Have you found the Lord?

October 17, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
(Jeremiah 29:13 (NIV))

What usually happens when you do something halfheartedly?

Think about this in relationship to things that you have done in your life. Think about that book report that you did in school. You know the one that I am talking about. Everyone has one. It is the one where you didn’t even read the book that you had to do the report on. How did that turn out for you? Think about the job interview that you went on where you didn’t even know what the company did. It is safe to say that the interview probably did not go well. What about your first date? What about your attempt at learning to play an instrument? What about your attempt to lose weight? What about your commitment to go to the gym?

Success at anything requires a passion, a commitment, a desire to see it completed. Typically, this can be equated to a human trait in which you want that goal more than anything else in the world. If you have trouble with this concept, simply think of your first school crush and the amount of time that you spent pining away over that person.

How is your relationship with the Lord?

Do you treat this relationship halfheartedly or do you seek Him with all your heart?

For those who play an instrument or are good at a sport, you had to spend time acquainting yourself with the basics, and then you progressed to more advanced understanding, and then you moved to understanding the subtle nuances of your passion’s focus. The very same thing is true of seeking a relationship with the Lord. It requires the commitment. It requires a passion for the Lord. When you have a passion for something, do you stop short of your goal?

Have you found the Lord?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What are you trained to be?

November 3, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I may indeed be untrained as a speaker, but I do have knowledge. We have made this perfectly clear to you in every way.
(2 Corinthians 11:6 (NIV))

Every single one of us is good at something. Every single one of us has a special talent that we have nurtured because we are driven to pursue it in one manner or another. Some of us are driven to excellence in athletic endeavors. Some are driven to excel in music, while others are drawn to drama. Some are good at business, while others are more concerned with hospitality, kindness and caring.

What are you drawn to?

If you are like everyone else, you read, study or practice to get better at what you are drawn to. You become a sponge who is willing to absorb all that you can about your passion, about what drives you, about what you are drawn to. You grow in knowledge and wisdom. You grow in your training, whether it is from someone who is a mentor, or if it is through trial and error all on your own. Some people, like Paul, even have a divine calling. Even with the calling during his Damascus Road experience, Paul had to gain knowledge. He had to study. He had to wait for the Lord to lead him to the right place and time for his study and his passion to come together.

Today, we read the words that Paul recorded in his endeavors of spreading the Gospel to the Gentiles. We read his words of encouragement. We read his words of instruction. We read his words of chastisement when it was due. We know Paul as a great man of God, still, I have often wondered just what Paul was referring to when he said that he was given a thorn in his flesh.

Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.
(2 Corinthians 12:7b (NIV))

There has been much speculation about what this could be, but the one thing that is obvious is that Paul did not focus on this thorn in his flesh. Out of all of the writings that we have from Paul, this is the only instance that this thorn in his flesh is mentioned. He used the talent and the passion that he did have to spread the Gospel.

We all have knowledge and a passion for something. We all have that specific thing that we have been trained to be in our lives. It is time to use that training, that one passion, and let it be brought to the forefront in such a way that it leads people to Jesus!

What are you trained to be?

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

August 30, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.
(Ezra 8:23 (NIV))

What is different about this and how we ask God for something today?

Toady, it seems that we simply pray one or two times for something and when it doesn’t come about when we want it to, we simply give up!

Ezra wrote about fasting and petitioning. Exactly what is the difference from then and now? Fasting requires a commitment. It requires a willing act to deliberately give up something in the hopes of attaining something else. Fasting requires you to give up physical food in order to obtain spiritual blessings. Don’t take this wrong, but, when was the last time that you saw your church have a Sunday afternoon Fast? We have a tendency to get together and eat, and, yes, sometimes we overindulge. We do not get together as a body of believers and fast. We do not give up something in the hope of obtaining something greater. To quote an old saying, we want our cake and we want to eat it, too.

When was the last time that you saw someone with a petition? They feel strongly enough about something to take it upon themselves to get other people to feel the same way. Have you ever petitioned God for something? Petitioning calls for a fervor. It calls for a relentless desire to obtain what you seek.

Do you see a trend in what Ezra wrote about? He wrote about people who were passionate about what God could do for them. They did not relent. They stayed the course of prayer, fasting and petitioning until God answered them.

Are you willing to stay the course?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Pray for the peace of Jerusalem

July 25, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
“May those who love you be secure.
May there be peace within your walls
and security within your citadels.”
(Psalms 122:6-7 (NIV))

It seems that every time that you turn on the television or the radio, or read the news on the Internet or in a newspaper, there is something going on in Israel. Recent events are no exception.

Have you ever wondered why such a little nation is the focus of so much attention?

