How is your faith through the wilderness?

May 10, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Immediately the Holy Spirit compelled Jesus to go into the wilderness. He was there for forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was out among the wild animals, and angels took care of him.
(Mark 1:12-13 (NLT))

Do you ever stop to think about what Jesus actually experienced when He went into the wilderness for these forty days?

What temptations do you experience when you face each day of your life?

Do you face greed and lust? What about anger and frustration? Do you have to deal with ego and pride? I think I can safely say that all of us have also had to deal with resentment and bitterness. Now, consider how you have reacted when faced with these temptations. How did you react? Even on our best day, we fail miserably in most if not all of these temptations.

How do you think that Jesus reacted to each of these temptations?

We know that He faced every temptation known to humanity and did not give in to any of them, but I often wonder how he reacted. Did He simply turn away from them or did He reflect upon our weaknesses as He defeated each and every temptation that He was given? Did He think of what He was doing with respect to what it would mean for us? How did He reject the temptation? Did He look at it with disgust and think “How can someone give in to this?” Did He keep His eyes focused on what was at the end of the forty days on the other side of the wilderness?

Each of us face our own wilderness situations and temptations. We must look to Jesus and His experience so that we may keep our faith through our wildernesses. Because Jesus went through His wilderness experience, He now walks with us through ours. He will give us strength. He will give us comfort. He will give us peace.

The world today seems to be sending all of us into the wilderness. How we respond will determine many things. Will we have the faith to see ourselves through the wilderness or will we falter and give in to the temptations we face?

How is your faith through the wilderness?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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But who are you?

May 1, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?”
(Acts 19:15 (NIV))

Think about that question for a moment.

“But who are you?”

Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.
(Acts 19:16 (NIV))

Simply invoking the name of Jesus does not work!

Let’s back up just a bit and look at the beginning of this passage.

Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this.
(Acts 19:13-14 (NIV))

These men did not know Jesus. They did not know His power and authority. They had heard about it through what they had heard about Paul. They thought that they could simply mention the name of Jesus and the evil spirits would leave.

Think about that for a moment. This sounds like people who claim that they can get a “celebrity” because a friend of a friend’s aunt went to school with the celebrity’s mother. In other words, they know nothing of the person. There is no relationship there. They are basically name dropping.

These men who were invoking the name of Jesus to drive out evil spirits were name dropping. There was no relationship with Jesus that they could call upon and the evil spirits new this. Keep in mind that the evil spirits used to be angels and they knew Jesus. They cowered at His name, yet, when confronted with someone that they knew did not know Jesus, they took full advantage of it.

Jesus is not a magical name that you can simply pronounce and all evil will flee. Jesus is not a genii who will do your every bidding.

Jesus is the only begotten Son of God. Evil spirits tremble at His power and name. If you invoke the name of Jesus, make sure that you have a personal relationship with Him. Accept Him as your personal Lord and Savior. Spend time in God’s Word. Become intimate with what Jesus said and did. Learn how to mature into the image of Jesus. Know His heart and seek to walk in His Light. If your heart longs for the things that are of God, then the evil spirits will know your name. They will see the evidence of His presence in your life. They will see the touch of the Holy Spirit upon you and will know that you are not just dropping names.

The evil spirits will not respond with “but who are you?”

They will know that you have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus.

But who are you?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What is the Lord asking of you?

April 26, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

And now, O Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul?
(Deuteronomy 10:12 (NIV))

What does the Lord your God require of you?

Have you stopped to consider this question lately? Perhaps it is something that we need to ask ourselves all of the time.

I am sure that everyone remembers the WWJD bracelets and stickers. This is asking the same thing. What would Jesus do? He would fear God and always walk in His ways. He would serve God with all his heart and soul, after all, he did do just that when he went to the cross to die for our sins.

God does not need us to go to the cross, but we must be willing to do what God calls us to do. It may be in the everyday things that we need to listen to God. It may be in the ordinary, and for some, it may be in the extraordinary, but no matter what God requires of you, remember that He will not ask more than you can handle, especially when you realize that He, through Jesus and the Holy Spirit, is with you always.

What is the Lord asking of you?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are these words fixed in your heart and mind?

March 21, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.
(Deuteronomy 11:18 (NIV))

Jesus has risen and we should be rejoicing with all of our being. We should be praising God for His greatness. We should be lifting up Jesus for His sacrifice. We should be embracing the Holy Spirit so that He can guide us in all that we do. We should be studying God’s Word so that we may be able to discern what is righteous and what is not. Accepting God’s grace and mercy is only the beginning. We must study so that we may know what God is calling us to do.

