You will be amazed at what happens when you are devoted!

March 9, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
(Acts 2:42 (NIV))

They devoted themselves!

Do you ever wonder why people say that miracles don’t happen today? Do you wonder why we see a problem and it stays a problem? Do you understand that our current understanding of church and being the Body of Christ is far from what it used to be?

Why do you think that is true?

One simple word.

Devotion.

We, as the modern Body of Christ, look at Jesus as a filler for the parts of our lives that are empty. It is true that He is there to fill the emptiness, but He is so much more. The early church knew that professing a faith in Jesus meant more than simply acknowledging Him as savior. They knew Him as Lord and they devoted themselves to each other and to His teachings.

They devoted themselves in four areas – teachings, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer. It does not say that they devoted themselves to their work. It does not say that they devoted themselves to their families. It does not say that they devoted themselves to their favorite sports team.

Could you image how the Body of Christ would be today if we all gave the same amount of devotion, both public and private, that we give our college football teams? Can you imagine large stadiums of people to pray and to study God’s Word? In some countries it happens. People come from far and wide to hear the Gospel. Ironically, it is usually an American ministry that reaches out to these countries. It is sad that we do not do as the people to whom we send ministers and missionaries.

What is your idea of devotion?

Is it sitting in a church pew for an hour on Sunday? Is it adding a Bible study to your weekly schedule? Is it placing God first in all that you do? Does it mean that you willingly help those in need?

I often think that devotion is directly related to faith.

He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches.”
(Matthew 13:31-32 (NIV))

If we have the faith and the devotion to see that faith through, then both will grow to enormous proportions. As we devote ourselves to the four areas – teachings, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer – we will see things begin to happen that will strengthen our faith. We will see the results of our devotion. As a result, we will grow our devotion and our faith.

It is amazing what devotion, or dedication, can do, especially when it is focused on Jesus and God’s Word.

I think that we need to take a lesson from the early church and try devoting ourselves to Jesus. You will be amazed at what happens when you are devoted!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Will the Lord know you?

February 5, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
(Matthew 7:21-23 (NIV))

Do you believe that it is acceptable in the eyes of God to profess a faith in Jesus and then be unwilling to give up your favorite sin?

Think about that in context of the woman caught in adultery. Jesus told her to leave her life of sin.

Think about that in context of the rich young ruler. Jesus told him to sell all he had and give everything to the poor and then follow Him. Jesus knew the rich man’s heart. He knew exactly the sin that the rich man wouldn’t give up.

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.
(Luke 9:23 (NIV))

If we don’t deny ourselves the sins that we love and deny our sinful nature, then Jesus is going to deny us. We must sacrifice ourselves daily to what we desire and carry the cross that Jesus carried. He did what God called Him to do! We are to follow His example. At no point in His life did He sin, nor did He ever tell someone to continue sinning. If we are truly following Jesus, then we are truly spending time in His presence. We will desire to give up our sins. I realize that even the best of intentions will have pitfalls, but we are called to repent. We are called to change our lives to reflect Jesus in all that we do. We are called to be the light of the world, but not on our own. We are to reflect the light of Jesus. If we choose to cling to our sin, we are not filled with the light. It is a choice. We can choose Jesus or we can choose sin.

No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
(Matthew 6:24 (NKJV))

I chose this translation for this passage due to the use of the word “mammon.” It means riches. You cannot serve the riches of this world, whether they are money, lust or power, and still serve God. We must make a decision to walk away from our sins and follow Jesus. We will slip. We will falter, but if we seek forgiveness for these slips, and continue to strive to follow Jesus, then the Lord sees our heart. If we refuse to give up our sins, the Lord sees this as well. He cannot save someone who is unwilling to be saved.

If you realize that God cannot associate with sin and you aren’t willing to give up your sin, the resulting conclusion is obvious.

Will the Lord know you?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you seeing miracles in your life?

January 13, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.
(Matthew 13:58 (NIV))

Do you constantly see things happening in the lives of other people and wish that something similar would happen in your life?

Let me ask you a question and I want you to truly stop and think about your answer. Don’t simply just read through this without stopping to look at your life in respect to this question.

How is your faith?

We all like to think that we possess a strong faith, but do your actions reflect your self assessment? Do you read your Bible on a daily basis? Do you spend time in prayer on a daily basis? Do you spend time fasting from aspects of this world so that you can focus on Jesus? Do you seek after God’s heart so that you can know Him better? Do you seek to do His will in your life in all things? Do you seek the Lord and ask for things that burden your heart? Each of us desire things in this life. We must be careful how we act upon those desires. We can do a vast number of things, ranging from something wrong to nothing at all to seeking God’s desires for us. The Lord knows this.

