What do you focus on?

April 27, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices–mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law–justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.
(Matthew 23:23-24 (NIV))

Does this sound like anyone that you know? Does it sound like you?

Just as in Jesus’ day, too many people pay more attention to the letter of the law and completely ignore the intent of the law. We need to make sure that we do not become like the Pharisees and perform our “worship” out of ritual and tradition. When this happens, it is easy to forget why the ritual and tradition started.

God gave us the Law as a guidance in how to live so that justice, mercy and faithfulness could thrive. It is human nature to forget the reasons and focus on the details.

Don’t let the reasons be hidden or overshadowed by the details. Focus on justice, mercy and faithfulness.

What do you focus on?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you see the hope that points to Jesus?

March 20, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
(Romans 15:4 (NIV))

What do you think of the Old Testament? Do you ignore it because it is boring reading through Deuteronomy and Numbers? Do you always turn to Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and everything after these books?

Paul was a very devout Jewish man. In fact, he was probably what the Jewish society of his day considered to be the ideal Jewish man. He had been educated as a boy. He excelled at his education in the Torah and was selected to go on with additional studies. He excelled there and went on even further. He was what they considered to be the cream of the crop, or the best of the best.

Paul gave all of this up after his Damascus Road experience. He met Jesus and his whole world was turned upside down. All of his studying and knowledge had been misguided. Even though it was acquired through misguided endeavors, Paul realized that it was the Word of God and it still applied. He only had to come to terms with what it really meant. He came to the realization that all of the Law and the Prophets were there to teach us not only as he had learned, but so much more. Every word spoke of the way that God wants us to live. Every word spoke of the ideal that could never be achieved by man. Paul also realized that it taught us of Jesus. Every word that tells us how God wants us to live gives us an insight into the path of salvation that God is working. Achieving an ideal and perfect life can not be attained by man. As a result, in order to see salvation, an ideal and perfect life must have lived. Only God’s Son could live such a life.

Paul knew the Hebrew Scriptures extremely well. He knew them well enough to realize that they truly pointed to Jesus. How can we truly understand Jesus if we do not understand all of the signs that point to Him?

Do you see the hope that points to Jesus?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What is the condition of your heart?

January 28, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

The LORD detests men of perverse heart
but he delights in those whose ways are blameless.
(Proverbs 11:20 (NIV))

Have we become a people of perverse hearts? Do we accept what the world calls okay even though God’s Word tells us that it is not okay? Do we have a desire to intentionally disobey God’s Word? How can we truly call ourselves part of the Body of Christ when we do not do what He tells us to do? Basically, how can we ignore the fact that we are not obeying His command to go and sin no more as He told the woman caught in adultery?

When we have perverse hearts, we think that we can do whatever we want. We think that God will overlook what we do. Sadly, many in today’s church and in the non-believing world think this is how God works. Proverbs 11:20 tells us differently.

But wait!

Didn’t Jesus come to forgive our sins?

Jesus did come to offer us grace and mercy. The key word is offer. We have to accept that offer and accept the terms that go with that offer. We are to repent. Just like what Jesus told the woman caught in adultery, we are to go and sin no more. He did not tell us that to get salvation we turn to Him and beg for forgiveness and then keep on deliberately sinning. Too many people falsely believe that believing in Jesus will earn them salvation no matter what they do from that point on. Jesus told us that He would tell these type of people to get away from Him because He never knew them.

With so many passages telling us that we are to turn away from our sin, how can anyone honestly believe that Jesus condones a perverse heart? How can we believe that people who simply give lip service to Jesus will actually see the salvation and grace that they think they will get?

Jesus did not come into this world, live as one of us, teach us, and die on the cross so that we can continue in our sin. We have to have a change of heart. We have to accept all conditions of the offer of grace.

What is the condition of your heart?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are we listening as we should?

January 23, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

I appointed watchmen over you and said, ‘Listen to the sound of the trumpet!’ But you said, ‘We will not listen.’
(Jeremiah 6:17 (NIV))

Do you believe that the Lord has posted watchmen in this day and age? Do you believe that there are people that the Lord has gifted with the ability to interpret the events in this world and the ability to listen to Him for understanding of these events? Do you believe that all of this is done with the intent of warning the Body of Christ as things of a Biblical nature unfold?

All throughout history, people have been selected to keep watch in order to keep everyone else safe. Ancient cities posted watchmen along the tops of the walls that surrounded their cities. Military posts to this day post watch at strategic points such as entrances and security points. A watchman is there to alert others to the possibility of danger from forces outside of the city. When a watchman sounds the alarm, everyone springs into action to defend themselves from the impending attack.

What would happen if no one responded to the alert sounded from those who are posted as watchmen?

