Do you support those who support Israel and Jerusalem?

October 30, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and also to put it in writing:
(Ezra 1:1 (NIV))

We know that God used Nebuchadnezzar as His servant to bring His judgment upon Jerusalem. Then at the appointed time, after the exiles had repented, He used Cyrus to bring about the return to Jerusalem and the rebuilding of the Temple. Both men had a part in God’s plans. Even though they did completely opposite things, they both fulfilled God’s plans. They were both servants of the Lord whether they knew it or not. God moves people to fulfill His will for the specific period in history. Nebuchadnezzar brought punishment and Cyrus brought restoration. Cyrus returned Jerusalem to the descendants of Israel. Cyrus also committed to rebuilding the Temple.

Jerusalem is the key!

But you are to seek the place the LORD your God will choose from among all your tribes to put his Name there for his dwelling. To that place you must go;
(Deuteronomy 12:5 (NIV))

That place is Jerusalem!

Cyrus knew this. That is why he listened to the Lord.

“This is what Cyrus king of Persia says:
“‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Any of his people among you may go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the temple of the Lord, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem, and may their God be with them. And in any locality where survivors may now be living, the people are to provide them with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with freewill offerings for the temple of God in Jerusalem.'”
(Ezra 1:2-4 (NIV))

Everything hinges on Jerusalem.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
“May those who love you be secure.
(Psalms 122:6 (NIV))

On that day I will set out to destroy all the nations that attack Jerusalem.
(Zechariah 12:9 (NIV))

If we profess a faith in Jesus, who is the Jewish Messiah, then we should also stand firm in God’s Word when it comes to Jerusalem. The Body of Christ hasn’t replaced Israel. We are grafted into amazing grace. We should not do anything to bring destruction upon the city where God has placed His name! We must support the proclamation that Jerusalem is His city where His Temple shall be.

Do you support those who support Israel and Jerusalem?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is there a difference between gathering and assembling?

September 1, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
(Hebrews 10:25 (NIV))

It is amazing how subtle nuances in a translation can make something take on a completely different meaning. Since we have to rely on translations from the original Aramaic and Greek, the understanding of the full meanings of the original language and how it is translated into English can vary slightly. Each translation conveys the meaning, but sometimes the subtleties give a much better understanding of the depth of the original language. This is why I like to cross reference between many different translations to try and fully understand the intentions behind the words. This passage is an excellent example of just this.

What do you think of when you read the phrase “meeting together”? Do you simply think of a gathering of individuals that come together for a short time and then go their separate ways?

Now, let’s take this one step further and reference a different translation.

not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
(Hebrews 10:25 (NKJV))

What do you think of when you read the phrase “assembling of ourselves together”? Does this paint a mental picture of unity and purpose where people come together for a common goal?

I heard something today that brought these two phrases into a much better understanding. I think that this analogy will also paint a very interesting picture for you as well.

The example was of a watch. When you gather the components of a watch into one location, everything is there, yet it has no purpose. They are still just individual parts that do not work together. But, when those parts are assembled in the correct way, the result is a fully functioning time piece. Now, how does this apply to believers who simply gather together versus being assembled into a functioning body of believers? We, as the church, should be more than the sum of our individual parts. We should rely on the Lord to assemble us in such a way that we bring glory to Him by uniting in the task that we have been assigned.

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))

If all that we do is gather, then we are not fulfilling our calling. We must be willing to assemble!

Is there a difference between gathering and assembling?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you like the sound of trumpets?

August 13, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.
(1 Thessalonians 4:16 (NIV))

Do you like the sound of trumpets?

When we think of trumpets, we have a tendency to think of jazz music or big band swing, but do you realize that God has used the sound of a trumpet as a way to announce things of great importance to His people? The sound of a trumpet cuts through any other sound. It rises above the noise of the world and boldly proclaims to listen. It boldly proclaims to pay attention. It boldly announces that something is coming!

In this passage, the sound of the trumpet is announcing that those who have professed a faith in Jesus will arise from the dead. That, in and of itself is amazing, but there is more. There is something even more amazing. There is something that only the all powerful Lord God could make happen!

After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.
(1 Thessalonians 4:17 (NIV))

To many people, the sound of a trumpet is shrill and harsh, but it is rapidly becoming the instrument that I long to hear above the din of the world! I long to hear the trumpet call of God, for I believe, . . . No! I know beyond any doubt exactly what that will mean! I know that when I hear the trumpet call of God, these events will rapidly take place and the desire to be with the Lord will instantly come true. Does that explain why I like the sound of trumpets?

What about you?

Do you like the sound of trumpets?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are we still witnessing or are we simply waiting?

February 3, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 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 1:7-8 (NIV))

Have we gotten tired of waiting? Have we given up being witnesses because we don’t see any evidence of His return? Do you tell yourself that witnessing is not your gift? Perhaps we have developed an attitude that we have done our part and it’s time for a rest. Have I left your excuse out of my list?

