Are you persecuted because of Jesus?

October 2, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
(Matthew 5:11 (NIV))

Is this the type of blessings that you signed up for?

There is a difference between worldly blessings and godly blessings. When the world attacks, we must remember that the enemy has control of the world at this time in history. We are at war! Does an army at war attack itself? The attacks fall on those whom the enemy feels are threats to its very existence. Do you profess the name of Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior? Do you share this faith with others? Do you spend time daily in God’s Word? Do you see the evil in the world and have a heavy heart because of all of the ungodly things that are occurring?

Are you taking a stand for Jesus?

If you aren’t being attacked by the enemy, it is time to reevaluate your faith. The enemy doesn’t see you as a threat to what he has planned. He doesn’t see you as a prayer warrior who has put on the full armor of God! If the enemy doesn’t see you as a threat, how does the Lord see you? Would He call you lukewarm like He called the church at Laodicea? Will He simply say He never knew you.

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))

Have we, as the Body of Christ, grown too comfortable with the world to the point that we would rather receive worldly blessings now instead of receiving heavenly blessings later? Do we fail to take a stand for Jesus because our faith isn’t strong enough or do we simply want the worldly concept of instant gratification?

We must reevaluate our priorities and focus on eternity. This world is a sinful, fallen world that is rapidly declining. If we profess a faith in Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, then we must be prepared for the battle, for the war that is ensuing. Is you faith strong enough to face persecution from the enemy?

Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
(Matthew 5:12 (NIV))

Are you persecuted because of Jesus?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Will you take up your cross if it means your life?

May 26, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

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))

Do you think of yourself as a disciple of Jesus?

Everyone who professes a faith in Jesus likes to think that they are a disciple, but are we, are you, ready to truly take up our cross?

Each one of us will face a different path as we walk out our lives in faith. It is possible that no two individuals will carry the exact same burden when they carry their cross, but we do know that all of us carry something through life. We either choose to carry our cross or we carry the weight of the sin that we refuse to let go of. It is a choice that each of us must make.

Do you want to be a disciple of Jesus?

If the answer is yes, then that requires repenting of your sins and picking up the weight of your cross as you follow Jesus. Following Jesus is not an easy thing to do. You have changed, but the world around you has not. You have changed, but your friends will still try to get you to fall back into the very same sins that you want to leave behind. Following Jesus may mean that you lose friends. It may mean that you become alienated from family. It may mean a job loss, but it will mean so much more!

Believing in and following Jesus is the only way to the Father and all of the blessings that are promised.

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))

Each of us have a decision to make. What are we willing to lose when we take up our cross and follow Jesus?

Will you take up your cross if it means your life?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you desire to give God your best or your second best?

April 2, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

“Cursed is the cheat who has an acceptable male in his flock and vows to give it, but then sacrifices a blemished animal to the Lord. For I am a great king,” says the LORD Almighty, “and my name is to be feared among the nations.
(Malachi 1:14 (NIV))

Do you give your second best to God? Do you expect God to give you His best?

“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead?
(Luke 11:11 (NIV))

It is true that all of our righteousness is as filthy rags, but we often tend to make them even more filthy because we do not offer our very best to God. We offer Him the blemishes of our life and expect Him to take them as our very best. We, in turn, eagerly await God to grant us our every desire for His blessings to be poured out upon us. If we expect God to bestow His best upon us, we should desire to give God our very best in gratitude. Lets face it, our best is still so far inferior to the least that God could give us. If we simply desire to give God our best, then we will not only be doing what we should, but, we will probably be blessed as a result. Perhaps we should even consider this act as an act of generosity, for out of the desires of our hearts we give.

A generous man will prosper;
    he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.
(Proverbs 11:25 (NIV))

Perhaps we should even consider this act an act of faithful obedience. God is testing each of us to see what we are willing to give to Him so He will know what He can give to us. I would even venture to say that the story of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30 applies.

Do you desire to give God your best or your second best?

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

December 23, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
(Luke 2:8-14 (NIV))

What an honor it must have been to be the first to hear the good news! The shepherds must have been terrified by the presence of the angels, after all, angels were not, and are still not an every day occurrence.

Luckily for us, God’s plan does not discriminate against us for not being there. In fact, it is probably with mixed blessings that we are embraced as part of God’s Kingdom. We do not have the first hand experience of having seen the angels, the star, or Jesus’ life. Sometimes, I wonder if I would have believed if I lived at the time of Jesus!

