If God was willing while we were enemies, just imagine . . .

February 6, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!
(Romans 5:10 (NIV))

How do you become an enemy of God?

I realize that this is an odd question, but it is relevant to our understanding of God, our severed and fallen relationship with Him, and our way to salvation through God’s love as expressed at the cross.

Basically, the fall from grace in the Garden of Eden is the starting point for each and every single person who has ever lived. All of humanity was doomed to a sinful nature because of our rebellion, our disobedience to what God told us that we could and could not do. One definition of the word “enemy” states it quite clearly as someone who is antagonistic to another. Another definition defines an enemy as a hostile force. When we rebelled against God, we became just that. We became an antagonistic and hostile creation. We became sinners. We became enemies of God!

Thankfully, God did not let it end there! He loves us in spite of ourselves. He devised a plan to redeem us. Condemnation is for enemies. Love is for sons and daughters. He devised a plan to make us sons and daughters instead of enemies.

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.
(John 3:16-17 (NIV))

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
(Romans 5:8 (NIV))

I am so thankful that salvation is freely given, for there is nothing that we could do to earn it. All that we have to do is accept it! God reached out to us in our sinful condition in hope that we would accept His offer to become His sons and daughters. If God was willing while we were enemies, just imagine what He will do for us as sons and daughters!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is it your desire to have Jesus increase in you?

January 29, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

He must increase, but I must decrease.
(John 3:30 (NKJV))

This goes against everything that is considered human nature. If left to our own devices, we seek to elevate ourselves while not caring about those whom we step on when we do. Everyone has dreams of power and wealth, and Satan knows this. It is that very thing that Satan used to temp Jesus in the wilderness. Satan made a big mistake in thinking that Jesus would be, could be tempted as we are tempted. He tried to get Jesus to “show off” by turning the stones into bread. He tried to get Jesus to prove His authority by showing that the angels would lift Him up. He tried to offer Jesus all of the worldly kingdoms if Jesus would worship him. Basically, Satan tempted Jesus with physical comfort, power and authority. I am so thankful that Jesus rejected all temptations. Our sinful human nature would have seen any one of us giving in to most, if not all of these. Because Jesus was able to resist temptation, He is elevated to the power and authority that is required for Him to complete the mission that brought salvation.

When we rely on ourselves, we fail miserably. When we rely on Jesus, we are given grace and mercy. The more that we rely on Jesus, the less that our sinful nature comes out. The more that we rely on Jesus, He increases in our lives. We are still the unique individuals that God created us to be. But instead of the sinful creation, we replace our sinful desires with the heart of Jesus. By allowing Jesus to increase in us, we become the best “us” that we can be. I don’t know about you, but I like this concept. I like being able to rely on the strength of Jesus when my weaknesses would see me fail. I like being able to say, “Thank you, Jesus, for carrying me through once again!”

Is it your desire to have Jesus increase in you?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Everyone must answer this question for themselves!

January 6, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “God’s Messiah.”
(Luke 9:20 (NIV))

We should all be familiar with the events that transpired right before this particular passage. Jesus was asking the disciples who the crowds of people say that He is. He received numerous answers and then He did the unthinkable. He turned the question to them. He made it personal. He made them profess. He made them take a stand!

Isn’t that what we are supposed to do with Jesus? We are to either profess that He is Lord or we deny Him. To this day, and until He returns, the same question is asked of each of us. We may hear the things that the world is saying of Jesus. We may hear the things that our family and friends are saying of Jesus. We may give some type of acknowledgment to what they are saying, but that is different from saying something yourself. What you speak becomes your reality.

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
(Romans 10:9 (NIV))

But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.
(Matthew 10:33 (NIV))

According to Romans 14:11, we know that every knee will bow and every tongue will confess, but when you speak it determines your eternity. Take a serious look at Jesus and ask yourself one question. Who do you say that He is? If you acknowledge Jesus as Messiah during this lifetime, you will bow out of thankfulness and humility. If you ignore this question or simply reject Jesus, then you will bow out of submission and shame.

Jesus is asking, “Who do you say I am?”

Can you answer with the same proclamation that Peter gave? Can you honestly claim that Jesus is God’s Messiah? It doesn’t matter what others say of Him. They don’t answer for you! Everyone must answer this question for themselves!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Has your faith saved you?

