Are you alert and fully sober?

January 7, 2022

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.
(1 Peter 1:13 (NIV))

Are you looking for Jesus?

In other words, are you alert and fully sober in spite of what the world says that we should be? Think about that for a moment.

What do you spend your time thinking about? What does your bank account say about your priorities? What do your entertainment choices say about your relationship with the world? What does your time spent in God’s Word say about your relationship with the Lord? What does your computer or phone time say about your focus, and what does your attitude say about you as a person?

I could go on and on, but it is obvious that if you are human, you fall short of God’s idea of righteousness. Even if you have professed a faith in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, there is always room for improvement, for maturity in your faith. We are called to be holy, but even on our best day, we fall short!

Perhaps our definition of being holy has been polluted by the world. Too many people think of a self-righteous attitude when asked about being holy. I sometimes wonder if there is God’s holiness, which is perfect, and our attempt at being holy, which is flawed drastically by our sinful, fallen nature. We can’t seem to get it right. We are not capable of anything more than a failed attempt at fulfilling our interpretation of God’s ideal holiness. Enter Jesus! He paved a way for us to exchange our filthy rags for His righteousness, His holiness. Through this action, and our acceptance, we can be considered holy, especially when you consider that one way to look at that word is that it means to be set apart.

Are you set apart?

Do you desire to follow Jesus? If you truly desire to follow Jesus, then you are set apart. You have made a proclamation that you no longer wish to live a sinful, fallen life. You have made a proclamation of faith that you will follow Jesus. Will you be able to walk this path perfectly? Will you keep your eyes focused on Jesus? It is a matter of attitude. It is a matter of priorities. Do you wish to be set apart from the world? I long to follow Jesus. Even on my worst days, I still long to focus on Jesus. There is a quote going around in today’s society that sums it up quite nicely.

I would rather stand with God and be judged by the world than stand with the world and be judged by God.

If we can make this commitment, then we are alert and fully sober. We have a hope beyond what this world can offer. We have placed our faith and our hope in Jesus. We deliberately set ourselves apart and faithfully look for His coming. We can decide to be set apart!

Are you alert and fully sober?

Copyright 1998 – 2022 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you accepted God’s offer of salvation and grace?

January 4, 2022

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.
(Titus 2:11 (NIV))

Salvation!

That is a word that brings up a multitude of thoughts and contradictions in the minds of many. Many of us seek it. Far too many believe that they are beyond all hope of receiving it, and sadly, there are those who seem to think that they don’t need it. What is it about the concept of salvation that has people seeing it from so many different sides?

Perhaps it is a matter of perspective. That perspective that I speak of is how we see ourselves. We can see ourselves as our own personal gods, which indicates that we think that we don’t need salvation. We can see ourselves as the results of evolution, which also indicates that we think that we don’t need salvation. We can see ourselves as so far gone that nobody could want us, that nobody could want to save us, and then there are those who see themselves as sinners in a fallen world without a way to escape the consequences of our sins. I am sure that there are other scenarios, but I hope that you understand that people have a choice. We have to make up our own minds. Perhaps that is why it says that God offers salvation. He can’t make us accept it, but He can freely offer it to anyone who is willing to accept this wonderful gift of grace.

Once we accept God’s offer, we accept the fact that we need spiritual maturity and that we need to be taught God’s ways and desires for our lives. It teaches us that we must put aside our sinful nature. We must repent and live according to His Word. It teaches us that something better is coming and that we should eagerly wait for His return.

It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
(Titus 2:12-14 (NIV))

Salvation means so much more than being saved from the consequences of our sins. It means that we are saved from the ungodliness and worldly passions that permeate this world. It means that we hold firm to the promises that He will return for us. It means a change of heart and a change of mind. It also means a change of citizenship from that of one in this world to that of one eternally in the Father’s presence.

It is your choice what to do with God’s offer.

Have you accepted God’s offer of salvation and grace?

Copyright 1998 – 2022 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you possess such a faith?

December 15, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
(Luke 1:38 (NIV))

We look back on these events and we seem to take things for granted because that is what we know. We know that Mary responded out of faith, and we also know that Joseph eventually understood, but have you ever truly tried to put yourself in their proverbial shoes?

Mary was a teenager!

How many teenage girls do you know who would have the faith to accept what God had planned for her? To be honest with you, how many adults would have the faith to accept what God had planned for her? Mary is an example of grace under pressure. She knew that a pregnancy such as this could result in her being ostracized or even stoned, yet she willingly accepted what God had planned. Mary is an example of a faith that does not shrink back in the face of adversity. Not only did she accept what God had planned for her, she knew that if what she had been told were to come to fruition that the Lord would protect her from any and all harm. She took a step of faith and not only accepted God’s plan, she wholeheartedly embraced it. She could have simply muttered, “Okay,” but instead we are given a strong declaration of faith and of purpose.

