Do you understand the mystery?

April 19, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great: He appeared in the flesh, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.
(1 Timothy 3:16 (NIV))

For many people, this is easily understood and makes perfect sense. To others, it is complete foolishness.

If you stop to think about the word foolishness, it means a ridiculous act or idea. Just what is so ridiculous about the idea of God as a loving creator? If God can create with words, why can’t His words reflect love and beauty? Why can’t they shine grace and mercy into a world that has fallen into sin and evil desires? Why is there such a mystery around the concept that God loves us enough to do something that will bring redemption to us?

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))

I once heard a story that puts a unique perspective to this!

A man who questioned the whole story of Jesus found himself out on his property during a bad snow storm. There was a huge flock of birds who were unable to fly away due to the weather. They were also freezing to death in the snow. He had a large barn so he went out to open the doors to let the birds go in, but no matter what he did, they would not go. He tried everything and still no luck in getting the birds to move. In desperation he thought, “If only I were a bird. I could lead them where they can find safety.” At that moment, he realized that this is what God had done. He became a man in order to show us the way to life! In an instant, he understood the mystery of God’s plan of salvation. It was not foolishness!

Do you understand the mystery?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What’s in your heart?

April 18, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
(Psalms 119:11 (NIV))

Everybody has something that they hide away. Some people will keep just about anything hidden in their hearts only to be let out when they think that no one is paying attention or when no one that they know will see. It is sad to see what some people will hide away. Greed, envy, lust and pride are just a few of the things that people will hide in order to avoid people seeing their sinful nature.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
(Matthew 6:21 (NIV))

I find it disheartening that what people hide in their hearts is actually what they treasure. How can anybody treasure greed, envy, lust or pride? In essence, I suppose that all of these actually reflect three people – me, myself and I! If you get right to the point, most things that people hide in their hearts are all centered around what they treasure most – themselves. Everything else is simply how to make themselves feel more important or superior to others. They simply try to fill the selfish void with worldly things.

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.
(Matthew 6:19-20 (NIV))

Human history is full of stories of how people have filled their hearts with the wrong things. We see how they sought to secure the worldly things to make the outward appearances match the inner desires. Some people have taken this to extremes with wars to expand kingdoms. Others are less domineering, yet, they still focus on the worldly that thief, moth and rust can take.

There is something so much better to hide in your heart!

Do you seek after God’s Word? Do you desire to fill your life with obedience to the Lord? Do you treasure every word that has been recorded in God’s Word? Do you love the truth? Do you hide God’s word in your heart? Think about that in relationship to the following passage.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
(John 1:14 (NIV))

Jesus is the Word made flesh!

Do you hide Jesus in your heart?

What’s in your heart?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What would Jesus do?

March 27, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.
(Romans 15:7 (NIV))

Have you ever stopped to ask yourself one simple but important question?

What if Jesus treated us the way that we treat each other?

If Jesus had decided that He didn’t want to come to earth because we are so different than the angels in heaven that He knew, where would we be? If Jesus had decided that He didn’t want anything to do with us because our life style was different than what God had commanded, where would we be? If Jesus had decided that humanity was not worth coming to earth to save, where would we be?

I could go on and on using every single reason that we offer up as an excuse to treat each other in ways that are less than what God desires, but I think that you can probably get the picture by now. Why do we treat each other, as members of the Body of Christ and potential members of the Body of Christ, with such contempt and callousness that we can’t even be recognized as followers of Jesus.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
(John 13:34-35 (NIV))

These words do not say that we are to love only those who look like us. They do not say that we are to love only those who have the same life style as us. They do not say that we are to love only those whom we deem to be worthy of our love. We are to love one another. There are no words in that statement that can be taken in any way, shape, form or fashion as an authorized limitation to whom we are to love.

What if Jesus had limited His love to only the nation of Israel? If that had been the case, the passages that we all know and love would not read as they do.

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))

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.
(Romans 1:16 (NIV))

If Jesus has accepted everyone through what He came to accomplish at the cross, then why do we have such a difficult time doing the same?

The next time that we have a moment where we want to shun someone, remember four simple words. What would Jesus do?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you planted seeds that will provide an increase?

March 20, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.
(John 12:23-26 (NIV))

The day is rapidly approaching when we celebrate the truth that Jesus spoke of. He willingly fell and died so that the seed of salvation could be planted. From that willing sacrifice, millions of people since then have reaped the fruits of that sacrifice as they multiply. Easter is the time that we celebrate that glorious gift of redemption and grace.

However, that seed does not stop there. Jesus planted the seed. Since that day, redemptive grace has sprouted from that seed. When a seed dies, it gives life to grow more seeds. When these seeds mature, they too will die to allow more seeds to grow. This cycle is how one can produce one hundred and one hundred can produce ten thousand. Each seed can bring forth other seeds to continue the work. Jesus planted the seed. Now it is our turn. By accepting the grace and mercy freely given at the cross, we become seeds. We have a small kernel of grace within us. We must allow that grace to produce.

