Do your thoughts run wild?

July 19, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
(2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV))

In other words, we should control what we say, see, hear and do so that we can focus on the Lord, and we should also control what we think!

This sounds wonderful, but as Paul wrote these words to the church at Corinth, he was giving instructions to the members of that body of believers on how to conduct spiritual warfare.

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.
(2 Corinthians 10:3-4 (NIV))

In fact, it was Paul who was coming under attack by others who were professing to love the Gospel. These words were encouragement to weigh what he was preaching to see if he was boasting. Paul was telling this group of people, and us, to look at the message and not the messenger, for they were saying that his writings were powerful yet his speaking was not.

You are judging by appearances. If anyone is confident that they belong to Christ, they should consider again that we belong to Christ just as much as they do.
(2 Corinthians 10:7 (NIV))

Sadly, we still experience this very same thing today. We judge the messenger and not the message. We can have a dynamic speaker who doesn’t speak the truth and this person will be followed. We can also have a speaker who is shy and timid and speaks the truth, but who follows this person? We must learn to discern who is speaking the truth and, as Paul wrote, demolish arguments so that we can take captive our every thought so that we are obedient to Christ. If we are too tied up in appearances, we will not be focused on the truth. Our thoughts will run out of control toward the worldly things that we say that we want to turn away from. We will have not only failed to take our thoughts captive, we will have enabled them to run wild.

Do your thoughts run wild?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you willing to be searched?

July 14, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
(Psalms 139:23 (NIV))

What imagery comes to mind when you think of being searched?

Is it invasive? Is it forceful? Is it a scenario where you feel extremely uncomfortable? Is your imagery of being searched something that you would want to be put through? Is this how you envision God searching you?

We have a choice. We can profess a faith in Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, and then open up our heart to the searching and guidance of the Holy Spirit, or we can wait until the appointed time when Jesus returns. We can surrender to the gentle searching that will lead to a maturity in Christ, or we can be defiant now and face something that none of us want to face. Those who don’t profess a faith in Jesus now will acknowledge His Lordship too late!

that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
     in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
     to the glory of God the Father.
(Philippians 2:10-11 (NIV))

Asking God to search your heart means that you surrender to Him and to His plans for you. Asking God to search your heart indicates that you are ready and willing to take a step toward realizing the hope of a future in His presence.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
(Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV))

If you ask the Lord to search your heart, you better be prepared for God to remove some things from your life. You better be prepared to experience some spiritual growing pains as the Lord refines you and makes you into someone that He can use.

Remove the dross from the silver,
     and a silversmith can produce a vessel;
(Proverbs 25:4 (NIV))

Asking the Lord to search your heart is the first step.

Are you willing to be searched?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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His ways are perfect!

March 4, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
      neither are your ways my ways,”
         declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
      so are my ways higher than your ways
      and my thoughts than your thoughts.
(Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV))

Have you ever found yourself asking, “What is God doing?”

If you are like a vast number of people, this has probably come to mind quite often in recent history. To be honest with you, if you aren’t asking this, then it means that you aren’t paying attention to the world and what is unfolding right before our eyes. If you stop to consider that there are two ways that this question can be asked, then it opens up a complete new perspective on this question and how that you view God’s authority.

If you ask this question sarcastically, then it shows your contempt and disdain for how God is handling things. In essence, you are fed up with what is unfolding and are frustrated with God for not fixing it according to your desires. Be careful with this, for this is pride and has caused many to stumble and fall harshly.

What if you are asking this question with a curiosity and an eye to God’s Word? Are you searching God’s Word for insight and understanding?

Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.
(Acts 17:11 (NIV))

Are you excited to think that you get to be alive during this time as God unfolds His plans? Do you ask this question in awe and wonder of God’s eternal plan and where we might be in His timing?

The next time that you find yourself looking around and asking “What is God doing?”, I pray that it is with an attitude of awe and wonder, after all His ways are higher than ours. We are only the creation. He is the Creator! His timing is perfect.