You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
(James 4:2-3 (NIV))

Seeing miracles in your life is part of this spectrum of desires, our actions, and, consequentially God’s reaction to all of this. It comes down to faith. If we go through life not expecting to see miracles, guess what! You won’t. If you go through life with a faith that says we serve a God who can and will do great things, you will see God move in ways that you never expect!

Are you seeing miracles in your life?

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

December 23, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
(Luke 2:8-14 (NIV))

What an honor it must have been to be the first to hear the good news! The shepherds must have been terrified by the presence of the angels, after all, angels were not, and are still not an every day occurrence.

Luckily for us, God’s plan does not discriminate against us for not being there. In fact, it is probably with mixed blessings that we are embraced as part of God’s Kingdom. We do not have the first hand experience of having seen the angels, the star, or Jesus’ life. Sometimes, I wonder if I would have believed if I lived at the time of Jesus!

On the other hand, we have the faith of millions of people who have gone before us. We have the New Testament, the hundreds of years of prophesy study that proves Jesus is King of kings, the Messiah. It may be easier for someone today to come to faith than it was in Jesus’ day. Yet, through all of this “historical proof”, I sometimes feel empty. I think it is the desire of every believer to be able to go back in time and be a witness to the miracles and hear the teachings of Jesus firsthand.

We celebrate the birth of Jesus and look back in awe to the miracles. At the same time, we should look around us in awe of what God is doing today and look to the not-to-distant future and know what God is going to do. We celebrate the First Coming. Some tomorrow we will celebrate the Second Coming.

Merry Christmas!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you long to see Jesus face to face?

November 13, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name.
(Zechariah 14:9 (NIV))

I pray that everyone who professes a faith in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior earnestly looks forward to this day! It is the culmination of everything that we profess that we believe in.

We profess that Jesus is Lord. We profess that He is King of kings and Lord of lords. We profess that one day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord. We profess that Jesus is the One. We profess that Jesus is the Son. We profess that Jesus is the only name by which we can be saved. We profess that Jesus was crucified, dead and buried. We profess that on the third day He arose from the grave. We profess that He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father. We profess that He will return.

In all these things that we profess, do we truly mean them? Is it our innermost desire to see these things come to pass? Will we be embraced or will we face disgrace?

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
(Matthew 7:21-23 (NIV))

Too many people simply give lip service to the things that we profess as members of the Body of Christ. Following Jesus is so much more than words. Following Jesus is a full-time commitment. We can say that we long for Jesus to return, but our thoughts, our heart and our actions can say something completely different.

Merriam-Webster defines longing as a strong desire or a craving. They also define craving as an intense desire. If you long for something, you have an intense desire for it to come to pass. Do you have an intense desire to see Jesus? Do you long for the day that Zechariah spoke of? Do you long to see Jesus face to face?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What do you do when the unexpected happens?

October 25, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
(Acts 1:9 (NIV))

I can picture the moment. Everybody is gathered around Jesus and everyone there is asking Him questions. They are filled with excitement. They have spent three years with Jesus. They saw Him perform miracles. They saw Him beaten and crucified. They saw Him die. And, they saw Him in His resurrection. Now, after the resurrection, they are eagerly looking for Jesus to bring God’s kingdom to this world.

And then . . .

The unexpected happens.

At least in their eyes, it does.

They were expecting Jesus to take His authority then and there, but He disappears!

Can you imagine how these people felt? Everything that they had seen. Everything that they had been a part of. Everything that they now expected was completely changed. I can imagine that their first reaction was that they were being abandoned. How would you feel?

God knew their hearts. He knew that they were expecting something that was not in His plan. God had compassion on these people. He sent messengers to tell them that their timing was not His timing.

They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
(Acts 1:10-11 (NIV))

Instead of despair, these people had a reason to believe. They had a reason to hope. They had a reason to pray. And pray they did.

Then they returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city. When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.
(Acts 11:12-14 (NIV))

How do you react when things don’t go as you expect them to?

We should take a lesson from these first believers. When things don’t go as we expect them to go, we should pray for God’s guidance and His wisdom.

What do you do when the unexpected happens?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Will you be able to withstand the deception?

September 24, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

At that time if anyone says to you, `Look, here is the Christ!’ or, `Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect–if that were possible. So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time.
(Mark 13:21-23 (NIV))

How well do you know Jesus? How well do you know God’s Word?

Do you know them well enough to be able to discern the difference between the truth and a lie?

All too often, the enemy will shroud his lies in bits and pieces of the truth. He will use just enough of the truth to make his lies sound plausible. He will count on people not knowing God’s Word well enough to tell the difference between the truth and his lies. He will use just enough to entrap people.

Entrapment!

