We must pick up our cross no matter the cost!

July 7, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me.
(Acts 20:22-23 (NIV))

How many of us would willingly go somewhere knowing that there is a very good possibility that you would face great danger? Would you be willing to stand up for your faith even in the midst of hardships and prison? Would you go headlong into the situation even if you knew that this would be the outcome?

Paul faced many hardships during his travels to spread the Gospel, yet nothing that he faced was able to convince him to stop sharing the good news of Jesus. It was more important to him than his own life!

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

Can we make that same profession of faith?

For years I have been saying that a time is coming when speaking the name of Jesus would carry dire consequences from beatings to even death. That time is drawing closer. We are seeing things escalate at a rate that I would have never imagined being able to happen in my lifetime. Just look at what has happened in the last few years. What about the last few months? What will we be facing next? Are we ready, willing and able to have the same attitude as Paul did during his lifetime? Will we head into the hardships if that is where we are called? Are we ready to die to self and pick up the cross without counting the cost of our actions?

We must pick up our cross no matter the cost!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you comfortable in this world?

June 16, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.
(John 15:9 (NIV))

I want to get something straight. I want it to be known by anyone and everyone who sees me.

This world is not my home!

I may live in it, but I do not like the things of this world. My focus is on Jesus! I cling to the words from what Jesus prayed for His disciples while in the Garden of Gethsemane.

I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.
(John 17:14-18 (NIV))

In other words, we, as the Body of Christ, are to occupy until we are called home. We are to spread the Gospel. We are to pray. We are to be salt and light in this earth, but we are not to get comfortable here. We are called to not be content in a sinful, fallen world. We are called to not find our security in this sinful, fallen world. The only place that we, as the Body of Christ, should be comfortable is in the will of the Lord.

The world has many things that can be used to distract us. We must be on our guard against the distractions of the enemy and focus solely on Jesus. He is our true source of all comfort!

Are you comfortable in this world?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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We must focus on being lovers of God!

June 5, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God-
(2 Timothy 3:1-4 (NIV))

I am sure that you have seen the jokes and the memes on social media about the type of year that 2020 has been so far. We hope and pray that things will get better, but I honestly think that what we are seeing is becoming the norm, especially when you read about what people will be like in the last days. In fact, when I first read this passage this evening, I did not have to struggle to think up very public examples of each one of these traits. I am certain that you can probably think of prime examples of each one of these traits as evidenced in our society as well.

Why have people become so blinded? Why have people become so self-centered and hate-filled? These traits go against every single one of God’s commandments. They also go against other traits that we are told we should strive to possess.

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))

Sadly, these traits are not what seems to be front and center in today’s world. Far too many in this world are being led astray by the enemy. They are being led down a path that comes in direct conflict with anything good – with anything from God! They are being led down a path of sin and evil.

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))

I am sure that we have all heard that as followers of Jesus, we live in the world, but we are not of the world. How are we, as the Body of Christ, to respond to people who are in open rebellion against God?

We are to share the Gospel! We are also told what to do if people will not listen.

If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.
(Matthew 10:14-15 (NIV))

We are to pray! We can’t soften hearts. Only God can. We must pray that those who rebel will repent and turn to the Lord. And, we must stand firm in our faith so that we are not led astray.

We must focus on being lovers of God!

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

June 3, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

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

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

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

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

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

How could anybody in their right mind ever say that?

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

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

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

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

How well are we fulfilling these requirements?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What will be your reward?

May 22, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.
(Revelation 22:12 (NIV))

What are the most obvious questions that present themselves after reading this?

If you are like me, the first thought that I had was will what I have done merit a reward?

I can hear the questions that arise from that question. Basically, they pivot around the truth of the fact that we can’t earn salvation by our deeds. Salvation is a gift of grace that is freely given to all who will receive. Is this where the reward comes in? Is Jesus differentiating between those who simply receive Him and those who receive Him and then bring others into the kingdom?

Think about that with respect to your life?

I hate to say this, but it is human nature to sit back and look around at the world and have the attitude that I have mine. I believe in Jesus!

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 reflect on this, you realize that when you first accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, you are so thankful for what Jesus has done for you. As you mature, you begin to realize that what He has done for you He has freely done for everyone. All that they need to do is accept. It is at this stage in your faith that you begin to realize that you know people who could use a salvation relationship with Jesus.

Are you content with simply receiving yours?

Do you share the Gospel?

Each of us are called to do just that!

