Are you persecuted because of Jesus?

October 2, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
(Matthew 5:11 (NIV))

Is this the type of blessings that you signed up for?

There is a difference between worldly blessings and godly blessings. When the world attacks, we must remember that the enemy has control of the world at this time in history. We are at war! Does an army at war attack itself? The attacks fall on those whom the enemy feels are threats to its very existence. Do you profess the name of Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior? Do you share this faith with others? Do you spend time daily in God’s Word? Do you see the evil in the world and have a heavy heart because of all of the ungodly things that are occurring?

Are you taking a stand for Jesus?

If you aren’t being attacked by the enemy, it is time to reevaluate your faith. The enemy doesn’t see you as a threat to what he has planned. He doesn’t see you as a prayer warrior who has put on the full armor of God! If the enemy doesn’t see you as a threat, how does the Lord see you? Would He call you lukewarm like He called the church at Laodicea? Will He simply say He never knew you.

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
(Matthew 7:21-23 (NIV))

Have we, as the Body of Christ, grown too comfortable with the world to the point that we would rather receive worldly blessings now instead of receiving heavenly blessings later? Do we fail to take a stand for Jesus because our faith isn’t strong enough or do we simply want the worldly concept of instant gratification?

We must reevaluate our priorities and focus on eternity. This world is a sinful, fallen world that is rapidly declining. If we profess a faith in Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, then we must be prepared for the battle, for the war that is ensuing. Is you faith strong enough to face persecution from the enemy?

Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
(Matthew 5:12 (NIV))

Are you persecuted because of Jesus?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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God is in the business of miracles!

September 22, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

They only heard the report: “The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” And they praised God because of me.
(Galatians 1:23-24 (NIV))

We all know someone who has lived a life completely contrary to God’s Word. In fact, we probably all know someone who goes out of their way to torment, mock and ridicule anyone who professes a faith in Jesus. We have all heard of fairly recent professions of faith from very public people in entertainment. These are also people whom most of us would never have thought it possible for such as change.

What is your reaction when you hear of someone like that who suddenly starts sharing the very Gospel that they have mocked in the past? Do you find yourself saying things like it must be a publicity stunt? Do you find yourself thinking that it must be a facade and that they are up to something? Why do we, as the Body of Christ, pass judgment on those who have made such as drastic change in their lives? I realize that human nature is skeptical, and sometimes it is warranted, but how often do we do tremendous harm to the faith of a new believer because of our failure to accept that someone could have such a drastic change of heart? How long would Paul have put up with people with this type of attitude? How long would God have put up with this type of attitude toward Paul?

I pray that we learn a lesson from this passage and learn to praise God for working in the lives of those whom we thought were beyond reach. Think about this next question for a moment. How many people did you surprise when they found out that you had accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior?

We need to learn to praise God when He reaches someone whom we thought was completely lost, after all, God is in the business of miracles!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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There is no fear for those who trust in Jesus!

August 19, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

I originally shared the following back in October, 2012. Since then, I think that you will agree with me that things have escalated and we need to keep our eyes focused on Jesus!

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
(2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (NIV))

I want you to read those words again.

I had to stop and read them again, and I was surprised at how much that I have taken these words for granted. These words jolted me back to reality.

I want you to be honest with yourself. Have the events of the world started to have an impact on your faith? Do you look upon what is going on and think that there is no way out of the problems that we see? Have you begun to feel the pressure? Have you felt despair and abandonment? Have you come close to having your faith destroyed by the events in this world?

It is so easy to feel all of these if you take your eyes off of Jesus.

“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))

Jesus gives us relief when we are pressed. He gives us hope when we are perplexed. He gives us someplace to take refuge when we are persecuted. He will not allow the enemy to destroy us.

If Jesus does all of this for us, then why do we still find ourselves fearful of what the world, and the enemy, throws at us?

Perhaps it is due to worldly examples that we have had with respect to trust. I know that it is difficult to trust if you have had that trust broken in the past. It is difficult to comprehend the unfailing love of Jesus if your experience with love has been bad. It is difficult to understand that Jesus will not abandon you if you have had people walk out on you in the past.

Sadly enough, far too many people find themselves in one, if not all, of these types of situations. Life can throw things at us that are difficult to comprehend and as a result, many project their worldly experiences and expectations upon Jesus. Let’s face reality. We are all human and are all sinners. Even those of us who have been fortunate to be around people whom they can trust, things happen. I suppose that many people unknowingly live by the motto, “Trust but verify.”

Jesus is not like that. He will never let you down. He will never abandon you. He is the Good Shepherd.

