What comforts you through the darkness?

June 8, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
(Psalms 23:4 (NKJV))

Everyone faces darkness and tough times in their lives. What do you do when this happens? Do you cower in fear? Do you give in to the attacks of the enemy? Do you throw yourself a pity party and lock yourself away from the world in hopes that your tough times will go away? Do you lash out at the world trying to put up a front? Do you attack head-on in such a way that you think that you are able to overcome these times on your own?

To be honest with you, we have all probably used each one of these approaches in our lives when dealing with darkness and tough times. Have any of them truly worked? Did the tough times go away? Did your stress levels return to a peaceful state?

I have been on my journey with Jesus for a long time, and each time that I have faced a tough time in my life over the years, it has actually gotten easier to deal with. With each event, I have learned more about the promises of God. I have learned that I can trust Him to see me through, even when the world seems to be crashing in all around me. It hasn’t come easily, and my journey is still a work in progress, but I know that my faith is firmly placed in the One who created all things. I know that He will see me through all things, even the darkness. With the track record that the Lord has allowed me to experience, I can look back in all honesty and see how He was leading me. With this assurance, I can look ahead in all faith and know that He will lead me according to His will with my maturity in Jesus as the goal.

I don’t know about you, but I find great comfort in this truth even when I do not see any worldly way out of the darkness. I find great comfort in knowing that He is always with me!

What comforts you through the darkness?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How well are we fulfilling these requirements?

June 3, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
      And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
      and to walk humbly with your God.
(Micah 6:8 (NIV))

This world has a habit of trying to destroy anything that remotely resembles justice, mercy and humility. This is especially true when it is focused on the Lord!

From the beginning in the Garden of Eden, and all throughout history, God has told us what is good. Every single time that the Lord has told us what is good, even if we start off doing good, we have failed miserably at everything. Ever since the fall from grace, it has become human nature. We are drawn to the exact opposite of what we are told is good. It has now gotten to the point where a large portion of the world’s population has resorted to calling good evil and evil good. Think about that in context to this response from Jesus.

As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone.
(Mark 10:17-18 (NIV))

If you take the concept of calling good evil, then the next logical step is that those who are making this claim are actually making a statement that they think God is evil!

How could anybody in their right mind ever say that?

Sadly, in this sinful, fallen world, too many people have rejected God. There seems to be an ever increasing number of people who prefer sin. This falls right in line with the parable about the wheat and the tares. Until the Lord brings in the harvest, we, as the Body of Christ, must strive to reach those who are lost in sin. We must continue to spread the Gospel no matter what we may face. If you stop to think about it, spreading the Gospel covers all requirements as set forth in Micah.

We are to act justly by sharing the truth of the Gospel with anyone and everyone. We cannot withhold such a great gift because of our preconceived ideas. That is a sin.

We are to love mercy by sharing the mercy that we have been given with those who need mercy.

We are to walk humbly with our God by placing His plans for the salvation of others above our own selfish desires.

How well are we fulfilling these requirements?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Will you take up your cross if it means your life?

May 26, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”
(Luke 9:23 (NIV))

Do you think of yourself as a disciple of Jesus?

Everyone who professes a faith in Jesus likes to think that they are a disciple, but are we, are you, ready to truly take up our cross?

Each one of us will face a different path as we walk out our lives in faith. It is possible that no two individuals will carry the exact same burden when they carry their cross, but we do know that all of us carry something through life. We either choose to carry our cross or we carry the weight of the sin that we refuse to let go of. It is a choice that each of us must make.

Do you want to be a disciple of Jesus?

If the answer is yes, then that requires repenting of your sins and picking up the weight of your cross as you follow Jesus. Following Jesus is not an easy thing to do. You have changed, but the world around you has not. You have changed, but your friends will still try to get you to fall back into the very same sins that you want to leave behind. Following Jesus may mean that you lose friends. It may mean that you become alienated from family. It may mean a job loss, but it will mean so much more!

Believing in and following Jesus is the only way to the Father and all of the blessings that are promised.

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))

Each of us have a decision to make. What are we willing to lose when we take up our cross and follow Jesus?

Will you take up your cross if it means your life?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Does your life reflect your hope?