I don’t mean to sound harsh and degrading. I don’t want to sound like I am pointing fingers. I realize that we have all felt like this at some point or another. In fact, I have told myself that personal witnessing is not my gift more times than I care to admit. To be honest with you, I am not good at public speaking. I am not good at one on one, but, if you give me a keyboard and a verse, I believe that I have found my way of witnessing. With this simple truth about myself, I believe that if you look at humanity, you will quickly realize that God created each of us with unique gifts. Because each unsaved sinner is unique, each repentant sinner who has claimed salvation has a unique way of reaching someone else. It is a way that may be designed for reaching only one person. We must remember that each person is loved by God and the one that you are called to share the Gospel with may be the next person to share the Gospel with millions!

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up
(Ephesians 4:11-12 (NIV))

Just because our gift is not evangelism doesn’t mean that we can’t use our gifts to witness, to spread the Gospel!

It is true that we don’t know the hour or the date that the Father has set, but we all have an urgent task that we must not neglect. Whether it is by evangelism, writing, hospitality, generosity, music, or art, we all have a gift that we can use to witness to the amazing truth of the Gospel. Just because we don’t know the hour or the date doesn’t mean that we should stop using our gifts to reach the world. We are called to be faithful until He comes.

Are we being faithful with the gifts that He has given to us or have we grown complacent in our witness? Have we started using excuses like those I previously mentioned to convince ourselves that it is okay if we don’t witness? We need to take a serious look at what Jesus has called us to do and whether we are being faithful in that calling.

Are we still witnessing or are we simply waiting?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Isn’t it amazing what repentance can bring?

October 22, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,
(Acts 3:19 (NIV))

Do you remember when you first repented of your sins and accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior?

How did you feel?

It is not uncommon for people to express this feeling as a cleansing sensation.

I like to think of it in the following manner. Before accepting Jesus you are burdened with the weight of the world. You are struggling with the toils of life and long for a glimpse of hope. You are filthy and in need of cleansing. Now, with that in mind, imagine yourself working in the yard on the hottest day of the year. You take a look at the swimming pool and without hesitation, you decide to dive in. Instantly you are refreshed. You come up out of the water cleansed. The dirt is gone. The weight of your toils have been washed away. You feel invigorated. You feel empowered. You feel renewed.

Repentance is similar in nature to this analogy with the swimming pool. No matter what you have done, no matter how filthy you may be, you can turn to the source of the cleansing. You can be refreshed. Better yet, you can choose to walk with Jesus and experience the refreshing on a daily basis. If you find yourself straying and in need of refreshment, simply turn back to Jesus!

Isn’t it amazing what repentance can bring?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you on watch for bad fruit?

October 10, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
(Matthew 7:15-20 (NIV))

Think about this the next time that you hear of something that is just too good to be true, or is just a little off of what God’s Word says that it should be. Most of the time, lies are obvious, but deception is a trick of the enemy. When things sound almost right with respect to God’s word, they are totally wrong.

It should be easy for believers to realize that the “fruit” does not match the source. We should be able to easily distinguish that the things the enemy tells us are too good to be true, especially when they contradict everything that we should know to be true according to God’s Word.

Why do people fall for the deceptions of the enemy?

Are we, as a fallen, sinful race, too far removed from the truth to even recognize it?

The words in Matthew are amazing and sadly amusing if you stop to actually understand what is being said. We have enough common sense to not look for grapes on an apple tree, yet, we easily fall prey to the small lies of the enemy in hopes that the promises are true.

Test everything against God’s Word. If something is supposed to bear goodness, but it lies to do so, does it really follow God’s Word? If you are promised that it is only a small digression and no one will know about it, can it be the correct fit?

We have been told what the things of God will bear.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
(Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV))

Think of this passage when validating the truth about something. Does it produce according to the fruit of the Spirit?

Are you on watch for bad fruit?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do you know the heart of God?

September 25, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.
(Matthew 24:37-41 (NIV))

Isn’t it amazing how easily we get so wrapped up in our own little worlds that we ignore the things that we should truly be wrapped up in?

Some people take this to the extreme with respect to the blessings they have been given in this world. They ignore spouse, children, other family and friends all for the sake of doing something that truly has no value beyond the day. No wonder the coming of the Son of Man will be as it is foretold. Even if we, as humanity, are given blatant signs that the time is drawing near, we will miss them because we are so wrapped up in our daily lives that are completely focused on our own little worlds.

Perhaps Psalms 46:10 is more appropriate than we care to admit when it tells us “Be still, and know that I am God.” We have let the worldly things become our gods and we pay homage to them in our frantic pace while we ignore the one, true God. God gave us our lives to enjoy. We are to enjoy each other. We are to use the talents that He has given us. We are to care for the world that He created for us. We are to embrace the salvation that He has given to us, and, especially, we are to enjoy our time with God.

