What is God to you?

December 17, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?
(Psalms 8:3-4 (NIV))

How many times have you read or heard this passage?

If you are like me, you have had numerous encounters with this verse, but have you ever considered that this passage written by David is a perfect lead-in to God’s plan of salvation? David asked and God answered by providing grace and mercy.

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))

Isn’t that what Christmas is about?

Humanity is a sinful, fallen creation that had no hope of redemption or grace! God had other plans. He had promised that salvation would come through the lineage of David. What we celebrate at Christmas is the fulfillment of this promise. What we celebrate is the fulfillment of hope. What we celebrate is the arrival of grace!

Consider David’s words. He asked God what we are to Him and He showed us!

The problem is that we are too arrogant and prideful to accept what we have been shown. We need to become more like David, who humbled himself enough to ask. Once we humble ourselves, God will show us more than we can imagine. He will give us more than we can comprehend. When we are able to truly humble ourselves, the true meaning of Christmas becomes obvious. We were lost and in need of a Savior. Because of God’s great love for us, He gave us salvation through Jesus.

We know what we are to God. What is God to you?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Through the eyes of a little child!

December 15, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For he who is least among you all–he is the greatest.”
(Luke 9:48 (NIV))

I have read this passage many times and tonight it hit me in a way that I had not thought of before. Perhaps it is the time of year with Christmas very close, but something made me look at this in a different light.

I know that many Christians have trouble with the idea of Santa Claus, but if you consider the roots of this “person,” you come away with a different perspective. Nicholas was a 4th century Christian who was known for helping children. He is also known for other things, but his love and help of children has gained him much notoriety. There are various different stories about Nicholas, but the one thing that stands out is how he used his love for Jesus to reach out to the little children.

Perhaps our understanding of Santa Claus could use a true historical perspective based on church history and not on what society has made him. Perhaps our understanding of many things could use a true historical perspective based on church history.

Could you imagine a Christmas not tied up in gifts and decorations, but in the grace and mercy that God gave us through the manger? Could you imagine a Christmas based on the greatest gift of all times instead of the “perfect gift” that will be obsolete in a short time?

Nicholas came to mind because of his ministry to children. Jesus told us that we are to be as little children. We need to look at His love without the sins of the world trying to cling to everything and distort the truth about the greatest gift that humanity could ever be given.

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

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))

Perhaps we need to look at the gift of Christmas through the eyes of a little child once again!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you gotten lost on a detour?

December 9, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
(John 14:6 (NIV))

According to the world, there are many different ways to get to heaven.

What do you believe? What do you know to be the truth? Do you believe that they are the same thing?

Each religion in the world professes that they have the only path to get to god. You will notice that I chose to use a little “g,” for the gods that they claim to be able to reach are not the God of the universe. Each religion sets out a path that you must follow to achieve a higher level. Everything that they claim gets you closer to their god is something that you must do, but our God, the God of the universe did something to reach us!

He sent His Word! He sent His only begotten Son.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
(John 1:1-5 (NIV))

Jesus came to shine the light!

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
(John 1:14 (NIV))

Jesus came as one of us, a living man of flesh. We can never be good enough. We can never earn our way to God. Because of this, God came to us! Jesus was sent by God, as God made man, to bring us back to Himself.

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))

The world tells us that we have to get better in order to see God. God tells us that He is better than the world. He has reached out to us to share His goodness, righteousness, mercy and grace. Personally, I know that I am not capable of anything on my own. I was drowning in a sea of sin. God reached out and rescued me. I didn’t have to rescue myself. Grace was and forever will be a gift. All that you have to do is accept it. If you are required to do something of your own strength, then you are on the wrong path.

Have you gotten lost on a detour?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you support those who support Israel and Jerusalem?

October 30, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and also to put it in writing:
(Ezra 1:1 (NIV))

We know that God used Nebuchadnezzar as His servant to bring His judgment upon Jerusalem. Then at the appointed time, after the exiles had repented, He used Cyrus to bring about the return to Jerusalem and the rebuilding of the Temple. Both men had a part in God’s plans. Even though they did completely opposite things, they both fulfilled God’s plans. They were both servants of the Lord whether they knew it or not. God moves people to fulfill His will for the specific period in history. Nebuchadnezzar brought punishment and Cyrus brought restoration. Cyrus returned Jerusalem to the descendants of Israel. Cyrus also committed to rebuilding the Temple.

