Do you claim to be wise?

September 2, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil.
(Proverbs 3:7 (NIV))

Do you see any wisdom in the world?

Based on this passage, perhaps I should rephrase that question.

Do you see people shunning evil and fearing the Lord, or are they more interested in mocking and ridiculing the Lord and anyone who seeks to follow Him? Are these people trying to claim that they are wise? Contrary to what they may think, the Lord doesn’t agree.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
      and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
(Proverbs 9:10 (NIV))

The present state of the world reminds me of the parable of the wheat and the tares. The bad seed that produces the tares are those who do not fear the Lord. They are doing all that they can to disrupt God’s plans. We have known that this time would come. We have known what the people would be like who do not fear the Lord. They claim to be wise in their own eyes. They feel a false sense of self-worth. They feel that only they are right and anyone who doesn’t agree is an enemy.

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—
(2 Timothy 3:1-4 (NIV))

As members of the Body of Christ, we must pray that we not fall into the traps that the enemy has set. We must fear the Lord and shun all evil. We must not think that we are more than we are – filthy rags.

Do you claim to be wise?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you a member of God’s household?

August 31, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household,
(Ephesians 2:19 (NIV))

Think about this passage for a moment.

When darkness falls and the doors to the home are locked, who remains inside the home when the homeowner turns out the lights? Who relies on the head of the household to provide security and rest?

I don’t know about you, but I have never seen someone who had the lives of family and friends under the safety of their roof leave doors unlocked so that the enemy could attack. By professing a faith in Jesus, we have been welcomed into the household of God. We have been given not only grace and mercy. We have been given a home that is far more secure than anything we can ever imagine. This world is not our home! We must never forget that we are only passing through on our way to a place that the Lord has prepared for us. We are to be citizens of heaven and we are to be called children of God. Human nature is sinful, but most of us love and provide for our children. How much more will the Lord do for us?

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
(Matthew 7:11 (NIV))

Have you ever stopped to truly think about what actually happens when we accept Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior? I realize that there is so much more, but the symbolism of these are represented very eloquently in Ephesians 2:19.

We trade being foreigners and strangers with God to being His children.

We trade being children of sin to being foreigners and strangers to the sinful world.

With all that is happening in this world, we must remember to not be a stranger to God. Are you a member of God’s household?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do you have the faith to do something?

August 27, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

      What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
      But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”
      Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that–and shudder.
(James 2:14-19 (NIV))

We are told that we will be known by our fruit. What fruit do you bear?

We are told that we cannot earn our way to salvation through works. Does this mean that we do not do good works?

We are told that actions speak louder than words. Are you actions louder than a whisper?

Too many members of the Body of Christ cling to the notion that because we are saved by grace and that we are freed from the law of sin and death, we are also free from doing good works. Too many believe that since good works do not get you into heaven, they are not needed. Nothing could be farther from the truth!

Works without faith will not save us. Faith saves us. However, faith without works is not a true manifestation of faith. When we are fully aware of the grace that we have been given, we should fully desire to share that love and grace with all that we see. We should not simply sit upon our laurels and falsely profess that we have our salvation and the salvation of everyone else is not our responsibility.

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”
(Mark 16:15-18 (NIV))

Jesus gave us the responsibility.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said, “Action springs not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility.”

Are you ready to accept the responsibility that Jesus has given us?

Do you have the faith to do something?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Whose acceptance is more important to you?

November 22, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“I do not accept praise from men, but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?
(John 5:41-44 (NIV))

Ouch! That hurts.

Would Jesus say this to us today? Have we become like the people that He was condemning in this passage?

Many claim to be part of the Body of Christ, but do our actions reflect this? Do we seek acceptance from man more than we seek acceptance from God? Do we look to people who are accepted by man and think that they must be Godly for they have been blessed with fame and fortune? How do we look upon Christian music artists and mega-church pastors? Do we praise them for their fame or do we listen and discern what they are saying with respect to God’s Word?

It doesn’t only apply at the grand scale. It can apply to a local congregation if we seek acceptance from one another instead of from God. Please do not confuse this type of acceptance with what we are called to do as a church. We, as the Body of Christ, are called to accept people as Jesus accepted people. We are not called to place the desire to be accepted by people above accepting Jesus.

After we have done something that the Lord has called us to do, do we seek acceptance from our friends, family and fellow members of the Body of Christ? I honestly believe that the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector has merit in our ways of seeking acceptance.

