Are you prepared?

March 19, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

The days of punishment are coming,
      the days of reckoning are at hand.
      Let Israel know this.
Because your sins are so many
      and your hostility so great,
the prophet is considered a fool,
      the inspired person a maniac.
(Hosea 9:7 (NIV))

These words were written to and about Israel long ago, but do you see anything in them that is true today?

Let me rephrase that general question into a few distinct questions.

When you look at the things that are going on in this country and in the world, are you overcome with the vast number of ways that humanity has found to sin against God? We take innocent life and call it choice. We take all the things that God has called a sin and an abomination and call it good. Anyone who points out that the world is going against God is ridiculed, chastised and labeled an old-fashioned fool. Anyone who speaks about Jesus as the only begotten Son of God and the only way to get to the Father is labeled a bigot and a lunatic. Do I need to go any further? Do you see these things happening more frequently or are you looking at the world through blinded eyes?

If Israel was warned of days of punishment coming for doing these things, where does that leave today’s society and world?

You may call me a fool and a maniac, but I need to ask more questions. I will say that many people are thinking about the world in its current state, for I am seeing many people who are posting Bible verses, ideas on how to love our neighbors, and even very strongly worded instructions to pray for God to protect His people. With this in mind, I want you to seriously think about your answers to the questions that are probably already lingering in your thoughts and hopefully your prayers.

Are you following God’s Word and have you accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior?

Does it break your heart to see the things that go against God’s Word?

Is it possible that everything is coming to pass just as God has foretold?

Is it possible that we are too blinded by the world to truly recognize what is in front of our eyes?

Would you recognize unfolding events as part of God’s plan?

Do you believe that God will punish His creation for their sinful nature?

Do you believe that the world is becoming more engrossed in sin?

Sadly, most of us go about our daily lives with no thought about what is going on around us. We need to open our eyes. We need to be aware of the times and our surroundings. We need to wrap ourselves in God’s Word. We need to wrap ourselves in God’s love by accepting Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior. We need to embrace the truth that God has a timeline and it is drawing close to His fulfillment of that timeline. We must be prepared to be called a fool for Jesus and a maniac for God.

Are you prepared?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you returned to God with your heart?

March 10, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

“Even now,” declares the LORD,
    “return to me with all your heart,
    with fasting and weeping and mourning.”
Rend your heart
    and not your garments.
  Return to the LORD your God,
    for he is gracious and compassionate,
  slow to anger and abounding in love,
    and he relents from sending calamity.
(Joel 2:12-13 (NIV))

The words written long ago in the book of Joel still hold true to this very day. I imagine that they will be true until Jesus returns in triumph to the Mount of Olives. Only then, will it be too late for those who have made the wrong decision.

God wants us to turn from our sin and return to Him.

All too often, we do things that are extravagant in nature because we feel that we must do something of great magnitude, or great outward appearance, so that God will know that we mean it this time. Perhaps these acts are more for ourselves and our neighbors than they are for God, after all, God sees our hearts. He doesn’t need to see the flamboyant antics of someone who will break the promises that were just made. This is why we are told to “rend your heart,” for God sees the heart and He knows when it is truth. We can forever rend externally to ourselves and it will never have a lasting impact. When we rend our heart, it is the very center of our existence. We have made the decision to change from the inside out. Perhaps this is why Jesus spoke about what makes a man unclean.

He went on: “What comes out of a man is what makes him `unclean.’ For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man `unclean.’ “
(Mark 7:20-23 (NIV))

Have you taken that ultimate commitment to God? Have you internalized the change by changing your heart? Have you returned to God with your heart?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Why are we drawn to return to our sin and slavery?

March 2, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
(Galatians 5:1 (NIV))

What is it about human nature that makes us return to something that we know we should leave behind? We have all been guilty of doing this very thing, and probably much more often than we care to admit. Apparently, human nature since the fall from grace has always had us doing what can only be called self destructive behavior. We know that we shouldn’t, but yet we do. This type of behavior has been pointed out many times, but probably the most accurate and disgusting is the following.

As a dog returns to its vomit,
so fools repeat their folly.
(Proverbs 26:11 (NIV))

As I stated previously, we all do it. Even the man who is credited with bringing the Gospel to the Gentiles fought this aspect in his own walk of faith. Paul was a very intelligent person, but yet he didn’t understand the self destructive nature that he fought against.