It doesn’t take much imagination to realize that in the physical world, of you ignore the alert sounded by a watchman, you run the risk of death. Why do we then tend to ignore the sound of the people whom the Lord has called to be spiritual watchmen over His Body? Are we so out of touch with the Lord, His Word, and His plan as it is unfolded in His Word? Do we not heed those who alert us to the world claiming that good is now evil and evil is now good? Do we not heed the alert that the enemy is prowling around looking for someone to devour? Are we too engrossed in our day to day lives that we are oblivious to what is going on around us even when we are being told to watch out for the enemy is near?

We profess a faith in Jesus. We profess to have turned over lordship of our lives to Jesus, yet we don’t seem to listen to those whom He has called to alert us to danger. In essence, by our inaction, we are saying that we are not listening. We listen to anything and everything else. We keep our noses in our electronics while our eyes and ears are focused only on the things that are directly in front of us. We are so wrapped up in the superficial that we completely ignore the clear and present warnings that are being sent our way.

We claim that we follow Jesus, yet do we truly listen to all that He wants to tell us?

Are we listening as we should?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What do you use to light your way?

January 15, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.
(Psalms 119:105 (NIV))

Have you ever stumbled in the dark? I am sure that each and every one of us has experienced this. We even take measures to make sure that our path is well lit. We have exterior lights going from our car to the front door. We have little night lights that we plug in so that we can determine where the furniture is. For situations where we can’t guarantee that there will be available lighting, we even carry flashlights with us. Still, we all know what it feels like to stumble in the dark, to trip over something because we couldn’t see it, and to walk into the corner of the coffee table!

That is the physical. Sadly, too many of us don’t realize that we need spiritual light. We probably stumble more in the spiritual than we ever would in the physical. We recognize the dangers in the physical realm, but completely ignore the greater dangers in the spiritual realm. Without spiritual light, we walk in blindness. We never know the best path to take. We only know the results of our blindness when we falter. Even then, we simply keep on going in the darkness and in the blindness that it causes. We never know just how much damage we are doing to ourselves in the present and in the future until it is too late.

How would you like to be able to change that? How would you like to have a guide to light your path and to show you the way? How would you like to trust in the guidance that you receive? How would you like to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the light that you follow will never lead you astray?

There is only one source of spiritual light that promises all of this and more. There is only one light that is faithful. There is only one light that will never leave you. There is only one light that came into this world to bring the light. Jesus is that light.

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
(John 8:12 (NIV))

What do you use to light your way?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Everyone must answer this question for themselves!

January 6, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “God’s Messiah.”
(Luke 9:20 (NIV))

We should all be familiar with the events that transpired right before this particular passage. Jesus was asking the disciples who the crowds of people say that He is. He received numerous answers and then He did the unthinkable. He turned the question to them. He made it personal. He made them profess. He made them take a stand!

Isn’t that what we are supposed to do with Jesus? We are to either profess that He is Lord or we deny Him. To this day, and until He returns, the same question is asked of each of us. We may hear the things that the world is saying of Jesus. We may hear the things that our family and friends are saying of Jesus. We may give some type of acknowledgment to what they are saying, but that is different from saying something yourself. What you speak becomes your reality.

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
(Romans 10:9 (NIV))

But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.
(Matthew 10:33 (NIV))

According to Romans 14:11, we know that every knee will bow and every tongue will confess, but when you speak it determines your eternity. Take a serious look at Jesus and ask yourself one question. Who do you say that He is? If you acknowledge Jesus as Messiah during this lifetime, you will bow out of thankfulness and humility. If you ignore this question or simply reject Jesus, then you will bow out of submission and shame.

Jesus is asking, “Who do you say I am?”

Can you answer with the same proclamation that Peter gave? Can you honestly claim that Jesus is God’s Messiah? It doesn’t matter what others say of Him. They don’t answer for you! Everyone must answer this question for themselves!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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It is time we let the Lord define who He is!

September 3, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.

Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue ruler said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.”

The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?”
(Luke 13:10-16 (NIV))

Do you try to put limits on Jesus? Are you guilty of doing what the synagogue ruler did in this situation?

Instead of praising God for what He has done through Jesus, do you find yourself trying to put your own rules and regulations on what He is doing? Do you find yourself trying to put God into the confines of what you believe He should be instead of letting Him be who He is?

This is human nature. We try to define our limited understanding through things that we do understand. We are all guilty of it.

Consider those who believe in evolution. They cling to something because they want a “scientific” explanation for how life came to be. They cling to what they consider to be logic because they do not want to accept the truth. Their only desire is to be able to clearly define everything based on their own understanding. They want to be able to have things so well classified that they can predict what will happen. They ignore faith for a false knowledge that they have defined. Their definition is not God’s definition. They want definitions that clearly state what can be expected only as long as it meets their version of what can be expected.

What about your definition of God? Would Jesus call you a hypocrite because you fail to see beyond your definition of what can be expected? It is time we let the Lord define who He is!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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This is the one test that you need to pass!

