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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Have you heard the Lord say to get moving?

May 13, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on.
(Exodus 14:15 (NIV))

God spoke these words to Moses when the Egyptians were pursuing them and had them cornered at the sea. To the Israelites, it looked like they had two choices – die at the hands of Pharaoh’s army or die in the sea.

God had other plans!

The Israelites were looking at their situation through worldly eyes. Many of them even vocalized their lack of faith.

They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt?
(Exodus 14:11 (NIV))

It is human nature to see the worst in a situation. It is hope that allows us to see the best in the very same situations. It is faith that allows us to take action on our hope and have results that astound the world. In this story, the Israelites overcame their worldly viewpoint and literally stepped out in faith and gave us a glimpse into the majesty and power that God has over His creation. Without their faith and this story, we may not realize that God controls His creation.

It took faith! It also took a direct command from God to Moses to get the people moving.

Do you have that type of faith?

Have you heard the Lord say to get moving?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Where are you?

May 4, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Before them fire devours,
behind them a flame blazes.
Before them the land is like the garden of Eden,
behind them, a desert waste–
nothing escapes them.
(Joel 2:3 (NIV))

I believe that we are in a transitional place, a place of growth and maturity. Each of us may be in a situation that has us literally between a rock and a hard place. We may find ourselves in the midst of so much fire and waste that we do not see any potential end. When we, as believers, find ourselves in this place in our lives, we must remember that God uses these times in our lives to refine us like silver.

This third I will bring into the fire;
I will refine them like silver
and test them like gold.
They will call on my name
and I will answer them;
I will say, `They are my people,’
and they will say, `The LORD is our God.’ ”
(Zechariah 13:9 (NIV))

It is in these times that one of two things may happen. We will either turn from God in our anger or turn toward God in our faith. It is God’s desire to purify us in our faith. He longs for us to mature into the image of Jesus.

I had a conversation not too long ago with someone who questioned whether being in the wilderness was a good thing or a bad thing. Take a look at Jesus after He was baptized. He went into the wilderness for 40 days. He did not do anything bad, yet He had to face the temptation before He could truly minister to those whom He came to seek and to save.

When we find ourselves in the desert or the wilderness, it is all a matter of our outlook, our perspective on the situation. We can either look at the situation and not see beyond our circumstances or we can see the “Light” of Jesus at the end of our journey. If we focus on the “Light,” then we should be able to stand firm in our desert and continually pray for righteousness.

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
(Psalms 51:10 (NIV))

Where are you?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do you want that strength?

April 7, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
(Philippians 4:13 (NKJV))

In just a few days, we, as the Body of Christ, will be celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus. I know that it will not be the typical Easter Sunday that most of us are used to experiencing. I am going to go out on a limb and say that it may be far better than any of us could possibly imagine, especially with all that is going on in the world right now. If you stop to reflect on the current situation, many more people are slowing down and reflecting on spiritual matters. They are realizing that life is more than the fast paced routine that we have all found ourselves in lately. I would even venture to say that many people who have never given eternity a thought are now contemplating their own mortality and what happens when they die. The scenario is front and center in their minds.

What better thing to have happen in the midst of all of this than a celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus? What better thing to have happen than an event that points people to the One who conquered sin and death? I honestly can’t think of a better way to give hope and strength to the world!

It is my prayer that we, as the Body of Christ, don’t forget that we are over comers because of what Jesus has done. It is my prayer that we are prepared to lead others to a saving knowledge of Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. We may not be able to gather in our churches, but those are only buildings. The same people who have not gone to church are often willing to entertain the idea of watching a service online. Perhaps they would even be willing to talk about what they are experiencing during this time. God has slowed us down and made it so that others will have an open heart.

I pray that I am given the strength to do what I am called to do in these times.

Do you want that strength?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Will you let down the nets?

