What desires rule over you?

July 17, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.
(Galatians 5:17 (NIV))

Whatever you want!

Do you desire to do whatever you want? Is that your definition of freedom? Based on this passage, does that desire come from the flesh or from the Spirit? Don’t rush to a quick answer, for your quick answer will probably be heavily influenced by your own desires. Think about that for a moment. Since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, our flesh is sinful. Everything that we do according to our flesh is sinful and we are fully aware of the wages of sin.

For the wages of sin is death,
(Romans 6:23a (NIV))

We are given a gift that allows us to receive salvation, to receive grace.

but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 6:23b (NIV))

When we accept that gift, we receive the Holy Spirit to guide us in what we should do. The Holy Spirit will guide us contrary to our sinful nature. It is up to us to accept that guidance. Have you ever done something and instantly knew that it shouldn’t have been done? Have you ever wanted to do something, but a still, small voice wouldn’t let you? We choose to listen to the Holy Spirit. We choose to accept His guidance. Sadly, sometimes the flesh wins out and we do things that we instantly regret. Other times we listen to the Holy Spirit and obey. Have you noticed in your life the types of circumstances that you follow the flesh and the types of circumstances that you follow the Holy Spirit? Give God praise for the faith to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, and pray for the ability to stand firm in the face of those circumstances that lead to actions that you regret. Ask the Lord to give you wisdom to allow you to overcome the desires of the flesh!

What desires rule over you?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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This is true freedom!

July 2, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
(John 8:36 (NIV))

We are all familiar with this passage, but there is something that we probably need to clarify. Let’s start by asking one simple question.

What is your definition of freedom?

I told you it was a simple question. However, the answer is probably not so simple.

Do you go along with the definition that the world is trying to push on us at this point? According to this definition, freedom implies doing whatever you want, whenever you want, with whomever you want, regardless of what gets destroyed or who gets hurt. The old saying, “If it feels good, do it,” has nothing on this mindset. In fact, it pales in comparison to what is called freedom today. If you look up the word, freedom implies a liberation, being exempt from rules, and unrestricted. When theses concepts are taken with respect for others, you have balance and society. When you take these concepts to the extremes that we are seeing, you have debauchery, anarchy and riots. This type of freedom is self-centered, sinful and evil.

Is this your definition of freedom?

If you are reading this, I can safely assume that I know what your answer is.

Godly freedom is what we so desperately need. This freedom rescues us. It saves us from ourselves. It breaks the chains that bind us to our sinful nature.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
(Romans 3:23 (NIV))

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 6:23 (NIV))

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))

Do you understand why things are as they are in the world? They have been led astray by the enemy and have been taught to hate the light. In fact, they call good evil and evil good. Their minds have been polluted and controlled. The so-called freedom that they are expressing will only lead to one outcome according to the first part of Romans 6:23.

But, God…

Finishing reading the rest of Romans 6:23.

This is true freedom! This is true liberation! We are no longer bound to or by our sinful nature. We no longer must face death. We can spend eternity with the Lord!

This is true freedom!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you long to see God?

April 22, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Blessed are the pure in heart,
     for they will see God.
(Matthew 5:8 (NIV))

Not too long ago I referenced this passage and made a statement about people seeing what they want to see. When I wrote that about this passage, I had no idea exactly what the next few months would bring. Today, I am more convinced of this simple truth than I was just a few short months ago. All that you have to do is take a look at the various reactions of people as we all face this unusual worldwide issue.

It is said that tough times will bring out the true nature of a person. I think that we can safely say that we have seen the gamut of reactions. Some people are panicking. Others are coming up with all kinds of conspiracy theories. Many are blaming the Chinese government, while others are pointing fingers at our own. It appears that many people are consuming more alcohol in a search for something to take their minds off of what is going on. Do you fall into one of these groups?

In addition to these, I have seen a large number of people who appear to be turning to the Lord. If you can judge the numbers based on what you see on social media, many people are turning to the Lord for peace. They are realizing that there is something going on far greater than anything that humanity can control, as if we can control anything.

Human nature is a funny thing. We are told that even in the midst of great tribulation, there will be people who will fail to recognize what is going on and turn to God. Others will turn to God in all things that they do. Somewhere in the middle are those who acknowledge God and only turn to Him in times of trouble. I realize that I have oversimplified the vast range of reactions, but in all honesty, those who long to see God will find Him in all things that they encounter. I think that something I recently saw says that very well. To paraphrase, there were two sides in a conversation.

Side 1: This virus has shut down the schools.

Side 2: Prayer is now back in the classroom.

Side 1: This virus has shut down the churches.

Side 2: The church is not made up of buildings. People are worshipping wherever they are.

