Do you see the hope that points to Jesus?

March 20, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
(Romans 15:4 (NIV))

What do you think of the Old Testament? Do you ignore it because it is boring reading through Deuteronomy and Numbers? Do you always turn to Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and everything after these books?

Paul was a very devout Jewish man. In fact, he was probably what the Jewish society of his day considered to be the ideal Jewish man. He had been educated as a boy. He excelled at his education in the Torah and was selected to go on with additional studies. He excelled there and went on even further. He was what they considered to be the cream of the crop, or the best of the best.

Paul gave all of this up after his Damascus Road experience. He met Jesus and his whole world was turned upside down. All of his studying and knowledge had been misguided. Even though it was acquired through misguided endeavors, Paul realized that it was the Word of God and it still applied. He only had to come to terms with what it really meant. He came to the realization that all of the Law and the Prophets were there to teach us not only as he had learned, but so much more. Every word spoke of the way that God wants us to live. Every word spoke of the ideal that could never be achieved by man. Paul also realized that it taught us of Jesus. Every word that tells us how God wants us to live gives us an insight into the path of salvation that God is working. Achieving an ideal and perfect life can not be attained by man. As a result, in order to see salvation, an ideal and perfect life must have lived. Only God’s Son could live such a life.

Paul knew the Hebrew Scriptures extremely well. He knew them well enough to realize that they truly pointed to Jesus. How can we truly understand Jesus if we do not understand all of the signs that point to Him?

Do you see the hope that points to Jesus?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Why are we drawn to return to our sin and slavery?

March 2, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
(Galatians 5:1 (NIV))

What is it about human nature that makes us return to something that we know we should leave behind? We have all been guilty of doing this very thing, and probably much more often than we care to admit. Apparently, human nature since the fall from grace has always had us doing what can only be called self destructive behavior. We know that we shouldn’t, but yet we do. This type of behavior has been pointed out many times, but probably the most accurate and disgusting is the following.

As a dog returns to its vomit,
so fools repeat their folly.
(Proverbs 26:11 (NIV))

As I stated previously, we all do it. Even the man who is credited with bringing the Gospel to the Gentiles fought this aspect in his own walk of faith. Paul was a very intelligent person, but yet he didn’t understand the self destructive nature that he fought against.

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
(Romans 7:15-20 (NIV))

This struggle that all of us face makes it clear why each of us are called to take up our cross daily. We are to deny that part of our human nature. We are to struggle with this sinful nature each and every time that it raises its ugly head in our lives. We are called to repent. Far too many people believe that this is a one-time occurrence, but it should be a daily attitude and activity. Do I even venture to say that, on some days, we may have to humble ourselves continually before the Lord and repent of our actions and our thoughts?

I know that we are a fallen creation, but I wish I had the magic answer as to why we return to our sin when we don’t want to. I wish I knew how to turn off that part of my life so that I never take my eyes off of Jesus. Just like Paul, I find myself doing the very things that I hate! I don’t know why! I long to do only what is good and righteous, yet on my own, this is not possible. I just know that we must be ready to fall on our knees whenever and wherever we may find yourself returning to our sin.

I want to leave you with one question that I hope you will take to heart.

Why are we drawn to return to our sin and slavery?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How is your faith?

February 24, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
(John 14:12-14 (NIV))

Did these words hit you in the same way that they hit me?

Think about the concept that Jesus left us.

Those who have faith in Jesus will do what He did.

We will even do greater things than He did!

I don’t know about you, but I know myself all too well. I know what I have done. I know what I am capable of doing on my own, both good and bad. I know that I have good intentions, but the world always tries to slow me down or stop me. How can I do greater things than Jesus? How can I even do what Jesus did?

Do you find yourself thinking the same type of thoughts?

Faith is a funny thing. Without it, we have a tendency to say that we cannot achieve what we are called to do. When we take possession of a brand new faith, we think that we are able to do anything for God. As we “mature” in our faith, we seem to allow the world to creep back in and hold us back. Is this really a mature faith?

Take a look at the disciples. Take a look at John. Take a look at Paul. As each of these people matured in their faith, they grew bolder. They did not allow the world to hold them back. They went forward into the very heart of the battle for salvation. They did not back down. They did not slow down. They did not stop spreading the Gospel because it was not “politically correct.”

