What is your answer to what Jesus asks each of us?

July 23, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

‘What about you?’ Jesus asked. ‘Who do you say I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’
(Matthew 16:15-16 (NIV))

This is the question that Jesus is asking each and every one of us!

Who do you say that Jesus is? Think carefully about your answer.

Some say that Jesus never existed and that the stories are fabrications of a group of people who were determined to trick people.

Some say that he was simply a good man. This is partially true. Jesus definitely was a good man, but He was much more than a mortal man. Others say that he was a prophet. This is also partially true. He did speak the words of God, but not as a man who was given these words, but as one who spoke out of the authority that comes from the words.

Search your heart. Reflect on what is written about Jesus. Consider that He is the most controversial person to ever have walked the earth. For two thousand years people have been either praising Him or denying Him. Consider what He taught. Consider His status in life as a carpenter in a country that was under foreign domination. How can a man who had no worldly claim to fame captivate the world for two thousand years? Even the men of power during His lifetime do not receive the same attention that this lowly carpenter has received.

There is something in His words that draws people who are seeking the truth. There is something in His words that offends people who are seeking their own way. There is something about Him that still draws people to Him over two thousand years after His brief ministry on this earth.

Just what is that something? That is for each and every one of us to discover. Once you discover it, you will answer as Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

What is your answer to what Jesus asks each of us?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What is possible for you?

July 15, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

“‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”
(Mark 9:23 (NIV))

How many people read this passage and miss the fact that Jesus was replying to a request from a father about his son? The father had explained what was happening to his son and appears to have been at the end of his proverbial rope. The disciples couldn’t help him. It sounds like he saw Jesus as his last hope, and as such, he ended up by saying the following.

But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.
(Mark 9:22b (NIV))

At first read, I unintentionally put my sinful human nature into Jesus’ response and read the “‘If you can’?” part sarcastically as if Jesus was saying don’t you know who I am? Then I realized that I was reading those words as how I would have reacted. This is not how Jesus would react.

How do you think that Jesus said these words?

“‘If you can’?”

All that we have is the written transcript. We don’t know the tone of delivery or the body language that went with it. Was there compassion and love? Was there sympathy and understanding? Was there grace and mercy? I can envision all of these and more conveyed by Jesus in His reply, and when you consider the father’s reaction to the words spoken by Jesus, you quickly understand that these simple words penetrated his heart.

Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
(Mark 9:24 (NIV))

That should be the prayer of everyone who professes a faith in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. If everything is possible for one who believes, then Lord, help me overcome my unbelief!

What is possible for you?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What does your diet consist of?

July 13, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”
(Matthew 4:4 (NIV))

Besides being necessary to live, eating has become something that has made our society what it is today. It has sparked the creation of cookbooks, diets, cooking utensils, spices, and mood enhancers to create just the special occasion. We have television shows focused on food. We spend so much time thinking about food that we have become obsessed. We have taken that obsession to the smallest detail, and even to the point where we want to flavor enhance water. We have restaurants where you can sit down for long periods of time and slowly enjoy the cuisine. We have restaurants where you are in and out in fifteen minutes or less. We even have the ability to drive through some restaurants and pick up food to go.

We spend so much money, time and effort on the food that feeds us physically, yet we barely spend any time on what feeds us spiritually. Even though most people who profess a faith in Jesus own a Bible, there are many people who never open its pages to feed their spirit. They never venture into the very heart of God. They never feed upon the sweet morsels of truth that the Lord gives us.

Taste and see that the Lord is good;
     blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
(Psalm 34:8 (NIV))

Have you truly tasted of the goodness of the Lord? Have you opened the cover and turned the pages to see His grace and mercy being offered time and time again to a people who ebb and flow with each passing generation? I need to say this. If you don’t spend time in God’s Word and feed upon the sweet spiritual nourishment, it is like someone who goes to a restaurant and only looks at the menu. You only get a glimpse of what is offered. You miss out on the very thing that you claim to want.

