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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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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Has your faith saved you?

October 14, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
(Luke 7:50b (NIV))

Jesus spoke these words to a woman who had basically come into the house of Simon. She was not invited by the owner of the house, but she came in anyway to worship and minister to Jesus as He sat as a guest within the house. If you remember the story, she washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and then anointed Him with perfume. This brought ridicule from the “respected” members of society. Jesus responded to them and to Simon by saying that she was doing for Him what Simon, as the host, should have been doing. Simon did not do any of the customary acts of hospitality, yet he considered himself to be a good host and an obedient Jew.

These words and these events mean more than many of us may realize. Let’s take a good look at just how this actually has meaning for us today.

Simon represented the Jewish society set in their ways and oblivious to the true calling that God had placed upon them to bear the good news to the world. Instead of this mission being fulfilled, they acted just as Simon did. They refused to welcome their own Messiah in an appropriate manner. A woman who was an outcast in the eyes of traditional Jewish society saw Jesus for who is was and saw that her redemption was at hand. She went were she was not welcome in order to embrace the grace and mercy that she longed for. The woman is symbolic of the Gentiles, who in the midst of tradition and society, accepted the mission to bear witness in the midst of something that was not truly hers in the eyes of society.

Jesus was a Jew. According to Paul, Jesus had a specific order in which He came.

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.
(Romans 11:6 (NIV))

Just as He went into the house of Simon, He went first for the Jew, then, just as the woman came and accepted Him, the Gentiles accepted Him.

If you are not of Jewish heritage, you are a Gentile. We did not come to Jesus out of tradition. We came to Jesus just as the woman did. Out of faith. Just as He told her that her faith had saved her, we can also lay claim to that same piece of truth if we truly have faith.

Has your faith saved you?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you truly free?

July 2, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
(Ephesians 2:19-22 (NIV))

This was written to the church at Ephasus when Gentiles were not looked upon by Jewish believers as true heirs to the promises of God. Paul’s words were meant as a reassurance to those people at Ephasus, as well as to those of us today, who had heard all of the legalistic requirements that some people were trying to impose upon them.

Other people were saying that the promises fulfilled through Jesus Christ were only available to the Jews. Paul corrected these wrongs and set the record straight so that the freedom from the Law that Jesus brought would not be compromised by people who did not understand.

Jesus came as a means of God’s grace. Grace does not require legalism or any other human intervention in order to work. It does not apply only to a certain group of people. It is available to everyone who will ask. As we remember a day that is celebrated for our political freedom, we must not lose sight of the true freedom and the one who brings it!

Are you truly free?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you allowed Jesus to remove the chaff from your heart?

June 21, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (that done in the body by the hands of men)– remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.
(Ephesians 2:11-13 (NIV))

Jesus has allowed us, the Gentiles, to partake of the promises of God. Israel was and still is the chosen people, but that does not mean that they are the only ones to partake of the “covenants of the promise.” Circumcision was a physical sign that they followed God. We, as Gentiles who have been grafted into the line of Israel, are circumcised of the heart.

This act is a removal of sin and secrets from our lives. Jesus removes the chaff from our lives and replaces it with righteousness and hope. This is an inward sign of God’s grace that shines to the outside for all to see. When we invite Jesus into our lives, we begin to experience the removal of sin. We begin to experience first hand the removal of the chaff from our hearts!

Have you allowed Jesus to remove the chaff from your heart?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you accepted the call to obedience?

May 13, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake.
(Romans 1:5 (NIV))

A heavy price has been paid for you to receive the call!

Ever since the call first went out, the world and all the powers that control it have tirelessly fought anyone who chooses to bring the call, to accept the call, or to forward it on. The enemy declared that it had won when it was able to place Jesus in the grave, but they did not count on the third day! The world did all that it could to persecute those who accepted the call, but then Jesus called Saul to reach the Gentiles and Saul, through a rebirth, became Paul. The world did all that it could to condemn Paul and throw him in prison in order to stop the call. The prison guards received salvation! The world did all that it could to eradicate the call by sending Christians into the colosseum. The church flourished and more people answered the call!

All around the world today, people who have accepted Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior are facing persecution and death because they have answered the call. They have declared that Jesus is the only way to heaven. They have declared that Jesus is part of the Trinity. They have declared that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God. To put it simply, they have replied “I believe” to the one question that can change your eternity. They have declared that they believe in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior, and just like the price that has been paid throughout the church age, many are paying the ultimate, heavy price today.

Do you feel comfortable in your faith in Jesus?

Do you avoid letting people know that you are a Christian?

Do you fear reprisals for your confession of Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior?

I was recently reminded that the Body of Christ, the church, is a family that we choose to belong to. If you have made that choice and answered the call, are you one hundred percent certain that you will be obedient in your faith no matter what the world may try to do? Keep in mind that the world’s outlook on Jesus is rapidly changing and your obedience may have drastic worldly consequences. I pray that I am able to be obedient, for I would rather be judged by a sinful world and found guilty of being righteous in the eyes of God, then be judged by a righteous God and found guilty of being sinful.