April 6, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

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))

We have been told in other Scripture passages that we would face troubles. We have been told that there would be people who would faint from the things that they would face. Ezekiel wrote about Babylon coming against Israel and what would happen.

And when they ask you, ‘Why are you groaning?’ you shall say, ‘Because of the news that is coming. Every heart will melt with fear and every hand go limp; every spirit will become faint and every leg will be wet with urine.’ It is coming! It will surely take place, declares the Sovereign Lord.”
(Ezekiel 21:7 (NIV))

We aren’t yet to the point that Luke writes of, but the description is of something that we don’t want to see.

People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken.
(Luke 21:26 (NIV))

We are facing worldwide troubles. I am certain that some people are in a state of panic and could very easily faint from fear. Others have a peace that passes understanding. We have a hope that brings about a renewed faith even in the face of adversity.

I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.
(Jeremiah 31:25 (NIV))

I love how the Lord tells us to place our hope in Him, and that He will give us strength so that we don’t grow faint. I did a search for the word “faint,” and I found that thirty-five of the returned passages in one translation are in the Old Testament. I find it interesting that the only passage that is in the New Testament in this translation is Luke 21:26. I love how after Jesus came to the earth to bring us hope and salvation, the only reference to fainting is of a future event and those who are fainting are those who do not know Jesus!

Do you know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior? Do you place your hope in Jesus as Lord?

Does your life reflect your hope?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What has the Lord done for you to make you rejoice?

March 11, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
(Psalms 118:24 (NIV))

Each day is a blessing from God. We may not know what tomorrow will bring, but we do know who brings tomorrow. No matter what each day may bring, rejoice in it for life is a very precious gift that we all too often take for granted. Even the gift of our health is something that we take for granted. I know how quickly things can change. Still, I rejoice in the fact that I trust in God to take care of my needs.

Even when the enemy throws adversity and troubles upon you, rejoice. Jesus has overcome the enemy.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
(John 10:10 (NIV))

I wish I could say that my walk with Jesus has been one of perfect rejoicing and that I have lived it to the fullness that Jesus desires for me. I am only human and my weaknesses get in my way. Still, I attempt to walk through this life with faith, hope and love. I may not always make it as I should, but still I rejoice, for I have been blessed to have Jesus with me even when I didn’t realize it. For this I rejoice!

What has the Lord done for you to make you rejoice?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Why are we drawn to return to our sin and slavery?

March 2, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
(Galatians 5:1 (NIV))

What is it about human nature that makes us return to something that we know we should leave behind? We have all been guilty of doing this very thing, and probably much more often than we care to admit. Apparently, human nature since the fall from grace has always had us doing what can only be called self destructive behavior. We know that we shouldn’t, but yet we do. This type of behavior has been pointed out many times, but probably the most accurate and disgusting is the following.

As a dog returns to its vomit,
so fools repeat their folly.
(Proverbs 26:11 (NIV))

As I stated previously, we all do it. Even the man who is credited with bringing the Gospel to the Gentiles fought this aspect in his own walk of faith. Paul was a very intelligent person, but yet he didn’t understand the self destructive nature that he fought against.

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
(Romans 7:15-20 (NIV))

This struggle that all of us face makes it clear why each of us are called to take up our cross daily. We are to deny that part of our human nature. We are to struggle with this sinful nature each and every time that it raises its ugly head in our lives. We are called to repent. Far too many people believe that this is a one-time occurrence, but it should be a daily attitude and activity. Do I even venture to say that, on some days, we may have to humble ourselves continually before the Lord and repent of our actions and our thoughts?

I know that we are a fallen creation, but I wish I had the magic answer as to why we return to our sin when we don’t want to. I wish I knew how to turn off that part of my life so that I never take my eyes off of Jesus. Just like Paul, I find myself doing the very things that I hate! I don’t know why! I long to do only what is good and righteous, yet on my own, this is not possible. I just know that we must be ready to fall on our knees whenever and wherever we may find yourself returning to our sin.

I want to leave you with one question that I hope you will take to heart.

Why are we drawn to return to our sin and slavery?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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God’s love is not how the world loves!

February 13, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
(1 Corinthians 13:6-7 (NIV))

Does this sound like the world’s current definition of love?