It is said that tasting and eating are the most personal of the senses. All other senses allow you to experience what is around you. Eating makes that experience an integral part of you. You are putting something external and foreign into your body. The same can be said of what you feed on spiritually. You are feeding a hunger that can only be satisfied by the Lord. Sadly, too many people try to feed this spiritual hunger with anything and everything that they can think of while completely ignoring the true source that satisfies.

What does your diet consist of?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you confessed? Do you believe?

July 6, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.
(Romans 10:9-10 (NIV))

Two things – confess with your mouth and believe in your heart. Nothing could be simpler, yet, we, as His church, have made it difficult. We have placed all types of rules and regulations on what Jesus intended to be easy.

Some people believe that only their denomination is going to be saved. Some people claim that only those whom God has predestined will be saved. Some people believe that only those that have been water baptized will be saved. Still, others believe that only those who keep the Jewish Sabbath, which is Saturday, will be saved.

I do not see any of these stipulations in this passage. No matter how many times I read it, I still only see two things – confess with your mouth and believe in your heart.

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.
(Matthew 5:17 (NIV))

The word “fulfill” means to make full, to put into effect, to measure up, and to convert into reality. The reality of the Law before Jesus was that no one measured up. No one could fulfill the requirements of the Law. So, Jesus came as a man and fulfilled the requirements. He provided a way for us to fulfill the Law in our lives. It is grace that allows that.

It is not a denomination. It is not predestination. It is not baptism. It is not observing man made traditions.

Everybody is familiar with the crucifixion story. Consider these events from Luke.

One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!”
But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”
Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. “
Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”
(Luke 23:39-43 (NIV))

Did Jesus make the thief belong to a certain group? Did Jesus tell him that he had been predestined to be saved? Did Jesus have an opportunity to baptize this man?

He simply told him that he would be with Him in paradise.

Traditions are important, but we must be careful to not let them take the place of the true meaning and grace that faith brings.

Faith is simple. Salvation is simple. It requires two things – confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead.

Have you confessed? Do you believe?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are the things of the Lord on your to-do list?

July 1, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

“These are the things you are to do: Speak the truth to each other, and render true and sound judgment in your courts; do not plot evil against each other, and do not love to swear falsely. I hate all this,” declares the Lord.
(Zechariah 8:16-17 (NIV))

How many people make to-do lists? Are you one of them? What do you find yourself putting on these lists? Do you actually accomplish the things that you put on the lists? I realize that this is a lot of questions for what many people consider a simple thing, but did you realize that God has created a few to-do lists for us? God has told us what we are to do many different times in human history, but we have failed each time.

God only had one item on His original to-do list for us and Adam and Eve couldn’t do that. We all know the Ten Commandments and probably what stands out most about these is that eight start by telling us what not to do and only two directly tell us what to do. Of all the commandments and the laws that are recorded in the Old Testament, I love what Jesus answered to a question that was probably asked to trick Him.

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
(Mark 12:28-31 (NIV))

The whole history of humanity is how God provides instructions on what we are to do and then we fail miserably or go in the opposite direction. Human history would not be complete without those who do try to do what God desires, but we still fail. These simple things that we are asked to do or not do are the things that God calls righteous. When we do not live up to these standards, we have missed the mark. We have sinned.

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

We are not capable of completing a simple to-do list, but by the grace of God we have been given a way to overcome our shortcomings so that in God’s eyes every box is checked.

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.
(John 3:16 (NIV))

Once you check the box next to “Accept Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior,” God sees Jesus’ righteousness in place of your sin. Once you have made that choice, you will have a daily struggle to check the other boxes with what God desires of us, but the Holy Spirit will guide you. Some days you will check many boxes while other days you will be lucky to check one. No matter the outcome of the day, you must always turn to the Lord and repent of your shortcomings and pray that you can keep your eyes focused on Jesus.

