Do you believe that Jesus said this?

December 16, 2015

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?”
“Nothing,” they answered.

He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.
(Luke 22:35-36 (NIV))

How many of us choose to ignore these words spoken by Jesus?

Think about them in context.

We know that Jesus sent the disciples out with instructions to not take anything with them. They had obeyed and all returned. From the words that were written, they were successful in their endeavors.

This was before!

This was before the arrest. This was before the crucifixion. This was before the resurrection, and this was before the persecution that the disciples and the early believers were going to face.

What changed?

I honestly believe that the first time that Jesus sent out the disciples, it was a trial run. It was used to build their faith and trust that Jesus would provide. I believe that He sent them out as innocents to get their feet wet.

These words were spoken to the disciples right after Jesus told Peter that he would deny Jesus three times before the rooster crowed. In other words, Jesus was telling them that it was time to face the truth of the world. It was time to realize that the world, in its fallen state, is not a safe place and that they must take precautions to protect themselves. He did not tell them that He wouldn’t be with them, but He did tell them to be wise to the ways of the world and to arm themselves for their own protection.

I realize that many people will not like what I am saying, but we have to realize that Jesus gave us these instructions. Don’t get me wrong and start saying that I believe we need to be violent and warlike. That is far from the truth. What I am saying is that Jesus told His disciples to arm themselves for protection from the world. In other words, He was telling them to be alert and to be wise to the ways of the world. Not everyone shares the same values and beliefs as those who profess a faith in Jesus.

No matter how we are to be prepared in the physical world in which we live, we are also to be prepared in the spiritual world as well.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
(Ephesians 6:10-18 (NIV))

Copyright 1998 – 2015 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you ready for Jesus to come?

December 15, 2015

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
from ancient times. ”

Therefore Israel will be abandoned
until the time when she who is in labor gives birth
and the rest of his brothers return
to join the Israelites.

He will stand and shepherd his flock
in the strength of the LORD,
in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God.
And they will live securely, for then his greatness
will reach to the ends of the earth.

And he will be their peace.
(Micah 5:2-5 (NIV))

This prophecy speaks clearly of the coming of Jesus. During this time of year when we celebrate the birth of our Savior, we must also keep in mind that He is first a light to the Jews and then to the nations.

The covenant that God made with Israel was for this nation to be a light unto the world. Yet, they took the meaning of “God’s Chosen People” to mean that they had special privileges that set them above every other nation.

There are many words within this passage that can be interpreted to reflect what has happened in the history of Israel. When it speaks of Israel being abandoned … and the rest returning to Israel, this could be taken to mean the upper tribes being taken into captivity from which they never really returned. Now, the nation of Israel is once again a nation, and people from all over the world are returning to their “home land.” Perhaps, many of these people are descendants of those who were taken into captivity from the Northern Kingdom.

God has always used “near-term” and “long-term” prophecy within the same words. This passage obviously points to the first coming of Jesus. It also gives hints and glimpses of what will be in the second coming.

After two thousand years since Jesus’ birth, it is right that we celebrate this coming and the gift that was given through this coming. We must also not forget that He will return. Every Christmas that we celebrate brings us closer to the time of this much anticipated, often ridiculed, and greatly controversial event.

We need to be ready for the second coming.

Copyright 1998 – 2015 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you sanctified? Are you blameless in the eyes of God?

December 14, 2015

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.
(1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 (NIV))

In a little over a week, we will be celebrating the first coming of Jesus. We will be celebrating the birth of a baby who came to this world to free us from the law of sin and death! It is through the birth and life of Jesus, the crucifixion and resurrection, and the ascension that we have been sanctified.

Sanctify.

This is a word that most people don’t use. In fact, most people probably don’t truly understand the meaning of the word. Sanctify means to make holy. It means to give official acceptance or approval.

Think about that for a moment.

God sent Jesus into the earth in order to make us holy, in order to officially accept us and approve of us. We all understand salvation, but God’s love goes far beyond salvation. It goes far beyond washing away all of our sins. By accepting Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, we have been made holy. By accepting Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, we have been given official acceptance by God.

I find it amazing just how much we take for granted. We have lost so much understanding of God’s love simply because we have become ignorant of the meanings of the words that describe God’s love. We over simplify it to say such things as “God is love” and “God will forgive.” It seems that we are still infants when it comes to understanding who God is.

