It is not a matter of “if,” but “when”!

May 31, 2023

It is not a matter of "if," but "when"!

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

When you pass through the waters,
     I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
     they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
     you will not be burned;
     the flames will not set you ablaze.
(Isaiah 43:2 (NIV))

Did you notice anything about this passage?

There is one word that is repeated three times in these seven lines. Repetition is used to emphasize, to drive home a point. In this particular case, God spoke through the prophet Isaiah to tell people that if they choose to follow Him, He will be there with them in all circumstances including the times that they face hardships and persecution. He never said that we wouldn’t face hardships and troubles. He simply stated that He would be with us during these times. In fact, He repeated this three times to drive home the point that He would be with us during these difficult times.

When!

Why when?

If you profess a faith in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, you will be hated by the world. You will face hardships and persecution!

You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.
(Matthew 10:22 (NIV))

If you profess a faith in Jesus, and your faith is strong enough to let the world know where you stand, you will be hated. You will be hated because the world hates Jesus. You will be hated because you don’t go along with the evil things that this world condones. In many countries, you can be put to death for professing a faith in Jesus. With the current events that are transpiring in the world today, this is only the beginning. Whether you believe in a rapture, or when it will happen, we are told that we will face hardships and persecution. If you profess a faith in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, we know that these times will come. We must be prepared.

Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For 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. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
(Ephesians 6:11-17 (NIV))

It is not a matter of “if,” but “when”!

Copyright 1998 – 2023 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
https://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What is in your wardrobe?

May 26, 2023

What is in your wardrobe?

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
(Colossians 3:12 (NIV))

We all like to look our best. We all like to dress for success. I will admit that some of us are better at it than others, but in the big picture, no one deliberately tries to look bad.

If you profess a faith in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, you are also called to “dress the part.”

Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For 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. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
(Ephesians 6:11-17 (NIV))

It sounds like we are to be prepared for battle, as we should be, for the enemy prowls around seeking to devour.

Yet, at the same time, we are called to do something that seems contradictory to this. The following words that Jesus spoke to His disciples tells the story.

“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.
(Matthew 10:16 (NIV))

We are to be shrewd in that we are to be constantly on our guard, dressed in the full armor of God for protection against the attacks of the enemy. At the same time, we are to be innocent by clothing ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. In other words, we are to be weak because He is strong. We are to love as Jesus loved while fully relying on His strength to fight off the attacks of the enemy. We are to clothe ourselves with His love, but we must not forget that we also have the authority and power of the Lord with us no matter what we may face in this world.

Even though I walk
     through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
     for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
     they comfort me.
(Psalm 23:4 (NIV))

Too many of us are dressed for one extreme or the other. Some are still fully clothed in the things of this world. Too many of us forget that we are called to clothe ourselves with innocence and love, while, at the same time, we are fully clothed with the full armor of God. We desire compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, but we must not shrink away from the attacks of the enemy.

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.
(1 John 4:4 (NIV))

Have you fully clothed yourself according to His desires?

What is in your wardrobe?

Copyright 1998 – 2023 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
https://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you out of your earthly mind?

May 25, 2023

Are you out of your earthly mind?

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you.
(2 Corinthians 5:13 (NIV))

Have you ever heard the expression, “They’re out of their ever loving mind.”?

Perhaps you prefer saying something like one of the following. One fry short of a happy meal. The elevator doesn’t go all the way up. He has a few loose screws. Or, he doesn’t have the sense that God gave him. But, no matter how you say it, the implications are that the person in question is crazy or even stupid.

If you profess a faith in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, then this is exactly how the world sees you! The world even calls us uneducated and ignorant. What is so ironically funny is that there are many believers who are just as educated according to worldly standards as those who make these claims.

Where do you claim to belong in this attack on the sanity of those who profess a faith in Jesus?

I don’t know about you, but I love the words that Joshua spoke.

But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
(Joshua 24:15 (NIV))

I don’t care what the world thinks of me, for this world is not my home. I have been, and will continue to do what I am called to do to share my faith. At this present moment in time, the world thinks that they are right, but the Lord is patient. We must continue to be out of our minds in hopes of sharing the truth of the Gospel with those who are in need of a Savior before it is too late.

that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
     in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
     to the glory of God the Father.
(Philippians 2:10-11 (NIV))

We can profess Jesus now and be saved, or we can profess Jesus is Lord when it is too late. I don’t know about you, but waiting until it is too late is the epitome of being out of your mind, but sadly, that is how the world thinks.

With that in mind, I have but one more question for you to consider.

Are you out of your earthly mind?

Copyright 1998 – 2023 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
https://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you placed your sinful past at the foot of the cross!

May 19, 2023

Have you placed your sinful past at the foot of the cross!

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
(1 Corinthians 6:11 (NIV))

Do you like living in the past?

Would you like to go back and relive your life?

