When you look at things, are they possible or impossible?

February 9, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
(Matthew 19:26 (NIV))

We like to take Matthew 19:26 out of context and apply it to whatever we may be facing that appears to be a no win situation. To be honest with you, nothing is impossible with God, so it is a good application. Still, we tend to overlook the original message.

This particular passage was directed at His disciples and it comes at the end of a discourse with a rich young man.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”
(Matthew 19:23-25 (NIV))

In case you didn’t catch the implication, Jesus was saying that salvation was only possible through God. Think about that for a moment. Each of us have something that we cherish. Each of us have something that we long to hold on to, that we don’t want to surrender. For some, it is money. For others, it may be power. For others, it may be any number of things. For this particular young man, it was his wealth. Jesus told him that it was necessary to surrender what he held dear to himself and choose to follow Jesus. I think that the disciples caught on to what Jesus was saying because they asked, “Who then can be saved?” The disciples knew human nature. They knew how difficult it is to surrender what is closest to your heart. They knew that it was and is a matter of priorities. They had made the choice to trade everything for the ultimate treasure.

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
(Matthew 13:44 (NIV))

Jesus let them know that a person cannot change their heart, but God can. God can take a cold and hardened heart and bring it back to life. God can take the “wealth” that a person holds dear and make it all look worthless in comparison to what He has to offer. If you think about this, Jesus also let us know that people are not in the business of saving each other. We don’t have the power or authority, but God does! How do you look at things, from your perspective or from God’s?

When you look at things, are they possible or impossible?

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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Are you able to discern the truth from the lies?

March 7, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
(1 Corinthians 13:11 (NIV))

I hear people say all the time that they are still a kid at heart. Think about that in relation to this passage. Do you still feel that you are a kid at heart?

He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
(Matthew 18:2-4 (NIV))

Does this passage from Matthew seem like it contradicts the passage from 1 Corinthians?

On the surface, they seem to be one of the things that too many people reference when they say that the Bible is full of contradictions. Are they really contradictions?

There are many aspects to being a child. Some are playfulness and silliness. How many of you would agree that as you grow older you stopped being as playful and as silly? You started to think differently and to see the world differently. In other words, you put away childish things and started looking at the world as a serious and dangerous place. It is not the world where your childhood imagination conjures up fantasy worlds of toys and unicorns. It is a place where these types of dreams, once looked upon as cute, will get you in trouble and lead to a life of problems.

Another aspect of childhood is innocence and trust. To some people, innocence and trust are just different words for childish silliness. Do you think like that? It is these characteristics that I believe Jesus was speaking of when He said that we need to come to Him like little children. Is this so silly of a notion?

Words have subtle nuances in meaning that are truly only understandable when you take things in complete context. Even today, calling someone childish paints a different image than saying someone is a trusting child. The first in intended as a derogatory cut while the second is a label of endearment. This is just one example of how knowing God’s Word can give you ammunition to explain to someone that the Bible is not full of contradictions. It takes faith and study to be able to truly discern what is truth and what is from the enemy.

Are you able to discern?

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you have a daily time to spend with God?

February 12, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

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

As I sit here exhausted, I realize just how easy it is to become so engrossed in the things of the world that we call our lives. It is so easy to let God slip to a second, third or even a fourth priority. The sad part about this when it happens is that we don’t realize that it is happening until it has already happened.

We need to establish something that becomes a constant in our lives. Something that we do on a daily basis that forces us to be still in the presence of God. This must be something that we do no matter whether we want to or not, no matter whether we feel that we can take a day off because no one will notice.

If you are reading this, then you are a part of my daily routine. I know that to many people the word routine signifies that you do something over and over again and get stuck in a rut. When you are studying and sharing God’s Word, you may be in a routine, but it is never a rut.

God’s Word is alive!

God shares His heart through His Word.

The trick is to be open and to not take things out of context. You must dive deep and explore the mysteries that God has in store for you. The Bible is called the Living Word for a reason. No matter where you are in your walk with God, there is something for you to learn. What I find so intriguing is that you can learn something from one passage and as you mature, you can learn something different from the same passage. This knowledge does not replace what you have learned before. It expands, it builds upon the previous knowledge to give you a deeper understanding.

I have been writing and sharing these devotionals since 1998. It is my routine. It is not my rut. I learn so much as I explore God’s Word and share it with you. It is my daily time to be still in the presence of God.

It is my prayer that each of you develop a routine in which you set aside time each day to spend in God’s presence.

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do we praise God like David did?

February 10, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the LORD’S name is to be praised.
(Psalms 113:3 (KJV))

I want you to think about this passage. Do you truly realize what it is saying?

Think about the time in history when this was written. Most people were up and working when the sun was coming up and most people went to bed with the sun going down. The sun actually reflected the waking hours of most people when this was written. Perhaps we should read it with a fresh perspective and a slightly paraphrased translation.

From the time that you wake up until the time that you go to sleep, praise God!

Doesn’t that make more sense to you as we place the passage in the context of our lives today?

I honestly believe that this is what David was telling us when he wrote this Psalm. We are to praise God with every waking breath that we take. We are to live our lives fully devoted to God. No wonder that David was known as a man after God’s own heart. He spent every waking moment in praise of the God that he longed to be with.

Can we honestly say the same about our praise?

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you believe that Jesus said this?

December 16, 2015

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?”
“Nothing,” they answered.

He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.
(Luke 22:35-36 (NIV))

How many of us choose to ignore these words spoken by Jesus?

Think about them in context.

We know that Jesus sent the disciples out with instructions to not take anything with them. They had obeyed and all returned. From the words that were written, they were successful in their endeavors.

This was before!

This was before the arrest. This was before the crucifixion. This was before the resurrection, and this was before the persecution that the disciples and the early believers were going to face.

What changed?

I honestly believe that the first time that Jesus sent out the disciples, it was a trial run. It was used to build their faith and trust that Jesus would provide. I believe that He sent them out as innocents to get their feet wet.

These words were spoken to the disciples right after Jesus told Peter that he would deny Jesus three times before the rooster crowed. In other words, Jesus was telling them that it was time to face the truth of the world. It was time to realize that the world, in its fallen state, is not a safe place and that they must take precautions to protect themselves. He did not tell them that He wouldn’t be with them, but He did tell them to be wise to the ways of the world and to arm themselves for their own protection.

I realize that many people will not like what I am saying, but we have to realize that Jesus gave us these instructions. Don’t get me wrong and start saying that I believe we need to be violent and warlike. That is far from the truth. What I am saying is that Jesus told His disciples to arm themselves for protection from the world. In other words, He was telling them to be alert and to be wise to the ways of the world. Not everyone shares the same values and beliefs as those who profess a faith in Jesus.

No matter how we are to be prepared in the physical world in which we live, we are also to be prepared in the spiritual world as well.

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. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
(Ephesians 6:10-18 (NIV))

Copyright 1998 – 2015 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you constant in your faith?

September 3, 2015

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.
(Matthew 19:29 (NIV))

There is a lot of talk about family values and the Judeao/ Christian ethic. Family values are fantastic if taken in context of what Jesus said. Jesus knew that there would be conflict within families due to His teachings. We must not waver from what He taught, but we must also realize that we, as believers, may have family who turn their backs on us because they do not understand. We must pray for them and continue to love them, but we must not compromise our faith in order to save family.

We must also remember this when people are speaking of tolerance and change. We must love the sinner but hate the sin. We must stand firm in our faith and not waiver for the sake of people. God will deal with them and touch them by our standing firm, not by our wavering.

Are you firm in your dealings with family and acquaintances when it comes to the teachings of Jesus?

Copyright 1998 – 2015 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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