Are we listening?

July 30, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Therefore I want you to know that God’s salvation has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen!
(Acts 28:28 (NIV))

When Paul was in Rome, local Jewish leaders came to him. During the visit, Paul spoke of what was told to their ancestors through Isaiah. Some believed while many did not. The last words recorded of that conversation are shown above. For over two thousand years, we, as Gentiles, have listened. We have taken the Gospel that Paul preached and have been able to reach a large number of people. It is true, just as it was in Paul’s day, that some people have perverted the Gospel for their own gain, but for the most part, Gentiles have listened.

The time is now here when we must stand firm in our faith. We must proclaim Jesus loudly and boldly to a world that is falling apart. Time is running out!

Yes, I did just say that.

I have this feeling in my spirit that this world will not return to what we knew just last year. I actually have mixed feelings about this, for I love life. I love my family and I love spending time with those I love. But, I love Jesus more. After years of study, I believe that we are seeing things unfold as we have been told in God’s Word. With the things that are going on in this world, evil is rising. I am seeing things in this country that I would expect to only see in regions of this world that have been known for being oppressive. I am seeing a global hatred of people who profess a faith in Jesus. I am seeing ethnicity rising against ethnicity. Just for reference, this is often translated as nation rising against nation. I am seeing a push to go completely digital with money as well as a push to collect and destroy any physical money once the digital is implemented. I am seeing a big push to wear masks. I realize that the virus is real, so I don’t want to get into a debate about wearing masks. What I find sad is that the whole world is engulfed in this. There are those who are pushing a vaccine in order to be able to take part in society. In other words, get vaccinated and you can buy and sell. Would that vaccine leave a visible mark?

Paul was right.

The Gentiles have listened. But, do we know and understand God’s Word well enough to do something with what we have heard? Are we praying for God’s Will, even if it means things get much worse, or are we praying for our will and our comfort?

We need to truly seek the Lord. We need to listen for His voice and His guidance.

Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
(Revelation 2:29 (NIV))

Are we listening?

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

April 13, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.
(Matthew 28:6 (NIV))

Looking back at the last several weeks and what the whole world has endured, we need some good news!

There is no better news that we can receive than a heavenly announcement and acknowledgment that Jesus is alive!

When the angels announced that Jesus was not in the tomb, those who followed Jesus probably had been thinking prior to this announcement that their hopes had been shattered at the crucifixion. Can you imagine the joy that these words brought to them? They probably went from a feeling of despair and hopelessness to a feeling of jubilation and a peace that they did not understand.

What type of feelings have you experienced over the last several weeks? Be honest with yourself. Have you focused on the events of this world instead of focusing on God’s promises to those who love Him? If you have focused on God’s promises, I would venture to say that this Resurrection Sunday was probably a unique one as well as a blessed one. We may not have gathered in our church buildings to celebrate, but this reinforces the fact that buildings don’t make the church. People do!

Jesus came into the world to bring salvation to people, to individuals who would place their faith in Him. No matter how many people may be around you, in God’s plan, it doesn’t matter. He can call you in the middle of a large crowd or He can call you in the middle of a desert. If the world tries to keep His people from meeting together, then the Lord can meet with each one of us individually as He sees fit. This can only be done because we have placed our faith in His Son, Jesus, as our personal Lord and Savior. This only matters because of one very important piece of good news!

The grave could not hold Him!

The stone has been rolled away!

He defeated the power of sin and death!

There are many ways to express this absolute truth, but perhaps the one that is best is also the simplest.

Jesus is alive!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you alert and paying attention?

June 27, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled.
(1 Thessalonians 5:6 (NIV))

Do you pay attention to what is going on in the world? Are you alert and watching and waiting or are you asleep? Are you ignorant of the things that God is unfolding right in front of us? Are you oblivious to the attacks of the enemy in the world in which we live?

Do you recognize God’s timeline unfolding or do you simply think that everything is as it has always been?

You can call me an escapist. You can call me someone lost in fantasy. You can call me a conspiracy nut. You can call me a Jesus freak, but nothing is going to change my mind. Nothing is going to change this inner feeling that there is something unfolding as we have been told in God’s Word. I refuse to lay down and sleep!

