Do you truly long for the Lord?

November 10, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Why do you make me look at injustice?
    Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?
Destruction and violence are before me;
    there is strife, and conflict abounds.
(Habakkuk 1:3 (NIV))

Habakkuk knew what injustice was. He saw it in the society of his day. He saw it in Jerusalem. He had grown tired of the sinful practices that he saw on a daily basis. He pleaded with the Lord to do something that would make the people repent and return to the Lord. The people had rebelled against the Lord to the point that the Lord decided to have the Babylonians invade.

Think about that for a moment!

We pray for God to do something in this nation. We grow tired of the injustices, the evil, the wrongdoing, the destruction and the violence. We can’t seem to go more than an hour without hearing about a new conflict that has people polarized in their responses. We pray that the Lord would heal this land, but what if the first step in the healing process takes us down a road similar to what the Lord told Habakkuk would happen? When the Babylonians came, it was not just the people who were doing evil who where affected? The consequences impacted the whole region.

With the events in the world and the alignment of nations, the peace treaties and all other factors, we realize that we will probably soon be facing end time events. We long for the moment when the Lord will come for His church. Until that time, we must be prepared for much worse than we have seen. We should continue to pray for repentance and healing. We must pray for eyes to be opened and hearts to be turned to Jesus.

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 I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
(2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV))

If we, who are sinful by nature, grow weary of all of the sin that surrounds us, how much more does this bother the Lord? We know that the Lord will win in His time, for He, too, is growing tired of the things in this world. Until that time, we must stand firm in our faith. We must stand firm in proclaiming the Gospel. We must stand firm in showing the world what God calls righteousness and justice.

Do you truly long for the Lord?

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.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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We must pick up our cross no matter the cost!

July 7, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me.
(Acts 20:22-23 (NIV))

How many of us would willingly go somewhere knowing that there is a very good possibility that you would face great danger? Would you be willing to stand up for your faith even in the midst of hardships and prison? Would you go headlong into the situation even if you knew that this would be the outcome?

Paul faced many hardships during his travels to spread the Gospel, yet nothing that he faced was able to convince him to stop sharing the good news of Jesus. It was more important to him than his own life!

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.
(Acts 20:24 (NIV))

Can we make that same profession of faith?

For years I have been saying that a time is coming when speaking the name of Jesus would carry dire consequences from beatings to even death. That time is drawing closer. We are seeing things escalate at a rate that I would have never imagined being able to happen in my lifetime. Just look at what has happened in the last few years. What about the last few months? What will we be facing next? Are we ready, willing and able to have the same attitude as Paul did during his lifetime? Will we head into the hardships if that is where we are called? Are we ready to die to self and pick up the cross without counting the cost of our actions?

We must pick up our cross no matter the cost!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you walking with Jesus?

April 14, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.

He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”
They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?”

“What things?” he asked.
“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.”

He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.

When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.
(Luke 24:13-35 (NIV))

I hope and pray that you encountered the risen Lord Jesus during Easter. I also pray that you continue to walk with Him during all the days of your life. He is with us even when we do not recognize Him. With that in mind, how would you want Jesus to see you in your daily actions?

Are you walking with Jesus?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are we still witnessing or are we simply waiting?

February 3, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
(Acts 1:7-8 (NIV))

Have we gotten tired of waiting? Have we given up being witnesses because we don’t see any evidence of His return? Do you tell yourself that witnessing is not your gift? Perhaps we have developed an attitude that we have done our part and it’s time for a rest. Have I left your excuse out of my list?

I don’t mean to sound harsh and degrading. I don’t want to sound like I am pointing fingers. I realize that we have all felt like this at some point or another. In fact, I have told myself that personal witnessing is not my gift more times than I care to admit. To be honest with you, I am not good at public speaking. I am not good at one on one, but, if you give me a keyboard and a verse, I believe that I have found my way of witnessing. With this simple truth about myself, I believe that if you look at humanity, you will quickly realize that God created each of us with unique gifts. Because each unsaved sinner is unique, each repentant sinner who has claimed salvation has a unique way of reaching someone else. It is a way that may be designed for reaching only one person. We must remember that each person is loved by God and the one that you are called to share the Gospel with may be the next person to share the Gospel with millions!

