Do you embrace God’s plan of grace?

April 9, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.”

Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all drank from it.

“This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them. “I tell you the truth, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it anew in the kingdom of God.”
(Mark 14:22-25 (NIV))

Have you really thought about what Jesus was doing in these passages? It is easy to go through the motions without realizing exactly what the whole thing means.

The symbolism is astonishing. The implications are crucial to our beliefs. The continuing practice is an important part of our ability to remember just what was done in our behalf. We must also remember that Jesus did this at the Passover Sader, which was and still is the Jewish holiday in which they remember the gift of salvation and freedom from their Egyptian captors. On the anniversary of the very night that God delivered Israel from a physical bondage, God, through His Son, Jesus Christ, was delivering the world from spiritual bondage.

In Egypt, God accomplished this through the Angel of Death striking the first-born of Egypt. For the salvation of the world, God again struck down the first-born! He allowed His only begotten Son to die in our place!

The Passover meal is a very ritualized meal so that the Jewish people do not forget what God did for them. It is a time of celebration for those who partake of it. Jesus instituted a new “Passover” tradition in which all who believe that He is the Son of God and their Lord and Savior can partake. This meal is different from the original Jewish Passover meal in that it can be taken anytime and anywhere that there are believers.

The next time that you have the opportunity to sit at the Lord’s table, remember the pain, suffering, grace and salvation that this meal represents.

Do you embrace God’s plan of grace?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you understand the depth of His love?

January 31, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Jesus wept.
(John 11:35 (NIV))

Do you truly realize the implications of these two words?

Without going into detail to expound upon the fact that Jesus is part of the Holy Trinity of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, I want you to consider some basic word swapping. What happens when you switch Jesus as the subject of this short, yet powerful sentence with God, Father, or Holy Spirit?

God wept.

The Father wept.

The Holy Spirit wept.

It’s easy to think of Jesus weeping, after all He was fully human even though He was fully God. Swapping the subject out and replacing it with other incarnations of the Holy Trinity puts this verse into a different light? Have you ever thought of God weeping? Did you ever think that God’s heart could break? If you think of Him as Father, then perhaps you have considered how God’s heart breaks when we sin. Have you ever thought of the Holy Spirit weeping? If you have ever experienced that still, small voice, then you probably have felt the pain and the anguish that He feels when someone sins.

The original two words show the compassion and love that Jesus has, but if you extend to the obvious, it shows the deep compassion and love that is there in all incarnations of the Holy Trinity. I realize that each member of the Holy Trinity has a unique task that they perform, but they are all God. All three love. All three weep. All three are involved in the plan of redemption and grace. Think about that in context of these words in John 11:35. If Jesus wept, that means the very heart of God was broken and weeping.

Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.
(John 5:19 (NIV))

The Father wept!

I don’t like the fact that we break His heart, but I am so overjoyed that our God has compassion and love for His creation that He weeps when we do break His heart.

Do you understand the depth of His love?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Let’s continue to turn to God in righteousness!

January 20, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice;
when the wicked rule, the people groan.
(Proverbs 29:2 (NIV))

Ouch !!!

Have we been rejoicing or groaning?

Think about the implications of that simple question.

Have we lost track of the principles upon which we were founded? Have we grown so accustom to looking out for only ourselves, that we forget that what we do has an affect on others? Have we allowed wickedness to replace righteousness? Do we look upon sin as something that is wrong, or do we look upon sin as an alternative lifestyle? Do we see those around us as individuals whom God created, or do we simply see someone who is an obstacle in our way?

I could go on and on with these types of questions, but I hope you understand my point.

Woe to those who call evil good
    and good evil,
  who put darkness for light
    and light for darkness,
  who put bitter for sweet
    and sweet for bitter.
Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes
    and clever in their own sight.
Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine
    and champions at mixing drinks,
who acquit the guilty for a bribe,
    but deny justice to the innocent.
(Isaiah 5:20-23 (NIV))

Does any of this sound familiar? It does to me.

Fortunately, God allows us to turn away from our sin and return to Him.

