There is no difference for we are all sinners!

September 28, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

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

Most, if not all who read this can quote this passage, and rightly so. It is a foundational passage that clearly states that everyone needs a savior. It stands on its own with this meaning clearly conveyed and understood, but, have you ever looked at the complete sentence that this passage is taken from?

There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
(Romans 3:22b-24 (NIV))

Does the complete sentence add anything to or detract anything from your understanding of this passage? In all honesty, it still means that we are all sinners in need of a savior, but it goes much deeper in explaining this need and how to overcome this need. When this was written, Gentiles were looked down upon by many Jewish people. They were looked upon as unclean. If you remember the amount of criticism that Paul received simply because he ate with Gentiles, then you will understand the time period. When this sentence starts by saying that there is no difference between Jew and Gentile, it literally broke the traditional way of thinking. It clearly states that the Jew is not better than the Gentile and the Gentile is not better than the Jew. Both are sinners in need of a Savior and that salvation and grace can only be found through Jesus.

This was a radical concept when this was written!

Have we taken this radical idea and whitewashed it? Have we, as the Body of Christ, as Gentiles, forgotten that we were looked down upon as unworthy to receive grace and salvation by the very people that God’s gift of grace and salvation was promised through? Have we become arrogant in our salvation while looking at others as unworthy? Perhaps we need to not just quote the excerpt, but the whole sentence. Perhaps we need to focus on the whole truth and not just what we today call sound bites.

There is no difference for we are all sinners!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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God is in the business of miracles!

September 22, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

They only heard the report: “The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” And they praised God because of me.
(Galatians 1:23-24 (NIV))

We all know someone who has lived a life completely contrary to God’s Word. In fact, we probably all know someone who goes out of their way to torment, mock and ridicule anyone who professes a faith in Jesus. We have all heard of fairly recent professions of faith from very public people in entertainment. These are also people whom most of us would never have thought it possible for such as change.

What is your reaction when you hear of someone like that who suddenly starts sharing the very Gospel that they have mocked in the past? Do you find yourself saying things like it must be a publicity stunt? Do you find yourself thinking that it must be a facade and that they are up to something? Why do we, as the Body of Christ, pass judgment on those who have made such as drastic change in their lives? I realize that human nature is skeptical, and sometimes it is warranted, but how often do we do tremendous harm to the faith of a new believer because of our failure to accept that someone could have such a drastic change of heart? How long would Paul have put up with people with this type of attitude? How long would God have put up with this type of attitude toward Paul?

I pray that we learn a lesson from this passage and learn to praise God for working in the lives of those whom we thought were beyond reach. Think about this next question for a moment. How many people did you surprise when they found out that you had accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior?

We need to learn to praise God when He reaches someone whom we thought was completely lost, after all, God is in the business of miracles!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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The Good News of Jesus is for all people!

September 15, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

In the last days, God says,
    I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
    your young men will see visions,
    your old men will dream dreams.
Even on my servants, both men and women,
    I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
    and they will prophesy.
I will show wonders in the heavens above
    and signs on the earth below,
    blood and fire and billows of smoke.
The sun will be turned to darkness
    and the moon to blood
    before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
And everyone who calls
    on the name of the Lord will be saved.
(Acts 2:17-21 (NIV))

On all people?

Not just believers?

I just watched a video from a pastor and he made a very interesting point that I hadn’t considered before. I believe that it may also be something that you may not have considered before.

In the last days, God says,
    I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
(Acts 2:17a (NIV))

Another translation says it like this.

And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God,
That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh;
(Acts 2:17a (NKJV))

Most people read this and we automatically assume that it means “on my people” or “on those who believe,” but it clearly states “on all people” or “on all flesh.” Think about this from God’s perspective. If He is trying to get the attention of the people of the world, why would He limit what He does to only those who call upon His Name? Why would God not try one last time to reach those who have rejected Him?

The pastor in the video made a very interesting comment about the number of nonbelievers who feel that something big is about to happen in the world. They see what is happening and they have a feeling that they can’t explain. As believers, we recognize that feeling as the prompting of the Holy Spirit, but for those who do not believe, they do not understand. All that they know is that a still, small voice is telling them that something big is about to unfold.