“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.
(John 3:16-17 (NIV))

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
(1 John 4:18 (NIV))

There is no fear for those who trust in Jesus!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you prepared for what you may face?

November 6, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
(Matthew 5:10 (NIV))

Many people in the church today have not been prepared for what is coming. Far too many people have been told that following Jesus is easy and everything in your life will begin to get better if you follow Jesus. I need to clarify something at this point and admit that God will begin to work things for your good when you start to follow Jesus. These things are probably best explained as a fresh manifestation of the fruit of the Spirit in your life.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
(Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV))

When these things are present in your life, people notice. They will be drawn to you because they see something that they desire in their own lives. This is the prime opportunity to share the Gospel, to share the source of your love, joy, and peace.

Sadly, when this happens, the enemy also takes notice. He will muster all resources to keep you from sharing the Gospel, for he knows that you have a powerful witness that must be stopped.

Hold fast!

Stand firm!

Do not allow the threat of ridicule or persecution keep you from following Jesus.

We are all familiar with the accounts of what the disciples and the early church had to endure. We may never have to face the same things that the disciples and the early Christians had to face, but what if we do? Are you prepared to completely place your faith in Jesus no matter the worldly consequences? Are you willing to stand firm and tell the world that you believe in Jesus and nothing that they can do will make you change your mind?

Are you prepared for what you may face?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is the glory of the Lord your shield?

November 20, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.
(Psalms 3:3 (NIV))

At this time of year, we have a tendency to think of things that we are thankful for.

Do any of these traits of the Lord make it into your list?

I don’t know about you, but reading through this passage of scripture has reminded me that I am so very thankful for everything that the Lord has done for me.

The world is a very dreadful place where people who profess a faith in Jesus are ridiculed and persecuted. The sinful, fallen world tries so much to make you fall for the lies of the enemy to get you to believe that he is winning. If you don’t maintain your focus, it is so easy to take your eyes off of the Lord and miss His glory. If these happen, then it is so easy to fall into the habit of hanging your head because you feel that all is lost!

I for one am thankful that we have the unfailing promises of God to turn to even when we feel that all is lost. Things in this world are never as they appear! I am so thankful that the Lord keeps His promises.

Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.
(Psalms 145:13 (NIV))

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))

He will not forsake those who call upon His name! Do you call upon the name of the Lord?

Is the glory of the Lord your shield?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are we capable of such sincere praise?

June 5, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

There is no one holy like the Lord;
there is no one besides you;
there is no Rock like our God.
(1 Samuel 2:2 (NIV))

I wish that we would learn to stand firm in this truth!

Today, we look at the Lord much differently than Hannah did when she spoke these words. Hannah had been fervently praying for a son. After being barren for a long time, the Lord granted her prayer and she gave birth to Samuel. When she presented Samuel to the Lord, she was overjoyed. She gave thanks and praise exactly where it was due!

This brings to mind two distinct questions.

1. Do we fervently pray for what is burdening our hearts?

Most of the time we utter a few words, but do we seriously pray as if our very heart, our very soul, would explode if what we seek is not granted? Do we feel the anguish that comes with what truly burdens our hearts, or do we only think that it is important? Do we quickly move on when what we pray for is not answered in a few days?

2. Do we truly praise the Lord when our prayers are answered?

Do we give thanks and praise for the outcome, or do we quickly forget our requests to the Lord? Do we look at the outcome as if it just happened without intervention from the Lord? Do we turn away from the Lord or do we turn to the Lord and lift up His name in praise?

Has the Lord lifted you up from a very serious situation? Has the Lord provided relief from your burden? Did you praise the Lord for all that He had done? The worse the situations that we find ourselves in, the greater the opportunity to praise the Lord. Perhaps that is why that history supports the notion that the church experiences more growth when it is being persecuted. People have a tendency to draw close to God when they are facing persecution and burdens. With this in mind, have we, the Body of Christ, become too soft and too comfortable in our lives that we fail to feel the need to pray or praise with all of our being?

Are we capable of such sincere praise?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Your sins are not so great that grace cannot be yours!

October 20, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.
(1 Timothy 1:15 (NIV))

Do you believe that Paul thought that he was the worst sinner of all?

Does this sound like the man that history has shown to be the one who brought the Gospel to the Gentiles? Does this sound like the man who is responsible for writing numerous books from the New Testament? Does this sound like the man who went to prison for spreading the Gospel?

I realize that all of these things were after his Damascus Road experience. It was this experience that saw a change of heart and a conversion from Saul to Paul. I can understand Paul if he had stated that he had been the worst, especially when you consider all that he had done to persecute the church. Paul did not place his sin in his past. He did not try to say that he no longer sinned. Paul realized that he was human and human nature is sinful, even after accepting Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior.

