How are your peacemaking skills?

July 26, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Blessed are the peacemakers,
     for they will be called sons of God.
(Matthew 5:9 (NIV))

Peace! That is something that the world is in short supply of at this moment in history.

The world definitely needs the peace that passes understanding. Perhaps it is this peace, and not the earthly peace that Jesus was actually speaking of in this passage. The earthly peace is something that is a lofty goal, but it will not be attainable in the natural world.

Consider the peace that God gives to those who truly follow Him. It is a peace that literally passes all understanding especially since it gives the recipient a joy that transcends the problems of the physical world. Perhaps it is this peace that passes understanding that Jesus is referring to.

Those who plant the seeds of this peace truly are the sons of God for they are giving something that can only be given through a love that goes beyond the earthly type of love. This peace is a gift from God through His Son, Jesus Christ.

How many times have you heard people refer to sharing the Gospel as the passing of the peace?

Closely examine your peacemaking abilities. Could you be considered this type of peacemaker?

How are your peacemaking skills?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What is your answer to what Jesus asks each of us?

July 23, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

‘What about you?’ Jesus asked. ‘Who do you say I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’
(Matthew 16:15-16 (NIV))

This is the question that Jesus is asking each and every one of us!

Who do you say that Jesus is? Think carefully about your answer.

Some say that Jesus never existed and that the stories are fabrications of a group of people who were determined to trick people.

Some say that he was simply a good man. This is partially true. Jesus definitely was a good man, but He was much more than a mortal man. Others say that he was a prophet. This is also partially true. He did speak the words of God, but not as a man who was given these words, but as one who spoke out of the authority that comes from the words.

Search your heart. Reflect on what is written about Jesus. Consider that He is the most controversial person to ever have walked the earth. For two thousand years people have been either praising Him or denying Him. Consider what He taught. Consider His status in life as a carpenter in a country that was under foreign domination. How can a man who had no worldly claim to fame captivate the world for two thousand years? Even the men of power during His lifetime do not receive the same attention that this lowly carpenter has received.

There is something in His words that draws people who are seeking the truth. There is something in His words that offends people who are seeking their own way. There is something about Him that still draws people to Him over two thousand years after His brief ministry on this earth.

Just what is that something? That is for each and every one of us to discover. Once you discover it, you will answer as Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

What is your answer to what Jesus asks each of us?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Hope, joy and peace come from trusting the Lord!

July 22, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
(Romans 15:13 (NIV))

With the current state of the world, we need hope. We need joy, and we need peace!

Can you imagine how people who don’t profess a faith in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior are coping with what we have been facing? Even members of the Body of Christ can sometimes begin to feel the weight of the world crashing down on us, and we have the hope we have been given through Jesus to cling to! Can you imagine the weight that others are feeling when they have no hope to cling to?

We are all familiar with the often used saying that when things are looking down, look up. To be honest with you, I see more and more people boldly proclaiming their faith through social media than I have ever seen. It may just be the algorithms that are used, but it appears that over fifty percent of what I see is people sharing faith based content. I take this as an indication that people are spending more time in God’s Word and are clinging to the truth that it contains. People are looking up! Or, should I say that they are looking down into the pages of their Bibles? Can we take this as a sign that people are lifting their hearts and their hands to heaven? Can we take this as a sign the people are lifting up prayers to the Lord?

For those of us who cling to the promises that are “yes” in Jesus, we have hope. We have joy, and we have peace. We also have an assignment!

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))

And, the harvest fields are ripe to hear the Gospel!

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
(Isaiah 6:8 (NIV))

There has never been a better time to share the Gospel of Jesus. The time may be short and for those who don’t trust in the Lord, we may be the only people who will share. We must tell them the truth!

Hope, joy and peace come from trusting the Lord!

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do your thoughts run wild?

July 19, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

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))

In other words, we should control what we say, see, hear and do so that we can focus on the Lord, and we should also control what we think!

This sounds wonderful, but as Paul wrote these words to the church at Corinth, he was giving instructions to the members of that body of believers on how to conduct spiritual warfare.

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.
(2 Corinthians 10:3-4 (NIV))

In fact, it was Paul who was coming under attack by others who were professing to love the Gospel. These words were encouragement to weigh what he was preaching to see if he was boasting. Paul was telling this group of people, and us, to look at the message and not the messenger, for they were saying that his writings were powerful yet his speaking was not.