October 14, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
(Luke 7:50b (NIV))

Jesus spoke these words to a woman who had basically come into the house of Simon. She was not invited by the owner of the house, but she came in anyway to worship and minister to Jesus as He sat as a guest within the house. If you remember the story, she washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and then anointed Him with perfume. This brought ridicule from the “respected” members of society. Jesus responded to them and to Simon by saying that she was doing for Him what Simon, as the host, should have been doing. Simon did not do any of the customary acts of hospitality, yet he considered himself to be a good host and an obedient Jew.

These words and these events mean more than many of us may realize. Let’s take a good look at just how this actually has meaning for us today.

Simon represented the Jewish society set in their ways and oblivious to the true calling that God had placed upon them to bear the good news to the world. Instead of this mission being fulfilled, they acted just as Simon did. They refused to welcome their own Messiah in an appropriate manner. A woman who was an outcast in the eyes of traditional Jewish society saw Jesus for who is was and saw that her redemption was at hand. She went were she was not welcome in order to embrace the grace and mercy that she longed for. The woman is symbolic of the Gentiles, who in the midst of tradition and society, accepted the mission to bear witness in the midst of something that was not truly hers in the eyes of society.

Jesus was a Jew. According to Paul, Jesus had a specific order in which He came.

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.
(Romans 11:6 (NIV))

Just as He went into the house of Simon, He went first for the Jew, then, just as the woman came and accepted Him, the Gentiles accepted Him.

If you are not of Jewish heritage, you are a Gentile. We did not come to Jesus out of tradition. We came to Jesus just as the woman did. Out of faith. Just as He told her that her faith had saved her, we can also lay claim to that same piece of truth if we truly have faith.

Has your faith saved you?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do you abide in the doctrine of Christ?

August 13, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son.
(2 John 1:9 (NKJV))

How many times have you known someone who claims that they are a Christian, yet their actions do not reflect that claim?

A true faith and belief in Jesus Christ will call a person to stay away from the things of this world that are not of God, for they will listen to the Holy Spirit in all that they do. The Holy Spirit will gently guide and encourage the believer to follow the ways of Jesus and to steer clear of the ways of the world.

It is an all too common belief that someone can accept Jesus, and then do whatever they wish. They think that by proclaiming Jesus as Savior, they have salvation. There is another aspect to Jesus. He must also be Lord of your life in order for salvation to be true.

You must ask Jesus into your heart, not your head. It is one thing to acknowledge that Jesus is the way to salvation. It is still another to accept that personally for yourself.

It has been said that there is head knowledge and that there is heart knowledge. Knowing that Jesus is Savior is head knowledge. Claiming that for yourself is heart knowledge. For many people, the distance from their head to their heart is a great chasm that cannot be crossed due to pride or arrogance. Where have you acknowledged Jesus Christ?

Do you abide in the doctrine of Christ?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Have you accepted God’s grace?

July 23, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

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

God knows us better than any of us realize, for He knew that if our salvation was based on something that we had to do in our lives, then we would boast and brag that we had done it. This would result in a personality trait that God does not desire for us to have. We would have an arrogance and a “holier than others” attitude. God also knew that because of the fall of man from grace, no one would ever be able to achieve this on their own.

The Law was a good example of this. God gave us the Law in order to show us what we would have to do to achieve our salvation on our own. Everyone failed this test, and God knew that it would happen. He also knew that some would still try to pass this test and reject any help that He might send.

Luckily, though, He did send us help. This help is Jesus Christ. Only God could ever fully live up to God’s expectations of us in this world, so He elected to come to this world as a man in order to provide us grace and mercy.

I know that some people have a hard time admitting that Jesus was fully God, yet fully man. This is where the Trinity comes into play. Many people do not understand this either, yet, in their own lives, they are more than one persona.

Husband, father, son, employee, boss.

Mother, daughter, wife, employee, boss.

Many people assume all of these titles in their day to day lives. God has also assumed the positions of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. The only difference is that God, as creator of everything, has the ability to separate these into individual entities in order to complete His Will.

When you think about salvation, think about what God has done in order for you to be saved!

Have you accepted God’s grace?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do you choose true freedom?