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
(Romans 7:15-20 (NIV))

This struggle that all of us face makes it clear why each of us are called to take up our cross daily. We are to deny that part of our human nature. We are to struggle with this sinful nature each and every time that it raises its ugly head in our lives. We are called to repent. Far too many people believe that this is a one-time occurrence, but it should be a daily attitude and activity. Do I even venture to say that, on some days, we may have to humble ourselves continually before the Lord and repent of our actions and our thoughts?

I know that we are a fallen creation, but I wish I had the magic answer as to why we return to our sin when we don’t want to. I wish I knew how to turn off that part of my life so that I never take my eyes off of Jesus. Just like Paul, I find myself doing the very things that I hate! I don’t know why! I long to do only what is good and righteous, yet on my own, this is not possible. I just know that we must be ready to fall on our knees whenever and wherever we may find yourself returning to our sin.

I want to leave you with one question that I hope you will take to heart.

Why are we drawn to return to our sin and slavery?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Will the Lord know you?

February 5, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
(Matthew 7:21-23 (NIV))

Do you believe that it is acceptable in the eyes of God to profess a faith in Jesus and then be unwilling to give up your favorite sin?

Think about that in context of the woman caught in adultery. Jesus told her to leave her life of sin.

Think about that in context of the rich young ruler. Jesus told him to sell all he had and give everything to the poor and then follow Him. Jesus knew the rich man’s heart. He knew exactly the sin that the rich man wouldn’t give up.

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.
(Luke 9:23 (NIV))

If we don’t deny ourselves the sins that we love and deny our sinful nature, then Jesus is going to deny us. We must sacrifice ourselves daily to what we desire and carry the cross that Jesus carried. He did what God called Him to do! We are to follow His example. At no point in His life did He sin, nor did He ever tell someone to continue sinning. If we are truly following Jesus, then we are truly spending time in His presence. We will desire to give up our sins. I realize that even the best of intentions will have pitfalls, but we are called to repent. We are called to change our lives to reflect Jesus in all that we do. We are called to be the light of the world, but not on our own. We are to reflect the light of Jesus. If we choose to cling to our sin, we are not filled with the light. It is a choice. We can choose Jesus or we can choose sin.

No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
(Matthew 6:24 (NKJV))

I chose this translation for this passage due to the use of the word “mammon.” It means riches. You cannot serve the riches of this world, whether they are money, lust or power, and still serve God. We must make a decision to walk away from our sins and follow Jesus. We will slip. We will falter, but if we seek forgiveness for these slips, and continue to strive to follow Jesus, then the Lord sees our heart. If we refuse to give up our sins, the Lord sees this as well. He cannot save someone who is unwilling to be saved.

If you realize that God cannot associate with sin and you aren’t willing to give up your sin, the resulting conclusion is obvious.

Will the Lord know you?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you sharing the true Jesus with others?

January 27, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.
(Luke 19:10 (NIV))

What have you been taught about Jesus? In particular, what have you been taught about the reason that He came into this world?

Did He come to be a social justice warrior? Did He come to advocate for the poor? Did He come to spread peace and love, or did He come to call a lost and sinful humanity to repentance?

I realize that Jesus did many things when He walked this earth, and many of those things can be classified as falling into these categories that I listed, but they were all ways to reach the lost. Did Jesus teach on being just and fair in our dealings with each other? I can point out many situations where He did just that. He pointed out our sinful nature in these matters and asked us to seek God and follow His commands. Not following God’s commands is a sin. Jesus was telling us to repent and follow Him. Did Jesus teach on helping the poor? If you look back at Old Testament laws, that was already in place. A landowner was not supposed to harvest all the way to the corners of his fields. This was to be left for the poor. In other words, love your neighbor as yourself. Not doing so is a sin. Jesus was calling us to repent of our sin. When asked what the greatest commandments are, He responded that you are to love God and love your neighbor as yourself. The example that He gave involved a Samaritan man. In the culture of the day, Jewish people hated the Samaritans. In other words, Jesus was telling us to repent of our sin of hatred.

What is your definition of being lost? According to God, being lost is being a sinner.

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

And being a sinner has drastic consequences!

