Who do you say that He is?

July 30, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?”
(Mark 8:27 (NIV))

Who do you say that He is?

Jesus is still asking that question. Sometimes he may even ask it multiple times.

The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
     Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
     Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.
(John 21:17 (NIV))

Jesus asked Peter “Do you love me?” three times. Peter knew who Jesus was, yet, Peter felt that he had done something that had betrayed Jesus’ trust. He had denied Jesus three times. It is believed that Jesus asked this question once for each of the three times that Peter had denied Him. I think that it may go even deeper.

Peter knew who Jesus was. He knew of His teachings.

     Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?”
     Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
(Matthew 18:21-22 (NIV))

Peter knew that Jesus taught of forgiveness, yet Peter denied Him three times. It would not be difficult to imagine that Peter thought forgiveness could not be applied to him in his situation. In essence, Peter thought that he was beyond the forgiving grace given to him by Jesus. Peter’s understanding of Jesus was warped by his own insecurities and remorse.

Are we any different? We have all done things that we feel cannot be forgiven. We forget that Jesus offers grace and mercy to any and all who will accept it. We forget that this offer is freely given to anyone. We long to claim it, yet, when we are guilty of something that is horrible in our own eyes, we forget who Jesus is. We think that we cannot be forgiven because of what we have done.

Jesus is able to forgive all sin. He is the only begotten Son of God. As such, He has the authority to forgive sins. He has authority over sickness. He has authority over demons. He has authority over sin and death. Anything less is not Jesus. Anything less is a person of our own creation. He is either the Son of God or He is merely a man.

Who do you say that He is?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you able to pray to love like this?

July 29, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
(1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (ESV))

Have you ever been at a loss for words?

I, like many of you, have read this passage countless times, but tonight, the simple yet magnificent beauty of this type of love left me without words. I had to read it many times and pray for insight. As humans, we like to think that we are capable of love, but when compared to this standard, we fall very short of the ideal that God has defined for us. Sadly, I didn’t even make it past the third word. How far did you make it before you started feeling something tugging at your spirit?

This passage defines for us the ideal love that God desires for us to possess, but it also acts as a measuring rod that we should use as a basis for our desires and our prayers to possess a love like the love of the Lord!

Have you heard of the concept of praying the scriptures? Basically you take a passage and you pray for that passage to be made manifest in your life. You stand firm in the truth and the power of scripture.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
(2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV))

I can’t think of a better passage to pray in order to be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Lord, I long to love as You love. Make me patient. Make me kind. I don’t want to be envious or boastful. Correct me when I am arrogant or rude. Lord, help me to put others first and myself last. Give me Your joy and Your peace so that I am not irritable or resentful. Lord, give me a heart that breaks when I see wrongdoing. Let me delight in Your truth and in those who know Your truth. Lord, give me the ability to bear all things for the truth of Your love. Instill in me a belief that all things work for Your good. Lord, give me the ability to hope when it appears that all hope is gone, and grant me the endurance to see Your love made manifest in all the earth!

For the second time tonight, I am at a loss for words because of the sheer power of such a prayer.

Are you able to love like this?

Are you able to pray to love like this?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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How can you share the Good News?

July 28, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone, everywhere.
(Mark 16:15 (NLT))

It is so easy to sit back in our comfort zones and rationalize that we are doing our part. We know that there are so many in our own area that still need to hear the Gospel. Do we use this to convince ourselves that we don’t go anywhere? Still, there are those in our areas who do need to hear the Gospel! Are we doing anything about this? Are we willing to share the Good News with those whom we encounter on a daily basis? Are we willing to accept that our mission field is right where we are?

Think about that.

Is your workplace part of the world? Is your neighborhood part of the world? Is the grocery store that you go to part of the world?

Not all of us are called to go halfway around the world. Not all of us are called to go to a foreign mission field. If everyone who professed a faith in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior had the same calling, who would stay home and witness to those who still needed to hear the Good News in our hometowns? Just because we don’t go to exotic parts of the world to share the Gospel doesn’t mean that we can’t share it where we are. In fact, if you stop and think about it, people in those places think that our hometowns are exotic and different. If they are believers, they like us, still have a calling.

Everyone!

Everywhere!

Two crucial words that we must take to heart for they are the very definition of who God loves and who He wants to redeem.

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))

Do you desire to be so in tune with God that when His heart is broken, you shed tears? Do you desire to share His love with a lost and dying world? Everyone! Everywhere! Even in your hometown? Do you want to use this to reach those whom God loves? What if we personalized this in a different way?