First of all, it is mentioned 760 times in the Bible. In 2 Chronicles 12:13, it is referred to as “Jerusalem, the city the LORD had chosen out of all the tribes of Israel.”

It is clear that Jerusalem has held a special place in the eyes of God. Perhaps more important is the role that it is to play in the fulfillment of God’s plan.

I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.
(Revelations 21:2 (NIV))

Jerusalem is the only city that is mentioned as being in existence after Jesus’ return. Perhaps even more important is the fact that is is called “the Holy City” and is remade in the way that God desires for it to be.

In the eyes of the world, Jerusalem is not that important. However, we must learn to look beyond the eyes of the world and see things through the eyes of God. To God, there is no city that is more important. According to His plan, all of history hinges on Jerusalem: history that has happened and history that has yet to happen. We must be prepared for what is to happen. We must read God’s Word and study what is said about this city. We must look at it through the eyes of an eternal God, for it is the home city of our faith.

Think about that last statement. Jerusalem is our spiritual home town. It is the root and we have been grafted into it as the branches.

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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It is true! The Lord has risen!

April 6, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.

He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”
They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?”

“What things?” he asked.
“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.”

He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.

When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.
(Luke 24:13-35 (NIV))

I hope and pray that you encountered the risen Lord Jesus during Easter. I also pray that you continue to walk with Him during all the days of your life. He is with us even when we do not recognize Him. With that in mind, how would you want Jesus to see you in your daily actions?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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A man planted a vineyard

February 9, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

A man planted a vineyard, and let it out to tenants, and went into another country for a long while. When the time came, he sent a servant to the tenants, that they should give him some of the fruit of the vineyard; but the tenants beat him, and sent him away empty-handed. And he sent another servant; him also they beat and treated shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed. And he sent yet a third; this one they wounded and cast out. Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; it may be they will respect him.’ But when the tenants saw him, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir; let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours.’ And they cast him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy those tenants, and give the vineyard to others.
(Luke 20:9-16 (RSV))

God created a beautiful place when He created the earth. Unfortuantely, the tenants that inhabited the land did not listen to Him and soon had turned over control to someone else.

These tenants would not listen to God. They would not listen to Noah. THey would not listen to Moses. They wanted complete control.

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, `Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’ ”
(Matthew 23:37-39 (NIV))

These tenants would not listen to God’s prophets. So, God sent His only Son, Jesus, to redeem the world to Him.

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.
(John 3:16 (NIV))

The tenants killed God’s Son thinking that they would then inherit the world and all that is in it.

What will God do?

He will come and destroy those tenants, but those who call upon the name of Jesus will not be destroyed. They will be the ones to whom He gives the vineyard.

We must realize that we are the tenants that this parable speaks of and that we must reject the ways of the “vineyard” and turn toward God.

Do we desire to take what is not ours or do we wish to inherit what God desires to give us?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Correct, rebuke and encourage

February 8, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction.
(2 Timothy 4:2 (NIV))

Did you catch the three words in the middle of this passage? Chances are that most people tend to ignore them and focus on the first part where we are told to “Preach the Word,” yet many of us fail at this as well.

What three words do we want to ignore?

Correct, rebuke and encourage.

Why are these three words so hard for us to take to heart? Why do we shudder at the thought of actually doing anything related to these words? Why do we find it so difficult to offer correction when we know what is truth? Are we afraid that they will point out the correction that we need? Why do we hesitate to rebuke when we know the One who has all power and authority? Are we afraid that we might end up rebuking ourselves and be shamed in the process? Why do we find it so difficult to encourage others to walk in faith? Is it because we are secretly struggling with our own walk?

Human nature is a funny thing. We tend to avoid things that will actually give us away or things that we feel uncomfortable doing. How many criminals do you know who will report a crime? How many alcoholics will admit they need help? How many sinners will admit that they need a Savior?

Ah, hah!

I played that card.

Even though we may admit that we are in need of a Savior, do we fully embrace it and fully surrender to it? Do we simply try to do the least that we can do to get by? Plus, we feel that we are no better than others so what gives us the right to correct, rebuke and encourage?

Jesus gives us that right!

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))

Jesus did these very things when He walked the earth. He did them out of love. He did them to show people the way to the Father. He did them so that they would have a full life.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
(John 10:10 (NIV))

Are you ready to do what Jesus did? Are you willing to show love? Are you willing to help open the eyes of those who are in darkness? Go forth in love.

Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction.
(2 Timothy 4:2 (NIV))

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you an avid fisher of men?

January 26, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.”
(Mark 1:17 (NIV))

We could have never fully understood these simple words that Jesus spoke if God had not sent Jesus to this earth to walk among us as one of us. God knew that humanity needed to be taught face to face and that the only way that this could be accomplished was for Him to send His only Son to be our teacher.

