Where are you?

May 4, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Before them fire devours,
behind them a flame blazes.
Before them the land is like the garden of Eden,
behind them, a desert waste–
nothing escapes them.
(Joel 2:3 (NIV))

I believe that we are in a transitional place, a place of growth and maturity. Each of us may be in a situation that has us literally between a rock and a hard place. We may find ourselves in the midst of so much fire and waste that we do not see any potential end. When we, as believers, find ourselves in this place in our lives, we must remember that God uses these times in our lives to refine us like silver.

This third I will bring into the fire;
I will refine them like silver
and test them like gold.
They will call on my name
and I will answer them;
I will say, `They are my people,’
and they will say, `The LORD is our God.’ ”
(Zechariah 13:9 (NIV))

It is in these times that one of two things may happen. We will either turn from God in our anger or turn toward God in our faith. It is God’s desire to purify us in our faith. He longs for us to mature into the image of Jesus.

I had a conversation not too long ago with someone who questioned whether being in the wilderness was a good thing or a bad thing. Take a look at Jesus after He was baptized. He went into the wilderness for 40 days. He did not do anything bad, yet He had to face the temptation before He could truly minister to those whom He came to seek and to save.

When we find ourselves in the desert or the wilderness, it is all a matter of our outlook, our perspective on the situation. We can either look at the situation and not see beyond our circumstances or we can see the “Light” of Jesus at the end of our journey. If we focus on the “Light,” then we should be able to stand firm in our desert and continually pray for righteousness.

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
(Psalms 51:10 (NIV))

Where are you?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is it your desire to have Jesus increase in you?

January 29, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

He must increase, but I must decrease.
(John 3:30 (NKJV))

This goes against everything that is considered human nature. If left to our own devices, we seek to elevate ourselves while not caring about those whom we step on when we do. Everyone has dreams of power and wealth, and Satan knows this. It is that very thing that Satan used to temp Jesus in the wilderness. Satan made a big mistake in thinking that Jesus would be, could be tempted as we are tempted. He tried to get Jesus to “show off” by turning the stones into bread. He tried to get Jesus to prove His authority by showing that the angels would lift Him up. He tried to offer Jesus all of the worldly kingdoms if Jesus would worship him. Basically, Satan tempted Jesus with physical comfort, power and authority. I am so thankful that Jesus rejected all temptations. Our sinful human nature would have seen any one of us giving in to most, if not all of these. Because Jesus was able to resist temptation, He is elevated to the power and authority that is required for Him to complete the mission that brought salvation.

When we rely on ourselves, we fail miserably. When we rely on Jesus, we are given grace and mercy. The more that we rely on Jesus, the less that our sinful nature comes out. The more that we rely on Jesus, He increases in our lives. We are still the unique individuals that God created us to be. But instead of the sinful creation, we replace our sinful desires with the heart of Jesus. By allowing Jesus to increase in us, we become the best “us” that we can be. I don’t know about you, but I like this concept. I like being able to rely on the strength of Jesus when my weaknesses would see me fail. I like being able to say, “Thank you, Jesus, for carrying me through once again!”

Is it your desire to have Jesus increase in you?

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.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How is your faith through the wilderness?

May 10, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Immediately the Holy Spirit compelled Jesus to go into the wilderness. He was there for forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was out among the wild animals, and angels took care of him.
(Mark 1:12-13 (NLT))

Do you ever stop to think about what Jesus actually experienced when He went into the wilderness for these forty days?

What temptations do you experience when you face each day of your life?

Do you face greed and lust? What about anger and frustration? Do you have to deal with ego and pride? I think I can safely say that all of us have also had to deal with resentment and bitterness. Now, consider how you have reacted when faced with these temptations. How did you react? Even on our best day, we fail miserably in most if not all of these temptations.

How do you think that Jesus reacted to each of these temptations?

We know that He faced every temptation known to humanity and did not give in to any of them, but I often wonder how he reacted. Did He simply turn away from them or did He reflect upon our weaknesses as He defeated each and every temptation that He was given? Did He think of what He was doing with respect to what it would mean for us? How did He reject the temptation? Did He look at it with disgust and think “How can someone give in to this?” Did He keep His eyes focused on what was at the end of the forty days on the other side of the wilderness?

