Have you fully embraced the joy of the Lord?

May 23, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
(Acts 2:46-47 (NIV))

I don’t know about you, but this describes something that I would love to be involved in!

Is this how you want to experience church?

It is amazing just how the early church was able to grow. I think that there is a valuable lesson to be learned from the early church. They did not simply meet for an hour or so once a week. They were a community. They were invested in the lives of each other. They embraced newcomers. They worshipped together. They ate together. They truly enjoyed being around each other. They recognized the value of being around the body of believers. They were truly filled with the joy that only comes from the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Over the many years that have transpired since the early church, the church has grown. I am truly thankful for that growth, for without that growth, chances are extremely great that the current members of the Body of Christ would not have heard the Gospel. We must not lose sight of the joy that the early church had. They were focused on Jesus.

We must return to that focus. We must return to that joy! We must focus on Jesus.

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, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
(Hebrews 12:1-2 (NIV))

Even though He suffered and died on the cross, He went through it all so that we could experience the joy of salvation. Now, we can experience the joy of His resurrection and redeeming grace. He is the only source of true joy in this world!

Have you fully embraced the joy of the Lord?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you praise God even in the midst of trouble?

April 12, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The wicked are waiting to destroy me, but I will ponder your statutes.
(Psalms 119:95 (NIV))

Do you ever feel like the enemy is out to get you?

If you are like most people, including myself, it often seems that the world is out to steal our joy. With that said, Jesus told us that this would happen. He let it be known that life would not be easy. He told us that we would have trouble.

“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))

Sometimes it feels like the wicked are waiting to destroy.

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!0 (NIV))

Just as Jesus told us that we would face troubles in this world, He also told us that by placing our faith in Him, He will be with us. He will overcome the evils of this world. Placing our faith in Jesus and calling upon Him as our Lord and Savior does not mean that we will have an easy life, but it does mean that He will be with us every step of the way.

There is an old saying that there are only two things for certain in this life – death and taxes. Jesus told us to render unto Caesar what is his. That is a worldly debt. Jesus has overcome death. He has overcome the wages of sin. Before Jesus, life meant sin and sin meant death, both physically and spiritually. He has overcome the spiritual debt that we could never pay on our own. Since our debt of spiritual death has been paid, what do we have to fear? Because we do not have to fear spiritual death, we should lift praise unto God even when the enemy is trying to destroy us. We should praise God in the good, for He has blessed us, and in the bad, for He will provide.

Do you praise God even in the midst of trouble?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you thankful to be called a Christian?

April 10, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.
(1 Peter 4:16 (NIV))

Have you ever faced anything simply because you are a believer in Jesus?

Perhaps I should ask if you have ever been in a situation where you would have suffered if it was known that you were a Christian? Think about that for a moment as you answer the following. Did you withhold the fact that you were a Christian or did you deny that you were a Christian? There is a difference! Regardless of how you handled yourself in that situation, do you regret not standing up and identifying as a follower of Jesus? Do you feel that you have abandoned Jesus through your actions and words?

Consider Peter.

He denied Jesus three times during the events between Jesus being arrested and being taken to Pilate. All of us can put ourselves into the events and justify the actions that Peter took that night. In all honesty, it is not told in detail how Peter truly felt. We can only imagine what Peter was facing within himself as these events transpired and afterward. What we do know is that after the resurrection, Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him. Peter was able to put his shame behind him and accept the grace that Jesus was extending to him.

Think about that!

Peter denied Jesus three times. He had seen Jesus beaten so badly that He was not recognizable. Peter had seen Jesus crucified, dead and buried. The guilt of his denial of Jesus must have been unbearable. Even after Jesus arose, what was Peter thinking? Was he thinking that Jesus would never forgive him for what he had done? Was Peter thinking that he had committed something so bad that he would be condemned to suffer for all eternity?

Grace is amazing!

What Peter did discover is that Jesus forgave him. Three times he was asked if He loved Jesus and three times he responded that he did. I can almost imagine that with each response Peter gave Jesus, the burden of guilt was being lifted until it was completely gone!

That is what Jesus does! He lifts the burden of guilt and replaces that burden with a joy that comes from knowing that all of your sins are forgiven! There is nothing greater to give thanks for.

Are you thankful to be called a Christian?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is this how you know the Lord?

March 6, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.
(Psalms 88:15 (NIV))

Everyone in the world has an image of how they see God!

Some see an angry old man. Some see a vindictive character. Others see someone who just doesn’t care about us, while others see Him as someone who takes great joy in each of us. Even atheists, who claim that He doesn’t exist, have a mental image of Him, or should I say the absence of Him, for it takes a very vivid imagination to claim that He doesn’t exist.

What is your image of God?

Is you image of God distorted by the characteristics that your earthly father displayed?

Do you find it difficult to believe that someone who created everything that exists knows you intimately? We are told that He does!

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
(Psalm 139:13-14 (NIV))

When you think of God, do you see Him in this manner?

Is this how you know the Lord?

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

February 15, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
(Hebrews 10:23 (NIV))

Does this world make your weary? Do you ever simply want to give up, to throw in the towel?

That is what the enemy wants us to do, but we are called to persevere in our faith.

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
(James 1:12 (NIV))

The weight of the world and the pressures, trials and troubles that it can bring are an extreme burden, but we do not have to carry that burden alone. Jesus has overcome the world and He walks with us through this life to give us joy, strength, courage, hope and faith. He is calling us to complete the journey before us. He is calling us to stay strong and reach for the goal that He has set before us.

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 3:14 (NIV))

That goal is to live a life of faith in Jesus. That goal is to keep our eyes on Jesus even when things are tough. That goal is to finish the race of faith that has been set out before us.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.
(1 Corinthians 9:24 (NIV))

Are you still running your race of faith? Are you holding on to the hope that we profess?

Hold on!

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you desire to be holy?

January 11, 2018

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
(1 Peter 1:15-16 (NIV))

When you were growing up, was there someone whom you wanted to be just like?

We all have people that are role models for us at various times in our lives. As we grow and mature, some of these people lose that place while others step in to fill the void. Even so, there is something about each of these individuals that fill a need, that fill a hole in our lives at a certain time. Some of us looked up to one or both of our parents. Some looked to a certain grandparent as the role model. As we matured and our interests took on their own personality, we soon began to look upon individuals who had made a name for themselves in the areas that held our interest. All along the way, we saw something in each of these individuals that we recognized as unique and worthy of emulating.

What characteristics caught your attention?

For some, it is such traits as love and kindness. For others, it is a steadfast focus on the goal. For some, it is the willingness to do whatever it takes to succeed in the area of expertise.

When I read today’s passage, something made me realize that we have been seeking to emulate the wrong role models most of the time. Think back on those whom you desired to be like. Did they focus on Jesus? Did they strive to be holy and to bear fruit that reflects that holiness?

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
(Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV))

I know that we have a tendency to reference these traits quite often, but do we truly stop to reflect on the source? If you notice that Spirit is capitalize. This references the Holy Spirit aspect of God. These are traits that we should recognize as holy. These are traits that we should desire to emulate. We have been given instructions on how to be holy!

Do you desire to be holy?

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