Are you trying to fool God with your external regulations?

May 11, 2022

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

This is an illustration for the present time, indicating that the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper. They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings–external regulations applying until the time of the new order
(Hebrews 9:9-10 (NIV))

External regulations applying until the time of the new order!

Carefully consider the implications of that statement.

It sounds too much like we, as humanity, prefer to put on a false front in order to appear to be doing what we should do. This false front is not what we truly are, but, rather it is a simple covering that hides the true person within. Consider a house that is is need of repair. A fresh coat of paint will hide many imperfections and make the house look like something that it is not. It will appear to be spotless and without flaw, but just beneath the surface lies the imperfections that will soon show through the fresh coat of paint. You simply cannot make a rotting shell structurally sound by painting over it.

The same is true of our inner most desires.

If we long to sin, putting on a suit and going to church will not change our heart no more than sitting in the garage will make us a car.

God gave us instructions on how we are to live and how we are to treat Him, each other, and ourselves. If you stop to think about the Ten Commandments, they are all based on relationship and maintaining relationship, first with God and His commands, then with family (father and mother), and then with others. Exodus 20:1-17 tells us exactly how we are to be in relationship with God and with each other. These words can be taken to heart and lived out as part of our true being, or they can simply be a false front that we use to hide our true self.

God sees the difference.

He knows what is in our hearts. External facades will not hide the truth from God. Only a true acceptance of His grace and mercy will do that. We must have an understanding of professing Jesus as your Lord as well as your Savior. This will open up your heart to allow what is under that fresh coat of paint to be remade. We cannot become good enough from the outside in. We must allow God’s grace and mercy to work on us from the inside out.

He went on: “What comes out of a man is what makes him `unclean.’ For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man `unclean.’ “
(Mark 7:20-23 (NIV))

If what comes out of us is what makes us unclean, we must stop trying to deal with the external and allow God to deal with the internal in our lives.

Are you trying to fool God with your external regulations?

Copyright 1998 – 2022 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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A new name!

January 24, 2022

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name.
(Revelation 3:12 (ESV))

“and my own new name.”

If you are like me, you have probably read this passage before and did not comprehend the meaning of the word recorded to the Church in Philadelphia.

There are three distinct names that will be written on those who hold on to what they have, who hold on to their faith in Jesus and the truth that comes from that faith.
1. The name of my God
2. The name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem
3. Jesus’ new name

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.
(Acts 4:12 (NIV))

I am only speculating, but does this mean that once everything has unfolded and we are in heaven with Jesus, He will have a new name because there will be no one left for Him to save? Yeshua, His Hebrew name, means a savior or a deliverer. It stands to reason, and inferred from this passage in Revelation, that this means that once this part of His persona is complete, He will take upon Himself a new name to reflect His new status in much the same manner that those who are victorious will be given a new name.

Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.
(Revelation 2:17 (NIV))

There are so many things contained within God’s Word that we read and will only completely understand once they have unfolded according to His plan. They are the things that will probably happen just when we think that nothing could get any better. I don’t profess to know what His new name will be, but I do know that it will be magnificent. I also know that I long to be in His presence when this day occurs for I love the current name, the name by which we are saved.

A new name!

Copyright 1998 – 2022 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Has the new you arrived?

January 17, 2022

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
(2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV))

What were you like before you accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior?

Now that I have asked that question, and hopefully you have given it some thought, I have another question to ask.

Is there any difference in you before you accepted Jesus and after you accepted Jesus?

Let that question sink in. Accepting Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior is supposed to be made at the point where you realize that you are a sinner in need of a Savior. It is supposed to be the acknowledgment of the fact that you cannot change yourself. It is the point at which you fully understand the following passages.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
(Romans 3:23 (NIV))

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 6:23 (NIV))

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.
(John 3:16-18 (NIV))

I realize that for many who read this, it is a truth that you have already accepted and embraced as part of your new life in Christ, but there are those who profess a faith in Jesus and still continue to do the very things that they did before that confession. They just can’t seem to let go of the old. Not only do some refuse to let go, they choose to embrace the old even when they profess that they are a new creation in Christ. They fail to realize the one important thing that Jesus told the woman caught in adultery that still applies to us today.

Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
(John 8:11b (NIV))

We must repent. We must turn from our sins. We must deliberately choose to leave the old behind so that the new grace and mercy freely given through the cross may manifest itself in our lives.

Has the new you arrived?

Copyright 1998 – 2022 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you fully embraced the new thing that God has done?

December 30, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

See, I am doing a new thing!
      Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
      and streams in the wasteland.
(Isaiah 43:19 (NIV))

What is your attitude on change?

Do you like things to stay the status quo? Are you comfortable when you know exactly what is happening each day? Are you the kind of person who has everything planned out and you make sure that everything goes according to your plan? What if the status quo is bad? What if we are trapped in a sinful cycle that self perpetuates the more that we try to stay the course, to maintain the status quo?

Ever since the fall from grace, humanity has been trapped in a sinful cycle and everything that God did to show us what to do seemed to fall on deaf ears. He would make a covenant with us and we would break it. He would raise up a remnant and make them the ones who inherited the covenant only to find that they eventually broke it again. This happened more times than we probably care to admit. All of this was done to show us that we are not capable of His righteousness due to our sinful, fallen nature.

God had to do something new!

He sent His Son, Jesus, to walk among us, to teach us, and to die for us so that our sins could be washed away. This would have not been complete without the final step. He had to defeat the power of death! He had to be resurrected from the grave.

I, even I, am he who blots out
      your transgressions, for my own sake,
      and remembers your sins no more.
(Isaiah 43:25 (NIV))

As we face another uncertain new year, remember the new thing that God has done. Remember the love that He has for us. Remember the power that overcame sin and death at the cross. Remember Jesus!

Have you fully embraced the new thing that God has done?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you simply need to be made new?

December 28, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

“No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”
(Matthew 9:16-17 (NIV))

What do you expect out of the upcoming new year?

Do you expect to see anything new in your life if you don’t make plans to change? Do you expect to have closer relationships if you don’t put in the effort from your end?

Think about that concept.

If you want to lose weight, you take steps that will increase your chances of this happening. If you want to get in shape, you take steps that will increase your chances of this happening. If you want to pursue a new relationship, or if you want to strengthen an existing relationship, you take steps that will increase your chances of this happening. You can’t simply decide to do anything and it happen instantly. Using the analogies from Matthew, if you did a complete about face with getting in shape, you would probably hurt yourself. You need outside help to set you on the right path. We always want to change from the outside in. Humanity always wants to simply put a patch on the old and broken and keep right on going.

Too many people think that a spiritual change is not any different?

We think that we can change our lives while ignoring the outside help that makes it possible to change. In this case, the change comes when we invite Jesus into our lives. He then changes us from the inside out and it is a change that we cannot do ourselves. All that we can do is ask for the grace and mercy to be changed, to make us new. Once we acknowledge that we are sinners in need of a Savior, Jesus starts to change us. He doesn’t simply put a patch on the old and broken. He works in our lives to completely make us new and whole!

What do you expect out of the upcoming new year?

Do you need to ask Jesus to save you? Do you need to lay down your burdens at the foot of the cross?

Do you simply need to be made new?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you still weary and faint?

August 28, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.
(Jeremiah 31:25 (NIV))

Is the world beating you down to the point that you are just drained, weary and faint?

I realize that this question is probably too close to the truth for many of us today. I fully understand just how someone could feel this way. It seems as if each day brings something new and different to the forefront for us to be concerned about. These words were written long before Jesus came into the world. These words were written long before the nation of Israel was scattered. They were written long before Israel was brought back into their land. This whole passage in Jeremiah describes the promises that the Lord has made. It also describes promises fulfilled, for we see these things right before our eyes as God unfolds them for Israel.

Do you think that what is happening in the world has caught God off guard? Do you think that He had no idea what this year would bring? If you answered “Yes” to these questions, you need to take another look at your definition of God. If you answered “Yes” to these questions, you need to stop worshipping the little god that you have put in a box and start worshipping the true God who is Creator and Lord of all.

