Is there a difference between gathering and assembling?

September 1, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
(Hebrews 10:25 (NIV))

It is amazing how subtle nuances in a translation can make something take on a completely different meaning. Since we have to rely on translations from the original Aramaic and Greek, the understanding of the full meanings of the original language and how it is translated into English can vary slightly. Each translation conveys the meaning, but sometimes the subtleties give a much better understanding of the depth of the original language. This is why I like to cross reference between many different translations to try and fully understand the intentions behind the words. This passage is an excellent example of just this.

What do you think of when you read the phrase “meeting together”? Do you simply think of a gathering of individuals that come together for a short time and then go their separate ways?

Now, let’s take this one step further and reference a different translation.

not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
(Hebrews 10:25 (NKJV))

What do you think of when you read the phrase “assembling of ourselves together”? Does this paint a mental picture of unity and purpose where people come together for a common goal?

I heard something today that brought these two phrases into a much better understanding. I think that this analogy will also paint a very interesting picture for you as well.

The example was of a watch. When you gather the components of a watch into one location, everything is there, yet it has no purpose. They are still just individual parts that do not work together. But, when those parts are assembled in the correct way, the result is a fully functioning time piece. Now, how does this apply to believers who simply gather together versus being assembled into a functioning body of believers? We, as the church, should be more than the sum of our individual parts. We should rely on the Lord to assemble us in such a way that we bring glory to Him by uniting in the task that we have been assigned.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
(Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV))

If all that we do is gather, then we are not fulfilling our calling. We must be willing to assemble!

Is there a difference between gathering and assembling?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Where do you find your heart?

August 14, 2020

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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))

With everything that is going on in the world right now, I have a question for you that will help determine your true treasure.

Do you long for the way things were last year this time, or do you long for Jesus?

Take a look back at this same time last year. I will admit that things were not as stressful and unusual then as they are now. Still, they were far from perfect. In fact, if you look back over the last several years, you will see that things have not gotten any better. The political landscape has changed in the last few years, and is focused on following Biblical principles, but it is also evident that the opposition to this change is doing all in its power to bring down anything related to God’s Word as well as anyone who supports it.

It is possible to become so overwhelmed by the ever increasing troubles in this world that we fail to see that God is moving in and through all of the troubles. Is your heart burdened and fearful? If you think about this in relationship to where your heart is, then it is easy to come to the conclusion that it is possible for us to treasure the pain of this world. Have we become addicted to the point that we sit waiting for the next new information on the latest troubles in this world?

Where’s the peace when we worry? Where’s the faith when we worry? Where is our treasure when we worry?

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
(Matthew 6:34 (NIV))

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:7 (NIV))

“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))

I have a favor to ask of everyone. It’s really quite simple. The next time that your heart becomes heavy because of the world, lift your eyes to heaven and remember that God is still on the throne. He is still in charge. Look to your eternal treasure and stay focused on Jesus!

Where do you find your heart?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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It is time to let your light shine!

July 29, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
(John 1:5 (NIV))

Do you believe these words?

With all that is going on in the world, do you believe these words?

With all of the evil that is rampant and when the good is vilified, do you believe these words?

It is so hard to look at the things that are happening in the world, and in our own country. It is as if the whole world has gone mad. It is as if the whole world is upside down. Darkness is spreading and it seems as if it can’t be stopped. To be completely honest with you, it cannot be stopped in the natural. It is a spiritual war and it has spilled over into the physical reality that we call the world. Because it is a spiritual war, we have hope. Because it is a spiritual war, we know the final outcome.

Darkness will not prevail!

Have you ever been in a room so dark that you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face? What happens when you are able to light a small candle? The light from the candle prevails over the darkness. No matter how dark something may seem, it only takes a little light to bring hope. It only takes a little light to bring clarity and vision.

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
(John 8:12 (NIV))

Perhaps this is why the powers that be want to remove any and all reference to Jesus. They are trying to remove the light. Perhaps this is why the powers that be want to push other beliefs. These beliefs are contrary to Jesus and are darkness. Contrary to what the enemy may think, darkness cannot drive out light. It can make it grow dim, but it cannot engulf the light. Light will prevail.

There are many books and passages in the Bible that speak of terrible times when the darkness will try to overcome the light, but we, as the Body of Christ, know what happens in the end. We know that the light of Jesus will defeat the darkness. The darkness will not be able to overcome what God has planned.

Do you feel that you are overcome with the darkness that is all around?

