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.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you believe?

October 9, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“Don’t be afraid; just believe.”
(Mark 5:36b (NIV))

Do you know the first part of this story?

Jesus was asked by a ruler of a synagogue to come and heal his daughter. Along the way, a woman touched the hem of his robe and was healed. Jesus was sidetracked from his plans. During this time, some men came and told the ruler of the synagogue that his daughter had died. It appeared that Jesus was too late. It appeared that all hope was lost.

With that scene laid out before you, can you imagine the feelings of despair that the ruler of the synagogue probably felt. I can also imagine that he was probably also feeling anger toward the woman who had distracted Jesus. He was afraid that he had failed his daughter and that he had failed his family and himself. I can imagine the deep anguish that I would feel if I had gone to get someone who could save my son or daughter only to discover that circumstances had delayed the saving grace that I had been so sure of.

“Don’t be afraid; just believe.”
(Mark 5:36b (NIV))

Words.

Words that are so easy to say, yet, are so difficult to hold on to when all around you seems to be falling apart.

I want you to ask yourself this one question – Have any of the promises that God has made ever been broken?

Jesus, the word made flesh, had willingly gone with the man to heal his daughter. He had promised to go. It is not in his nature to break a promise, even when in the eyes of the world, things are too far gone for anything to happen. But, happen it did.

Jesus healed the girl. He brought her back from the dead. According to all worldly knowledge, it was too late, but according to God’s timing, it was not. In fact, the timing of this resurrection was perfect, for it magnified God through the actions that transpired.

With God, things may never be too late. Is there something in your life that just will not change, something that has been troubling you for a very long time? It is not too late for God to turn that around. Is there a dream that you feel that God has given to you, but it has not come to fruition and you are getting older? It is not too late for God to make it happen.

In all honesty, I believe that these five words can be used to define a faith in Jesus. They can be used to help us walk through the darkest shadows of life. They can be used to encourage us when we walk through whatever wilderness we find ourselves in.

Don’t be afraid.

For I am the LORD, your God,
    who takes hold of your right hand
  and says to you, Do not fear;
    I will help you.
(Isaiah 41:13 (NIV))

Just believe!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Will you be able to withstand the deception?

September 24, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

At that time if anyone says to you, `Look, here is the Christ!’ or, `Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect–if that were possible. So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time.
(Mark 13:21-23 (NIV))

How well do you know Jesus? How well do you know God’s Word?

Do you know them well enough to be able to discern the difference between the truth and a lie?

All too often, the enemy will shroud his lies in bits and pieces of the truth. He will use just enough of the truth to make his lies sound plausible. He will count on people not knowing God’s Word well enough to tell the difference between the truth and his lies. He will use just enough to entrap people.

Entrapment!

Do you honestly think that Satan cares how he tricks people into missing out on God’s grace and mercy? He only cares that he does trick people. It does not matter to him that he deceives people. It does not matter to him that he misuses God’s Word to deceive. He has only one goal and that is keeping as many people as possible from the redeeming grace offered through Jesus. Satan thinks that if he can’t be worshipped, then he will take that from God.

In the high-speed, fast-paced world that we now find ourselves in, we must know what we believe in. We must know what we have faith in.

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))

Are you fully armed with the knowledge and truth that is God’s Word? Will you be able to withstand the deception?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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When the world seems to be falling apart, look up!

September 12, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“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 often wonder if Jesus were telling us to prepare for times of increasing trouble until He returns. It is possible to interpret this passage that way, especially when you take current history into account.

Think about that.

In my lifetime, I have seen:
– the removal of prayer from the schools
– legalized abortion
– terrorist attacks
– history being rewritten
– the attempt to remove God from all public life
– “tolerance”
– financial crises
– good called evil
– Christianity mocked and ridiculed
– the rise and acceptance of false religions
– the apparent increase in natural disasters

I could go on, but I think that you can get my point. We seem to be in a time of ever increasing trouble. It seems that we are in a downward spiral with no worldly ways to stop it, and that is true.

There is no worldly way to stop the troubles. They will come. They will come with ever increasing frequency. Then there will be a point in time in which God says, “Enough!” Until that time, we must fully rely upon our faith in God and in Jesus, for we have been given promises that this world will once again see Jesus. We have been given promises that those who are faithful to call upon the name of Jesus as Lord and Savior will be given authority to rule over this world. We have been given promises that grace will see us through. We have been given promises that we will have peace.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:7 (NIV))

As we face the troubles that the world throws at us, we must never lose sight of the promises that God has given us. We must never lose sight of the fact that Satan is causing the troubles in this world. We must never lose sight of the fact that God created the world and He can and will overcome the troubles of this world. He will overcome Satan.

When the world seems to be falling apart, look up!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How good are you at seeing the unseen?

September 9, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
(2 Corinthians 4:18 (NIV))

Human nature likes the easy way out!

If something is directly in front of us, do most of us go searching for something better?

If we can see, do most of us make a choice to gamble on the uncertainty of the unseen? This concept has been put to the test many times. Popular television game shows use this concept to get contestants to agonize over a decision to keep what they have or go after what is behind the door. Human nature likes a gamble, yet, at the same time human nature likes certainty. We always make decisions based on what we think will be best for us, whether immediately or long term.

