Have you found a new beginning?

October 28, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
(Proverbs 1:7 (NIV))

What is it about human nature that makes us all think that we are capable of anything and everything on our own strength, skills and abilities? It starts as a toddler. I still remember my now adult daughter as a two year old adamantly saying “Me do it!” Now she has a little girl who is almost two. She is just now only beginning to express her independence in a similar manner. I knowingly look forward to the quest for independence that my granddaughter will be going through. Without such a quest, we don’t mature. We don’t grow. But, there comes a point when and where we must also be willing to grow by seeking wisdom and instruction from a source beyond ourselves.

Some people never do grow to that point, and even those who do have relapses where we despise wisdom and instruction. We have all experienced something today where we thought that we could do it better than the person who was doing it. Perhaps some of us even said it out loud!

What happens when that human nature that likes to rebel against authority comes into direct rebellion against the Lord?

Actually, I don’t have enough time to recount all the things that have been recorded when this has happened. Most of the Bible is the story of how God created, man rebelled, God reached out to save, and man rebelled again. Even when Jesus stepped out of heaven to come to this world, that story continued. It will continue until the Lord returns. The big difference is that now we can repent and accept Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior. We can choose to fear the Lord, or should I say that we can choose to fear the consequences from the Lord that result from our sinful actions. I have previously said that this fear is not one of trembling, but of respect. In the same manner that we feared our father when we were growing up, we need to fear the Lord. The Lord is full authority and just in His reprimands. He still loves us. He loves us enough to not allow us to stay in rebellion. He will try to draw us to Him so that we can learn and repent.

Some people have interpreted this fear to mean respect. I agree with this concept. If you respect the Lord, you also fear His reprimand. It is your desire to do what pleases the Lord. It is said that David was a man after God’s own heart. How do you think that this came to be? David feared the Lord, yet he also loved and respected the Lord. When he came to this point in his life, David found a new beginning that led him in step with the Lord.

Have you found a new beginning?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you adding to your faith?

October 1, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.
(2 Peter 1:5-7 (NIV))

Is faith the beginning or the end of your walk with Jesus?

Let that question sink in for a moment and then let’s consider that it takes faith to turn to Jesus and accept Him as your personal Lord and Savior. With that in mind, faith is the first step in your walk with Jesus, but each step that you take should bring with it a maturity. Each step should bring with it a discovery and an understanding of a new trait, a new Fruit of the Spirit. We are not called to come to Jesus and then stay the same way that we were. We are called to mature into His image.

If we are called to mature into the image of Christ, it makes sense that as we walk with Him we begin to take on the very nature of Jesus. When we accept Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, we are sinners who do not know goodness. No matter what others may think of us, no matter how good we may think that we are, our goodness, our righteousness is as filthy rags. As we walk with Jesus, He teaches us what it means to be good. He teaches us what knowledge is pure and righteous. He teaches us self-control. He teaches us perseverance as we take each step with Him. He teaches us what godliness means. He shows us how to mature from selfishness to mutual affection and love. Each step in our walk with Jesus should result in something being added to our faith.

How is your walk with Jesus?

Are you adding to your faith?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do you long to do as He says?

August 3, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
(James 1:22 (NIV))

Does that passage hit you in the same way that it hits me?

Far too many times it convicts me, for I know that no matter how hard I try, there will be times that I fail. I listen to the word. I long to do what it says. And still I fail.

Failure is not deliberate. Failure is not my goal. Failure is a setback and an obstacle to overcome.

God’s word is alive. It is the truth and it is how we should live our lives. It is a choice and it is one that I take very seriously. I desire to live my life the way that God desires me to live. Yet, I find myself in the same predicament as Paul when he wrote to the Romans.

We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do–this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
(Romans 7:14-20 (NIV))

We all have times when we do what we know we shouldn’t. It is our recognition of these times that helps us to mature in our faith. If we desire to do what God’s word says, then we will hate our failures. We will long to be obedient. If we only listen and do not have a desire to do, then we do not hold God’s word in our heart. We do not long to be what God calls us to be.

We can listen to God’s word in the same way that we listen to the radio. When you turn off the radio, do you honestly remember the songs that you heard? Or, we can listen to God’s word in the way that you listen to things that are close to your heart. It is a matter of priorities.

When you listen to God, do you long to do as He says?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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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.
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Where are you?

