Have you gotten lost on a detour?

December 9, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
(John 14:6 (NIV))

According to the world, there are many different ways to get to heaven.

What do you believe? What do you know to be the truth? Do you believe that they are the same thing?

Each religion in the world professes that they have the only path to get to god. You will notice that I chose to use a little “g,” for the gods that they claim to be able to reach are not the God of the universe. Each religion sets out a path that you must follow to achieve a higher level. Everything that they claim gets you closer to their god is something that you must do, but our God, the God of the universe did something to reach us!

He sent His Word! He sent His only begotten Son.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
(John 1:1-5 (NIV))

Jesus came to shine the light!

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
(John 1:14 (NIV))

Jesus came as one of us, a living man of flesh. We can never be good enough. We can never earn our way to God. Because of this, God came to us! Jesus was sent by God, as God made man, to bring us back to Himself.

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))

The world tells us that we have to get better in order to see God. God tells us that He is better than the world. He has reached out to us to share His goodness, righteousness, mercy and grace. Personally, I know that I am not capable of anything on my own. I was drowning in a sea of sin. God reached out and rescued me. I didn’t have to rescue myself. Grace was and forever will be a gift. All that you have to do is accept it. If you are required to do something of your own strength, then you are on the wrong path.

Have you gotten lost on a detour?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you let the world know of your faith?

December 8, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.
(John 3:36 (NIV))

With Christmas rapidly approaching, this passage puts a whole new spin and sad perspective on things for those who refuse to say “Merry Christmas.”

This celebration has been in effect for about two thousand years as a way for humanity to give thanks and to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It is true that the early church picked a day that had been a day of celebration for the “barbarian” tribes of Europe, but, even so, the celebration and the season has been Christmas for many more years than can actually be traced historically.

It is the time that we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Is it possible that the simple act of refusing to say “Merry Christmas” is an actual rejection of Jesus as told of in John 3:36?

Think about that.

These people who refuse to say “Merry Christmas” are still very willing to celebrate and some are even willing to be nice to those around them, yet, they reject the very reason that we celebrate.

I find it ironic that the very day that we, as the Body of Christ, celebrate the gift of grace, mercy and life, many people are taking a stand that may result in their loss of eternal life. I often wonder just how Satan managed to plant the seed within people to get them to refuse life.

Believing in the Son is rapidly becoming a dividing line. It appears as if the weeds are rapidly growing.

“The owner’s servants came to him and said, `Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’
” `An enemy did this,’ he replied.
     “The servants asked him, `Do you want us to go and pull them up?’
” `No,’ he answered, `because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’ “
(Matthew 13:27-30 (NIV))

Be sure to wish someone a Merry Christmas each and every day. If it isn’t Christmas time, tell them of the grace and mercy that Jesus brought to the world. Offer Jesus to everyone.

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.
(John 3:16 (NIV))

Do you let the world know of your faith?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What are you doing?

October 8, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
(John 14:12 (NIV))

I may offend a few people with today’s passage and thoughts. I pray that perhaps I will make you think about this passage and the things that we, as the Body of Christ, should be doing.

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.
(John 3:16-18 (NIV))

Do you believe in Jesus? Do you believe that Jesus is God’s one and only Son? Do you claim the gift of eternal life that this belief entitles you to? Sadly, that is where far too many people stop with their faith. They fail to respond by putting their faith into actions such as sharing the Gospel. We are called to go into all the world and preach the good news, but how many of us actually do anything for the Lord? How many of us read these passages that tell us that we have a responsibility and then simply choose to ignore them. What is recorded in John tells us that Jesus expects those who believe in Him to do what He spent His life doing. What is recorded tells us that He expects even greater things from us.

Are we living up to expectations?

We are not saved by works, but since we have been given the greatest gift that has ever been given, we should desire to share this gift with others. We should desire to do all that we can do to share the good news of Jesus!

What are you doing?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Who are your brother and sister?

September 23, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.
(1 John 4:20 (NIV))

I have often wondered how Jesus would answer someone if they had asked Him who is their brother or sister?

Perhaps Jesus would give an answer similar to the one He gave when He was asked what was the greatest commandment.

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
(Mark 12:29-31 (NIV))

Would He have answered with a parable similar to the Good Samaritan as He did when He was asked who is my neighbor? Jesus turned it around on the person who asked by telling the parable and then asked who he thought was a neighbor.

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
(Luke 10:37 (NIV))

Perhaps he would have answered similarly to when He was told His mother and brothers were outside and wanted to speak with Him.

He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”
(Matthew 12:48-50 (NIV))

Are we seeing a distinction between a neighbor and a brother? Are we being told to show love and mercy to our neighbors and to love those who do the will of His Father? Is there a difference between showing love and mercy to a neighbor and actually loving someone who is a member of the Body? This is a topic that will require much more than just a few paragraphs to bring to light. Suffice it to say that if someone calls upon Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior, they are a brother or a sister to anyone and everyone who also makes that same profession. We are to love them. We are also called to show love and mercy to those who are not part of the Body of Christ. If you stop to think about this last statement, perhaps the very love and mercy that you show will be what the Lord uses to reach their heart!

To play it safe, it sounds like we should show the love of Jesus to everyone. How can we claim to love God and still have hate in our hearts for anyone whom God loves?

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.
(John 3:16 (NIV))

Who are your brother and sister?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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How can we do any less than love?

September 18, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.
(Luke 6:27-31 (NIV))

At what point do you think that God allows us to stop loving our enemies?

And, yes, this could very easily be a trick question.

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.
(John 3:16 (NIV))

With that in mind, every single person is a loved child of God.

Does God stop loving? Does Jesus stop loving?

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
(1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV))

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
(1 Peter 4:8 NIV))

Love is a powerful force. It can turn an enemy into a brother. It can turn a foe into a friend. It can restore relationships that seem to be lost. It can bring healing and wholeness.

Do you remember the words that Jesus spoke on the cross?

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
(Luke 23:34 (NIV))

If Jesus can pronounce forgiveness and love after suffering what He suffered on the cross, how can we do any less?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Lord, help me to overcome my unbelief!

September 16, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”
    “From childhood,” he answered. “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”
    ” `If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.”
    Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
(Mark 9:21-24 (NIV))

“Help me overcome my unbelief!”

We are promised eternal life, yet we do not believe.

We read about the miracles that He performed when He walked this earth, yet we do not believe.

We face situations in our lives where we don’t know where we got the strength to make it through, yet we do not believe.

What is it that makes us cross that line from lip service to true belief?

This man found it when he had lost all hope for saving his son from the demon possession. He had no place to turn but to Jesus. He turned to Jesus out of despair, but found a desire to overcome his unbelief.

Each of us come to Jesus in a slightly different manner, yet we all must come to this point in our relationship with Him. It is at this point where we look inward and realize that what we are is not what we want to be. We look at Jesus and realize that true belief in Him is our only way to salvation.

Jesus took this father’s request to help him overcome his unbelief and then granted him the single thing that brought him to Jesus. He cast out the demon from his son. Jesus made whole what the enemy had tried to steal. He took the faith that the father found and did just as is promised Matthew 17:20 – “He replied, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, `Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.

Nothing will be impossible with faith.

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
(Hebrews 11:1 (NIV))

Faith requires belief.

Lord, help me to overcome my unbelief!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do you have the faith to do something?

August 27, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

      What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
      But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”
      Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that–and shudder.
(James 2:14-19 (NIV))

We are told that we will be known by our fruit. What fruit do you bear?

We are told that we cannot earn our way to salvation through works. Does this mean that we do not do good works?

We are told that actions speak louder than words. Are you actions louder than a whisper?

Too many members of the Body of Christ cling to the notion that because we are saved by grace and that we are freed from the law of sin and death, we are also free from doing good works. Too many believe that since good works do not get you into heaven, they are not needed. Nothing could be farther from the truth!

Works without faith will not save us. Faith saves us. However, faith without works is not a true manifestation of faith. When we are fully aware of the grace that we have been given, we should fully desire to share that love and grace with all that we see. We should not simply sit upon our laurels and falsely profess that we have our salvation and the salvation of everyone else is not our responsibility.

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”
(Mark 16:15-18 (NIV))

Jesus gave us the responsibility.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said, “Action springs not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility.”

Are you ready to accept the responsibility that Jesus has given us?

Do you have the faith to do something?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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There is no fear for those who trust in Jesus!

August 19, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

I originally shared the following back in October, 2012. Since then, I think that you will agree with me that things have escalated and we need to keep our eyes focused on Jesus!

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
(2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (NIV))

I want you to read those words again.

I had to stop and read them again, and I was surprised at how much that I have taken these words for granted. These words jolted me back to reality.

I want you to be honest with yourself. Have the events of the world started to have an impact on your faith? Do you look upon what is going on and think that there is no way out of the problems that we see? Have you begun to feel the pressure? Have you felt despair and abandonment? Have you come close to having your faith destroyed by the events in this world?

It is so easy to feel all of these if you take your eyes off of Jesus.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
(John 16:33 (NIV))

Jesus gives us relief when we are pressed. He gives us hope when we are perplexed. He gives us someplace to take refuge when we are persecuted. He will not allow the enemy to destroy us.

If Jesus does all of this for us, then why do we still find ourselves fearful of what the world, and the enemy, throws at us?

Perhaps it is due to worldly examples that we have had with respect to trust. I know that it is difficult to trust if you have had that trust broken in the past. It is difficult to comprehend the unfailing love of Jesus if your experience with love has been bad. It is difficult to understand that Jesus will not abandon you if you have had people walk out on you in the past.

Sadly enough, far too many people find themselves in one, if not all, of these types of situations. Life can throw things at us that are difficult to comprehend and as a result, many project their worldly experiences and expectations upon Jesus. Let’s face reality. We are all human and are all sinners. Even those of us who have been fortunate to be around people whom they can trust, things happen. I suppose that many people unknowingly live by the motto, “Trust but verify.”

Jesus is not like that. He will never let you down. He will never abandon you. He is the Good Shepherd.

“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.
(John 3:16-17 (NIV))

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
(1 John 4:18 (NIV))

There is no fear for those who trust in Jesus!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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How is your confidence?

August 5, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
(Hebrews 4:16 (NIV))

Today is not the time to be timid with your faith!

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
(Hebrews 11:1 (NIV))

How is your confidence in what you profess to believe?

We are facing very unusual circumstances in today’s world. Many people believe that what we are seeing unfolding is what is foretold in the books of Revelation and Daniel. To be honest with you, there are so many evil things happening in the world during this time that it wouldn’t surprise me if we are seeing these things unfold. With this high possibility, I have one very important question for you to ask yourself.

If what we are seeing is what is foretold, will your confidence and faith bring you grace and mercy?

We have been given a blessed hope. That hope is firmly rooted in Jesus as our Lord and Savior. We know that God has a plan of salvation. We know that God has a plan to defeat the enemy. We know how God’s plan unfolds, yet we fail to see the signs that say that it is unfolding.

He replied, “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.
(Matthew 16:2-3 (NIV))

All through out this unusual year, I have heard numerous believers say that they wish things would get back to normal. They are planning for a return to what we used to know. They are either overlooking the idea that they will not return because they love the way things used to be more than they love the Lord, or they are too afraid to admit that they don’t know enough about what the Lord has told us. Either way, they are looking at the world and placing their hope in man and the creation instead of placing their hope and confidence in the Creator.

We have been given an insight. We know who wins. We should be confident of that as we face the hours, days and months ahead. There is a saying that comes to mind. “I don’t know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future.” As we face the future, we must face it with confidence in the One who holds the future.

How is your confidence?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Who do you say that Jesus is?

July 23, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
(Matthew 16:15-16 (NIV))

What about you?

Have you truly given thought to the question that Jesus asked Peter? Have you proclaimed your answer? Where you confident in your proclamation?

If the time comes that proclaiming an answer like Peter’s answer means that you will be killed, will you still boldly proclaim that Jesus is the Son of the living God?

My heart is heavy. I pray for those who have not, nor will not, proclaim that Jesus is their Lord and Savior. I suppose that having a heart after God’s heart means that your heart breaks when you see people who simply refuse to repent. All they have to do is accept the grace and mercy that is theirs through Jesus. Even without the current state of the world, we are not promised tomorrow. Our worldly existence could end with the very next heartbeat. If that were to be the case, are you confident of your eternal destination?

It is simple. It is a gift from God. All that we have to do is accept that gift by believing that Jesus is that gift!

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.
(John 3:16-18 (NIV))

What about you?

Who do you say that Jesus is?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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