Society has taken the concept of love and twisted it so far from how God defines love. According to God’s plan, love is sacrificial, but there are some overlooked aspects.

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. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
(John 3:16-21 (NIV))

We, as the intended recipients of God’s love, must be willing to walk away from our sin. We must be willing to embrace the truth, the only truth, that is God’s Word. Once we do, we are called to love as God loves, but that doesn’t mean that we condone the sin and the evil in people. I realize that this is often overused, but there is an old saying that, “We are to love the sinner and hate the sin.” Think about that in relation to the following example.

You are a parent who has a child that is involved in things that could get them in trouble with the law. Which of the following options shows true love? Do you overlook these actions because you say that you love them and you don’t want to interfere with their life, or do you try to make them change their life so that they don’t face any consequences from their activities? The first option actually shows that you don’t care enough to take action to prevent something bad. It may appear that you love them in the present, but you don’t love them enough to take action so that they will have a better tomorrow. Love sometimes has to be tough! As a parent, you have to stand in the gap and fight for the well being of your family so that they have a life that is not a result of bad decisions.

Put this into perspective by changing the scenario with respect to eternity. This time the child is rebelling and is lost. Do you overlook these actions or do you pray for them, do you try to reach them, do you love them enough to stand in the gap interceding for them? This time, the consequences have a much different and longer result. If we truly love this child, we will do anything and everything to bring them into a right relationship with the Lord.

My next thought was to ask you how do you think God feels, but I have already told you how He feels. He loves the world so much that He had a plan to redeem the world. That plan was not an easy thing to bring about. It cost the physical life of His only begotten Son, Jesus. Jesus came to defeat evil and sin. He came to protect us from the consequences of sin. God’s love perseveres and because of His great love, we have the glorious hope that we can trust in His Word. All that He asks is that you believe and turn away from the darkness of the evil that is in this world.

The world says that if you love someone, you accept them and don’t try to change them no matter the consequences. God loves us as we are, then calls us to repent so that we don’t face the consequences.

God’s love is not how the world loves!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What do you use to light your way?

January 15, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.
(Psalms 119:105 (NIV))

Have you ever stumbled in the dark? I am sure that each and every one of us has experienced this. We even take measures to make sure that our path is well lit. We have exterior lights going from our car to the front door. We have little night lights that we plug in so that we can determine where the furniture is. For situations where we can’t guarantee that there will be available lighting, we even carry flashlights with us. Still, we all know what it feels like to stumble in the dark, to trip over something because we couldn’t see it, and to walk into the corner of the coffee table!

That is the physical. Sadly, too many of us don’t realize that we need spiritual light. We probably stumble more in the spiritual than we ever would in the physical. We recognize the dangers in the physical realm, but completely ignore the greater dangers in the spiritual realm. Without spiritual light, we walk in blindness. We never know the best path to take. We only know the results of our blindness when we falter. Even then, we simply keep on going in the darkness and in the blindness that it causes. We never know just how much damage we are doing to ourselves in the present and in the future until it is too late.

How would you like to be able to change that? How would you like to have a guide to light your path and to show you the way? How would you like to trust in the guidance that you receive? How would you like to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the light that you follow will never lead you astray?

There is only one source of spiritual light that promises all of this and more. There is only one light that is faithful. There is only one light that will never leave you. There is only one light that came into this world to bring the light. Jesus is that light.

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
(John 8:12 (NIV))

What do you use to light your way?

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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Do you rely on the strength of the Lord?

December 10, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
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 40:29-31 (NIV))

This world has a way of bringing everything that can drain you down upon you in an attempt to make you stumble and fall. If you rely solely on yourself, then you have no external strength to call upon to see you through these times. We are only human, and as sinful humanity, we are not capable of lifting ourselves out of these draining times.

But, by the grace of God, we have a place to turn in times of trouble. We have the strength of the Lord if we only place our hope in Him. We have the promises that God has given us throughout the ages.

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.
(2 Corinthians 1:20 (NIV))

Do you receive strength when you are weary? Do you soar on wings like eagles?

Fully accept the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will receive His strength.

Do you rely on the strength of the Lord?

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