Are you truly prepared?

August 10, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,
(1 Peter 3:15 (NIV))

Can you truly say that you have placed your hope in Jesus?

Can you explain why you answered as you did?

Two simple questions, but do they have simple answers? Hopefully, you can say a resounding “Yes” to the first question. This question is the most important for you, for it determines your salvation status with God. God sees your heart and He knows if this is true. He also knows your reasons without you having to put them into words. But, that does not mean that we are off the hook when it comes to being able to explain why we answered as we did to the first question!

Think about that. If God knows our heart, then who are we giving an answer to?

If you read the passage again, you see that we are to be prepared to give an answer to everyone. In essence, our answer is our testimony. It is our witness. It is the story of how the Lord has saved us told in such a way that it draws others to Jesus!

We are to share the Gospel. We are to share Jesus in such a way that it is personal, after all, Jesus doesn’t save us by nation, or by state, or by city. He saves us individually, one heart and one life at a time. We must be prepared to share Jesus in such a way that others can understand what He has done for us, He can do similar for them.

Are you truly prepared?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Will your harvest be plentiful?

March 26, 2020

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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.
(2 Corinthians 9:5 (NIV))

I think that it is safe to say that most people are not currently thinking about sowing, especially if it involves sowing into the lives of others. Think about that in the context of the life of Jesus. When He came into the world, it was not exactly a safe place to be. Did that stop Him from coming? He came into the world to teach and go to the cross to save us from our sins. He came knowing that He would die! Did that stop Him from coming? He had a mission and He did not let anything get in the way of bringing salvation to those who would listen and believe.

The current situation in this world is unprecedented, but we, as the Body of Christ, still have a mission.

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 28:19-20 (NIV))

We are to make disciples!

We are to sow the seeds of salvation into the hearts of all whom we encounter. How do we do this when the world is in such a state? There is a quote that is attributed to St. Francis of Assisi. It says, “Preach always. When necessary, use words.” We can share the Gospel by living our lives as a living testimony to the power of grace. We can live our lives in such a way that people see a peace in us that just doesn’t make sense in this otherwise hectic world. We can live our lives in such a way that people ask why we are different. We can sow based on how we live our lives. We can plant the seed that others will nurture and God will reap.

So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor.
(1 Corinthians 3:7-8 (NIV))

Do you sow into the lives of those whom you encounter? Do they see something in you that is different from the world? Do they want to know what makes you different?

Will your harvest be plentiful?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you know God’s call?

March 24, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

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

Have you found yourself looking at the state of the world and realized that you were shaking your head in disbelief? If you have, you are not the only one to experience this. To be honest with you, the whole world seems to be caught up in this mindset. It seems that everyone is trying to place blame on those who don’t think as they do. Hopefully, those who profess a faith in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior are not among those pointing fingers and placing blame. We should realize that anything and everything that is of this world can fall apart at a moments notice.

As the Body of Christ, we place our faith not in this world but in the one who created this world. When we face a storm, we shouldn’t look at the storm and panic. We should lift our eyes to the one who can calm the storm. When the world feels that there is a reason to panic, we simply need to fall to our knees, lift up our prayers and seek the very heart of God. Only then will we be able to know how to respond. To be honest with you, we should be the ones who are remaining calm when all around is is falling apart. That is the prime opportunity for the world to see that we have a peace that they do not have. This is the prime opportunity to witness to those who are in panic mode. This is the prime opportunity to introduce them to Jesus.

During these unprecedented times, we need to be still and listen for what God tells us. He may be calling us to do something that will have an impact on the lives of those who don’t know Him yet. Now that the whole world is facing uncertain times, we need to do what we, as the Body of Christ, have been called to do.

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.
(Mark 16:15 (NIV))

God has gotten the world to slow down. He is telling the whole world to be still. He is calling the whole world to repentance. He is calling the whole world to return to Him. We must be prepared to be His hands and feet. We must be prepared to be the boots on the ground who share His Gospel. We must be still and know what He is calling us to do.

Do you know God’s call?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you focused on the task that all of us have been given?

February 11, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.
(Acts 20:24 (NIV))

Do you think that Paul’s task was any different from the one that each of us have?

If you say “Yes,” what is the task that God has given to you? Why do you feel that you are exempt from what He told His disciples to do and what we have inherited by becoming His disciples?

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 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 28:16-20 (NIV))

If you say “No,” are you fulfilling that task? Are you telling others about Jesus? Are you living a life that reflects Jesus in all that you do? Are you boldly proclaiming the good news of God’s grace and mercy as it was made manifest through Jesus’ birth, His life, death, burial, resurrection and ascension? Are you boldly sharing that He will come again?