“You are the light of the world. A city 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. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
(Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV))

As a member of the Body of Christ, it is time to let your light shine!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you called by His name?

July 15, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
(2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV))

It’s happened again! Or perhaps I should say that it is still happening. We can’t go a day without seeing something horrendous in the news. We can’t go a day without seeing the work of the enemy as he tries to divide us. We can’t go a day without seeing good being called evil and evil being called good.

I’m at a loss for words. All that I can do is feel the groanings of my spirit as it cries out to God. I honestly don’t know what the prayers from my spirit are saying. I just know that they are asking God to send His Spirit and bring peace to this troubled world. Still, in the midst of all that is happening, I know that everything is unfolding according to God’s perfect plan, even though all we see is chaos. I know that the enemy is not going to go quietly. His time is short and he knows it. We will see more evil arise. It is time that the Body of Christ unite and stand firm in our humility and in our prayers.

We must pray according to God’s Will. We must stand firm in our faith. We must also realize that this world is not our home. This world is sinful and will never be the world that we long for. The events that will lead to the fulfillment of the promises of an eternal home in paradise are unfolding. I realize that no one knows the day nor the hour, but I do believe that it will be sooner than the world thinks. All I know is that we, as the Body of Christ, should be praying for God’s perfect will. We should be praying for those who don’t know Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior.

In essence, if we are called by His name, we should be praying!

Are you called by His name?

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

July 14, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.
(Psalms 27:14 (NIV))

There is something about human nature that doesn’t like to wait!

Do you have the patience to wait? Do you know of anyone who has the patience to wait? Have you ever thought about this passage in that context?

God uses things that are contrary to the sinful, fallen world to bring people to Him, and this is no different. Since waiting goes against human nature especially since the fall from grace, perhaps God uses the concept of waiting to teach us and to explore our hearts. He uses waiting to see if we are willing to go against our sinful nature. Let’s face facts. Waiting is not easy! Is God using this to see who is willing to go the extra mile and deny themselves in order to spend time with Him?

Think about that from the standpoint that humanity likes instant gratification!

I am sure that when you were growing up, you were constantly told, “Good things come to those who wait.” What better thing is there than the Lord, our God? Is He worth waiting for? Is He worth going against the world in order to receive Him? What do we receive when we what for the Lord? We come away with a wonderful understanding of who He is. We come away with a thankful heart because of what He has done. We receive an eternity in His presence! I find these to be the ultimate good that I long for while I wait for the Lord.

Are you capable of waiting?

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

April 13, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.
(Matthew 28:6 (NIV))

Looking back at the last several weeks and what the whole world has endured, we need some good news!

There is no better news that we can receive than a heavenly announcement and acknowledgment that Jesus is alive!

When the angels announced that Jesus was not in the tomb, those who followed Jesus probably had been thinking prior to this announcement that their hopes had been shattered at the crucifixion. Can you imagine the joy that these words brought to them? They probably went from a feeling of despair and hopelessness to a feeling of jubilation and a peace that they did not understand.

What type of feelings have you experienced over the last several weeks? Be honest with yourself. Have you focused on the events of this world instead of focusing on God’s promises to those who love Him? If you have focused on God’s promises, I would venture to say that this Resurrection Sunday was probably a unique one as well as a blessed one. We may not have gathered in our church buildings to celebrate, but this reinforces the fact that buildings don’t make the church. People do!

Jesus came into the world to bring salvation to people, to individuals who would place their faith in Him. No matter how many people may be around you, in God’s plan, it doesn’t matter. He can call you in the middle of a large crowd or He can call you in the middle of a desert. If the world tries to keep His people from meeting together, then the Lord can meet with each one of us individually as He sees fit. This can only be done because we have placed our faith in His Son, Jesus, as our personal Lord and Savior. This only matters because of one very important piece of good news!

The grave could not hold Him!

The stone has been rolled away!

He defeated the power of sin and death!

There are many ways to express this absolute truth, but perhaps the one that is best is also the simplest.

Jesus is alive!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Does your life reflect your hope?

April 6, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
(Isaiah 40:31 (NIV))

We have been told in other Scripture passages that we would face troubles. We have been told that there would be people who would faint from the things that they would face. Ezekiel wrote about Babylon coming against Israel and what would happen.

