Do you still feel the weight of guilt and shame?

September 2, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!
(Hebrews 9:14 (NIV))

What weighs on your conscience?

Every single one of us is guilty of so much in our lives. We can’t seem to go a single day without adding something more to the already overwhelming burden of sin that we have accumulated during our time on this earth. If you ever truly stop and reflect on the sin that has permeated your life, it is staggering.

In your opinion, what is the worst thing that you have ever done in this life?

Do you try to bury it so deep inside that you never have to think about it? It is still there. It is still ammunition that the enemy can use against you. It is one of his primary tactics to get you to think that the grace offered by Jesus on the cross could never be for someone like you! The enemy loves to make you feel guilty and then drive that guilt home. The enemy loves to take the guilt and then turn it into shame. When this happens, you lose all hope, for you have not only accepted the lie, you have embraced the lie of condemnation as your own story.

Stop right there!

That does not have to be your story!

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))

Do you believe?

If you answered that you believe, then you are not condemned. You have absolutely nothing to feel guilty for and you have absolutely nothing in your life that needs to cause shame. Jesus took these sins and covered them with His blood. The blood of Christ has cleansed you. You have been washed white as snow.

Do you still feel the weight of guilt and shame?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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From the inside out!

July 12, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(1 Thessalonians 5:23 (NIV))

I had something pointed out to me today that should have been obvious, or it should have been obvious if I had simply been paying attention!

If you slow down and read this passage you will see that this passage gives us God’s order of importance with respect to our lives. In essence, it explains, in more detail, the concept that outward appearances are not what make a person righteous, and because of this, God looks at the heart. The heart reflects the spirit and the desires of the heart determine a person’s life. You will seek out what your heart desires.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
(Matthew 6:21 (NIV))

Our words reflect what is in our heart.

What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.
(Matthew 15:11 (NIV))

But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.
(Matthew 15:18-19 (NIV))

God looks at the secrets within. He knows that in order to be righteous and blameless, it has to start from within us. It has to start with a desire to turn from our sin and profess a faith in Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior. Too many people go through the outward motions without ever having a change within. Their secret life is as sinful as ever, but the facade that they present to the world is one that appears to be blameless. Jesus let these people know of their sin, for they were acting righteous when what was inside was wicked.

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.
(Matthew 23:27-28 (NIV))

Would Jesus call you a hypocrite? Do you desire to change? Repent and ask God to change your heart and He will change you…

From the inside out!

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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He knows just how to renew your spirit!

July 2, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
     and renew a right spirit within me.
(Psalms 51:10 (ESV))

What is the state of your spirit within you?

If you are anything like me, if you suffer as part of humanity, then the things that happen around us and to us have an impact on us whether we want to admit it or not. With what the whole world has experienced over the last year or more, it impacts even those who profess a faith in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. Sometimes I just look at the things of this world and sigh because I can’t put my thoughts into accurate words. I sigh because of the unrighteous things that I see. I sigh because I long for God’s righteousness and not the world’s evil. If you are like me, you can understand how Elijah felt when he ran from Jezebel.

But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.”
(1 Kings 19:4 (NIV))

Elijah had fled Jezebel. He was afraid and he was tired. Human nature took control and he wanted to have God end his life. He was physically, mentally and spiritually exhausted.

And he lay down and slept under a broom tree. And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, “Arise and eat.” And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank and lay down again. And the angel of the Lord came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.” And he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God.
(1 Kings 19:5-8 (NIV))

Elijah was a prophet. He heard from God on many different occasions, and yet he still had a crushed spirit due to the events in the world in his life. How can we assume that we will have the strength to achieve on our own what Elijah was unable to achieve on his own?

A day’s journey into the wilderness means that he found a place to escape his troubles and rest. This allowed for the Lord to send comfort and renewal not once, but twice. Because he was able to find rest in the Lord, he was prepared to face the journey ahead. That journey had him face many dark days, but he was able to face them because he found rest in the Lord and the Lord renewed his spirit.

