When was the last time that you truly prayed?

September 27, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

And foreigners who bind themselves to the LORD
      to serve him,
   to love the name of the LORD,
      and to worship him,
   all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it
      and who hold fast to my covenant–
these I will bring to my holy mountain
      and give them joy in my house of prayer.
   Their burnt offerings and sacrifices
      will be accepted on my altar;
   for my house will be called
      a house of prayer for all nations.
(Isaiah 56:6-7 (NIV))

For my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations!

When we, as believers go to our churches, what is it that we spend most of our time doing once we get there?

Chances are, if you are like most other congregations, you spend a good amount of time singing and an even larger amount of time hearing someone preach. Don’t take what I am about to say wrong, but, God did not say that His house was a house of singing or a house of preaching. It is a house of prayer. All throughout the Old Testament, we see God moving when His prophets prayed.

Jesus knew this principle. He became very angry when people turned the Temple into a place to make a profit.

“It is written,” he said to them, ” `My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a `den of robbers.’ “
(Matthew 21:13 (NIV))

Take a look at all of the great things that God accomplished through the apostles in Acts. Every time that one of these great works of God happened, you will find the words “they prayed.”

It is through prayer that God moves. It is through a fervent desire to see God move that He moves.

When was the last time that the Body of Christ got together in your church group and fervently prayed from the heart? Was it something that was so distressful that your very spirit cried out for God to intervene?

This is true prayer! When we turn to God out of a deep despair or desire, God will hear.

When was the last time that you truly prayed?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How can we serve Him while we wait?

September 11, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”
(John 14:1-3 (NIV))

What imagery do you see when you read this passage? Do you focus on the splendor of the dwelling that you have the hope and the promise of attaining? Perhaps you focus on the shear number of dwellings that must exist. Perhaps you read that Jesus is preparing a place for you and then you realize that the Lord of all is personally taking care of your needs. These are all fantastic visions of what awaits, but I find solace in the last statement.

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”
(John 14:3 (NIV))

Isn’t that amazing? Jesus, in all of His glory, is not only personally preparing our future dwellings, He will also come back personally and take us to be with Him. He is NOT sending an angel to come and pick us up. He is not using a GPS system or Mapquest to send us directions so that we can find our own way. He is coming personally to take us to be with Him.

Think about that. Jesus – King of kings and Lord of lords – loves us so much that He is coming for us. In fact, all of history is unfolding because He loves us and died on the cross so that we can receive salvation, grace and mercy. God’s Word tells of God’s love through His creation and how we, through Adam and Eve, fell from grace. The Old Testament shows us how we should live, but how we fail because of sin. It also points to a savior who will change all. Then, Jesus comes and shows us how to return to God. We are given a choice. We are given a free gift. Finally, those who trust in Jesus will be welcome home.

Jesus is that gift. Even now, He is still fulfilling these words.

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
(Mark 10:45 (NIV))

Jesus is preparing a place for us. Even in His Lordship, He is still serving us. How can we serve Him while we wait?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you accepted your job as a minister?

August 21, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant–not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
(2 Corinthians 3:6 (NIV))

It has been said that the Old Testament and The Law are there to show us what we are supposed to do and how difficult it is to do it. If this is true, then the New Testament is there to show us that we have another way. The Law is there as the letter that we must follow perfectly and never falter or waiver from its course. The Spirit is given to us by the grace and mercy shown at the cross. The Spirit gives us redemption and salvation. It gives us freedom from the Law. This freedom does not mean that we are able to ignore the Law and do whatever we want. It means that we are given grace for we are not capable of being perfect even when we desire it with all of our hearts. It allows us to be human. It allows us to make mistakes and then learn from our mistakes.

The twist to all of this is that through the Spirit, we are all ministers one to another. In the Old Testament and under the Law, ministers had to be set apart from the rest of society. They had to be ceremonially pure. They had to be followers of the letter of the Law. If they did not follow the letter of the Law, they faced the possibility of death in the presence of God.

Today, we have grace and mercy as our mantle. We have salvation through the blood of Jesus. We have the Spirit. Through the Spirit, we are given life in the presence of God, were, before the Spirit, we only faced death. Speaking for myself, I do not long to follow the letter of the Law, for it is inflexible and unforgiving. I want forgiveness and mercy, for I know that I am not perfect and cannot ever achieve perfection on my own.