Each of us face our own wilderness situations and temptations. We must look to Jesus and His experience so that we may keep our faith through our wildernesses. Because Jesus went through His wilderness experience, He now walks with us through ours. He will give us strength. He will give us comfort. He will give us peace.

The world today seems to be sending all of us into the wilderness. How we respond will determine many things. Will we have the faith to see ourselves through the wilderness or will we falter and give in to the temptations we face?

How is your faith through the wilderness?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Who walks with you in times of trouble?

June 11, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.
(Isaiah 43:2 (NIV))

Everyone faces troubles in this world. Too many people have a false impression that because they follow Jesus they should not have any troubles. They get extremely upset when they face things in their lives. They forget what Jesus told us about following 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))

They also forget that Jesus faced many troubles during His time on earth. Just because He was God with us does not mean that the enemy didn’t try to create trouble. Look at the wilderness experience. Look at all of the times that the officials wanted to kill Him. Look at the betrayal, the scourging and the crucifixion. Anyone who truly knows what Jesus experienced while on this earth should clearly understand that Jesus knew trials. He knew temptation. He knew suffering. Why do so many people believe that we won’t face trials in this life?

What was recorded in Isaiah is very important to understand. It lets us know that the Lord is with us. Jesus told us in John that He has overcome the troubles of this world. He has taken the trials and troubles upon Himself so that we don’t have to face them alone.

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
(Romans 8:31 (NIV))

I find these passages to be very reassuring. They remind me of the promises that we have been given. These promises let us know that if we have accepted Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, we have the Lord with us when we walk through times of trouble.

Who walks with you in times of trouble?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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We are all called to be a witness to His light!

July 19, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
(John 1:8 (NIV))

It would have been so easy for John the Baptist to claim some of the glory, after all, it was John that the crowds originally went to see. It was John and the message that he brought that made the people go into the wilderness and seek his message. When asked point blank if he was the one, he stood his ground. He only claimed to be who and what he was sent to be. He then clearly pointed to where praise, honor and glory needed to go.

John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.'”
(John 1:23 (NIV))

John was sent to prepare the hearts of the people to receive Jesus. He simply stood at a point in time where he would be used to clearly point to the Light that was to come. Everybody who calls upon the name of Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior should take a lesson from John and pay special attention to his modesty. The only attention that he wanted was the attention given to his message of repentance. Still, people pressed for answers.

Now the Pharisees who had been sent questioned him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”
“I baptize with water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.”
(John 1:24-27 (NIV))

John was exemplary in fulfilling his mission, which was to point to the light. He proclaimed that the light was coming and when Jesus came, John stepped aside so that the light could shine. To be honest with you, isn’t that what we, as the Body of Christ, are called to do? We are all called to be a witness to His light! Then we are to step out of the way so that it can shine!

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Call upon the name of the Lord!

August 30, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Oh, how I wish I had wings like a dove; then I would fly away and rest! I would fly far away to the quiet of the wilderness. How quickly I would escape—far away from this wild storm of hatred.
(Psalms 55:6-8 (NLT))

Did this passage catch you off guard?

We have a habit of thinking that we, in our current society, are the ones who truly need to get away. We think that our lives are so hectic and full of troubles that no one else could possibly understand what we face. I do admit that things seem to be getting worse as far as the troubles, but in the grand scheme of things, every life in every generation since the fall from grace has had troubles. David was no different than you or I in that respect.

We all want to be able to simply leave the burdens, the troubles of the world behind us and get away to a place where we can just soar above the troubles down below.

It is universally human.

David may not have been able to have wings like a dove and fly away to the quiet of the wilderness, but he did know how to rise above his troubles. He called upon the name of the Lord. He sang praises. He lifted up his voice in song and in prayer. He spent time seeking after God’s own heart. He longed for God and in turn, he knew God and trusted that God would be there.

Can we say the same about our lives?

