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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Why are we drawn to return to our sin and slavery?

March 2, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
(Galatians 5:1 (NIV))

What is it about human nature that makes us return to something that we know we should leave behind? We have all been guilty of doing this very thing, and probably much more often than we care to admit. Apparently, human nature since the fall from grace has always had us doing what can only be called self destructive behavior. We know that we shouldn’t, but yet we do. This type of behavior has been pointed out many times, but probably the most accurate and disgusting is the following.

As a dog returns to its vomit,
so fools repeat their folly.
(Proverbs 26:11 (NIV))

As I stated previously, we all do it. Even the man who is credited with bringing the Gospel to the Gentiles fought this aspect in his own walk of faith. Paul was a very intelligent person, but yet he didn’t understand the self destructive nature that he fought against.

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
(Romans 7:15-20 (NIV))

This struggle that all of us face makes it clear why each of us are called to take up our cross daily. We are to deny that part of our human nature. We are to struggle with this sinful nature each and every time that it raises its ugly head in our lives. We are called to repent. Far too many people believe that this is a one-time occurrence, but it should be a daily attitude and activity. Do I even venture to say that, on some days, we may have to humble ourselves continually before the Lord and repent of our actions and our thoughts?

I know that we are a fallen creation, but I wish I had the magic answer as to why we return to our sin when we don’t want to. I wish I knew how to turn off that part of my life so that I never take my eyes off of Jesus. Just like Paul, I find myself doing the very things that I hate! I don’t know why! I long to do only what is good and righteous, yet on my own, this is not possible. I just know that we must be ready to fall on our knees whenever and wherever we may find yourself returning to our sin.

I want to leave you with one question that I hope you will take to heart.

Why are we drawn to return to our sin and slavery?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you ready and able to stand?

February 19, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

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.
(Ephesians 6:12-13 (NIV))

This is so hard to remember when we are faced with trials and tribulations from all sides. Sometimes it even feels that all that we do is thwarted by an unseen enemy who hates what we love.

Wait a minute!

That sounds just like Satan and he does hate what we love.

And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down–that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.
(Revelation 12:7-9 (NIV))

Because of his rebellion against God, he and his fallen angels have been cast out of heaven. They hate God and desire nothing more than to usurp God’s authority. That is what happened when Adam and Eve allowed Satan to become the prince of this world. Our ancestors legally gave the authority that God gave them to Satan. Satan and his followers work in the shadows to deceive and destroy all that is God’s creation and all who call upon the name of the Lord. Just like we cannot see God, we cannot see Satan, but we feel the effects of his wrath against those who love God.

There is constant warfare in the spiritual realm because of these events. What happens in the physical world is only a shadow of what happens in the spiritual realm.

We are at war!

Our enemy cannot be seen, but we can arm ourselves with God’s armor and we can overcome the enemy.

Are you prepared for the struggle? Are you focusing your battle tactics where they belong? Are you ready and able to stand?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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God’s love is not how the world loves!

February 13, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
(1 Corinthians 13:6-7 (NIV))

Does this sound like the world’s current definition of love?

Society has taken the concept of love and twisted it so far from how God defines love. According to God’s plan, love is sacrificial, but there are some overlooked aspects.

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))

We, as the intended recipients of God’s love, must be willing to walk away from our sin. We must be willing to embrace the truth, the only truth, that is God’s Word. Once we do, we are called to love as God loves, but that doesn’t mean that we condone the sin and the evil in people. I realize that this is often overused, but there is an old saying that, “We are to love the sinner and hate the sin.” Think about that in relation to the following example.

You are a parent who has a child that is involved in things that could get them in trouble with the law. Which of the following options shows true love? Do you overlook these actions because you say that you love them and you don’t want to interfere with their life, or do you try to make them change their life so that they don’t face any consequences from their activities? The first option actually shows that you don’t care enough to take action to prevent something bad. It may appear that you love them in the present, but you don’t love them enough to take action so that they will have a better tomorrow. Love sometimes has to be tough! As a parent, you have to stand in the gap and fight for the well being of your family so that they have a life that is not a result of bad decisions.

Put this into perspective by changing the scenario with respect to eternity. This time the child is rebelling and is lost. Do you overlook these actions or do you pray for them, do you try to reach them, do you love them enough to stand in the gap interceding for them? This time, the consequences have a much different and longer result. If we truly love this child, we will do anything and everything to bring them into a right relationship with the Lord.