I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready.
(1 Corinthians 3:2 (NIV))

We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
(Hebrews 5:11-14 (NIV))

Are you sanctified? Are you blameless in the eyes of God?

Copyright 1998 – 2015 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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I am reborn through the power of His birth!

December 11, 2015

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, `You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
(John 3:5-8 (NIV))

During this time of year when we celebrate the birth of Jesus, we have to stop and consider the things that Jesus spoke of in this passage and the true meaning of what He spoke of.

If you stop to think about the birth of Jesus, it is not the typical birth.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.
(John 1:1-2 (NIV))

Jesus existed before His physical birth. He has existed since the beginning and will exist for all eternity. Why did He go through the physical birth when He already existed? Why did He come to take a physical, human form? Why did He give up the heavenly to put on the frailty of humanity? Why did He do any of the things that He did?

Love!

“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 he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men 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 his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”
(John 3:16-21 (NIV))

I find it amazing and I am deeply humbled by the fact that Jesus gave up everything so that He could offer us redemptive grace and salvation. He is eternal. We are dust. Yet, He loves us enough to have come to this world and live as one of us. He loves us enough to have suffered and died for the cleansing of all of our sins. He loves us enough to intercede for us with the Father.

I realize that what we know as Christmas is a joyous time for the reason we celebrate is joyous. I also find it to be a time of self reflection. Do I live up to the expectations of Jesus? Do I have the faith to do the things that He has done? I know that I fail daily. I also know that I can repent and rest assured that I am still loved and forgiven. I know this because of the promises that were fulfilled when Jesus was born into the physical world!

Copyright 1998 – 2015 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Each of us can impact the world for Jesus!

December 10, 2015

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
(1 Timothy 1:12-14 (NIV))

I know that this was written long ago and that it was written by Paul. We all consider Paul to be the one who is most responsible for preaching to the Gentiles. With this in mind, I want to ask you a question.

What is stopping you from claiming this passage as your own?

Has Jesus given you strength? Does He consider you faithful? Are you ready, willing and eager to serve Him?

In comparison to what your life has become since asking Jesus into your heart, were you a blasphemer? Did you persecute those who call upon the name of Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior?

Have you been shown mercy? Have you been shown grace? Have you been blessed abundantly with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus?

If you truly follow Jesus, you should be able to recognize that these questions all answered as Yes. The only difference between you and Paul with respect to this passage is your circle of influence.

What can we do to impact the world for Jesus?

Copyright 1998 – 2015 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What does Christmas mean to you?

December 9, 2015

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
(1 Corinthians 12:27 (NIV))

I was reading through my older devotionals and came across this. I feel that it is worth another look.

Have you ever stopped to think that Christmas is the celebration of your birthday also?

Think about that for a moment.

I am not proclaiming that each of us who call upon Jesus as our Lord and Savior is of equal stature as Jesus. Rather, through the birth of Jesus, God moved to fulfill His plan for our salvation. Through the physical birth of Jesus, our salvation was given life. Through the physical birth of Jesus, our hope was given wings. Without the birth that we celebrate during this time of year, there could never have been a crucifixion, resurrection or ascension. Without these glorious events, the price would never have been paid in order to redeem us from the law of sin and death.

Christmas is, in essence, the beginning of our new life through grace. It is the beginning of the life that paid the price so that you and I can be redeemed.

If you are a believer in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, then you have every right to celebrate the birth of the One who freely died so that you could be born again.

Many historians and theologians believe that December 25 is not really the actual date of Jesus’ birth. Many believe that it was actually in April. Still, no matter what the actual day, we celebrate an important birth. It is the most important birth in all of human history. It is the birth of the One who allows the rebirth of all who will simply proclaim Him. It is a new beginning for all. It is the beginning of the removal of all of our sins. All that we have to do is accept.

Christmas is the day that we can point to and claim that God’s redemption has arrived. Perhaps that is why people used to wish everyone a Mighty Christ’s Mass. They realized just what this day means. It is the day that God broke through the barrier of sin and death to reach out to offer each of us salvation, grace and mercy.

What does Christmas mean to you?

Copyright 1998 – 2015 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Don’t ever forget the real reason for the season!

December 8, 2015

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.
(Psalms 59:16 (NIV))

Do you have a refuge in which to take cover in times of trouble? Do you have a fortress that will protect you when all around you is in chaos?

