Are you able to share the Gospel with shrewdness and innocence?

October 29, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.
(Matthew 10:16 (NIV))

Have you truly stopped to think about this passage?

Each of us understand the concept of being sheep among wolves. If we follow the instructions that Jesus left for all believers, then we are in a constant state of perpetual danger. Just as a sheep may be devoured by the wolves, we, too, may be devoured by the enemy if we are not careful. The passage doesn’t say to stay away from danger! In fact, the passage clearly states that Jesus sent the disciples out, and just like the disciples, He is sending us as well.

Jesus did give us instructions. We are to be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.

It sounds fairly simple, but have you ever thought about what it takes to be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves?

I realize that everyone typically thinks of snakes in a deceitful way, but Jesus was telling us to use some of the characteristics of snakes when we are sharing the Gospel. What do you think of first when you think of a snake? Do you think of the possibility that a snake could be under foot at any moment? With this in mind, do you constantly look for snakes? Is that being shrewd on the part of the snake? Perhaps we should look at this from a different vantage point. Does a snake show itself openly or does it hide until the opportune time arises. If we are to be as shrewd as snakes, we should be among the danger, but not exposed to it. We should watch and wait. Just as a snake may not show itself to everyone, we may not be called to show ourselves to everyone at one moment. We should size up whom we should approach and then make our move to share the Gospel. We are to use wisdom and discernment!

Look at this concept from the missions of Paul. When he entered a town, many times he would find someone who was prominent in the town and present the Gospel to them. If he was able to convert them, it became easier to convert others. Paul was shrewd in his evangelism. He understood human nature. He knew that if he could convert a person with contacts, then others would follow. In today’s society, the concept is that we are teaching the teachers. Even in this shrewdness of plan, Paul never failed to walk innocently amongst those with whom he shared the gospel. He did not do anything to betray the trust of those with whom he shared. He did not have ulterior motives. He did not seek any of the trappings of the physical world.

Are you able to share the Gospel with shrewdness and innocence?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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We must never forget that we are blessed to be a blessing!

October 23, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
(Acts 1:8 (NIV))

Did you notice anything in this passage that you haven’t seen before?

I know that most believers are familiar with this passage, but I want you to take the time to read it again and let the words, and their order, sink in.

Now that I have hinted at an order, let’s explore this concept a little further, for there is a sequence of events within this passage.

Many people who profess a faith in Jesus fail to embrace the Holy Spirit. Perhaps they simply fail to understand what the Holy Spirit brings to them, or they simply feel uncomfortable with what the Holy Spirit brings. Either way, they miss out on the power of God and the ability for it to manifest itself in their lives so that they can be used by God. To put it simply and succinctly, we must embrace the Holy Spirit in order to receive the power of God. Without the power of God, we can only attempt to do what the Lord has called us to do.

We will not be able to witness locally. Imagine what would have happened if the disciples had not been witnesses in Jerusalem.

We will not be able to witness to those around our home town. If the disciples had not been able to reach people in Judea and Samaria, the Gospel would have been isolated and never spread. If the disciples had not taken it to the ends of the earth, we would probably not be able to claim that Jesus is our personal Lord and Savior! All of this came about because the disciples embraced the power of the Holy Spirit. They did not hoard the Holy Spirit or the power that He brings. They shared this power and their testimony first with their home towns and then their surrounding neighbors. Two thousand years later, it is still being shared. Without the power of the Holy Spirit, this would not be possible.

We have been blessed with salvation. We have been blessed with the Holy Spirit and His power to share that salvation. We must never forget that we are blessed to be a blessing!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What are you ensnared by?

October 11, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The images of their gods you are to burn in the fire. Do not covet the silver and gold on them, and do not take it for yourselves, or you will be ensnared by it, for it is detestable to the Lord your God.
(Deuteronomy 7:25 (NIV))

There are many things in this world that vie for our attention. If we are not careful, some of them may actually cause us to do something that we know that we shouldn’t do. This passage speaks of images of their gods. If you stop to think about it, and are honest with yourself, anything can become a god to someone. Anything can ensnare us and cause us to falter. In today’s society, we don’t speak of god’s, we speak of obsessions.

Human nature finds it easy to become obsessed with things. Basically, anything that is so important to us that we fixate on it is an obsession. Anything that we make a priority can easily overstep the fine line and become something that we fixate on. When this passage was written, it was easy to fixate on silver and gold. It was the benchmark for wealth. Today, wealth is measured in dollars, but no matter how it is measured, wealth is definitely one type of god that someone can worship. There are many more.

Power!

Fame!

Lust!

Drugs and alcohol!

These things and many more can easily become a means for the enemy to ensnare us. It starts off with a subtle temptation and then it grows into a full blown obsession. Once we become obsessed with anything other than Jesus, we have become ensnared by the enemy.

What are you obsessed with?

What are you ensnared by?

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

September 30, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
(Psalms 23:1 (NASB))

Have you ever given any serious thought to the meaning of this passage?