I need to repent and turn away from my sin!

I need grace!

I need to help others find that grace!

I, in all of my human shortcomings, am a minister of that grace. I have accepted my position.

Have you accepted your job as a minister?

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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Do you look forward to God’s promises?

December 19, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations;
I will sing of you among the peoples.
For great is your love, reaching to the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
let your glory be over all the earth.
(Psalms 57:9-11 (NIV))

I realize that I have posted this before, but truth is something that needs to be repeated!

The Psalmist spoke truth and wisdom when these words where written. What was true then is still very true today.

In this Christmas season, we are constantly reminded of how great God’s love for us is. Celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ is a constant reminder of God’s love. God is faithful in keeping His Word. All throughout the Old Testament, God promised to send a Savior to reconcile man with Himself. In this season, we are witness to the promise kept. It is a yearly celebration of that promise. At the same time, we must keep our eyes focused on the other promises of God, especially the one that says that Jesus will come again.

In this holy season of new birth, we must not forget that Jesus grew up and died on the cross, was resurrected and will come again.

Christmas is only the beginning of God’s promise and not the culmination.

Do you look forward to God’s promises?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Can you claim that purity on your own?

November 1, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false.
(Psalms 24:3-4 (NIV))

A pure heart is all God really asks for. If your heart is pure, then all things that you are involved in will also be pure, for the heart leads us where it is focused. If your heart is focused on sin and perversion, then your life will be full of sin and perversion. If your heart is focused on God and His righteousness, then your life will be filled with those things.

It is said that you are what you eat. Perhaps that saying should be stated that you are what your heart desires. Jesus even stated that what goes into your body does not make you unclean.

Nothing outside a man can make him `unclean’ by going into him. Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him `unclean.’ ”
(Mark 7:15)

So then, it is possible for people to ascend the hill of the Lord!

This is an awesome thought, for all throughout the Old Testament, being in the presence of God meant certain death. This death was probably due to the fact that people are sinful and God cannot be around sin. We are still sinful, yet, we have a Savior who has paid the price for our sins. Jesus Christ died on the cross for all of us, and through His selfless act, we have the ability to be made white as snow in the sight of God.

A popular laundry detergent for baby clothes states that it is 99 and 99/100 percent pure. We have the ability, through Jesus Christ, to be 100 percent pure in the eyes of God.

Can you claim that purity on your own?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you fulfilling your duty?

October 22, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

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

Everyone has things that they feel they need to do. Some people call them obligations. Some call them responsibilities. Some people call them their duty. Others may say that these things are their priority, while some simply refer to them as the right thing to do. No matter what you may call them, we all have something that we feel we must do.

What are the things in your life that you place as a priority, as your duty?

Is one of your duties to provide for your family? Perhaps you are a business owner and you have employees and customers that are a central part of your daily life. Perhaps you are called to be a first responder and you feel that your duty is to protect and to serve. If that is you, thank you for your selflessness!

No matter what you may feel that your duty or obligation may be, there is one that is far greater and a lot of people fail to ever do anything about it! In fact, Jesus was asked point blank and responded without any hesitation.

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.
(Matthew 22:36-38 (NIV))

I can hear it now. Some may say that these two passages contradict each other. One says to fear God and the other says to love God with all your heart. How can fear and love mean the same thing? To be honest with you, that is a concept that may be difficult for people to grasp, but the basic sentiment behind this is that you should desire to do what is right in God’s eyes. Perhaps a better way to refer to this potential contradiction is to look at it in terms of respect. When you respect God for who He is, you both love and fear Him at the same time. The fear comes from the simple fact that we are all sinners who deserve whatever judgment we have earned. The love comes from the fact that even though He is a just and righteous God and we are all guilty of our sins, He has freely offered grace and mercy in place of the judgment.

I find it interesting that the passage in which we are told to fear God is from the Old Testament and it was recorded long before grace was freely given. I love the fact that the passage in which Jesus told us to love God is in the New Testament. Jesus took the liberty to paraphrase the commandments and let it be known that we no longer had to fear God, but through Him, God reached out to us in love. Through God’s act of love for us, we can now approach God in love.

I don’t know about you, but I both fear God and love God. As a part of His creation, it is my duty to the Lord our God as Creator!

Are you fulfilling your duty?

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