Don’t fall for ungodly deception!

June 12, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Jesus said to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you.
(Mark 13:5 (NIV))

Jesus knew that strange times would come and that people would potentially be deceived by what would be happening. He told His disciples point blank to be on their guard so that they, and we, would not be deceived when situations arise. We must stand firm in our faith and be firmly rooted in God’s Word so that we can recognize false teachings when they are presented to us. It is my prayer that we will be so firmly grounded in God’s Word that we will instantly know the enemy’s attempts to deceive us when we see them. You have to realize that the enemy knows God’s Word and can twist it in ways that are designed to confuse those who are not totally immersed in God’s truth. Consider that the serpent tricked Adam and Eve by twisting the truth in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve walked with God. They knew Him in a way that we can’t possibly know God today. Still, they fell for the deception that the serpent used, and humanity has been paying the price ever since that day!

The enemy uses things out of context, or just a partial quote of scripture. He will twist just enough of God’s Word so that it still sounds right, but with the subtle change, it is now a lie. Consider what happens if he leaves out the last instructions from Jesus to the woman caught in adultery.

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
(John 8:9-11 (NIV))

If you twist this passage by removing “Go now and leave your life of sin,” it takes on a whole new meaning. It takes on a meaning completely opposite of what Jesus truly said and meant. Without those eight words, it sounds as if Jesus is telling the woman that whatever she does is okay, when what He is really saying is that she must repent and change her ways. The whole passage, when twisted like this, is now able to be a lie from the mouth of the enemy.

We must not take things at face value. We must know God’s Word. We must search God’s Word for verification and not for our sinful gratification. We must be Bereans!

Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.
(Acts 17:11 (NIV))

When someone is not educated in certain aspects of life, it is easy for them to be deceived in those areas. With everything that is going on in the world, be very careful with respect to what you embrace as truth. When you are firmly grounded in God’s Word, the Holy Spirit will be in communication with your spirit. Allow the Holy Spirit to guide you through the subtle lies of the enemy.

Don’t fall for ungodly deception!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How well are we fulfilling these requirements?

June 3, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
      And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
      and to walk humbly with your God.
(Micah 6:8 (NIV))

This world has a habit of trying to destroy anything that remotely resembles justice, mercy and humility. This is especially true when it is focused on the Lord!

From the beginning in the Garden of Eden, and all throughout history, God has told us what is good. Every single time that the Lord has told us what is good, even if we start off doing good, we have failed miserably at everything. Ever since the fall from grace, it has become human nature. We are drawn to the exact opposite of what we are told is good. It has now gotten to the point where a large portion of the world’s population has resorted to calling good evil and evil good. Think about that in context to this response from Jesus.

As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone.
(Mark 10:17-18 (NIV))

If you take the concept of calling good evil, then the next logical step is that those who are making this claim are actually making a statement that they think God is evil!

How could anybody in their right mind ever say that?

Sadly, in this sinful, fallen world, too many people have rejected God. There seems to be an ever increasing number of people who prefer sin. This falls right in line with the parable about the wheat and the tares. Until the Lord brings in the harvest, we, as the Body of Christ, must strive to reach those who are lost in sin. We must continue to spread the Gospel no matter what we may face. If you stop to think about it, spreading the Gospel covers all requirements as set forth in Micah.

We are to act justly by sharing the truth of the Gospel with anyone and everyone. We cannot withhold such a great gift because of our preconceived ideas. That is a sin.

We are to love mercy by sharing the mercy that we have been given with those who need mercy.

We are to walk humbly with our God by placing His plans for the salvation of others above our own selfish desires.

How well are we fulfilling these requirements?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How do we see each other?

May 28, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
(Galatians 3:28 (NIV))

I long for the day that we truly see each other as Jesus sees us!

I have lived long enough to honestly say that I am tired of people treating each other differently simply because we may not look the same. I want it to end, but since we live in a sinful, fallen world, we are going to continue to see these types of things happen. It breaks my heart just as I am certain that it breaks the very heart of God. What is it about human nature that makes us want to lash out at someone because of our shortcomings, our sins? Ever since the fall from grace in the Garden of Eden, humanity has had to struggle with a vast array of sins including ego, pride and selfishness.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
(Philippians 2:3-4 (NIV))

The world is upside down. We are seeing things that our ancestors never saw. We also are doing things that our ancestors would have never dreamed about doing. This goes both ways. Some things are better while some things are worse. We, as the Body of Christ, recognize the intolerance and hatred. We also know that there is truly only one solution to this sinful nature. Unfortunately, not everyone will accept Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. It is also sad to realize that not everyone who professes a faith in Jesus is mature enough to embrace what the author of Acts recorded for us.

