What do you focus on?

April 27, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices–mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law–justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.
(Matthew 23:23-24 (NIV))

Does this sound like anyone that you know? Does it sound like you?

Just as in Jesus’ day, too many people pay more attention to the letter of the law and completely ignore the intent of the law. We need to make sure that we do not become like the Pharisees and perform our “worship” out of ritual and tradition. When this happens, it is easy to forget why the ritual and tradition started.

God gave us the Law as a guidance in how to live so that justice, mercy and faithfulness could thrive. It is human nature to forget the reasons and focus on the details.

Don’t let the reasons be hidden or overshadowed by the details. Focus on justice, mercy and faithfulness.

What do you focus on?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you accept the proof?

February 7, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.
(Acts 17:31 (NIV))

Far too many people simply think of Jesus as the baby in the manger. They see the sweet innocence and gladly embrace a child. Some even fully embrace that He was sent by God.

Some see more than this.

Some see a teacher. Some see a prophet. Some see a martyr. Some see even more than this.

I fully embrace the description that the Bible gives to Jesus. This is a combination of Old Testament prophecy that is mirrored in New Testament fulfillment. I see Jesus as all of these things and more. He was a sweet and innocent babe. He was a teacher. He was a prophet. He was a martyr in that He came to die for our sins. But, there is more.

He is God’s only begotten Son. He is the son of man. He is both fully God and fully human. Jesus came to teach us. He came to show us God’s plan for salvation. He came to die so that plan of salvation could be realized. He died and was buried. On the third day, He arose again to being hope and fulfill the promises that had been made. He ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of God the Father, and He will return to judge the world.

There, I said it. Too many people simply do not want to admit that God’s plan also includes a day of judgment. They don’t want to admit that there will be consequences for their actions.

Think about that for a moment, though.

Who would you rather be judged by – a perfect Creator in God, or God who became human so that He could fully understand our temptations? In order for God to set a day of judgment, He had to have appointed someone to act as judge. He had to appoint someone to act as a mediator between Himself and sinful man. He had to come into this world to live as we live and to set an example for each of us. He had to face the same temptations that we face. He had to overcome them and offer Himself as a replacement for our punishment.

Judgment is something that we all dread. It is something that we would rather not think about. It is something that we will face if we do not turn to the One whom God sent.

The first time that Jesus came into this world, He came to offer salvation. He came to show us how to avoid judgment. We can accept this offer or we can face judgment.

Do you accept the proof?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you sharing the true Jesus with others?

January 27, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.
(Luke 19:10 (NIV))

What have you been taught about Jesus? In particular, what have you been taught about the reason that He came into this world?

Did He come to be a social justice warrior? Did He come to advocate for the poor? Did He come to spread peace and love, or did He come to call a lost and sinful humanity to repentance?

I realize that Jesus did many things when He walked this earth, and many of those things can be classified as falling into these categories that I listed, but they were all ways to reach the lost. Did Jesus teach on being just and fair in our dealings with each other? I can point out many situations where He did just that. He pointed out our sinful nature in these matters and asked us to seek God and follow His commands. Not following God’s commands is a sin. Jesus was telling us to repent and follow Him. Did Jesus teach on helping the poor? If you look back at Old Testament laws, that was already in place. A landowner was not supposed to harvest all the way to the corners of his fields. This was to be left for the poor. In other words, love your neighbor as yourself. Not doing so is a sin. Jesus was calling us to repent of our sin. When asked what the greatest commandments are, He responded that you are to love God and love your neighbor as yourself. The example that He gave involved a Samaritan man. In the culture of the day, Jewish people hated the Samaritans. In other words, Jesus was telling us to repent of our sin of hatred.

What is your definition of being lost? According to God, being lost is being a sinner.

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

And being a sinner has drastic consequences!

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 6:23 (NIV))

Jesus walked among us telling us to live according to what God had planned. He called us to repent of our shortcomings, our sins, and to turn to God in all things. He used every situation that He was in as a teachable moment to drive this home. Repent in your dealings with others. Repent of your treatment of the poor. It is possible to do these things yet still miss out on the only reason that Jesus came. All of these can be labeled as works of the flesh if we do not have a repentant heart and a desire to follow Jesus in all that we do. A repentant heart is a result of the most important aspect of why Jesus came. Jesus calls us to love God and to love your neighbor as yourself. When we do this, our desires change. Our actions are no longer selfish in nature. We see ourselves and others as God sees them.

We are called to also seek and save the lost by sharing Jesus with them.

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))

Sadly, I believe that we, as the church, have missed the mark. We share Jesus only when we are comfortable, and we don’t emphasize where Jesus tells us to teach people to obey everything that He has commanded. We sugar coat it, and as a result, we see people developing incorrect images of Jesus. I know that this hasn’t been a saying in several years, but we must pay attention to “What Would Jesus Do?” According to the words recorded in Luke, Jesus clearly said that He came to seek and save the lost!

Are you sharing the true Jesus with others?

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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Find refuge in the Lord!

August 6, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.
Those who know your name will trust in you,
for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.
Sing praises to the LORD, enthroned in Zion;
proclaim among the nations what he has done.
(Psalms 9:9-11 (NIV))

God is a God of hope, not despair!

When we are faced with the troubles that the world brings upon us, look up. God gives us hope. Hope for tomorrow. Hope for justice. Hope for eternity. He is our refuge in times of trouble.

Yet, He is more than that. He is our rock, our foundation. Through Jesus Christ, He has given us hope of salvation for the world. He has given those who believe a knowledge of peace that those who don’t believe do not have. If this is not a place of refuge, then we have no place to truly take refuge. God knows what we need and what we seek. It is a place of safety and hope. That place is provided through Jesus Christ.

Sing praises to God and tell everyone you know what God has done for you. Let them know that what you have been given they can have.