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up
(Ephesians 4:11-12 (NIV))

Just because our gift is not evangelism doesn’t mean that we can’t use our gifts to witness, to spread the Gospel!

It is true that we don’t know the hour or the date that the Father has set, but we all have an urgent task that we must not neglect. Whether it is by evangelism, writing, hospitality, generosity, music, or art, we all have a gift that we can use to witness to the amazing truth of the Gospel. Just because we don’t know the hour or the date doesn’t mean that we should stop using our gifts to reach the world. We are called to be faithful until He comes.

Are we being faithful with the gifts that He has given to us or have we grown complacent in our witness? Have we started using excuses like those I previously mentioned to convince ourselves that it is okay if we don’t witness? We need to take a serious look at what Jesus has called us to do and whether we are being faithful in that calling.

Are we still witnessing or are we simply waiting?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What do you do when the unexpected happens?

October 25, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
(Acts 1:9 (NIV))

I can picture the moment. Everybody is gathered around Jesus and everyone there is asking Him questions. They are filled with excitement. They have spent three years with Jesus. They saw Him perform miracles. They saw Him beaten and crucified. They saw Him die. And, they saw Him in His resurrection. Now, after the resurrection, they are eagerly looking for Jesus to bring God’s kingdom to this world.

And then . . .

The unexpected happens.

At least in their eyes, it does.

They were expecting Jesus to take His authority then and there, but He disappears!

Can you imagine how these people felt? Everything that they had seen. Everything that they had been a part of. Everything that they now expected was completely changed. I can imagine that their first reaction was that they were being abandoned. How would you feel?

God knew their hearts. He knew that they were expecting something that was not in His plan. God had compassion on these people. He sent messengers to tell them that their timing was not His timing.

They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
(Acts 1:10-11 (NIV))

Instead of despair, these people had a reason to believe. They had a reason to hope. They had a reason to pray. And pray they did.

Then they returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city. When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.
(Acts 11:12-14 (NIV))

How do you react when things don’t go as you expect them to?

We should take a lesson from these first believers. When things don’t go as we expect them to go, we should pray for God’s guidance and His wisdom.

What do you do when the unexpected happens?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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We must never forget that we are blessed to be a blessing!

October 23, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
(Acts 1:8 (NIV))

Did you notice anything in this passage that you haven’t seen before?

I know that most believers are familiar with this passage, but I want you to take the time to read it again and let the words, and their order, sink in.

Now that I have hinted at an order, let’s explore this concept a little further, for there is a sequence of events within this passage.

Many people who profess a faith in Jesus fail to embrace the Holy Spirit. Perhaps they simply fail to understand what the Holy Spirit brings to them, or they simply feel uncomfortable with what the Holy Spirit brings. Either way, they miss out on the power of God and the ability for it to manifest itself in their lives so that they can be used by God. To put it simply and succinctly, we must embrace the Holy Spirit in order to receive the power of God. Without the power of God, we can only attempt to do what the Lord has called us to do.

We will not be able to witness locally. Imagine what would have happened if the disciples had not been witnesses in Jerusalem.

We will not be able to witness to those around our home town. If the disciples had not been able to reach people in Judea and Samaria, the Gospel would have been isolated and never spread. If the disciples had not taken it to the ends of the earth, we would probably not be able to claim that Jesus is our personal Lord and Savior! All of this came about because the disciples embraced the power of the Holy Spirit. They did not hoard the Holy Spirit or the power that He brings. They shared this power and their testimony first with their home towns and then their surrounding neighbors. Two thousand years later, it is still being shared. Without the power of the Holy Spirit, this would not be possible.

We have been blessed with salvation. We have been blessed with the Holy Spirit and His power to share that salvation. We must never forget that we are blessed to be a blessing!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Hold on to what you have!

July 11, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
(Revelation 3:11-13 (NIV))

Hold on to what you have!