I realize that the promise God made was to Israel, but if we place our faith and trust in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, then that promise is also for us. In fact, every promise that God has ever made is extended to those who believe in Jesus.

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 the Lord has said that He will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint, then we should claim this promise as our own. We should proclaim it to the world so that others may know that they, too, can be refreshed and satisfied simply by professing a faith in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior.

Are you still weary and faint?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What is the condition of your heart?

May 12, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
(Ezekiel 36:26 (NIV))

Have the last few weeks made you stop and take a long, hard look at your life?

Have you found that the things of this world that you once thought were important no longer hold that exalted place in your life? Have your priorities shifted to the point where you feel that you have had a change of heart?

There are many characteristics of a life that is self-centered and self-absorbed. Most of these are described by a reference to the heart. Hardhearted. Cold-hearted. Heart of stone. I am sure that you can probably think of others, but I think that you understand the concept. The more time that we spend focused on the world and what it can provide to us often leads us to become non-caring with respect to other people that we see. Let’s face facts. When we are focused on the world, it tells us go for all that we can get no matter the consequences.

Does this sound like the type of life that we were created for?

Sadly, when we live our lives in this manner, we also lose sight of God! Our hearts become hardened to anything that relates to our relationship with the Lord. We can even get to the false conclusion that we are good and that we do not need God, Jesus or the grace that is freely given through the cross.

This is definitely not the way that God created us to live!

I want to ask the same question once again. Have the last few weeks made you stop and take a long, hard look at your life? The world may see these last few weeks as an attempt to avoid a pandemic, but God had other plans. What has He shown you about yourself? Has He been trying to remove your heart of stone?

What is the condition of your heart?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do you wait patiently for the Lord?

May 7, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be astounded. They will put their trust in the Lord.
(Psalms 40:1-3 (NLT))

What do you see in this passage? Is it that God rescued David or is it that David waited patiently for God?

All too often we see the first option where God rescues someone and then we impatiently ask why doesn’t He rescue us. What we fail to see is the patience that is exhibited FIRST by those whom God rescues!

There is a consistent message throughout God’s Word. He longs for us to know Him intimately and not just look upon Him as the one to turn to when we need help.

God asks us to seek Him!

Think about one of the things in your life that you worked hard to get. Did you give up after only a few minutes? A few days? A few months? Chances are that it took a long time to achieve what you sought. You desired it more than anything. You did not give up. That is what God desires of us. He wants us to seek Him with all that we are. He wants us to be patient in seeking Him.

Why does God desire patience when we seek Him?

Perhaps this is a test of our true desires. If He answered immediately, would we truly realize how much we desire Him. In addition, God wants us on His timeframe. We have become so fixated on instant gratification as a society that we have lost touch with the fact that we are often told to be still and to be patient.

It is true that God rescues, and when He does, we need to exalt Him, but there is a saying that God’s timing is perfect. He is never early and He is never late. He is always on time. It is we who are impatient.

Do you wait patiently for the Lord?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What a glorious day this will be!

February 26, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
(Psalms 100:1 (NIV))

If we base our joy on things of this earth, it is fleeting.

Think about the things of this world that bring you joy. Do you realize how quickly these things could change? Not only is it possible for your joy to be quickly changed, it is also possible for it to turn to grief. As humans, we place far too much emphasis on the things of this world. Even family and friends can change and turn our joy upside down. How do we focus on a joy that will never fade when all around us is temporary?

Nehemiah understood.

…for the joy of the Lord is your strength.
(Nehemiah 8:10b (NIV))

We are to find our true joy in the Lord!

The psalmist took that concept even further. He instructed the whole earth to shout for joy to the Lord. Can you imagine the majesty and the glory when the whole world, with one voice, lifts up their joyous praise to the Lord? If you look at the current situations in the world, it is easy to think that this is never going to happen, but God has other plans. It will happen at some point in the future. It will happen when everything is made new.

It will happen…

Do you desire to see and hear this shout to the Lord?

What a glorious day this will be!

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.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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