Are you able to share the Gospel with shrewdness and innocence?

October 29, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.
(Matthew 10:16 (NIV))

Have you truly stopped to think about this passage?

Each of us understand the concept of being sheep among wolves. If we follow the instructions that Jesus left for all believers, then we are in a constant state of perpetual danger. Just as a sheep may be devoured by the wolves, we, too, may be devoured by the enemy if we are not careful. The passage doesn’t say to stay away from danger! In fact, the passage clearly states that Jesus sent the disciples out, and just like the disciples, He is sending us as well.

Jesus did give us instructions. We are to be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.

It sounds fairly simple, but have you ever thought about what it takes to be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves?

I realize that everyone typically thinks of snakes in a deceitful way, but Jesus was telling us to use some of the characteristics of snakes when we are sharing the Gospel. What do you think of first when you think of a snake? Do you think of the possibility that a snake could be under foot at any moment? With this in mind, do you constantly look for snakes? Is that being shrewd on the part of the snake? Perhaps we should look at this from a different vantage point. Does a snake show itself openly or does it hide until the opportune time arises. If we are to be as shrewd as snakes, we should be among the danger, but not exposed to it. We should watch and wait. Just as a snake may not show itself to everyone, we may not be called to show ourselves to everyone at one moment. We should size up whom we should approach and then make our move to share the Gospel. We are to use wisdom and discernment!

Look at this concept from the missions of Paul. When he entered a town, many times he would find someone who was prominent in the town and present the Gospel to them. If he was able to convert them, it became easier to convert others. Paul was shrewd in his evangelism. He understood human nature. He knew that if he could convert a person with contacts, then others would follow. In today’s society, the concept is that we are teaching the teachers. Even in this shrewdness of plan, Paul never failed to walk innocently amongst those with whom he shared the gospel. He did not do anything to betray the trust of those with whom he shared. He did not have ulterior motives. He did not seek any of the trappings of the physical world.

Are you able to share the Gospel with shrewdness and innocence?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you been acting foolishly?

October 28, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The way of a fool seems right to him,
    but a wise man listens to advice.
A fool shows his annoyance at once,
    but a prudent man overlooks an insult.
(Proverbs 12:15-16 (NIV))

If everyone lived by this truth, the daytime television shows that thrive on fights and outbursts would soon go away. Unfortunately, instead of thinking first, many in our society seem to act first and never think. This often leads to disastrous results.

I hate to say this, but this current philosophy of society is even beginning to find its way into the church. Nothing seems to be off limits in the eyes of many people. I bet that you can easily recall the last time that you heard someone talking badly about the preacher because a Biblically based message stepped on someone’s toes. Instead of taking the words that God wrote, and the preacher delivered, as an instruction on how to change their life, someone took it as a personal attack by the preacher.

We must pray for our society. We must pray for our churches. We must pray for our families, and we must pray for ourselves. We must pray that we are given discernment so that we never become like the fool who shows his annoyance and his ignorance. We must pray that we never become self-righteous and indignant. We must pray that God grants us wisdom in all that we do.

There is an old saying that “It is better to be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.” Think about this the next time that something begins to annoy you.

keep your tongue from evil
    and your lips from speaking lies.
(Psalm 34:13 (NIV))

Focus on God’s Word. Meditate upon it. Let His Word become your words.

May my tongue sing of your word,
    for all your commands are righteous.
(Psalm 119:172 (NIV))

Have you been acting foolishly?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you understand real knowledge and wisdom?

October 4, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ;
(Philippians 1:9-10 (NIV))

Just what is real knowledge?

Several years, I went by my wife’s office only to find that her parking lot was roped off as a crime scene. This is where the police believe that a college professor parked while he went next door and killed his wife and two other people. This professor was supposed to possess knowledge. In fact, I understand that he was well respected in his field. Unfortunately, one moment of rash and erroneous decisions have made it so that he will never be able to practice his profession again. All of that knowledge and no outlet.

Human knowledge has its limitations. It has its errors in judgment and reasoning. It is flawed and no matter how much humanity claims that it can perfect human knowledge, there will always be circumstances that push us beyond our human ability to understand, reason and to respond.

All of us have become like one who is unclean,
      and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
   we all shrivel up like a leaf,
      and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
(Isaiah 64:16 (NIV))

With this truth before us, there is only one true knowledge. There is only one real knowledge. God is good and that Jesus Christ is His only begotten Son.

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))

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.
Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.
(John 1:1-5 (NIV))

When you gain knowledge, it is said that you are enlightened. Jesus is the light. Knowing Jesus and following Jesus will not result in senseless results of rash decisions based on false knowledge. Jesus will walk with you in all that you do. He will be with you. The knowledge of the Holy Trinity will be with you. He will give you wisdom. And, yes, there is a difference.

Do you know the real knowledge that God desires for you to know? Do you understand real knowledge and wisdom?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Pray to be able to avoid the fool and his folly!

July 24, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Better to meet a bear robbed of her cubs than a fool bent on folly.
(Proverbs 17:12 (NIV))

I’m sure that everyone understands the nature of the relationship between a mother and her children. If the children are threatened, the maternal instincts kick into high gear to the point that anything within striking distance is fair game. Couple that instinct with the size of a bear and the size of the claws and you have a very fierce and dangerous presence to contend with.

