Are you strong in the Lord?

February 14, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 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. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
(Ephesians 6:10-18 (NIV))

No soldier in history has ever won a battle by not being prepared to face the enemy. We are in a battle. We either choose to accept God’s Son, Jesus Christ, as our personal Lord and Savior, or we reject Him. By rejecting Him, we have allowed the enemy to have victory.

Even if we accept the gift that God has given us, we must be prepared to face the attacks of the enemy. A good soldier will ready his weapons and his body for combat.

We are in spiritual combat. How do we prepare ourselves for this combat? By embracing the sword that is the Word of God. The more that we read and study, the more that we will be prepared to determine what is from God and what is from the enemy.

Soldiers have instructions on how to maintain and use their physical weapons. We also have instructions on how to use our spiritual weapons. Read the Bible and meditate on the meanings that the words have even today, for God is the same yesterday, today and forever.

Are you strong in the Lord?

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

January 15, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people and the sword comes and takes someone’s life, that person’s life will be taken because of their sin, but I will hold the watchman accountable for their blood.
(Ezekiel 33:9 (NIV))

Do you consider yourself a watchman? Do you think that you are accountable for others?

If you are like most people, then your answer is probably a resounding no!

I want to ask you a few questions based on the following passages that hopefully will get you to change your mind.

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))

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))

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
(Mark 16:15-16 (NIV))

Now that I have established a baseline, time for the questions.

Do you believe that Jesus is God’s one and only Son? Have you accepted Him as your personal Lord and Savior?

Are you preaching the Gospel? Do you keep Jesus all to yourself or do you tell others about the grace and mercy that can be theirs if they believe? What happens to those whom you have not been willing to tell about Jesus? Are you thinking that someone else will step up and tell them? What happens if you are the last person whom they ever see? Are you willing to allow them to not be told about God’s love for them? Are you willing to accept the personal consequences of your inaction, not to mention the anguish of knowing that they are spending an eternity in hell because you didn’t want to be bothered?

If you profess a faith in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, then you are called to be a watchman. You are called to let people know of the dangers, the wages of sin. You are called to let people know that they can escape the wages of sin. You are called to tell them of the good news of Jesus Christ!

You are called to be a watchman. Are you fulfilling your duties?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What are you willing to lose?

December 18, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.
(Mark 8:35 (NIV))

It is human nature to not want to lose. This is especially true if losing means that you lose your life! Most of us aren’t even willing to lose if by our losing, everyone else wins. We have to come out on top. We have to prove that we are best at everything! This often means that we think that we are right even when we are eternally wrong!

Take a look at the words in the first part of the passage above. Saving your life implies that you place nothing above yourself. You will go to any extreme to make sure that your physical life is protected even at the expense of others. You are your first and often, your only priority. You possess no love. You possess no joy. You often possess no peace, patience, or kindness. Little about your life is good. Since you place yourself first, you possess little or no faith. You treat others as lower than yourself, so you lack gentleness and self-control. Does this sound like a life that you would want to live? Does this sound like a life that you would want?

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))

Does the second half of the passage start to sound better and make more sense?

We can’t live a life that is Christ centered if we strive to save our earthly life. We are called to be witnesses. We can’t witness to others if all we think about is ourselves. We can’t be willing to go because we would be outside of our comfort zone.

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

I know that I am forever thankful that Jesus was willing to lose His earthly life for the sake of others. What if He had balked at the idea of dying for our sins? What if he had decided to not leave the Father to come to earth? What if Jesus had decided that it was simply not worth leaving the glory of heaven to come into this world? The majesty of the story as told in Luke 2 would never have happened. The tearing of the veil of the Temple would never have taken place. Faith, hope and love would only be a dream of something that could happen. Grace and mercy would simply be nonexistent. John 3:16 would not be true.

All of this was made possible because Jesus was willing to lose His life for others. Most of us aren’t even willing to lose our place in line! It takes a sacrifice to place others first.

What are you willing to lose?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Does your life preach the good news?

December 4, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
(Romans 10:15 (NIV))

Do you read this and think to yourself that you are thankful you aren’t called to preach? Are you silently thankful that you have trouble stringing words together in a way that will make people understand? Have you bought in to the false assumption that preachers minister and church members receive? Is this in line with the words that Jesus left us with?

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

When we think of preaching, we have a tendency to think of someone who stands in front of a congregation on Sunday morning. I honestly don’t think that this is what Jesus meant. I have read this passage in context many times, and nowhere do I see anything that indicates that Jesus was only speaking to those who were eloquent of speech. There are many ways to “preach,” or to share the Gospel of Jesus. Standing in front of a crowd and proclaiming the Gospel is only one way. Whether you believe that these words were spoken by St. Francis of Asisi, they hold much truth and wisdom.

“Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.”
(St. Francis of Asisi)

We are not all gifted in the same ways, but as members of the Body of Christ, we are all called to the same task.