Jerusalem is the key!

But you are to seek the place the LORD your God will choose from among all your tribes to put his Name there for his dwelling. To that place you must go;
(Deuteronomy 12:5 (NIV))

That place is Jerusalem!

Cyrus knew this. That is why he listened to the Lord.

“This is what Cyrus king of Persia says:
“‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Any of his people among you may go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the temple of the Lord, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem, and may their God be with them. And in any locality where survivors may now be living, the people are to provide them with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with freewill offerings for the temple of God in Jerusalem.'”
(Ezra 1:2-4 (NIV))

Everything hinges on Jerusalem.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
“May those who love you be secure.
(Psalms 122:6 (NIV))

On that day I will set out to destroy all the nations that attack Jerusalem.
(Zechariah 12:9 (NIV))

If we profess a faith in Jesus, who is the Jewish Messiah, then we should also stand firm in God’s Word when it comes to Jerusalem. The Body of Christ hasn’t replaced Israel. We are grafted into amazing grace. We should not do anything to bring destruction upon the city where God has placed His name! We must support the proclamation that Jerusalem is His city where His Temple shall be.

Do you support those who support Israel and Jerusalem?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do you desire to be thoroughly equipped?

October 27, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
(2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV))

Do you like to cherry pick so that you go through and find what you like and leave the rest behind?

This concept works for selecting fruit and vegetables, but it is sadly used in circumstances where it shouldn’t even be considered.

Think about this in relation to your Bible reading and study plan. Do you have a favorite verse? If you are like most people who profess a faith in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior, you probably have what most people refer to as a life verse. There is nothing wrong with that. That passage is your personal anchor that firmly grounds you in your relationship with the Lord, but it should not be the complete extent of your knowledge and understanding. It should be the starting point for a continually growing relationship and understanding of Scripture.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.
(John 1:1-4 (NIV))

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
(John 1:14 (NIV))

Scripture is God’s Word. Jesus is God’s Word made flesh. If we long for a relationship with the Lord, then we must spend time getting to know Him. That means that we get to know everything that there is to know about the Lord, for He is perfect. If there is something that we desire to avoid then that reflects badly on us. It shows that we desire to settle for less than perfect. It shows that we desire to settle for our sin. It shows that we don’t truly desire the Lord and the spiritual growth that comes from His Word.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
(Hebrews 4:12 (NIV))

Are you willing to allow yourself to be judged, taught, rebuked, corrected and trained in righteousness?

Do you desire to be thoroughly equipped?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Share the good news!

October 23, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.
(Romans 8:1-2 (NIV))

Do you obey the law?

Do you always drive the speed limit? Do you ever throw something from your car? Do you sometimes cross busy streets in places other than the crosswalks? If you do any of these, then you do not obey the laws one hundred percent of the time.

If you are ever caught doing any of these things, then there will be a penalty to pay.

Do you obey God’s laws?

Have you ever murdered? Probably not.

Have you ever taken the Lord’s name in vain? Many of us probably have done so out of frustration or anger.

Have you ever committed adultery? Hopefully not.

Have you ever stolen anything? Probably. Even an ink pen on accident could be considered stealing. It did not belong to you and you left with it.

What type of penalties would you expect for any of these breaches of God’s law?

Think of the worst possible penalty that could be paid and that is exactly what Jesus paid on the cross for each of us. He willingly paid the penalty for all of the things that we have done or ever will do. He paid the price for the law of sin and death so that we could claim freedom from its hold on us. Through Jesus, we can claim that our penalties have been paid in full. All that we have to do is accept this grace and mercy.

We will still slip up and break God’s laws just like we break human laws, but we can be forgiven for these transgressions. It is a matter of the heart. We must long to do what God desires us to do. If this is our true heart, then God will see and forgive through the atoning blood of Jesus.

We are free from the law of sin and death! Share the good news!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What are you waiting for?

October 12, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.
(Revelation 22:17 (NIV))

Think back upon the last invitation that you received. Maybe it was an engraved, formal invitation to a wedding. Perhaps it was an email telling you of an event, the time and place. Perhaps it was a televised invitation to a concert. Better yet, was it a simple exchange between friends where one friend willingly opened his heart and home to you as a simple act of fellowship and love?

Now, imagine the best invitation that you have ever received is nothing more than filthy rags. That is exactly what it is in comparison to the invitation that all of us are given. All other invitations are to events that are fleeting in nature and are soon forgotten. The invitation that we are given by the Spirit is one to an eternal celebration of grace and mercy!