Are the things of the Lord on your to-do list?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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His Word is truth!

June 23, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

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

Timing is everything. If Jesus had spoken these words earlier in His time on earth, He would have given those who sought to crucify Him just that much more evidence to support their plans, but Jesus spoke them after His resurrection. He spoke them to His disciples after He had been crucified and they saw Him die. He spoke them to His disciples after they had seen Him buried. He spoke them after His resurrection and after He had appeared to them various times. He spoke them at a point in time when those who witnessed all of these events would fully understand that what He said was true.

Could you imagine witnessing all of these events? Could you imagine hearing these words as Jesus spoke them? Could you imagine being so on fire for the Lord that you are willing to do anything that He asks, even if you knew that there was a chance that it would mean hardship and more?

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))

Many scholars have come to the conclusion that the resurrection was real simply based on the lives of the disciples from that moment on. They realized that no one is willing to die for a lie, but all of them were willing to die for the truth of the Gospel. They had witnessed something so amazing that their very lives were transformed.

Do you hold fast to the truth of the authority that Jesus has been given? Has your life been transformed?

As believers in Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, we long to hear words spoken by Jesus as well.

His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
(Matthew 25:21 (NIV))

Can you imagine what it will be like to hear Jesus say these words? Timing is everything. Each day brings us closer to that day. Whether it is at the end of our life, or at His return for His church, everyone who professes a faith in Jesus longs to hear these words. Until that day, we must hold fast to the promises that we have been given. We must keep our eyes focused on Jesus and remember one simple truth. When things look bad, we must look up!

He is coming again!

His Word is truth!

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Our home is with Jesus!

June 22, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
(Psalms 91:1 (NIV))

I originally wrote this about six years ago. Since then, I have seen so much more in this world that could easily take away my joy. As the Body of Christ, we must remember that this world is not our home, so no matter what we may witness, we have a hope of a future home with Jesus!

I have often looked at the state of the world and wondered why things are happening as they are. I know that God is unfolding time according to His purpose, but I can’t help but look at the things that are unfolding and feel saddened by these events.

I don’t feel sad for myself or for anybody who calls upon the name of Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. Rather, I feel sad for all of the people who have bought the lie of the enemy. I am saddened by the fact that what they have signed on for will lead them to eternal separation from God. Let’s be honest. It will lead them to hell!

God’s laws do not change because society says that they do!

I have had to remind myself that this is a fallen world and that I should not expect it to follow God’s laws or God’s Word. If it did follow them, I honestly believe that the fall from grace would never have occurred. Even in the best of times, the Body of Christ has lived in a fallen world. It is how we respond to that fallen world that makes a difference.

Do we simply accept the state of the world and adapt or do we continue to live according to the teachings of Jesus and the guidance of the Holy Spirit?

We are called to be salt.

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.
(Matthew 5:13 (NIV))

Is the Body of Christ being trampled? Is the Body of Christ still able to be salt to the world?

Do we dwell in the shelter of the Most High? Do we know His will well enough to realize that this world is not our home and that it will not behave like we expect it to?

In the days that are ahead, I honestly believe that the Body of Christ will be in for far more things that will try to take our joy, and possibly our lives. No matter what the world may send our way, we must never lose site that this world is not our home. Have you packed your faith and hope and are you ready to go?

Our home is with Jesus!

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you eagerly waiting for Jesus?

June 15, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,
(Philippians 3:20 (NIV))

Are you like the large group of people who are waiting for things in this world to return to normal?

The world’s version of normal is highly overrated. Everything that the world calls normal, even when it is based in God’s plan, has been polluted by sin. In fact, even those of us who profess a faith in Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior are not capable of making it through a single day without missing the mark that God has set for us. Add to this sinful nature the current state of the world where good is called evil and evil is called good and you end up with a rapidly deteriorating state of affairs that is getting further and further away from God’s perfect creation.

Do you love this world?