February 25, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”
(Luke 5:5 (NIV))

How many times have you worked and waited for God to do something in your life or through your life? It probably seemed like He would never do what you have had faith that He would do. Think how Simon (Peter) felt. Here was this rabbi who knew nothing about fishing. He had grown up as a carpenter, yet He was telling the fisherman what to do. Knowing how Peter often overreacted, I find it very interesting that he did what he did.

Peter did just as he had been told, even though he was tired. He was probably very irritable from working all night with no results, and he was probably harboring arrogant and sinful thoughts about the man who told him to let down his nets.

Think about this situation. We, too, are often like this. We are at our breaking point and do not see any purpose in continuing with what we are doing. We simply wish to give up. When we are faced with this type of situation and mentality, we must remember Simon Peter. Mentally, he was saying that this will never work. Intellectually, he was thinking that a carpenter doesn’t know anything about fishing. Spiritually, he was willing to give it one more try.

The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.
(Matthew 26:41b (NIV))

Simon Peter overcame his physical weakness and trusted in what his spirit was telling him. He was able to make that leap of faith that allowed Jesus to call him as one of His disciples. He was able to make that leap of faith when every other sign pointed in the other direction. Because of his willingness to say “But because you say so, I will let down the nets,” Jesus used him to reach through history and to touch millions of lives with the Gospel.

Is your spirit willing to obey that one more time when reason says you shouldn’t? Will you let down the nets?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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At once!

January 9, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

At once they left their nets and followed him.
(Matthew 4:20 (NIV))

When was the last time that you reacted immediately to a situation?

If you are like me, this probably doesn’t happen very often if at all. To be honest with you, most days I have trouble deciding what I want for dinner.

Each one of us who profess a faith in Jesus did not come to this decision as quickly as Peter and Andrew did. We had heard of Jesus most of our lives before we came to the decision to give our hearts to Jesus. Could we have and would we have been so quick to follow Jesus if He had appeared to us at our work and told us to follow Him? Would we have believed Him? Would we have left the comfort of what we knew and in an instant make a decision to leave it all behind and follow who in essence was a complete stranger? From a logical perspective, this sounds like lunacy. From a worldly perspective, it sounds like lunacy, but from a Godly perspective, it sounds like redemption, grace and salvation!

I have often wondered how I would have reacted if I were Peter or Andrew. Would I have been able to take that leap of faith? Would I have recognized that moment in time that would change my eternity? Would I have been able to place my trust in Jesus so quickly?

Think about that with respect to your life and how you came to faith in Jesus. Was it a well thought out decision or was it a quick and bold move? No matter how quickly the decision was made, the important truth is that you did make that decision. Even so, I want to give you something to think about. Peter gave his commitment “at once.” We do know that Peter was sometimes quick to do things, such as stepping out of the boat to walk on water. We also know that Peter vowed to never abandon Jesus, yet he denied Him three times. We also know that Jesus restored and forgave him. Perhaps Jesus saw something in Peter that is something that we should be willing to take hold of. Peter was willing to place his faith in Jesus even if he didn’t understand. He made the commitment and then relied on Jesus to see him through. We rely on our intellect to come to the decision and then we rely on our intellect to determine how we react. Is this really faith?

Are we able to decide at once to follow Jesus?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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God, nothing is too hard for You!

December 11, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Ah, Sovereign LORD, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.
(Jeremiah 32:17 (NIV))

Did you catch that last sentence?

Nothing is too hard for you.

Are there things in your life that you think are beyond God’s ability to help? Are there things in your life that you think that even God cannot turn the situation around?

Nothing is too hard for God!

If you believe that there are things that God cannot do, then the god that you worship is not the God of the Bible. The god that you worship is one of your own creation and since you created him, he is limited in what he can do.

You need the God that created you!

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
(Psalms 139:14 (NIV))

Can you praise a god of your own creation and expect it to do what the one, true God can do?

I want you to repeat after me – “God, nothing is too hard for You!”

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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We must learn that God is our only source!