Mary humbled herself to the point of acceptance and obedience. Why do we have so much trouble acknowledging the Lord’s plans for our lives and stepping into those plans with such grace and faith?

God chose the faith of a teenager to bring about His plans.

Do you possess such a faith?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you still dead in your transgressions and sins?

December 1, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins,
(Ephesians 2:1 (NIV))

I realize that this is not an easy way to start off, even if the statement is entirely true. Sometimes the truth hurts.

But, . . .

There is one key word in this passage that makes it oh so much more palatable. It makes it so much easier to claim this passage as your own. One little four letter word has changed the context and the perspective on your transgressions and sins.

“WERE”

Just for clarification, it could easily be replace with “ARE” and you will find yourself helpless, hopeless and lost. For anyone who has accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, you can rest assured that you are no longer dead in your transgressions and sins. You are no longer helpless, hopeless and lost. You have been redeemed. All of that is in your past! They are as far as the east is from the west. Your sins have been washed white as snow!

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))

With Christmas coming up very soon, we must choose to remember the reason for the season. We must choose to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus. He came as a baby, but that was only the beginning. Perhaps I should say that it was the beginning of the end. Jesus came to put an end to sin. He came to put an end to death. He came to put an end to our separation from God the Father. He came to put an end to sacrifices by becoming the one perfect sacrifice, and by doing this, He gave us the ability to proclaim that we “WERE” dead in our transgressions and sins.

Are you still dead in your transgressions and sins?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do you rejoice that the Word became flesh?

November 30, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

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))

What do you think of when you read this passage?

Without a point of reference, without a back-story that defines why glory, grace and truth were needed, this passage, even though it tells of His glory, doesn’t tell the whole story. It doesn’t tell why we need grace and truth.

For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
(John 1:17 (NIV))

What do you think of when you think of the law? Do you think of man-made laws that recently seem to change with no rhyme or reason, or do you think of God’s law that is never changing? Do you think of the failure of Adam and Eve to keep God’s commands thus allowing sin into the world? Do you think of a righteous God who can not associate with sin? Do you think of a loving God who wants to restore us to a relationship with Himself?

Through Moses, God told us how He expected us to live. Through Moses, we have been shown how we are to love God, how we are to treat each other, and how we are to respect each other. Any deviation from God’s perfect plan is sin.

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

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 6:23 (NIV))

God took a look at the world and had a plan to redeem us. He knew that there was not a single person who could fulfill the letter of the Law perfectly, so He decided to take matters into His own hands and become a man so that He could live a perfect, sinless life for us. Through this perfect life, we are no longer under the law of sin and death. We are under the redemptive power of grace and truth through the atoning blood of Jesus! Is this what you think of when you read John 1:14? Do these two sentences cause you to reflect on your sinful nature and your inability to do anything about it? Do they give you reason to rejoice because you have accepted what God did for you when you couldn’t do anything for yourself?

Do you rejoice that the Word became flesh?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Does pride get in your way?

October 15, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

By the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.
(Romans 12:3 (NIV))

It is easy to have an inflated opinion of your self-worth, especially when you listen to yourself and ignore what God is telling you. We see our own “achievements” and we know what it has taken to accomplish them. We see other people who are at different levels within what God has called them to achieve, and we judge their calling and their achievements.

What we fail to realize is that what we are currently experiencing may be the only thing that God has called us to and that what we see of others is only the tip of the iceberg. We do not know what God has in store for us or for others. We do not truly know what God has in store for us. Do you recall what you were doing ten years ago? Put yourself into that situation once again. Now take a look at your current situation with a ten year perspective. Are you doing what you thought you would be doing?

Our self-esteem, or should I say ego, has a tendency to get in our way, especially when it comes to seeing the big picture and God’s plan for all of us. We tend to over emphasize our role and downplay the roles of others. This starts to sound like one of the sins that we are supposed to avoid in our life – the sin of pride.

How do you think of yourself? Do you inflate your importance or do you accept your current situation as something that is temporary and in God’s hands?

Does pride get in your way?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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He will not forsake you.

August 9, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

When you pass through the waters,
  I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
  they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
  you will not be burned;
  the flames will not set you ablaze.
(Isaiah 43:2 (NIV))

All that I can say is thank you, Lord, for your great grace, mercy and love!

We may never actually pass through the waters or walk through the fire, but we can rest assured that no matter what we may face, the Lord is with us. If we do face the waters or the fire, we have the assurance that He is walking with us, guiding us and protecting us because we are His children!

For years I have had what Paul simply described as a thorn in his flesh. He never gave us more details, but we know that he suffered from some health problems that he prayed to be taken from him. We know how God answered that prayer.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
‭‭(2 Corinthians‬ ‭12:9‬ ‭(NIV‬‬))

Can we boldly proclaim that His grace is sufficient for us?

Can we allow the Lord’s power to be made perfect in our weakness?