I honestly think that if we, the body of Christ, stood firm in our faith the way that the early church stood, then we could begin to say that with the power of the Holy Spirit within us, we are approaching the vision that Jesus had of those who have faith in Him. We could and should be doing what Jesus did.

And, since Jesus said it, I will stand firm on the words and say that we could and should be doing greater things than He did.

It is a matter of faith. It is a matter of a strong faith and not a sedate, “mature” faith.

How is your faith?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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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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Do you await your hope?

October 17, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
(Romans 8:22-25 (NIV))

When Paul wrote these words to the Romans, a few people still had memories of Jesus as He walked the earth. They longed for the kingdom that Jesus taught would come. Some people, such as Paul, did not walk with Jesus when He walked the earth. They came to believe after Jesus was crucified, resurrected and ascended into heaven. They clung to the very promises that Jesus proclaimed even when He was on the cross. They longed for the righteousness of God’s Kingdom to come into existence and transform the world into the vision of heaven that Jesus spoke of. Their hearts ached and their spirits groaned in desperate desire for this to happen. They hated the world as it had become.

Today, almost two thousand years since these words were written, the world is vastly different than it was then. Much has transpired resulting in far more troubling scenarios such as weapons of mass destruction, abortion on demand, terrorism, euthanasia, plagues, and an ever increasing frequency of natural disasters. As believers, we “know” that our hope is coming soon. We may not see this hope in the physical sense, but having hope requires a faith in things unseen.

If we only hoped for things that we could see, what would we be able to hope for, for the things that we see on a daily basis are firmly rooted in sin. I don’t know about you, but I long to place my hope in something far greater than what I can see, for what I see causes distress and my spirit to groan.

It is true that we are closer to seeing our hope than any other point in history. Each second brings us closer to the glorious return of our Lord and Savior, Jesus. This is my hope! This is my prayer! Each day I await for the fulfillment of my hope. I pray that I am able to await patiently.

Does your spirit groan at the things of this world? Do you await your hope?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Think about who you pray for!

September 17, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, because I hear about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints. I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ. Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.
(Philemon 1:4-7 (NIV))

Paul wrote many letters of encouragement to believers throughout his traveling. Some of the letters even had to take on a tone of discipline in order to get people back on the right track. Most of the letters were letters of teaching and encouragement.

The words that Paul wrote in this letter are excellent commendations for a person who truly sought to know God and to do His Will. Still, do you notice that even though Paul commended him for his faith and his works, there is one thing that he did – Paul prayed for this person. Even though he was doing what God wanted him to do and was faithful in his helping others, Paul knew that even the most faithful need prayer to under gird them and protect them from the attacks of the enemy.

Who do you pray for? Is it only the people that you know are in need of something? What about the people who are pillars of faith in your community? Shouldn’t we do as Paul and pray for them? Satan does not leave believers alone. We have seen all too often that even the people whom we see as faithful can falter.

When we pray we must not forget the faithful who are diligent in doing the Will of God. We must pray that they do not face the attacks of the enemy and that they will not give in to temptation, for nothing pleases Satan more than knowing that someone who has been bought by the blood of Jesus Christ has fallen.

With this in mind, wouldn’t you want someone praying for you so that you don’t fall into temptation?

Think about who you pray for!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you ashamed of the Gospel?

August 27, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
(Romans 1:16-17 (NIV))

Paul, in the face of danger and death, proudly proclaimed the gospel. He said that it is something that you should not be ashamed of and he is absolutely correct. If you are ashamed of the gospel, then you are not truly a believer in Jesus Christ. To quote Jesus:

If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”
(Mark 8:38 (NIV))

It could not be simpler. We, as believers, must not be ashamed of the good news and we must proclaim it and not hide it from the world. It is the only thing that by which you can be saved. If you are ashamed of it, then you are not saved (reread Mark 8:38). You have not accepted it completely, and will not be accepted by Jesus as part of His Body.

Take a serious look at what you believe and whether you would proclaim it to the world! Or, would you cower in shame and embarrassment at the thought of the world knowing? Your answer is very important, for it can mean your eternal life!

Are you ashamed of the Gospel?

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