    To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: `God, I thank you that I am not like other men–robbers, evildoers, adulterers–or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
    “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, `God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
    “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
(Luke 18:9-14 (NIV))

When we seek acceptance from anyone else but God, we are trying to exalt ourselves. We are prideful. We want everybody to know who we are and what we have done. Is this how Jesus told us to serve?

“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
(Matthew 6:2-4 (NIV))

We can seek the acceptance of man or we can seek the acceptance of Jesus.

Whose acceptance is more important to you?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Aren’t you glad that Jesus welcomes sinners?

November 11, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
(Luke 15:1-2 (NIV))

Which group of people would you have been in if you were alive when Jesus walked the earth?

Each of us like to think that we would recognize Jesus and understand what He was doing if we were alive at that time. Is that true? Sadly, I am not certain that many of us would have recognized Jesus and understood what He was doing. Think about that for a moment in relation to our recognition and understanding of Jesus in this current time. To help with this, I want to do what I often do and ask a few questions that will hopefully cause you to reflect on your life and your understanding.

Do you believe that Jesus came to offer redemption to those who are sinners? If you believe this, then how can Jesus reach sinners if He didn’t associate with them? How could He call them out of their sin if He was chastising them from a distance?

Are you perfect? Are you a sinner? Did Jesus reach you because you were perfect according to your church, or did He reach you because you realized that you are a sinner in need of a Savior? Why do we, the members of the Body of Christ, look at sinners any differently than Jesus does? Why do we look at the sins of others as greater than our own sins? Why do we look at certain individuals who have professed a faith in Jesus and claim that their past sins are too great for them to be a member of the Body of Christ? When someone who is a very blatant sinner repents and professes that Jesus is their personal Lord and Savior, we should rejoice just as the angels rejoice!

In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.
(Luke 15:10 (NIV))

Unfortunately, not everyone who professes a faith in Jesus is able to see beyond what that person was and embrace them as the new creation that they are! They are not able to understand that the love that Jesus has shown to them is also available to all who will accept it. They seem to have forgotten that their sin was great when they turned to Jesus. Don’t let the distance from the point of your salvation blind you to what you used to be. Don’t let your life since your salvation blind you to the fact that there is still sin in this world and that the world still needs Jesus!

Pray that you don’t find yourself acting like the Pharisees and the teachers of the law?

I want to ask one more question. It is a question that I have asked before, but I feel that it needs to be asked again.

What would you do if, when you get to heaven, you find that Adolph Hitler had repented and accepted Jesus? Do you think that his sin was too great? Do you think that the Lord thinks his sin is too great? Would you storm out of heaven because you think that he shouldn’t be there? Would you question Jesus or would you understand that we are all sinners in need of a savior?

Aren’t you glad that Jesus welcomes sinners?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you willing to surrender your will to the Lord?

August 14, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
(Isaiah 6:8 (NIV))

Willingness!

This seems to be a characteristic that is disappearing from many aspects of society. Is it disappearing from the people who claim to be members of the Body of Christ? Are we willing to stand up and say that we will go where the Lord sends us? It’s time to be honest with yourself and truthfully acknowledge the last time that you stepped forward when you saw a need or felt the Holy Spirit tugging at you. In hindsight, did you respond in a way that left you sitting there or did you wholeheartedly embrace the unknown for the Lord?

Being willing to respond and carry through with that response often places us outside of our comfort zones. We feel uncertainty when facing the unknown even when it is the Lord who is calling us to go. Think about this in respect to Abram. He heard the Lord tell him to leave the country where he lived and trust the Lord to lead him to a new land. Consider how different the outcome if Abram had simply said that he was afraid and wanted to stay where he was.

The Old Testament as well as the New Testament are full of people who were willing to answer and go. Abram went and we now know him as Abraham. Noah went and built an arc. Moses went and lead God’s people out of Egypt. Jacob went and scouted out the land. David went and fought Goliath. The disciples answered the call and followed Jesus.

We have a choice, but how do you think the Lord responds when we make a choice that is contrary to His calling? The Old and New Testaments are also full of people who heard God’s call and decided not to follow. Jonah ran and was swallowed. He eventually surrendered to God’s will. The rich young man heard the call from Jesus and turned and walked away. We never hear of him again. The two thieves on the cross answered differently from each other. One accepted Jesus and is with Him in paradise. The other cursed Jesus, and . . .

