Does the enemy ask who you are?

August 12, 2020

Image

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?”
(Acts 19:15 (NIV))

Have you ever felt like the odd man out?

You know what I mean. The last person picked for something. The only one who has not chosen a side. The person who is so quiet that you don’t know what they want. The person who tries to drop names in hopes of being allowed in with the cool kids, but it backfires completely.

Think about that with an eternal, spiritual perspective. Imagine dropping the name of Jesus in a situation where the evil spirit fights back because it recognizes the fact that you don’t truly know Jesus. You are just claiming His name because you think it will provide some sort of advantage or gain in the situation.

Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this.
(Acts 19:13-14 (NIV))

There is a difference between using the name of Jesus and truly knowing Jesus. There is also a difference that leads to the enemy recognizing your authority over them. They recognize the power that can only come through truly knowing the Lord.

Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.
(Acts 19:16 (NIV))

Do you truly know Jesus? Can you boldly proclaim His name in the face of the enemy and know that the Lord will be with you through all that you face? All throughout history, truly knowing Jesus has had importance on an eternal level. We are getting to a point in history where a true relationship with Jesus is crucial in this physical world as well. We must be bold in our faith. We must stand firm in our convictions. We must proclaim the name of Jesus without fear and without shame. That is only possible if we truly have a personal Lord and Savior who stands with us closer than a brother. If this is true, then the enemy knows your name!

Does the enemy ask who you are?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
Subscribe to daily email delivery
Visit us on facebook


Are we listening?

July 30, 2020

Image

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Therefore I want you to know that God’s salvation has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen!
(Acts 28:28 (NIV))

When Paul was in Rome, local Jewish leaders came to him. During the visit, Paul spoke of what was told to their ancestors through Isaiah. Some believed while many did not. The last words recorded of that conversation are shown above. For over two thousand years, we, as Gentiles, have listened. We have taken the Gospel that Paul preached and have been able to reach a large number of people. It is true, just as it was in Paul’s day, that some people have perverted the Gospel for their own gain, but for the most part, Gentiles have listened.

The time is now here when we must stand firm in our faith. We must proclaim Jesus loudly and boldly to a world that is falling apart. Time is running out!

Yes, I did just say that.

I have this feeling in my spirit that this world will not return to what we knew just last year. I actually have mixed feelings about this, for I love life. I love my family and I love spending time with those I love. But, I love Jesus more. After years of study, I believe that we are seeing things unfold as we have been told in God’s Word. With the things that are going on in this world, evil is rising. I am seeing things in this country that I would expect to only see in regions of this world that have been known for being oppressive. I am seeing a global hatred of people who profess a faith in Jesus. I am seeing ethnicity rising against ethnicity. Just for reference, this is often translated as nation rising against nation. I am seeing a push to go completely digital with money as well as a push to collect and destroy any physical money once the digital is implemented. I am seeing a big push to wear masks. I realize that the virus is real, so I don’t want to get into a debate about wearing masks. What I find sad is that the whole world is engulfed in this. There are those who are pushing a vaccine in order to be able to take part in society. In other words, get vaccinated and you can buy and sell. Would that vaccine leave a visible mark?

Paul was right.

The Gentiles have listened. But, do we know and understand God’s Word well enough to do something with what we have heard? Are we praying for God’s Will, even if it means things get much worse, or are we praying for our will and our comfort?

We need to truly seek the Lord. We need to listen for His voice and His guidance.

Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
(Revelation 2:29 (NIV))

Are we listening?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
Subscribe to daily email delivery
Visit us on facebook


We must pick up our cross no matter the cost!

July 7, 2020

Image

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me.
(Acts 20:22-23 (NIV))

How many of us would willingly go somewhere knowing that there is a very good possibility that you would face great danger? Would you be willing to stand up for your faith even in the midst of hardships and prison? Would you go headlong into the situation even if you knew that this would be the outcome?

Paul faced many hardships during his travels to spread the Gospel, yet nothing that he faced was able to convince him to stop sharing the good news of Jesus. It was more important to him than his own life!

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.
(Acts 20:24 (NIV))

Can we make that same profession of faith?

For years I have been saying that a time is coming when speaking the name of Jesus would carry dire consequences from beatings to even death. That time is drawing closer. We are seeing things escalate at a rate that I would have never imagined being able to happen in my lifetime. Just look at what has happened in the last few years. What about the last few months? What will we be facing next? Are we ready, willing and able to have the same attitude as Paul did during his lifetime? Will we head into the hardships if that is where we are called? Are we ready to die to self and pick up the cross without counting the cost of our actions?