I realize that we all have the proverbial “what if” moments when we stop to reflect, but how many of us truly wish to go back and live through the things that we now try to put behind us? If we truly have left something behind, why do we wish to revisit it? If we truly have put our sinful past behind us, why would we wish to revert back to our sinful, fallen nature and the consequences of that sin, especially since we have the glorious promise of grace and mercy that was freely given to us through the cross?

When you complete elementary school, do you wish to go back to kindergarten? When you complete college, do you wish to go back to elementary school? Then, why do so many people, upon professing a faith in Jesus, return to their sin? Sadly, we are creatures of habit. We had become comfortable with our sin. We had become addicted to our sin, and that addiction draws us. Even if we don’t respond, it nags us. It tempts us. It reminds us of our past.

It makes us think that we are unworthy of the mercy and grace that we have been given!

To be honest with you, we are unworthy. However, we have a Father who loves us and His love is greater than all of our sin. He provided a way for us to be redeemed. Not of our doing, but of His doing!

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))

With this in mind, I wish to remind you of a saying that when the devil reminds you of your past, you are to remind him of his future. You are to boldly profess that you have been washed by the blood of the lamb and that your garments have been made white as snow. He no longer sees your sins. He sees righteousness inherited because of your faith in Jesus.

Your sins have been removed because of His great love.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
     so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
     so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
(Psalm 103:11-12 (NIV))

Have you placed your sinful past at the foot of the cross!

Copyright 1998 – 2023 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
https://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is it your desire to prove faithful?

May 18, 2023

Is it your desire to prove faithful?

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.
(1 Corinthians 4:2 (NIV))

Have you been given a trust?

Paul wrote these words to the church in Corinth. He was explaining to them that he had a responsibility to share the Gospel, to share the mysteries that God had revealed. He let it be known that since he knew of these mysteries, he was required to share with others. His choice of words also indicated that once he had shared those mysteries, the ones who had received such knowledge were also required to share with others.

I hope that this concept sounds very familiar to you!

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
(Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV))

If we know the truth and the power of the Gospel, then we are to share it!

If we, as believers, had a job description, then sharing the Gospel is our only duty. It goes hand in hand with how Jesus answered when He was asked what is the greatest commandment.

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
(Matthew 22:37-40 (NIV))

Loving the Lord in this manner requires surrendering your will to His. It means that you cherish Him above all others. It means that you trust and believe. It means that you have faith! If you understand just who the Lord is, then you desire to share this understanding with others. To put it clearly, you love others enough to share with them the love that the Lord shared with you through the cross.

You have been given a Great Commission. You have been given an explanation of how God loves and how we are to love others.

In other words, you have been given a trust!

We who have accepted Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior are called to prove faithful in sharing what we have been given.

Is it your desire to prove faithful?

Copyright 1998 – 2023 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
https://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are we understanding the urgency of our present time?

May 16, 2023

Are we understanding the urgency of our present time?

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.
(Romans 13:11 (NIV))

When Paul wrote these words to the Romans, he was warning them that the time had come to wake up from their sinful slumber for salvation was at hand. They had been living with no hope of salvation and Paul’s words were used as a proclamation that they now had hope, and that this hope was firmly grounded in Jesus!

Today, after two thousands years, we must be able to understand a different present time.

As believers in Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, we know that salvation is ours if we profess this faith and call upon the name of Jesus. Salvation has been made available to a sinful, fallen world for two thousand years. Today, we must watch and wait for the fulfillment of God’s plans as He draws the church age to a close.

I have stated many times in recent years that I, like many others, feel that God’s plans are rapidly unfolding right before our eyes. The events that we watch are too numerous to list here, for they are many. Just as God used Paul to tell the Romans that salvation was then available, I believe that God is using many things in this world to tell us of this present time. He is telling us to wake from our slumber.

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))

Paul preached salvation and grace based on his Damascus Road encounter with Jesus. He was correct in spreading this good news, this Gospel, to a sinful, fallen world. He was correct in helping them to understand that their time to repent was upon them. Today, we are closer to the time when Jesus gathers His church to Himself. Today, we are closer to the time when every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord. Today, we are in the times when we must do as Paul did and preach the Gospel to all whom we encounter.

Have we been woken up from our slumber?

Are we understanding the urgency of our present time?

Copyright 1998 – 2023 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
https://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you truly received and believed?

May 15, 2023

Have you truly received and believed?

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,
(John 1:12 (ESV))

Have you ever stopped to reflect on what this passage means to you?

It basically boils down to two very distinct words – Receive and believe.

When we hear the word “receive,” we think of something along the lines of receiving a gift. This goes well with the concept of one definition that means to come into the possession of something. However, there are other definitions that I believe are more relevant. According to Merriam-Webster, these are also valid definitions of the word “receive.”

1. To act as a receptacle or container for
2. To permit to enter
3. To accept as authoritative, true, or accurate

When you profess a faith in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, you open your heart and permit Him to enter because you have accepted Him to be authoritative and true to what has been foretold in God’s Word. In other words, by you profession of faith in Jesus, you are doing more than simply receiving the amazing gift of grace! You are proclaiming so much more! This profession of faith also is a declaration that you believe what Paul wrote that this salvation, this amazing grace, is found only in the name of Jesus.