When you sigh and groan under the weight of the world, remember Elijah. Seek the Lord and seek rest in His presence. Our sighs and groans are not incomprehensible to the Lord.

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.
(Romans 8:26 (NIV))

He knows just how to renew your spirit!

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Come, Lord Jesus, come!

June 18, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.
(Romans 8:26 (NIV))

Is it just me or have you found yourself spiritually groaning as you observe all of the events transpiring in the world? They seem to be increasing in intensity and in frequency. If you don’t believe me, just think back to two years ago. No one could have imagined a worldwide pandemic. No one could have imagined the racial conflicts that have been increasing. No one could have imagined far too many things that we have seen and continue to see as they progressively unfold. When I actually contemplate everything that has transpired worldwide, I involuntarily sigh and groan. I am appalled at what I see. I am saddened by the state of insanity that has grasped this nation and this world. If it makes me sigh and groan, can you imagine how heavy God’s heart is as He watches people reject Him? Can you imagine how heavy God’s heart is as He watches people reject His offer of grace and salvation through His Son, Jesus?

What do you see when you look at the world?

Do you see a world that is as safe as the one that you grew up in? Do you see a world that is vastly different than just twenty or thirty years ago? Do you see a world that rejects God more and more each day?

How does that make you feel?

Is there something inside of you that sighs and groans at the thought of where we have come to? Is there something inside of you that sighs and groans adamantly at the thought of where our world is so rapidly progressing to?

It is a common human trait to wish for a better life for our children and grandchildren. With all of the spiritual groaning that I feel and that I am reading that others feel, I do not believe that this physical world will provide a better life as human nature desires.

All is not lost!

Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.
(Matthew 24:7-8 (NIV))

“Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.
(Matthew 24:32-34 (NIV))

Many believe that we are the fig tree generation. The generation that saw Israel become a nation again and the generation that is seeing all of these things transpire right before our eyes. We must look to Jesus! We must look for Jesus! When God’s Spirit fills us with groans, I prefer to think of them as pleas for God’s Will to be done.

Come, Lord Jesus, come!

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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This is a must do!

May 28, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.
(John 4:24 (NIV))

All throughout human history since the fall from grace, man has wanted to be able to visualize what he has worshipped. Perhaps this is due to the limited capabilities of humanity to understand what he cannot see. Whatever the reason may be, God cannot be limited to physical dimensions such as time and place, size and shape. God is exactly what John told us. He is Spirit. We cannot see Him in our physical limitations. We must learn to see beyond what we are and learn to see God with our hearts and our spirits, and not with our limited physical bodies.

There is a saying that there is more to this world than meets the eye. How true this statement is. All around us is a spiritual world that we cannot see, but it interacts with us on a daily basis. God has reached out to us from this world that we cannot see by sending His Son, Jesus.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.
(John 1:1-4 (NIV))

Jesus taught us how to worship God in spirit and in truth. He came as the ultimate example of God’s love to make it possible for us to make it back to God even from our sinful, fallen nature.

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))

Only through Jesus will we be able to stand before God. Only through Jesus are we made righteous to be able to stand before a righteous God. Until that day, we must keep our eyes on Jesus as the only way to the Father.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
(John 14:6-7 (NIV))

In all things that Jesus did, He always pointed to the Father. He came to earth to show us the way to the Father. How well have you learned the truth of that lesson that Jesus taught?

This is a must do!

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do you hope to draw closer to the Lord?

May 12, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
(Galatians 5:25 (NIV))

Have you ever read something that made you do a double-take?

This passage did just that for me. Paul made some very profound and bold statements in these few short words.

Reread this passage and be honest with yourself when you answer the following questions.

Do you honestly live by the Spirit?

I know that I long to live by the Spirit, but human nature prevents me from fulfilling this with any consistency. Paul expressed in his writing that his readers were living by the Spirit. What did they know and do that we do not?

Do you keep in step with the Spirit?

If you are like me, you long to keep in step, but all too often you find yourself several paces behind, or at best, you find that you have been distracted and are not even in the same zip code.

