There has never been a better time to look up!

March 29, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living ©

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
(Psalms 19:1 (NIV))

When you look up into the night sky, what do you see?

When you gaze at a glorious sunset, what do you see?

You can claim scientific explanations for these and countless other wonders that God has created, and you would be correct. Sadly, too many people stop there and fail to recognize the majesty and the splendor of such things with respect to who created them and why. They simply look upon the heavens as a “big bang” and the glorious sunsets as a result of meteorological phenomenon. We, as the body of believers, know that there is so much more to this than just mere coincidence.

And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years,
(Genesis 1:14 (NIV))

God has planned it that way from the start, but He didn’t stop there. He has used the signs to track time, and we still do that to this day. He has even laid out the heavens to provide signs of the end.

There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars.
(Luke 21:25a (NIV))

God’s creation is beautiful. Everything that He has created tells of His majesty. He has even planned to display His majesty to give us warning and hope for what is to come.

On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken.
(Luke 21:25b-26 (NIV))

It is a matter of perspective. If all that you see is a “big bang,” then you are missing out on so much that God has promised. If you rejoice in His creation, then you will see His majesty and the glorious hope that He has given to those who will simply believe. With everything that is going on in the world, keep focused on what God is showing us in the heavens. First and foremost is the fact that He is in control and second is the promises of the soon return of Jesus!

There has never been a better time to look up!

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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The King of glory is coming!

January 15, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Lift up your heads, you gates;
     be lifted up, you ancient doors,
     that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
     The Lord strong and mighty,
     the Lord mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, you gates;
     lift them up, you ancient doors,
     that the King of glory may come in.
Who is he, this King of glory?
     The Lord Almighty—
     he is the King of glory.
(Psalms 24:7-10 (NIV))

Are you looking up?

Or, are you acting like the rest of the world and looking down because you have lost all hope and you see no end in sight?

Is that the correct attitude for someone who professes a faith in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior? Is that the correct attitude for someone who has direct access to the throne room of God? If we have this hope, this access, and this assurance, then why are we downcast? Why do we hang our heads in desperation?

We have been told that when things look bad we are to look up!

We may not be able to know the day and the hour, but we can know the season. We must lift our heads and lift our eyes in anticipation of the fulfillment of His promises. Are you waiting? Are you looking?

The King of glory is coming!

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Joy to the world, the Lord is come!

December 23, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy–
(Jude 1:24 (NIV))

This one statement, from a worldly point of view, is a difficult thing to grasp. The world is treacherous. The enemy is constantly trying to kill or destroy. Who can possibly keep themselves from falling into the traps that the world presents? Who can possibly keep others from falling into those very same traps? Every person who has ever lived has faced the traps that the enemy has set for each of us. No one has ever been exempt from this temptation. All of created humanity has failed.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
(Romans 3:23 (NIV))

There is one who was sent to save us from falling. He is not part of creation. He is the Creator. He came to earth as one of us. He took it upon himself to be what He created. He took it upon himself to save His creation so that we could have a way to keep from falling. He took the sins of the world upon himself so that we could be sin free. Only one has that authority. Only God can possess such power.

At this time of year, we think of Jesus as a little baby in a manger, but we must not lose site of the fact that He was also God. Even as an infant, He possessed authority over all of creation. This Christmas morning, stop and think about your children. Thank God for the grace and mercy that are celebrated through the birth of a child. Stop and think about the gift that child gave you. It is a gift that only God could give.

Praise God!

to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.
(Jude 1:25 (NIV))

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Have you gotten lost on a detour?

December 9, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
(John 14:6 (NIV))

According to the world, there are many different ways to get to heaven.

What do you believe? What do you know to be the truth? Do you believe that they are the same thing?

Each religion in the world professes that they have the only path to get to god. You will notice that I chose to use a little “g,” for the gods that they claim to be able to reach are not the God of the universe. Each religion sets out a path that you must follow to achieve a higher level. Everything that they claim gets you closer to their god is something that you must do, but our God, the God of the universe did something to reach us!

He sent His Word! He sent His only begotten Son.

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

Jesus came to shine the light!

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
(John 1:14 (NIV))

Jesus came as one of us, a living man of flesh. We can never be good enough. We can never earn our way to God. Because of this, God came to us! Jesus was sent by God, as God made man, to bring us back to 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. 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))

The world tells us that we have to get better in order to see God. God tells us that He is better than the world. He has reached out to us to share His goodness, righteousness, mercy and grace. Personally, I know that I am not capable of anything on my own. I was drowning in a sea of sin. God reached out and rescued me. I didn’t have to rescue myself. Grace was and forever will be a gift. All that you have to do is accept it. If you are required to do something of your own strength, then you are on the wrong path.