Find refuge in the Lord!

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How does that camel taste?

March 13, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.
(Matthew 23:23-24 (NIV))

Everyone likes to pick and choose, especially when it comes to following instructions. We all have things that we are good at following. We also all have things that we tend to ignore. We focus on our strengths while we tend to ignore our weaknesses and the things that we aren’t interested in. We think that we can replace our weaknesses with other aspects of our personal traits, but is this really how it works? Can we sit in church and give money while ignoring what Jesus is really calling us to give?

It takes more than sitting in a pew for an hour a week!

In today’s society, if we are aren’t interested in doing something personally, we have a tendency to ignore it or we give a little money to ease our minds. Don’t take the giving of money comment incorrectly. If we give with a true desire to help, then our gifts are true. If we give out of guilt or ignorance, God can and will use these gifts, but our motives are not true. Sadly, we can easily see what we perceive as the motives of others, but we fail to see our own. We give money, but we fail to give justice, mercy and faithfulness.

If all that we do as the Body of Christ is to sit in church and write a check, we are missing the calling that Jesus left us with.

We are to go into the world and make disciples!

We are to love our neighbors!

We are to show justice and mercy!

You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
(Matthew 7:5 (NIV))

We are to be faithful to the things that we are called to do in our own lives. We are to be faithful to all of the things that we are called to do for the sake of the Gospel, and not just the ones that man has said are the priorities! When we do what we normally do, are we straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel?

I have just one question for you,

How does that camel taste?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have we sunk to the point where this is all true?

April 26, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Stop listening to instruction, my son,
and you will stray from the words of knowledge.
A corrupt witness mocks at justice,
and the mouth of the wicked gulps down evil.
Penalties are prepared for mockers,
and beatings for the backs of fools.
Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler;
whoever is led astray by them is not wise.
A king’s wrath is like the roar of a lion;
he who angers him forfeits his life.
It is to a man’s honor to avoid strife,
but every fool is quick to quarrel.
(Proverbs 19:27 – 20:3 (NIV))

I want you to do something. I want you to read this passage again and stop to think about the society and the world in which we live. Is it just me, or do you see all of these traits running rampant in the world today?

We no longer listen to instruction. Knowledge has become whatever we want it to be whether it is true or not. Corruption mocks the very fabric of our society and wickedness abounds. Foolishness has become the normal way of thinking and acting. Anger and wrath have taken he place of love and patience. Speaking of love, the true meaning of love, God’s love, has become lost in the chaos of the world. It has come to mean that because God loves us we can do whatever we want. Is there honor in the things that we see in the news? One group of lives is more important than another group of lives.

And now the biggest and most foolish thing in the world is that if you believe in God, Jesus and the Word of God, then you are a bigot and close minded.

I know that Jesus told us that we would face these troubles, but I still find it disheartening, not for myself, but for those who don’t realize the proverbial error of their ways.

It is my prayer that everyone learn how to listen to Godly instruction and seek after the true knowledge that only comes from God.

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you fear the return of Jesus?

November 3, 2015

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:

KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS
(Revelation 19:11-16 (NIV))

Are you afraid of this scene?

To me, this is a scene that I long to take part in!

I don’t mean to sound like I have an escapist attitude, but I am so weary of the things that are going on in this world. I long to be in His presence!

Many people will call me weak. Many will laugh at me and mock me.

I don’t care!

My eyes are focused on Jesus!

Do you long to be in His presence?

Copyright 1998 – 2015 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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We must embrace the good that is our God!

April 10, 2015

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Seek good, not evil,
that you may live.
Then the LORD God Almighty will be with you,
just as you say he is.
Hate evil, love good;
maintain justice in the courts.
Perhaps the LORD God Almighty will have mercy
on the remnant of Joseph.
(Amos 5:14-15 (NIV))

Is it just me, or has society lost any understanding of what is good and what is evil? I hate to say this, but I have even seen it in the churches in this country as well.

I know that I am going to get some people mad at me. When you have denominations voting to allow things that God calls an abomination, I can’t sit by and accept it. I would prefer to have people mad at me instead of God.

With that said, we are to hate evil. What is evil in the eyes of God? What causes the heart of God to break? Do you truly know the heart of God? Do you earnestly seek to know the heart of God?

If you know the heart of God, then you know what He calls evil and what He calls good. It is not as the world calls things. The world sees a rich man and wants to be like him. God sees a rich man and sees someone who, in most cases, worships their riches. The world sees things as a choice and that we have a right to make that choice. God sees a person who chooses to sin and step even further away from His grace.

Perhaps the best way to define evil in the eyes of God is anything that keeps a person from His redeeming gift of grace and mercy and goes against the fruits of the Spirit. If that is the case, then we, as the Body of Christ, must pray. We must seek God’s face. We must desire to turn from evil.

We must embrace the good that is our God!

We must embrace our God who is our good!

Copyright 1998 – 2015 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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This promise WILL come to pass!

December 9, 2014

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the LORD Almighty
will accomplish this.
(Isaiah 9:6-7 (NIV))

This promise WILL come to pass! Man has made a shambles of all forms of government since the fall from grace. Satan sold Adam and Eve a lie and the world has paid the price ever since.

Only once Jesus returns and establishes His authority over the world will there be true justice. All government will be God’s. We will know the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit intimately and will do what is righteous in God’s eyes. This will not be done out of fear, but out of love. All things are God’s and that includes us.

He is the creator. He created us to be in relationship with Him. A relationship is built on love. There will be no deception, but truth. God will be the ultimate Father. Jesus will be the ultimate big brother, and the Holy Spirit will be the ultimate comforter. Three in One. Just as a man can be husband, father and friend, God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Do you look forward to relinquishing control to Jesus?

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