Can we boast about our weaknesses so that Christ’s power may rest on us?

As I sit here at 3 AM on a Sunday morning because of the fact that the thorn in my flesh has raised its ugly head, I rejoice in the quiet. I rejoice that it has allowed me to be still in His presence. I rejoice because it has allowed me another uninterrupted time to know Him.

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

I rejoice because once again His grace is sufficient!

Each of us face trials in our lives that potentially have the ability to do us harm. Don’t lose hope! Don’t lose faith! He is still with you. He will not forsake you.

Good night!

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you confident in your faith?

May 25, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
(Hebrews 4:16 (ESV))

How confident are you of your salvation?

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
(Hebrews 11:1 (NIV))

Such confidence we have through Christ before God.
(2 Corinthians 3:4 (NIV))

The early church leaders knew that we should be confident in our faith. Those who wrote these words had either seen Jesus or they knew those who had witnessed the events that we now cling to as strategic moments of faith. They had witnessed the miracles and were confident in what they saw. They had witnessed the severity of the scourging and the crucifixion and were then completely overwhelmed by the resurrection! They had witnessed the ascension and were given the promise that He would return the same way He left.

Think about that for a moment.

If you had witnessed someone beaten so badly that he was not identifiable after the beating and then they were killed by crucifixion, how confident would you be that the person was dead? If you heard that he was buried, yet was alive again, would you question your confidence in what you had witnessed? What if you met that person and he spoke to you about the things that you had done together, would you be confident that it was the same person? What if that person showed you the scars? How confident would you be that this person had died, was buried and then rose again? If you had witnessed these things first hand, you would not be able to keep quiet about what you saw and what you know. You would proclaim it with complete confidence.

That is exactly what the disciples and the early church leaders did! They were so full of confidence that they told everyone the good news of Jesus.

Sometimes I think that we, as the modern church, have lost our confidence. We read the words and we watch reenactments, but do we truly comprehend what happened? If we did, I feel that we would be doing what the disciples and the early church leaders were doing. We would be telling everyone about Jesus. I feel that we couldn’t be made to be quiet. Even the threat of persecution or death would not detract from what we boldly and confidently proclaimed.

Take a serious look at your faith. Do you believe without any doubt? Do you fully understand what you profess to believe?

Are you confident in your faith?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you serving as a faithful steward?

April 20, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
(1 Peter 4:10 (NIV))

Acts of faithful service always have an impact!

With the current state of the world and the uncertainty that everyone is feeling, when was the last time that you used your talent, your gift, to serve others?

Think about that question from an eternal perspective. What if your willingness to serve someone is the final act, the final witness to the reality of God’s love that brings them to a saving knowledge of Jesus? What if your willingness to serve shows them the hope that is theirs if they only accept it? Could you face eternity knowing that you failed to do something that would have changed eternity for someone else?

Every person who professes a faith in Jesus is called to share the Gospel.

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))

Not only are we called to share, but if we fail to warn someone of danger, we are held accountable. There is no greater danger than that of an impending eternity separated from the Father. If we fail to use our gifts to warn someone of the danger and show them the path to salvation, we are accountable!

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 33:6 (NIV))

We must get over the attitude that I have my salvation and everyone else is on their own. Nothing could be further from the truth! God places people in our lives every single day who need to hear the good news of salvation that is only available through Jesus. We have a calling. We have a responsibility to faithfully use the gifts that we have been given to serve others, to bring them into the Kingdom.

Are you serving as a faithful steward?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you keeping His commands?

April 19, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

If you love me, keep my commands.
(John 14:15 (NIV))

Is it just me, or are the last three words extremely difficult to achieve?

If you truly profess a faith in Jesus, then you should truly love Jesus for who He is and for what He has done, but human nature always creeps into the picture!

Ever since the fall from grace, human nature has been incapable of perfectly following God’s instructions. We always miss the mark. We always sin. Even after the grace and mercy freely given to us at the cross, we are incapable of perfectly following God’s instructions. But, if you truly stop to think about this, that is exactly why we were given the gift of grace and mercy. Even after acknowledging our sinful nature, we still sin. Accepting Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior does not make you perfect on your own merit. It makes you perfect because you have exchanged your imperfections and sin for His perfection and righteousness in the eyes of God.

What does change is the desire to keep His commands!

What does change is the understanding that you will constantly fail.

What does change is your realization that He died to save you from the consequences of your sins.

What does change is your sinful, selfish attitude to a thankful, loving attitude.

What does change is your desire to strive to follow Him in all that you do.

Keeping His commands is not easy. If it were easy, Jesus would not have come into this world to die for our sins. What is easier is repenting when we fall short. What is easier is having a thankful heart for His grace and mercy. As I stated, keeping His commands is not easy, but striving to follow Jesus is the ultimate sign of your love for Him.

Are you keeping His commands?

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