We all know of the things that David faced in his life, from Goliath to running for his life from Saul, yet in all that he faced, David made time to pray and to praise God. He knew where his hope lie. He knew that he had to constantly seek after that hope by seeking after God. Do you think that Goliath was a mere coincidence? Do you think that David was able to survive Saul’s attempts on his life by luck? David may not have physically flown, but he was guided by the hand of God and was protected by the hand of God because he was faithful.

Take an honest look at your life. Do you see a life of praise, prayer and gratitude or do you see a life that needs to move more in line with how David longed for God?

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you go outside of your comfort zone for God?

August 29, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

The next morning Jesus awoke long before daybreak and went out alone into the wilderness to pray.
(Mark 1:35 (NLT))

What do you think of when you think of a wilderness?

Some people think of a wild place such as a jungle. Some think of a barren place such as a desert. Either way, it is often associated as a place that is untouched by human hands. To many, this implies that it is a dangerous place to be, and it can be.

Have you considered that a wilderness can also be a place of peace away from the hectic pace of the world? A wilderness can be a place to encounter God without the distractions of the world weighing you down. I am certain that we all know of someone, if we are not like this, who finds that a walk in the woods or a day in a boat is the most productive prayer time that they can have.

Let’s face it. God doesn’t care where you are when you talk to Him. All that He cares is that you earnestly seek His face. If that means that you need to go out to a place that is not easily accessible to other people, then do it. Look at all of the times that Jesus went into the wilderness. Look at all of the time that David spent in the wilderness tending sheep and then running from Saul. Look at the time spent by John the Baptist in the wilderness. All of these, and may others, spent time alone with God in the wilderness. If you stop to think about it, a wilderness is something outside of your comfort zone. John the Baptist wasn’t raised in the wilderness, yet he was called there. David wasn’t raised in the wilderness, but he spent a period of time in his life getting prepared for what God called him to be. Jesus, as the Son of God, was not used to a wilderness, but He spent countless times in the wilderness so that He could clearly hear God and His call.

They went outside of their comfort zone in order to hear God!

They spent countless days, weeks and months in the wilderness in order to hear God. They were willing to take that step of faith to let God know that they were sincere in their desires. I know that times have changed, but maybe the reason we don’t hear from God is the simple fact that we aren’t willing to go beyond our comfort zone. We aren’t willing to go into an unknown, into a wilderness.

How far are you willing to go to be able to hear God?

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you believe?

August 26, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.
(John 14:10 (NIV))

Jesus spoke these words to Phillipi when he asked Jesus to show them the Father, but they could easily be directed at any one of us.

We all have needed to be reminded of the nature and persona of Jesus. Too many people still fail to truly understand who Jesus is. Some still say He was a prophet. Some still say that He was just a man, and, sadly, some say that He never lived at all. To those who know the truth, we know that Jesus is much more than anyone can comprehend. Jesus is the one foretold by the voice of one calling in the wilderness.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.
Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.
There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.
He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God– children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
(John 1:1-14 (NIV))

Do you fully understand who Jesus is? Do you fully understand who the Father is? Do you fully understand that Jesus is the only way to the Father?

Do you believe?

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are we proclaiming Jesus to a dying world?

September 23, 2015

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

A voice of one calling:
“In the desert prepare
the way for the LORD;
make straight in the wilderness
a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be raised up,
every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
the rugged places a plain.
And the glory of the LORD will be revealed,
and all mankind together will see it.
For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”
(Isaiah 40:3-5 (NIV))

This prophesy was originally fulfilled by John the Baptist when he was in the wilderness proclaiming that people should repent because the Lord was coming. Shortly after this proclamation, Jesus did come.

He came and taught. He came and healed the sick. He came and raised the dead. He came so that we could have forgiveness of sin. Through the actions of Jesus, the valleys that we were in because of sin have been raised up. The mighty and powerful have been lowered. When we walk with Jesus, even when we face the rough times in our lives, they are smoother because He is with us.

Now it is our turn to proclaim what Jesus has done for us. John proclaimed what He would do before He came. He stepped out in faith based on what would come. We have history to support our faith, yet, how many of us are willing to step out in our faith the way John the Baptist did?

Jesus will return! We should be proclaiming this to all of the world just as John proclaimed it to his world.

Copyright 1998 – 2015 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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