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.
(Acts 20:24 (NIV))

We must all come to the realization that each person is a unique creation and is loved by God. We must treat each individual with this in mind. For those individuals whom we see who have accepted Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior, we can embrace them as part of the family. For those who haven’t yet accepted Jesus, we can show them the love of Jesus and invite them into the family.

How do we see each other?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What is welling up inside of you?

April 30, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
(John 4:13-14 (NIV))

I want to ask you a question, if I may.

How many times have you felt the presence of God and you actually felt like you had something welling up inside of you? Did you feel like you could “bubble over?” Did you feel refreshed and cleansed?

I have often wondered if this is how we personally experience the Living Water that Jesus gives to us.

Think back on the times when you know that you felt God’s presence the most in your life. How did you feel? Do these thoughts evoke the feelings that you would associate with water? It quenches your thirst. It refreshes. It cleanses. It is cooling. It is soothing. It is comforting. Fresh water is often thought of as bubbling up, or welling up, from a spring. The sounds of bubbling water are relaxing and peaceful. Do these thoughts describe the sensations that you felt when you felt God’s presence?

I find it very interesting that we can go without food for many days, but that we cannot go without water or we will die. Water is essential to our survival. It is so much a part of us. Still, in our physical form, we will eventually not be able to be refreshed. Water is an integral part of each of us.

I have said before that I believe that for every physical aspect of life, there is a corresponding spiritual aspect of life. Water is important to our physical bodies and Living Water is important for our spiritual well being. Just as water is essential to life, Living Water is essential to eternity. Somehow our bodies know this. It is our minds that make us not see the obvious.

Living Water rejuvenates. It cleanses. It soothes, It is calming. It is peaceful.

It is the way that God pours out upon us the closeness of a relationship with Him that we lost at the Garden of Eden. Living Water brings peace. It brings joy. It brings patience. It brings kindness. It brings self-control. Just as physical fruits cannot mature without water, the fruits of the Spirit need the Living Water to grow to maturity.

What is welling up inside of you?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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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.
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If God was willing while we were enemies, just imagine . . .

February 6, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!
(Romans 5:10 (NIV))

How do you become an enemy of God?

I realize that this is an odd question, but it is relevant to our understanding of God, our severed and fallen relationship with Him, and our way to salvation through God’s love as expressed at the cross.

Basically, the fall from grace in the Garden of Eden is the starting point for each and every single person who has ever lived. All of humanity was doomed to a sinful nature because of our rebellion, our disobedience to what God told us that we could and could not do. One definition of the word “enemy” states it quite clearly as someone who is antagonistic to another. Another definition defines an enemy as a hostile force. When we rebelled against God, we became just that. We became an antagonistic and hostile creation. We became sinners. We became enemies of God!

Thankfully, God did not let it end there! He loves us in spite of ourselves. He devised a plan to redeem us. Condemnation is for enemies. Love is for sons and daughters. He devised a plan to make us sons and daughters instead of enemies.

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.
(John 3:16-17 (NIV))

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
(Romans 5:8 (NIV))

I am so thankful that salvation is freely given, for there is nothing that we could do to earn it. All that we have to do is accept it! God reached out to us in our sinful condition in hope that we would accept His offer to become His sons and daughters. If God was willing while we were enemies, just imagine what He will do for us as sons and daughters!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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I love it that God chose to do a new thing!

January 3, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.
(Isaiah 43:19 (NIV))

Have you ever stopped to think about this passage? We have a tendency to think that we are the ones who always want something different. We think that we are the ones who want to do a new thing, but if you actually think about it, God is the only One who has ever done good and new things! All we ever do is ruin what He has done!

God created everything. He created it all as a location for us, His creation. What did we do? We ruined it!

All throughout the Old Testament, God would do something for us as a part of His nature, and we would ruin it. He gave us promises and we disobeyed. He sent prophets and we ignored them. Finally, His ultimate plan came into fruition. He sent His Son, Jesus. He came as Emmanuel, God with us. Do you realize that the last time that God walked with His creation was before the fall from grace in the Garden of Eden? He came back into His creation so that He could walk with us and talk with us. He came to teach us exactly what He longs for us to do so that we can have fellowship with Him once again. He came to offer us a way out of our sin and back into His grace.