May 4, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Before them fire devours,
behind them a flame blazes.
Before them the land is like the garden of Eden,
behind them, a desert waste–
nothing escapes them.
(Joel 2:3 (NIV))

I believe that we are in a transitional place, a place of growth and maturity. Each of us may be in a situation that has us literally between a rock and a hard place. We may find ourselves in the midst of so much fire and waste that we do not see any potential end. When we, as believers, find ourselves in this place in our lives, we must remember that God uses these times in our lives to refine us like silver.

This third I will bring into the fire;
I will refine them like silver
and test them like gold.
They will call on my name
and I will answer them;
I will say, `They are my people,’
and they will say, `The LORD is our God.’ ”
(Zechariah 13:9 (NIV))

It is in these times that one of two things may happen. We will either turn from God in our anger or turn toward God in our faith. It is God’s desire to purify us in our faith. He longs for us to mature into the image of Jesus.

I had a conversation not too long ago with someone who questioned whether being in the wilderness was a good thing or a bad thing. Take a look at Jesus after He was baptized. He went into the wilderness for 40 days. He did not do anything bad, yet He had to face the temptation before He could truly minister to those whom He came to seek and to save.

When we find ourselves in the desert or the wilderness, it is all a matter of our outlook, our perspective on the situation. We can either look at the situation and not see beyond our circumstances or we can see the “Light” of Jesus at the end of our journey. If we focus on the “Light,” then we should be able to stand firm in our desert and continually pray for righteousness.

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
(Psalms 51:10 (NIV))

Where are you?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Have you learned to listen?

March 4, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Then Eli realized it was the Lord who was calling the boy. So he said to Samuel, “Go and lie down again, and if someone calls again, say, ‘Yes, Lord, your servant is listening.'” So Samuel went back to bed. And the Lord came and called as before, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel replied, “Yes, your servant is listening.”
(1 Samuel 3:8-10 (NLT))

Samuel had something that most people do not have. Can you figure out what that something was?

Samuel had someone who was experienced at hearing God!

Eli gave Samuel the benefit of his experience and helped Samuel realize that God was calling. How many of us are called by God only to miss the calling. We do not realize that it was the Lord who called? Perhaps this is why we need to establish a relationship with a mentor; someone who is more mature in the ways of the Lord. This mentor will guide us and provide a confirmation to what God is speaking.

Have you ever heard that if it is truly God, then He will provide confirmation. Sometimes it will come from complete strangers, but He will provide it. The confirmation is not the problem, for once we learn to hear God, then it is easier to accept His commands. What is difficult is learning to hear and recognize Him to begin with. Perhaps this requires someone with experience to assist us to recognize Him. Perhaps it takes adherence to Psalms 46:10 (Be still, and know that I am God.). Perhaps it takes more commitment than we can initially do on our own.

Let’s face facts. When you first learned to ride a bicycle, you needed help. You needed support. Once you discovered the secrets to riding, you started to solo. You eventually became proficient at riding. You no longer need that support.

I would venture to say that learning to hear God also requires some initial support.

Do you have your support? Do you have an Eli, or perhaps you have learned to “solo?”

Have you learned to listen?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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How is your faith?

February 24, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He 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 Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
(John 14:12-14 (NIV))

Did these words hit you in the same way that they hit me?

Think about the concept that Jesus left us.

Those who have faith in Jesus will do what He did.

We will even do greater things than He did!

I don’t know about you, but I know myself all too well. I know what I have done. I know what I am capable of doing on my own, both good and bad. I know that I have good intentions, but the world always tries to slow me down or stop me. How can I do greater things than Jesus? How can I even do what Jesus did?

Do you find yourself thinking the same type of thoughts?

Faith is a funny thing. Without it, we have a tendency to say that we cannot achieve what we are called to do. When we take possession of a brand new faith, we think that we are able to do anything for God. As we “mature” in our faith, we seem to allow the world to creep back in and hold us back. Is this really a mature faith?

Take a look at the disciples. Take a look at John. Take a look at Paul. As each of these people matured in their faith, they grew bolder. They did not allow the world to hold them back. They went forward into the very heart of the battle for salvation. They did not back down. They did not slow down. They did not stop spreading the Gospel because it was not “politically correct.”

I honestly think that if we, the body of Christ, stood firm in our faith the way that the early church stood, then we could begin to say that with the power of the Holy Spirit within us, we are approaching the vision that Jesus had of those who have faith in Him. We could and should be doing what Jesus did.

And, since Jesus said it, I will stand firm on the words and say that we could and should be doing greater things than He did.

It is a matter of faith. It is a matter of a strong faith and not a sedate, “mature” faith.

How is your faith?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do we love each other enough to fulfill the law?

