Will the gates be open for you?

July 31, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Open for me the gates of the righteous; I will enter and give thanks to the LORD.
(Psalms 118:19 (NIV))

When this was written, grace was only an unfulfilled promise. Even though it was an unfulfilled promise, the psalmist knew that the promise would be fulfilled. He knew beyond doubt that if God had promised that He would provide a way for us to enter into righteousness that it would truly come to pass. He longed for that day.

The writer of this passage never lived to physically see the promise fulfilled, but he held fast to that promise. We have the benefit of being on the other side of that promise. We know that God sent Jesus to fulfill that promise. We have the full account of how He came to earth born of a virgin. We know of the people that he gathered together to teach. We know of the miracles that He performed. We know of the crucifixion and the resurrection. We know of the ascension, and we know of the power behind the spreading of the Gospel.

With all that we know, do we have the faith that the psalmist had? All that he had was a promise and he believed. We have all the accounts of those who knew Jesus and witnessed the events of His life, and some of us still have problems with faith.

Is your faith based on a promise or is your faith based on written accounts? Which takes more faith, to believe a promise or to believe after the fact? Am I the only one who looks at their faith and wonders if my faith would have been strong enough to believe a promise? I like to think that it would have been. Would I have been able to turn my eyes to the Lord and lift up my voice to heaven and proclaim that even though I have not seen, I will believe?

To be honest with you, I am simply thankful for the promises, for I know that they will always be “Yes” through Jesus! Because of Jesus offering us grace and mercy, those who accept that grace and mercy can enter the gates with thanksgiving and praising the Lord!

Will the gates be open for you?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Be very careful not to lose your focus!

July 28, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!
(1 Corinthians 10:12 (NIV))

How secure are you in your faith? How confident are you that you can resist temptation? Are you capable of standing firm in the face of the sin that used to hold you captive?

When answering these questions, it is essential that you don’t forget that you are human and have inherited a sinful, fallen nature. It is a nature that is hard to overcome on your own. Even if you have professed a faith in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, it is still possible to fall back into the very sins that you seek forgiveness for. It takes discipline. It takes focus. It takes the grace and mercy that was freely given through Jesus!

No one is perfect. We may desire to walk in the confidence that we will always do what Jesus calls us to do, but we are only capable of claiming our righteousness because Jesus is righteous. Without Jesus, we are nothing.

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
(Isaiah 64:6 (NIV))

Walking with Jesus takes effort. It is not easy.

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
(Matthew 7:13-14 (NIV))

The wide gate and the broad road are easier to travel than the narrow road and the small gate. Think of the difference between an interstate highway and a narrow and winding country road. Which is easier to travel on? Which gets you there faster? Which has the twists and turns that build your driving skills? Which holds surprise blessings along the way? If you are traveling the narrow road, you must maintain your focus or you can find yourself in danger of running off of the road. An interstate highway leads you rapidly to where you think you want to go, but is it truly the best way to go? It takes you on a journey that bypasses all of the great things that you would encounter if you focused on traveling the narrow road.

I realize that I took a small detour with the driving comparison. This is a prime example of just how easy it is to fall for a diversion. It shows us just how easy it is to lose our focus.

Be very careful not to lose your focus!

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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No matter what, the darkness will not win!

July 27, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
(John 1:5 (NIV))

I have a Bible app on my iPad that I use all the time. No matter what book, chapter and verse I may have been reading the last time I had it open, it always opens to the book of John, chapter 1. This has been going on for quite some time and I have been praying for discernment as to what God is trying to get me to know and understand.

Tonight was no different with respect to how the app opened. Once again, I started reading this chapter and asked God for wisdom and discernment. When I got to John 1:5, I froze with the following realization.

Many people believe that the enemy is increasing his boldness and his attacks. Once Jesus ascended, God sent the Holy Spirit to be with us and guide us. Another very important aspect of the power of the Holy Spirit is that He restrains the enemy. He restrains the darkness! The darkness appears to be increasing rapidly. There will come a day when the Holy Spirit will be removed and darkness will rule. I am not saying that the darkness will overcome the light. It is simply a matter of God saying enough is enough and removing the light. God will remove the restrainer! God will allow the world to have exactly what it wants.

That day is rapidly approaching. Darkness will never overcome the light, but the light can and will be removed. Many things point to that happening very soon. When the light is removed, where does that leave the Body of Christ? Where does that leave the church? Where does that leave you?

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.
(Matthew 5:14 (NIV))

If the Body of Christ is the light of the world and light cannot be hidden, how can darkness rule if the light is still here? I have never been someone who tries to find things that aren’t there or to try and fit something into what I see. I try to be a Berean. I study and search the scriptures. I will never set dates for what is written in God’s Word, but I feel something in my spirit. I feel a sense of urgency! Do you feel it?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Grace does not mean that you can continue sinning!