December 3, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven and said:
“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
wisdom and power are his.
He changes times and seasons;
he deposes kings and raises up others.
He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to the discerning.
He reveals deep and hidden things;
he knows what lies in darkness,
and light dwells with him.
I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors:
You have given me wisdom and power,
you have made known to me what we asked of you,
you have made known to us the dream of the king.”
(Daniel 2:19-23 (NIV))

Daniel was given a glimpse of God in a manner like no other that I have ever heard! God used the king and Daniel to establish that He alone is in control.

Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, had asked his advisors, the wise men, to tell him the dream that he had and then tell him the interpretation. They replied correctly and told Nebuchadnezzar that no one living among humans could do such a thing. Even when Joseph interpreted pharaoh’s dream, the dream was described. Still, God knows the hearts of men. He uses dreams and visions to communicate with us. In this particular situation, He used the king as a vessel for the dream and He used Daniel to present His power and authority through the dream. Daniel understood the importance of the king’s request. He knew that he had to turn to God! Through prayer, the dream was revealed to Daniel. The Lord gave Daniel insight and wisdom. He revealed everything to Daniel that the king had asked his wise men to reveal to him.

We know the story, but do you understand the situation as it presented itself all of those years ago? Nebuchadnezzar had decreed that all wise men in Babylon be put to death if they could not do as he asked. There were dire consequences to be faced and only direct intervention from the Lord would be able to see Daniel through.

Have you ever faced situations where there seems to be no way to come out of them in one piece? I fully believe that this is what Daniel thought and that is why he and his friends began pleading with God for mercy. Pleading with God goes far beyond a simple prayer. You are earnest. In fact, you could even say that you are in anguish and are overwhelmed to the point of death. You go boldly before the Lord because you know that only He can save you!

I honestly believe that Daniel and his friends pleaded with God. They probably did not stop. They did not stray from their petitions. They did not falter. They were faithful to stay diligent in petitioning the Lord for what was needed and when He revealed Himself to Daniel, Daniel praised Him with the same effort that was used for the prayer.

God gives us wisdom, but it is not an easy thing for us to attain. We must be willing to stay with the Lord and wait for His counsel. We must learn that we cannot stray. We must learn to trust in the Lord in all that we do, both great and small. We must learn to praise God for answered prayers!

We must learn that God is our only source!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you ask God first?

November 15, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Then Saul said, “Let’s chase the Philistines all night and destroy every last one of them.” His men replied, “We’ll do whatever you think is best.” But the priest said, “Let’s ask God first.”
(1 Samuel 14:36 (NLT))

What do you think is best?

Do you rely on your judgment to determine what is the best thing to do in any situation? Do you rely on the judgment of other people?

No human judgment is perfect. No human reasoning can understand and comprehend all that there is to know and understand. We see things in a limited light.

Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
(1 Corinthians 13:12 (NIV))

If this is how we see and understand all that is around us, why do we place our trust in any other judgment but God’s? His judgment, just as His Word, is what we should be seeking. We should not place our trust in the knowledge and judgment of men, for man’s judgment is flawed.

Do you ask God first?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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When you focus on praising the Lord, you don’t need to worry!

August 21, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
(Philippians 4:6 (NIV))

Do you worry? Are you anxious about things in your life that just seem to overwhelm you? Do you spend more time worrying about the what-ifs instead of praying to the one who can provide peace? What is it about our human nature that makes us worry about everything? I would venture to say that some of us even worry about whether our salvation is real because we may not feel saved at times.

Worry!

Anxiousness!

Anxiety!

Troubles?

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))

Why do we feel that we need to worry? Jesus told us that we would have troubles, but we can fully trust in Him to see us through our troubles. Think about that from this perspective. When we worry, when we are anxious, we say that we doubt Jesus. We say that we don’t think that He will fulfill His promises to overcome the world. Does this put a fresh and different perspective on worry and anxiousness? Does it make you want to stop and pray instead of worrying? Let’s take this one step further and offer up thankful prayers for what the Lord has already done for us. We should also prayerfully look forward to what He is doing for us in the moment and in what is to come.

When you focus on praising the Lord, you don’t need to worry!

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