For God so loved _________ that he gave his one and only Son, that if _________ believes in him, _________ shall not perish but have eternal life.

Think about your workplace. Think about your neighborhood. Think about the grocery store that you go to. They are all part of the world and there is probably someone at each location whose name you could easily place in the blanks to truly personalize John 3:16. Who needs to hear of the love that came to seek and to save the lost?

How can you share the Good News?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Never leave your first love!

July 27, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.
(Revelation 2:4 (NKJV))

The church at Ephesus did many things right, but it all came collapsing down with this single statement!

Have you ever wondered what they had left? Have you ever thought that they simply got in a routine of doing things that were righteous, but forgot the reasons behind why they did them? They did good works. They labored for the sake of the Gospel. They had learned patience and they hated evil. They could even spot false apostles, but what good did it do them if they had left their first love? They had forgotten the love of Jesus and without that love, everything is meaningless. They had faith. They had hope, but they no longer had love!

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
(1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV))

Without love, you soon find yourself focusing on the letter of the law and not the intent. The Pharisees focused on the letter of the law. Jesus came to show that God’s intent was love. In essence, when you lose love, you become a Pharisee, and you insist on telling others what to do while not doing it yourself. You create a double standard in which you judge others but seek grace for yourself. This is completely contrary to what Jesus taught.

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
(Matthew 22:36-40 (NIV))

We are to love each other as we love ourselves!

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
(1 Peter 4:8 (NIV))

It was out of love that Jesus came into the world. It was out of love that He taught. It was out of love that He went to the cross. His love covers all of our sins. What we are called to do is love others in such a way that they are covered in Christ! If you have forgotten how to love, then it is time to follow through on what Jesus told the church at Ephesus.

Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.
(Revelation 2:5 (NKJV))

Never leave your first love!

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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How are your peacemaking skills?

July 26, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Blessed are the peacemakers,
     for they will be called sons of God.
(Matthew 5:9 (NIV))

Peace! That is something that the world is in short supply of at this moment in history.

The world definitely needs the peace that passes understanding. Perhaps it is this peace, and not the earthly peace that Jesus was actually speaking of in this passage. The earthly peace is something that is a lofty goal, but it will not be attainable in the natural world.

Consider the peace that God gives to those who truly follow Him. It is a peace that literally passes all understanding especially since it gives the recipient a joy that transcends the problems of the physical world. Perhaps it is this peace that passes understanding that Jesus is referring to.

Those who plant the seeds of this peace truly are the sons of God for they are giving something that can only be given through a love that goes beyond the earthly type of love. This peace is a gift from God through His Son, Jesus Christ.

How many times have you heard people refer to sharing the Gospel as the passing of the peace?

Closely examine your peacemaking abilities. Could you be considered this type of peacemaker?

How are your peacemaking skills?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What is your answer to what Jesus asks each of us?

July 23, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

‘What about you?’ Jesus asked. ‘Who do you say I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’
(Matthew 16:15-16 (NIV))

This is the question that Jesus is asking each and every one of us!

Who do you say that Jesus is? Think carefully about your answer.

Some say that Jesus never existed and that the stories are fabrications of a group of people who were determined to trick people.

Some say that he was simply a good man. This is partially true. Jesus definitely was a good man, but He was much more than a mortal man. Others say that he was a prophet. This is also partially true. He did speak the words of God, but not as a man who was given these words, but as one who spoke out of the authority that comes from the words.

Search your heart. Reflect on what is written about Jesus. Consider that He is the most controversial person to ever have walked the earth. For two thousand years people have been either praising Him or denying Him. Consider what He taught. Consider His status in life as a carpenter in a country that was under foreign domination. How can a man who had no worldly claim to fame captivate the world for two thousand years? Even the men of power during His lifetime do not receive the same attention that this lowly carpenter has received.

There is something in His words that draws people who are seeking the truth. There is something in His words that offends people who are seeking their own way. There is something about Him that still draws people to Him over two thousand years after His brief ministry on this earth.

Just what is that something? That is for each and every one of us to discover. Once you discover it, you will answer as Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

What is your answer to what Jesus asks each of us?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Hope, joy and peace come from trusting the Lord!

July 22, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
(Romans 15:13 (NIV))

With the current state of the world, we need hope. We need joy, and we need peace!