Are you prepared?

Have you accepted the call to obedience?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do you seek the true Jesus?

January 31, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse, who shall stand as a banner to the people; for the Gentiles shall seek Him, and His resting place shall be glorious.
(Isaiah 11:10 (NIV))

The children of Israel had, throughout all of their history, looked for a military and political leader to be their Messiah. Yet, the words were given to Isaiah hundreds of years before Jesus came that stated that the expected Messiah would actually be someone that the Gentiles would seek.

This does not sound like a military leader. The Jewish people were expecting a military leader to defeat the Gentiles and establish them as what they thought the “Chosen People” meant. They did not understand that to be the “Chosen People” meant that through them salvation would come. They thought that it meant that God has selected them to rule over the world and establish His Kingdom in a military fashion. They chose to ignore the words that Isaiah spoke to them.

Are we ignoring the words that God is speaking to us today? The Messiah that the world received is one who shares the grace and mercy of God to all who will listen and accept. Is this the Messiah that you know, or are you looking for a Messiah who is more like what the children of Israel were looking for?

Do you seek the true Jesus?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you long for the light?

December 12, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.
(Romans 13:12 (NIV))

We have been called out of darkness into His marvelous light!

When Romans was written, Saul had already experienced his meeting with Jesus on the Damascus Road. He was left blinded but he was also left with a new perspective. It was only a few days before his eye sight returned, but he gained so much more than just the return of his physical eyes. He had witnessed the darkness of the world through the eyes of Jesus. He had come away with the realization that he had been a part of that darkness. He had come away from this experience with a new name. He was no longer called Saul. He was to put the past behind him and follow Jesus wherever He would lead. He was to be a witness to the Gentiles of the power of the light. He was to be called Paul! He was called out of the darkness of his former self and called into the marvelous light as a servant of the Lord Jesus!

Think about that. Paul was given the light. He knew that his path was to follow Jesus, yet, he still had to navigate through the darkness of this world. The darkness tried to stop him. Even so, Paul pressed on toward the light. He made it a priority to always pursue the light and to show others how to find it themselves.

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 3:13-14 (NIV))

Once you have found the light and have accepted His saving grace over your life, your night is nearly over. There will always be things in your life that remind you of the darkness. They will try to drag you back into it, but take heart. You have seen the light! You have encountered Jesus!

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
(John 8:12 (NIV))

Do you long for the light?

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

December 7, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all people,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people Israel.
(Luke 2:30-32 (NIV))

When Simeon spoke these words, he was an old man whom God had promised would see his salvation. Can you imagine searching for something all of your life with such earnestness that once you find it, you feel that you have completed your purpose in life? Simeon was overjoyed, just as we should be.

Jesus was only a newborn infant when this occurred. Mary and Joseph had brought him to the temple to consecrate him to God. Simeon had been looking for salvation all of his life. Perhaps that is why he so readily recognized it when it was presented to him. To most people, Jesus was simply a baby just like all of the others. Simeon was able to look beyond the obvious and see the miraculous simply because he had been waiting expectantly for the miraculous.

During this Christmas season, are we able to see the miraculous just as Simeon was able to see when it happened? Can we see God at work even when the world doesn’t see what He is doing?

What do you see?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do you truly understand what Jesus did?

March 26, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!”
(Matthew 20:18-19 (NIV))

Have you truly come to terms with all that Jesus did for you and I, or are you still stuck in the mindset that all that Jesus accomplished can be summarized in a basket full of treats that will soon go away?

Think about that.

Even as adults, we have a tendency to look at the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus as only a day to get together with family and have fun with some events for the children. In the back of our minds, we know that it is more than this, but have we turned the most crucial day to our faith into nothing more than a chance to over eat? Sure, we have Good Friday services and many of us will get up and go to a sunrise service on Resurrection Sunday, but do we truly understand the full implications of what we celebrate? Have we become so jaded by the fact that we can turn on a TV or go to a movie and see things that appear to be miraculous? If that is the case, what happens when we truly read about the power of God raising Jesus from the dead? Do we take it for granted? Do we overlook the magnitude of the implications for those who truly believe, for those who truly call upon the name of Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior?

We are told many times that we don’t know what tomorrow will bring. Jesus implicitly foretells the events that He would face. He knew that His fulfillment of the plan for humanity’s salvation would transpire exactly as foretold. He knew that His willingness to lay down His life would mean that you and I could walk with assurance that our sins have been forgiven. He knew the weight of the world’s sin that He carried would mean that you and I could stand before God the Father as a spotless bride. He saw the faces of every person to ever live and He willingly offered His sinless life for our sin filled lives.

Without the crucifixion, there would be no resurrection. Without the resurrection, there would be no grace and mercy that could be given. Without the grace and mercy freely given at the cross, you and I would be forever lost in our sin.

Do you truly understand what Jesus did?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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