On the other hand, we have the faith of millions of people who have gone before us. We have the New Testament, the hundreds of years of prophesy study that proves Jesus is King of kings, the Messiah. It may be easier for someone today to come to faith than it was in Jesus’ day. Yet, through all of this “historical proof”, I sometimes feel empty. I think it is the desire of every believer to be able to go back in time and be a witness to the miracles and hear the teachings of Jesus firsthand.

We celebrate the birth of Jesus and look back in awe to the miracles. At the same time, we should look around us in awe of what God is doing today and look to the not-to-distant future and know what God is going to do. We celebrate the First Coming. Some tomorrow we will celebrate the Second Coming.

Merry Christmas!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Is the Lord your shepherd?

December 2, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
Even 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.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
forever.
(Psalms 23:1-6 (NIV))

Have you ever truly looked at this passage in language that can make the Lord’s love personal? What if we paraphrase this passage to help us understand the personal relationship that the Lord desires with each of us and just what He will do for us when we accept His grace and mercy?

If I place my trust in Him, the Lord will be my personal shepherd and guide.
He will provide for all that I need.
He will give me peace and rest.
He will provide direction for my life.
He will provide complete restoration.
He will remove all fear and doubt.
He will provide comfort.
He will sustain us through the troubles of this world.
He will anoint us and bless us because we have placed our faith and trust in Him.
He will pour out His goodness and His love on us as we strive to follow Him.
He will provide us an eternal, permanent residence with Himself where all of the things previously mentioned will continue for all eternity!

I realize that this may sound like prosperity preaching, but it is far from that. What the Lord has promised us is mercy and grace. Through the gift of His Son Jesus, each of us have the opportunity to receive this wonderful gift and all of the blessings that have been promised. These gifts are not for the greedy, for all can possess them equally. These gifts are not for the cynic, for anyone who is a cynic has a hardened heart. These gifts are simply for anyone who will allow the Lord to soften their heart and show them that what they seek is only available through Him.

Do the things that David wrote of in this passage sound like something that you desire? All that you have to do is ask the Lord to be your shepherd!

Is the Lord your shepherd?

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

November 27, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
(1 Corinthians 11:23-26 (NIV))

What is your attitude when you partake of communion? Are you thankful for the blessings that you have been freely given through the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross? Do you stop and reflect upon just what that moment in time two thousands years ago means to you at this very moment?

If you stop to think about what we have been given through this event and the symbolic ritual, you would come to the realization that every day should be one of gratitude and thanksgiving. We have been granted the opportunity to escape the consequences of our sinful nature simply by accepting Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior.

Just as our traditional Thanksgiving meals are designed to fill our stomachs, we should look upon the meal of Christ’s body and blood as one that is designed to fill our spirits. We should be overjoyed with the bounty of grace and mercy that we partake of through the atoning sacrifice that Jesus made for us.

I challenge everyone to stop and reflect upon your life. What are you most thankful for? I earnestly pray that your priorities place God’s grace and mercy where it should be. When you sit down with family and friends this Thanksgiving, stop to think about what Jesus went through so that you can be shown grace and mercy.

Lift your thanks up to the Lord this Thanksgiving and every single day.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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You will find blessings when your journey is through!

September 20, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold. My feet have closely followed his steps; I have kept to his way without turning aside.
(Job 23:10-11 (NIV))

Job was tested to the limits of human understanding and tolerance. All throughout his ordeal, his friends kept trying to get him to turn away from God. Many of them even accused Job of doing something against God and his ordeal was a punishment.

Do you have any friends like that?

Maybe the term “friend” is not the best way to describe these type of people. A friend is one who always has your best interest at heart. They will do things for you that others will not. They will defend you when you need defending. They will stand by you in times of trouble. Did this happen with Job?

In his ordeal, Job knew in his heart that he had done nothing wrong in the eyes of God. He knew his own heart. He knew that what was happening was not of God. He knew that he was not going to waiver in his faith. He kept his eyes focused on the promise of a better tomorrow and a hope of redemption.

Have you ever felt like everything was against you even though you did what you knew to be the right thing? Stand firm in your faith just as Job did. Don’t allow the enemy to weaken you by the attacks that come your way. Keep your eyes focused on Jesus and allow His strength to carry you even when you feel that you cannot go on. Tomorrow is another day. It brings hope. It brings a new beginning. Placing your faith in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior also brings grace and mercy. Where there is grace and mercy, love abounds.

