Are you fulfilling your duty?

October 15, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.
(Ecclesiastes 12:13 (NIV))

Do you fear God?

If you are anything like how the media portrays society, chances are that your answer is a no. However, if you are who the media and certain aspects of society target, then your answer is probably a yes. What we are seeing in society is a direct attack on anything godly, while anything that is ungodly is being touted as good. Is this fearing God? Is this keeping His commandments?

I see things in the news almost every day that make me realize that the concept of fearing God is no longer even on the minds of most people. I see things in public places that just a few years ago would have been considered shameful even in the privacy of one’s own home. Sadly, too many people who claim to be followers of Jesus are doing these things themselves. Is this fearing God? Is this following His commandments? Do they think that they get a free pass to continue to sin just because they claim to follow Jesus?

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 honestly don’t think that Jesus went around blatantly sinning. In fact, I know that he didn’t sin at all. If that is the case, then what makes so many people believe that Jesus will forgive them if they keep on sinning? All we have to do is remember what Jesus told the woman caught in adultery.

Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
(John 8:10-11 (NIV))

Jesus didn’t come into the world to condemn us. We do a fantastic job of that all by ourselves. He came for a much different reason.

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))

It is apparent that those who do not fear God and keep His commandments love the darkness of their sin. Sadly, they are fulfilling their own evil desires that lead to death. All of us should strive to fulfill God’s desires. We should strive to fulfill our duty in this manner.

Are you fulfilling your duty?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What do you truly want?

September 30, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
(Psalms 23:1 (NASB))

Have you ever given any serious thought to the meaning of this passage?

Most people read this and take it to mean that anything that we could possibly want in this physical world is ours. Let’s take a step back and take a look at the word “want.” Our society has shifted the meaning of this word to mean something that we desire. We say things like, “I want a new car” or “I want a bigger house,” but is this the type of want that the Lord provides for? With this type of attitude, too many people fail to get what they want and, as a result, they fall away from faith. They misunderstand this passage and think that is means that the Lord our God is nothing more that a genie who is there to grant our every wish, our every desire. When this doesn’t happen, they falsely assume that since this isn’t true, nothing is true.

If this is your vision of God, then it makes sense why our society has become so self-centered and self-entitled.

If we look at this passage from the perspective and understanding of when it was written, we get a much clearer picture. A shepherd has multiple sheep under his care. He provides for the needs of the whole flock. He will lead them to green pastures for food. He will care for the sick. He will search for the lost. The shepherd makes sure that all under his care are protected from attack. The sheep know his voice and they follow him. They know and they trust him to provide for their needs both collectively and individually.

Did you pick up on that?

The shepherd provides for the needs of his flock. He does not provide for the selfish desires. The shepherd knows what is best for each sheep. He makes sure that each need is provided for. With this in mind, is wanting a bigger house a need or a selfish desire? For some people, it truly may be a need, while for others, it is a selfish desire. The Lord sees each of our needs and knows how best to provide for us. When David wrote these words, he understood this concept. He understood that the Lord, as his shepherd, was guiding his steps and that all of his needs would be provided for. David realized that everything was on the Lord’s timeframe and not his.

Sadly, our society has lost this understanding. We seek instant gratification in all aspects of our lives. We falsely believe that we can guide our own lives. We desire anything and everything under the sun, and sin runs rampant because we are so focused on the proverbial me, myself and I. Slow down and spend time in the Lord’s presence and you will begin to grasp the understanding that David had. The focus is not about us and our selfish desires. It is about the Lord’s plans and what is best for us.

I believe that it is time for us to reexamine what we truly want! What do you truly want?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Never stop rejoicing in the Lord!

August 28, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
(Philippians 4:4 (NIV))

What brings joy and great delight in your life?

There are many things in this life that we can and should be thankful for, such as family, friends, laughter and love, but what is it that brings you joy? What brings you happiness beyond measure? If you have truly professed a faith in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, I can’t think of anything more appropriate that can bring joy and happiness beyond measure.

Think about that in relationship to the concept of grace and salvation!

Does spending eternity in the presence of the Lord make you joyful? There is really only one other option and it is not one that I want to even think about. Imagine an eternity of joy and praise when the other option is an eternity of separation from the Lord. The separation also brings eternal suffering and torment. I rejoice in the gift of salvation. There are days that things don’t go as I would have them to go, but we have been told we would have such days. We are to keep our eyes on 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))

Even with the not so good days on this earth, we know that something better is coming. We should never think of throwing our eternal future of grace away for something of this world that results in torment. I love the way that the psalmist expressed it.

Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
(Psalms 84:10 (NIV))

If being in the Lord’s presence for only one day is better than a thousand elsewhere, just imagine the joy that an eternity will bring. Does this make your heart jump for joy? Does this give you a fresh understanding of the last stanza of Amazing Grace by John Newton?

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’d first begun.

Are you fully prepared to never stop rejoicing in the Lord!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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This is the one test that you need to pass!

June 14, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you — unless, of course, you fail the test?
(2 Corinthians 13:5 (NIV))

This is one of those verses that most people wish that they could ignore!

No one likes to fail a test. Think about the implications of this concept of failing this test. This is not the only place where we hear that it is possible to fail in your faith. We are told that it is possible to do things in the name of Jesus, but not have a relationship with Jesus, to not have Jesus in your heart.

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 7:22-23 (NIV))

This goes hand in hand with the truth that you cannot earn salvation.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.
(Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV))

We must also come to the realization that there is a difference between doing work for the Lord and truly knowing the Lord. I can demonstrate this concept with a simple question about the people with whom you work. You may spend eight hours a day with them, but do you know their inner most secrets and desires? Do you know the pains that they feel and what causes them pain and what causes them joy? Doing work around the Lord does not draw you close to the Lord in exactly the same way as working with someone does not bring you close to them. That requires effort and intimacy that cannot be had when you are constantly doing.

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
(Luke 10:38-42 (NIV))

We must choose Jesus in all things in order to grow in intimacy with Jesus. The closer you draw to the Lord, the stronger your faith becomes. As your faith grows, your belief grows as well. When you believe and truly know the Lord, you desire to do things that will draw others to Him. These are the works that matter, for they are done out of a love of Jesus and not out of an effort to impress Jesus. It is a matter of perspective and priorities.

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. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
(John 14:12-13 (NIV))

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))

God does truly love the world! Have you allowed that love to permeate your life so that your life reflects the love of the Lord and not you?

This is the one test that you need to pass!

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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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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It is finished and grace is yours!

February 18, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth.
(Isaiah 53:7 (NAS))

Can you imagine being completely innocent of all charges against you, yet, because everyone else will benefit, you remain completely silent? This is a hard concept for any of us to fully grasp, yet, this is exactly what Jesus did for us! What is just as amazing is that God told this to Isaiah about seven hundred years before it actually happened!

Does this give you any indication of just how much God loves you? He had it planned for Jesus to come into this world and to be lead like a lamb to the slaughter for our benefit.

Jesus died for you and I!

If you had been the only person in history who needed salvation, Jesus would have suffered everything for you alone! He did it without a single complaint. We all have our families that we think we would face danger for, but it is never really certain. Jesus did this for all people who would ever live, and yet He did it for each of us individually.

Reflect on the meaning of this sacrifice and rejoice in the fact that it is finished and grace is yours.

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