His ways are perfect!

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Don’t look at the world!

January 29, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
     neither are your ways my ways,”
         declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
     so are my ways higher than your ways
     and my thoughts than your thoughts.
(Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV))

Do you truly trust in the Lord? Then why do we, as the Body of Christ, pay so much attention to the things of this world? How can we understand what God is doing when we are focusing on the world instead of focusing on Him. Instead of worrying about the current state of this nation and the world, we should be praising the Lord for the promises that He has given, for we know that the promises will be kept. We need to focus our eyes not on the things of this world, for they are fleeting. We should be focusing our eyes elsewhere.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
(‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭4:18 (NIV))

When we fix our eyes on something, it becomes clearly focused and everything else becomes unimportant. Everything else loses focus. Everything else becomes blurry. Everything else is not seen clearly. It is our human nature that makes it so difficult to focus on the unseen when what is seen is so distracting to our sinful, fallen natures. How can we even begin to know God’s heart and His ways if we focus on the world? With everything that is going on in the world, we need to keep our eyes focused on the One who will give us peace in the midst of the troubles. We need to make the Lord our priority.

We are not capable of the thoughts that the Lord has. We are not capable of the ways of the Lord. We are too easily distracted. Only the Lord can keep everything in focus at all times. Only the Lord can manage an eternity and make it work as He desires. Only the Lord can make history unfold to achieve His purpose. When we see things unfolding in this world that we do not understand, we need to relinquish our thoughts and ways. We need to stop looking at the world and look to Him, for everything is working according to His plan.

We must learn to completely trust His thoughts and His ways, and no matter what we may see in this world, we must always look to Him.

Don’t look at the world!

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do you see the Lord as Holy Glorious?

June 10, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

And they were calling to one another:
    “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;
     the whole earth is full of his glory.”
(Isaiah 6:3 (NIV))

There are two basic premises outlined in this passage. Two very true details that we need to fully embrace. How we embrace them determines our whole outlook and understanding of God the Father, Jesus His Son, and the Holy Spirit.

First and foremost, the LORD is holy. I am not certain if the word “holy” is repeated three times because of a subliminal reference to the Trinity, or whether it is repeated simply as a matter of driving the concept home. It may even be both. No matter why it is repeated, we must never forget that the LORD is holy. If we treat God in any way less than holy, we have sinned. We have taken the Creator of all things and redefined Him within our comfort zone. We do not praise Him if we make Him less than He is.

Ouch!

I hate to say this, but human nature finds us doing just that. We have a tendency of not understanding just how magnificent that He is. We tend to define God and our relationship to Him by our own thought processes and our own relationships. God is holy.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
      declares the LORD.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.
(Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV))

We cannot comprehend God. We must simply trust Him and accept that He is holy.

The second premise that is presented is the fact the the whole earth is full of His glory.

Everywhere that you look, you see wondrous things that God has created. Can man imagine a rainbow into existence? Can humanity divide the waters above from the waters below? Can anybody create a continent and clothe it in the vast splendor that we see?

God’s glory is manifested through His creation. Not only is He holy, but everything that He creates is glorious.

I hope that you fully caught what I just said. Everything that God creates is glorious. God created you and I. It is simple deductive reasoning that allows us to draw the conclusion that we are intended to be glorious. Even though we have fallen from grace through our sin, we are intended to be glorious. Even though we may not always follow God’s call, we are intended to be glorious.

God sent His glory into the world so that we could gain salvation and grace. Jesus, the son of God and the son of man, came into this world so that we could be washed clean and reunited with God in all of His glory.

Holy. Glory.

How do you see God in relationship to these two simple words? Do you see the Lord as Holy Glorious?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you ready for His coming?

April 3, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.
(1 John 2:28 (NIV))

I want to ask a question and I pray that you will be honest with yourself in this question and all questions that I ask.

With all that is going on in the world right now, have you found yourself asking if this is an indication of the soon return of Jesus?