Have you honestly given thought to what you do have? What was the first thing that came to mind when you read that question? Was it your home? Perhaps it was your car. Perhaps you are not as material obsessed and what you thought of was your family. Perhaps you even went to the point of thinking about your life and all that you have been blessed with.

Now, step back and take a look at all of these things through the eyes of God. Did He send Jesus to die on the cross so that you could have a nice home or a nice car? Did He send Jesus so that you could have a loving family? Do you honestly think that Jesus came so that you could live your life in any manner that you choose?

Jesus came to offer to us the most prized possession that we could ever be given. He came to offer us salvation from our sins and the laws of sin and death. If you profess Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, then that is what you have. It is a possession that cannot be taken away, but it can be relinquished by turning away. It can be lost by not recognizing the tricks and lies of the enemy and turning to these life robbing sins once more. Professing a belief in Jesus as your Lord and Savior is only the beginning. It is a starting point, but it is not the finish line of the race. Paul often spoke of faith in Jesus as a race, a race that we must not only start, but one that we must finish.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
(Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV))

We cannot sign up to run the race and then sit on the sidelines. We will not receive the prize. We must hold on to what we have. We must embrace what we have been given. We must not allow anything or anyone to keep us from the finish that will allow us to receive the prize.

Hold on to what you have!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What did you think the power was for?

June 12, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
(Acts 1:8 (NIV))

I am sure that everyone is fully aware of the concept of receiving the power of the Holy Spirit, or to put it more simply, receiving the Holy Spirit. That power manifests itself in various different ways, but have you ever truly asked yourself what the power is for?

Think about that for a moment.

We hear of people who have received the Holy Spirit. We see the things that manifest because of that power. Perhaps that power has been made manifest in you, but to what purpose? We have been given the answer. We are given the power of the Holy Spirit to make us bold, to give us the right words to say, to give us the wisdom and strength to overcome the enemy all so that we can share the Gospel. We are called to be a witness for Jesus! From this passage, we clearly see that the power of the Holy Spirit comes upon us so that we can fulfill with confidence the calling that has been put upon all of those who accept Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior.

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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 28:18-20 (NIV))

As believers, we are called to share the Gospel. Nowhere does it say that once we accept Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior we are to simply sit back and relax. We have a job to do! The power of the Holy Spirit equips us for that job. Are you walking in the power of the Holy Spirit? Are you bold in declaring and sharing your faith?

What did you think the power was for?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Step forward into God’s promises!

May 6, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses.
(Joshua 1:3 (NIV))

Have you ever stopped to think about what would have happened if the Israelites had not stepped forward to receive what had been promised to them?

I want you to truly think this question through and not just the superficial answer you subconsciously gave as you read the question.

Would Israel ever have existed as a nation in the Promised Land? Would Jerusalem exist? Would David ever have been a king? Would Solomon have existed? Would the temple ever have been built? Without David as king, would that lineage even matter? Would Jesus have been born into this world? Would Jesus suffer on the cross, died and buried? Would the resurrection ever have occurred?

If you stop to think about the promise given in Joshua, it is important to remember that this in actually a continuation of the promise given to Abram as it unfolded with God changing his name to Abraham. The promises that God has given to us are more than just for our immediate gratification. In fact, besides the birth of a son, Abraham never saw the fulfillment of these promises.

We have a different perspective than either Abraham or the Israelites under the leadership of Joshua, but we still have yet to see the fulfillment of all of God’s promises. I actually believe that humanity since the fall from grace is too frail to see fully all of the promises especially since God’s promises are tied to his glory. Think about God’s appearance to Moses. We know that God did not show Himself fully to Moses, but we also know that God gave promises to Moses. The promises that we have today are the same promises that God has given before. The only difference is that we have seen some of the promises come to fruition. This should give us faith to know that the rest will eventually come to fruition.

But what happens when we don’t step forward into God’s promises? I know that we all long for good things for ourselves, but if we don’t step forward to claim what God has promised, we are also impacting others who will follow. Just as if the Israelites had not stepped forward, what will happen if we don’t step forward?

Step forward into God’s promises!

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