What are you learning?

May 18, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.
(2 Timothy 3:7 (NIV))

I find it interesting that almost every aspect of our society is so overwhelmed with learning more and more. On the surface, this sound very good. For the most part it is. The problem comes when we focus so much on what is learned and forget about truth, when we focus more on man-made credentials instead of the wisdom that God bestows.

I even see this in many churches.

How many of you have heard someone say something like, “They can’t do that. they don’t have a degree.” Think about that for a moment in relation to the movement of the Holy Spirit. If God has given someone a gift and the Holy Spirit enables that gift, who are we to stop it just because the person doesn’t have a degree in the area? I don’t know about you, but this sounds very similar to being a Pharisee. Did they accept John the Baptist? Didn’t they try to stop Jesus? Speaking of Jesus, what man-made credentials did He possess? Think about that in relationship to the church that He calls His own. Think about that in relationship to the men whom He drew close to Himself to be His disciples. They did not possess man-made credentials, yet He used them to spread the Gospel and to reach the world.

There is often a big difference between learning and wisdom, or in reference to this passage, learning and knowledge of the truth. It seems to me that the more we focus on learning, the less wisdom and knowledge of the truth that we possess.

Think about this in relation to your studies. What are you learning?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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We are all called to be a witness to His light!

July 19, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
(John 1:8 (NIV))

It would have been so easy for John the Baptist to claim some of the glory, after all, it was John that the crowds originally went to see. It was John and the message that he brought that made the people go into the wilderness and seek his message. When asked point blank if he was the one, he stood his ground. He only claimed to be who and what he was sent to be. He then clearly pointed to where praise, honor and glory needed to go.

John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.'”
(John 1:23 (NIV))

John was sent to prepare the hearts of the people to receive Jesus. He simply stood at a point in time where he would be used to clearly point to the Light that was to come. Everybody who calls upon the name of Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior should take a lesson from John and pay special attention to his modesty. The only attention that he wanted was the attention given to his message of repentance. Still, people pressed for answers.

Now the Pharisees who had been sent questioned him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”
“I baptize with water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.”
(John 1:24-27 (NIV))

John was exemplary in fulfilling his mission, which was to point to the light. He proclaimed that the light was coming and when Jesus came, John stepped aside so that the light could shine. To be honest with you, isn’t that what we, as the Body of Christ, are called to do? We are all called to be a witness to His light! Then we are to step out of the way so that it can shine!

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you ready and willing to testify?

February 14, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”
(John 1:32-34 (NIV))

What has God done in your life that points to Jesus as the Messiah?

Did the Holy Spirit convict you or did you have some revelation that made you realize just who Jesus is?

Each of us come to the realization that Jesus is God’s Chosen One in our own way and time. Each of us has a unique story to tell about how Jesus became a reality in our lives. Each of us have a powerful witness that we can use to reach others and bring them to the saving knowledge that Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords.

All that we have to do is be willing to tell others what has happened in our lives because of Jesus.

I love the chose of words that John the Baptist used. He didn’t simply say that he knew that Jesus is God’s Chosen One. He purposefully chose the word testify.

Think about that for a moment!

Where are you when you testify to something? In most cases in today’s society, you testify in court. You take an oath to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. You seal the oath with a promise to God!

John could have simply stated what he witnessed. He knew that what he witnessed was something that people would not believe if he did not use stronger words to imply the powerful truth behind them.

He chose to testify!

Are you ready and willing to testify to what Jesus means in your life?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you go outside of your comfort zone for God?

August 29, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

The next morning Jesus awoke long before daybreak and went out alone into the wilderness to pray.
(Mark 1:35 (NLT))

What do you think of when you think of a wilderness?

Some people think of a wild place such as a jungle. Some think of a barren place such as a desert. Either way, it is often associated as a place that is untouched by human hands. To many, this implies that it is a dangerous place to be, and it can be.

Have you considered that a wilderness can also be a place of peace away from the hectic pace of the world? A wilderness can be a place to encounter God without the distractions of the world weighing you down. I am certain that we all know of someone, if we are not like this, who finds that a walk in the woods or a day in a boat is the most productive prayer time that they can have.

Let’s face it. God doesn’t care where you are when you talk to Him. All that He cares is that you earnestly seek His face. If that means that you need to go out to a place that is not easily accessible to other people, then do it. Look at all of the times that Jesus went into the wilderness. Look at all of the time that David spent in the wilderness tending sheep and then running from Saul. Look at the time spent by John the Baptist in the wilderness. All of these, and may others, spent time alone with God in the wilderness. If you stop to think about it, a wilderness is something outside of your comfort zone. John the Baptist wasn’t raised in the wilderness, yet he was called there. David wasn’t raised in the wilderness, but he spent a period of time in his life getting prepared for what God called him to be. Jesus, as the Son of God, was not used to a wilderness, but He spent countless times in the wilderness so that He could clearly hear God and His call.

