This is the one test that you need to pass!

June 14, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you — unless, of course, you fail the test?
(2 Corinthians 13:5 (NIV))

This is one of those verses that most people wish that they could ignore!

No one likes to fail a test. Think about the implications of this concept of failing this test. This is not the only place where we hear that it is possible to fail in your faith. We are told that it is possible to do things in the name of Jesus, but not have a relationship with Jesus, to not have Jesus in your heart.

Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
(Matthew 7:22-23 (NIV))

This goes hand in hand with the truth that you cannot earn salvation.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.
(Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV))

We must also come to the realization that there is a difference between doing work for the Lord and truly knowing the Lord. I can demonstrate this concept with a simple question about the people with whom you work. You may spend eight hours a day with them, but do you know their inner most secrets and desires? Do you know the pains that they feel and what causes them pain and what causes them joy? Doing work around the Lord does not draw you close to the Lord in exactly the same way as working with someone does not bring you close to them. That requires effort and intimacy that cannot be had when you are constantly doing.

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
(Luke 10:38-42 (NIV))

We must choose Jesus in all things in order to grow in intimacy with Jesus. The closer you draw to the Lord, the stronger your faith becomes. As your faith grows, your belief grows as well. When you believe and truly know the Lord, you desire to do things that will draw others to Him. These are the works that matter, for they are done out of a love of Jesus and not out of an effort to impress Jesus. It is a matter of perspective and priorities.

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
(John 14:12-13 (NIV))

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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
(John 3:16-18 (NIV))

God does truly love the world! Have you allowed that love to permeate your life so that your life reflects the love of the Lord and not you?

This is the one test that you need to pass!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What have you been finding?

June 3, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor.
(Proverbs 21:21 (NIV))

There are so many distractions in this world and all of them seem to focus on one target and one objective. The prime target is us! The prime objective of any distraction is to keep the attention of an individual off of what they should be focusing on, thus keeping them completely from the intended outcome. Distractions come in so many different forms, yet the enemy seems to know each of us so well that he can send just the right distraction, the right temptation, that will keep each of us in his grasp if we do not take action to steer clear.

What is that action?

We must stay focused on the Lord!

Even before Jesus came into this world to save us from our sins, God had a plan for us. We were to pursue His righteousness and love as He loves. Sadly, this was impossible.

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

Fortunately, the Lord knew this and had a more detailed plan.

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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
(John 3:16-21 (NIV))

If we accept this plan, then we are covered by grace. Even if we slip and fall when we are pursuing His righteousness and when we try to love as He loves, we can repent and get back on track. We may find bad days along the way, but, through God’s grace, we can repent and stand firm in His promises knowing that we will find that if we hold fast, He will be true!

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
(Lamentations 3:22-23 (NIV))

What have you been finding?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you mourn for the world?

April 29, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
(Matthew 5:4 (NIV))

We are used to reading this passage and we think that we have a good understanding of its meaning, but I was recently presented something that made me expand my concept of mourning!

When we hear the word mourn, we automatically think of the feelings that we have as the direct result of the loss of a loved one, but perhaps we need to remember what makes the Lord mourn.

He despises sin. It breaks His heart to see His creation that He loves lost in their sin.

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))

With that in mind, how do you think the Lord feels as this world spirals further and further away from Him and further and further into sin? If you are a parent, how would you feel if your children rejected you and all the love that you have for them in order to follow your worst enemy? That is exactly what we have done! We have broken the Lord’s heart! We have made Him mourn because of our actions. It is these very actions that we rejoice over and that we accept as good when at there very core, they are corrupt, vile and sinful. Those who know the Lord’s heart, grieve over what the world declares as good. We should mourn with the Lord, for what breaks His heart should break ours.

Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.
(John 16:20 (NIV))

Do you see the world rejoicing?

Are the things that the world rejoices over something that makes the Lord mourn? Are the things that are occurring in the world escalating more rapidly than ever before? Do you see the world as the Lord sees the world?

Do you mourn for the world?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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It is through obedience that we have salvation!

April 18, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!
(Philippians 2:8 (NIV))

It is so easy to overlook one crucial component of God’s plan for salvation as it unfolded in Jerusalem a little over two thousand years ago!

We know that ever since the fall from grace in the Garden of Eden, God had a plan to bring redemption, to bring salvation, to the creation that He loves. In God’s perspective, it was not that long, but to humanity, it seems like forever.

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.
(2 Peter 3:8 (NIV))

Even though we feel the passage of time, it is God’s timing that has been put in motion to bring salvation. It was His plan to send His Son to redeem us, to restore us unto Himself.