Let me ask you one simple question. Are you aware of the things that happen around you when you are asleep? Unless something startles you out of a sound sleep, you are oblivious to many things such as a gentle change in the weather, a power outage, a child coming into your room and standing next to your bed, and many, many more such things. It is the subtle changes that allow you to stay in a state of slumber. It is only the drastic changes that wake you to the events as they unfold. The enemy works in the same way. He has been and continues to slowly and subtly change things in a manner that will not shock you out of your slumber. Those who are not paying attention to the subtlety miss it. One day there will be a drastic change and they be awakened and it will be too late!

The Body of Christ is called to be alert and self-controlled. We are to be a witness for Christ. We are to shine the light of Jesus into the darkness of this world. How can we shine into and through this darkness if we fail to see and recognize the darkness?

Are you alert and paying attention?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you put your childhood ways behind you?

February 16, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.
(1 Corinthians 13:11 (NIV))

Spiritual maturity is a wonderful thing. When you are new in your faith, it is easy to become disoriented and allow the world to knock you off balance. You have a hunger, but you are uncertain about what you are feeling and experiencing. At this early stage of faith, just as in the childhood years, you are limited in your understanding and your ability to fully comprehend all that you experience. You are still being spoon fed. Perhaps I could and should say that you are still in the milk stages of your faith.

Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
(Hebrews 5:13-14 (NIV))

In essence, being a child can mean that you are naive to the ways of the world and the enemy. Spiritual maturity brings an understanding, an ability to discern what is right and wrong in God’s eyes. It means that you are diving deeper into God’s Word and your understanding is getting much deeper. Consider this case in point as an example. When you were a child, could you comprehend and solve complex mathematical problems? Could you develop and communicate complex thoughts in such a manner so that others could understand?

Being a child is supposed to be a simple, joyful time. It is the time to develop trust and belief.

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
(Matthew 19:14 (NIV))

Even though we are called to be like little children in our faith, we are also called to a maturity. This is a maturity that prepares us to face the enemy. It is a maturity that firmly grounds us in Jesus.

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.
(Ephesians 4:14-15 (NIV))

As members of the Body of Christ, we are all called to maturity in Christ. We must long for the substance of solid faith. We must realize that faith is something that we are to desire to grow and mature. We are to change our ways of thinking so that we are in line with what Jesus desires. We are to desire to mature into the likeness of Christ!

Have you put your childhood ways behind you?

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

December 1, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even `sinners’ love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even `sinners’ do that.
(Luke 6:32-33 (NIV))

Exactly what is love?

Do you have a perception of love as a romantic feeling between a man and a woman? Perhaps you have a deeper understanding and realize that it is the feeling a parent has for a child. Perhaps you may even say that it is a feeling of concern for someone else’s well being.

The key word to each of these ideas about what love is can be broken down to one simple word – “feeling.”

It is easy to feel something for those who feel something for you. In essence, you love because you are loved. This is a form of love, but what happens when someone hates you? It requires more than a feeling, for when someone hates you, it is human nature to return like feelings. It requires a commitment. It is at this point that love becomes a decision. It becomes a willful act even when you know that your willful act may not be returned. In essence, you choose to love even when you may not be loved in return. It is at this point that you start to understand how God sees love.

Love is not a feeling. It is a commitment even when there are no feelings.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
(1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NIV))

What is love?

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you place your hope and your faith in Jesus!

September 13, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
(Isaiah 40:31 (NIV))

Is it possible for hope to be a driving force in someone’s life? Can hope become more than hope? Can it become belief and faith? Can hope become joy?

As humans, we all have things that we hope for. We all have things that make us smile and bring us joy. We all have things that we feel can make us rise above the burdens of the world and give us a new lease on life. What are those things in your life?

Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.
(Psalm 20:7 (NIV))

Hopefully, you don’t actually trust in horses and chariots. This example is probably the ultimate example of what can give someone a feeling of power, a feeling that they can rise above anything. Sadly, those who place their hope and trust in these types of things soon learn that someone will come along with faster horses and better chariots.

Don’t place your hope in the things of this world. Don’t even place your hope in the people in your life. There is only one place where your hope needs to be placed.