February 18, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

The commandments, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not covet,’ and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
(Romans 13:9-10 (NIV))

I hate to say this, but there are people who populate the pews of many churches throughout this world who harm other believers on a regular basis. What does that say about the way that we have faithfully taught what Jesus has commanded us to teach? It is easy to blame the people who harm others, but it is not so easy to take upon yourself the responsibility for their actions.

Should we bear the burden of the responsibility of the actions of other members of the Body of Christ?

I think that we are taught that we do!

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
(John 13:34-35 (NIV))

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.
(Romans 12:10 (NIV))

You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
(Galatians 5:13-15 (NIV))

If members of the Body have not been taught how to stop doing harm, then the Body has not properly fed them the Word of God. They have not been nourished to the point where they know what is Godly and righteous. They have not been allowed to mature in their faith.

Suppose parents have a child and this child starts to eat solid food. As soon as the child starts to eat, the parents do not turn this child loose and tell him to prepare his own meals. The child must be taught what to eat, what is good for them, and what is bad. All of this must happen before the child can be entrusted to prepare his own meals.

Perhaps the church is guilty of being this neglectful parent. We expect people to intuitively know what God wants them to do, what they are to read and study, and how they are supposed to live. We have not taught them how to not be harmful to others. We have not taught them how to love one another.

What have you taught your “children” in the faith? Do we love each other enough to fulfill the law?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What do you hear?

January 30, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.
(John 8:47 (NIV))

Contrary to what the world thinks, God does speak to us if we only know how to listen.

Just like in any relationship, we have to know the heart of the other person. We have to know them on a deeper level than just a casual acquaintance. We must be able to pick up on subtle intents based on our knowledge of the person. For all of the married men who are reading this, I am sure that a subtle roll of the eyes by your wife carries a meaning that only you understand. With this as an example, perhaps it is easy to understand that intimacy with someone means that not all communications are with words. Sometimes we are able to “hear” things because we know someone so well that we can understand things that others would not pick up on.

Does God always speak in an audible voice?

If we have accepted His Son, Jesus, as our personal Lord and Savior, we can be called His children. That is God reaching out to us in love. If we spend time with His Word, we know His heart. That is us reaching out to God in love. We draw closer to Him and we begin to know what breaks His heart and what bring Him joy. We begin to recognize the subtle differences in us as we mature in our faith and our relationship with the Lord. We feel peace and joy when we walk with Him and we feel anxiety and sorrow when we stray.

We have also been given the Holy Spirit to guide us. That is God walking with us in love. He is that still, small voice that lives in us to teach us how to walk with the Lord in a relationship as a loving Father and His child.

There are so many ways that we are able to hear what God says. We just have to be open to hearing and be willing to respond. We must desire a relationship with God in order to hear Him.

Do you desire that relationship?

What do you hear?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What will be measured out to you?

January 24, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
(Luke 6:38 (NIV))

We have all heard the old saying that you get what you give, but have you ever heard it put in such terms as this passage. You have also heard of the concept of the baker’s dozen where you actually get 13 instead of 12. The concepts presented in Luke take both of these ideas and take them up a notch. Think about that in terms of the wording in this passage.

A good measure is when the target measurement is not shorted, but actually is measured out even more than the target measurement. Now, what happens when you press something down? It becomes packed. It becomes compressed. Think about this in terms of vacuum packed. All of the air is removed so that what is measured out is so tightly packed that it takes less space. Shaken together and running over implies that even more is added. Keep in mind the vacuum packed concept. If you fill up a one cubic foot box and then vacuum pack the contents, it will probably only fill half of the box. Now, add more to it and vacuum pack it again. Keep doing this until what is being given is not only packed tightly and much more than you would think you would be given, but then it is topped off so that it is overflowing the box. If you have trouble visualizing this concept, take a look at the vacuum packed coffee “bricks” that you can buy. When you open this package and pour it into another container, it fills an area probably two to three times the size of the vacuum packed package.

I like to think that this is how the Lord gives to us!

Read Luke 6:8 again and you will see that there is a prerequisite for receiving the abundance that the Lord will give. We must give first! I realize that this sounds like prosperity Gospel, but humor me for a moment. We must give our heart to the Lord. We must give our life to Jesus. We must give our tithes and offerings out of joy, and we must give to others as their needs present themselves. When our heart is in line with the Lord’s, we will desire to be blessed so that we can be a blessing to others. The reason that we are asked to give first is so that the Lord can test our motives and to make sure that we are mature in our faith to follow His desires and not ours.

With this in mind, I have two questions that I still need to ask.

Are you becoming a cheerful giver?

What will be measured out to you?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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