Take a very serious soul-searching look at yourself. Are you willing to do what the Lord asks?

Are you willing to surrender your will to the Lord?

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

July 2, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
(Ephesians 2:19-22 (NIV))

This was written to the church at Ephasus when Gentiles were not looked upon by Jewish believers as true heirs to the promises of God. Paul’s words were meant as a reassurance to those people at Ephasus, as well as to those of us today, who had heard all of the legalistic requirements that some people were trying to impose upon them.

Other people were saying that the promises fulfilled through Jesus Christ were only available to the Jews. Paul corrected these wrongs and set the record straight so that the freedom from the Law that Jesus brought would not be compromised by people who did not understand.

Jesus came as a means of God’s grace. Grace does not require legalism or any other human intervention in order to work. It does not apply only to a certain group of people. It is available to everyone who will ask. As we remember a day that is celebrated for our political freedom, we must not lose sight of the true freedom and the one who brings it!

Are you truly free?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you able to be content in all things?

May 23, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
(Philippians 4:12-13 (NIV))

Sadly, this is a lesson that I am still learning just as I would venture to say that many of you are also still learning.

Have you ever considered what it means to be content? Basically, it means satisfied or pleased. If you stop to look up the word satisfied, one definition means paid in full! Where have we heard that proclamation before? Is your life paid in full?

If we have accepted Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, our sin debt has been paid in full. Our debt has been satisfied and we should be content, for we have inherited so much more than the things in this world that can bring discontentment! Things like jobs, money, relationships, difficult times and ignorant people may get to us in the moment, but we have to keep our focus on Jesus. Our eternity with Him is not dictated by the things of this world. In fact, the things of this world should draw us closer to Him.

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))

We, as members of the Body of Christ, should find eternal contentment in His arms no matter the situation!

Are you able to be content in all things?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What do you hold to?

February 11, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
(Hebrews 10:23-25 (NIV))

The church (people, and not buildings) must not forsake meeting together. The people of God need each other to lift each other up, encourage each other, and to pray for each other.

Members of all sorts of organizations hold weekly or monthly meetings. If a bridge club can meet weekly to play cards, can we, as believers, not meet to share what God has done in our lives? These other clubs are trivial when compared to the “group” leader that we have.

Can a deck of cards grant eternal salvation?

Can a tennis club membership redeem you?

Can a country club free you from the consequences of the laws of sin and death?

Do you give more time to your social “clubs” and hobbies than you do to God?

What are your priorities? What do you hold to?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Does your life preach the good news?

December 4, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
(Romans 10:15 (NIV))

Do you read this and think to yourself that you are thankful you aren’t called to preach? Are you silently thankful that you have trouble stringing words together in a way that will make people understand? Have you bought in to the false assumption that preachers minister and church members receive? Is this in line with the words that Jesus left us with?

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.
(Mark 16:15 (NIV))

When we think of preaching, we have a tendency to think of someone who stands in front of a congregation on Sunday morning. I honestly don’t think that this is what Jesus meant. I have read this passage in context many times, and nowhere do I see anything that indicates that Jesus was only speaking to those who were eloquent of speech. There are many ways to “preach,” or to share the Gospel of Jesus. Standing in front of a crowd and proclaiming the Gospel is only one way. Whether you believe that these words were spoken by St. Francis of Asisi, they hold much truth and wisdom.

“Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.”
(St. Francis of Asisi)

We are not all gifted in the same ways, but as members of the Body of Christ, we are all called to the same task.

Let me ask a simple question for your consideration. How many remember having to write papers when you were in school? I remember all too well having to do this, yet, every time that a class was given an assignment, no two people did it exactly the same way. We readily accept this fact that we are all different in our lives, yet we feel that we have to follow a pattern to share Jesus. To be completely honest with you, if any of us had to convince someone else to follow Jesus based on our strengths, I seriously doubt that anyone would ever follow Jesus. It is when we allow Jesus to work through us and when we show what Jesus has done in our lives that people take notice. They will not pay any attention to our words or our strengths, but they will take notice of how Jesus turned our weaknesses into something wonderful. They will begin to see that Jesus can take their weaknesses and do the very same thing.

Take a serious look at your life. Do people see Jesus in you?

Does your life preach the good news?

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