Can you imagine how people who don’t profess a faith in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior are coping with what we have been facing? Even members of the Body of Christ can sometimes begin to feel the weight of the world crashing down on us, and we have the hope we have been given through Jesus to cling to! Can you imagine the weight that others are feeling when they have no hope to cling to?

We are all familiar with the often used saying that when things are looking down, look up. To be honest with you, I see more and more people boldly proclaiming their faith through social media than I have ever seen. It may just be the algorithms that are used, but it appears that over fifty percent of what I see is people sharing faith based content. I take this as an indication that people are spending more time in God’s Word and are clinging to the truth that it contains. People are looking up! Or, should I say that they are looking down into the pages of their Bibles? Can we take this as a sign that people are lifting their hearts and their hands to heaven? Can we take this as a sign the people are lifting up prayers to the Lord?

For those of us who cling to the promises that are “yes” in Jesus, we have hope. We have joy, and we have peace. We also have an assignment!

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
(Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV))

And, the harvest fields are ripe to hear the Gospel!

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
(Isaiah 6:8 (NIV))

There has never been a better time to share the Gospel of Jesus. The time may be short and for those who don’t trust in the Lord, we may be the only people who will share. We must tell them the truth!

Hope, joy and peace come from trusting the Lord!

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Who are your companions?

July 21, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.
(Proverbs 13:20 (NIV))

There are many different ways to say this. Here are two of the many that I have heard in my life.

“If you lay down with dogs, you get up with fleas” paints a very vivid picture of what can and will happen simply by association.

“Garbage in, garbage out” is another one that comes to mind. This implies that what you put into your life is what you will get out of your life.

The concept is basically the same and has not changed since Solomon wrote his version. It relies on a very sad, but true, characteristic of human nature. We tend to pick up traits and characteristics from those with whom we associate. What is even sadder is that we tend to change our behavior based on who we are around at any given moment. If that is the sad truth of human nature, those who profess a faith in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior must hold each other accountable!

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
(Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV))

Not only do we have an assignment to share the Gospel with those who do not believe, we are also called to encourage each other so that we can stand firm in our faith. When we gather together, we share a common belief and a common desire. This strengthens the human weakness that makes us pick up the traits of others. We then can walk out into the sinful, fallen world and hold fast to our faith. This also strengthens us and makes us able to deal with “fools” when we encounter them.

The fool says in his heart,
      “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, their deeds are vile;
      there is no one who does good.
(Psalms 14:1 (NIV))

What do you consider wisdom?

Based on that answer, who do you consider to be wise?

Hopefully your answers point to Jesus and to those who seek to follow Jesus. If we take on the characteristics of those we are around, choose wisely. Godly wisdom and those who seek it will take you on a walk with the wise. We must learn to stay away from fools!

Who are your companions?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you sure you only want to hear pleasant things?

July 20, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

They say to the seers,
       “See no more visions!”
and to the prophets,
       “Give us no more visions of what is right!
Tell us pleasant things,
       prophesy illusions.
(Isaiah 30:10 (NIV))

Do you want to hear fairy tales, bedtime stories and other pleasant things, or do you want to hear the truth? Do you want to hear that the sinful things you do are okay, or do you want to hear the truth and repent of your sins? Do you want to be happy in your sin and lost for all eternity, or do you want to hear the truth that will lead you to an eternity with God?

Sadly, human nature seems to like pleasant things even if they are wrong. This seems to be getting more and more prevalent in the world today. Are we seeing what Paul wrote to Timothy coming to fruition?

For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.
(2 Timothy 4:3 (NIV))

Even Jesus experienced this with those who followed Him when He walked the earth. When He started teaching something that was difficult to hear, many would simply go home. At one point, He asked His disciples if they wanted to leave. I know that He already knew the answer to this question. He simply wanted them to search themselves and answer.

From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
“You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.
Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.
(John 6:66-68 (NIV))

How do you respond when you read or hear passages that state things that you don’t like? Do you get offended and go home, or do you dig in and look at yourself in relation to that passage so that you can learn and mature in your faith? Do you only read the pleasant parts of the Bible or do you read and study all of it?

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
(2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV))

I know that those who profess a faith in Jesus cling to the solid promise of salvation that is only available through Him. I know that we like to make wide-sweeping statements such as I know who wins in the end, but have you ever stopped to consider that the Bible is a story of the battle between God and Satan, between good and evil, and as such, there will be things that we do not like. In order to be fully equipped with the full armor of God, we must hear the truth. We need to know how to wage warfare against the enemy.

Are you sure you only want to hear pleasant things?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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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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