Are you practicing what you have learned?

August 17, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
(Philippians 4:9 (NIV))

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. If that is the case, do you flatter Jesus?

When Paul wrote his letter to the church at ‭‭Philippi, he was encouraging the believers there to take what they have learned from him about Jesus and put it into practice. In other words, he was encouraging them to imitate Jesus by following His teachings. Two thousand years later, that is still the very best advise that anyone can give.

How are you living up to imitating Jesus in all that you do?

It isn’t easy, is it?

No matter how sincere we may be in our desires, human nature keeps getting in the way. Our sinful nature keeps raising its ugly head and we soon find ourselves doing things that we truly wish that we could avoid. Perhaps we need to truly take a lesson from Jesus and pay attention to how much time that He spent in prayer with the Father. I would venture to say that if we start practicing this lesson more often, the other things that we are called to imitate would be so much easier to actually imitate. Spending time in honest, heartfelt communication with the Lord will lead to a stronger relationship, and a better understanding of and a stronger desire to be like Jesus!

There is only so much that we can learn if we don’t start practicing what we have learned. Obedience is critical. Obedience means doing what Jesus instructs us to do. Obedience means putting away our sinful nature and following Jesus. Obedience means that we imitate Jesus by putting into practice what we have learned.

Are you practicing what you have learned?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What comforts you through the darkness?

June 8, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
(Psalms 23:4 (NKJV))

Everyone faces darkness and tough times in their lives. What do you do when this happens? Do you cower in fear? Do you give in to the attacks of the enemy? Do you throw yourself a pity party and lock yourself away from the world in hopes that your tough times will go away? Do you lash out at the world trying to put up a front? Do you attack head-on in such a way that you think that you are able to overcome these times on your own?

To be honest with you, we have all probably used each one of these approaches in our lives when dealing with darkness and tough times. Have any of them truly worked? Did the tough times go away? Did your stress levels return to a peaceful state?

I have been on my journey with Jesus for a long time, and each time that I have faced a tough time in my life over the years, it has actually gotten easier to deal with. With each event, I have learned more about the promises of God. I have learned that I can trust Him to see me through, even when the world seems to be crashing in all around me. It hasn’t come easily, and my journey is still a work in progress, but I know that my faith is firmly placed in the One who created all things. I know that He will see me through all things, even the darkness. With the track record that the Lord has allowed me to experience, I can look back in all honesty and see how He was leading me. With this assurance, I can look ahead in all faith and know that He will lead me according to His will with my maturity in Jesus as the goal.

I don’t know about you, but I find great comfort in this truth even when I do not see any worldly way out of the darkness. I find great comfort in knowing that He is always with me!

What comforts you through the darkness?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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We have not been forsaken!

April 1, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
(1 Peter 5:7 (NIV))

As I sit here tonight, I am feeling like many people are probably feeling right now. I’m tired of the isolation. Even churches have gone to live feeds. I’m tired of the inability to socialize. I’m tired of the lack of basic essential supplies in many stores. I’m tired of not knowing how long this will last.

I’m tired of the uncertainty!

Does that sound like you?

Are you tired of all that is going on, or have you grown anxious because of the uncertainty? Perhaps I could even say that many people are borderline fearful. Is there a difference between being tired of a circumstance and being anxious or fearful because of a circumstance? Being tired of something implies that you wish it would go away. I find it interesting that many dictionaries will define the word anxious as an extreme uneasiness or fear and the word fear is defined as an unpleasant anticipation of danger. In essence, do you wish that the current circumstances in the world would go away or do you feel an unpleasant anticipation of danger because of the circumstances?

Depending on the translation and the wording, God tells us to “fear not” or “do not be afraid” 365 times. He knows human nature. He knows that we are creatures of comfort and creatures of habit. He also knows our hearts. He knows what causes fear in our minds and in our hearts. He also knows how to give us peace!

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.
(John 16:33 (NIV))

I have one more thing for your consideration in 1 Peter 5:7, and that is the word “cast.” When you place something, it implies a careful movement into a new position. The word cast implies that you are throwing something away from you and to a new place. You are throwing you anxiety away from you. You are willfully and purposefully taking your anxiety and trading it for His peace! Does this sound like instructions from someone who doesn’t care about us? He is telling us to turn to Him and cast our anxiety onto Him. He does not wish for us to go through these tribulations alone.

In the days ahead, stop and pray for the Lord to take away your anxieties and give you His peace!

We have not been forsaken!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is God your refuge and strength?

March 31, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
(Psalms 46:1 (NIV))

Today’s world seems to be spiraling ever downward away from God’s Will. The events of the last several years seem to be leading us into the wars and rumors of wars that are written of in Matthew 24:6.

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 24:6-8 (NIV))

I may be naive, but I don’t remember a period in my lifetime that seemed so much on edge. I know that all throughout history, there have been periods where all seemed to be turmoil. I originally wrote and sent this out almost ten years ago based on what was happening in the world at that point. With what is happening in the world now, it seems very appropriate to be reminded about where our refuge and strength come from. It is not time to sit on the fence. It is not time to be indecisive. It is time to proclaim a faith in the Lord. Then we can truly claim that no matter what the world may have in store for us, God is truly our refuge. He is Creator. He is Lord of all. He is our Father. He is our hope.