You are judging by appearances. If anyone is confident that they belong to Christ, they should consider again that we belong to Christ just as much as they do.
(2 Corinthians 10:7 (NIV))

Sadly, we still experience this very same thing today. We judge the messenger and not the message. We can have a dynamic speaker who doesn’t speak the truth and this person will be followed. We can also have a speaker who is shy and timid and speaks the truth, but who follows this person? We must learn to discern who is speaking the truth and, as Paul wrote, demolish arguments so that we can take captive our every thought so that we are obedient to Christ. If we are too tied up in appearances, we will not be focused on the truth. Our thoughts will run out of control toward the worldly things that we say that we want to turn away from. We will have not only failed to take our thoughts captive, we will have enabled them to run wild.

Do your thoughts run wild?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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He is our one true hope!

July 16, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Why are you downcast, O my soul?
      Why so disturbed within me?
   Put your hope in God,
      for I will yet praise him,
      my Savior and my God.
(Psalms 43:5 (NIV))

It seems that people turn to God in times of trouble, only to turn away when things begin to get better. Think back a few years ago to the aftermath of September 11, 2001. Churches were filled with people praying. Where did they all go? Why are they still not there? It seems that when tragedy hits, people realize that they are not in control, but arrogance soon takes over once things begin to return to normal. People tend to forget God in the good times.

I find it interesting that the psalmist wrote about what seems to be the opposite scenario. He praised God during the good times, thanking Him for all that He has done. When things begin to go less than desirably, he wanted to grovel. He was depressed. He was sad. It sounds like he almost turned away from God. He wanted to forget God in the bad times.

Both scenarios are common place. We are an arrogant, yet fickle creation. We have been blessed with individuality, but sometimes that can be our biggest problem. Don’t get me wrong. God created us to be individuals. He created each of us to be unique in all of creation. He cherishes our individuality. It is through this individuality that we each must learn to earnestly seek God, even when we feel like turning from Him. We need to make it an every day occurrence and not just at the times in our lives that are contrary to our natures. For some, this is when we lose control. For others, it is when things are going good. Perhaps it is simply a matter of our personality, but regardless of how God created us, we are to praise Him in all things.

Carefully consider how long a marriage would last if one person only turned to the other for just a few days a month. Now, consider your relationship with God through Jesus. Do you turn to God in much the same manner?

Do you praise God at all times for being your Savior and your God?

He is our one true hope!

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you willing to be searched?

July 14, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
(Psalms 139:23 (NIV))

What imagery comes to mind when you think of being searched?

Is it invasive? Is it forceful? Is it a scenario where you feel extremely uncomfortable? Is your imagery of being searched something that you would want to be put through? Is this how you envision God searching you?

We have a choice. We can profess a faith in Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, and then open up our heart to the searching and guidance of the Holy Spirit, or we can wait until the appointed time when Jesus returns. We can surrender to the gentle searching that will lead to a maturity in Christ, or we can be defiant now and face something that none of us want to face. Those who don’t profess a faith in Jesus now will acknowledge His Lordship 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))

Asking God to search your heart means that you surrender to Him and to His plans for you. Asking God to search your heart indicates that you are ready and willing to take a step toward realizing the hope of a future in His presence.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
(Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV))

If you ask the Lord to search your heart, you better be prepared for God to remove some things from your life. You better be prepared to experience some spiritual growing pains as the Lord refines you and makes you into someone that He can use.

Remove the dross from the silver,
     and a silversmith can produce a vessel;
(Proverbs 25:4 (NIV))

Asking the Lord to search your heart is the first step.

Are you willing to be searched?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What does your diet consist of?

July 13, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”
(Matthew 4:4 (NIV))

Besides being necessary to live, eating has become something that has made our society what it is today. It has sparked the creation of cookbooks, diets, cooking utensils, spices, and mood enhancers to create just the special occasion. We have television shows focused on food. We spend so much time thinking about food that we have become obsessed. We have taken that obsession to the smallest detail, and even to the point where we want to flavor enhance water. We have restaurants where you can sit down for long periods of time and slowly enjoy the cuisine. We have restaurants where you are in and out in fifteen minutes or less. We even have the ability to drive through some restaurants and pick up food to go.

We spend so much money, time and effort on the food that feeds us physically, yet we barely spend any time on what feeds us spiritually. Even though most people who profess a faith in Jesus own a Bible, there are many people who never open its pages to feed their spirit. They never venture into the very heart of God. They never feed upon the sweet morsels of truth that the Lord gives us.