Think about that with respect to your life. Unless you are striving for something that satisfies a personal desire, most things that you do are the easy option. We take advantage of what we can see and plan. Even with this in mind, it is almost a certainty that the difficult things that a person chooses to do are so that they will have an easier life later. All that you have to do is look at your educational choices and then your career choices to see how this pans out for most of us.

What if we could be guaranteed that what is behind God’s door is so much better than what we can see in this world? The things of this world are in a sinful, fallen state. Do we want to trade sin for sin? What we are promised from God is so much better. We are promised to have our sins removed! We are promised to be able to spend eternity in His presence! Unlike the trickery and uncertainty of the television game shows, what is behind God’s door is so much better than what the world has to offer. The treasure that God promises is worth whatever we have to do in order to attain it!

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.
(Matthew 6:19-20 (NIV))

The treasures on earth are seen. The treasure of heaven are only seen through faith!

How good are you at seeing the unseen?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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This is the job of all believers!

August 15, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

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,
(Matthew 28:19 (NIV))

Do you realize that you have a written job description as a believer in Jesus?

It is the same for everyone who professes a faith in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior, but, unfortunately, too many fail to perform this one assignment. Our primary responsibility after accepting Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior is to share the good news of salvation with all whom we encounter. Every single one of us is a unique creation. Just as we realize that no two individuals are created the same, our abilities are unique as well. Some of us are eloquent in speech. Some are better with the written word. Some are better with actions. Some are more suited for expressing what Jesus has done through music, while others are visually creative and can convey God’s grace through eye catching artwork. If none of these describe you, then you may be gifted as a teacher or blessed as a caregiver. No matter what you talents may be, all of us can utilize our talents to fulfill our job description as followers of Jesus. We are to use what we have to reach our neighbors. We are to use what we have to reach the world!

This is the job of all believers!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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It is time to stand firm in your faith!

August 9, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God. But he who disowns me before men will be disowned before the angels of God. And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.
(Luke 12:8-10 (NIV))

We have come to a point in history where it is not politically correct to acknowledge Jesus as who He really is.

It is deemed socially ok to pray to just about anyone or anything that you may want to pray to, yet, mention the name of Jesus and you soon face multiple possible scenarios depending on where you were when you claimed the name of Jesus. It is all right for school children to study homosexuality in school, but they cannot mention Jesus. They can publicly proclaim that they worship Satan, yet they cannot even mention the name of Jesus. It is considered correct to proclaim that it is ok to do what you want to do, but, if you mention the Ten Commandments you are labeled a bigot and a narrow minded person.

To be honest with you, I hate the term “politically correct.” This implies that people have the power to decide what is right and wrong. What happens when the people in power change? Are we supposed to learn a whole new set of “truths” and learn what names we can publicly proclaim? Human political leaders as well as human standards change. We cannot be part of the crowd that follows human frailty. We must focus our eyes upon Jesus, for only His name can save us. We cannot call upon the name of political correctness to save us from eternal separation from God. Only Jesus can offer us this salvation.

Take a serious look at your actions. Have you ever deliberately changed your “personality” because you were afraid to be the believer you need to be? What do you think that Jesus will do when you stand before Him if you have denied Him before men? It is not a pretty image.

Don’t let men sway you from your true beliefs. There will be ridicule and persecution for these beliefs, but rest assured that the rewards will be far greater than anything this world can offer.

It is time to stand firm in your faith!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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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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How is your faith through the wilderness?

May 10, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Immediately the Holy Spirit compelled Jesus to go into the wilderness. He was there for forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was out among the wild animals, and angels took care of him.
(Mark 1:12-13 (NLT))

Do you ever stop to think about what Jesus actually experienced when He went into the wilderness for these forty days?

What temptations do you experience when you face each day of your life?

Do you face greed and lust? What about anger and frustration? Do you have to deal with ego and pride? I think I can safely say that all of us have also had to deal with resentment and bitterness. Now, consider how you have reacted when faced with these temptations. How did you react? Even on our best day, we fail miserably in most if not all of these temptations.

How do you think that Jesus reacted to each of these temptations?

We know that He faced every temptation known to humanity and did not give in to any of them, but I often wonder how he reacted. Did He simply turn away from them or did He reflect upon our weaknesses as He defeated each and every temptation that He was given? Did He think of what He was doing with respect to what it would mean for us? How did He reject the temptation? Did He look at it with disgust and think “How can someone give in to this?” Did He keep His eyes focused on what was at the end of the forty days on the other side of the wilderness?

Each of us face our own wilderness situations and temptations. We must look to Jesus and His experience so that we may keep our faith through our wildernesses. Because Jesus went through His wilderness experience, He now walks with us through ours. He will give us strength. He will give us comfort. He will give us peace.

The world today seems to be sending all of us into the wilderness. How we respond will determine many things. Will we have the faith to see ourselves through the wilderness or will we falter and give in to the temptations we face?

How is your faith through the wilderness?

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