Are you pressing onward toward Jesus?

March 31, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 3:14 (NIV))

Even in the face of adversity and everything that the world can through at you, this must be your primary goal in life. We must press on toward the goal that God has shown us through Jesus.

If we desire something so strongly that it is our life’s goal, then we will focus on it and make it our primary aim. We have been given salvation through the atoning blood of Jesus and we should embrace that with all of our being. We should desire to be like Jesus in all that we do. That should be our goal – to live our lives as if we show Jesus to others.

What do you press on toward? Is it wealth? Is it power? Is it fame?

Do you press on toward what Jesus has called you to?

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you ready, willing and able to work?

March 30, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
(1 Corinthians 15:58 (NIV))

Do you ever get discouraged with all that is going on in the world?

Do you ever feel like it is too much to bear when all around us the world is rejecting God, rejecting Jesus, and all that is righteous and true?

There has not been a day in a very long time that I have not been saddened by the world as it has rapidly turned away from the things that are of God to the things that are of sin. I know that this has been going on for a long time, but it seems to be getting worse and on a very accelerated rate. I could probably go on for a very long time and list all of the things that have saddened my heart when I look at this world, but it all pales by comparison when I keep my eyes focused on Jesus.

“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))

I long for the day that I will see Jesus face to face. I know that I have not lived a perfect life in the eyes of God, but I rest assured that my hope and my faith are placed solely on the redeeming grace and the blood that was freely given on the cross at Calvary. It is because of this hope that I press on. It is because of this hope that I share my thoughts as words of encouragement. This is my work and I have fully given myself to it. It is not in vain.

Each of us are called to a certain task, a certain work that we do unto the Lord. Stand firm in that task. Don’t let the enemy and his lies keep you from fulfilling your work for the Lord. Whether you are called to witness to millions or just to one, God has set aside for you a task that no one else can do. It is important. It is not in vain.

Are you ready, willing and able to work?

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Will you boldly serve the risen Lord?

March 29, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.
(1 Corinthians 15:12-19 (NIV))

Do you believe that Jesus can save you from your sins?

Do you believe in the resurrection?

These may seem like a strange combination of questions, but if you stop to think about them, you can’t truly believe in the first without truly believing in the second.

Without the resurrection, our faith means absolutely nothing!

What did you do on Sunday? Did you go through the motions and give lip service to a god that you believe doesn’t have the power to do something amazing, or did you worship the one true God who raised His Son, Jesus from the dead? It all boils down to the resurrection. Either we serve a living God who has the power over life and death or we don’t. You have to decide. Be very sure of what you decide, though, because it needs to reflect in your life and in your worship.

But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”
(Joshua 24:15 (NIV))

Are you able to boldly proclaim that you will serve the Lord?

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you afraid to encounter the risen Jesus?

March 28, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: `He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
(Matthew 28:5-10 (NIV))

Are you afraid to encounter the risen Jesus?

Aside from the obvious fear that someone had stolen the body, or that they were in the presence of someone or something that they did not understand, these women experienced something that I often wonder if I would react in fear if I experienced it. Even though they knew Jesus as a friend when He walked the earth, they encountered the resurrected Jesus face to face!

I want you to think about that concept and how you would react.

What would you do if you encountered the risen Jesus face to face?

What would you do if He suddenly appeared in your living room?

What would you do if He suddenly appeared to you in your back yard?

What would you do if He suddenly appeared to you at work?

We like to think that we would be overjoyed with such a visit, but how many of us would actually be afraid? How many of us would fear that we had done something so bad that Jesus came to tell us that we had messed up? Would we be overjoyed with what Jesus did come to tell us?

I long to see Jesus, but I am like everyone else. How would I honestly react? Would I be fearful? Would I truly understand what would be happening? Would I faint from fear? Would I cry from fear? Would I cry for joy?

Would I . . .

To be honest, I like to think how I would react, but in my frail humanity, would I truly be able to react in that manner?

I just know that no matter how I react, it will not be a reaction of denial. I will not deny my Lord and Savior. It may be a reaction of shame, for I know that I fail Him daily. Even in my failures, I have waited too long to see His face!