Most people read this and take it to mean that anything that we could possibly want in this physical world is ours. Let’s take a step back and take a look at the word “want.” Our society has shifted the meaning of this word to mean something that we desire. We say things like, “I want a new car” or “I want a bigger house,” but is this the type of want that the Lord provides for? With this type of attitude, too many people fail to get what they want and, as a result, they fall away from faith. They misunderstand this passage and think that is means that the Lord our God is nothing more that a genie who is there to grant our every wish, our every desire. When this doesn’t happen, they falsely assume that since this isn’t true, nothing is true.

If this is your vision of God, then it makes sense why our society has become so self-centered and self-entitled.

If we look at this passage from the perspective and understanding of when it was written, we get a much clearer picture. A shepherd has multiple sheep under his care. He provides for the needs of the whole flock. He will lead them to green pastures for food. He will care for the sick. He will search for the lost. The shepherd makes sure that all under his care are protected from attack. The sheep know his voice and they follow him. They know and they trust him to provide for their needs both collectively and individually.

Did you pick up on that?

The shepherd provides for the needs of his flock. He does not provide for the selfish desires. The shepherd knows what is best for each sheep. He makes sure that each need is provided for. With this in mind, is wanting a bigger house a need or a selfish desire? For some people, it truly may be a need, while for others, it is a selfish desire. The Lord sees each of our needs and knows how best to provide for us. When David wrote these words, he understood this concept. He understood that the Lord, as his shepherd, was guiding his steps and that all of his needs would be provided for. David realized that everything was on the Lord’s timeframe and not his.

Sadly, our society has lost this understanding. We seek instant gratification in all aspects of our lives. We falsely believe that we can guide our own lives. We desire anything and everything under the sun, and sin runs rampant because we are so focused on the proverbial me, myself and I. Slow down and spend time in the Lord’s presence and you will begin to grasp the understanding that David had. The focus is not about us and our selfish desires. It is about the Lord’s plans and what is best for us.

I believe that it is time for us to reexamine what we truly want! What do you truly want?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you been born of the Spirit?

September 16, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.”
(John 3:5-6 (NIV))

More people are aware of the verse just a few short sentences before this passage.

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.
(John 3:3 (NIV))

In fact, even nonbelievers are familiar with this passage to the point where they have created bumper stickers saying that they were born okay the first time. Ironically, their comments support the words that Jesus spoke about flesh gives birth to flesh. They either don’t understand the concept of being born again or they choose to rebel against the idea out of ego and pride. Think about that for a moment. When do we see the very first rebellion against God and what was the cause of this rebellion? Ever since Satan declared that he wanted to be God, pride has become a major issue. Pride became such an issue that it caused the fall from grace. It caused all the sins of the world. If you look at the Ten Commandments, everything that the Lord God told us to obey are things that lead us to Him and away from pride. We are to honor only God and His Name. We are not to pick part of His creation and worship it. We are to obey the Lord and live according to His desires and laws. Anything short of that is a sin.

All flesh has been corrupted by the fall from grace. That is why our ancestors were driven from the Garden of Eden. They had corrupted God’s perfect creation. As descendants of Adam and Eve, we are just as guilty.

God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.
(John 4:24 (NIV))

We cannot approach God in sin. We must be cleansed. We must be made anew. We must accept the grace and mercy given to us on the cross. We must accept the Spirit of God and allow Him to work in us from the inside out and make us people who are focused on things of the Spirit instead of things of this earth. We must allow God’s Spirit to be birthed in us!

Have you been born of the Spirit?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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When the world seems to be falling apart, look up!

September 12, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“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))

I often wonder if Jesus were telling us to prepare for times of increasing trouble until He returns. It is possible to interpret this passage that way, especially when you take current history into account.

Think about that.

In my lifetime, I have seen:
– the removal of prayer from the schools
– legalized abortion
– terrorist attacks
– history being rewritten
– the attempt to remove God from all public life
– “tolerance”
– financial crises
– good called evil
– Christianity mocked and ridiculed
– the rise and acceptance of false religions
– the apparent increase in natural disasters

I could go on, but I think that you can get my point. We seem to be in a time of ever increasing trouble. It seems that we are in a downward spiral with no worldly ways to stop it, and that is true.

There is no worldly way to stop the troubles. They will come. They will come with ever increasing frequency. Then there will be a point in time in which God says, “Enough!” Until that time, we must fully rely upon our faith in God and in Jesus, for we have been given promises that this world will once again see Jesus. We have been given promises that those who are faithful to call upon the name of Jesus as Lord and Savior will be given authority to rule over this world. We have been given promises that grace will see us through. We have been given promises that we will have peace.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:7 (NIV))

As we face the troubles that the world throws at us, we must never lose sight of the promises that God has given us. We must never lose sight of the fact that Satan is causing the troubles in this world. We must never lose sight of the fact that God created the world and He can and will overcome the troubles of this world. He will overcome Satan.

When the world seems to be falling apart, look up!

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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