How can anybody be a fisher of men? Fishing requires the use of nets and hooks and results in the death of the fish.

We can not and do not want to utilize these implements to the same end results. We are to be a different type of fisherman. We are to cast the net of the Gospel so that it entices people with the truth and not ensnare them with deception. Look at what you do when you fish. You “bait” the hook with something that is appealing so that the fish will desire to take it. Little known to the fish is the fact that danger lurks just beneath the surface of that appealing bait. When we follow Jesus and become fishers of men, we have nothing to hide. All of the truth is just that – TRUTH. There is no falseness and there is no hidden danger. Perhaps this is why the world is slow to accept Jesus as the only way to eternal salvation. The world still sees the danger associated with the appealing bait and is reluctant to accept Jesus because of what they are afraid is hidden below the surface.

If the world is reluctant to take the “bait” of the Gospel, then we must be the light of Jesus to the world in their reluctancy. We must be ready, willing and able to show that there is no hidden danger and that Jesus truly is the Son of God. We must cast our nets so that people see Jesus in our “casting” and not the danger of the hooks that Satan uses in his deception.

Are you an avid fisher of men?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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The Light of Jesus!

December 20, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
(Matthew 5:16 (NIV))

Have you ever stopped to think about this verse?

In just a few days, we will be celebrating Christmas, the day that we have set aside to commemorate the day that God sent the Light of the World into the world. From the day of His birth, Jesus did not hide His light. He let it shine so that any and all who would recognize it could find the salvation and grace that they had been seeking.

What is Jesus had hidden His light?

Would we know of His teachings? Would we know of His healings? Would we know of His miracles that defied natural law? Would we know of the crucifixion and the resurrection? Would we know of the fulfillment of God’s promises?

If Jesus had hidden the Light that God had given Him, we would be no better off than before He came to this world.

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))

Did you catch that simple truth?

Jesus let His light shine. We are to do what Jesus did. According to scripture, it is even possible that we may do greater things than He did. It is possible that our light may shine brightly to many people. It is possible that we may reach more people with our light than the number of people that Jesus reached when He walked this earth.

I know that this may sound egotistical, but that is not the intent. Jesus came to this earth some two thousand years ago. How many people could he have actually reached during His time on this earth? Now consider the works of Billy Graham. How many people has he been able to impact for Jesus? I am sure that it is far greater than the number that Jesus reached during His three years of ministry and teaching. In other words, he did greater things than Jesus.

The key to this is simple. We can do great things, and maybe even greater things than Jesus, if we make Jesus our focus. We must not draw attention to ourselves, but we must always point to the one who gives life. We can impact a great number of people for Jesus. We can do this by simply letting our light shine.

Just make sure that the light that shines is the Light of Jesus!

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Don’t stop running your race of faith.

October 26, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

If you have raced with men on foot
and they have worn you out,
how can you compete with horses?
If you stumble in safe country,
how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?
(Jeremiah 12:5 (NIV))

I hadn’t really given this passage much thought, but a friend sent me an email with this version in his signature.

Jeremiah 12:5: “If you cannot run with the foot soldiers, what will you do when the horsemen come?”

I am not sure which translation this is, but it started me thinking and researching other translations. On the surface, Jeremiah 12:5 just appears to be about having the stamina to run the race and to keep your faith. I believe that it is much deeper than this. The Message translates this passage as:

So, Jeremiah, if you’re worn out in this footrace with men,
what makes you think you can race against horses?
And if you can’t keep your wits during times of calm,
what’s going to happen when troubles break loose like the Jordan in flood?
(Jeremiah 12:5 (The Message))

The passage is about keeping your stamina so that you can run the race, but it also warns us about the challenges getting harder. If we falter when things are not so difficult, how can we expect to keep our faith when the going gets tough?

We, as the Body of Christ, do not need, nor can we afford, to be weak in our faith. If we falter when dealing with people in our everyday lives, how can we expect to step it up when we are confronted with troubles that we cannot imagine.

I like the way that The Message puts this in a better perspective.

And if you can’t keep your wits during times of calm,
what’s going to happen when troubles break loose like the Jordan in flood?
(Jeremiah 12:5b (The Message))

How many people do you know who face life as one big drama after another? Hopefully, as the Body of Christ, we do not fall into this, but we never know exactly how we will react when faced with troubles. One thing is certain, though, and that is that we have a hope. This hope is not the worldly hope, but the Biblical hope that means a certainty. We have a faith.

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
(Hebrews 11:1 (NIV))

We may never face the race against the horses, or the troubles that come like a flood, but we must be prepared in our faith to stand firm in what may come. We have a glorious savior and redeemer who will see us through all that we may face.

Don’t stop running your race of faith.

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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