He is risen!

Are you ready to see a resurrected Jesus face to face?

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you died to your place of the skull?

March 25, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha).
(John 19:17 (NIV))

I just love the way that God works in symbolism!

As we celebrate Easter and the resurrection, we must remember that in order for Jesus to be resurrected, He first had to die. He had to go willingly to the place of the Skull to die to himself so that God’s plan could be fulfilled.

Isn’t it interesting how we, before we can embrace the resurrection, must also go to our own place of the skull. We must be willing to die to our reasoning and intellect and follow solely on faith. We must accept something that makes absolutely no worldly sense. We must die to our inability to believe in something without seeing it. We must die to our own place of the skull.

It is amazing how God will work in us and through us once we have willingly laid ourselves at the foot of the cross once we surrender our own place of the skull.

We are now ready to fully embrace the resurrection and the grace and mercy that it brings. This knowledge has not only transformed our minds, it is now ready to transform our lives. It can now travel the longest distance known to humanity – the eighteen inches from our mind to our heart – and truly have an impact on us.

Have you died to your place of the skull?

Have you fully embraced the resurrection?

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Has the seed of salvation been planted?

March 24, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.
(John 12:23-26 (NIV))

The day is rapidly approaching when we celebrate the truth that Jesus spoke of. He willingly fell and died so that the seed of salvation could be planted. From that willing sacrifice, millions of people since then have reaped the fruits of that sacrifice as they multiply. Easter is the time that we celebrate that glorious gift of redemption and grace.

However, that seed does not stop there. Jesus planted the seed. Since that day, redemptive grace has sprouted from that seed. When a seed dies, it gives life to grow more seeds. When these seeds mature, they too will die to allow more seeds to grow. This cycle is how one can produce one hundred and one hundred can produce ten thousand. Each seed can bring forth other seeds to continue the work. Jesus planted the seed. Now it is our turn. By accepting the grace and mercy freely given at the cross, we become seeds. We have a small kernel of grace within us. We must allow that grace to produce.

I am not saying that we must physically die in order for that seed to produce. It is possible to die to self, to give up your desires, in order that God’s desires may be fulfilled. Just as Jesus obeyed God in order for His seed to produce, we must also be obedient so that our seed may produce.

I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
(John 14:12 (NIV))

I believe that we have been given instructions to do as Jesus did and produce many seeds.

Have your seeds been scattered in good soil?

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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When you focus on the signs, you miss Jesus!

March 23, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

I will show wonders in the heaven above
and signs on the earth below,
blood and fire and billows of smoke.
The sun will be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood
before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
(Acts 2:19-20 (NIV))

Many people, including myself, believe that we are seeing things that indicate that the time of the Gentiles is coming to an end. This indicates that we are close to seeing the end times that are so frequently written of in God’s Word. These end times will usher in the worst times that this world has ever seen. It will also eventually lead to Jesus returning in the clouds and splitting the Mount of Olives.

On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south.
(Zechariah 14:4 (NIV))

I often see things in the news or read things that make me wonder what this means and what sign it points to. It is human nature to try to figure things out. As we are told, we are to know the signs off the times. Some people make a study of these signs a full time endeavor. It is fascinating to try to understand how God is working.

I want to stop and ask a question.

Have you ever loved something so much that you studied it, practiced it, or played it so much that you soon lost sight of your first love? In other words, you became so engrossed in the details that you lost sight of the reason you loved it to begin with.

Don’t let your study of the signs make you lose sight of Jesus. After all, He is the reason the signs will be and are happening.

There is an old saying that you can’t see the forest for the trees. Step back and see Jesus in the details. Step back and see Jesus in the moment.

I know that the signs that are still unfolding will come to pass. How do I know this?

We are about to celebrate the greatest sign of all this Sunday. Without the resurrection of Easter, we would have no hope that the signs of His Second Coming would ever come true!

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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That way, the only way, is Jesus!

