many people. I am talking about the perversion of this passage into the saying “Do unto others first.”

What have we become as a society when God’s Word is changed to reflect the exact opposite of what He intended?

It is no wonder that we have increased crime. It is no wonder we have increased divorce rates. It is no wonder we have sex in public schools. It is no wonder we have allowed God to be removed from all aspects of our public life. He has been made fun of and ridiculed using twisted words that mock His truth. We have literally chased Him away.

We, as a society, need to seek after God and earnestly seek His forgiveness. Perhaps, then we can truly turn this country back to the strength it once knew when its citizens were not ashamed to humble themselves and pray.

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 Corinthians 7:14 (NIV))

I honestly believe that we need to turn to God in prayer and ask for His guidance in all that we do, personally and as a nation. If we, as citizens of this country, would spend half the time in prayer that we spend complaining, we could see the fulfillment of this passage. We must seek God in prayer and earnestly repent of our sins. We must turn to Him in all things and not just the things that we are willing to give to Him.

In all things we must seek God!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Will you take up your cross if it means your life?

May 26, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”
(Luke 9:23 (NIV))

Do you think of yourself as a disciple of Jesus?

Everyone who professes a faith in Jesus likes to think that they are a disciple, but are we, are you, ready to truly take up our cross?

Each one of us will face a different path as we walk out our lives in faith. It is possible that no two individuals will carry the exact same burden when they carry their cross, but we do know that all of us carry something through life. We either choose to carry our cross or we carry the weight of the sin that we refuse to let go of. It is a choice that each of us must make.

Do you want to be a disciple of Jesus?

If the answer is yes, then that requires repenting of your sins and picking up the weight of your cross as you follow Jesus. Following Jesus is not an easy thing to do. You have changed, but the world around you has not. You have changed, but your friends will still try to get you to fall back into the very same sins that you want to leave behind. Following Jesus may mean that you lose friends. It may mean that you become alienated from family. It may mean a job loss, but it will mean so much more!

Believing in and following Jesus is the only way to the Father and all of the blessings that are promised.

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))

Each of us have a decision to make. What are we willing to lose when we take up our cross and follow Jesus?

Will you take up your cross if it means your life?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you following the Lord?

May 20, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

The whole Israelite community set out from the Desert of Sin, traveling from place to place as the Lord commanded.
(Exodus 17:1a (NIV))

I hope that I am not the only one who finds the intricacies within God’s Word to be fascinating. I love the little things like the way God uses and reinforces meanings. He paints word pictures in order for us to understand Him better. One example is how Jesus is the Bread of Life and that He was born in Bethlehem, the place of bread.

Consider this passage from Exodus.

The Desert of Sin is another great example. Sinning is missing the mark. It is falling short of what God expects. It often leaves us barren and desolate. If you look up the word desert in a dictionary, it will probably be defined as a barren and desolate place. When we are trapped, when we are lost in sin, we are not capable of finding our way out of our desert. We cannot save ourselves. We need the Lord to guide us. What is described in this passage from Exodus is a perfect picture of how humanity is lost in a desert of sin and the only way out is to trust and follow the Lord. This is true collectively as well as individually.

Have you taken the steps to trust the Lord to lead you out of your desert? Have you turned your eyes upon Jesus and repented of the sins that left you barren and desolate? Have you recognized the meaning of the word picture that God has shown us? Without Jesus, each of us are left stranded and dying in the desert. With Jesus, we are lead to safety and righteousness.

Have you left your Desert of Sin?

Are you following the Lord?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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You will never find greater riches than this!

April 24, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace
(Ephesians 1:7 (NIV))

What do you think of when you think of riches?

Is it the typical human nature responses such as money, big house, fancy cars and expensive toys?

Let me ask this another way.

What is it that you value the most?

Did you answer family and friends? Perhaps you thought of the gift of life itself. These are valuable to most people, yet, there is something that has far greater worth. It is of far greater worth than all of the riches of the world.

What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?
(Mark 8:36 (NIV))

Everything in this life is here today and gone tomorrow. With that said, how can we place value on something that does not last? How can we spend our lives striving for something that can be taken from us in the blink of an eye?

We are trapped in a world of sin and death. A world that we allowed to fall away from God. It is a world badly in need of something that is eternal, something that will not rust or decay with time. That something is God’s grace.

I know of nothing in this world that can bring eternal life, even though man has searched for just such a thing for a long time. I know of nothing in this world that can bring peace, even though we all long for it. I know of nothing in this world that can bring everlasting joy, even though there are things that bring us fleeting glimpses of joy. Nothing in this world can redeem us. Nothing in this world can provide forgiveness, and nothing in this world can give us grace.

With that said, the greatest riches of all is the very thing that can bring all of this. It is not of this world, for this world is fallen. It is from the very One who created this world. It is designed to bring each and every one of us back into the pre-sin relationship that we were supposed to have with God.

Let me ask a few more questions.

Does money make you happy? Do big houses make you happy? Do expensive toys make you happy? All of these things soon become the reason for living and then you discover that they leave you cold and empty. Only one thing can leave you joyfully filled and warm with the love of God.

Have you accepted the riches that God offers through His glorious gift of grace? Have you accepted the gift of salvation that was purchased at the cross by Jesus?

You will never find greater riches than this!

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