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.
(Matthew 28:19-20a (NIV))

I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of a greater reward than being a faithful servant and sharing the Gospel.

His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
(Matthew 25:21 (NIV))

What will be your reward?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you ashamed of the power of the Gospel?

May 19, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.
(Romans 1:16 (NIV))

How strong is your faith?

I realize that this sounds like a strange question to be asking someone who is reading something that is based on scripture. I have found that the simpler the questions are concerning spiritual matters, the more difficult that they seem to be to answer. The simple questions seem to require an in-depth look at yourself and most people are afraid of what they will see within themselves. So, with this stated, I want to ask once again, how strong is your faith? What do you see within yourself?

If you were told to deny Jesus or die, what would you do?

If you were told to bow down and worship a statue, what would you do?

If you were told to lie in order to preserve your life, what would you do?

If you were told to take a mark or lose your head, what would you do?

All of us see things going on in the world and we wonder if we are drawing closer to the time of the end when everything that God calls good is called evil and everything that God calls evil is called good. Do you have the strength of faith to hold fast to the goodness and truth that is the Lord even when all around you is proclaiming evil? Think about that for a moment. Consider how rapidly things have changed. Are you prepared to stand firm?

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.
(Ephesians 6:13 (NIV))

Is your armor on?

We have been basically told that we cannot go to church. We have been told that we must wear a mask in public. We have been told that we must maintain social distancing. Now, we are being told that there is a plan to require a traceable vaccine in order to be able to resume “normal” life. I don’t know about you, but this doesn’t sound like the freedom that we have through the Blood of Jesus. In fact, it sounds like it is an attempt to control those who don’t know Jesus. Myself and countless others may be wrong, but do you want to gamble your eternity if what is happening is as it appears? Some may call this conspiracy theory, but for those who know God’s Word, it is all laid out. Study God’s Word. Look around you!

We must choose!

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))

Now is not the time to be timid!

Now is not the time to be ashamed of the Gospel.

Are you ashamed of the power of the Gospel?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you fully walking with Jesus?

April 16, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

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 28:19-20 (NIV))

Everybody loves the last part of this passage.

And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
(Matthew 28:20b (NIV))

It is a wonderful assurance that the Lord will always be with those who follow Him. Sadly, most people fail to recognize that this scripture is at the end of a set of instructions that are known as the Great Commission. As believers and followers of Jesus, we are given a task. We are to share the Gospel and make disciples. We are to tell the world about the grace and mercy that is freely given through the cross of Jesus. As believers, that is our assignment. If we consider ourselves to be in the Lord’s army, then that is our direct order straight from the top! We are instructed to be on the front lines of this spiritual war.

I may get some people upset with the next few questions and sentences, but I feel that they need to be asked and stated.

In your understanding, why did Jesus come into the world? Was it to bring eternal redemption and restoration to the Father through the grace freely given at the cross, or was it to bring social changes that only impact the present? Did Jesus come to make this offer only to a select few or to the whole world? Have you accepted this offer of grace and salvation?

Did Jesus tie His being with us to His assignment to share the Gospel? If we have accepted Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, we have inherited the orders originally given to the disciples. We are to go and make disciples. We are to baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. We are to teach others to obey by teaching them to learn and understand. Do we truly obey? Do we truly understand what we are called to do?

Is there a reason why Jesus tells us that He will be with us always immediately following the instructions to share the Gospel?

Personally, I think that they go hand in hand with each other. If we choose to accept Jesus, then He will never leave us. He will guide us into what and where we are to go. Just as we are called to repent, we are also called to witness and to share the Gospel. The more we go and make disciples, the more we learn to rely on Him and the closer we draw near to Him. Jesus promises to never leave us, but through our lack of obedience, do we leave Him?

Is Jesus with you?

Perhaps I should ask it this way. Are you fully walking with Jesus?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Will your harvest be plentiful?

March 26, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.
(2 Corinthians 9:5 (NIV))

I think that it is safe to say that most people are not currently thinking about sowing, especially if it involves sowing into the lives of others. Think about that in the context of the life of Jesus. When He came into the world, it was not exactly a safe place to be. Did that stop Him from coming? He came into the world to teach and go to the cross to save us from our sins. He came knowing that He would die! Did that stop Him from coming? He had a mission and He did not let anything get in the way of bringing salvation to those who would listen and believe.

The current situation in this world is unprecedented, but we, as the Body of Christ, still have a mission.