To be honest with you, I have seen many people who would have never posted anything about this topic before who are now asking similar questions to what I just asked. This has many people thinking about God and what He has in store for us in the coming days, weeks, months and potentially years. What are your thoughts? What worries you or scares you the most? Are you worried or do you have a peace that baffles your family and friends?

If we have professed a faith in Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, we should not worry. We should not fear! We should be longing for His return. We should be focused on doing all that He has called us to do and not focused on the things of this world.

If we are fearful as the events unfold before us, what does that say about our faith and trust in Jesus? If we are more concerned with thoughts such as “What will we do?”, then we should be ashamed of our lack of faith. We can look at the world and be overwhelmed and worried, or we can look at Jesus and be at peace. It is a matter of attitude and priorities. If we focus on the world, we are not focused on Jesus. We are not ready to stand before Him as one of His! If we focus on Jesus, there is nothing that can happen in this world that will sway our faith. In fact, when we focus on Jesus we are preparing for His return.

Are you ready for His coming?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you prepared?

March 19, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

The days of punishment are coming,
      the days of reckoning are at hand.
      Let Israel know this.
Because your sins are so many
      and your hostility so great,
the prophet is considered a fool,
      the inspired person a maniac.
(Hosea 9:7 (NIV))

These words were written to and about Israel long ago, but do you see anything in them that is true today?

Let me rephrase that general question into a few distinct questions.

When you look at the things that are going on in this country and in the world, are you overcome with the vast number of ways that humanity has found to sin against God? We take innocent life and call it choice. We take all the things that God has called a sin and an abomination and call it good. Anyone who points out that the world is going against God is ridiculed, chastised and labeled an old-fashioned fool. Anyone who speaks about Jesus as the only begotten Son of God and the only way to get to the Father is labeled a bigot and a lunatic. Do I need to go any further? Do you see these things happening more frequently or are you looking at the world through blinded eyes?

If Israel was warned of days of punishment coming for doing these things, where does that leave today’s society and world?

You may call me a fool and a maniac, but I need to ask more questions. I will say that many people are thinking about the world in its current state, for I am seeing many people who are posting Bible verses, ideas on how to love our neighbors, and even very strongly worded instructions to pray for God to protect His people. With this in mind, I want you to seriously think about your answers to the questions that are probably already lingering in your thoughts and hopefully your prayers.

Are you following God’s Word and have you accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior?

Does it break your heart to see the things that go against God’s Word?

Is it possible that everything is coming to pass just as God has foretold?

Is it possible that we are too blinded by the world to truly recognize what is in front of our eyes?

Would you recognize unfolding events as part of God’s plan?

Do you believe that God will punish His creation for their sinful nature?

Do you believe that the world is becoming more engrossed in sin?

Sadly, most of us go about our daily lives with no thought about what is going on around us. We need to open our eyes. We need to be aware of the times and our surroundings. We need to wrap ourselves in God’s Word. We need to wrap ourselves in God’s love by accepting Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior. We need to embrace the truth that God has a timeline and it is drawing close to His fulfillment of that timeline. We must be prepared to be called a fool for Jesus and a maniac for God.

Are you prepared?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Where does your help come from?

March 17, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.
(Psalms 121:1-2 (NIV))

In these days that we are facing, we need to stop walking around with our hands in our pockets and our eyes cast down at our feet. We do not need to respond like the world responds.

Lift up your hands in praise!

Lift up your eyes to heaven!

We have a hope that is far greater than anything this world can send our way.

but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
(Isaiah 40:31 (NIV))

He is our help. He is the Maker of heaven and earth. He is also our refuge at all times, but especially in times of trouble.

God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.
(Psalm 46:1-3 (NIV))

We are all human, and as such, we all are prone to get lost in the physical when we should focus on the spiritual. We focus on what we can see with our eyes when we should be praying to have our spiritual blinders removed so that we can see the Lord.

Do you lift your hands to heaven?

Do you lift your eyes to the Lord?