Have you gotten lost on a detour?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you desire to be thoroughly equipped?

October 27, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
(2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV))

Do you like to cherry pick so that you go through and find what you like and leave the rest behind?

This concept works for selecting fruit and vegetables, but it is sadly used in circumstances where it shouldn’t even be considered.

Think about this in relation to your Bible reading and study plan. Do you have a favorite verse? If you are like most people who profess a faith in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior, you probably have what most people refer to as a life verse. There is nothing wrong with that. That passage is your personal anchor that firmly grounds you in your relationship with the Lord, but it should not be the complete extent of your knowledge and understanding. It should be the starting point for a continually growing relationship and understanding of Scripture.

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 all mankind.
(John 1:1-4 (NIV))

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
(John 1:14 (NIV))

Scripture is God’s Word. Jesus is God’s Word made flesh. If we long for a relationship with the Lord, then we must spend time getting to know Him. That means that we get to know everything that there is to know about the Lord, for He is perfect. If there is something that we desire to avoid then that reflects badly on us. It shows that we desire to settle for less than perfect. It shows that we desire to settle for our sin. It shows that we don’t truly desire the Lord and the spiritual growth that comes from His Word.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
(Hebrews 4:12 (NIV))

Are you willing to allow yourself to be judged, taught, rebuked, corrected and trained in righteousness?

Do you desire to be thoroughly equipped?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What do you expect to experience?

October 22, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

“When you see `the abomination that causes desolation’ standing where it does not belong–let the reader understand–then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the roof of his house go down or enter the house to take anything out. Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that this will not take place in winter, because those will be days of distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now–and never to be equaled again. If the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would survive. But for the sake of the elect, whom he has chosen, he has shortened them. At that time if anyone says to you, `Look, here is the Christ!’ or, `Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect–if that were possible. So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time.
(Mark 13:14-23 (NIV))

The Disciples expected Jesus to return in Glory during their lifetimes. Each generation since then has expected it in their lifetime.

The words that Jesus spoke of do not paint a pretty picture of His return for those who do not put their faith in Him. Yet, the Rapture is also expected for those who today put their faith in Him. Even so, man cannot understand these things at this point in time. Jesus will return, yet even He did not know when that would be.

No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
(Mark 13:32 (NIV))

All we can be certain of is that He will return. First, He will return for His true Church and then He will return in Glory to deal with the rest of the world who have rejected Him.

Nothing speaks of God’s Love and His Wrath more than the return of Jesus. When He returns, will you experience God’s Love or God’s Wrath?

What do you expect to experience?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What are you waiting for?

October 12, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.
(Revelation 22:17 (NIV))

Think back upon the last invitation that you received. Maybe it was an engraved, formal invitation to a wedding. Perhaps it was an email telling you of an event, the time and place. Perhaps it was a televised invitation to a concert. Better yet, was it a simple exchange between friends where one friend willingly opened his heart and home to you as a simple act of fellowship and love?

Now, imagine the best invitation that you have ever received is nothing more than filthy rags. That is exactly what it is in comparison to the invitation that all of us are given. All other invitations are to events that are fleeting in nature and are soon forgotten. The invitation that we are given by the Spirit is one to an eternal celebration of grace and mercy!

“Come!”

There is no other invitation needed. There is no other explanation needed. God, in all of His infinite wisdom and glory is freely offering us grace and mercy through the redeeming blood of His Son, Jesus Christ. All we have to do is accept the invitation.

Are you thirsty?

Do you long to have the water of life?

What are you waiting for? Grace and mercy are yours through this glorious invitation.

“Come!”

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Does what you ask glorify the Father?

October 9, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
(James 14:13-14 (NIV))

I don’t know just how many times that I have read or heard this passage, but tonight, I saw something that I understood in a new light. As believers, as Christians, we have taken this passage and condensed it to something that only represents the half truth that whatever we ask in the name of Jesus will be done for us. Read the passage again and stop to think about the things that you ask in the name of Jesus. Looking back on your faith walk, do your answers make you feel shameful for the things that you have asked for? What are some of the things that you remember asking? Did you receive an answer that matched your prayer request?