April 23, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
(Isaiah 61:1 (NIV))

Freedom! Such a gift. We are set free from the bondage of sin and death. This is not a freedom to do whatever we choose. We are free of the consequences of sin. It does not mean that we are free to sin. By accepting Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior, we are forgiven and are granted freedom from our sin. It does not mean that we are free to go and sin again. As Jesus told the woman and the Pharisees:

The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

“No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
(John 8:3-11)

She was granted freedom, but this freedom did not give here permission to continue in her life of sin.

Do you look at your freedom as permission to continue or do you look at it as a warning to change your life? Do you choose true freedom?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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It is through obedience that we have salvation!

April 18, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!
(Philippians 2:8 (NIV))

It is so easy to overlook one crucial component of God’s plan for salvation as it unfolded in Jerusalem a little over two thousand years ago!

We know that ever since the fall from grace in the Garden of Eden, God had a plan to bring redemption, to bring salvation, to the creation that He loves. In God’s perspective, it was not that long, but to humanity, it seems like forever.

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.
(2 Peter 3:8 (NIV))

Even though we feel the passage of time, it is God’s timing that has been put in motion to bring salvation. It was His plan to send His Son to redeem us, to restore us unto Himself.

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.
(John 3:16-17 (NIV))

We all know that Jesus was tempted by Satan, and He rebuked Satan. Jesus knew the plans that the Father had. He chose to be obedient to God the Father and through His obedience, Jesus willingly went to the cross for each of us. He willingly died so that we could have the opportunity to have eternity with God the Father. Jesus was willingly obedient to the Father’s plan. It was His obedience that allowed each of us to be offered salvation and grace. It was His resurrection that sealed the deal!

But . . .

There is one more aspect of obedience that comes into play in God’s plan for our redemption. He is calling each of us to salvation through Jesus. We have to be obedient to answer that call. Because Jesus was obedient, salvation is freely offered. It is a gift. We cannot purchase the gift. We cannot earn the gift. We can either choose to be obedient and accept it, or we can be rebellious and reject God’s gift of grace. Only if we are obedient, can salvation be received. Are you willing to be obedient?

It is through obedience that we have salvation!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you alive in Christ?

April 17, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
(Galatians 2:19-20 (NIV))

In just a few days, we, as the Body of Christ, will celebrate the anniversary of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave. We need to truly reflect upon the meaning of what happened some two thousand years ago, for it had never happened before that time and it has never happened since. A man was brutally killed and three days later, He was alive again. Not only was He alive, He told us that if we follow Him, we too can have life after death!

Has any other person ever defeated death? Has any other person voluntarily faced the cruelty and torture that Jesus faced when He could have prevented it or even escaped it?

Jesus is unique in all of the history of the world!

He was with God in the beginning. He died on the cross. He arose again on the third day. He lives in the hearts of those who earnestly call upon Him. He sits at the right hand of God, the Father. He is our salvation!

This Easter morning when we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, we also need to celebrate our death to sin and our resurrection into grace and mercy paid for by the blood of Jesus.

Easter is perhaps the most important day to our faith. If we accept Jesus and the grace and mercy that He has freely offered to us, then it is a day of glorious salvation and freedom. If we have not accepted Jesus, then it is a day of foolishness.

Are you alive in Christ?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How do you define love?

April 1, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
(1 Corinthians 13:4 (NIV))

Love can possess many different characteristics in the minds of those who try to define it. To some people, it is a strong affection such as what a mother has for her child. Others think of love as a sexual attraction. Some people even go so far as to define love by the things that they like.

What is your definition of love? Does it encompass any or all of the above?

How does God define love?

God’s love is not too proud to keep Him from reaching out to save. God’s love for us is kind. He does not reach out to us to condemn us. God’s love for us is not proud. He willingly did what He had to do to bring us salvation.

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.
(John 3:16-17 (NIV))

God’s love is patient.

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
(2 Peter 3:9 (NIV))

I could spend countless hours documenting the depth of God’s love for His creation. It is boundless, yet, it is simple at the same time. It is everlasting, yet it is concerned about your individual moments. It is powerful, yet it is gentle enough to hold each of us in our moments of weakness. It is all encompassing, yet it is able to focus on each of us individually. In essence, God’s love is perfect!

How do you define love?

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