Are you fulfilling your duty?

October 15, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.
(Ecclesiastes 12:13 (NIV))

Do you fear God?

If you are anything like how the media portrays society, chances are that your answer is a no. However, if you are who the media and certain aspects of society target, then your answer is probably a yes. What we are seeing in society is a direct attack on anything godly, while anything that is ungodly is being touted as good. Is this fearing God? Is this keeping His commandments?

I see things in the news almost every day that make me realize that the concept of fearing God is no longer even on the minds of most people. I see things in public places that just a few years ago would have been considered shameful even in the privacy of one’s own home. Sadly, too many people who claim to be followers of Jesus are doing these things themselves. Is this fearing God? Is this following His commandments? Do they think that they get a free pass to continue to sin just because they claim to follow Jesus?

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.
(John 14:12 (NIV))

I honestly don’t think that Jesus went around blatantly sinning. In fact, I know that he didn’t sin at all. If that is the case, then what makes so many people believe that Jesus will forgive them if they keep on sinning? All we have to do is remember what Jesus told the woman caught in adultery.

Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
(John 8:10-11 (NIV))

Jesus didn’t come into the world to condemn us. We do a fantastic job of that all by ourselves. He came for a much different reason.

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))

It is apparent that those who do not fear God and keep His commandments love the darkness of their sin. Sadly, they are fulfilling their own evil desires that lead to death. All of us should strive to fulfill God’s desires. We should strive to fulfill our duty in this manner.

Are you fulfilling your duty?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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When you feel far from the Lord, repent!

May 29, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time?
(Psalms 77:18 (NIV))

It’s time to get personal about your faith!

Have you ever had times in your life when it felt like the Lord just wasn’t with you? Perhaps it was a matter of perspective. Let’s ask that question with a slightly different point of view. Have you ever had times in your life when it felt like you weren’t with the Lord? See how different the question is, as well as your answer, when you ask it from a position of aligning with the Lord instead of asking if the Lord is on your side?

Think about your life, your spiritual mountaintops and your spiritual valleys, from this perspective. Do you see a trend? Do you see a need to refocus your attitude? Do you see a need to repent and return to the Lord during certain times in your life?

As I have often stated, human nature is a strange thing. We can ignore warning signs that are directly in front of us and walk headlong into a sinful action that has dreadful ramifications upon us. We can also do everything physically in our power to avoid God and His path for us, and when we do, we wonder why we are in such dire circumstances. Will we ever learn to fully rely on the Lord? Will we ever learn to recognize His guidance? Will we ever stop being drawn into temptation?

The sad part is, that during these times, we blame the Lord, but in all honesty, it is our own actions that drive us into despair. It is the consequences of our own actions that make us think that the Lord is no longer with us. When we find ourselves walking through these times in our life, we must have the wisdom to repent. We must have the wisdom to say, “Lord, I know that it is not You. I know that it is all me. Forgive me! Help me to overcome my sinful nature so that I may walk with you all the days of my life.”

When you feel far from the Lord, repent!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Will you bow out of gratitude or defeat?

November 21, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
(Philippians 2:10-11 (NIV))

Everyone has heard this scripture in some context or another. It is a wonderful piece of scripture, for it confirms that Jesus Christ is Lord of all. But, what it means for those who do not belong to Him is a submission out of defeat, not a willing submission to Jesus’ authority in their lives.

All throughout history, when someone has bowed to another out of defeat, it meant that they had lost everything and would probably face severe consequences for their “war” against the winner. The same is true even in the spiritual world. Those who bow to Jesus out of defeat will face eternal separation from God. Those who bow before Jesus out of love will face eternal life with God.

It all boils down to a matter of attitude. Is your attitude one of gratitude and thanksgiving for what Jesus has done in your life, or is it an attitude of rebellion in which you deny Jesus and want nothing to do with Him or God? It is your choice. To use a phrase from a television show, “Is that your final answer?”

Will you bow out of gratitude or defeat?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you able to praise God through the tough times?

November 9, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
(Psalms 42:11 (NIV))

I realize that it may seem like the whole world is out to get you at times, but there is one key thing that we need to remember as members of the Body of Christ.

“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))

With hope and assurance like this, how can we ever be downcast, even in the face of trouble? We need to remember Paul’s words. We need to do more than remember them. We need to make them our own. We need to fully embrace the very realistic truth that Paul shared in Romans.

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
(Romans 8:31 (NIV))

God is so “for us” that He sent His only Son, Jesus, into this world as an atoning sacrifice so that we could be restored to a right relationship with God. For those who earnestly repent and call upon the name of Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior, God is now on your side. Perhaps I should phrase that differently. For those who earnestly repent and call upon the name of Jesus, you have realized that you are a sinner in need of a Savior. You have turned from your way to following God’s way. When you chose to follow Jesus, you became a member of the Body of Christ. Your past sins are no longer held against you. If you have been able to be called out of the tough times when you were lost in sin, what makes you think that the Lord of all creation will not be with you and see you through the tough times that you face after you chose to follow Jesus?