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
(Acts 4:12 (NIV))

I believe that the modern church has whitewashed the power behind professing a faith in Jesus. We tend to neglect what it means to receive. We tend to forget that the idea behind receiving Jesus is the three definitions listed above. It is not a passive activity. We have made a choice and we should stand fully ready to expect that Jesus will fill us with the power of His truth. With this in mind, I have but one thing to ask you.

Have you truly received and believed?

Copyright 1998 – 2023 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
https://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What’s on your mind?

May 12, 2023

What’s on your mind?

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.
(Romans 8:6-7 (NIV))

Two very distinct examples of what awaits us if we continue to let the flesh rule our minds.

We are told in Galatians what we face, what we will see as the characteristics of the mind governed by the flesh, and they are not pretty.

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
(Galatians 5:19-21 (NIV))

Do you see these characteristics in your life?

If so, what does that say about the things that control your mind? What does that say about the actions that we must take?

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
(2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV))

When we accept Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, we have accepted the grace that is freely given, but we have also accepted the fact that our lives are not supposed to be the same as before we accepted Jesus. We are to relinquish the things of this world, the things of the flesh, and focus on the things of God. We are to strive, with His help, to replace the acts of the flesh with things of the Spirit. We are to bear good fruit according to His purpose.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
(Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV))

We are to make a daily decision to have our minds governed by the fruit of the Spirit.

I realize that we are born sinners and that we live in a sinful, fallen world, but the decision is ours. We have been told that we will face troubles in this world, but we are to focus on Jesus, for He has overcome the world. We are to fill our minds with things of God and not things of this world. You will be surprised at what can and will happen in your life when this becomes your priority. It all starts with what you think about!

What’s on your mind?

Copyright 1998 – 2023 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
https://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Everything hinges on one important word!

May 11, 2023

Everything hinges on one important word!

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
(1 John 1:9 (NIV))

IF . . .

Two little letters that far too many people simply overlook.

If you have ever done any programming or have ever created a formula in a spreadsheet, you may be familiar with an IF > THEN statement. In essence, IF something happens, THEN something else can be expected. In all honesty, this concept makes perfect sense, but why do so many people bypass the IF and still expect the THEN?

IF you work hard, THEN you will be rewarded. Too many people want the reward without the work.

IF you get good grades, THEN you can do anything that you put your mind to. Too many people want the end result without the commitment required to get there.

IF you show compassion, THEN you will be shown compassion. Too many people still have a double standard when it comes to what they do and what they expect others to do for them.

IF you confess your sins, THEN . . .

IF you profess a faith in Jesus, THEN . . .

What do you expect for the THEN when you think of these two IF statements?

Even the passage that nonbelievers know contains an IF > THEN statement. You have to look closely, but it is there!

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.
(John 3:16 (NIV))

IF you believe in Jesus, THEN you shall not perish but have eternal life.

Society has adopted a false Gospel. They have left off the IF and gone straight to the THEN where everyone is saved because God is love. It is our responsibility as believers to share the Gospel in its true form. We are to make disciples and teach them correctly. We are to show people the importance of two little letters.

Everything hinges on one important word!

Copyright 1998 – 2023 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
https://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you kind, compassionate and forgiving?

May 10, 2023

Are you kind, compassionate and forgiving?

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
(Ephesians 4:32 (NIV))

We are called to be kind, compassionate and forgiving!

So, just how hard can this be?

The last time that I looked, these characteristics go against anything and everything that we call human nature. They go against the very desires of the flesh that makes up our physical existence.

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
(Galatians 5:19-21 (NIV))

We are called to be kind, compassionate and forgiving, yet our very flesh is doing all that it can to keep us from this calling. Our flesh calls us to focus on three individuals, me, myself and I. We must learn to desire the characteristics that God desires for each of us to possess. We must learn to shift our focus to others and learn how to see others as God sees them.

We must learn to shift our focus from the physical to the spiritual!

We must learn to shift our focus from ourselves to others!

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
(Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV))

When you focus on what God desires for you, then you start to change from the inside out. You no longer see the world from the perspective of what’s in it for me. Rather, you start to see the world from the vantage point that we are all in the very same sinking ship. We are all sinners in need of a Savior. When this happens, you see in others what you know was at one point in you. You begin to see, and understand, that no one can do for themselves what Jesus has done for you. You realize that in order for them to be shown this great love, you must be the hands and feet of Jesus. You must share with them what was once shared with you. In essence, you need to show kindness. You need to show compassion, and you need to show forgiveness. It will be these characteristics that draw people to you. It will be these characteristics that allow you to show them Jesus.

Are you kind, compassionate and forgiving?

Copyright 1998 – 2023 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
https://www.dailylivingministries.org
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