I am not saying that we must physically die in order for that seed to produce. It is possible to die to self, to give up your desires, in order that God’s desires may be fulfilled. Just as Jesus obeyed God in order for His seed to produce, we must also be obedient so that our seed may produce.

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.
(John 14:12 (NIV))

I believe that we have been given instructions to do as Jesus did and produce many seeds.

Have your seeds been scattered in good soil?

Have you planted seeds that will provide an increase?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you find yourself groaning in your weakness?

March 14, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.
(Romans 8:26 (NIV))

Have you ever found yourself in a conversation and not know just how to say what you want to say? Perhaps you didn’t even know what to say, you just knew that you had a very strong opinion on the subject.

What do you find yourself doing in situations like this?

Do you through up your hands in frustration and let out an audible sigh? Do the people around you understand what you are attempting to express?

That is definitely a weakness of the human condition. We are often found without adequate words to express exactly what we want to express. When we simply can’t say what we want to say, we groan or sigh out of frustration. It’s too bad that we can’t be understood when we simply cannot verbalize what we feel.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was someone who could understand the groanings that we make when we can’t find the words to express ourselves?

I want you to consider something with respect to your relationship with God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
(Psalms 139:13 (NIV))

You are known intimately by the Lord. He understands you like no other. He understands the groanings of our spirit. He understands these groanings to be exactly what they are, for they are our desire to communicate concepts, emotions and desires that no earthly language is capable of communicating. We fail to be able to express our inner desires because we are a weak, sinful creation, but we still have the inherited memory of and a desire for a deeper communication with the Lord. Out of this weakness, our prayers are lifted up as groanings of the spirit.

Do you find yourself groaning in your weakness?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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I pray that this is what we truly want!

February 13, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
(Matthew 6:10 (NIV))

Everyone who professes a faith in Jesus knows these words as part of what we refer to as the Lord’s Prayer. Do we truly desire what we lift up with these words? Do we long for the Lord’s kingdom to come into the world, to enter into our lives, or do we want our will, our personal kingdom, to manifest itself in our lives?

Human nature, no matter how hard we try, always tries to put personal interest above all else. We all must face the truth. Each of us have had moments when we are reciting these words only to have our minds diverted by our own desires. Does this mean that we really don’t long for God’s kingdom or does it just show that even in our best moments, we are all creatures caught in the sinful natures that we long to leave behind?

When you experience one of these moments, and we all have them, do you regret the diversion from God’s Will to your will? Do you feel like Paul?

We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.
(Romans 7:14-15 (NIV))

I hate to say this, but I do this far more than I care to admit. In the time span of the last fifteen minutes, I have been distracted from my task far too many times. My thoughts wander. My attention shifts and my writing gets delayed. Even the disciples, who were asked to wait while Jesus went to pray in Gethsemane, could not avoid the pitfalls of the frailty that is humanity.

Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.
(Mark 14:38 (NIV))

Just because our human nature and our human frailties divert us should not be our main concern. What we should be concerned about is if we choose to never refocus on Jesus. We can repent and return to seeking God’s Will and His kingdom or we can choose to stay chasing the diversion. When we repent, we show what we truly want.

I pray that this is what we truly want!

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you find yourself among the scoffers?

January 31, 2018

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires.
(2 Peter 3:3 (NIV))

Just for the sake of clarity, the word “scoff” means to have contempt, to scorn or to mock. I realize that members of the Body of Christ are to be in the world, but we are not to be of the world. With this in mind, can any of us go through a single day without hearing about or witnessing firsthand the very things that we are told will happen toward God, Jesus and God’s word? Do we, as the Body of Christ, escape the mocking? Do we feel the urge to mock those who mock God or do we feel the need to pray for these individuals?

Think about that last question for a moment from the perspective of the cross.

When Jesus was arrested and scourged, the soldiers mocked Jesus. How did He respond? When He was taken to Pilate, the crowds mocked Him. How did He respond? When He was hung upon the cross, the soldiers, the crowd and one of the thieves mocked Him. How did He respond?

When we are under attack, it is so easy to fall back upon our human nature and lash out at those who are attacking us. Did Jesus do this in any of the previously mentioned situations? If we all agree that Jesus lived a perfect life as an example for how we should live, what do His actions during these situations tell us about our own lives?

What would Jesus do?

This phrase may be greatly over used, but it is valid in this situation. When we are facing hardship, when we are facing mocking, we must remember how we are to act. We are to follow the example that Jesus set before us.

You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.
(Matthew 5:38-40 (NIV))

Don’t allow the world to make you become as they are. Don’t allow the world to make you react, to make you mock and scoff at the things you know to be true. Keep your eyes focused on Jesus so that you don’t find yourself somewhere you don’t want to be.

Do you find yourself among the scoffers?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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