March 22, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Her leaders judge for a bribe,
her priests teach for a price,
and her prophets tell fortunes for money.
Yet they lean upon the LORD and say,
“Is not the LORD among us?
No disaster will come upon us.”
(Micah 3:11 (NIV))

It is such a sad state of affairs for humanity that we never seem to learn. This was written to the house of Jacob many, many years ago, yet it seems like it was just written about our society, our nation and our world as it exists today.

Are we that stupid that we do the exact same things that our ancestors did and expect to get different results? That is what many people refer to as the definition of insanity. Perhaps we are insane. Perhaps we never learn.

How do we break this vicious cycle of sin and arrogance?

Humanity keeps falling for the same lies. They may look a little different, but that is just the packaging. Deep down, they are the same things that out ancestors fell for.

Why don’t we recognize the truth when it is right in front of us? Why do we prefer the lies and the resulting problems over the truth and the grace?

Sometimes I wonder what God thinks of His creation? Does He sit in heaven and shake His head because of our stupidity? Does He sigh from a heavy heart because of our failures? Has He ever looked upon us as a lost cause?

Thankfully, He sees potential in His creation. Thankfully, He loves His creation.

“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))

Even when we don’t learn, even when we fail miserably, God still loves us. We are not bound to our failures. We are not bound to our sins. Grace has been offered even though we could never earn it. That is the story of Easter. In our sin, we could never escape the vicious cycle. Jesus came to offer redemption, to offer a way to grace. It is a helping hand extended from heaven to lift us out of our sins. All that we have to do is accept. There was a cost to be paid for this gift of a helping hand. We don’t have to pay it. It is a gift of love freely given to by the one who came to help to the ones who He came to help.

No matter what the world may look like, no matter what failures we repeat, we have a way to break free of the laws of sin and death.

That way, the only way, is Jesus!

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you truly understand the love that He has for us?

March 21, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed:
“Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.
(John 17:1-5 (NIV))

We are rapidly coming up on Easter, the time when we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus from the grave.

I am thankful for the resurrection! I am thankful for the defeat of death that the resurrection brought, yet, we, as the Body of Christ, have glossed over the pain and suffering that Jesus endured before and during the crucifixion.

Jesus knew exactly what was coming!

We see images from reenactments of the passion, yet, we still don’t truly understand what He went through in order to redeem us, to bring us salvation from sin and death.

Have you ever caught your arm in the thorns of a rose or bush? Did it draw blood? It probably hurt. Now, think of the flesh being ripped from your back with each lashing of the scourge. Think of the crown of thorns being driven into your head. In comparison to what you have experienced, can you even comprehend the pain that Jesus endured so that you could claim salvation?

Have you ever hit your thumb with a hammer? It hurts. In comparison, can you imagine the pain that Jesus endured when they drove the nails into and through his hands and feet?

Jesus knew that all of this, and much more, was waiting for Him. He willingly went through all of this just so that each of us could be offered grace and mercy through His shed blood. The price that Jesus paid was far greater than many of us can even imagine, yet, He paid it willingly. I want you to stop and think about the passion. I want you to stop and think about the pain. I want you to stop and think about the love that drove Him to the cross.

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

Do you truly understand the love that He has for us?

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is it your goal to be accepted by men or accepted by God?

March 18, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Blessed are you when men hate you,
when they exclude you and insult you
and reject your name as evil,
because of the Son of Man.
(Luke 6:22 (NIV))

Do you want to be blessed by man or by God?

If you are blessed by man, they will love you. They will embrace you and what you do because you lift them up, The things that you do bring glory to man. The things that you do are the things that they seek to be able to do. They idolize you.

God will still love you, but it is hard to be righteous when you are exalted and God is not. Just try to exalt God in the proper way and watch what the world does to you. Unfortunately, the world rejects God and elevates many members of society to a godlike status.

Think about that last statement.

Think about what the world did to Jesus!

Jesus was part of the Holy Trinity. He was God made flesh. All of the power and authority and the people rejected Him because He would not submit to the ways of the world. The world turned on Him. The world hated Him. The world crucified Him!

How can we expect the world of men to love us if we love Jesus after what they did to Jesus?

Remember the words I spoke to you: `No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me.
(John 15:20-21 (NIV))

Is it your goal to be accepted by men or accepted by God?

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