This is the one test that you need to pass!

June 14, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you — unless, of course, you fail the test?
(2 Corinthians 13:5 (NIV))

This is one of those verses that most people wish that they could ignore!

No one likes to fail a test. Think about the implications of this concept of failing this test. This is not the only place where we hear that it is possible to fail in your faith. We are told that it is possible to do things in the name of Jesus, but not have a relationship with Jesus, to not have Jesus in your heart.

Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
(Matthew 7:22-23 (NIV))

This goes hand in hand with the truth that you cannot earn salvation.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.
(Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV))

We must also come to the realization that there is a difference between doing work for the Lord and truly knowing the Lord. I can demonstrate this concept with a simple question about the people with whom you work. You may spend eight hours a day with them, but do you know their inner most secrets and desires? Do you know the pains that they feel and what causes them pain and what causes them joy? Doing work around the Lord does not draw you close to the Lord in exactly the same way as working with someone does not bring you close to them. That requires effort and intimacy that cannot be had when you are constantly doing.

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
(Luke 10:38-42 (NIV))

We must choose Jesus in all things in order to grow in intimacy with Jesus. The closer you draw to the Lord, the stronger your faith becomes. As your faith grows, your belief grows as well. When you believe and truly know the Lord, you desire to do things that will draw others to Him. These are the works that matter, for they are done out of a love of Jesus and not out of an effort to impress Jesus. It is a matter of perspective and priorities.

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
(John 14:12-13 (NIV))

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 they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
(John 3:16-18 (NIV))

God does truly love the world! Have you allowed that love to permeate your life so that your life reflects the love of the Lord and not you?

This is the one test that you need to pass!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Will you take the time to be still and know God?

June 13, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“Be still, and know that I am God;
(Psalms 46:10a (NIV))

I once asked the question, “How often can you take the time to sit in silence?” If you are like me, the hectic lifestyles that we live do not allow many times like this. I still find myself struggling to find time each day to spend quietly with God. Many times it is only for a few minutes an evening as I sit in my office and my family is in another room. I read through the verses that have caught my attention and I find myself reflecting upon what God has placed upon my heart.

Many times, the events of the day will open up an avenue that God will use to reach out to me and ask me if I have done the best that I could possibly do in a situation. Just like any one of us on any given day, I fail miserably when I think about what I should have done. When this happens, I thank God for showing me what a fool I can be and then I praise Him for His grace and mercy. Tomorrow is a new day! It is another day that I, a mere toddler, can attempt to walk with God in all of His glory. I know that each day I will fall short of what He desires for me, but I also know that He will allow me to get back up. He will allow me once again to take my place in my lifelong walk with Him.

Many times I miss the queues that tell me where He is going. I fail to hear that still small voice when He tells me to venture outside of my comfort zone. I long to get better at being able to discern His voice. I long to sit in His presence. I long to feel His guiding hand upon my life in all that I do.

There is no substitute for being in God’s presence and discerning His voice. It is something that we must learn. It takes patience. It takes practice. It takes a conscious effort each and every day. How can you know something if you do not take the time to study, if you do not take the time to learn? If we desire to know God, we must take the time. We must make a decision each and every day to make the time.

What will be your decision for today and every day for the rest of your life? Will you take the time to be still and know God?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What did you think the power was for?

June 12, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
(Acts 1:8 (NIV))

I am sure that everyone is fully aware of the concept of receiving the power of the Holy Spirit, or to put it more simply, receiving the Holy Spirit. That power manifests itself in various different ways, but have you ever truly asked yourself what the power is for?

Think about that for a moment.

We hear of people who have received the Holy Spirit. We see the things that manifest because of that power. Perhaps that power has been made manifest in you, but to what purpose? We have been given the answer. We are given the power of the Holy Spirit to make us bold, to give us the right words to say, to give us the wisdom and strength to overcome the enemy all so that we can share the Gospel. We are called to be a witness for Jesus! From this passage, we clearly see that the power of the Holy Spirit comes upon us so that we can fulfill with confidence the calling that has been put upon all of those who accept Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior.

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))

As believers, we are called to share the Gospel. Nowhere does it say that once we accept Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior we are to simply sit back and relax. We have a job to do! The power of the Holy Spirit equips us for that job. Are you walking in the power of the Holy Spirit? Are you bold in declaring and sharing your faith?

What did you think the power was for?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you longing for your new residence?

