Is there a difference between gathering and assembling?

September 1, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
(Hebrews 10:25 (NIV))

It is amazing how subtle nuances in a translation can make something take on a completely different meaning. Since we have to rely on translations from the original Aramaic and Greek, the understanding of the full meanings of the original language and how it is translated into English can vary slightly. Each translation conveys the meaning, but sometimes the subtleties give a much better understanding of the depth of the original language. This is why I like to cross reference between many different translations to try and fully understand the intentions behind the words. This passage is an excellent example of just this.

What do you think of when you read the phrase “meeting together”? Do you simply think of a gathering of individuals that come together for a short time and then go their separate ways?

Now, let’s take this one step further and reference a different translation.

not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
(Hebrews 10:25 (NKJV))

What do you think of when you read the phrase “assembling of ourselves together”? Does this paint a mental picture of unity and purpose where people come together for a common goal?

I heard something today that brought these two phrases into a much better understanding. I think that this analogy will also paint a very interesting picture for you as well.

The example was of a watch. When you gather the components of a watch into one location, everything is there, yet it has no purpose. They are still just individual parts that do not work together. But, when those parts are assembled in the correct way, the result is a fully functioning time piece. Now, how does this apply to believers who simply gather together versus being assembled into a functioning body of believers? We, as the church, should be more than the sum of our individual parts. We should rely on the Lord to assemble us in such a way that we bring glory to Him by uniting in the task that we have been assigned.

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))

If all that we do is gather, then we are not fulfilling our calling. We must be willing to assemble!

Is there a difference between gathering and assembling?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is Jesus your Lord and your Savior?

August 20, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
(Romans 10:9 (NIV))

Can you count to two?

If these were the rules for a contest, reading the requirements for participating would be over very quickly. Still, so many people have trouble with this. Do you?

God wanted to, and perhaps He even felt that He needed to make this as simple as possible since we are only human. After all, we only had one instruction in the Garden of Eden. We were not to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and we blew that.

I realize that I am being a little condescending, but in all reality, it is a simple process to gain God’s grace and mercy. We must start with an acknowledgment that we are sinners in need of a Savior. Once we come to that realization, then the rest is simple.

Declare with your mouth.

Believe in your heart.

Do your heart and your mouth make this declaration?

Is Jesus your Lord and your Savior?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What will be your reward?

May 22, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.
(Revelation 22:12 (NIV))

What are the most obvious questions that present themselves after reading this?

If you are like me, the first thought that I had was will what I have done merit a reward?

I can hear the questions that arise from that question. Basically, they pivot around the truth of the fact that we can’t earn salvation by our deeds. Salvation is a gift of grace that is freely given to all who will receive. Is this where the reward comes in? Is Jesus differentiating between those who simply receive Him and those who receive Him and then bring others into the kingdom?

Think about that with respect to your life?

I hate to say this, but it is human nature to sit back and look around at the world and have the attitude that I have mine. I believe in Jesus!

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))

If you reflect on this, you realize that when you first accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, you are so thankful for what Jesus has done for you. As you mature, you begin to realize that what He has done for you He has freely done for everyone. All that they need to do is accept. It is at this stage in your faith that you begin to realize that you know people who could use a salvation relationship with Jesus.

Are you content with simply receiving yours?

Do you share the Gospel?

Each of us are called to do just that!

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.
(Matthew 28:19-20a (NIV))

I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of a greater reward than being a faithful servant and sharing the Gospel.

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))

What will be your reward?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you ready to stand with the Lord?

May 14, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
(Ephesians 6:13 (NIV))

It is my prayer that all believers have not only put on the full armor of God, but that they have also been reviewing the battle plans that we have been given. In all honesty, the full armor of God and His battle plans are one and the same. The full armor is the protection that we have been given through His Word, but we must also realize that His Word is also the battle plans for facing the enemy. Battle plans require a much deeper insight and knowledge than simply putting on armor. Battle plans require knowing the heart and mind and desires of the one whom we follow.

What are His objectives?

How can we achieve those objectives?

As members of the Body of Christ, we have been given a mission.

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,
(Matthew 28:19 (NIV))

I am sure that everyone has seen movies in which there is an alert and all military personnel scramble to get to their stations. In some cases it appears that they have been caught off guard and don’t know what to do.

