What things fill your thoughts?

October 16, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
(Philippians 4:8 (NIV))

What fills your mind when you have nothing tugging on you such as work or family obligations?

Most people simply cannot sit and think of absolutely nothing. Even when we are preoccupied with something, our thoughts often interrupt us with glimpses of our inner desires. These vary by individual and most of us would be ashamed to let anyone know what those thoughts are. Some people are even able to force themselves to redirect their thoughts. It takes dedication and maturity to make yourself truly change your thoughts.

Why do we want to change our thoughts?

To put it simply, our thoughts reflect what is truly in our hearts. Our thoughts reflect what we truly treasure! If we treasure something, it is a driving force in our lives.

Are you driven by money or by power? Are you driven by fame? Are you driven by hidden desires for things that the Lord calls sin? There is an old saying that you are what you eat. In other words, what you fill your life with is what you will eventually have coming forth from your life. If you think on sinful matters, you will sin. If you think on godly matters, then you will reflect God’s righteousness.

Human nature is such a fickle thing. It allows the enemy to take something that God has created and twist it to the point where it becomes a sinful obsession. Focus your thoughts on the things of God!

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

What things fill your thoughts?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Think about who you pray for!

September 17, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, because I hear about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints. I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ. Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.
(Philemon 1:4-7 (NIV))

Paul wrote many letters of encouragement to believers throughout his traveling. Some of the letters even had to take on a tone of discipline in order to get people back on the right track. Most of the letters were letters of teaching and encouragement.

The words that Paul wrote in this letter are excellent commendations for a person who truly sought to know God and to do His Will. Still, do you notice that even though Paul commended him for his faith and his works, there is one thing that he did – Paul prayed for this person. Even though he was doing what God wanted him to do and was faithful in his helping others, Paul knew that even the most faithful need prayer to under gird them and protect them from the attacks of the enemy.

Who do you pray for? Is it only the people that you know are in need of something? What about the people who are pillars of faith in your community? Shouldn’t we do as Paul and pray for them? Satan does not leave believers alone. We have seen all too often that even the people whom we see as faithful can falter.

When we pray we must not forget the faithful who are diligent in doing the Will of God. We must pray that they do not face the attacks of the enemy and that they will not give in to temptation, for nothing pleases Satan more than knowing that someone who has been bought by the blood of Jesus Christ has fallen.

With this in mind, wouldn’t you want someone praying for you so that you don’t fall into temptation?

Think about who you pray for!

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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Be careful how you answer this!

June 24, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.
(Isaiah 40:25 (NIV))

We may not think that we compare God to anyone or to anything, but if we don’t place Him first in our lives, we are guilty of doing just that!

Think about this from a personal perspective. What is it that you desire most in life? Is it wealth? Is it fame? Is it power? Do you model your life on someone who has the things that you desire? Do you look to them as your standard or do you look to God to give you direction and guidance for your life?

Based on those questions, it is extremely easy to compare others to God. It is easy to place God second or even lower in your life. Is this what you want? Perhaps I should ask is this what God wants?

We have a tendency to look at the Lord as some sort of genii who is there to grant our every wish and to stay out of our lives when we think we don’t need anything. In all honesty, when this happens, we are comparing ourselves to God. We may not intend to do this, but in fact, we are guilty of elevating ourselves above the Lord. Is this what you want? Is this what God wants?

Human nature is far too predictable. Even when we profess to know the Lord, we fail miserably at truly recognizing His majesty. We fail when we turn to ourselves or to others for guidance and direction when we have the Creator waiting for us to turn to Him. Are we guilty of comparing ourselves or others to God? Are we guilty of placing ourselves or others above God?

Be truthful!

Be careful how you answer this!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Step forward into God’s promises!

May 6, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses.
(Joshua 1:3 (NIV))

Have you ever stopped to think about what would have happened if the Israelites had not stepped forward to receive what had been promised to them?

I want you to truly think this question through and not just the superficial answer you subconsciously gave as you read the question.

Would Israel ever have existed as a nation in the Promised Land? Would Jerusalem exist? Would David ever have been a king? Would Solomon have existed? Would the temple ever have been built? Without David as king, would that lineage even matter? Would Jesus have been born into this world? Would Jesus suffer on the cross, died and buried? Would the resurrection ever have occurred?

