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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Let’s continue to turn to God in righteousness!

January 20, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice;
when the wicked rule, the people groan.
(Proverbs 29:2 (NIV))

Ouch !!!

Have we been rejoicing or groaning?

Think about the implications of that simple question.

Have we lost track of the principles upon which we were founded? Have we grown so accustom to looking out for only ourselves, that we forget that what we do has an affect on others? Have we allowed wickedness to replace righteousness? Do we look upon sin as something that is wrong, or do we look upon sin as an alternative lifestyle? Do we see those around us as individuals whom God created, or do we simply see someone who is an obstacle in our way?

I could go on and on with these types of questions, but I hope you understand my point.

Woe to those who call evil good
    and good evil,
  who put darkness for light
    and light for darkness,
  who put bitter for sweet
    and sweet for bitter.
Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes
    and clever in their own sight.
Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine
    and champions at mixing drinks,
who acquit the guilty for a bribe,
    but deny justice to the innocent.
(Isaiah 5:20-23 (NIV))

Does any of this sound familiar? It does to me.

Fortunately, God allows us to turn away from our sin and return to Him.

“When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
(2 Chronicles 7:13-14 (NIV))

The heavens may not be shut so that there is no rain, but I think I see the telltale signs of a different type of locust. This locust devours just like the type referred to in this passage, and just like we are told, if we will humbly turn to God in prayer, and turn toward Him, He will heal our land.

I don’t know about you, but I am tired of groaning. Join me in prayer! Let’s continue to turn to God in righteousness!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you realize what we hold the keys to?

January 16, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
(Matthew 16:19 (NIV))

All throughout history, keys have provided access into areas that we want to protect. These areas hold things of value and things of power. Some might even say that these areas can be considered strongholds, for they contain things that are dangerous if they fall into the wrong hands. You don’t just give a key to anyone you meet! You give a key to family and a few close friends. In other words, you only give keys to those whom you trust.

Do you understand that last sentence with respect to the fact that we have been given the keys to the kingdom?

We have direct access into heaven! We have direct access to the throne of God! We are not an unwelcome intruder. We are welcomed as part of His family. We can approach the Lord with our prayers and He will hear!

Are you excited yet?

We have been given so much in such a simple concept as keys. These keys and what they represent to us as the Body of Christ, mean that we have the complete arsenal of God’s Word available to us when we face the battles with the enemy in our lives. These keys give us the authority to call on the Lord and the authority to use that privilege to bind the enemy! These keys mean that we can open the doors to the kingdom and take refuge there!

Do you realize what we hold the keys to?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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We must not accept sin as the new normal!

January 14, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
(Matthew 18:15-17 (NIV))

Sadly, just by choosing this verse, too many people will get offended. Society currently believes that if you love someone, then you accept them as they are. Society claims that people are made that way and as a result, there is nothing wrong with them. This has become rampant even in the church. Let’s play fill in the blank to see how that actually sounds.

I was born a(n) __________________, therefore, you have to accept me the way that I am.

Pick any of the following words and see how that sounds.

Arsonist
Murderer
Pedophile
Alcoholic
Thief
Sex Addict

Perhaps you have a few more that you can think of, but the concept is clear, sin is sin! Why do we, as the Body of Christ, not follow what we have been told? How can we be the light of the world if we allow the darkness to influence us? How can we share the truth of the Gospel if we can’t follow it ourselves? The last time I read anything about the Lord, He does not lead us into sin! In fact, He leads us away from sin. Jesus, when addressing the woman caught in adultery, was clear. We are to go and sin no more! We are to leave our life of sin. We are not to embrace the sin simply because our fallen nature made us this way! We are to become a new creation. We are to repent. We are to take up our cross and follow Him daily.

Sadly, we are seeing too many people profess that what has been called good is now evil and what was once called evil is now good. Society may claim this as the new normal, but the Body of Christ must stand firm.

We must not accept sin as the new normal!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you come to your senses?