Don’t get so wrapped up in this world that you miss what is truly important in your life.

Where is family?

Where is friendship?

Where is quiet time to sit at the feet of Jesus and to be still and know God?

Don’t be left behind because you did not know the heart of God!

Do you know the heart of God?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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How can we serve Him while we wait?

September 11, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. 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))

What imagery do you see when you read this passage? Do you focus on the splendor of the dwelling that you have the hope and the promise of attaining? Perhaps you focus on the shear number of dwellings that must exist. Perhaps you read that Jesus is preparing a place for you and then you realize that the Lord of all is personally taking care of your needs. These are all fantastic visions of what awaits, but I find solace in the last statement.

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 14:3 (NIV))

Isn’t that amazing? Jesus, in all of His glory, is not only personally preparing our future dwellings, He will also come back personally and take us to be with Him. He is NOT sending an angel to come and pick us up. He is not using a GPS system or Mapquest to send us directions so that we can find our own way. He is coming personally to take us to be with Him.

Think about that. Jesus – King of kings and Lord of lords – loves us so much that He is coming for us. In fact, all of history is unfolding because He loves us and died on the cross so that we can receive salvation, grace and mercy. God’s Word tells of God’s love through His creation and how we, through Adam and Eve, fell from grace. The Old Testament shows us how we should live, but how we fail because of sin. It also points to a savior who will change all. Then, Jesus comes and shows us how to return to God. We are given a choice. We are given a free gift. Finally, those who trust in Jesus will be welcome home.

Jesus is that gift. Even now, He is still fulfilling these words.

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
(Mark 10:45 (NIV))

Jesus is preparing a place for us. Even in His Lordship, He is still serving us. How can we serve Him while we wait?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What scripture is being fulfilled today?

September 2, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
(Luke 4:18-21 (NIV))

For hundreds of years, the nation of Israel literally waited for the fulfillment of the prophecy foretold in these words. Yet, as it unfolded right before them, most did not recognize what they had been waiting for. They did not recognize it for they had become so wrapped up in their interpretation of how it would happen, that they did not see God’s interpretation as it unfolded.

If we had been alive at this time, would we have recognized the fulfillment of this prophecy or would we have been like the majority of people? Perhaps even more important is our perception and understanding of what is to come in our life time. We have the luxury of being able to look back through history and see the events as they unfolded. We can recognize the events in hind sight, but how will we be in recognizing the events that are unfolding right before our very eyes?

Jesus will return. He will come for His church when the time is right.

Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, `I am the Christ, ‘ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.
(Matthew 24:4-8 (NIV))

What scripture is being fulfilled today? What do we look for that is our interpretation of these events? We must focus on God’s Word so that we truly understand God’s interpretation and not our own.

I know that I don’t want to be one who watches things unfold and I miss out on what God is doing because I have my own interpretation. I want to know God’s plans and His heart so that I may see things through His eyes.

God is setting the world’s stage for some amazing events. I don’t want to misunderstand any of them. What scripture is being fulfilled today?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Is the message of the cross foolishness or power?

April 3, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
(1 Corinthians 1:18 (NIV))

Ever since it happened, the crucifixion and the resurrection have been points of contention in the minds of millions, if not billions, of people. It is either looked upon as the most amazing gift and the most amazingly simple way for God to restore a lost creation to Himself, or it is looked upon as a childishly simple lie and a fairy tale. Ironically, both camps recognize the simplicity involved. Those who profess a faith in Jesus and what He accomplished on the cross understand the Gospel, or good news, in such a way that they realize God made it simple to receive salvation. All that you have to do is repent and ask Jesus to be your personal Lord and Savior. Those who look upon the cross as foolishness cling to the old saying, “If it looks too good to be true, it is!” They also often think that it doesn’t make sense that one man could save me by dying on a cross. What they fail to recognize is that one man was not just any man. He was the Son of Man. He was fully man and He was fully Lord.

I realize that there are many possible shades between these two ends of the spectrum, but in essence most can be included. Even those who profess that there is no God fall into the foolishness category. Many of those who profess this think that any and all concepts of a god, let alone the one true God, are all signs of an uneducated mind. They fail to see the evidence that is right in front of them. In all of their so-called wisdom, they fail to see the obvious.

Do you recall your life before you came to faith in Jesus?

Think about your attitude towards those who professed a faith in Jesus. If you are like most people, you probably bought into the stereotypical characterization of believers that the world wants you to believe. You probably had a tendency to look at all believers with a very jaded perspective. Now that you profess a faith in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, that characterization has hopefully been long gone. Looking honestly back at these periods in your life, which one was the foolish period?

The cross divides many aspects of this world. It divides time – B.C. and A.D. It divides families. It divides societies. Nothing in all of human history has been the source of so much division. It all comes down to a simple matter of perspective.

Is the message of the cross foolishness or power?

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