If you stop to think about the promise given in Joshua, it is important to remember that this in actually a continuation of the promise given to Abram as it unfolded with God changing his name to Abraham. The promises that God has given to us are more than just for our immediate gratification. In fact, besides the birth of a son, Abraham never saw the fulfillment of these promises.

We have a different perspective than either Abraham or the Israelites under the leadership of Joshua, but we still have yet to see the fulfillment of all of God’s promises. I actually believe that humanity since the fall from grace is too frail to see fully all of the promises especially since God’s promises are tied to his glory. Think about God’s appearance to Moses. We know that God did not show Himself fully to Moses, but we also know that God gave promises to Moses. The promises that we have today are the same promises that God has given before. The only difference is that we have seen some of the promises come to fruition. This should give us faith to know that the rest will eventually come to fruition.

But what happens when we don’t step forward into God’s promises? I know that we all long for good things for ourselves, but if we don’t step forward to claim what God has promised, we are also impacting others who will follow. Just as if the Israelites had not stepped forward, what will happen if we don’t step forward?

Step forward into God’s promises!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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But who are you?

May 1, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?”
(Acts 19:15 (NIV))

Think about that question for a moment.

“But who are you?”

Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.
(Acts 19:16 (NIV))

Simply invoking the name of Jesus does not work!

Let’s back up just a bit and look at the beginning of this passage.

Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this.
(Acts 19:13-14 (NIV))

These men did not know Jesus. They did not know His power and authority. They had heard about it through what they had heard about Paul. They thought that they could simply mention the name of Jesus and the evil spirits would leave.

Think about that for a moment. This sounds like people who claim that they can get a “celebrity” because a friend of a friend’s aunt went to school with the celebrity’s mother. In other words, they know nothing of the person. There is no relationship there. They are basically name dropping.

These men who were invoking the name of Jesus to drive out evil spirits were name dropping. There was no relationship with Jesus that they could call upon and the evil spirits new this. Keep in mind that the evil spirits used to be angels and they knew Jesus. They cowered at His name, yet, when confronted with someone that they knew did not know Jesus, they took full advantage of it.

Jesus is not a magical name that you can simply pronounce and all evil will flee. Jesus is not a genii who will do your every bidding.

Jesus is the only begotten Son of God. Evil spirits tremble at His power and name. If you invoke the name of Jesus, make sure that you have a personal relationship with Him. Accept Him as your personal Lord and Savior. Spend time in God’s Word. Become intimate with what Jesus said and did. Learn how to mature into the image of Jesus. Know His heart and seek to walk in His Light. If your heart longs for the things that are of God, then the evil spirits will know your name. They will see the evidence of His presence in your life. They will see the touch of the Holy Spirit upon you and will know that you are not just dropping names.

The evil spirits will not respond with “but who are you?”

They will know that you have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus.

But who are you?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you mourn for the world?

April 29, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
(Matthew 5:4 (NIV))

We are used to reading this passage and we think that we have a good understanding of its meaning, but I was recently presented something that made me expand my concept of mourning!

When we hear the word mourn, we automatically think of the feelings that we have as the direct result of the loss of a loved one, but perhaps we need to remember what makes the Lord mourn.

He despises sin. It breaks His heart to see His creation that He loves lost in their sin.

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))

With that in mind, how do you think the Lord feels as this world spirals further and further away from Him and further and further into sin? If you are a parent, how would you feel if your children rejected you and all the love that you have for them in order to follow your worst enemy? That is exactly what we have done! We have broken the Lord’s heart! We have made Him mourn because of our actions. It is these very actions that we rejoice over and that we accept as good when at there very core, they are corrupt, vile and sinful. Those who know the Lord’s heart, grieve over what the world declares as good. We should mourn with the Lord, for what breaks His heart should break ours.

Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.
(John 16:20 (NIV))

Do you see the world rejoicing?

Are the things that the world rejoices over something that makes the Lord mourn? Are the things that are occurring in the world escalating more rapidly than ever before? Do you see the world as the Lord sees the world?

Do you mourn for the world?

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