“When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
(2 Chronicles 7:13-14 (NIV))

The heavens may not be shut so that there is no rain, but I think I see the telltale signs of a different type of locust. This locust devours just like the type referred to in this passage, and just like we are told, if we will humbly turn to God in prayer, and turn toward Him, He will heal our land.

I don’t know about you, but I am tired of groaning. Join me in prayer! Let’s continue to turn to God in righteousness!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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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.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you know where your heart is?

July 23, 2018

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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))

When I was growing up, television stations didn’t stay on the air 24 hours a day. In fact, they would shut down right after the late news. They used to run a public service announcement a few hours before they shut off for the night. Typically, this announcement went something like, “It’s 9 PM. Do you know where your children are?” It was a simple reminder to keep what is important to you close so that no harm would befall them. If you truly stop to think about this, it is not a far stretch to adapt this question to apply to our lives in Christ.

Can you imagine if someone were to ask you, “It’s 10:00 AM on Sunday. Do you know where your heart is?” Perhaps it is asked like this. “You are an adult now. Do you know where your heart is?” The implications are the same. Quite often, we fail to recognize exactly what we place as a priority until we are asked pointblank where we are with respect to certain things. Consider the following questions as examples of this human trait.

Where is your marriage?

Where is your relationship with your children?

Where is your relationship with Jesus?

We can be asked questions like these and we typically brush them off because we don’t really want to acknowledge that we may be far less than what we desire in these areas. We may not want to answer them because something else has our attention and our heart.

I honestly believe that it is a good thing to evaluate ourselves to determine exactly what we treasure and then turn to God, repent and ask for the strength to return to what we truly should treasure. With this in mind, I want to ask one simple question and hopefully you have a simple and righteous answer.

Do you know where your heart is?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Why are you still sitting on the couch?

June 22, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

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,
(Matthew 28:19 (NIV))

Everyone who professes a faith in Jesus knows this verse and the implications that it carries for us. Why is it that so few actually do anything to spread the Gospel? Think about this in relationship to your own life. How many people have you told about the Gospel and the redeeming power that can be theirs if they only believe?

He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.
(Luke 10:2 (NIV))

Perhaps why we don’t is found in the next words that are recorded in Luke.

Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.
(Luke 10:3 (NIV))

This is not a very pretty mental image. We are told that we will be facing danger when we go. To some people, the thought of being physically assaulted or killed is too much danger. To others, the thought of simply being in an uncomfortable situation is more than they can handle.

What if Jesus felt this way?

He paid it all so that you and I could have the free gift of salvation.

What if the person who led you to Jesus had felt this way?

Where would that leave you?

What about all of the people that the Lord has placed in your life who need to know about the saving grace that can be theirs simply by professing that Jesus is their Lord and Savior? Don’t have the attitude where you tell yourself that “I’ve got mine. They are on their own!” It is time that the Body of Christ does exactly what we have been called to do. We are to share the Good News. We are to share the Gospel that brought us grace and mercy with all who will listen.

Why are you still sitting on the couch?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you praise God with every breath you take?

May 8, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I bless GOD every chance I get; my lungs expand with his praise.
(Psalms 34:1 (MSG))

I don’t often reference the Message translation, but I love the implications of this passage and the way it gives a very unique and powerful example of our need to praise God.

Typically, we see this passage conveyed similar to the following, with each translation using slightly different words to convey what David actually wrote in his native language.

I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.
(Psalms 34:1 (NIV))

Honestly, who uses words like “extol?” I realize that it is a word that many people know, but most people will use the words “bless” or “praise.” Those words are straight to the point. Do you bless God every chance that you get? Perhaps what I love the most about the way that the Message translates this passage, though, is the last half of the passage. Everyone who is alive must breathe. This requires your lungs to expand and collapse as you inhale and exhale. This process is essential for life. Think about the meaning and the implications of that concept. We should consider praising God as essential to life as breathing! Without God, we would not have life.

We should give thanks with every breath that we take for the breath that we take. We should praise God for the life that He has given. We should praise God for the grace and the mercy that He has offered. We should praise God for His unfailing love.

Do you praise God with every breath you take?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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