What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?
(Romans 8:31 (NIV))

God is our refuge. He longs to have us draw close to Him. If we will only turn away from our sin and turn toward Him, He is our strength. He is an ever-present help in trouble. No matter what the world may send our way, we have the faith and assurance that God is there.

Is God your refuge and strength?

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

March 30, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Come near to God and he will come near to you.
(James 4:8a (NIV))

I am sure that you have heard that God is everywhere and that He will never leave you, so how do you understand and comprehend this passage? If He is everywhere, isn’t He already near us?

God is everywhere, but sadly, too few people realize that He will not force Himself on anyone. We have to turn to Him out of a choice that we make, especially since we, as humanity, chose to turn away from Him as a result of the fall from grace in the Garden of Eden. We thought that we had been given knowledge, but instead, we lost all hope. Until God sent His Son, Jesus, into the world to pay the penalty for sin and death, we only knew the wages of our sin even if we chose good. Thankfully, God had a plan that would bring an end to this.

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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
(John 3:16-21 (NIV))

Each of us must make a decision to come near to God. This is only accomplished by believing in Jesus as God’s one and only Son. Through the gift of grace freely given on the cross, the veil that separated God from humanity has been torn in two. God had set in motion a plan to bring us back to Him and the veil symbolized that completion of that plan. Jesus declared this culmination of God’s redemptive plan with His final words.

When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
(John 19:30 (NIV))

God used these events to unfold His perfect plan to draw each of us near to Him. God may use circumstances to get our attention, but He cannot make the decision for us. Our families and friends cannot make the decision for us. We have to be willing to put aside our pride and move closer to God. When we make that move, we will find that He is already closer than we could ever imagine.

Have you made your move?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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God’s love is not how the world loves!

February 13, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
(1 Corinthians 13:6-7 (NIV))

Does this sound like the world’s current definition of love?

Society has taken the concept of love and twisted it so far from how God defines love. According to God’s plan, love is sacrificial, but there are some overlooked aspects.

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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
(John 3:16-21 (NIV))

We, as the intended recipients of God’s love, must be willing to walk away from our sin. We must be willing to embrace the truth, the only truth, that is God’s Word. Once we do, we are called to love as God loves, but that doesn’t mean that we condone the sin and the evil in people. I realize that this is often overused, but there is an old saying that, “We are to love the sinner and hate the sin.” Think about that in relation to the following example.

You are a parent who has a child that is involved in things that could get them in trouble with the law. Which of the following options shows true love? Do you overlook these actions because you say that you love them and you don’t want to interfere with their life, or do you try to make them change their life so that they don’t face any consequences from their activities? The first option actually shows that you don’t care enough to take action to prevent something bad. It may appear that you love them in the present, but you don’t love them enough to take action so that they will have a better tomorrow. Love sometimes has to be tough! As a parent, you have to stand in the gap and fight for the well being of your family so that they have a life that is not a result of bad decisions.

Put this into perspective by changing the scenario with respect to eternity. This time the child is rebelling and is lost. Do you overlook these actions or do you pray for them, do you try to reach them, do you love them enough to stand in the gap interceding for them? This time, the consequences have a much different and longer result. If we truly love this child, we will do anything and everything to bring them into a right relationship with the Lord.

My next thought was to ask you how do you think God feels, but I have already told you how He feels. He loves the world so much that He had a plan to redeem the world. That plan was not an easy thing to bring about. It cost the physical life of His only begotten Son, Jesus. Jesus came to defeat evil and sin. He came to protect us from the consequences of sin. God’s love perseveres and because of His great love, we have the glorious hope that we can trust in His Word. All that He asks is that you believe and turn away from the darkness of the evil that is in this world.

The world says that if you love someone, you accept them and don’t try to change them no matter the consequences. God loves us as we are, then calls us to repent so that we don’t face the consequences.

God’s love is not how the world loves!

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 diligently keeping watch?

January 22, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’
(Mark 13:37 (NIV))

Are you diligently watching and waiting for the Lord’s return?

These words from Mark are recorded as the last words in a brief story about a man leaving his servants in charge while he is gone. In this example, the man did not tell his servants when he would return. He simply told them to watch and be prepared.

Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch. Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping.
(Mark 13:33-36 (NIV))

If Jesus were to return for His church today, how would He find you? Would He catch you off guard or would you recognize that He is coming and would you be prepared to meet Him? Sadly, too many people who profess a faith in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior simply go about their daily lives with no thought to the question of “What if Jesus returned today?” It is the farthest thing from their minds, yet it should be the most important thing on their mind at all times.

Think about that in terms of a job. You are employed to do a certain task and when the boss is there, you perform the task as expected. But, when the boss is away for a day or two, do you perform your duties as you would if your boss were there?

Absence makes us lose sight of the importance of what we have been assigned to do! I’ll let you in on a little secret, though, with respect to the Lord. Unlike your boss, Jesus still knows your every thought and action. He knows who is diligently watching and waiting for Him.

We are to watch and wait for the Lord to return. Are you diligently keeping watch?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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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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