What priorities do you embrace?

August 16, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.
(1 Peter 4:1-2 (NIV))

Can we wholeheartedly accept these words? Can we embrace the fact that we will face suffering in our lifetime in the physical body that we are so proud of?

Humanity is frail. We admire the fragile shells that we call our bodies and pamper them to the point of sinful desires. We splurge and do things because they feel good without giving any thought to the long-term effects of our actions. We spend almost every waking hour doing something to take care of the physical side of our existence, which is mortal, while we come very close to completely ignoring our spiritual side, which has the potential to spend eternity in heaven.

It seems that we have our priorities backwards! We need to spend much more time concerned with our spiritual being. We need to resolve to look beyond the immediate needs of our physical shell and look to the needs of the part of us that truly matters. We must get to the point where we can recognize that our bodies are but dust and our spirits are the true treasure that we possess.

Can we truly allow our physical bodies to suffer so that our spiritual being will benefit?

I would like to think that it is possible, for we have been told that it is the way to do away with sin in our life. However, I do not know if I am capable of such a massive undertaking. Luckily, God knew that we were not capable on our own, even after He sent His Son, Jesus, to show us what to do. We may desire to do away with the physical desires and focus on God, yet, we are spiritual infants who happen to have a very strong urge from the physical side of our existence. For this reason, God allows us to call upon the name of Jesus as our atoning sacrifice, for His Blood covers a multitude of sins.

Can you suffer in the physical the way that Jesus did? Can you earnestly call upon the Blood of Jesus to help you when you fall?

What priorities do you embrace?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Whom do you have?

August 8, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
(Psalms 73:25 (NIV))

What is more important to you, the people in your life or the things in your life?

Be careful how you answer!

One more question for you. Who is more important to you, the people in your life or the Lord?

I realize that these questions may seem ridiculous, but answered honestly, they will tell you more about yourself than you probably care to admit. If you value things over people, then where is your heart? Where is your love? Some may say that valuing the people in your life is important and should take precedence over the Lord, but let me ask you another question. Who are you going to turn to when everyone in your life has let you down? Who will you turn to when even your spouse, your children or your closest friend disappoints you or are taken from you? When this happens, many people turn to the Lord, but I want to propose that the time to turn to the Lord is long before anything like this happens. When you can truthfully claim that you love the Lord, then your complete perspective on life changes. When you look at things or people as a priority, this is, in most cases, a self-centered outlook on life even if you think that you place yourself low on your priorities list. You are looking at the things or the people to make you happy, to bring meaning to your life, and to make you whole.

Think about these simple facts. Things rust and decay. All people, no matter how good they are, will disappoint you eventually. We are all sinful by nature.

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

Only the Lord is unchanging.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
(Hebrews 13:8 (NIV))

With this simple truth, we should anchor our lives on a firm foundation that never changes. We should not look to things. We should not look to people. We should only look to the Lord! We only need to accept the grace and mercy freely given at the cross and claim the gift of grace for ourselves. When we honestly and truthfully make this claim, we have the Lord of all creation in our lives and nothing can surpass His majesty and glory!

Whom do you have?

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.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is there anything that you are still trying to hide?

July 31, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
(1 John 1:9 (NIV))

What is it about human nature that makes us want to keep secrets?

We keep them from those we love. We keep them from our friends. We keep them from those we work with, and we keep them from those whom we call brothers and sisters in Christ. We may be able to fool others for a while, but our secrets are usually uncovered in one way or another.

What type of things do we feel that we need to keep secret from others?

Most of our secrets are attempts to keep our shortcomings, our embarrassments and our sins from public scrutiny. We feel that we can continue to do things if we just act as if we aren’t doing them. Why do we think that we can act in this manner? Why do we feel that we can continue in our behaviors indefinitely? Too many people simply won’t admit that one day they will have to be held accountable for everything that they have ever done. They will have to stand, not in front of others, but in front of the Lord where they will be judged based on a standard that no one can attain on their own. If you have repented and placed your faith in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, you will be judged righteous. Still, we are only human. We are a sinful, fallen creation. We must repent of our sin and turn away from our nature continually. We must search our hearts, for the Lord knows our hearts. We must seek to uncover things that we attempt to keep hidden from ourselves. We must seek to replace what we desire to keep hidden with things that are of the Lord.

Think of the sinful, hidden things in your life and think about the old saying, “Garbage in. Garbage out!” It is time to replace the garbage of sin with the grace and mercy offered to us through the cross. Allow the Lord to cleanse the garbage and to purify our hearts. Ask the Lord to remove any hidden sin!

Is there anything that you are still trying to hide?

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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It is better to place our trust in the Lord!

July 3, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.”
(Jeremiah 17:9-10 (NIV))

We have all heard the instructions to follow our heart, but based on this passage, is that truly wise counsel?

Do you truly desire to follow your heart when it will always lead you astray?

For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.”
(Mark 7:21-23 (NIV))

Sadly, we think that we know what is best for us. We think that we know what will make us happy, but is worldly happiness what we truly desire when we can have eternal joy through one simple redirection of our priorities? Worldly happiness is fleeting. It is here today and gone tomorrow. It doesn’t last. Placing your faith in Jesus and following Him brings joy in all circumstances, even when everything around you is falling apart!

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

I don’t know about you, but it sounds like we are being told that when we accept Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, He actually protects us from our deceitful heart! In other words, He guards us from ourselves and our sinful nature.

It is better to place our trust in the Lord!

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