I often wonder how Paul was able to live by the Spirit, and to keep in step with the Spirit , but then I remember that Paul had an encounter that left a permanent impression upon his life. He encountered Jesus in a way that would leave even the biggest skeptic in a state of complete obedience.

Is that what it takes for us? Do we need such an amazing encounter that we can’t help but obey? I hope that is not the case, for we have to remember that Paul was persecuting the church. Jesus had to do something to change the course of Paul’s life. Hopefully, we are not persecuting His church. At best, we may be slightly engrossed in our lives and not give all that we can, but I honestly do not think that we can be accused of persecuting the church.

Drastic times call for drastic measures!

That is what Jesus did in the life of Paul. He drastically changed Paul. He changed him to the point of being able to live by the Spirit. Paul tried to weigh everything and do everything according to what the Spirit told him to do. Can you imagine how things would be different if Paul lived his life as we have a tendency to live ours? Imagine the way things would have unfolded IF Paul had gone back to Jerusalem to seek medical help for his sudden blindness. He would have not followed the leading of the Spirit to go to Damascus. Ananias would not have been needed because Paul was not there. Paul would not have been healed. He would not have started his mission to the gentiles. You would probably not be reading this right now.

I often wonder if I am living by the Spirit and if I am in step with the Spirit. This is something that I pray. I long to become able to better discern the gentle voice of the Spirit. This may be food for those who claim that Christians are weak minded, but I like to think that I would want to become like an obedient dog following his master. I long for this type of a relationship not because I am weak minded, but because I know the bond of love that is present in this type of relationship. Wherever the master goes, you guessed it, the dog follows. The dog is so in tune to his master that he instinctively knows where the master is leading.

Are you instinctively in tune to where the Spirit is leading? Are you even in the same zip code?

Do you hope to draw closer to the Lord?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Keep your mind soundly aware of God’s power and love!

March 16, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
(2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV))

What is your reaction when you look at the current state of the world?

If you are like me, you are probably shaking your head in disbelief as common sense has become more uncommon as each day passes. Even in the midst of all of the current events in this world, we must not lose hope as we continually focus on what we have been told will happen.

You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.
(Matthew 24:6-8 (NIV))

When you read these words from Matthew, did you read them in fear or did you have a peace from knowing that we have been told about the very things that are unfolding right before us? For those who have been with me for a while, you may remember that at one point I mentioned that when these words were written a nation referred to a people group and a kingdom referred to what we today now call a nation. In other words, nation will rise against nation refers to what we are seeing today with all of the racial strife. Kingdom against kingdom refers to all of the tensions between countries. Even in the midst of all of this and so much more, we must rely on Jesus.

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

No matter what we may see as things unfold right before our eyes, we must not lose sight of the fact that we can face all things if we keep our eyes focused on Jesus. He is the author and perfecter of our faith! Through Jesus, we have nothing to fear. We can fully rely on His power and His love as assurances of what has been promised. We can boldly face anything when our minds are firmly and soundly focused on Jesus.

It is a matter of focus.

As humans, we have the ability to choose what we see. We can cast our gaze upon the text in a book and still see the surrounding room, but the details of that room are not clear. If we choose to shift our focus to the details in the room, the text in the book becomes lost in our periphery. In much the same manner as we can choose to focus on what is right in front of us, we can choose what to focus on when it comes to peace or fear. We can look at the world and fear comes into focus or we can look to the Lord and fear goes away!

What do you see when you see the world?

If you are not seeing the power and love of God, then change your focus!

Keep your mind soundly aware of God’s power and love!

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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We have no reason to be timid!

March 1, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.
(2 Timothy 1:7 (NIV))

Have you ever been in a situation where you felt timid and intimidated?

Do you remember details about that situation and why you felt like that?

According to Merriam-Webster, we feel this way because we lack courage or self-confidence. We lack boldness or determination. In other words, we feel inferior and because of this we want to retreat and hide.

Does this sound like an attitude that anyone should have who professes a faith in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior?