Do you honestly think that Satan cares how he tricks people into missing out on God’s grace and mercy? He only cares that he does trick people. It does not matter to him that he deceives people. It does not matter to him that he misuses God’s Word to deceive. He has only one goal and that is keeping as many people as possible from the redeeming grace offered through Jesus. Satan thinks that if he can’t be worshipped, then he will take that from God.

In the high-speed, fast-paced world that we now find ourselves in, we must know what we believe in. We must know what we have faith in.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 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. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
(Ephesians 6:10-18 (NIV))

Are you fully armed with the knowledge and truth that is God’s Word? Will you be able to withstand the deception?

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

September 6, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases,
(Luke 9:1 (NIV))

It is human nature to seek power. It seems that everyone wants to be in charge. If you don’t believe this simple truth, just look at a family with more than one child. There will always be bickering between the children as to which child has the final say. If you had brothers or sisters, you know how true this can be. If you have more than one child, if you haven’t experienced this yet, you will!

Even the disciples who walked with Jesus tried to play the power game with each other. If you simply look at the details of the Passover meal in the upper room, you see that there was a power play to see who would sit at the highest place. Sadly, they got it all wrong. Fortunately, they soon realized that the power they truly were seeking was equally theirs through the power and authority that was given to them by the Holy Spirit. They grew up Jewish and could recite the Torah. They knew God’s Word. They recognized the power of God’s Word. They walked with Jesus. They had seen firsthand the miracles that the power of God was able to do. All that they needed was the power of the Holy Spirit to fill them and enable them.

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))

Jesus knew from the very first time that He called each of the disciples that He would need to equip them for the time when He returned to the Father. He opened up their eyes and their hearts to the Father. He gave them true insight into the Word. He taught them how to utilize the power of God. He prepared them for the Holy Spirit. Once the power of the Holy Spirit descended upon them, they were fully equipped, they were fully charged in the power of God. They changed the world!

We may not be able to physically walk with Jesus, but we still have God’s Word. We still have the redeeming power of the blood of Jesus and we have access to the power of the Holy Spirit if we will only embrace it. It takes all three to truly embrace the Lord, for God is three in One – God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit. If you think about it, you could even look at them as God the Creator, Jesus the Redeemer, and the Holy Spirit as the empowerer. You are alive because of God the Father. You are redeemed because of Jesus. Have you fully embraced the power that is yours through the Holy Spirit? Are you ready to change your part of the world?

Are you fully charged?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do people you know see Jesus in you?

July 17, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

And they took offense at him.
But Jesus said to them, “Only in his hometown and in his own house is a prophet without honor.”
And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.
(Matthew 13:57-58 (NIV))

Carefully consider the words written above. How true these words have proven to be throughout history. Jesus knew that He would not be embraced in His own hometown, for they did not see Him as the Messiah, but as the little boy that they watched grow up. In other words, familiarity brought about doubt.

Let’s consider another possible meaning of these words. When we ask Jesus into our hearts, He comes to live there. He is basically making our heart His home. If we do not honor Him as our Lord and Savior, Jesus is without honor in the very place that He longs to be in residence. He longs to reside in our hearts to guide us and to teach us. If we do not honor him once we accept Him, He will not be able to do what He longs to do. He will not be able to guide us and mature us into His image. He will have encountered a luke-warm heart – a heart that gives an invitation and then locks itself away once the invitation is accepted.

If we have asked Him into our heart, He will not truly be rejected. He will simply not be fully embraced. People can possess a faith in Jesus and yet not understand all that He desires to do. It is sad that these people do not fully receive what Jesus came to give.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
(John 10:10 (NIV))

How can we have life in Jesus to the full if we do not allow Him to do what He can do? How can He do these things if we do not allow Him into our hearts completely?

I am certain that each and every single person reading this has been on a job interview. How many times have you left an interview wondering if the person conducting the interview even listened to anything that you were saying? You were invited to come in and meet with the person conducting the interview, but they could have been so engrossed in their own agenda that they never truly understand what is being offered in your experiences and capabilities.

Think about that for a moment.

Did the people of His hometown truly understand what was being offered? Do you think that Jesus was truly rejected by His hometown, or was He simply not fully embraced for who He truly is and what He came to give? If Jesus is not fully embraced as Lord and Savior, He will not force people to seek miracles? How can He force them to see miracles in what He brings? He will not do many miracles, for He does not work where faith is lacking. Just as the person who was conducting the interview did not get to see all that you had to offer, those who do not fully embrace Jesus as Lord and Savior will not see all the Jesus has to offer.

Is Jesus working miracles in your life? Is your faith strong enough to allow the miracles to happen? Is Jesus honored in your heart? Do others see the miracles that Jesus is performing through you? Do people you know see Jesus in you?

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