Are you thoroughly equipped?

May 17, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
(2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV))

Do you have a favorite scripture passage? This passage is what many people refer to as a life verse and, if you are like me, it comes to mind many times a day. Most people have many different scripture passages that they also cling to for various reasons. These passages are important, but I have a serious question for you.

Are there passages of scripture, and perhaps even whole books within the Bible, that you find difficult to understand or that you even completely avoid? How can you put on the full armor of God if you ignore part of His Word? It can be very similar to the concept of being partially dressed for battle.

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.
(Ephesians 6:13-17 (NIV))

How well equipped would a soldier be if they only picked up a sword? How well equipped would a soldier be if they only grabbed their helmet? Even with today’s military weaponry, a soldier is not fully equipped with just a pistol!

How well equipped are we if we fail to read and follow some of God’s Word? What happens if I only choose to read the following passage?

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

I would miss out on so much, including the command to share what I know.

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
(Mark 16:15-16 (NIV))

God’s Word is precious. It is of great value. We must equip ourselves by embracing all of it.

Are you thoroughly equipped?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How are you known?

November 13, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
(John 13:35 (NIV))

After reading this passage, I have a very difficult question for you to consider!

Is there someone in the church that you do not love?

I started to ask this question using the following words. Is there someone in your church that you do not love? I quickly realized one thing that was drastically wrong with that wording, for it is not your church. It is not my church. It is THE church. It is the Body of Christ! It is not your body. It is not my body! We cannot claim ownership.

What we can claim, by the grace and mercy shown on the cross, is membership in the body!

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
(Romans 12″3-8 (NIV))

Do you hate your physical body?

We may have parts of our physical bodies that grow weak with age, but do we hate these parts? If we have a knee that can no longer support the weight that it once could, we do not inflict damage and hurt upon that knee. Do we hate the knee and reject it because it is not capable of doing what it once could? On the contrary, we bandage the knee. We treat the knee with care and sympathy. We do not inflict more pain and anguish upon it.

Why do we even think about doing this with other members of the Body of Christ? We should love each other just as Jesus has loved us! Do you wish to be known as the member of the Body who hates the knee?

How are you known?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you willing to forgive?

October 10, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
(Matthew 6:14-15 (NIV))

Most people like to ignore this passage because it is difficult to admit that grace received is based on grace that is given. We like to think that it is okay to withhold forgiveness to those who have wronged us. We like to think that we are above what others are called to do. Let’s be honest! Everyone is self-centered. Everyone is prideful. It is human nature to think that we are better than everyone else, and since we are better, then we don’t have to forgive others.

What if God had that attitude in dealing with us?

It would not be a pretty picture. In fact, if you think about this stipulation that we are forgiven in the same manner that we forgive, you begin to see that God is trying to make us realize that we are all in need of forgiveness. We need to forgive each other for the things that they have done to us. No one is perfect and it is impossible to live life without having someone sin against you. It is also impossible to live life without sinning against someone else. No one is perfect. No one is able to claim righteousness on their own.

Jesus taught on this concept many times.

Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.
(Matthew 18:32-35 (NIV))

Are you beginning to understand God’s heart and forgiveness? What is freely given to others is freely given to us!

Are you willing to forgive?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Has the Lord established your plans?

September 27, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.
(Proverbs 16:3 (NIV))

Why is it so difficult to turn your life over to someone else, even if that someone is the Creator of all things?

When each of us are just a single individual in the vastness of human history, why do we think that we are any different from anyone else? Why do we think that we can achieve what we want when others have not been able to do this? Why do we strive to be greater than our neighbors? Why do we strive to be greater than our friends? Why do we try to establish plans for ourselves without truly understanding who God is and who we are in His creation?

Human nature makes us look at life as if it is ours to do with as we please. We think that we can go here and there without any ramifications. We think that we are free to make decisions and then expect everything to turn out just as we planned. Have any of us truly ever asked God to tell us His reason, His purpose for creating us? Would you be surprised to find that you are racing down a path that you were never intended to travel?

God did create us to have free will. We do have the option of doing with our lives as we please, but how does that make you feel? Do you still have an emptiness inside? Do you feel as if your life has no purpose?

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

We all need to spend time in God’s presence. As we get to know God, He will give us insight into ourselves. He will give us insight into His plans for us. As we get to know God, we will find that we want to align our lives, we will want to commit whatever we do to the Lord. He will then establish His plans for our lives.