I realize that this world is our home, but is it worthy of our love? There are aspects of this world that still hint at God’s majesty, but sinful humanity, under the power and influence of the enemy, has found a way to corrupt everything. With everything that is going on, most people who study Bible prophecy are in agreement that what we used to know as normal is a thing of the past and that things will rapidly get much worse. We are already seeing outright attacks on anything that is based on Christian principles. We are seeing outright hatred of anyone who professes a faith in Jesus.

Everyone will hate you because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.
(Mark 13:13 (NIV))

Are you standing firm?

Israel is under constant attack. They have had four elections trying to seat an official government and now they have a government that is a coalition comprised of what many people believe is a facade for those who seek to destroy Israel. Every nation is turning against Israel, and our current government has made some rather unusual choices to side with those who seek to destroy what God has claimed as His own.

If you are like me, you probably are looking at the current state and asking how much worse it can get. I pray that you are also asking Jesus how much longer it will be before He comes for His church. I know that we currently live in this world, so therefore it is our home, but is it truly the place that your heart longs for? We have a promise of something so much better.

My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
(John 14:2-3 (NIV))

Our eternal home is with Jesus. Our eternal citizenship is in heaven. All that is missing is His return for us.

Are you eagerly waiting for Jesus?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do you believe in Jesus?

June 14, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God ; believe also in me.
(John 14:1 (NIV))

For anyone who professes a faith in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior, it should be second nature to do what this passage states. We know and trust these words as well as other words that Jesus has spoken about troubles in this world.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
(John 16:33 (NIV))

The big question that should be evident from these passages is a simple question.

Do you believe in Jesus?

It is your answer that makes this difficult. It is the state of your heart that gives you away. Is your heart troubled by all of the events that have been transpiring and increasing in frequency in the world lately? What does that say about your faith if you look to the state of the world to determine your peace? These events should make you turn to the one who has overcome the world. They should make you lift your eyes in hopeful anticipation of seeing Jesus!

Exactly what do you believe about Jesus, for what you truly believe will dictate how your heart reacts? How confident are you of your salvation, for that confidence will determine the relationship that you have with Jesus?

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

How strong is your relationship with Jesus, for this relationship will determine your trust? In other words, do you trust Jesus to be who He is and to fulfill all that He has promised? If you fully trust Jesus to fulfill all of His promises, then why should you let your heart be troubled? Why should you not believe in the Lord?

Do you believe in Jesus?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Have you found that narrow road and gate?

June 10, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
(Matthew 7:13-14 (NIV))

Are you able to stay focused on your goals?

Based on your answer, how has your life lived up to what you have just professed about yourself?

We all like to think that we can focus on our goals and, as Paul wrote, keep our eyes on the prize, but how often do we truly achieve our goals? Are you doing what you intended to be doing when you graduated from school? Are you living where you thought you would be living? And here comes the ultimate question. Do you weigh what you want to weigh?

Ouch!

Don’t feel bad, because I don’t either on any of these questions, especially the last one. I do believe that my current state of life is a direct result of God’s plan and my running from His plan. There is God’s perfect will and then, thankfully, there is His prevenient will. He takes all of our mistakes, our sins, and directs us down a better path than the path that we were on. He directs us back to that narrow gate. He leads us according to His will so that our final destination is an eternity with Him. In order to arrive at the destination that He has planned for us, we must keep our eyes on Jesus.

Think about that for a moment.

What happens when you are driving and you find yourself looking at something that is not directly in front of you? Chances are extremely good that you will swerve, that you will stray into the direction that you look. If you look too long, you will find yourself in serious trouble. In order to guarantee that you will stay on the road and arrive at you destination, you must keep your eyes on the road before you. Jesus is that road. He is our destination. He is our goal! He is that narrow gate.

It is important that we must keep our eyes on Jesus. Jesus will guide you on a road that leads to life.

Have you found that narrow road and gate?

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