Have you made your move?

March 30, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Come near to God and he will come near to you.
(James 4:8a (NIV))

I am sure that you have heard that God is everywhere and that He will never leave you, so how do you understand and comprehend this passage? If He is everywhere, isn’t He already near us?

God is everywhere, but sadly, too few people realize that He will not force Himself on anyone. We have to turn to Him out of a choice that we make, especially since we, as humanity, chose to turn away from Him as a result of the fall from grace in the Garden of Eden. We thought that we had been given knowledge, but instead, we lost all hope. Until God sent His Son, Jesus, into the world to pay the penalty for sin and death, we only knew the wages of our sin even if we chose good. Thankfully, God had a plan that would bring an end to this.

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))

Each of us must make a decision to come near to God. This is only accomplished by believing in Jesus as God’s one and only Son. Through the gift of grace freely given on the cross, the veil that separated God from humanity has been torn in two. God had set in motion a plan to bring us back to Him and the veil symbolized that completion of that plan. Jesus declared this culmination of God’s redemptive plan with His final words.

When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
(John 19:30 (NIV))

God used these events to unfold His perfect plan to draw each of us near to Him. God may use circumstances to get our attention, but He cannot make the decision for us. Our families and friends cannot make the decision for us. We have to be willing to put aside our pride and move closer to God. When we make that move, we will find that He is already closer than we could ever imagine.

Have you made your move?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you returned to God with your heart?

March 10, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

“Even now,” declares the LORD,
    “return to me with all your heart,
    with fasting and weeping and mourning.”
Rend your heart
    and not your garments.
  Return to the LORD your God,
    for he is gracious and compassionate,
  slow to anger and abounding in love,
    and he relents from sending calamity.
(Joel 2:12-13 (NIV))

The words written long ago in the book of Joel still hold true to this very day. I imagine that they will be true until Jesus returns in triumph to the Mount of Olives. Only then, will it be too late for those who have made the wrong decision.

God wants us to turn from our sin and return to Him.

All too often, we do things that are extravagant in nature because we feel that we must do something of great magnitude, or great outward appearance, so that God will know that we mean it this time. Perhaps these acts are more for ourselves and our neighbors than they are for God, after all, God sees our hearts. He doesn’t need to see the flamboyant antics of someone who will break the promises that were just made. This is why we are told to “rend your heart,” for God sees the heart and He knows when it is truth. We can forever rend externally to ourselves and it will never have a lasting impact. When we rend our heart, it is the very center of our existence. We have made the decision to change from the inside out. Perhaps this is why Jesus spoke about what makes a man unclean.

He went on: “What comes out of a man is what makes him `unclean.’ For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man `unclean.’ “
(Mark 7:20-23 (NIV))

Have you taken that ultimate commitment to God? Have you internalized the change by changing your heart? Have you returned to God with your heart?

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

January 9, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

At once they left their nets and followed him.
(Matthew 4:20 (NIV))

When was the last time that you reacted immediately to a situation?

If you are like me, this probably doesn’t happen very often if at all. To be honest with you, most days I have trouble deciding what I want for dinner.

Each one of us who profess a faith in Jesus did not come to this decision as quickly as Peter and Andrew did. We had heard of Jesus most of our lives before we came to the decision to give our hearts to Jesus. Could we have and would we have been so quick to follow Jesus if He had appeared to us at our work and told us to follow Him? Would we have believed Him? Would we have left the comfort of what we knew and in an instant make a decision to leave it all behind and follow who in essence was a complete stranger? From a logical perspective, this sounds like lunacy. From a worldly perspective, it sounds like lunacy, but from a Godly perspective, it sounds like redemption, grace and salvation!

I have often wondered how I would have reacted if I were Peter or Andrew. Would I have been able to take that leap of faith? Would I have recognized that moment in time that would change my eternity? Would I have been able to place my trust in Jesus so quickly?

Think about that with respect to your life and how you came to faith in Jesus. Was it a well thought out decision or was it a quick and bold move? No matter how quickly the decision was made, the important truth is that you did make that decision. Even so, I want to give you something to think about. Peter gave his commitment “at once.” We do know that Peter was sometimes quick to do things, such as stepping out of the boat to walk on water. We also know that Peter vowed to never abandon Jesus, yet he denied Him three times. We also know that Jesus restored and forgave him. Perhaps Jesus saw something in Peter that is something that we should be willing to take hold of. Peter was willing to place his faith in Jesus even if he didn’t understand. He made the commitment and then relied on Jesus to see him through. We rely on our intellect to come to the decision and then we rely on our intellect to determine how we react. Is this really faith?

Are we able to decide at once to follow Jesus?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What is it that your life is recognized for?

November 5, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.
(Matthew 12:33 (NIV))

What is your favorite fruit? Is it apples? Perhaps it is pears. Some people love figs, while others love oranges. If you had a tree that gave you your favorite fruit, how would you care for that tree? If the tree began to rot, would the fruit still be as good?

Now, think of your life. What type of fruit does it produce? Each life produces something.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
(Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV))

The fruits of the Spirit also provide sweet nourishment. Someone who is loving and filled with joy will make the lives of others transform from the spiritual nourishment that they share. You life is the tree that produces that fruit.