Has the Lord established your plans?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you truly able to be humble?

October 12, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
(James 4:10 (NIV))

Humility is a trait that is difficult for most people. To be honest with you, it is humility, or the lack of it, that caused Satan to rebel against God. It has been the proverbial thorn in the side of humanity ever since. To humble oneself requires a complete submission of yourself to the point where you are not proud, haughty, arrogant or assertive. In other words, to be humble means that you do not elevate yourself in words or deeds, but you simply live your life knowing that you are no better than other people.

Think about that concept in the light of the truth it contains.

God created all of us through the creation of Adam and Eve in the Garden. When Adam and Eve fell from grace, not a single one of us, their descendants, was spared from the consequences of that fall. We are all sinners. In the eyes of God, because of our sin, we are all the same. We are all equal. God loves each of us the same, yet, it is human nature to think that God loves us more than the next guy.

Can you look at yourself in the mirror and say that you think you are better than anyone else, or do you feel that nagging twinge of guilt when you honestly look deep inside?

I have asked this question before, and I will ask it again. What would your reaction be if, when you get to heaven, you find that Adolf Hitler had accepted Jesus as his personal Lord and Savior? Would you rejoice, or would you refuse to enter because you know that you were better than him? Would your reaction be evidence of humility?

I want you to take a look at this passage from the point of view of the person who most scholars believe wrote it: James, the brother of Jesus. How would you react to the crowds gathering around your brother and ignoring you? How would you react to the miracles that Jesus performed when you can’t even begin to do anything like them? How would you react to the crucifixion? How would you react to the resurrection? Would there be feelings of hatred? Would there be a crushed ego? Would there be guilt and shame, and would there be rejoicing? I find it interesting that the passage that instructs us to humble ourselves was written by someone who, from a worldly point of view, would have had to struggle to actually do that.

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are we capable of following instructions?

September 9, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil.
(1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 (NIV))

Four simple statements, yet, four very difficult things to truly do!

Human nature is a strange thing. We are rebellious by nature since the fall from grace. We have to do things our way and it is safe to safe that our way is not God’s way. Even after God sent His only begotten Son, Jesus, to redeem us through the cross, we still miss the mark. Even after Jesus told us that the Holy Spirit would be sent to us to guide us, we miss the mark, We don’t listen to the Holy Spirit. We quench the power of the Holy Spirit by doing things our way. God sent us prophets to instruct us and to tell us of His plans, but we treat this precious gift with contempt and unbelief. We are told to hold on to what is good, but we trade what God calls good for things that will decay and rust. We are told to reject every kind of evil, but we call evil good and good evil.

Do you ever get tired of being human in the sinful state that we call our lives? Do you long for complete redemption so that we will no longer be subject to the sinful nature? Until we are with Jesus, we will continue to fail miserably. Until Jesus gathers us unto Himself, we will fall short of God’s desires and our own. Until that day, keep your eyes focused on Jesus. Keep your heart focused on what is good and true. Pray for guidance and repent when you fail to follow God’s will and remember the things that we have been told.

Do not quench the Spirit!

Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all.

Hold on to what is good!

Reject every kind of evil!

It is my prayer that we are all up to the tasks before us.

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How can we overcome human nature?

September 7, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.
(Colossians 3:5-8 (NIV))

If you are like every single human that has ever lived, you probably read this and come to the conclusion that it would be easier to go live in a cave. The only problem with that approach is that it doesn’t solve the root problems that have plagued humanity since the fall from grace. We would still have our sinful nature, and our sinful nature would run rampant and unchecked in the solitude that we would run to. The solitude would take away the external stimulation, but the root cause would still be there.

On our own, we fail miserably at controlling our sinful nature. If we don’t live it out, we think about it. No one is capable of walking in righteousness because we are all sinners by nature.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
(Romans 3:23 (NIV))

We may be able to escape sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, but we will fail at anger, rage, malice, slander or filthy language. Living in a fallen world with a fallen, sinful nature doesn’t make it easy to walk in the ways that Jesus commands. If you are like me, you can look back on your day and see a multitude of events that you should have taken a different direction. Let’s face it, by the time you wake up, get ready and get out the door, you have probably done things that are better left unsaid. Then, there is the day at work or at school. How many incidents can you count from your last day at work or school? It also needs to be mentioned about family and friends. We seem to lash out at those we love the most. We take out the frustrations of the day on those we see at the end of the day.