Paul realized that his sinful nature was still very much a part of him!

Paul also realized that grace extended even to him after all that he had done.

He could have given in to the idea that God could not save him after all that he had done. Thankfully, he did not believe this. Paul realized that the gift of grace was freely given for everyone no matter how great the sin. If God can extend grace to someone who persecuted and killed believers, I find it hard to believe anyone when they claim that God can’t forgive them for what they have done.

It is so simple!

Admit that you are a sinner.

Believe that Jesus died for your sins.

Confess that Jesus is the Son of God.

If salvation was freely given to Paul, who thought of himself as the worst of sinners, it can be freely given to all.

Your sins are not so great that grace cannot be yours!

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Whose son or daughter are you?

May 25, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Now you, brothers and sisters, like Isaac, are children of promise. At that time the son born according to the flesh persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same now. But what does Scripture say? “Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman’s son.” Therefore, brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman.
(Galatians 4:28-31 (NIV))

Unlike our biological families, we have a choice to make!

We can choose to be a child of slavery to sin or we can choose to be a child born of the Spirit. It has been, and will forever be, our choice. But, it was a choice that we could not fulfill on our own merit if we chose to be a child born of the Spirit.

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.
(John 3:16 (NIV))

Did you pick up on the very simple adoption policy that God put in place so that we could abandon our sinful childhood and be welcomed into a childhood of freedom? All that we have to do is believe that Jesus is God’s one and only Son and accept the grace that is freely given through the ransom, through the adoption fee that Jesus paid to make each of us a part of the free woman’s family. We are no longer a part of the slave woman’s family.

I must do the responsible thing and remind everyone that becoming a child of grace does not mean that you will never face persecution from the enemy and those bound by slavery to sin. We have elected to leave our natural, sinful nature and those who are still bound to sin do not like that we have become children of God. They will do anything and everything to trip us up, to deceive us into turning away from God.

Once again, when this happens, we have a choice!

Each and every day we must consciously make that choice.

Whose son or daughter are you?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What will we be willing to face for the Gospel?

November 3, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him,
(Philippians 1:29 (NIV))

Wait a second!

Did you just read what I just read?

Did Paul actually write this?

Today’s church needs to learn that proclaiming Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior does not mean that everything will be all rosy and without problems. The early church knew this. Those who left Europe to settle in the new world knew it. Both groups were persecuted because of their faith in Jesus and their desire to worship Him in truth. When you go against the accepted routine of the world and seek to believe in Jesus instead of the world, then you will face hardships. You will suffer at the hands of those who follow the ways of the world.

One way to look at this passage may help clarify things.

What is the one thing in your life that you were willing to make sacrifices for in order to obtain it? For some, that may have been physical training as an athlete. For others, it may have been education in a very specialized field. No matter what it was that you wanted, you were willing to make sacrifices to obtain it. You were willing to suffer in the present in order to gain something in the future.

You were willing to suffer in the present to gain something in the future!

I believe that this is what Paul was implying when he recorded these words. It is not enough to be willing to believe. Even though believing is crucial to salvation, it is only the beginning of our faith journey. Are you willing to suffer for your faith in Jesus? Are you willing to sacrifice in order to believe? Are you willing to suffer or give up something that is important to you in order to gain something that is of far more importance?

Human nature is a strange thing. Too many of us are willing to keep the sinful things that we know because we are afraid of the blessings that we don’t know. When we accept belief in Jesus then we must be prepared to accept that we may suffer temporarily for our belief.

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you here for such a time as this?

October 18, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, he sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?”
(Esther 4:12-14 (NIV))

Do you ever feel that you are out of place? Do you ever feel that the events that are unfolding around you will leave you alone? Do you feel that if you just ignore the trouble in the world that it will simply go away? We live in what many consider to be interesting times. Still others believe that we are in the last days.

I wonder what Esther thought when everything was going on around her.

She saw God’s people persecuted. She saw a sinister plan start to unfold that would have made it legal in that society to kill all Jewish people and take their possessions. She saw what was beginning to happen and new what could have happened. She would have been safe, for the time being, but she realized that God had her exactly where she needed to be to right the wrong that was about to be done. She was there for “such a time as this.”

Do you identify with Esther in any way?

Maybe you feel that the trouble will miss you. Maybe you feel that it couldn’t truly happen the way that it appears. Maybe you realize that God has created you and placed you exactly where He wants you to fulfill His will in a way that it will impact the lives of those around you.

I have a very serious question to ask. This is a question that you need to pray about and listen for God’s answer. His answer may impact more people than just you.

Are you alive and in your current situation for such a time as this?

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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