Human nature is selfish and as a result, even people who profess a faith in Jesus still possess this characteristic. Most people ask for things that benefit themselves either directly or indirectly. Even praying for healing of a loved one can be considered selfish if the reason that you pray is because you will miss them. It is a matter of motives. Do the things that you ask bring glory to yourself or to the Father? Do they stroke your ego or do they truly glorify God? Do they fuel a lust for fame and fortune or do they seek to follow God’s own heart?

You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
(James 4:2-3 (NIV))

Do your pleasures glorify God? Do your wrong motives guide you to seek after God’s heart? Each of us ask so much of God and from God, but why do we ask? What are our motives?

Does what you ask glorify the Father?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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There is no difference for we are all sinners!

September 28, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
(Romans 3:23 (NIV))

Most, if not all who read this can quote this passage, and rightly so. It is a foundational passage that clearly states that everyone needs a savior. It stands on its own with this meaning clearly conveyed and understood, but, have you ever looked at the complete sentence that this passage is taken from?

There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
(Romans 3:22b-24 (NIV))

Does the complete sentence add anything to or detract anything from your understanding of this passage? In all honesty, it still means that we are all sinners in need of a savior, but it goes much deeper in explaining this need and how to overcome this need. When this was written, Gentiles were looked down upon by many Jewish people. They were looked upon as unclean. If you remember the amount of criticism that Paul received simply because he ate with Gentiles, then you will understand the time period. When this sentence starts by saying that there is no difference between Jew and Gentile, it literally broke the traditional way of thinking. It clearly states that the Jew is not better than the Gentile and the Gentile is not better than the Jew. Both are sinners in need of a Savior and that salvation and grace can only be found through Jesus.

This was a radical concept when this was written!

Have we taken this radical idea and whitewashed it? Have we, as the Body of Christ, as Gentiles, forgotten that we were looked down upon as unworthy to receive grace and salvation by the very people that God’s gift of grace and salvation was promised through? Have we become arrogant in our salvation while looking at others as unworthy? Perhaps we need to not just quote the excerpt, but the whole sentence. Perhaps we need to focus on the whole truth and not just what we today call sound bites.

There is no difference for we are all sinners!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Have you truly confessed the name of Jesus?

September 24, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.”
(2 Timothy 2:19 (NIV))

There is a lot said in this passage. In all honesty, if I offered up my thoughts on all of the concepts presented, it would be a very long read. The concept behind these devotionals is a quick read to get people thinking and reading more for themselves. I could go into details and tie together different scriptures to explain God’s solid foundation, standing firm, being sealed, and the Lord knowing those who are His. Today, when reading this passage, the last part tugged at my spirit. This is something that every believer struggles with during their lives, whether it be within themselves, or whether it is within someone that they know and love.

Once we profess a faith in Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, we are to turn away from wickedness. We are to repent and follow Jesus in all things. That means that we are to do our best to stop sinning. Let’s face the facts. Most of us do not have any trouble with the things that we think of as the big sins. We don’t murder. We don’t take the Lord’s name in vain. Then there are what many people consider the lesser sins. We don’t steal, well at least, not the big stuff. Is that how we justify this in our minds as a lesser sin? I could go on, but we all have sins that we should turn away from.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
(Romans 3:23 (NIV))

Do you think that God sees the occasional sin caused by sinful human nature differently from the sins committed as a result of planned and premeditated wickedness? Perhaps I should rephrase that. All sin is reprehensible in the eyes of God. None of us are perfect. There is a difference between sinful actions that we accidentally commit simply because we are human and the sinful actions that we commit because we plan to commit them. As a believer, we are called to turn away from premeditated wickedness and sin. We are called to reject this sin and repent of this sin. If we confess that Jesus is Lord and still make plans to sin, then He isn’t our Lord. If we walk away from the premeditated wickedness and sin, and strive to follow Jesus as our Lord, we will falter along the way. We are only human. When we falter, we must turn to Jesus and repent.

If you look at the story of the woman caught in adultery, we read what Jesus instructed her to do with respect to her sin.

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 8:10-11 (NIV))

Had her sin been planned? Had her sin been one of choice? It was a lifestyle that was sinful. Jesus instructed her to leave her life of sin. That is the first step. Each of us must make a conscious decision to walk away from wickedness into the arms of Jesus. Once we make that decision, that confession of faith, we have taken that first step.

Have you truly confessed the name of Jesus?

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