Have you made your move?

March 30, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Come near to God and he will come near to you.
(James 4:8a (NIV))

I am sure that you have heard that God is everywhere and that He will never leave you, so how do you understand and comprehend this passage? If He is everywhere, isn’t He already near us?

God is everywhere, but sadly, too few people realize that He will not force Himself on anyone. We have to turn to Him out of a choice that we make, especially since we, as humanity, chose to turn away from Him as a result of the fall from grace in the Garden of Eden. We thought that we had been given knowledge, but instead, we lost all hope. Until God sent His Son, Jesus, into the world to pay the penalty for sin and death, we only knew the wages of our sin even if we chose good. Thankfully, God had a plan that would bring an end to this.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
(John 3:16-21 (NIV))

Each of us must make a decision to come near to God. This is only accomplished by believing in Jesus as God’s one and only Son. Through the gift of grace freely given on the cross, the veil that separated God from humanity has been torn in two. God had set in motion a plan to bring us back to Him and the veil symbolized that completion of that plan. Jesus declared this culmination of God’s redemptive plan with His final words.

When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
(John 19:30 (NIV))

God used these events to unfold His perfect plan to draw each of us near to Him. God may use circumstances to get our attention, but He cannot make the decision for us. Our families and friends cannot make the decision for us. We have to be willing to put aside our pride and move closer to God. When we make that move, we will find that He is already closer than we could ever imagine.

Have you made your move?

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

March 18, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
(2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV))

How are you holding up in the midst of all that is happening in the world?

Be honest with yourself. Are you falling into the panic and fear that the world insists on spreading? Have you focused only on the world to the point that you have ignored or completely forgotten the promises that we have been given by our Lord? If you are fearful because of the events occurring in the world, it is time to step back and take a serious look at all that has been promised by God.

He sent His only begotten Son, Jesus, to redeem us and restore us to Himself. This restoration saves us from sin and death. Why would He save us from such a fate and then abandon us? Fear is rooted in uncertainty and a sense of danger. We have already been told our destiny lies with Jesus. That is certain. We have also been told to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. Does this sound like something we need to fear? We have nothing to fear because Jesus bore all of our sin. He willingly paid the consequences of our sins and gave us His righteousness and grace. We have been told that Jesus will return for us. If He is returning, what do we have to fear in this world?

When we accepted Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, all fear has been defeated. It has been replaced with His power and His love. When we embrace the Holy Spirit, He gives us a sound mind. He gives us His mind to guide us.

No matter what may come our way while we are in this world, we have nothing to fear, for we are His and He is ours!

What controls your spirit?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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It is not possible to earn what the Lord freely gives!

March 3, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.
(Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV))

Far too many people scoff at the idea that salvation is free to anyone who will simply accept it. I honestly believe that they think the old saying “You get what you pay for” is true in all circumstances, especially since it is true in any possible scenario in this sinful, fallen world. They have this false idea that anything of value has a price that they must pay. They reason that since it cost them absolutely nothing, then it is too good to be true.

What they fail to realize is that the price was paid by someone else and then the results of this payment are freely given as a gift.

Think about the concept of a gift for a moment. When it is your birthday, and someone gives you a gift, do they ask for money to pay for the gift? Of course not! The gift giver paid the price and freely gives the gift to the recipient. If you follow the “You get what you pay for” idea, even the most expensive, the most fabulous gift is worthless. When we look at the physical gifts of this world, we know that they are not worthless, Why do we look at the greatest gift of all, grace through the atoning blood of Jesus, as worthless? This gift is far more valuable than anything this world has to offer.

To those who feel guilty for receiving something without giving something in return, I understand.

To those who feel guilty for receiving something that they have not earned, I understand.

Both of these characteristics are really desirable traits in a person, but in this situation, they do not have any merit. There is nothing that we can pay that is of comparable value. We cannot pay for it after we accept and we cannot pay for it as a condition of acceptance. We must simply come to the realization that God’s grace is free.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
(John 3:16-18 (NIV))

How much does it cost you to say “I believe”? How much does it cost you to say “Thank you, Lord” for the greatest gift ever? Each one of us needs to accept this gift before it is too late.

It is not possible to earn what the Lord freely gives!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Why are we drawn to return to our sin and slavery?

March 2, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
(Galatians 5:1 (NIV))

What is it about human nature that makes us return to something that we know we should leave behind? We have all been guilty of doing this very thing, and probably much more often than we care to admit. Apparently, human nature since the fall from grace has always had us doing what can only be called self destructive behavior. We know that we shouldn’t, but yet we do. This type of behavior has been pointed out many times, but probably the most accurate and disgusting is the following.

As a dog returns to its vomit,
so fools repeat their folly.
(Proverbs 26:11 (NIV))

As I stated previously, we all do it. Even the man who is credited with bringing the Gospel to the Gentiles fought this aspect in his own walk of faith. Paul was a very intelligent person, but yet he didn’t understand the self destructive nature that he fought against.

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
(Romans 7:15-20 (NIV))

This struggle that all of us face makes it clear why each of us are called to take up our cross daily. We are to deny that part of our human nature. We are to struggle with this sinful nature each and every time that it raises its ugly head in our lives. We are called to repent. Far too many people believe that this is a one-time occurrence, but it should be a daily attitude and activity. Do I even venture to say that, on some days, we may have to humble ourselves continually before the Lord and repent of our actions and our thoughts?

I know that we are a fallen creation, but I wish I had the magic answer as to why we return to our sin when we don’t want to. I wish I knew how to turn off that part of my life so that I never take my eyes off of Jesus. Just like Paul, I find myself doing the very things that I hate! I don’t know why! I long to do only what is good and righteous, yet on my own, this is not possible. I just know that we must be ready to fall on our knees whenever and wherever we may find yourself returning to our sin.

I want to leave you with one question that I hope you will take to heart.

Why are we drawn to return to our sin and slavery?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you strive to practice strict self-control?

February 20, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

All athletes practice strict self-control. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.
(1 Corinthians 9:25 (NLT))

Some translations say that the athletes go into strict training. To me, this translation hits a little closer to home. We may not have any idea of what strict training may be, but we can all understand the idea of strict self-control.

Think about that concept for a moment.

What do you think of when self-control is mentioned?

Is it the will power to not eat the last donut in the box, or is it much more?

Personally, self-control and personal responsibility go hand in hand. Let’s face the truth. Our society no longer believes in personal responsibility. People claim that they were born that way, or they were raised in a bad home, or . . .

I think that you get the picture. Our society, and each of us as a member of the Body of Christ, must be willing to practice self-control. We must be willing to accept the responsibility of our actions. We must strive to live our lives as Jesus taught us.

Using the athlete example, a life in faith is not a sprint that starts and is over quickly. A life in faith is a lifelong journey, a marathon, in which we must be prepared to face any obstacles that the world throws our way. In order to do this, we must practice self-control. We must be willing to accept personal responsibility. If you are willing to accept personal responsibility, then you are capable of learning from your mistakes and focusing once again on the prize that is set before us.

Imagine this scenario.

You are standing in front of Jesus and He is judging your life. You have never accepted His grace and mercy as your own. Every aspect of your life condemns you. Your only response, “It wasn’t my fault. I wasn’t ready!”

I can only imagine the response from Jesus.

Strive for the prize that is won only through Jesus. Don’t allow the things of this world to sway your self-control.

Do you strive to practice strict self-control?

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