If a tree is diseased, it cannot send the required nourishment and other resources to produce the fruit. The fruit will be small and will be lacking much when compared to fruit produced by a healthy tree. Consequently, how can your life produce healthy fruit if your life is diseased by sin? How can you produce enough love to share if you are callous and cold hearted? How can you produce joy if you are miserable and mean. Just as a tree can be diseased, a life can be diseased. Just as that disease will harm the fruit a tree produces, your disease that you carry within your life will also harm the fruit that you produce.

What makes us different from an actual tree is that we can make a decision to turn to the healing. We can turn to Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior. He will give us the grace and mercy that will allow our lives to be healed. He will restore that which the sin has destroyed. He will give us the desire to produce good fruit.

What is your favorite fruit? Is it love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness or self-control?

What is it that your life is recognized for?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is it your desire to persevere?

November 1, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.
(Hebrews 10:36 (NIV))

There is never a good time to give in to the ways of the world!

It is imperative that everyone who professes a faith in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior persevere to finish strongly. Do not let the sins of the world sneak up on you, distract you and make you lose sight of Jesus and what He has called you to. Accepting Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior does not prevent you from sinning. It also doesn’t give you permission to continue in your sin. Accepting Jesus means that you realize that you are a sinner in need of a Savior. Accepting Jesus means that you realize that you cannot escape the consequences of your sin on your own. Accepting Jesus means that you recognize the grace and mercy that God has freely given to those who will simply profess that Jesus is Lord! Accepting Jesus means that you recognize the authority that Jesus has as Lord of your life. Accepting Jesus means that you surrender to that authority. Accepting Jesus means that you turn away from your sin and follow Him!

That is the will of God!

Are you able to accept these conditions? Are you able to persevere in these conditions?

It might be easy to say that you believe, but do your actions reflect your words? Do you thoughts reflect your actions? If you are like me, human nature creeps in and we all do things that we wish we wouldn’t do. When these things happen, do you feel remorse? Do you regret the decisions that lead you to those actions? Do you fall on your knees in repentance?

Have you ever stopped to think about the relationship of repentance to perseverance?

I honestly believe that they go hand in hand, for without true repentance we would never be able to persevere. When we repent, we make a decision to make a course correction and get back to following Jesus. When we persevere, we simply repent and make course corrections all along the way until we get where the Lord leads. We don’t give up. We don’t give in to the sin. We keep our eyes focused on Jesus!

Is it your desire to persevere?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you come to your senses?

October 30, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!’
(Luke 15:17 (NIV))

We all know the story of the prodigal son. We look at it to symbolize the willingness of a loving heavenly Father to welcome us back with open arms. If that is how you understand the prodigal son, then you are correct, for that is exactly how God is, but . . .

It requires a decision on our part first!

It requires us to come to our senses and leave the life that left us in the sinful state that we find ourselves. It requires us to repent.

Repentance implies regret. It implies a sadness over previous actions, a resolution to change as you move forward and a humility to realize that you cannot change on your own. In essence, it means that you have decided to change directions. To most people, the concept of a complete U-turn comes to mind. This represents a complete change of heart and change of mind. When you earnestly repent, you have a realization that you have been wrong and that you wish to return to what is right. Some people would call this an ah-ha moment. I love the way that this passage describes this moment.

He came to his senses!

It is said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results. What is it about human nature that makes us think that we can do it our way and that our way is going to be better than God’s way? We continually walk away from God and expect our lives to be these pictures of perfection in which everything goes our way all of the time. We have been blinded by the lies of the enemy. We have bought into the picture of insanity that the enemy has painted. I want to tell you that the outcome will always be the same. The details may change, but the end result is a life of sin and loneliness far from the loving arms of the Father.

It is important that we come to our senses, leave our sin, and return to the Father. He is waiting!

Have you come to your senses?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have we switched from exposing to embracing darkness?

September 23, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.
(Ephesians 5:11 (NIV))

If we have expressed a faith in Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, we have made a commitment to repent of our sins and live life as an heir, as a son or daughter of God. We have made a decision to leave the darkness of our sins behind and embrace the light, the true Light.

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))

If you truly follow Jesus, you follow the light. You are called to embrace the light. Unfortunately, we have to overcome human nature even when we accept Jesus. We must be on our guard and make sure that those who embrace the darkness do not have any inroads into our lives.

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.
(John 3:19 (NIV))

Walking with Christ is not easy. Even those who profess a faith in Jesus have to repent on a daily basis. We have to keep our eyes focused on Jesus and fill our lives with His light so that the darkness has no opportunity to regain any hold upon our lives. We are to know the truth of God’s Word so well that we can see the subtle lies that the darkness uses. Today, our society seems to have started embracing the darkness. As members of the Body of Christ, we are called to be His light in a dark world. We are called to expose the darkness by shining His light in the midst of the darkness. Sadly, too many people who claim to be believers in Jesus are embracing the darkness because the darkness is claiming that God made us the way we are and if He made us, then the sin that we embrace is okay in the eyes of God.

Nothing could be further from the truth!

Jesus came to this world to give us freedom from sin. He did not come to give us freedom to sin!

Have we switched from exposing to embracing darkness?

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