All throughout history, man has tried to elevate himself up to be able to reach God. God’s new thing saw Him coming to earth to meet us! His new thing brought grace and salvation to all who would simply accept the ultimate gift. God restored us to Himself at no cost to us. He paid it all!

I find it interesting that God’s new thing brought restoration to a lost world. I find it interesting that His new thing is something that He paid and we receive the benefits. I love it that God chose to do a new thing!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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It is not your definition of holiness that counts!

July 15, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.
(Hebrews 12:14 (NIV))

Do you ever find yourself thinking that if other people would simply see things your way, then everything would be better? Sadly, it is human nature to feel that we are always right, even when we have no idea what we are talking about. There is an old saying that a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing. That is absolutely true, especially if the knowledge is misguided. Consider the results of misguided knowledge and the consequences that all of humanity has been dealing with since the Garden of Eden. Without trusting God and relying on a twisted lie presented as truth, all of humanity has been dealing with a partial knowledge, a twisted truth and a false sense of righteousness ever since that event. With our limited knowledge, we tried to live our own version of holiness. We were tricked into believing that we could be just like God and ever since then, it has been human nature for each of us to believe that we are the best judges of what should be with respect to our lives.

We have tried in vain to replace God with our own image of God. We have tried to replace God’s righteousness with our version of righteousness. We have tried to keep God in a box of our own size and specifications. We have tried to replace God’s holiness and righteousness with ours!

As it is written:
“There is no one righteous, not even one;
(Romans 3:10 (NIV))

The next time that we start to feel that the world revolves around us, and we all get that way at times, it is important to remember one simple truth.

It is not your definition of holiness that counts!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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It is through obedience that we have salvation!

April 18, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!
(Philippians 2:8 (NIV))

It is so easy to overlook one crucial component of God’s plan for salvation as it unfolded in Jerusalem a little over two thousand years ago!

We know that ever since the fall from grace in the Garden of Eden, God had a plan to bring redemption, to bring salvation, to the creation that He loves. In God’s perspective, it was not that long, but to humanity, it seems like forever.

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.
(2 Peter 3:8 (NIV))

Even though we feel the passage of time, it is God’s timing that has been put in motion to bring salvation. It was His plan to send His Son to redeem us, to restore us unto Himself.

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.
(John 3:16-17 (NIV))

We all know that Jesus was tempted by Satan, and He rebuked Satan. Jesus knew the plans that the Father had. He chose to be obedient to God the Father and through His obedience, Jesus willingly went to the cross for each of us. He willingly died so that we could have the opportunity to have eternity with God the Father. Jesus was willingly obedient to the Father’s plan. It was His obedience that allowed each of us to be offered salvation and grace. It was His resurrection that sealed the deal!

But . . .

There is one more aspect of obedience that comes into play in God’s plan for our redemption. He is calling each of us to salvation through Jesus. We have to be obedient to answer that call. Because Jesus was obedient, salvation is freely offered. It is a gift. We cannot purchase the gift. We cannot earn the gift. We can either choose to be obedient and accept it, or we can be rebellious and reject God’s gift of grace. Only if we are obedient, can salvation be received. Are you willing to be obedient?

It is through obedience that we have salvation!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is what you do beneficial and constructive?

April 9, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive.
(1 Corinthians 10:23 (NIV))

Is it just me, or has our society become overwhelmingly focused on rights? We constantly see things in the news or hear people proclaiming that it is their body and therefore their right. They proclaim that it is their right to love who they want, and that it is their right to do whatever they want.

I think that they have a misconception of what they refer to as their rights!

In all honesty, if you think about it, humanity has had that misconception all the way back to the Garden of Eden where Adam and Eve bought into the lie and thought that it was their right to be like God. Ever since then, it has been the mindset that, “It’s my right!

I love the two filters that we are given in this passage. These filters are what we should pass everything through before we even consider taking action on anything that we claim as a right.

1. Is it beneficial? This does not mean that will it benefit you alone? Will other people benefit in such a way that they grow and mature in life, in faith and in community?

2. Is it constructive? Will this build and leave a lasting impact on others or will it demean others and leave destruction in its wake?

These are simple enough questions to ask, but it is the answers that most of us fool ourselves on. We rush to judgment on our rights and actions. We become experts at justifying anything and everything that we want to do, but should we be so quick in doing so? Should we stop and answer these two questions from a different perspective other than our own? Should we look at our rights in relationship to these two questions from God’s perspective? Think about how potentially different the outcome in the Garden of Eden could have been!

Is what you do beneficial and constructive?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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