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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
(John 3:16-17 (NIV))

We all know that Jesus was tempted by Satan, and He rebuked Satan. Jesus knew the plans that the Father had. He chose to be obedient to God the Father and through His obedience, Jesus willingly went to the cross for each of us. He willingly died so that we could have the opportunity to have eternity with God the Father. Jesus was willingly obedient to the Father’s plan. It was His obedience that allowed each of us to be offered salvation and grace. It was His resurrection that sealed the deal!

But . . .

There is one more aspect of obedience that comes into play in God’s plan for our redemption. He is calling each of us to salvation through Jesus. We have to be obedient to answer that call. Because Jesus was obedient, salvation is freely offered. It is a gift. We cannot purchase the gift. We cannot earn the gift. We can either choose to be obedient and accept it, or we can be rebellious and reject God’s gift of grace. Only if we are obedient, can salvation be received. Are you willing to be obedient?

It is through obedience that we have salvation!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you alive in Christ?

April 17, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
(Galatians 2:19-20 (NIV))

In just a few days, we, as the Body of Christ, will celebrate the anniversary of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave. We need to truly reflect upon the meaning of what happened some two thousand years ago, for it had never happened before that time and it has never happened since. A man was brutally killed and three days later, He was alive again. Not only was He alive, He told us that if we follow Him, we too can have life after death!

Has any other person ever defeated death? Has any other person voluntarily faced the cruelty and torture that Jesus faced when He could have prevented it or even escaped it?

Jesus is unique in all of the history of the world!

He was with God in the beginning. He died on the cross. He arose again on the third day. He lives in the hearts of those who earnestly call upon Him. He sits at the right hand of God, the Father. He is our salvation!

This Easter morning when we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, we also need to celebrate our death to sin and our resurrection into grace and mercy paid for by the blood of Jesus.

Easter is perhaps the most important day to our faith. If we accept Jesus and the grace and mercy that He has freely offered to us, then it is a day of glorious salvation and freedom. If we have not accepted Jesus, then it is a day of foolishness.

Are you alive in Christ?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How do you define love?

April 1, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
(1 Corinthians 13:4 (NIV))

Love can possess many different characteristics in the minds of those who try to define it. To some people, it is a strong affection such as what a mother has for her child. Others think of love as a sexual attraction. Some people even go so far as to define love by the things that they like.

What is your definition of love? Does it encompass any or all of the above?

How does God define love?

God’s love is not too proud to keep Him from reaching out to save. God’s love for us is kind. He does not reach out to us to condemn us. God’s love for us is not proud. He willingly did what He had to do to bring us salvation.

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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
(John 3:16-17 (NIV))

God’s love is patient.

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
(2 Peter 3:9 (NIV))

I could spend countless hours documenting the depth of God’s love for His creation. It is boundless, yet, it is simple at the same time. It is everlasting, yet it is concerned about your individual moments. It is powerful, yet it is gentle enough to hold each of us in our moments of weakness. It is all encompassing, yet it is able to focus on each of us individually. In essence, God’s love is perfect!

How do you define love?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you seeking after God’s plans?

March 22, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. “
(Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NIV))

What is it that you seek after will all your heart?

Is it wealth? Is it fame? Is it fortune?

Is it God?

Far too many people seek other things before they seek God. They give “lip service” to God and then live as if they did not proclaim Him as Lord. In other words, they do not seek Him with all their heart. They have replaced God with a multitude of personal “gods” that they let control their lives. All of this is done in the name of prosperity, greed, security, and a number of other ideals that they have set for themselves. They look upon God as a benevolent, jolly “old man” who watches as his children do something not quite righteous. They then expect God to tell them that what they are doing is ok because they are loved and can do no wrong.

God is not like that!

He wants each of us to turn from our sinful ways and to turn one hundred percent toward Him. He longs for us to seek after His heart, for He longs to prosper us in ways that we cannot imagine. He longs to give us hope and a future. Unfortunately, too many of us look toward ourselves for the hope of the future and we look to God as our “parachute,” our safety net.

We need to look to God first in all things!

God created each of us for a purpose. That purpose was not to lay devastated within our sin. He created us to be with Him. Do you think that the creator of all the universe lacks for anything? He is ready to prosper each of us according to His riches, but first we must have a change of heart. We must stop seeking after the prosperity and seek after God first.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
(Matthew 6:33 (NIV))

Are you seeking after God’s plans?

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