We are rapidly approaching the day that we celebrate the birth of the one who offers love, protection and salvation. The world tends to think of Jesus as the baby in the manger. Everything must have a start, a beginning. If God sent His Son to live and walk among us, then He had to experience all aspects of this life that we cling to. Jesus had to come into the world as one of us. He had to live as one of us. He had to grow up and experience the things that each of us face in our lives. He had to be able to face temptation and win.

I realize that we think of Christmas as a festive time, and it is, but we must not forget that no matter what the times may bring, we have a fortress to shelter us. We have a refuge to keep us safe. We have an advocate who loves us enough to experience all that we face, even unto death. We have a Savior who has defeated death. We have a champion who sits at the right hand of God the Father and He is interceding for us.

Christmas is not about gifts and family. It is not about good food and fellowship. It is not about parties and presents.

Christmas is about the beginning of grace and the hope that we can all know salvation in our lives. Christmas is about Jesus! Don’t ever forget the real reason for the season!

Copyright 1998 – 2015 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you compromise to get along with others?

December 7, 2015

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

To the angel of the church in Sardis write:
These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.
(Revelation 3:1-3 (NIV))

Are your deeds complete in the sight of God?

Have you ever stopped to think about what Jesus was saying to the church at Sardis?

I recently saw something that made me take a look at this from a new perspective.

In essence, this fresh perspective can be summarized by a simple concept – Getting along with others!

On the surface, this sounds like a good idea, but what happens when you compromise your faith to get along with others? What happens when you compromise what God has instructed you to do in order to get along with others? My first reaction to this concept can be summarized by the bumper stickers that I am sure that we have all seen telling us to coexist with other religions.

This is where we, as the Body of Christ, must be extremely careful. There is a difference between coexisting and compromising. We are facing some very severe pressure today to coexist, but in reality, they are asking for us to compromise. To some, it may seem insignificant, but in the eyes of Jesus it is a major issue.

A good example of this compromise can be summarized by this passage.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
(John 14:6 (NIV))

Do you believe that Jesus is the only way to the Father or do you believe that He is one of many ways? Do you believe that Jesus is the only way for everybody or do you believe that He may not be the way for some people?

John 14:6 clearly states that no one comes to the Father except through Jesus. If you have allowed a different teaching to influence your life, then you have compromised. If you believe that it is ok to follow the world and only turn to Jesus once a week, then you have compromised.

Following Jesus is a tough road to travel. There are many distractions along the way. There are many paths that look good in the eyes of the traveler, but are a compromise in the eyes of Jesus!

Don’t let the world distract you and don’t compromise what you know to be true!

Copyright 1998 – 2015 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Turn from arrogance and turn to God!

December 4, 2015

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
(James 4:7-10 (NIV))

People surround themselves with things that they are comfortable with. Take a look at somebody’s home and you will see how that this is true. If you could take a look at somebody’s heart, you would also see that this is true in spiritual matters. People surround themselves with what they know.

Closely examine what you have surrounded yourself with. Is it Godly or is it worldly? The two are opposite extremes. You cannot be surrounded with worldly matters and still be able to focus on God. You cannot walk the middle ground between the two. It is time to break out of the comfort zone and focus exclusively on one.

By focusing on God, you will resist Satan, and, as the verse claims, he will flee. A relationship with God is like a relationship with anyone. If you are willing to become friends with someone, they are more receptive. The more that you learn about the other person, the more that they will learn about you. Do not present the world with an arrogant attitude, for that attitude is from the devil.

Turn from arrogance and turn to God.

Copyright 1998 – 2015 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is Jesus your true friend?

December 3, 2015

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit–fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other.
(John 15:9-17 (NIV))

Jesus gave these words almost 2000 years ago!

Isn’t it amazing that we have inherited this promise without physically seeing Jesus. The words that Jesus spoke are as true today as they were then. Proverbs 18:24 states

“A man of many companions may come to ruin,
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

How fortunate we are to have this friend!

Jesus is our brother, and yet He is much more. He has shown us the Will of the Father. He has given us the promise of eternal life through His Blood. He has been placed at the right hand of God, the Father to intercede for us.

Jesus is the true friend of all who will accept this friendship. He is not a fake friend. He does not place himself above those whom He came to save. Indeed, Jesus was a living example of His own words,

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”
(John 15:13)

He foretold of the act that would allow for humanity to be given salvation.

Isn’t it wonderful to be counted as a friend of Jesus? Should we do no less than what He commanded? If we are all friends of Jesus, should we not love one another as He loves us?

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