Place your hope in Jesus!

No matter what the world may send your way, He will not forsake you. He will lift you up. He will give you peace. He will deliver you. Can you honestly say that of anything in this world? There is only one who can save. There is only one who can give you strength. There is only one who will lift you up. There is only one who can make you soar!

Place your hope and your faith in Jesus!

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you experiencing the groaning?

July 15, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.
(Romans 8:22 (NIV))

Am I the only one who groans in anguish over the things I see in the world?

I know that I can turn off the sarcasm of a rhetorical question. I know many people are feeling the very same things that I am feeling. It is so hard to not have your spirit groan in compassion for the groanings of what God has created. Even though I know how things turn out as God will unfold His plan, I still can’t help but groan out of sadness for those who are so blinded by the lies of the enemy that they refuse to see what is happening.

The whole world is upside down.

Good is called evil and evil is called good. I honestly can’t remember a day where something evil and demented has not happened somewhere in the world.

Jesus, we need you. The world is falling apart and You are the only way to stop the insanity. My heart is heavy for I know that things will get much worse before you do return. I take no pleasure in knowing that there will be those who reject you. I take no pleasure in knowing that many will vehemently deny you. It is my prayer that somehow their hearts will be softened and they will turn to you. I am at a loss for what to pray for. I long to see you return, yet I don’t want to see any perish. Is this how You feel when you see Your creation?

Lord, give me a heart that loves like Yours!

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you possess a confident faith?

July 13, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
(Hebrews 11:1 (NKJV))

Just what is the difference between hope and faith?

According to some definitions of the words, hope can be summarized as a feeling. Faith can be summarized as confidence. I know that this greatly oversimplifies things, but for the sake of argument, let’s go with these simplified definitions.

In other words, confidence is rooted in the feeling that we have. Let’s face facts. We have all had times in our lives when we just knew something would work out. We couldn’t give a reason for knowing, we just knew that it would. We had a feeling that we could not explain. That feeling gave us confidence. it gave us faith. Some things just feel natural. They feel perfect.

Trusting in Jesus is one of those things that feels perfect. It feels natural to place our trust in Him. We are confident of that feeling of trust. Our relationship with Jesus has gone beyond one of a feeling of hope to a confident faith. We don’t have to see Him. We are confident in His presence. We can feel His presence. Just as we feel the wind, we can feel His presence bathing us in His love.

Do you rely on what you can see before you believe? You can’t see the air, yet if fills your lungs and gives you life. You can’t see the wind, yet it can be powerful enough to move even the largest of objects. Faith and hope are just like the air. They fill you up and give you life. Faith and hope are just like the wind. They are powerful enough to move the most stubborn of objects.

Without hope and faith, without feeling and confidence, we are lost. Jesus is the only one who can give us what we long to possess. Jesus is the only one who can redeem us from our sin and the death that results from that sin.

I have a confident feeling that comes from knowing Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior.

Do you have that confident feeling?

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Combine it with faith!

September 7, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.
(Hebrews 4:1-2 (NIV))

Combine it with faith!

In other words, hearing and believing are two very different things.

Think back on your life. I am sure that there are many things that you have heard in your life that you did not believe. It would probably be safe to say that the first time that you heard the Gospel, you did not believe it either.

What makes someone accept something and make that leap from hearing to believing?

Some call it a sixth sense. Some call it a feeling. Some simply cannot put a name to it or even describe why they make that leap from hearing to believing.

Why do we have faith?

To many people, they find faith an absurd notion, especially when you consider that it means a firm belief in something for which there is no proof.

I like Paul’s definition.

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
(Hebrews 11:1 (NIV))

What do we receive by faith?

Have you ever wavered in your faith?

Do you think that it is possible to lose your faith?

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop–a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. He who has ears, let him hear.”
(Matthew 13:1-9 (NIV))

I find it compelling how many parables are told in which faith is compared to a seed. God is definitely trying to drive home His point that we must nurture our faith. We can hear and a small “seed” of belief is planted. We can allow that seed of faith to grow through our actions or we can allow that seed to die through our actions.

Have you heard?

Do you believe?

Has your belief turned into a strong faith?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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