And when they ask you, ‘Why are you groaning?’ you shall say, ‘Because of the news that is coming. Every heart will melt with fear and every hand go limp; every spirit will become faint and every leg will be wet with urine.’ It is coming! It will surely take place, declares the Sovereign Lord.”
(Ezekiel 21:7 (NIV))

We aren’t yet to the point that Luke writes of, but the description is of something that we don’t want to see.

People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken.
(Luke 21:26 (NIV))

We are facing worldwide troubles. I am certain that some people are in a state of panic and could very easily faint from fear. Others have a peace that passes understanding. We have a hope that brings about a renewed faith even in the face of adversity.

I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.
(Jeremiah 31:25 (NIV))

I love how the Lord tells us to place our hope in Him, and that He will give us strength so that we don’t grow faint. I did a search for the word “faint,” and I found that thirty-five of the returned passages in one translation are in the Old Testament. I find it interesting that the only passage that is in the New Testament in this translation is Luke 21:26. I love how after Jesus came to the earth to bring us hope and salvation, the only reference to fainting is of a future event and those who are fainting are those who do not know Jesus!

Do you know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior? Do you place your hope in Jesus as Lord?

Does your life reflect your hope?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Have you been strengthened?

March 27, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
(Isaiah 41:10 (NIV))

The circumstances may have changed from when this was originally recorded but the message is still the same.

Has there ever been a generation of humanity that did not need the assurance that is spoken in these words? Israel had Babylon. Skipping ahead to more recent times, the whole world had World War I and World War II. We have had terrorists and now we have a worldwide pandemic brought about by an enemy so small that it can’t be seen. We are told to not even get close to each other out of fear of spreading this contagion. It’s as if the enemy is trying harder and harder to make all of creation fear the glory of God’s creation. Now, just as it was all throughout history, humanity has faced things in this world that bring fear, but just as we were told in Isaiah, we have nothing to fear!

God had chosen the nation of Israel to bring forth His greatest promise. The enemy did all that he could to prevent that. Israel faced slavery in Egypt. Israel faced captivity by Babylon. They faced occupation by Roman armies. Even through all of this, and much more, God’s greatest promise, a savior, was fulfilled in Jesus. All along the way, God raised up individuals whom He used to remind the people to keep their eyes on Him, not to be afraid and to be confident of His strength. We are no different today. God is still raising up individuals to remind us of His promises and to not be afraid no matter what the enemy may send our way.

Right now, the enemy is working overtime. He knows that his time is short. He is doing all that he can to set the stage for his unholy trinity of the false prophet, the antichrist and himself. If you have professed a faith in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, then you have nothing to fear from what the world or the enemy may send your way. Through Jesus, we have been promised salvation from an eternity in hell and promised an eternal home in heaven with God the Father.

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.
(2 Corinthians 1:20 (NIV))

If we can count on all of God’s promises being fulfilled, why should we fear anything that the world or the enemy may send our way? When we begin to grow fearful, we must remember that the Lord of all creation has told us do not fear! This single fact should be enough to give us strength!

Have you been strengthened?

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

February 24, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
(John 14:12-14 (NIV))

Did these words hit you in the same way that they hit me?

Think about the concept that Jesus left us.

Those who have faith in Jesus will do what He did.

We will even do greater things than He did!

I don’t know about you, but I know myself all too well. I know what I have done. I know what I am capable of doing on my own, both good and bad. I know that I have good intentions, but the world always tries to slow me down or stop me. How can I do greater things than Jesus? How can I even do what Jesus did?

Do you find yourself thinking the same type of thoughts?

Faith is a funny thing. Without it, we have a tendency to say that we cannot achieve what we are called to do. When we take possession of a brand new faith, we think that we are able to do anything for God. As we “mature” in our faith, we seem to allow the world to creep back in and hold us back. Is this really a mature faith?

Take a look at the disciples. Take a look at John. Take a look at Paul. As each of these people matured in their faith, they grew bolder. They did not allow the world to hold them back. They went forward into the very heart of the battle for salvation. They did not back down. They did not slow down. They did not stop spreading the Gospel because it was not “politically correct.”

I honestly think that if we, the body of Christ, stood firm in our faith the way that the early church stood, then we could begin to say that with the power of the Holy Spirit within us, we are approaching the vision that Jesus had of those who have faith in Him. We could and should be doing what Jesus did.

And, since Jesus said it, I will stand firm on the words and say that we could and should be doing greater things than He did.

It is a matter of faith. It is a matter of a strong faith and not a sedate, “mature” faith.

How is your faith?

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