If you look at life from this perspective, we have been called to be God’s chosen people.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
(1 Peter 2:9 (NIV))

If we are exactly as described, then why would God abandon us during the tough times. He will not leave us nor forsake us!

It is a matter of our attitude!

Are you able to praise God through the tough times?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you too proud to accept God’s gifts?

October 12, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, `Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

“When he came to his senses, he said, `How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ So he got up and went to his father.
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

“The son said to him, `Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

“But the father said to his servants, `Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
(Luke 15:11-24 (NIV))

Everybody is familiar with the story of the prodigal son. I have heard someone comment on it in such a way as to shed new light on God’s mercy and grace.

God does not wait until we ask for forgiveness to forgive us. We are forgiven even before we ask for it!

We must ask in order to receive it, but He has already decided that He will forgive us. Asking for forgiveness shows a change of heart on our part and this change of heart prepares us to accept the grace that God has already granted us. Without this change of heart, we cannot accept God’s grace. We do not feel that we need it. It is a matter of pride.

Asking for grace shows that we have humbled ourselves. Sadly, far too many people are too proud to ask for anything.

Grace and mercy are free. We pay the personal price by swallowing our pride when we ask for them.

Are you too proud to accept God’s gifts?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you have enough faith to understand?

October 1, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.
(Hebrews 11:3 (NIV))

What is your opinion of how the universe was formed?

Do you believe the current views from the worldly scientific community or do you believe that God created everything?

Which of these scenarios is more difficult to believe?

The worldly scenario states that all of the matter in all of the universe was in one location and suddenly exploded sending it off to eventually form what we see? Where did all of this matter come from to begin with? How old is this matter? How did it get collected into one place? What made it explode? What made the matter come together after the explosion to form the stars and the planets? There are many more questions that could be asked and the world doesn’t have an answer. It seems to me that they have established their own religion, their own set of faith beliefs that leave more questions asked than answered.

The Biblical scenario states the following.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
(Genesis 1:1 (NIV))

This only presents one question, and that question, if answered incorrectly, leads people to believe the worldly scenario of creation.

Who is God?

This single question either leads people to have more faith in their own understanding or it leads them to the one who is Creator of all things. It leads them to either believe that God exists or that everything is here purely by accident!

Personally, I find it so much easier to answer the one question than to answer the countless questions that the worldly scenario presents. I find it easier to understand that God is an eternal being who is spirit and truth. I find it easier to understand that God is all powerful and that He is good. I find it easier to understand that God is able to speak things into existence and that He is able to create things that are visible out of nothing! Once I understand that, everything else makes sense.

Can you say that about the worldly scenario and the few questions I previously brought up? Where did all of the matter come from? How did it all get in one location? How old is it? What made it explode? I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that it requires more faith, although misguided, to believe the worldly scenario. Think about that in relationship to one more question. How many explosions have you seen that resulted in something being created?

I fully place my faith and my understanding in the fact that the universe was formed at God’s command.

Do you have enough faith to understand?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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When you look at things, are they possible or impossible?

February 9, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
(Matthew 19:26 (NIV))

We like to take Matthew 19:26 out of context and apply it to whatever we may be facing that appears to be a no win situation. To be honest with you, nothing is impossible with God, so it is a good application. Still, we tend to overlook the original message.

This particular passage was directed at His disciples and it comes at the end of a discourse with a rich young man.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”
(Matthew 19:23-25 (NIV))

In case you didn’t catch the implication, Jesus was saying that salvation was only possible through God. Think about that for a moment. Each of us have something that we cherish. Each of us have something that we long to hold on to, that we don’t want to surrender. For some, it is money. For others, it may be power. For others, it may be any number of things. For this particular young man, it was his wealth. Jesus told him that it was necessary to surrender what he held dear to himself and choose to follow Jesus. I think that the disciples caught on to what Jesus was saying because they asked, “Who then can be saved?” The disciples knew human nature. They knew how difficult it is to surrender what is closest to your heart. They knew that it was and is a matter of priorities. They had made the choice to trade everything for the ultimate treasure.

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
(Matthew 13:44 (NIV))

Jesus let them know that a person cannot change their heart, but God can. God can take a cold and hardened heart and bring it back to life. God can take the “wealth” that a person holds dear and make it all look worthless in comparison to what He has to offer. If you think about this, Jesus also let us know that people are not in the business of saving each other. We don’t have the power or authority, but God does! How do you look at things, from your perspective or from God’s?

When you look at things, are they possible or impossible?

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