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 28:19-20 (NIV))

We are to make disciples!

We are to sow the seeds of salvation into the hearts of all whom we encounter. How do we do this when the world is in such a state? There is a quote that is attributed to St. Francis of Assisi. It says, “Preach always. When necessary, use words.” We can share the Gospel by living our lives as a living testimony to the power of grace. We can live our lives in such a way that people see a peace in us that just doesn’t make sense in this otherwise hectic world. We can live our lives in such a way that people ask why we are different. We can sow based on how we live our lives. We can plant the seed that others will nurture and God will reap.

So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor.
(1 Corinthians 3:7-8 (NIV))

Do you sow into the lives of those whom you encounter? Do they see something in you that is different from the world? Do they want to know what makes you different?

Will your harvest be plentiful?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you know God’s call?

March 24, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

“Be still, and know that I am God;
(Psalms 46:10a (NIV))

Have you found yourself looking at the state of the world and realized that you were shaking your head in disbelief? If you have, you are not the only one to experience this. To be honest with you, the whole world seems to be caught up in this mindset. It seems that everyone is trying to place blame on those who don’t think as they do. Hopefully, those who profess a faith in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior are not among those pointing fingers and placing blame. We should realize that anything and everything that is of this world can fall apart at a moments notice.

As the Body of Christ, we place our faith not in this world but in the one who created this world. When we face a storm, we shouldn’t look at the storm and panic. We should lift our eyes to the one who can calm the storm. When the world feels that there is a reason to panic, we simply need to fall to our knees, lift up our prayers and seek the very heart of God. Only then will we be able to know how to respond. To be honest with you, we should be the ones who are remaining calm when all around is is falling apart. That is the prime opportunity for the world to see that we have a peace that they do not have. This is the prime opportunity to witness to those who are in panic mode. This is the prime opportunity to introduce them to Jesus.

During these unprecedented times, we need to be still and listen for what God tells us. He may be calling us to do something that will have an impact on the lives of those who don’t know Him yet. Now that the whole world is facing uncertain times, we need to do what we, as the Body of Christ, have been called to do.

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.
(Mark 16:15 (NIV))

God has gotten the world to slow down. He is telling the whole world to be still. He is calling the whole world to repentance. He is calling the whole world to return to Him. We must be prepared to be His hands and feet. We must be prepared to be the boots on the ground who share His Gospel. We must be still and know what He is calling us to do.

Do you know God’s call?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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You will be amazed at what happens when you are devoted!

March 9, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
(Acts 2:42 (NIV))

They devoted themselves!

Do you ever wonder why people say that miracles don’t happen today? Do you wonder why we see a problem and it stays a problem? Do you understand that our current understanding of church and being the Body of Christ is far from what it used to be?

Why do you think that is true?

One simple word.

Devotion.

We, as the modern Body of Christ, look at Jesus as a filler for the parts of our lives that are empty. It is true that He is there to fill the emptiness, but He is so much more. The early church knew that professing a faith in Jesus meant more than simply acknowledging Him as savior. They knew Him as Lord and they devoted themselves to each other and to His teachings.

They devoted themselves in four areas – teachings, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer. It does not say that they devoted themselves to their work. It does not say that they devoted themselves to their families. It does not say that they devoted themselves to their favorite sports team.

Could you image how the Body of Christ would be today if we all gave the same amount of devotion, both public and private, that we give our college football teams? Can you imagine large stadiums of people to pray and to study God’s Word? In some countries it happens. People come from far and wide to hear the Gospel. Ironically, it is usually an American ministry that reaches out to these countries. It is sad that we do not do as the people to whom we send ministers and missionaries.

What is your idea of devotion?

Is it sitting in a church pew for an hour on Sunday? Is it adding a Bible study to your weekly schedule? Is it placing God first in all that you do? Does it mean that you willingly help those in need?

I often think that devotion is directly related to faith.

He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches.”
(Matthew 13:31-32 (NIV))

If we have the faith and the devotion to see that faith through, then both will grow to enormous proportions. As we devote ourselves to the four areas – teachings, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer – we will see things begin to happen that will strengthen our faith. We will see the results of our devotion. As a result, we will grow our devotion and our faith.

It is amazing what devotion, or dedication, can do, especially when it is focused on Jesus and God’s Word.

I think that we need to take a lesson from the early church and try devoting ourselves to Jesus. You will be amazed at what happens when you are devoted!

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