I don’t profess to know if this is true, after all, we are told that His ways are greater than our ways. All that I know is that we are seeing the whole world professing that something different is happening and the world will never be the same. All that I do know is that we, as the Body of Christ, should be witnessing to the world and explaining to them what we profess to believe, after all, the good news of Jesus is for all people!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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We need to live each day two ways!

September 7, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

“Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
(Acts 1:11 (NIV))

Have we forgotten this promise?

Too many people who profess a faith in Jesus look to Him as their Savior when they die and face eternity. This is a true depiction, but there is more. We are told that He will return at some point in history and those who are looking for Him will see Him return in the same way that He left.

Have you accepted this aspect of Jesus?

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
(2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV))

In other words, we can’t pick and choose what we believe and ignore the rest. We must accept the fact that He will return one day and it may be before we die!

Why do so many people who profess a faith in Jesus live as if He is not going to return? Why do so many ignore the promise that He will be seen again on this side of heaven? We, as the Body of Christ, seem to have the eternal aspects of our relationship with Jesus well in hand, after all, Jesus saves us from the one thing that we all fear. He offers eternal salvation which overcomes the fear of the unknown, the fear of death. But what about the authority of Jesus in this world and His return to defeat the enemy and establish that authority? Why do we ignore, why do we forget about that aspect of Jesus?

Do you look for His return? Do you long for Jesus to return for His church? Do you look up and pray to see His glory and majesty?

I am thankful that we have the assurance of our eternal salvation for when we face death, but I am also extremely thankful for the promise that Jesus will return. We live each day of our lives thankful for the one, but I offer that it is time that we learn to live in anticipation of the other. We must not surrender the one in order to accept the other.

We need to live each day two ways!

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

September 4, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.
(Romans 13:12 (NIV))

I’m feeling weary tonight!

I’m sure that you have felt this way at some point in this last year. There is more worldly uncertainty and pressure than any of us have ever experienced before. I don’t need to tell you that we are living in and through very unusual times. We are seeing good being called evil and evil being called good. We are seeing lawlessness. We are seeing saber rattling and wars. We are seeing peace treaties that are foretold in prophecy. We are seeing what the world labels as racial tensions. We are told that nation will rise against nation. The original Greek could actually be translated as ethnicity groups.

Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.
(Matthew 24:7 (NIV))

And the one thing that is on everyone’s mind, whether you believe that it is a true risk or greatly exaggerated, is COVID-19. I’ve even read that the suicide rate is up for a group of people that should know where to turn for their strength. Perhaps you have seen this as well. The reports are saying that pastors are committing suicide at an alarmingly high rate. Why has faith disappeared? Why are people who should be encouraging the Body of Christ to look up now doing such a thing as what is being reported? The Body of Christ should recognize the signs and dress for battle for our Savior will soon be here!

When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.
(Luke 21:28 (NIV))

With everything that is going on in the world, who can you turn to in order to get an unbiased and honest perspective on events? We are to look up! We are to keep our eyes focused on Jesus. We are to prepare for what is coming. We are to arm ourselves with His Word, for when we know God’s Word, we don’t lose site of the promises that God is unfolding before us.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
(Ephesians 6:10-17 (NIV))

Have you put on your armor?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you claim to be wise?

September 2, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil.
(Proverbs 3:7 (NIV))

Do you see any wisdom in the world?

Based on this passage, perhaps I should rephrase that question.

Do you see people shunning evil and fearing the Lord, or are they more interested in mocking and ridiculing the Lord and anyone who seeks to follow Him? Are these people trying to claim that they are wise? Contrary to what they may think, the Lord doesn’t agree.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
      and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
(Proverbs 9:10 (NIV))

The present state of the world reminds me of the parable of the wheat and the tares. The bad seed that produces the tares are those who do not fear the Lord. They are doing all that they can to disrupt God’s plans. We have known that this time would come. We have known what the people would be like who do not fear the Lord. They claim to be wise in their own eyes. They feel a false sense of self-worth. They feel that only they are right and anyone who doesn’t agree is an enemy.