I’m sure that you’ve seen something similar. As previously stated, those who long to see God will find Him in all things, while those who are focused on the world will never see God in anything.

Do you long to see God?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you following His lead?

March 23, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
(Psalms 23:1-3 (NKJV))

I think that I can safely say that this passage is very well known. Even many nonbelievers have heard this passage, but have we, as the Body of Christ, taken it to heart?

When you read this passage, something becomes evident. In fact, the concept is mentioned twice in these few lines. Have you found it yet?

He leads me!

In these seven lines of scripture, David repeated these three words twice. If you understand the concept behind the word “lead,” this word does not mean that you are forced to follow. It implies that others will freely follow someone because they desire to understand and possess what the one person has. They believe in something about the one who leads.

What does Jesus have that you desire? What does Jesus offer that makes you want to follow? What makes you believe that you can possess what He offers? Are you following Him with enough desire and passion to find what He is trying to give you? All of the answers to these questions require a faith in Jesus and the promises we are given as well as a determination to take hold of those promises for ourselves. In the physical world, when we are promised something, we stick with it with a very tenacious determination. We don’t want to lose out on the promise. Are we the same with the promises from the Lord? Are we as tenacious in our determination to take hold of what we have been promised?

David thought it important enough to mention that the Lord leads him and then tells where he is taken. David did not say that he didn’t follow the Lord’s leading. In fact, he trusted the Lord enough to follow Him to very beautiful and peaceful places. He trusted the Lord to protect him, shelter him, love him, nurture him and give him rest. Do you trust the Lord in this manner?

Are you following His lead?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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I love it that God chose to do a new thing!

January 3, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.
(Isaiah 43:19 (NIV))

Have you ever stopped to think about this passage? We have a tendency to think that we are the ones who always want something different. We think that we are the ones who want to do a new thing, but if you actually think about it, God is the only One who has ever done good and new things! All we ever do is ruin what He has done!

God created everything. He created it all as a location for us, His creation. What did we do? We ruined it!

All throughout the Old Testament, God would do something for us as a part of His nature, and we would ruin it. He gave us promises and we disobeyed. He sent prophets and we ignored them. Finally, His ultimate plan came into fruition. He sent His Son, Jesus. He came as Emmanuel, God with us. Do you realize that the last time that God walked with His creation was before the fall from grace in the Garden of Eden? He came back into His creation so that He could walk with us and talk with us. He came to teach us exactly what He longs for us to do so that we can have fellowship with Him once again. He came to offer us a way out of our sin and back into His grace.

All throughout history, man has tried to elevate himself up to be able to reach God. God’s new thing saw Him coming to earth to meet us! His new thing brought grace and salvation to all who would simply accept the ultimate gift. God restored us to Himself at no cost to us. He paid it all!

I find it interesting that God’s new thing brought restoration to a lost world. I find it interesting that His new thing is something that He paid and we receive the benefits. I love it that God chose to do a new thing!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Is the Lord your shepherd?

December 2, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
Even 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.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
forever.
(Psalms 23:1-6 (NIV))

Have you ever truly looked at this passage in language that can make the Lord’s love personal? What if we paraphrase this passage to help us understand the personal relationship that the Lord desires with each of us and just what He will do for us when we accept His grace and mercy?

If I place my trust in Him, the Lord will be my personal shepherd and guide.
He will provide for all that I need.
He will give me peace and rest.
He will provide direction for my life.
He will provide complete restoration.
He will remove all fear and doubt.
He will provide comfort.
He will sustain us through the troubles of this world.
He will anoint us and bless us because we have placed our faith and trust in Him.
He will pour out His goodness and His love on us as we strive to follow Him.
He will provide us an eternal, permanent residence with Himself where all of the things previously mentioned will continue for all eternity!

I realize that this may sound like prosperity preaching, but it is far from that. What the Lord has promised us is mercy and grace. Through the gift of His Son Jesus, each of us have the opportunity to receive this wonderful gift and all of the blessings that have been promised. These gifts are not for the greedy, for all can possess them equally. These gifts are not for the cynic, for anyone who is a cynic has a hardened heart. These gifts are simply for anyone who will allow the Lord to soften their heart and show them that what they seek is only available through Him.

Do the things that David wrote of in this passage sound like something that you desire? All that you have to do is ask the Lord to be your shepherd!

Is the Lord your shepherd?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you desire to have faith like David?