Taste and see that the Lord is good;
     blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
(Psalm 34:8 (NIV))

Have you truly tasted of the goodness of the Lord? Have you opened the cover and turned the pages to see His grace and mercy being offered time and time again to a people who ebb and flow with each passing generation? I need to say this. If you don’t spend time in God’s Word and feed upon the sweet spiritual nourishment, it is like someone who goes to a restaurant and only looks at the menu. You only get a glimpse of what is offered. You miss out on the very thing that you claim to want.

It is said that tasting and eating are the most personal of the senses. All other senses allow you to experience what is around you. Eating makes that experience an integral part of you. You are putting something external and foreign into your body. The same can be said of what you feed on spiritually. You are feeding a hunger that can only be satisfied by the Lord. Sadly, too many people try to feed this spiritual hunger with anything and everything that they can think of while completely ignoring the true source that satisfies.

What does your diet consist of?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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From the inside out!

July 12, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(1 Thessalonians 5:23 (NIV))

I had something pointed out to me today that should have been obvious, or it should have been obvious if I had simply been paying attention!

If you slow down and read this passage you will see that this passage gives us God’s order of importance with respect to our lives. In essence, it explains, in more detail, the concept that outward appearances are not what make a person righteous, and because of this, God looks at the heart. The heart reflects the spirit and the desires of the heart determine a person’s life. You will seek out what your heart desires.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
(Matthew 6:21 (NIV))

Our words reflect what is in our heart.

What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.
(Matthew 15:11 (NIV))

But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.
(Matthew 15:18-19 (NIV))

God looks at the secrets within. He knows that in order to be righteous and blameless, it has to start from within us. It has to start with a desire to turn from our sin and profess a faith in Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior. Too many people go through the outward motions without ever having a change within. Their secret life is as sinful as ever, but the facade that they present to the world is one that appears to be blameless. Jesus let these people know of their sin, for they were acting righteous when what was inside was wicked.

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.
(Matthew 23:27-28 (NIV))

Would Jesus call you a hypocrite? Do you desire to change? Repent and ask God to change your heart and He will change you…

From the inside out!

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are the things of the Lord on your to-do list?

July 1, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

“These are the things you are to do: Speak the truth to each other, and render true and sound judgment in your courts; do not plot evil against each other, and do not love to swear falsely. I hate all this,” declares the Lord.
(Zechariah 8:16-17 (NIV))

How many people make to-do lists? Are you one of them? What do you find yourself putting on these lists? Do you actually accomplish the things that you put on the lists? I realize that this is a lot of questions for what many people consider a simple thing, but did you realize that God has created a few to-do lists for us? God has told us what we are to do many different times in human history, but we have failed each time.

God only had one item on His original to-do list for us and Adam and Eve couldn’t do that. We all know the Ten Commandments and probably what stands out most about these is that eight start by telling us what not to do and only two directly tell us what to do. Of all the commandments and the laws that are recorded in the Old Testament, I love what Jesus answered to a question that was probably asked to trick Him.

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
(Mark 12:28-31 (NIV))

The whole history of humanity is how God provides instructions on what we are to do and then we fail miserably or go in the opposite direction. Human history would not be complete without those who do try to do what God desires, but we still fail. These simple things that we are asked to do or not do are the things that God calls righteous. When we do not live up to these standards, we have missed the mark. We have sinned.

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

We are not capable of completing a simple to-do list, but by the grace of God we have been given a way to overcome our shortcomings so that in God’s eyes every box is checked.

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))

Once you check the box next to “Accept Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior,” God sees Jesus’ righteousness in place of your sin. Once you have made that choice, you will have a daily struggle to check the other boxes with what God desires of us, but the Holy Spirit will guide you. Some days you will check many boxes while other days you will be lucky to check one. No matter the outcome of the day, you must always turn to the Lord and repent of your shortcomings and pray that you can keep your eyes focused on Jesus.

Are the things of the Lord on your to-do list?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What do you know?

June 21, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
(Romans 8:28 (NIV))

This is a difficult thing for many people to grasp, for they see only the immediate results of things as they happen. Humanity does not have the luxury of being able to see the long term consequences of any given event or series of events.

All too often we jump to worldly conclusions and do not see the “God” scheme of things. No matter what we may face in this life, we must remember that God is in control. If we are His through the grace and mercy granted through His Son Jesus Christ, then our ultimate good is heaven. If that is true, then everything that happens in this world can be taken as a temporary situation. This is hard to fathom when a loved one faces death or when a country faces terrorism, but, we must remember that what we see in the physical world is only a small fraction of the battle that goes on in the spiritual world.

If we hold steadfast in our faith in Jesus, then we are assured of our “good.”

What do you know?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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