We must pick up our cross no matter the cost!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
Subscribe to daily email delivery
Visit us on facebook


What are the things that you willfully do?

June 24, 2020

Image

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression.
(Psalms 19:13 (NIV))

Perhaps we should rephrase this first part to something a little more obvious and upfront.

Keep your servant from deliberate and intentional sins!

In other words, David was asking the Lord to keep him from doing the wrong thing when he knew the right thing to do. Perhaps we should pray what David asked so that we are kept from deliberately planning to sin!

I am going to ask a very blunt question, but I think that you can probably anticipate what it is going to be.

Do you deliberately and intentionally sin? Do you find yourself clinging to an old sinful nature that you simply don’t want to let go of? Do you love the sin more than you love Jesus? Are you willing to give up God’s grace for a momentary sinful pleasure? Please don’t misunderstand me. We are all human and we are all sinners. None of us are perfect. What we desire is often opposite of what we actually do. This is not something new to humanity, but it is something that we must overcome. Even Paul faced this in his life.

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))

I realize that this passage does not directly say that Paul deliberately and intentionally sinned, but we have to consider that Paul wrote that he had the desire to do what is good but could not carry it out. We probably also have the desire to do what is good, but what do we do with that desire? Paul knew what to do.

Human nature is sinful no matter how much we want to do what is right in the eyes of the Lord. Thankfully, we have been given grace and mercy through Jesus. When we find ourselves guilty of sin, willfully or otherwise, there are two things that we can willfully do. We can accept Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, and we can repent of our sin!

What are the things that you willfully do?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
Subscribe to daily email delivery
Visit us on facebook


Don’t fall for ungodly deception!

June 12, 2020

Image

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Jesus said to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you.
(Mark 13:5 (NIV))

Jesus knew that strange times would come and that people would potentially be deceived by what would be happening. He told His disciples point blank to be on their guard so that they, and we, would not be deceived when situations arise. We must stand firm in our faith and be firmly rooted in God’s Word so that we can recognize false teachings when they are presented to us. It is my prayer that we will be so firmly grounded in God’s Word that we will instantly know the enemy’s attempts to deceive us when we see them. You have to realize that the enemy knows God’s Word and can twist it in ways that are designed to confuse those who are not totally immersed in God’s truth. Consider that the serpent tricked Adam and Eve by twisting the truth in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve walked with God. They knew Him in a way that we can’t possibly know God today. Still, they fell for the deception that the serpent used, and humanity has been paying the price ever since that day!

The enemy uses things out of context, or just a partial quote of scripture. He will twist just enough of God’s Word so that it still sounds right, but with the subtle change, it is now a lie. Consider what happens if he leaves out the last instructions from Jesus to the woman caught in adultery.

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
(John 8:9-11 (NIV))

If you twist this passage by removing “Go now and leave your life of sin,” it takes on a whole new meaning. It takes on a meaning completely opposite of what Jesus truly said and meant. Without those eight words, it sounds as if Jesus is telling the woman that whatever she does is okay, when what He is really saying is that she must repent and change her ways. The whole passage, when twisted like this, is now able to be a lie from the mouth of the enemy.

We must not take things at face value. We must know God’s Word. We must search God’s Word for verification and not for our sinful gratification. We must be Bereans!

Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.
(Acts 17:11 (NIV))

When someone is not educated in certain aspects of life, it is easy for them to be deceived in those areas. With everything that is going on in the world, be very careful with respect to what you embrace as truth. When you are firmly grounded in God’s Word, the Holy Spirit will be in communication with your spirit. Allow the Holy Spirit to guide you through the subtle lies of the enemy.

Don’t fall for ungodly deception!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
Subscribe to daily email delivery
Visit us on facebook


Do you see the hope that points to Jesus?

March 20, 2020

Image

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
Subscribe to daily email delivery
Visit us on facebook


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

March 2, 2020

Image

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
Subscribe to daily email delivery
Visit us on facebook


How is your faith?

February 24, 2020

Image

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
Subscribe to daily email delivery
Visit us on facebook


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

October 29, 2019

Image

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
Subscribe to daily email delivery
Visit us on facebook


Do you await your hope?

October 17, 2019

Image

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
Subscribe to daily email delivery
Visit us on facebook


%d bloggers like this: