Hold on to what you have!

July 11, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
(Revelation 3:11-13 (NIV))

Hold on to what you have!

Have you honestly given thought to what you do have? What was the first thing that came to mind when you read that question? Was it your home? Perhaps it was your car. Perhaps you are not as material obsessed and what you thought of was your family. Perhaps you even went to the point of thinking about your life and all that you have been blessed with.

Now, step back and take a look at all of these things through the eyes of God. Did He send Jesus to die on the cross so that you could have a nice home or a nice car? Did He send Jesus so that you could have a loving family? Do you honestly think that Jesus came so that you could live your life in any manner that you choose?

Jesus came to offer to us the most prized possession that we could ever be given. He came to offer us salvation from our sins and the laws of sin and death. If you profess Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, then that is what you have. It is a possession that cannot be taken away, but it can be relinquished by turning away. It can be lost by not recognizing the tricks and lies of the enemy and turning to these life robbing sins once more. Professing a belief in Jesus as your Lord and Savior is only the beginning. It is a starting point, but it is not the finish line of the race. Paul often spoke of faith in Jesus as a race, a race that we must not only start, but one that we must finish.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
(Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV))

We cannot sign up to run the race and then sit on the sidelines. We will not receive the prize. We must hold on to what we have. We must embrace what we have been given. We must not allow anything or anyone to keep us from the finish that will allow us to receive the prize.

Hold on to what you have!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Time to repent and turn toward the blessing!

July 5, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people he chose for his inheritance.
(Psalms 33:12 (NIV))

Our history is riddled with things that we should not be proud of, but is that a reason to not love our nation?

Think about that in terms of your families. Are they perfect? Do your children always do what you wish that they would do? Do you still love them even when they do something wrong?

Think about this in relationship to God’s love for us. Do we always do the right thing? Did that stop Him from sending Jesus to die for our sins so that we could have salvation?

Our nation is made up of people and not a single one of us is perfect.

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

We can’t expect something that is comprised of sinful people to be perfect. There is only one who is perfect! Only when we repent and turn to the Lord and keep His commands will we be blessed and guided by His hand. We have to choose to follow the Lord. We have to live our lives in a way that honors God. We have to decide individually and as a nation.

But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
(Joshua 24:15 (NIV))

Jesus came to set the captives free. He came to bring us true freedom – a freedom from the law of sin and death. That freedom is far greater than any worldly independence. We have the ability to have both. We have the ability to be free as individuals and as a nation. Both require one simple action on our part. We must individually accept Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior and we must, as a nation, turn to the Lord in repentance. Where are each of us personally in our acceptance? Where are we as a nation in our repentance?

Time to repent and turn toward the blessing!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What do you see being produced in your life?

May 30, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
(John 15:5 (NIV))

Sadly, too many people have twisted this concept around to mean that if you believe in Jesus, then you are surely to be blessed with worldly treasures and positions. This concept has slowly invaded our churches as many people flock to those who claim the fruit is of this world. The last time I read anything about fruit, it had nothing to do with riches or worldly attributes. If you stop to think about physical fruit, you think of a food group that doctors always tell us to eat more of. Fruit is healthy. Fruit builds you up. It helps to make you stronger, just as the fruit you will bear if you remain in Jesus!

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

Do you see anything in this passage that says that we will bear fortune or fame? Do you see anything in this passage that says that we will be promised worldly riches? God does not measure things as the world measures them. In fact, with recent history in mind, if the world claims that something is good, run as far and as fast as you can away from it, for it will be opposed to the true goodness that comes only from God. What the world claims as good is not healthy. It does not build you up. It only serves to destroy.

When you look at your life, what do you see? Perhaps I should ask this another way. When others look at your life, what do they see? Do they see love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control or do they see things of the world?

What do you see being produced in your life?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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The treasure is every moment spent with Jesus!

May 3, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
(Matthew 6:21 (NIV))

This has been several years ago, but I still remind myself of the lesson learned. I had spent several months looking forward to my 30th high school reunion. Let’s face it, during high school you can’t imagine life without your friends. I was looking forward to seeing the people that I had spent so much time with and seeing what they had done with their lives. It had become a priority for me. I was nervous and excited at the same time. It was a day that I had hoped would rekindle old friendships.

Unfortunately, the day came and went and I did not make it. My priorities shifted when my family and I got in the car to drive to Augusta for the reunion. Within five minutes after getting in the car, one of my children had a major meltdown and wanted to go home. I was furious. I kept hoping and praying that he would get over it, so we kept going. It just got worse. I finally and reluctantly turned the car around to go home. The twenty minute ride home was not a happy one for any of us. Fortunately, my son finally regained composure and apologized profusely. I didn’t want to hear it. I thought I had a right to be mad and I was going to exercise my right.

Once we did get home, the more I thought about the events, the worse I felt. I had made a commitment to my son to always help him and try to understand the issues that he faces. I had gotten so wrapped up in what I wanted to do that I had completely overlooked where my treasure truly is. I have been blessed with grace and mercy. I have been blessed with a wonderful family. I have been blessed with a son who, if it were humanly possible, I would take upon myself the very things that I had gotten mad about. I was not willing to extend the grace and mercy that I had been freely given.