I have come to the conclusion that being human is difficult!

We can’t do it on our own. We need help. We need someone to turn to. Someone who has inside track on the who, what, where, when, why and how of being human while still being righteous.

We need Jesus!

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you narrowed in on salvation?

August 25, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
(Matthew 7:13-14 (NIV))

Which is easier, entering through a narrow entrance that you have to squeeze through or a wide entrance with plenty of room?

Think back on all the things that you have or have done that are the most important to you. Did they come easy or did they take work and perseverance? I would venture to say that nothing in this life worth having actually came easy. Even your own salvation carried a heavy price. You did not pay that price. Jesus paid it for you. It was difficult to bear. We could not have bore that price. If you stop to think about it, it is probably safe to say that for each of us to accept that salvation also bore quite a heavy burden. It was difficult to face the realization and to admit that “I am a sinner and I need a savior.”

Do you remember when you came to that realization? It was probably the hardest thing to admit, yet, once it was done, the weight of the world was lifted off of your shoulders. You had made a conscious decision that you were no longer going to enter the rest of your life through the wide gate. You were going to enter through the narrow gate that God had set before you.

Has that decision led to a life that has been easy? Has society embraced your decision to abandon the wide gate that everybody uses? If you accept the principle that the physical world has corresponding counterparts in the spiritual world, then we must realize that nothing worth having spiritually will be easy. Satan does not want you to have the grace and the mercy that is offered through that narrow gate. He will fight to keep you from it. You must fight to stay within it.

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you accept the hard teachings?

July 25, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”
(John 6:60 (NIV))

We don’t have the market cornered today on not being able to accept some of the teachings of Jesus. Many of those who heard the words straight from Jesus had much difficulty with many of the teachings. Why should we think that we would be any different?

In any classroom or subject of study, there will always be certain concepts that are more difficult than others to understand, accept and apply. This is true no matter what the subject, whether it is algebra, philosophy, medicine, or religion. Each subject has concepts that are easily grasped and applied, and at the same time, each subject has concepts that are difficult to grasp and apply. If everything were easily mastered, we would not have the satisfaction of a job well done when we do master a particularly difficult task.

The same is true of the things that Jesus taught us. Some things we can accept and apply almost instantly, while others we would prefer to ignore. We must not ignore the difficult teachings. It is these teachings that help to mature us in our faith. Perhaps it is also a maturation of our intellect as well, for the wisdom that comes from mastery will often lead us to understand and apply even more difficult teachings.

It is human nature to want to shun the difficult. We often take the path of least resistance. What do we get for this lack of effort? We do not get what God wants us to get. The next time that our human nature takes over and we want to ignore the hard teachings, we must remind ourselves of the nature of God’s Word.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
(2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV))

Are you open to the hard teachings?

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you have trouble with your confession?

June 1, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.
(Matthew 10:32-33 (NKJV))

Have you ever stopped to truly reflect on this passage?

We know that if we confess that Jesus is our Lord and Savior before men, then Jesus will not deny us in heaven.

Do you have a difficult time confessing that Jesus is your Lord and Savior? Perhaps you have a few friends that you simply never mention Jesus when you are with them. Do the people that you work with even know that you profess a faith in Jesus? Are you too ashamed to even put a Christian emblem on your car?

We currently live in a nation where we might be looked at strangely for our faith, but we really don’t suffer any physical threats or death because we profess a faith in Jesus. At most, we might be called a few not so nice names. I find it all too sad that far too many people will not take the step of faith to publicly profess Jesus in relative safety. How can these same people think that if and when they will be put to the test of faith when it truly means something, they will respond with a boldness that they don’t have now? That happens when they are before a group of people who desire nothing more than to kill them if they profess Jesus?

Think about those questions and then think about this simple, yet true concept.

When you are learning anything in life, do you start off with the most difficult aspect or do you start off with something simple so that you can build up confidence? If you are five years old and want to play baseball, do you start off facing a pitcher who can throw 90 plus miles per hour, or do you start off hitting the ball off of a T?

How can we expect to profess Jesus when the enemy is coming at us at 90 miles per hour when we haven’t even been able to get to the point where we can profess Him in the safety of friends?

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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