Do you lift your prayers to the Maker of heaven and earth?

These activities should be our first action and not our last resort. We should instinctively praise the Lord. We should automatically lift our eyes to the Lord. Prayers should be the first thoughts and words that come forth from our spirit and our lips. If this is true, then there is nothing that this world can send our way that will make us lose sight of where our help comes from.

Where does your help come from?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you trying to do things your way?

March 12, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”
    “No,” they answered.
He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.
(John 21:4-6 (NIV))

Do you consider yourself an expert in what you do?

Think about that question for a moment.

How willing are you to take the advice of someone who doesn’t know anything about what you do? How willing are you to even consider doing something differently than what you are accustomed to?

Now, is there something in your life that you are struggling with because you know that God is leading you in a certain direction, but you feel that you are constantly encountering roadblocks and obstacles? Have you stopped to consider that you are trying to fulfill your calling using your own strengths and plans? Perhaps you simply need to step back and accept the advice from someone else.

That is exactly what the disciples did, not only in this story, but in other stories as well.

Every time that they attempted to do something without Jesus, it did not go as planned. When they allowed Jesus to guide, things vastly improved. Fortunately for those who can claim spiritual descendancy to the disciples, they allowed someone else to lead them. They soon realized that they could not do it on their own. They needed Jesus.

What in your life is in need of the guidance that Jesus can give? Is it your job? Is it your family? Is it your calling? Is it a ministry that He is longing to use to spread the Gospel? Listen to that still, small voice. I think that you know the one. It is the one that says “Throw your net on the right side of the boat. . . ” It is the one that sounds foolish, but you just can’t seem to get it out of your mind. It is the one that is calling you to trust in something besides your own so-called expertise.

I once heard a story about how a revival got started. To summarize, many people got together to pray that a revival would start in their town. They met regularly, but with no results. Finally, someone asked after a rather lengthy prayer meeting if anyone felt anything. No one answered. This went on for several more prayer meetings, and still no one answered. Finally, at still another prayer meeting, someone reluctantly said that they felt that they were supposed to hit the table. They said that they had felt this way almost since the beginning of their prayer group, but they felt that it was foolish and didn’t mention it. Finally, they broke down and did what they felt they were being told to do. They hit the table.

Can you guess what happened?

Are you ignoring something because you feel that it is foolish? God is not calling the equipped. He is equipping the called. It is up to each of us to answer that call. He will call you in ways that you may think are foolish.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
       declares the LORD.
(Isaiah 55:8 (NIV))

Are you trying to do things your way?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Have you returned to God with your heart?

March 10, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

“Even now,” declares the LORD,
    “return to me with all your heart,
    with fasting and weeping and mourning.”
Rend your heart
    and not your garments.
  Return to the LORD your God,
    for he is gracious and compassionate,
  slow to anger and abounding in love,
    and he relents from sending calamity.
(Joel 2:12-13 (NIV))

The words written long ago in the book of Joel still hold true to this very day. I imagine that they will be true until Jesus returns in triumph to the Mount of Olives. Only then, will it be too late for those who have made the wrong decision.

God wants us to turn from our sin and return to Him.

All too often, we do things that are extravagant in nature because we feel that we must do something of great magnitude, or great outward appearance, so that God will know that we mean it this time. Perhaps these acts are more for ourselves and our neighbors than they are for God, after all, God sees our hearts. He doesn’t need to see the flamboyant antics of someone who will break the promises that were just made. This is why we are told to “rend your heart,” for God sees the heart and He knows when it is truth. We can forever rend externally to ourselves and it will never have a lasting impact. When we rend our heart, it is the very center of our existence. We have made the decision to change from the inside out. Perhaps this is why Jesus spoke about what makes a man unclean.

He went on: “What comes out of a man is what makes him `unclean.’ For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man `unclean.’ “
(Mark 7:20-23 (NIV))

Have you taken that ultimate commitment to God? Have you internalized the change by changing your heart? Have you returned to God with your heart?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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