Stay close to the love of God and allow Him to guide your paths. Follow closely in His steps and do not turn aside.

You will find blessings when your journey is through!

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have we been singing well enough?

September 12, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Sing to the Lord, all the earth; proclaim his salvation day after day.
(1 Chronicles 16:23 (NIV))

Do you ever feel like you need to praise the Lord more than you do?

Sadly, if you are like me, the weight of the world closes in on us far too often and we quickly lose site of what is truly important in this world. We feel the pressures of our jobs and many other aspects of our daily lives. As a result, we soon forget to lift up praise to the Lord for all that He has done for us. It almost sounds like I am saying to give thanks for the pressures that we face. On the contrary! The pressures do not come from the Lord. They come from the enemy and he does all that he can to heap more and more on us in order to distract us from praising the Lord. When that happens, take heart and slow down. It is said that if you focus on your problems, you fail to recognize the blessings in your life. God designed His creation to remind us of Him. God’s creation praises His majesty through the beauty of what He has created. When we are too weak to praise the Lord, we just need to focus on the backing vocals that we have at our disposal. Shift your attention from your problems and allow God’s creation to remind you of just how great that He is!

When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:
“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”
“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”
(Luke 19:37-40 (NIV))

The enemy knows that the Lord is to be praised. He also knows that we are created to lift up the name of the Lord, so he does all that he can to prevent this. Thankfully, God’s creation will sing His praises when we don’t. We just need to make sure that we remember to pick back up in the next stanza of our lives and sing to the Lord for He is worthy of our praise!

Have we been singing well enough?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you shine with the ever increasing light of the Lord!

March 19, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.
(Proverbs 4:18 (NIV))

Have you ever sat outside and watched the sunrise?

With the sky still dark, you begin to see a glow on the eastern horizon. As the glow spreads, the darkness begins to subside. Soon, the sun breaks the horizon line and the sky grows lighter and lighter as it chases away the shadows of the night. Soon, the sun has completely broken free of the horizon and the morning light takes on a golden glow as it passes through the trees. It’s as if the new day is being blessed with God’s radiance. As the sun climbs higher into the sky, the shadows decrease even further and the warmth of the sun causes everyone to lift their faces to greet the blessings that God has freely given. As the day progresses, the darkness is completely chased away from anyplace that the sun reaches. The only places that it is not capable of reaching are the recesses of the deepest, darkest places on earth. Everywhere that it does reach, it brings warmth, hope and life!

Is this how you see yourself?

Is this what you allow your faith, your righteousness, to do each day as you go about in the world?

Do you shine brighter for the Lord each day than you did the day before?

Does your righteousness and faith break the boundaries of the darkness? Does it chase away the shadows of the night? Does it bless with God’s radiance? Does it cause everyone to lift their faces to the Lord? Does it spread the warmth, hope and life that comes only from the Lord?

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.
(Matthew 5:14-15 (NIV))

Do you shine with the ever increasing light of the Lord!

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you trust in God’s plans?

January 18, 2018

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
(Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV))

Did you have your life planned out?

How did that work out for you?

Almost everyone quotes this passage when they think of the blessings of God in their lives, but almost everyone fails to recognize one key piece of information about this passage. They forget the context in which it was delivered!

This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place.
(Jeremiah 29:10 (NIV))

Years prior to these words being recorded, most of the people in Jerusalem were taken into captivity and taken to Babylon. God’s timing was to have the descendants leave Babylon and return to Jerusalem. God spoke these words to the complete group of people who would be fulfilling His will by returning to Jerusalem, by returning to the city that God loves. It was God’s desire to prosper them so that they would not only have a hope and a future, but to be able to give a hope and a future to all of humanity through what would eventually transpire in and around Jerusalem.

I find it saddening that today’s prosperity oriented mindset reads these words and takes what God said to His people in exile and turns it into a promise to make us rich.

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

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 6:23 (NIV))

God had a plan to give us hope even when we were condemned in our sin and even when we were without hope. If we are all sinners and we deserve death, what type of a future do we have? God realized this and set things in motion to give us hope and a future. God knew that in order to fulfill His promises for this hope and future, He had to move the people back to Jerusalem. He had to set the plans in motion that would bring Jesus into the world. God’s plan was to give everyone a hope of overcoming death and a future in His presence.

Do you trust in God’s plans?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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