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 6:23 (NIV))

Jesus walked among us telling us to live according to what God had planned. He called us to repent of our shortcomings, our sins, and to turn to God in all things. He used every situation that He was in as a teachable moment to drive this home. Repent in your dealings with others. Repent of your treatment of the poor. It is possible to do these things yet still miss out on the only reason that Jesus came. All of these can be labeled as works of the flesh if we do not have a repentant heart and a desire to follow Jesus in all that we do. A repentant heart is a result of the most important aspect of why Jesus came. Jesus calls us to love God and to love your neighbor as yourself. When we do this, our desires change. Our actions are no longer selfish in nature. We see ourselves and others as God sees them.

We are called to also seek and save the lost by sharing Jesus with them.

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))

Sadly, I believe that we, as the church, have missed the mark. We share Jesus only when we are comfortable, and we don’t emphasize where Jesus tells us to teach people to obey everything that He has commanded. We sugar coat it, and as a result, we see people developing incorrect images of Jesus. I know that this hasn’t been a saying in several years, but we must pay attention to “What Would Jesus Do?” According to the words recorded in Luke, Jesus clearly said that He came to seek and save the lost!

Are you sharing the true Jesus with others?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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We must not accept sin as the new normal!

January 14, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
(Matthew 18:15-17 (NIV))

Sadly, just by choosing this verse, too many people will get offended. Society currently believes that if you love someone, then you accept them as they are. Society claims that people are made that way and as a result, there is nothing wrong with them. This has become rampant even in the church. Let’s play fill in the blank to see how that actually sounds.

I was born a(n) __________________, therefore, you have to accept me the way that I am.

Pick any of the following words and see how that sounds.

Arsonist
Murderer
Pedophile
Alcoholic
Thief
Sex Addict

Perhaps you have a few more that you can think of, but the concept is clear, sin is sin! Why do we, as the Body of Christ, not follow what we have been told? How can we be the light of the world if we allow the darkness to influence us? How can we share the truth of the Gospel if we can’t follow it ourselves? The last time I read anything about the Lord, He does not lead us into sin! In fact, He leads us away from sin. Jesus, when addressing the woman caught in adultery, was clear. We are to go and sin no more! We are to leave our life of sin. We are not to embrace the sin simply because our fallen nature made us this way! We are to become a new creation. We are to repent. We are to take up our cross and follow Him daily.

Sadly, we are seeing too many people profess that what has been called good is now evil and what was once called evil is now good. Society may claim this as the new normal, but the Body of Christ must stand firm.

We must not accept sin as the new normal!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you accepted your room reservation?

December 30, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
(John 14:1-3 (NIV))

This passage came up today and my first reaction was that it wasn’t appropriate as a New Year’s scripture. Then I read it a few more times and the realization of the hope for a better future for those who are in Christ became evident. It also became evident that what society truly desires as they celebrate the beginning of a new year is the ability to wipe away all of the past mistakes and move forward with hope for a better life in the new year. Let’s face the truth. When we make resolutions, we are simply professing a desire to change something about ourselves that we don’t like!

How is that working out for you?

Human nature is a difficult thing to deal with. We say that we want to change, yet most of us after just a few short days are right back at our old habits, our old sins. We cannot do it on our own! Our Father realized this and sent His one and only Son to be offered as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. All that we have to do is earnestly and truthfully accept this and grace is ours! We are forgiven of our sins. We accept the willing sacrifice of the one perfect man who was God with us. We recognize that we must turn to Him and repent of our sins. We must be willing to repent on a daily basis for we will not be free from the temptation of sin. We must accept the truth that temptation will not go away. We must also rejoice in the fact that when the world tries to tempt us, we have Jesus.

One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin,
    but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
(Proverbs 18:24 (NIV))

One day, we will see the Father’s house. What a promise for a better future that is. For the Body of Christ, that is not the beginning of a better future. The beginning is when someone decides to make a personal resolution that consists of three things.

1. Admit that you are a sinner.
2. Believe in your heart that Jesus Christ is Lord.
3. Confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord.

The good news is that we don’t have to wait for a new year to be born again, to start anew, to give our life to Christ! That resolution can be made at any time. Now is that perfect time.

This is one resolution that has eternal rewards with a room!

Have you accepted your room reservation?

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