Is that the Body of Christ?

Have we grown too comfortable and have we let the armor tarnish? If we have allowed our armor to tarnish, how do we expect to be prepared? How do we expect to know what the Lord is doing in response to what the enemy is doing in the world? Are we prepared?

Are you ready to stand with the Lord?

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

April 16, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

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))

Everybody loves the last part of this passage.

And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
(Matthew 28:20b (NIV))

It is a wonderful assurance that the Lord will always be with those who follow Him. Sadly, most people fail to recognize that this scripture is at the end of a set of instructions that are known as the Great Commission. As believers and followers of Jesus, we are given a task. We are to share the Gospel and make disciples. We are to tell the world about the grace and mercy that is freely given through the cross of Jesus. As believers, that is our assignment. If we consider ourselves to be in the Lord’s army, then that is our direct order straight from the top! We are instructed to be on the front lines of this spiritual war.

I may get some people upset with the next few questions and sentences, but I feel that they need to be asked and stated.

In your understanding, why did Jesus come into the world? Was it to bring eternal redemption and restoration to the Father through the grace freely given at the cross, or was it to bring social changes that only impact the present? Did Jesus come to make this offer only to a select few or to the whole world? Have you accepted this offer of grace and salvation?

Did Jesus tie His being with us to His assignment to share the Gospel? If we have accepted Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, we have inherited the orders originally given to the disciples. We are to go and make disciples. We are to baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. We are to teach others to obey by teaching them to learn and understand. Do we truly obey? Do we truly understand what we are called to do?

Is there a reason why Jesus tells us that He will be with us always immediately following the instructions to share the Gospel?

Personally, I think that they go hand in hand with each other. If we choose to accept Jesus, then He will never leave us. He will guide us into what and where we are to go. Just as we are called to repent, we are also called to witness and to share the Gospel. The more we go and make disciples, the more we learn to rely on Him and the closer we draw near to Him. Jesus promises to never leave us, but through our lack of obedience, do we leave Him?

Is Jesus with you?

Perhaps I should ask it this way. Are you fully walking with Jesus?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you made your move?

March 30, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Come near to God and he will come near to you.
(James 4:8a (NIV))

I am sure that you have heard that God is everywhere and that He will never leave you, so how do you understand and comprehend this passage? If He is everywhere, isn’t He already near us?

God is everywhere, but sadly, too few people realize that He will not force Himself on anyone. We have to turn to Him out of a choice that we make, especially since we, as humanity, chose to turn away from Him as a result of the fall from grace in the Garden of Eden. We thought that we had been given knowledge, but instead, we lost all hope. Until God sent His Son, Jesus, into the world to pay the penalty for sin and death, we only knew the wages of our sin even if we chose good. Thankfully, God had a plan that would bring an end to this.

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))

Each of us must make a decision to come near to God. This is only accomplished by believing in Jesus as God’s one and only Son. Through the gift of grace freely given on the cross, the veil that separated God from humanity has been torn in two. God had set in motion a plan to bring us back to Him and the veil symbolized that completion of that plan. Jesus declared this culmination of God’s redemptive plan with His final words.

When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
(John 19:30 (NIV))

God used these events to unfold His perfect plan to draw each of us near to Him. God may use circumstances to get our attention, but He cannot make the decision for us. Our families and friends cannot make the decision for us. We have to be willing to put aside our pride and move closer to God. When we make that move, we will find that He is already closer than we could ever imagine.

Have you made your move?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Have you been strengthened?

March 27, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
(Isaiah 41:10 (NIV))

The circumstances may have changed from when this was originally recorded but the message is still the same.

Has there ever been a generation of humanity that did not need the assurance that is spoken in these words? Israel had Babylon. Skipping ahead to more recent times, the whole world had World War I and World War II. We have had terrorists and now we have a worldwide pandemic brought about by an enemy so small that it can’t be seen. We are told to not even get close to each other out of fear of spreading this contagion. It’s as if the enemy is trying harder and harder to make all of creation fear the glory of God’s creation. Now, just as it was all throughout history, humanity has faced things in this world that bring fear, but just as we were told in Isaiah, we have nothing to fear!