November 14, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
Even 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.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
forever.
(Psalms 23:1-6 (NIV))

David was probably one of the most prolific writers of all times. By today’s standards, he would have been considered a “self-made man,” yet, he focused on God in all that he wrote about. He eagerly embraced all that God had graciously bestowed upon him and gave thanks at all times for what God had done for him. It is true that David strayed, but when he was confronted with this fact, he realized his mistakes and repented. Psalm 23 speaks of the grace and mercy that God has bestowed upon David, and will bestow on anyone if they only seek after God. God will not allow those who earnestly seek Him to follow the paths of unrighteousness or to be troubled by enemies. We will still have troubles, but God is our assurance of victory through the troubles.

David wrote that God would prepare a table before him in the presence of his enemies. He did not say that God would destroy the enemies. It is God’s Will that none should perish. Perhaps the reason that you still have enemies is this fact. God is using you to be an example of His grace and mercy to those who hate you.

How do you react to your enemies? Do they see Jesus in you and in your actions?

Do you desire to have faith like David?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you long to see God, or do you see the world?

October 18, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
(Matthew 5:8 (NIV))

It is true that people will see what they want to see. If you give someone a glass and fill it half way, some will say that it is half empty. Others will say that it is half full. The same is true about God. If you give people God, some will choose to see. Others will choose not to see. Those who choose to see God would find God in all things. These are the people who seek God. They will find Him in everything that they see.

Those who fail to see God are those that need Him most. They think that they have all the answers and all of the things of this world are theirs for the taking. They do not realize that God has created everything, and that everything is His. Pray for those people.

Basically, each of us fall somewhere along the spectrum between these two end points. This is human nature, but we can overcome human nature and train ourselves to see. We can repent and focus on the things of God. The closer we draw to God, the more that He works in our lives to give us a pure heart. It is a choice!

Do you long to see God, or do you see the world?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What do you truly want?

September 30, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
(Psalms 23:1 (NASB))

Have you ever given any serious thought to the meaning of this passage?

Most people read this and take it to mean that anything that we could possibly want in this physical world is ours. Let’s take a step back and take a look at the word “want.” Our society has shifted the meaning of this word to mean something that we desire. We say things like, “I want a new car” or “I want a bigger house,” but is this the type of want that the Lord provides for? With this type of attitude, too many people fail to get what they want and, as a result, they fall away from faith. They misunderstand this passage and think that is means that the Lord our God is nothing more that a genie who is there to grant our every wish, our every desire. When this doesn’t happen, they falsely assume that since this isn’t true, nothing is true.

If this is your vision of God, then it makes sense why our society has become so self-centered and self-entitled.

If we look at this passage from the perspective and understanding of when it was written, we get a much clearer picture. A shepherd has multiple sheep under his care. He provides for the needs of the whole flock. He will lead them to green pastures for food. He will care for the sick. He will search for the lost. The shepherd makes sure that all under his care are protected from attack. The sheep know his voice and they follow him. They know and they trust him to provide for their needs both collectively and individually.

Did you pick up on that?

The shepherd provides for the needs of his flock. He does not provide for the selfish desires. The shepherd knows what is best for each sheep. He makes sure that each need is provided for. With this in mind, is wanting a bigger house a need or a selfish desire? For some people, it truly may be a need, while for others, it is a selfish desire. The Lord sees each of our needs and knows how best to provide for us. When David wrote these words, he understood this concept. He understood that the Lord, as his shepherd, was guiding his steps and that all of his needs would be provided for. David realized that everything was on the Lord’s timeframe and not his.

Sadly, our society has lost this understanding. We seek instant gratification in all aspects of our lives. We falsely believe that we can guide our own lives. We desire anything and everything under the sun, and sin runs rampant because we are so focused on the proverbial me, myself and I. Slow down and spend time in the Lord’s presence and you will begin to grasp the understanding that David had. The focus is not about us and our selfish desires. It is about the Lord’s plans and what is best for us.

I believe that it is time for us to reexamine what we truly want! What do you truly want?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you able to be content in all things?

May 23, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
(Philippians 4:12-13 (NIV))

Sadly, this is a lesson that I am still learning just as I would venture to say that many of you are also still learning.

Have you ever considered what it means to be content? Basically, it means satisfied or pleased. If you stop to look up the word satisfied, one definition means paid in full! Where have we heard that proclamation before? Is your life paid in full?

If we have accepted Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, our sin debt has been paid in full. Our debt has been satisfied and we should be content, for we have inherited so much more than the things in this world that can bring discontentment! Things like jobs, money, relationships, difficult times and ignorant people may get to us in the moment, but we have to keep our focus on Jesus. Our eternity with Him is not dictated by the things of this world. In fact, the things of this world should draw us closer to Him.

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
(John 16:33 (NIV))

We, as members of the Body of Christ, should find eternal contentment in His arms no matter the situation!

Are you able to be content in all things?

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