Let me ask a simple question for your consideration. How many remember having to write papers when you were in school? I remember all too well having to do this, yet, every time that a class was given an assignment, no two people did it exactly the same way. We readily accept this fact that we are all different in our lives, yet we feel that we have to follow a pattern to share Jesus. To be completely honest with you, if any of us had to convince someone else to follow Jesus based on our strengths, I seriously doubt that anyone would ever follow Jesus. It is when we allow Jesus to work through us and when we show what Jesus has done in our lives that people take notice. They will not pay any attention to our words or our strengths, but they will take notice of how Jesus turned our weaknesses into something wonderful. They will begin to see that Jesus can take their weaknesses and do the very same thing.

Take a serious look at your life. Do people see Jesus in you?

Does your life preach the good news?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is sharing the good news of Jesus your priority?

November 16, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

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))

What is your biggest priority in your life?

Some people might answer that their biggest priority is family. To be honest with you, that is a good priority to have. but is it the biggest priority?

Some people might answer that their biggest priority is to leave their mark in the world. Do you think that whatever mark they may try to leave will even be remembered one hundred years from now?

Some people might answer that their biggest priority is to make lots of money. This, in and of itself, is not bad. What is bad is the love of money. If you want to make lots of money simply because of greed, what does that get you?

No matter what your priorities are in life, if you are a believer in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, then everything pales in comparison to placing the Lord first.

You shall have no other gods before me.
(Genesis 20:3 (NIV))

Is there any priority in your life where placing the Lord first would not be a better option? If you place your family as a priority, imagine how much better it would be if you, and your family, placed the Lord first. What if leaving your mark on the world meant that you shared the Gospel with those around you and you lead many to a saving grace in Jesus? You would be remembered for all eternity by those whom you led to Jesus. If you desire to bring in lots of money, what if it was a priority to bring in lots of money to buy Bibles to distribute to those who desperately want God’s Word.

What we place as a priority is only bad if that priority is not Christ centered. Each of us have a different calling. Each of us have a unique way to share the Gospel. Our gifts and our desires should not be our priorities. How we use them to testify to the good news of God’s grace should be the utmost priority.

Is sharing the good news of Jesus your priority?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What is your relationship to evil?

November 2, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
(Romans 12:21 (NIV))

As I sit here contemplating this passage, I can’t help but think about the things that are going on in the world at this time. How do we, as the Body of Christ, react to a world that is becoming vehemently anti-Christian? How do we react to a world that says it’s ok for people to do whatever they feel is right, yet that very same world condemns those who profess a faith in Jesus?

I have often wondered if the following passage, just as most passages of scripture, have both a near-term and a far-term meaning.

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
(John 16:33 (NIV))

These words were spoken by Jesus to His disciples as He finished telling them that they would scatter because of what was coming. He also told them that they would not see Him for awhile, but He would return. The time that Jesus spoke of to His disciples had them uncertain about their lives. This was the period of time between the crucifixion and the resurrection. They probably felt that the whole world was against them. If you remember, they even stayed indoors and locked the doors because they were afraid of what they thought might happen.

Was Jesus also speaking to us today?

We have been told that in the last days we would face trouble. We are seeing it beginning to unfold. We wonder what the world is going to send our way. We even wonder if we just simply need to stay to ourselves and avoid the world. I realize that none of us were alive when Jesus spoke these words, but they seem to apply to us more and more each day. So, just how do we face this world as it turns further and further away from Jesus? How do we face the world when the very thing that gives us, and the world, hope is the very thing that they hate? We have been told things like turn the other cheek. We have been told to go the extra mile. We have been told to love our neighbor as ourselves. Perhaps we simply need to realize that if we had not come to the realization that we are sinners in need of a savior, we might still be part of the world. We might still be part of the problem instead of the messengers proclaiming the solution!

We must not allow evil to overcome our faith. We must not allow evil to silence the message that we are called to share. We must not withhold the Gospel because we are afraid! We must stand firm and be bold, especially in the face of evil.

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))

We must remember that Jesus is greater than, and has already overcome, any evil that may come our way. If we have called upon Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, that relationship is greater than anything the enemy will send our way!

What is your relationship to evil?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you long for the day of completion?

October 24, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 1:3-6 (NIV))

Isn’t it wonderful how we can come to Jesus just as we are and He accepts us in all of our rags? What is even more wonderful is that once we come to Jesus, He does not leave us in our rags. He begins to work within us and turn us into what God had intended for us to be all along.

We are not completed works. We are works in progress. We are not the same as we were the day we accepted Jesus as our Savior, and we are not the same today as we will be when we stand before the throne. We are constantly being changed into the image of Christ.

In this world, we will not be able to be completed due to the nature of sin. But when we stand before God, through the redemptive and cleansing power of Jesus’ blood, we will be completed.

God does not do anything only half way. He gave us a way to salvation through Jesus Christ, and He also gave us a way to be completed in His image.

So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
(Genesis 1:27)

God created us in His image from the beginning. It was the introduction of sin into the world that corrupted that image. Through Jesus Christ, we again have the potential to be created in his own image.

When you look into the mirror, whose image do you see? Do you long for the day of completion?

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