July 26, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.
(Galatians 5:13 (NIV))

What does freedom mean to you?

Many people believe that it means that they have the right to do whatever they want to do whenever they want to do it. This attitude is even prevalent in the church. Too many people who attend church falsely believe that since they are covered by grace, they can do anything that they want to do. Do you remember the woman who was caught in adultery? Do you remember what Jesus said to her?

“No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
(John 8:11 (NIV))

Does this sound anything like the false belief that people have about grace? Jesus did not tell the woman to embrace the sin. We are to turn away from our sinful nature, no matter what it may be.

Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
(1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (NIV))

Do you know the difference between the word “are” and the word “were?”

Paul addressed the members of the church in Corinth by saying that some of them had been these things. Nowhere does it sound like Paul was implying that we could still cling to our favorite sins while claiming freedom, grace and mercy through Jesus. We are to leave the old behind and hold fast to the truth that is before us. If we could cling to our sins and still have salvation, then why did Jesus have to come to the earth? Jesus offers us a way out of our sins and a way to receive the true freedom from sin.

Focus on following Jesus and the indulgences of the flesh will fade!

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How do you feel that you test in your actions?

July 25, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else,
(Galatians 6:4 (NIV))

When you were in school, did you ever have to grade your own work? Were you honest?

Let’s face the truth. We are not good at accurate self evaluation. We tend to over estimate our capabilities and achievements while we under estimate our weaknesses. If you don’t believe this about yourself, think back on high school and what you remember. Then ask someone who knew you then and see if the two match up. It is human nature to have an over inflated sense of self worth.

Is this true when we look at our faith and our evaluation of our so-called righteousness? Do we look down on others while we have a tendency to look upon our own relationship with Jesus as close to perfect?

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
(Isaiah 64:6 (NIV))

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
(Romans 3:23 (NIV))

No one is above anyone else. We are all sinners. With this in mind, if we must test and compare, then we must limit our evaluation solely to ourselves. How have we matured? How do we respond to others? How do we see ourselves? When we test ourselves, we must be sure to grade ourselves honestly. It may even be wise to err on the side of under evaluation so that we continue to strive for the goals that Jesus has set before us.

How do you feel that you test in your actions?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What have you seen?

July 24, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
(John 1:14 (NIV))

I often wonder what it would have been like to have seen Jesus walk the earth!

Do you ever think about seeing first hand all that transpired? What aspect of His life on this earth would have been your primary interest? Would you like to have witnessed the heavenly hosts proclaiming His birth? I often wonder what it would have been like to witness His baptism and to see the Holy Spirit descend upon Him like a dove. Perhaps Jesus calling together His disciples is of interest to you. I personally have spent considerable amounts of time reading about the miracles that He performed. I have also spent a considerable amount of time reading about the lessons that He taught. Many of us have probably tried to place ourselves in the Upper Room and imagine the events that transpired there and afterward. Would you honestly be able to stand and watch the events of the crucifixion? How many times have you tried to imagine the amazing events of the resurrection and His glorious appearances to the disciples and the masses? After everything that transpired, how would you react when you see Jesus ascend into heaven?

I find human nature to be such a funny thing. There were multitudes of people who did see these events transpire, yet we know that the multitudes turned on Jesus and demanded His crucifixion. Even with having witnessed the life and miracles of Jesus, many people turned on Him. They rejected Him! The human mind could not comprehend what the eye had seen. They did not understand exactly what they were seeing.

The problem is that they had not seen with their hearts!

God, in all of His glory, is Spirit and must be worshipped in spirit. In order to reach a physical world, He had to take on human form. Even though He had told us what would happen, people failed to recognize Him because they did not recognize the truth in the words that described how He would come. They failed to see, just as many fail to see today. Thankfully, there were those who did see and who did recognize Jesus.

We have the ability to build our faith upon the words of our predecessors. Would our faith have been strong? Would it have even existed if we had seen things first hand?

Have you believed all that you have seen?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you clang?

July 21, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
(1 Corinthians 13:1 (NIV))

Just what do you consider to be eloquent speech?

Are you capable of delivering your definition of eloquent speech? I dare say that most of us are not capable of delivering something that will captivate ourselves let alone others. We are so focused on what we will say next that we fail to completely say what we should and with the correct tone. There is an old saying that we are to listen twice as much as we speak for God gave us two ears and only one mouth. If the words that we speak do not sound like we are listening, are we speaking them in love? If the words that we speak are mean and vindictive, are we speaking them in love?

Perhaps we should show love through our actions, after all, some say that love is a verb. Let me ask a question. Which of the following shows love?

1. Telling a sick friend to call you if they need anything.
2. Bringing dinner to a sick friend.

Most of us are very good at doing the first one, but how many of us actually have done the second? The first one usually turns out to be an empty promise, while the second one places the well-being of others first.

Which one of these clang like a cymbal?

Do you clang?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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