My next thought was to ask you how do you think God feels, but I have already told you how He feels. He loves the world so much that He had a plan to redeem the world. That plan was not an easy thing to bring about. It cost the physical life of His only begotten Son, Jesus. Jesus came to defeat evil and sin. He came to protect us from the consequences of sin. God’s love perseveres and because of His great love, we have the glorious hope that we can trust in His Word. All that He asks is that you believe and turn away from the darkness of the evil that is in this world.

The world says that if you love someone, you accept them and don’t try to change them no matter the consequences. God loves us as we are, then calls us to repent so that we don’t face the consequences.

God’s love is not how the world loves!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Repent and rekindle the fire!

February 4, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.
(Acts 17:30 (NIV))

There are many types of things that we can be ignorant of. We can be ignorant of the Law. We can be ignorant of our sin. We can be ignorant of our need for a savior, and we can be ignorant of God’s calling upon our lives.

We can also be ignorant of our need to repent!

This applies individually and as a society.

As I look around, I see evil being called good and good being called evil. Our world is turned upside down. I recently saw that only 49% of our country profess to a belief in Jesus. Sadly enough, in the age range of young adults, that is only about 25%. We, as a society, are rapidly turning and are greatly in need of repentance. How can we, as a society, repent, when the people who feel the need to repent are now in the minority?

There is an old Jewish saying that if the whole world repents, then the Messiah will come. One man sat out to bring the world to repentance. However, he found that the world was too big, so he decided to focus on his country. This, too, was too big, so he decided to focus on his town. He soon found that this, too, was too big. He decided to start with his street. Then his house. He finally decided that he needed to start with himself.

Start with yourself!

We all have things that we tend to push under the rug, so to speak. These things are the sins that we have become familiar with and tend to ignore. In God’s eyes, these sins are no different from the ones that we have a tendency to point our fingers at.

We have become ignorant of our own sins. Have we been focusing so much on the sins that we see in the world that we ignore our own? We need to stop and take a look at our own lives in context. We need to pray that we are following God’s will. We need to pray that we can be that light that the world will see and not a spent candle slowly devouring itself.

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
(Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV))

What good will we be if our light is going out?

Repent and rekindle the fire!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are we listening as we should?

January 23, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

I appointed watchmen over you and said, ‘Listen to the sound of the trumpet!’ But you said, ‘We will not listen.’
(Jeremiah 6:17 (NIV))

Do you believe that the Lord has posted watchmen in this day and age? Do you believe that there are people that the Lord has gifted with the ability to interpret the events in this world and the ability to listen to Him for understanding of these events? Do you believe that all of this is done with the intent of warning the Body of Christ as things of a Biblical nature unfold?

All throughout history, people have been selected to keep watch in order to keep everyone else safe. Ancient cities posted watchmen along the tops of the walls that surrounded their cities. Military posts to this day post watch at strategic points such as entrances and security points. A watchman is there to alert others to the possibility of danger from forces outside of the city. When a watchman sounds the alarm, everyone springs into action to defend themselves from the impending attack.

What would happen if no one responded to the alert sounded from those who are posted as watchmen?

It doesn’t take much imagination to realize that in the physical world, of you ignore the alert sounded by a watchman, you run the risk of death. Why do we then tend to ignore the sound of the people whom the Lord has called to be spiritual watchmen over His Body? Are we so out of touch with the Lord, His Word, and His plan as it is unfolded in His Word? Do we not heed those who alert us to the world claiming that good is now evil and evil is now good? Do we not heed the alert that the enemy is prowling around looking for someone to devour? Are we too engrossed in our day to day lives that we are oblivious to what is going on around us even when we are being told to watch out for the enemy is near?

We profess a faith in Jesus. We profess to have turned over lordship of our lives to Jesus, yet we don’t seem to listen to those whom He has called to alert us to danger. In essence, by our inaction, we are saying that we are not listening. We listen to anything and everything else. We keep our noses in our electronics while our eyes and ears are focused only on the things that are directly in front of us. We are so wrapped up in the superficial that we completely ignore the clear and present warnings that are being sent our way.

We claim that we follow Jesus, yet do we truly listen to all that He wants to tell us?

Are we listening as we should?

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