Paul’s only desire was to be faithful to the one task that the Lord had given him. Paul wanted to be found faithful in sharing the Gospel with the world. That is also our task. Just like Paul, we are not called to simply tell one person. We are called to tell everyone we meet. There are numerous ways that we can fulfill our task, but no matter how we do it, we are all called to share the good news of Jesus. Think of this as your full time employment. What we do for a living in this world is not our true calling. It is a means to an end. Paul used his skills as a tent maker to finance his evangelism. What skills do you have that can be the basis of your evangelism?

Paul was focused. He had one goal in mind.

Are you focused on the task that all of us have been given?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you able to share the Gospel with shrewdness and innocence?

October 29, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.
(Matthew 10:16 (NIV))

Have you truly stopped to think about this passage?

Each of us understand the concept of being sheep among wolves. If we follow the instructions that Jesus left for all believers, then we are in a constant state of perpetual danger. Just as a sheep may be devoured by the wolves, we, too, may be devoured by the enemy if we are not careful. The passage doesn’t say to stay away from danger! In fact, the passage clearly states that Jesus sent the disciples out, and just like the disciples, He is sending us as well.

Jesus did give us instructions. We are to be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.

It sounds fairly simple, but have you ever thought about what it takes to be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves?

I realize that everyone typically thinks of snakes in a deceitful way, but Jesus was telling us to use some of the characteristics of snakes when we are sharing the Gospel. What do you think of first when you think of a snake? Do you think of the possibility that a snake could be under foot at any moment? With this in mind, do you constantly look for snakes? Is that being shrewd on the part of the snake? Perhaps we should look at this from a different vantage point. Does a snake show itself openly or does it hide until the opportune time arises. If we are to be as shrewd as snakes, we should be among the danger, but not exposed to it. We should watch and wait. Just as a snake may not show itself to everyone, we may not be called to show ourselves to everyone at one moment. We should size up whom we should approach and then make our move to share the Gospel. We are to use wisdom and discernment!

Look at this concept from the missions of Paul. When he entered a town, many times he would find someone who was prominent in the town and present the Gospel to them. If he was able to convert them, it became easier to convert others. Paul was shrewd in his evangelism. He understood human nature. He knew that if he could convert a person with contacts, then others would follow. In today’s society, the concept is that we are teaching the teachers. Even in this shrewdness of plan, Paul never failed to walk innocently amongst those with whom he shared the gospel. He did not do anything to betray the trust of those with whom he shared. He did not have ulterior motives. He did not seek any of the trappings of the physical world.

Are you able to share the Gospel with shrewdness and innocence?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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We must never forget that we are blessed to be a blessing!

October 23, 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))

Did you notice anything in this passage that you haven’t seen before?

I know that most believers are familiar with this passage, but I want you to take the time to read it again and let the words, and their order, sink in.

Now that I have hinted at an order, let’s explore this concept a little further, for there is a sequence of events within this passage.

Many people who profess a faith in Jesus fail to embrace the Holy Spirit. Perhaps they simply fail to understand what the Holy Spirit brings to them, or they simply feel uncomfortable with what the Holy Spirit brings. Either way, they miss out on the power of God and the ability for it to manifest itself in their lives so that they can be used by God. To put it simply and succinctly, we must embrace the Holy Spirit in order to receive the power of God. Without the power of God, we can only attempt to do what the Lord has called us to do.

We will not be able to witness locally. Imagine what would have happened if the disciples had not been witnesses in Jerusalem.

We will not be able to witness to those around our home town. If the disciples had not been able to reach people in Judea and Samaria, the Gospel would have been isolated and never spread. If the disciples had not taken it to the ends of the earth, we would probably not be able to claim that Jesus is our personal Lord and Savior! All of this came about because the disciples embraced the power of the Holy Spirit. They did not hoard the Holy Spirit or the power that He brings. They shared this power and their testimony first with their home towns and then their surrounding neighbors. Two thousand years later, it is still being shared. Without the power of the Holy Spirit, this would not be possible.

We have been blessed with salvation. We have been blessed with the Holy Spirit and His power to share that salvation. We must never forget that we are blessed to be a blessing!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you share the Gospel with the authority of Jesus?

September 10, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.
(Matthew 7:28-29 (NIV))

Do you remember your most favorite teacher? What made them your favorite? Was it the fact that they really knew what they were teaching and that they were passionate about what they taught? They taught from authority, for authority means that they know what they are teaching. They were more interested in conveying wisdom and knowledge instead of rules and regulations. They taught with joy and enthusiasm.

Do you remember your least favorite teacher? What made this teacher different from your most favorite teacher? I would safely say that they are the ones who tried to teach rules and regulations instead of wisdom and knowledge. Do you remember the rules and regulations that they tried to teach? Probably not!