June 11, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
(John 14:2-3 (NIV))

Are you comfortable in your current place of residence? Would you be upset if you were asked to move? Would you be upset if you were given a glorious mansion for your residence?

I am certain that this passage brings to mind certain things for each of us. We all have our vision of heaven and what the Lord is preparing for us, but whatever you are thinking of will be nothing in comparison to what awaits us. We don’t have the ability to fully comprehend all that the Lord has in store for us. Whatever we think, whatever we dream of, will only be a faint shadow of what truly will be.

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
(1 Corinthians 13:12 (NIV))

No matter what each of us envision heaven to be like and what our new residences will be like, there is one thing that we can all rest assured of. We will forever be in the glorious presence of the Lord. That single fact is enough to desire a new forever home. All of the promises about many rooms and streets paved with gold will pale in comparison to the glorious presence of the Lord. Our new residences will be forever in His presence! With this single truth, I can understand why the psalmist wrote these words.

Better is one day in your courts
     than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
     than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
(Psalms 84:10 (NIV))

Being in the Lord’s presence is where I long to be.

Are you longing for your new residence?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you cheerfully sowing into God’s kingdom?

June 10, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
(2 Corinthians 9:6-7 (NIV))

Giving is a difficult thing to do sometimes, especially when you are facing hard times.

Has your giving changed recently? Have you cut back on the money that you give to your church and to other organizations? Have you found yourself thinking that “Just this once I’ll not give” only to find yourself with a knot in the pit of your stomach? Have you stopped giving of your time because you are using your time in efforts to bring in more money? Has your attitude changed about what God has given you and will give you?

We are all creatures of habit. No matter what our intentions may be, we often find ourselves responding as the world responds. We look upon the worldly situation as the only situation that will provide for our needs. When things turn bad, we quickly find ourselves forgetting what God has promised. We worry.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, `What shall we eat?’ or `What shall we drink?’ or `What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
(Matthew 6:25-34 (NIV))

Have you ever stopped to reflect upon the fact that God uses us to bless others? What you give will bless someone, who in turn will bless someone else. What you give will return to you in ways that only God can imagine. Are you cheerfully sowing into God’s kingdom?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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How is your confidence and faith?

June 7, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
(Hebrews 4:16 (NIV))

Do you truly believe that their is mercy and grace at the cross, or do you only hope that what you have read and heard is true? Do you believe that you were lost in sin and the only way out of sin is through the atoning blood of Jesus?

Think about your answers to these questions while you think about God’s plan for our redemption in relationship to how human nature typically responds.

From a worldly point of view, who would have ever considered that the Son of God would be born in a manger? From a worldly point of view, who would have ever considered that the only begotten Son of God would never live in a palace and be worshipped while on this earth? To be honest with you, did you ever stop to reflect on why Jesus would leave heaven to come to earth? Or why He would willingly go to the cross to lay down His life? Why would He leave paradise to come to this world to live, suffer and die? These concepts lead each of us to answer one all important question.

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.”
(Mark 8:29 (NIV))

Who do you say that Jesus is?

If Jesus was only a man, then people are rightfully correct in saying that He was crazy for bringing down Roman authority upon himself. Then there is the question of the resurrection. How do you dismiss the countless eyewitnesses that saw Him alive after He was so publicly killed? What about the crucifixion? Some say that Jesus didn’t really die on the cross. But, you have to consider that the Romans had become proficient at killing. It has been said that crucifixion is one of, if not the most painful way to die. What about the spear in His side that pierced internal organs? Today we have the medical knowledge to save someone from these type of wounds, but this was not the case two thousand years ago. How could a mere man survive all of this to be seen only three days later in full strength and full health?

Personally, with all of that to consider, I have no doubts that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God. I also have no doubt about God’s great love for us.

Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
(Romans 8:34-35 (NIV))

I have read and studied God’s Word for a long time and nothing that I find in this world presents even a small shred of enough evidence to make my faith and my confidence falter.

How is your confidence and faith?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Has your faith stayed strong?

June 6, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off–for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
(Acts 2:36-47 (NIV))

The early church did not have the ability to look back into history and see what Jesus had done. They didn’t need it! Many of the people who came to be believers in this time had seen Jesus perform the miracles and had heard Him teach. They had seen Him crucified and had seen Him resurrected. Those who did not see all these things happen, knew of them. They also had the eye-witness accounts of the disciples who had been with Jesus during all of this. No matter how they knew of Jesus, they knew that He is Lord and Savior of all Creation. They fervently praised God and prayed for what they knew comes from these actions.