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—
(2 Timothy 3:1-4 (NIV))

As members of the Body of Christ, we must pray that we not fall into the traps that the enemy has set. We must fear the Lord and shun all evil. We must not think that we are more than we are – filthy rags.

Do you claim to be wise?

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

August 25, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
(Colossians 3:12 (NIV))

Is it just me, or do these sound very similar to something else that we are told about?

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))

We are to clothe, or cover, ourselves with these traits. We, as the Body of Christ, are to strive to live our lives in such a way that we shine the light of Jesus in our circle of influence. When the world shows us sexual immorality, idolatry, hatred, jealousy, rage, selfish ambition, envy and drunkenness, we are to show them the light and love of Jesus.

I want you to think of this in relationship to putting on the full armor of God. Nobody puts on armor without clothing themselves with the proper attire beforehand. We must prepare ourselves with the correct attire before put on the armor and before we are truly prepared to go into battle for the Lord. We do battle against the enemy because we love the light. We do battle against the enemy because we long to see his captives set free. We are former prisoners and must clothe ourselves with compassion for the lost, kindness to the sinner, humility to the enemy, gentleness and patience with the captives as we share the good news of salvation. Without these as a proper foundation, are we truly able to put on the full armor of God?

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
(Ephesians 6:10-17 (NIV))

There are certain seasons of the year where it is recommended to dress in layers. We are in a season where we must spiritually dress in layers, starting with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Once we are clothed in these, we will be better prepared to add armor!

What are you clothed in?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you gaining perseverance?

August 18, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
(James 1:2-3 (NIV))

This has been the year for trials!

How is your faith holding out? Are you worried or are you at peace?

It seems as if every day we are told of something new to be concerned about. In fact, if it weren’t so unusual and unpredictable, I would find it rather amusing. I’m sure that everyone has seen the memes on facebook that joke about what is going on. People are laughing at the current state of things because if they don’t laugh, they could possibly cry. I’m sure you’ve seen things that you agree with, such as a rating for 2020 at only 1 star and a “Do not recommend” comment. Or perhaps you have seen things where people are asking if we skipped the murder hornets. Have you seen the one where they claim that 2020 is the new curse word?

It seems as if every time we turn around there is something new. Have you been able to stand firm in your faith during all of the events of this year? What does your faith tell you about the near future? Do you feel the Holy Spirit telling you anything about what we are going through?

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.
(2 Timothy 3:1 (NIV))

Are you prepared for whatever may come? Are you able to stand firm? Are you able to face tomorrow knowing that your faith in Jesus as the Lord and Savior is what will see you through? I’m sure that you have heard the expression thick skinned. We, as the Body of Christ, must be thick skinned when it comes to the sinful, fallen world around us. We must realize that this is not our home. We are only here for a little while and then we will be with the Lord. We must never take our eyes off of Jesus. We must not allow the attacks, trials and testings from the enemy make us swerve to the right or to the left. We must persevere!

Are you gaining perseverance?

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

August 7, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

“And it shall come to pass afterward
That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your old men shall dream dreams,
Your young men shall see visions.
(Joel 2:28 (NKJV))

I have a list of sites and people that I monitor in addition to reading and studying, and all of the sites seem to be exploding with content about people who are having dreams and visions. I have not seen anything like this in the twenty plus years that I have been reading, studying and writing. It is as if the flood gates have opened!

I am seeing things from very well known individuals in the Body of Christ who are talking about recent experiences and dreams that they have had. I also see countless ones from people who are not well known, but have been given a glimpse of something that is beyond their understanding.

What do you think about dreams and visions?

Do you believe that the Lord will do, and possibly is doing at this time, things written of in Joel?

We have evidence all throughout the Bible that God uses dreams to communicate with people. If we say that we believe the Bible, then why do so many people laugh at the idea that God uses dreams today? Why do so many people who profess a faith in Jesus ridicule those who have the faith to step forward and share what they have seen?

Have you ever had a dream or a vision that you feel was from the Lord?

What have you seen?

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