God had chosen the nation of Israel to bring forth His greatest promise. The enemy did all that he could to prevent that. Israel faced slavery in Egypt. Israel faced captivity by Babylon. They faced occupation by Roman armies. Even through all of this, and much more, God’s greatest promise, a savior, was fulfilled in Jesus. All along the way, God raised up individuals whom He used to remind the people to keep their eyes on Him, not to be afraid and to be confident of His strength. We are no different today. God is still raising up individuals to remind us of His promises and to not be afraid no matter what the enemy may send our way.

Right now, the enemy is working overtime. He knows that his time is short. He is doing all that he can to set the stage for his unholy trinity of the false prophet, the antichrist and himself. If you have professed a faith in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, then you have nothing to fear from what the world or the enemy may send your way. Through Jesus, we have been promised salvation from an eternity in hell and promised an eternal home in heaven with God the Father.

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.
(2 Corinthians 1:20 (NIV))

If we can count on all of God’s promises being fulfilled, why should we fear anything that the world or the enemy may send our way? When we begin to grow fearful, we must remember that the Lord of all creation has told us do not fear! This single fact should be enough to give us strength!

Have you been strengthened?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Will your harvest be plentiful?

March 26, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.
(2 Corinthians 9:5 (NIV))

I think that it is safe to say that most people are not currently thinking about sowing, especially if it involves sowing into the lives of others. Think about that in the context of the life of Jesus. When He came into the world, it was not exactly a safe place to be. Did that stop Him from coming? He came into the world to teach and go to the cross to save us from our sins. He came knowing that He would die! Did that stop Him from coming? He had a mission and He did not let anything get in the way of bringing salvation to those who would listen and believe.

The current situation in this world is unprecedented, but we, as the Body of Christ, still have a mission.

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))

We are to make disciples!

We are to sow the seeds of salvation into the hearts of all whom we encounter. How do we do this when the world is in such a state? There is a quote that is attributed to St. Francis of Assisi. It says, “Preach always. When necessary, use words.” We can share the Gospel by living our lives as a living testimony to the power of grace. We can live our lives in such a way that people see a peace in us that just doesn’t make sense in this otherwise hectic world. We can live our lives in such a way that people ask why we are different. We can sow based on how we live our lives. We can plant the seed that others will nurture and God will reap.

So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor.
(1 Corinthians 3:7-8 (NIV))

Do you sow into the lives of those whom you encounter? Do they see something in you that is different from the world? Do they want to know what makes you different?

Will your harvest be plentiful?

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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At once!

January 9, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

At once they left their nets and followed him.
(Matthew 4:20 (NIV))

When was the last time that you reacted immediately to a situation?

If you are like me, this probably doesn’t happen very often if at all. To be honest with you, most days I have trouble deciding what I want for dinner.

Each one of us who profess a faith in Jesus did not come to this decision as quickly as Peter and Andrew did. We had heard of Jesus most of our lives before we came to the decision to give our hearts to Jesus. Could we have and would we have been so quick to follow Jesus if He had appeared to us at our work and told us to follow Him? Would we have believed Him? Would we have left the comfort of what we knew and in an instant make a decision to leave it all behind and follow who in essence was a complete stranger? From a logical perspective, this sounds like lunacy. From a worldly perspective, it sounds like lunacy, but from a Godly perspective, it sounds like redemption, grace and salvation!

I have often wondered how I would have reacted if I were Peter or Andrew. Would I have been able to take that leap of faith? Would I have recognized that moment in time that would change my eternity? Would I have been able to place my trust in Jesus so quickly?

Think about that with respect to your life and how you came to faith in Jesus. Was it a well thought out decision or was it a quick and bold move? No matter how quickly the decision was made, the important truth is that you did make that decision. Even so, I want to give you something to think about. Peter gave his commitment “at once.” We do know that Peter was sometimes quick to do things, such as stepping out of the boat to walk on water. We also know that Peter vowed to never abandon Jesus, yet he denied Him three times. We also know that Jesus restored and forgave him. Perhaps Jesus saw something in Peter that is something that we should be willing to take hold of. Peter was willing to place his faith in Jesus even if he didn’t understand. He made the commitment and then relied on Jesus to see him through. We rely on our intellect to come to the decision and then we rely on our intellect to determine how we react. Is this really faith?

Are we able to decide at once to follow Jesus?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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