Consider that Jesus and the teachers of the law are identical to your most favorite and least favorite teachers. Jesus came to impart wisdom and knowledge with joy and enthusiasm. The teachers of the law taught rigid laws and doctrine. No wonder the crowds were amazed at His teachings. Up until this point in their lives, religious life was a chore dictated by very strict man-made rules and regulations that attempted to define and refine what God had commanded. Jesus came to set the captives free. He taught not of rules, but of grace and mercy.

We need to be careful that we do not teach as the teachers of the law, but, teach as Jesus taught.

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))

Jesus told us to go and teach of Him. How do you teach? Do you try to enforce rules or do you passionately teach of grace and mercy?

It is my desire to be passionate about what I am given to send out. I pray that you will always see the passion within these words. Do you share the Gospel with the authority of Jesus?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you ashamed of the Gospel?

August 27, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

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. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
(Romans 1:16-17 (NIV))

Paul, in the face of danger and death, proudly proclaimed the gospel. He said that it is something that you should not be ashamed of and he is absolutely correct. If you are ashamed of the gospel, then you are not truly a believer in Jesus Christ. To quote Jesus:

If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”
(Mark 8:38 (NIV))

It could not be simpler. We, as believers, must not be ashamed of the good news and we must proclaim it and not hide it from the world. It is the only thing that by which you can be saved. If you are ashamed of it, then you are not saved (reread Mark 8:38). You have not accepted it completely, and will not be accepted by Jesus as part of His Body.

Take a serious look at what you believe and whether you would proclaim it to the world! Or, would you cower in shame and embarrassment at the thought of the world knowing? Your answer is very important, for it can mean your eternal life!

Are you ashamed of the Gospel?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you accepted your job as a minister?

August 21, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant–not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
(2 Corinthians 3:6 (NIV))

It has been said that the Old Testament and The Law are there to show us what we are supposed to do and how difficult it is to do it. If this is true, then the New Testament is there to show us that we have another way. The Law is there as the letter that we must follow perfectly and never falter or waiver from its course. The Spirit is given to us by the grace and mercy shown at the cross. The Spirit gives us redemption and salvation. It gives us freedom from the Law. This freedom does not mean that we are able to ignore the Law and do whatever we want. It means that we are given grace for we are not capable of being perfect even when we desire it with all of our hearts. It allows us to be human. It allows us to make mistakes and then learn from our mistakes.

The twist to all of this is that through the Spirit, we are all ministers one to another. In the Old Testament and under the Law, ministers had to be set apart from the rest of society. They had to be ceremonially pure. They had to be followers of the letter of the Law. If they did not follow the letter of the Law, they faced the possibility of death in the presence of God.

Today, we have grace and mercy as our mantle. We have salvation through the blood of Jesus. We have the Spirit. Through the Spirit, we are given life in the presence of God, were, before the Spirit, we only faced death. Speaking for myself, I do not long to follow the letter of the Law, for it is inflexible and unforgiving. I want forgiveness and mercy, for I know that I am not perfect and cannot ever achieve perfection on my own.

I need to repent and turn away from my sin!

I need grace!

I need to help others find that grace!

I, in all of my human shortcomings, am a minister of that grace. I have accepted my position.

Have you accepted your job as a minister?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Lord, enlarge my territory so that you may be glorified!

May 22, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, “I gave birth to him in pain.” Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.
(1 Chronicles 4:9-10 (NIV))

Oh, that you would bless me!

This is something that we all think, and probably most of us actually pray it as well. Many sermons have been taught on the principle that God wants to bless us. The good thing is that He does want to bless us!

He wants to bless us so that we can be a blessing to others. He does not want to bless those who will hoard his blessings and keep them for themselves. He wishes to bless those who will, in turn, bless others through what He has blessed them with. A pastor once put it in a way that tells it well. He said that he did not want to be a jar for God to pour His blessings into. He wanted to be a teapot or a pitcher that was designed to pour out for others. He wished to received the blessings so that he could pour out the blessings to others.

Perhaps this is why God granted the prayers of Jabez, for he did not simply ask to be blessed. He asked to have his territory enlarged. Jabez honored God by asking for God to be with him. If God is with you, He will use you to spread the news of what He has done. If you are used by God to spread His Gospel, then you will be blessed. Your circle of influence will increase so that God can be glorified.

Look at the men and women of today who glorify God in all that they do. God has increased their circle of influence so that more people can be blessed through them.

Be careful in your heart when asking God to bless you. Do not let human nature take control and simply ask to be a blessing to others so that you will be blessed, after all, God knows what is in your heart.

It is my prayer for all who fervently seek the Lord to have their territory enlarged so that they may be His witness in all that they do. I also seek to enlarge my territory. Perhaps I should rephrase that. I desire to enlarge the territory that God has granted me so that I can tell more people about the Lord.

Lord, enlarge my territory so that you may be glorified!

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