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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What comes from your mouth?

March 19, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
(Ephesians 4:29 (NIV))

Words are a powerful device. Words can be uplifting and encouraging. Words can be sad and convey despair. Words can convey affection and in the next breath, they can convey anger. We have a tendency to use words rashly and in haste. It is so easy to let the wrong words slip off of your tongue. I would venture to say that every one of us on this planet has said something today that they wish could be taken back.

Most people think of unwholesome talk as the proverbial four letter words that we all tend to know even if we hate to admit it. However, have you stopped to think about what else may be considered unwholesome?

Words said in anger or in hatred destroy instantly. Words said in frustration never make the situation any better. Words aimed directly at provoking hurt are never able to be recalled. All of these types of words can be unwholesome for they destroy. They do not build up.

Jesus rarely used words that did not build up. I can only think of a few situations that He used terms less than uplifting. I do not think that being called a brood of vipers made those people feel good about themselves. However, even when Jesus said words such as these, they were not expressed in the rage and hatred that we often use. I picture the use of these words more out of pity than out of anger.

Unwholesome talk is anything that destroys what God is trying to accomplish in and through another person. Guard your tongue, for Satan can use it to do just that. Give pause to your words. Let your tongue be guided by the Holy Spirit. He will not give you unwholesome words. He will fill your mouth with words that will be a blessing to all who hear.

What comes from your mouth?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Who is your audience when you pray?

February 13, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
(Matthew 6:5-8 (NIV))

Jesus spoke many words about prayer. Prayer is important, but prayer must be done for the right reasons. If you are praying so that others will see you pray, then you must examine your motives behind your prayers.

When Jesus said to go into your room and close the door to pray, He knew that people’s true motives come out when they are alone. In public, people put on a different facade, but in private, people become what they truly are. When you pray in private, you are not influenced by what others will think of you and your true feelings will be expressed. When you pray in public, Jesus knew that public reaction, or even the possibility of public reaction, would influence you and that the prayers may even be as a show.

When you pray, be sure that it is not for the entertainment of others.

Who is your audience when you pray?

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