Do you find it interesting that this passage states that a fool is more dangerous?

What is your definition of a fool? What is God’s definition of a fool?

The fool says in his heart,
    “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, their deeds are vile;
    there is no one who does good.
(Psalms 14:1 (NIV))

Are you beginning to see that a fool is more dangerous than a bear?

Most people know enough to stay away from a bear, especially a mother bear who is protecting her cubs. The very physical presence tells you to stay clear. All it takes is just one look at the bear to assess the situation, but we don’t know that someone is a fool just by looking at them. We can’t tell the dangers that may be present because we cannot see the heart nor the mind. The surface situation is not a good indicator of the danger when someone practices deception and folly, for the deceit is hidden within. The true impact of the folly may not be made known until the damage is done.

Most of us are wise enough to stay away from danger that is obvious. God warns us to be wary of the dangers that are not obvious. Pray for discernment. Pray for wisdom. Pray for God’s insight into the hearts and minds of those whom you encounter. Pray to be able to avoid the fool and his folly!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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No matter what, the darkness will not win!

July 27, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
(John 1:5 (NIV))

I have a Bible app on my iPad that I use all the time. No matter what book, chapter and verse I may have been reading the last time I had it open, it always opens to the book of John, chapter 1. This has been going on for quite some time and I have been praying for discernment as to what God is trying to get me to know and understand.

Tonight was no different with respect to how the app opened. Once again, I started reading this chapter and asked God for wisdom and discernment. When I got to John 1:5, I froze with the following realization.

Many people believe that the enemy is increasing his boldness and his attacks. Once Jesus ascended, God sent the Holy Spirit to be with us and guide us. Another very important aspect of the power of the Holy Spirit is that He restrains the enemy. He restrains the darkness! The darkness appears to be increasing rapidly. There will come a day when the Holy Spirit will be removed and darkness will rule. I am not saying that the darkness will overcome the light. It is simply a matter of God saying enough is enough and removing the light. God will remove the restrainer! God will allow the world to have exactly what it wants.

That day is rapidly approaching. Darkness will never overcome the light, but the light can and will be removed. Many things point to that happening very soon. When the light is removed, where does that leave the Body of Christ? Where does that leave the church? Where does that leave you?

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.
(Matthew 5:14 (NIV))

If the Body of Christ is the light of the world and light cannot be hidden, how can darkness rule if the light is still here? I have never been someone who tries to find things that aren’t there or to try and fit something into what I see. I try to be a Berean. I study and search the scriptures. I will never set dates for what is written in God’s Word, but I feel something in my spirit. I feel a sense of urgency! Do you feel it?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Avoid the darkness and seek the Light!

July 28, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.
(Luke 12:3 (NIV))

It is so much better to simply tell the truth and be honest in your relationships, for we have been given insight as to what will happen if we fail to be honest. Things always come back to haunt us.

Sadly, I sit here contemplating the current state of affairs in this country with respect to politics. Unfortunately, what is happening in the political arena is also playing out in many aspects of our society. People are saying things and doing things that they never want to see the light of day. They want to keep them buried in the dark recesses of society where they can be ignored in hopes that the intentions play out as desired.

Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me!
(John 8:43-45 (NIV))

We have been warned about the lies of the enemy. Why do so many people still fall for the lies and feel that they need to spread them?

We, as the Body of Christ, must fall to our knees and pray that we can be given discernment. We must be able to tell the difference between the lies of the enemy and the truth as it comes from God. We must study God’s Word. We must feast on His Word.

Jesus answered, “It is written: `Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ”
(Matthew 4:4 (NIV))

If it comes from the mouth of God, then it is truth. God cannot lie. His Word is truth. He is truth. I will probably make some people mad with this next statement, but it is not intended as a political attack. If God’s Word is truth, perhaps that explains why some politicians refuse to acknowledge God’s Word.

Pray that we recognize the darkness and seek the light!

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you a walking contradiction?

August 21, 2015

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

LORD, who may dwell in your sanctuary?
Who may live on your holy hill?
He whose walk is blameless
and who does what is righteous,
who speaks the truth from his heart
and has no slander on his tongue,
who does his neighbor no wrong
and casts no slur on his fellowman,
who despises a vile man
but honors those who fear the LORD,
who keeps his oath
even when it hurts,
who lends his money without usury
and does not accept a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things
will never be shaken.
(Psalms 15:1-5 (NIV))

If these do not offer great insight into how we should live, then I don’t know what does. These verses tell us exactly how we should live each and every day. In other words, we should treat each other as we would want to be treated. We should love each other as we would want to be loved. We should turn our eyes toward the things that are of God and turn away from things of this world. We should read and study God’s Word so that we may be well prepared to react in a righteous manner.

And …

We should pray. We should pray for guidance. We should pray for discernment. We should pray for understanding. We should pray for wisdom. We should simply pray that we may lead our lives so that they are an example of God’s grace and mercy in all that we do. Perhaps St. Francis of Assisi stated it best when he said:

Preach always. When necessary, use words.
(St. Francis of Assisi)

Our lives are very visible signs of what we truly believe in. If we profess a faith yet do things that are opposite of those spoken of in the passage from Psalms, we preach something different with our actions than we do with our mouths. We send out contradictory messages. How can the world believe what we say when we do otherwise?

Are you a walking contradiction in the eyes of the world and of God?

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