I was looking towards my past. I was ignoring my present and my future. All I could see was a missed reunion with people from my past. They are not my life. They are a part of what made me who I am, but they are not still a part of me. My son, who will always be my son, will forever be a part of me. I was foolish to get angry. Even God tells us not to look to our past. He tells us not to look for Him in the past or in the future. He tells us to seek Him now. My treasure is my present moment. I may not have another one. I don’t need to dwell on the past or ignore the present because I spend so much time planning for my future.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
(John 10:10 (NIV))

I had allowed the thief to steal the day from me by planting a seed of anger. I had allowed that seed to be planted because I was dwelling on the past.

How can we have a full life if we dwell on the past or spend too much time looking to the future. Life is now! The treasure is every moment spent with Jesus!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you mourn for the world?

April 29, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
(Matthew 5:4 (NIV))

We are used to reading this passage and we think that we have a good understanding of its meaning, but I was recently presented something that made me expand my concept of mourning!

When we hear the word mourn, we automatically think of the feelings that we have as the direct result of the loss of a loved one, but perhaps we need to remember what makes the Lord mourn.

He despises sin. It breaks His heart to see His creation that He loves lost in their sin.

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, how do you think the Lord feels as this world spirals further and further away from Him and further and further into sin? If you are a parent, how would you feel if your children rejected you and all the love that you have for them in order to follow your worst enemy? That is exactly what we have done! We have broken the Lord’s heart! We have made Him mourn because of our actions. It is these very actions that we rejoice over and that we accept as good when at there very core, they are corrupt, vile and sinful. Those who know the Lord’s heart, grieve over what the world declares as good. We should mourn with the Lord, for what breaks His heart should break ours.

Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.
(John 16:20 (NIV))

Do you see the world rejoicing?

Are the things that the world rejoices over something that makes the Lord mourn? Are the things that are occurring in the world escalating more rapidly than ever before? Do you see the world as the Lord sees the world?

Do you mourn for the world?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is the Lord your shepherd?

April 24, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
(Psalms 23:1 (NIV))

When you translate anything from one language to another, there are subtle variations in words that the translator can select that can give you a different perspective or a fresh insight. Even when you have a group of people who all speak the same language and you ask them to describe something, you get as many variations in that description as there are people. This does not make any single person right and the rest wrong. It just means that everyone sees and understands things differently. A good example of this is the old tale about three blind men being introduced to an elephant. One person feels the power of a leg. One person feels the strength and agility of the trunk, and the other person comes away from the elephant only having had an interaction with the tail. None of them are wrong. They just came away with a limited comprehension of the truth. If you need another example of how different people can see the same thing and call it something different, all you have to do is consider the different names that people across the country give carbonated drinks.

The same is true when you look at the different translations of the Bible and how they handle different passages of scripture. One of my favorite passages is a good example of that.

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
(Psalms 46:10a (NIV))

In comparison, the New American Standard Bible translates the same passage in this manner.

Cease striving and know that I am God;
(Psalms 46:10a (NASB))

I love the concept of being still in the presence of God, but sometimes I have to be reminded that I need to cease striving and allow God to handle it. Neither concept is wrong. Today’s passage is another example of this. Here is another translation.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
(Psalms 23:1 (NIV))

Do the words “I shall not want” make you think of something different than the words “I lack nothing?” On the surface, they sound like they are conveying the same thing, but it is the subtleties that make you stop and reflect. It is the subtleties that make you stop and realize that the Lord has so much to say to us that our limited language cannot even begin to convey all that the Lord has for us. I love these sublties. Going back to Psalms 46:10, it is these sublties that make me stop and ask the Lord exactly what He is wanting to say to me. I have found that being inquisitive often leads to a deeper understanding. It is the subtleties that allow you to spend time getting to know the Lord and help you to understand His goodness!

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
(Psalms 34:8 (NIV))

Is the Lord your shepherd?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you proclaiming the blessed name of Jesus?

April 15, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,
    “Hosanna to the Son of David!”
    “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
    “Hosanna in the highest!”
(Matthew 21:9 (NIV))

I have read this passage many times, and I am fully aware of the events that led up to this as well as the events that follow. We, as the Body of Christ, have the good fortune to be able to see these events in hindsight with a very good understanding of what was happening, but something caught my attention today that made me stop and think!

Let me explain.

We all know that Jesus split time. All that you have to do is take a look at our calendar to understand this concept.

B.C. and A.D. refer only to Jesus!

Before Jesus came into the world, we also had no opportunity for grace. We had no opportunity to be cleansed of our sins. During this time, those in the know were looking for a Savior to redeem us to God. They were looking for the Blessed One who would come in the name of the Lord! They were looking for the one whom the prophets foretold. Since Jesus has come into the world, lived, was crucified, dead and buried, and was resurrected on the third day, we have the glorious ability to call Jesus the Blessed One because He came in the name of the Lord. We have the ability to praise His name because He fulfilled everything that the prophets had foretold!

He now sits at the right hand of God, the Father, interceding for those who proclaim Him as their personal Lord and Savior!

The events that we refer to as Palm Sunday that are recorded in Matthew 21 show us the pivotal moment in which humanity crossed from looking for the one who would come in the name of the Lord to proclaiming the one who has come in the name of the Lord. Those who went before Him in the procession were announcing His coming just as the prophets had announced it. Those who followed after Him in the procession were proclaiming that He is here! That is a job that the Body of Christ should have been doing ever since this event. We should be shouting, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” We should be shouting, “Hosanna in the highest!” Jesus is Lord!

Are you proclaiming the blessed name of Jesus?

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