Have the centuries dulled our intensity? Have they caused us to be less than our brothers and sisters from the early church? We have more evidence today that all of these things happened. Historical records besides the New Testament verify many of the accounts of Jesus’ life. Have we grown complacent in our faith? Take a serious look at your life and priorities. Can you say that you devote yourself to Jesus’ teachings and fellowship with other believers?

Has your faith stayed strong?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What do your actions say about you?

June 5, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person.
(1 John 2:4 (NIV))

I am sure that everyone is familiar with the old saying that actions speak louder than words. In fact, I hate to say this, but I bet that every single one of us has contradicted their own words with their own actions at some point in their life. Knowing human nature, it may even be safe to say that this could possibly happen on a daily basis!

Let’s face facts. We are a sinful, fallen creation.

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

Even on our best day, we are nothing!

All of us have become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
(Isaiah 64:6a (NIV))

Even in the midst of our sinful nature, we have been given a fantastic gift through the atoning blood of Jesus. All that we have to do is repent and accept that gift of grace. Sadly, far too many people think that they can skip the repentance and simply accept. Without repentance, their is no desire to leave a life of sin, and without that desire, there is no grace. We can’t pick and choose what sins we leave behind and what sins we take with us. Sin is sin and God cannot associate with sin. If we claim to know Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, we are called to repentance. We are called to take up our cross and follow Him. Just as Jesus told the woman caught in adultery, we are to leave our life of sin.

“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))

Have you left your life of sin? Are you someone who desires to leave your life of sin, but are caught in a struggle? We must all learn to repent daily. We must learn to turn away from our sin and run after Jesus. We must learn to follow His commands. We must learn to discern the real truth and run away from what the world says is true. If we profess a faith in Jesus and profess that we follow Him, then our actions must say the same thing as our words. Perhaps we need to understand that if we profess that we follow Jesus, our actions may be the only sermon that nonbelievers will see.

“Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.”
(St. Francis of Asisi)

What do your actions say about you?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you following the Lord’s plans or your own?

June 4, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
(Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV))

What is it about human nature that makes us want to reject something proven and try to reinvent the proverbial wheel so that we can say that we did it our way?

I realize that was a very lengthy question, but in all honesty, the question is not as lengthy as our actual feeble attempts to thwart God’s plans for us. Some of us never learn and fight God’s plans until the day we die. What is it about surrendering to the Lord’s will that makes us want to rebel? For some people, surrendering to anyone else’s will besides their own is something that will never happen. Their hearts are hardened and pride has control.

If you were presented with a plan that would make you prosperous and hopeful for a better future, it looks like it would be an easy choice to make. That is exactly what has happened with the promises that the Lord has made to us, yet, so many people choose to follow their own plans. They think that they know what is best for them. This often has catastrophic consequences. Think of it in this way. Suppose a light bulb has the ability to think and reason. It was made to shine light, but in its own mind, it wants to be used as a heat source for baking. The goals that the light bulb creates for itself will lead to its own demise, for the amount of energy required to be used as a heat source will destroy the light bulb. It was not made for such a task. The planned task that it was created for is something that only it can fulfill. It was designed to share light for countless others. It will be made prosperous. It will help others to prosper. It will have hope as well as bring hope to others. This sounds like a future worth following.

Are you following the Lord’s plans or your own?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What have you been finding?

June 3, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor.
(Proverbs 21:21 (NIV))

There are so many distractions in this world and all of them seem to focus on one target and one objective. The prime target is us! The prime objective of any distraction is to keep the attention of an individual off of what they should be focusing on, thus keeping them completely from the intended outcome. Distractions come in so many different forms, yet the enemy seems to know each of us so well that he can send just the right distraction, the right temptation, that will keep each of us in his grasp if we do not take action to steer clear.

What is that action?

We must stay focused on the Lord!

Even before Jesus came into this world to save us from our sins, God had a plan for us. We were to pursue His righteousness and love as He loves. Sadly, this was impossible.

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

Fortunately, the Lord knew this and had a more detailed plan.

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

If we accept this plan, then we are covered by grace. Even if we slip and fall when we are pursuing His righteousness and when we try to love as He loves, we can repent and get back on track. We may find bad days along the way, but, through God’s grace, we can repent and stand firm in His promises knowing that we will find that if we hold fast, He will be true!

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
(Lamentations 3:22-23 (NIV))

What have you been finding?

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