June 14, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you — unless, of course, you fail the test?
(2 Corinthians 13:5 (NIV))

This is one of those verses that most people wish that they could ignore!

No one likes to fail a test. Think about the implications of this concept of failing this test. This is not the only place where we hear that it is possible to fail in your faith. We are told that it is possible to do things in the name of Jesus, but not have a relationship with Jesus, to not have Jesus in your heart.

Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
(Matthew 7:22-23 (NIV))

This goes hand in hand with the truth that you cannot earn salvation.

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))

We must also come to the realization that there is a difference between doing work for the Lord and truly knowing the Lord. I can demonstrate this concept with a simple question about the people with whom you work. You may spend eight hours a day with them, but do you know their inner most secrets and desires? Do you know the pains that they feel and what causes them pain and what causes them joy? Doing work around the Lord does not draw you close to the Lord in exactly the same way as working with someone does not bring you close to them. That requires effort and intimacy that cannot be had when you are constantly doing.

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
(Luke 10:38-42 (NIV))

We must choose Jesus in all things in order to grow in intimacy with Jesus. The closer you draw to the Lord, the stronger your faith becomes. As your faith grows, your belief grows as well. When you believe and truly know the Lord, you desire to do things that will draw others to Him. These are the works that matter, for they are done out of a love of Jesus and not out of an effort to impress Jesus. It is a matter of perspective and priorities.

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
(John 14:12-13 (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. 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))

God does truly love the world! Have you allowed that love to permeate your life so that your life reflects the love of the Lord and not you?

This is the one test that you need to pass!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Be sure you do it in the correct order!

May 24, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
(James 4:7 (NIV))

We have a tendency to see things and ignore the obvious. This passage is one that often falls into that category. We read this and all that most of us come away with is that if we resist the devil, he will flee. That is true, but there is a crucial step that is vitally important that it happen in the sequence as presented in this passage.

Submit yourselves to God!

First and foremost, we need to submit ourselves to the Lord and His will, for without this submission, without this relationship, there is no power to force the devil to flee! We cannot do it on our own. We do not possess the power or authority to make the prince of the air do anything. I would venture to say that the enemy finds it humorous when we try to do this relying on our own power. But, when we submit ourselves to God, we become more than conquerors. Through the presence of the Lord in our lives, we inherit the power and authority to make the devil flee. We have the authority to rebuke the devil. We have the authority to bind the enemy. That authority can only be found in one name.

But, there is a catch! There is an order. The enemy knows when you don’t know the Lord. The enemy knows when you fake it!

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 the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, 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 19:13-16 (NIV))

That authority is yours when you call upon the name of Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior. No other name has such power! Don’t forsake the power and go straight for the warfare.

Be sure you do it in the correct order!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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The treasure is every moment spent with Jesus!

May 3, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
(Matthew 6:21 (NIV))

This has been several years ago, but I still remind myself of the lesson learned. I had spent several months looking forward to my 30th high school reunion. Let’s face it, during high school you can’t imagine life without your friends. I was looking forward to seeing the people that I had spent so much time with and seeing what they had done with their lives. It had become a priority for me. I was nervous and excited at the same time. It was a day that I had hoped would rekindle old friendships.

Unfortunately, the day came and went and I did not make it. My priorities shifted when my family and I got in the car to drive to Augusta for the reunion. Within five minutes after getting in the car, one of my children had a major meltdown and wanted to go home. I was furious. I kept hoping and praying that he would get over it, so we kept going. It just got worse. I finally and reluctantly turned the car around to go home. The twenty minute ride home was not a happy one for any of us. Fortunately, my son finally regained composure and apologized profusely. I didn’t want to hear it. I thought I had a right to be mad and I was going to exercise my right.

Once we did get home, the more I thought about the events, the worse I felt. I had made a commitment to my son to always help him and try to understand the issues that he faces. I had gotten so wrapped up in what I wanted to do that I had completely overlooked where my treasure truly is. I have been blessed with grace and mercy. I have been blessed with a wonderful family. I have been blessed with a son who, if it were humanly possible, I would take upon myself the very things that I had gotten mad about. I was not willing to extend the grace and mercy that I had been freely given.

I was looking towards my past. I was ignoring my present and my future. All I could see was a missed reunion with people from my past. They are not my life. They are a part of what made me who I am, but they are not still a part of me. My son, who will always be my son, will forever be a part of me. I was foolish to get angry. Even God tells us not to look to our past. He tells us not to look for Him in the past or in the future. He tells us to seek Him now. My treasure is my present moment. I may not have another one. I don’t need to dwell on the past or ignore the present because I spend so much time planning for my future.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
(John 10:10 (NIV))

I had allowed the thief to steal the day from me by planting a seed of anger. I had allowed that seed to be planted because I was dwelling on the past.

How can we have a full life if we dwell on the past or spend too much time looking to the future. Life is now! The treasure is every moment spent with Jesus!

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