Do you remember when you first took an avid interest in your favorite hobby? Chances are you immersed yourself into anything and everything that you could find about your interest. For some of you, it may be a sport such as golf. For others, it may be reading. For others, it may be kayaking. No matter what you interest is, you spent a considerable amount of time learning as much as you could for it became an integral part of who you are. It filled an emptiness. It gave you excitement. It gave you peace.

Now comes the painful moment of truth.

When you accepted Jesus as your Savior, did you have the same hunger for knowledge about Him and God’s Word as you did for your favorite hobby? Did you hunger for His words? Did you long to learn as much as you could about the saving grace that you accepted as your own? Did you allow it to become an integral part of you? Did you allow it to fill the biggest emptiness in your life? Did it give you excitement? Did it give you peace?

Accepting Jesus as your savior is more than simply lip service. He also wants to be Lord of your life. This is not a subservient or demeaning attitude to take. It shows a desire to fully embrace God’s grace and mercy.

Are these words fixed in your heart and mind?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What comes from your mouth?

March 19, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
(Ephesians 4:29 (NIV))

Words are a powerful device. Words can be uplifting and encouraging. Words can be sad and convey despair. Words can convey affection and in the next breath, they can convey anger. We have a tendency to use words rashly and in haste. It is so easy to let the wrong words slip off of your tongue. I would venture to say that every one of us on this planet has said something today that they wish could be taken back.

Most people think of unwholesome talk as the proverbial four letter words that we all tend to know even if we hate to admit it. However, have you stopped to think about what else may be considered unwholesome?

Words said in anger or in hatred destroy instantly. Words said in frustration never make the situation any better. Words aimed directly at provoking hurt are never able to be recalled. All of these types of words can be unwholesome for they destroy. They do not build up.

Jesus rarely used words that did not build up. I can only think of a few situations that He used terms less than uplifting. I do not think that being called a brood of vipers made those people feel good about themselves. However, even when Jesus said words such as these, they were not expressed in the rage and hatred that we often use. I picture the use of these words more out of pity than out of anger.

Unwholesome talk is anything that destroys what God is trying to accomplish in and through another person. Guard your tongue, for Satan can use it to do just that. Give pause to your words. Let your tongue be guided by the Holy Spirit. He will not give you unwholesome words. He will fill your mouth with words that will be a blessing to all who hear.

What comes from your mouth?

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

March 4, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
(Matthew 5:6 (NIV))

How many times have you experienced an emptiness inside of you that needed attention? Most of the time we associate this feeling with a physical hunger or a deep emotional scar.

You don’t hear of people experiencing a hunger for righteousness. Well, at least those who do experience this do not proclaim it in the same circles as those with the other hungers. This hunger is one of an eagerness to know God and His Will in all things. Many people who experience this hunger and thirst are not looking in the same places that others experiencing a hunger look. They look inward to find the place within them that God is quietly calling them to turn over to Him. They do not look outward in their search. There may be some telltale outward signs, such as changed habits, gentler disposition, etc., but this hunger is not one that longs for anything of this world.

We have turned this world over to Satan, and all dominion is his. Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness reject the ways of the world and long for things that are righteous in the eyes of God. As a result, those who hunger for righteousness reflect righteousness in all that they do, for they are filled with the Holy Spirit.

Are you filled?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you willing to be a watchman?

February 25, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

At the end of seven days the word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to a wicked man, `You will surely die,’ and you do not warn him or speak out to dissuade him from his evil ways in order to save his life, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. But if you do warn the wicked man and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his evil ways, he will die for his sin; but you will have saved yourself.
(Ezekiel 3:16-19 (NIV))

When God spoke to Ezekiel and told him to warn Israel of their wrongdoing, God made it clear that if He sends someone to deliver His Word, that person carries the weight of those people as his responsibility. That is also true for today.

When God sent Ezekiel, Ezekiel did not have the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to deliver. He had the teachings of the Law to deliver. God sent Ezekiel to deliver prophetic words that would greatly impact their lives.

Today, we have words that will impact lives even more than in Ezekiel’s time. We can speak in general terms, not as prophets, but as people empowered by the Holy Spirit to warn people of their impending danger if they do not accept Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. Where we differ from Ezekiel is that we have a direct route to God that we can offer to anyone who is willing to receive it.

If God places us in situations that He desires for us to warn and to witness, we need to respond. If we do, then the decision and the consequences are the responsibility of the person we witnessed to. If we do not tell them, then the responsibility is ours to bear.

If we have truly accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, then we need to heed what God asks of us to do. It has a far greater impact than we realize.

Are you willing to be a watchman?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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