October 30, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!’
(Luke 15:17 (NIV))

We all know the story of the prodigal son. We look at it to symbolize the willingness of a loving heavenly Father to welcome us back with open arms. If that is how you understand the prodigal son, then you are correct, for that is exactly how God is, but . . .

It requires a decision on our part first!

It requires us to come to our senses and leave the life that left us in the sinful state that we find ourselves. It requires us to repent.

Repentance implies regret. It implies a sadness over previous actions, a resolution to change as you move forward and a humility to realize that you cannot change on your own. In essence, it means that you have decided to change directions. To most people, the concept of a complete U-turn comes to mind. This represents a complete change of heart and change of mind. When you earnestly repent, you have a realization that you have been wrong and that you wish to return to what is right. Some people would call this an ah-ha moment. I love the way that this passage describes this moment.

He came to his senses!

It is said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results. What is it about human nature that makes us think that we can do it our way and that our way is going to be better than God’s way? We continually walk away from God and expect our lives to be these pictures of perfection in which everything goes our way all of the time. We have been blinded by the lies of the enemy. We have bought into the picture of insanity that the enemy has painted. I want to tell you that the outcome will always be the same. The details may change, but the end result is a life of sin and loneliness far from the loving arms of the Father.

It is important that we come to our senses, leave our sin, and return to the Father. He is waiting!

Have you come to your senses?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you on watch for bad fruit?

October 10, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
(Matthew 7:15-20 (NIV))

Think about this the next time that you hear of something that is just too good to be true, or is just a little off of what God’s Word says that it should be. Most of the time, lies are obvious, but deception is a trick of the enemy. When things sound almost right with respect to God’s word, they are totally wrong.

It should be easy for believers to realize that the “fruit” does not match the source. We should be able to easily distinguish that the things the enemy tells us are too good to be true, especially when they contradict everything that we should know to be true according to God’s Word.

Why do people fall for the deceptions of the enemy?

Are we, as a fallen, sinful race, too far removed from the truth to even recognize it?

The words in Matthew are amazing and sadly amusing if you stop to actually understand what is being said. We have enough common sense to not look for grapes on an apple tree, yet, we easily fall prey to the small lies of the enemy in hopes that the promises are true.

Test everything against God’s Word. If something is supposed to bear goodness, but it lies to do so, does it really follow God’s Word? If you are promised that it is only a small digression and no one will know about it, can it be the correct fit?

We have been told what the things of God will bear.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
(Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV))

Think of this passage when validating the truth about something. Does it produce according to the fruit of the Spirit?

Are you on watch for bad fruit?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you able to rejoice when the lost is found?

October 8, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, `Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
(Luke 15:8-10 (NIV))

Is there someone in your life that you would rather forget about?

Someone who just seems to be a thorn in your side no matter what you may do or say. Is there someone who just irritates you?

Do you find yourself thinking that it wouldn’t matter to anyone if they just disappeared?

Isn’t life ironic at times? You do your best to do what you know to be the right thing. You devote yourself to being the person that Jesus is calling you to be, yet, still you have issues with other people who just seem to rub you the wrong way.

Personally, I honestly believe that these people are no accident. They are placed in your life for a reason. I find it best to take on the attitude of prayer, not only for these type of people, but more often for myself. I have to remind myself that heaven rejoices just as much for this person as it does for me. I am no better than the person in question and I need to repent of my thoughts.

With this in mind, have you ever pictured what heaven would be like? Do you envision vast numbers of people exactly like you? How will you handle seeing people from different cultures and different nationalities who will not be like you? How will you handle being among people with whom the only thing that you may have in common is the fact that you have accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior? What will you do when you see the person or persons from your life that were those people who were the thorns in your side? Will you rejoice with all of heaven or will you ask why they are there?

I have often heard this question asked, “How would you react when you got to heaven and discovered that Adolf Hitler had repented and accepted Jesus as his personal Lord and Savior?”

If heaven can rejoice when a sinner repents, then we should rejoice as well. In fact, we must pray for those who are lost.

Are you able to rejoice when the lost is found?

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