“Come!”

There is no other invitation needed. There is no other explanation needed. God, in all of His infinite wisdom and glory is freely offering us grace and mercy through the redeeming blood of His Son, Jesus Christ. All we have to do is accept the invitation.

Are you thirsty?

Do you long to have the water of life?

What are you waiting for? Grace and mercy are yours through this glorious invitation.

“Come!”

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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He is the great I Am!

October 7, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens.
(1 Chronicles 16:26 (NIV))

If you remember from just a few days ago, an idol is an impostor, a pretender or a false god. With this clearly defined, it is easy to come to the conclusion that all of the gods of the nations are impostors. They are pretenders. They are false gods! They only exist in the minds of the ones who created them no matter how many nations may worship the same false god. But, there is more to this than organized religions. What have you made into a false god in your life?

Money

Fame

Prestige

Power

Do I need to go on and list more, or do these suffice to tell of the things that can become false gods on an individual basis? Have we, as a nation, succumbed to any of these false gods? Do you see large segments of the population worshipping these pretenders? All of these are fleeting and anyone who strives to attain these things sadly has set them up as their own false gods. What can these do for you? Do they give you life? Do they give you breath? Did they create anything or are they simply creations of our own sinful natures? With that last question in mind, there is one question that should spring from your answer. Can any of these bring grace, mercy and eternal life?

There is only one Creator. There is only one Lord and God of all. He created all and knows all of creation by name. Do any of these pretenders even have the cognition to be considered a living being? Think about that from the standpoint of an idol being an impostor. Who is the father of lies? Who was cast down from heaven? Who made the heavens? Who cast the pretenders out of heaven?

He is the great I Am!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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There is no difference for we are all sinners!

September 28, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

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

Most, if not all who read this can quote this passage, and rightly so. It is a foundational passage that clearly states that everyone needs a savior. It stands on its own with this meaning clearly conveyed and understood, but, have you ever looked at the complete sentence that this passage is taken from?

There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
(Romans 3:22b-24 (NIV))

Does the complete sentence add anything to or detract anything from your understanding of this passage? In all honesty, it still means that we are all sinners in need of a savior, but it goes much deeper in explaining this need and how to overcome this need. When this was written, Gentiles were looked down upon by many Jewish people. They were looked upon as unclean. If you remember the amount of criticism that Paul received simply because he ate with Gentiles, then you will understand the time period. When this sentence starts by saying that there is no difference between Jew and Gentile, it literally broke the traditional way of thinking. It clearly states that the Jew is not better than the Gentile and the Gentile is not better than the Jew. Both are sinners in need of a Savior and that salvation and grace can only be found through Jesus.

This was a radical concept when this was written!

Have we taken this radical idea and whitewashed it? Have we, as the Body of Christ, as Gentiles, forgotten that we were looked down upon as unworthy to receive grace and salvation by the very people that God’s gift of grace and salvation was promised through? Have we become arrogant in our salvation while looking at others as unworthy? Perhaps we need to not just quote the excerpt, but the whole sentence. Perhaps we need to focus on the whole truth and not just what we today call sound bites.

There is no difference for we are all sinners!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you a member of God’s household?

August 31, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household,
(Ephesians 2:19 (NIV))

Think about this passage for a moment.

When darkness falls and the doors to the home are locked, who remains inside the home when the homeowner turns out the lights? Who relies on the head of the household to provide security and rest?

I don’t know about you, but I have never seen someone who had the lives of family and friends under the safety of their roof leave doors unlocked so that the enemy could attack. By professing a faith in Jesus, we have been welcomed into the household of God. We have been given not only grace and mercy. We have been given a home that is far more secure than anything we can ever imagine. This world is not our home! We must never forget that we are only passing through on our way to a place that the Lord has prepared for us. We are to be citizens of heaven and we are to be called children of God. Human nature is sinful, but most of us love and provide for our children. How much more will the Lord do for us?

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
(Matthew 7:11 (NIV))

Have you ever stopped to truly think about what actually happens when we accept Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior? I realize that there is so much more, but the symbolism of these are represented very eloquently in Ephesians 2:19.

We trade being foreigners and strangers with God to being His children.

We trade being children of sin to being foreigners and strangers to the sinful world.

With all that is happening in this world, we must remember to not be a stranger to God. Are you a member of God’s household?

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