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.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you await your hope?

October 17, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
(Romans 8:22-25 (NIV))

When Paul wrote these words to the Romans, a few people still had memories of Jesus as He walked the earth. They longed for the kingdom that Jesus taught would come. Some people, such as Paul, did not walk with Jesus when He walked the earth. They came to believe after Jesus was crucified, resurrected and ascended into heaven. They clung to the very promises that Jesus proclaimed even when He was on the cross. They longed for the righteousness of God’s Kingdom to come into existence and transform the world into the vision of heaven that Jesus spoke of. Their hearts ached and their spirits groaned in desperate desire for this to happen. They hated the world as it had become.

Today, almost two thousand years since these words were written, the world is vastly different than it was then. Much has transpired resulting in far more troubling scenarios such as weapons of mass destruction, abortion on demand, terrorism, euthanasia, plagues, and an ever increasing frequency of natural disasters. As believers, we “know” that our hope is coming soon. We may not see this hope in the physical sense, but having hope requires a faith in things unseen.

If we only hoped for things that we could see, what would we be able to hope for, for the things that we see on a daily basis are firmly rooted in sin. I don’t know about you, but I long to place my hope in something far greater than what I can see, for what I see causes distress and my spirit to groan.

It is true that we are closer to seeing our hope than any other point in history. Each second brings us closer to the glorious return of our Lord and Savior, Jesus. This is my hope! This is my prayer! Each day I await for the fulfillment of my hope. I pray that I am able to await patiently.

Does your spirit groan at the things of this world? Do you await your hope?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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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.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What type of appetite do you have?

October 7, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The discerning heart seeks knowledge, but the mouth of a fool feeds on folly.
(Proverbs 15:14 (NIV))

Do you feel that you are good at discerning the truth, especially God’s truth?

One good way to truly know the correct answer to this question is to look at what your heart seeks. This can be easily determined by your answers to a few more questions.

What do you spend your money on?

What fills your free time?

Do you spend time daily in God’s word?

What do you and your friends do when you are together?

Do you have to change how you act when around people whom you know who are believers in Jesus?

Do you find any excuse that you can to avoid going to church?

Do you feel empty and unfulfilled when you don’t spend time with the Body of Christ?

I could probably keep going, but your answers to these questions will give you a good and truthful understanding of what you truly seek to fill your life with. Just as each of us have specific foods that we like, we also have specific things that we long to put into our lives. Some have an appetite for destruction. Some have an appetite for lust. For some people, it is greed, while for others it is drunkenness and debauchery. Human nature longs for things that always seem to lead to sin and destruction. We must overcome our sinful human nature and seek after God’s truth, wisdom and knowledge. We must cultivate an appetite for righteousness!

What type of appetite do you have?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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When was the last time that you truly prayed?

September 27, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

And foreigners who bind themselves to the LORD
      to serve him,
   to love the name of the LORD,
      and to worship him,
   all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it
      and who hold fast to my covenant–
these I will bring to my holy mountain
      and give them joy in my house of prayer.
   Their burnt offerings and sacrifices
      will be accepted on my altar;
   for my house will be called
      a house of prayer for all nations.
(Isaiah 56:6-7 (NIV))

For my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations!

When we, as believers go to our churches, what is it that we spend most of our time doing once we get there?

Chances are, if you are like most other congregations, you spend a good amount of time singing and an even larger amount of time hearing someone preach. Don’t take what I am about to say wrong, but, God did not say that His house was a house of singing or a house of preaching. It is a house of prayer. All throughout the Old Testament, we see God moving when His prophets prayed.

Jesus knew this principle. He became very angry when people turned the Temple into a place to make a profit.

“It is written,” he said to them, ” `My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a `den of robbers.’ “
(Matthew 21:13 (NIV))

Take a look at all of the great things that God accomplished through the apostles in Acts. Every time that one of these great works of God happened, you will find the words “they prayed.”

It is through prayer that God moves. It is through a fervent desire to see God move that He moves.

When was the last time that the Body of Christ got together in your church group and fervently prayed from the heart? Was it something that was so distressful that your very spirit cried out for God to intervene?

This is true prayer! When we turn to God out of a deep despair or desire, God will hear.

When was the last time that you truly prayed?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Think about who you pray for!

September 17, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, because I hear about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints. I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ. Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.
(Philemon 1:4-7 (NIV))

Paul wrote many letters of encouragement to believers throughout his traveling. Some of the letters even had to take on a tone of discipline in order to get people back on the right track. Most of the letters were letters of teaching and encouragement.

The words that Paul wrote in this letter are excellent commendations for a person who truly sought to know God and to do His Will. Still, do you notice that even though Paul commended him for his faith and his works, there is one thing that he did – Paul prayed for this person. Even though he was doing what God wanted him to do and was faithful in his helping others, Paul knew that even the most faithful need prayer to under gird them and protect them from the attacks of the enemy.

Who do you pray for? Is it only the people that you know are in need of something? What about the people who are pillars of faith in your community? Shouldn’t we do as Paul and pray for them? Satan does not leave believers alone. We have seen all too often that even the people whom we see as faithful can falter.

When we pray we must not forget the faithful who are diligent in doing the Will of God. We must pray that they do not face the attacks of the enemy and that they will not give in to temptation, for nothing pleases Satan more than knowing that someone who has been bought by the blood of Jesus Christ has fallen.

With this in mind, wouldn’t you want someone praying for you so that you don’t fall into temptation?

Think about who you pray for!

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