They went outside of their comfort zone in order to hear God!

They spent countless days, weeks and months in the wilderness in order to hear God. They were willing to take that step of faith to let God know that they were sincere in their desires. I know that times have changed, but maybe the reason we don’t hear from God is the simple fact that we aren’t willing to go beyond our comfort zone. We aren’t willing to go into an unknown, into a wilderness.

How far are you willing to go to be able to hear God?

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Focus on Jesus and not on man-made theology!

October 28, 2015

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
(Hebrews 10:19-23 (NIV))

No matter what denomination you may be a member of, the true source of our faith is Jesus and Him crucified and resurrected. All else is trivial, for the differences that we have established in the name of our particular brand of faith in Jesus are all man made attempts at reaching God.

All of us have become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
we all shrivel up like a leaf,
and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
(Isaiah 64:6(NIV))

We cannot reach God through our own righteousness. God had to reach us and pull us out of our sin. We could not lift ourselves out of it. We are completely helpless without God and His gift of grace and mercy through the blood of Jesus.

Reread Hebrews 10:19-23. There is even an illustration of one of the primary differences that marks our denominations today, the debate over baptism and whether to sprinkle or submerge. This passage clearly states that our hearts have been sprinkled and our bodies washed. Baptism is, first and foremost, an act of total submission to God. We cannot judge others in their outward expression of this submission. Only God can judge, for He sees the heart.

Consider John the Baptist. His methods and outward appearance were contrary to everything the established religion of the day said he should be. Who did God’s Will? John the Baptist or those who condemned him?

How can we, who are not worthy to judge, judge each other in the trivial issues yet ignore the true source of our common faith?

Copyright 1998 – 2015 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you whimpering in the dark?

December 3, 2014

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:

“A voice of one calling in the desert,
`Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.’ ”
(Matthew 3:1-3 (NIV))

We think of John the Baptist as a strange character, after all, he lived in the desert and ate wild locusts and honey. Would any sane person do that?

Perhaps we should consider that John was probably the most sane person, next to Jesus, alive during his time. Sanity means that you are able to distinguish right from wrong and do what is best for yourself and all around you. Even though John’s message went against the thinking and social standards of the day, he did what he knew had to be done. It was a willful decision to obey. God had given him the task of letting people know that the Messiah was coming soon. John fulfilled his task with a dignity and an assurance that he was right.

We have been given a task by Jesus. We are to make disciples for Him. Do we approach our task with the same dignity and assurance that John the Baptist approached his? Are we calling people to repentance and forgiveness through the blood of Jesus with as much energy and assuredness as John called them to repentance almost two thousand years ago? Perhaps we need to reevaluate our focus and become more like John.

Are you a voice calling in the wilderness, or are you whimpering in the dark?

Copyright 1998 – 2014 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you have the faith to proclaim that Jesus is the Christ?

January 9, 2014

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Then he warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ.
(Matthew 16:14-20 (NIV))

As the Body of Christ, we are all familiar with this story and the ramifications of what Simon Peter answered when Jesus asked him “Who do you say I am?” Peter’s answer has been echoing in the minds of believers to this day. They are words that each believer must come to accept on a personal basis.

I found out something today about this story that made me see this in a whole new light.

As anyone in real estate will tell you, “Location. Location. Location.”

I uncovered some history about Caesarea Philippi that left me in awe and amazement.

Caesarea Philippi was the location of shrines to Baal and other false gods. Many believe that this was the area where a group of evil angels came into the world. It is this same group of evil angels who corrupted the human race in the days of Noah. These evil, or fallen, angels, were the same ones cast out of heaven with Satan. The shrines were located at Mount Heron. Heron means “Forbidden Place.”

I love this!

Jesus not only asked His disciples who they think He is, but He did this in the middle of an area completely dedicated to Satan and his followers. Jesus did not hold back and He does not hold back. He will go to the gates of hell and rescue someone from the enemy. Peter claimed that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of the Living God, at the very doorstep of the enemy.

I now have a much different understanding of this passage. I also have a very different understanding of the eternal battle that each of us are involved in. I definately have a different understanding of why Jesus called Simon Peter the Rock. How many people do you know who would go into enemy territory and proclaim victory over the enemy?

Do you have the faith to proclaim that Jesus is the Christ?

Copyright 1998 – 2014 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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