We have a hope and a faith that should spur us on because our hope and faith are placed in the only One who has the power and authority to back up the claims.

Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold.
(2 Corinthians 3:12 (NIV))

It all comes down to a simple question that Jesus asked long ago and is still asking each of us to this day.

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
(Matthew 16:15 (NIV))

Your answer will determine so much. The wrong answer will leave you doubting. The right answer will give you assurance and boldness. It will give you confidence. It will give you a peace that passes understanding. It will give you the power and the authority to call upon Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior. It will prove beyond any doubt that you are loved by God. It will prove that you are a redeemed child of God!

We have no reason to be timid!

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Has your spirit been telling you to take refuge in the Lord?

January 25, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

The prudent see danger and take refuge,
     but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.
(Proverbs 22:3 (NIV))

What do you see when you see the world today?

Do you see a world that is full of hope, or do you see a world that is terrified of everything?

Do you see a world that has it all together, or do you see a world that is literally falling apart?

Do you see a world that is at peace, or do you see a world that is at war at every conceivable level?

Perhaps one more question will clarify your position. Is the world filling up with godly righteousness or evil?

How that you interpret and understand what is going on in the world is based on your world view. If you think that humanity has all of the answers, then you see the world in a transition phase leading into a great reset and a new world order. This world view believes that everything will be perfect if humanity will simply adopt a new belief system. If you see the world through a Biblical world view, then you are the ones that will be required to adopt this new belief system or suffer the consequences. Does this sound familiar from what we have read in prophecy in Daniel, Ezekiel, and Revelation?

Many people who profess a faith in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior see the proverbial handwriting on the wall. I see more and more people, who are usually quiet, saying that they are sensing that God is up to something and that it will happen very soon. I am talking about local pastors who don’t have an internet following because of some prophecy that they recorded for everyone to watch. I am talking about moms and dads who are reporting a sense of urgency in their spirits. I am talking about people falling to their knees and praying in the Spirit who have never done this before.

Then there are those who go about their faith walk as if nothing unusual were happening. They study God’s Word completely ignoring the estimated twenty-five percent of the Bible that is prophecy. They especially ignore the prophecies that haven’t happened yet. They long for things to return to normal. They love this life and this world so much that they completely miss what God is doing right in front of them.

How do you see the world?

Has your spirit been telling you to take refuge in the Lord?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Does praying in the Spirit mean seeking His Spirit first?

January 22, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
(Ephesians 6:18 (NIV))

Do you understand what it means to pray in the Spirit?

Most people understand that it is the grownings of their spirit beyond what human words can convey. It is a gut-wrenching desire for God to move in a situation and in a way that is beyond human understanding and ability. But is there more to praying in the Spirit than what we usually think?

What is it in our spirit that makes us understand that what is bothering us also bothers God?

Have we grown so close to the Lord that we know His desires better than we know our own? Have we come to the point in our faith that we have turned over our burdens to the Lord? Have we laid them at the foot of the cross in complete surrender?

I am beginning to think, I am beginning to understand, that in order to pray in the Spirit we must earnestly seek His Spirit and His Will. Without that understanding, without seeking His Spirit to begin with, how does our spirit know how to approach God in this manner? How does our spirit know how to communicate in this manner? I realize that many people believe that we were created with a God-shaped hole that we are constantly trying to fill with things of this world. We must learn to prioritize this and fill it with God. By so doing, we replace the world with His Spirit and His Spirit instructs our spirit. I firmly believe that we truly learn to pray in the Spirit when His Spirit lives in us and is guiding us.

Have you ever prayed in the Spirit?

What did it feel like in your spirit? Did you feel a closeness to the Lord that you don’t experience all the time? Was it the proverbial mountaintop experience? Did you come away with a deeper understanding of God’s heart? Did it leave you longing for more of this closeness with His Spirit? Did you find yourself making time so that you could be in His presence more often?

I truly believe that we were created to be in communication with God in this manner. I have one more question to ask. I know how I choose to answer.

Does praying in the Spirit mean seeking His Spirit first?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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