How sharp do you want to be?

September 22, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

As iron sharpens iron,
     so one person sharpens another.
(Proverbs 27:17 (NIV))

There is an old saying that you are what you eat. I can hear your thoughts now as you ask what does this have to do with this passage. To put it concisely, who you associate with is who is being used as the sharpening tool for your life.

Who are the people that you surround yourself with?

Are they sharpening and maturing your faith or are they making you dull and immature? Are you sharpening others?

I realize that not everyone in our lives will profess a faith in Jesus. There will be family who are not believers. There will be people whom you work with who will not be believers. There will definitely be people you encounter in the public spaces of this world who are not believers. The key to these interactions is that we must realize that sometimes we are being sharpened and at other times we are being used by God to sharpen others. We must pray for discernment so that we can identify which is which. Perhaps the easiest way to address this issue is to pray that we can be consistent in our thoughts, words and actions no matter who we are around. We must pray for the strength to keep our eyes on Jesus no matter where we are and who we are with!

Can you make that claim?

We may never know how our words and actions will impact others. We may be the only one in someone’s life who attempts to show them Jesus by the simple things that we say and do. We may add a little sharpness into a dull life and that glimpse of sharpness may be just the thing that makes someone want more. We should also strive to sharpen each other so that our faith, our knowledge and our understanding is continually being honed.

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
(Romans 10:17 (NKJV))

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
(Hebrews 4:12 (NIV))

To clarify, it is our use of God’s Word that sharpens us. It is our desire to learn and mature and discuss our thoughts with those who also desire to learn and mature in and through God’s word.

How sharp do you want to be?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you still dull?

August 27, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.
(Proverbs 27:17 (NIV))

This is a fantastic way of saying that members of the Body of Christ need each other. We hold each other accountable. We lift up each other when we need support. We encourage each other to stay strong in our faith. When we see each other faltering and straying, we can come in along side of each other and support each other as we repent and redirect our focus back to Jesus. We are there to encourage each other and lift up each other in our unique giftings as we all function as individual members of the unified Body of Christ.

For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
(Romans 12:4-5 (NIV))

If we belong to each other, then when one of us trips and falls, all of us should hurt. When one of us brings glory to the Body, all of us should rejoice. When one of us is in pain, we should all bring comfort. Did you notice one very important word in all of these sentences?

Should!

These are things that we are supposed to be doing as members of the Body of Christ, but how well do we do what we should?

If our fellowship with each other is supposed to hold us accountable and sharpen our faith, are we truly sharpening each other?

Are you still dull?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Does the enemy ask who you are?

August 12, 2020

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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
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But God…

July 16, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
(Romans 5:7-8 (NIV))

I am sure that you have heard that when things are looking like there is no hope is exactly when God steps in. Think about that for a moment. How many times have we read a passage that paints a picture of complete despair only to be followed up by a sentence that begins with two word?

But God!

From a worldly perspective, there is nothing worse that death.

But God!

We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a cross, but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen.
(Acts 10:39-40 (NIV))

With everything that is going on in the world, we, as the Body of Christ, know that God is up to something. Everything that is happening appears to have been written about in prophecy. In fact, there are those who believe that what is happening is a direct unfolding of prophecy. Based on these End Time prophecies, we know that the whole world is going to be facing tribulation like it has never seen before. For those who don’t profess a faith in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior, there will be a seven year period that will be ever increasing trouble followed by eternal judgment.

But God!

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))

I just love the way that God steps in when all seems completely lost! He always has something amazing in store for those who love Him. I can’t wait to see what He does. When all seems lost, keep looking up and remember two little words that carry so much power.

But God…

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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If you believe, tell someone!

July 8, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.
(Romans 10:10 (NIV))

If you had invented something that would truly benefit every single person who ever lived, would you keep it bottled up inside and never share it with anyone? You would shout it from the mountain tops. You would be so full of enthusiastic energy that everyone you meet would be told about your invention and how much that they need it. That is human nature. If you ignore the sinful nature of human pride, most of us would still share this kind of situation just because we want others to be as happy and fulfilled as we are. We have a tendency to want to share good news with anyone and everyone who will listen.

Why are so many of us afraid to share our faith with others?

Think about that in context of the previous questions. Jesus is far greater than anything else that we could ever share, yet, most of us don’t share our faith at all. We claim that it is a personal matter. We claim that we believe, yet we aren’t willing to tell anyone what we believe or why we believe it.

We aren’t willing to profess with our mouths!

If you are reading this, I can probably make the safe assumption that you believe in Jesus in your heart. That is fantastic, but have you told your friends? Have you told your family? Have you told those you work with? Have you verbally pronounced that you have placed your faith in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior? Think about your answer in context with the last half of Romans 10:10. Have you fulfilled this part of your salvation? Have you made a public proclamation?

If you have good news, it is human nature to want to share it. What better news is there than this?

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))

I can’t think of better news that the whole world needs to hear!

If you believe, tell someone!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you long to see God?

April 22, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Blessed are the pure in heart,
     for they will see God.
(Matthew 5:8 (NIV))

Not too long ago I referenced this passage and made a statement about people seeing what they want to see. When I wrote that about this passage, I had no idea exactly what the next few months would bring. Today, I am more convinced of this simple truth than I was just a few short months ago. All that you have to do is take a look at the various reactions of people as we all face this unusual worldwide issue.

It is said that tough times will bring out the true nature of a person. I think that we can safely say that we have seen the gamut of reactions. Some people are panicking. Others are coming up with all kinds of conspiracy theories. Many are blaming the Chinese government, while others are pointing fingers at our own. It appears that many people are consuming more alcohol in a search for something to take their minds off of what is going on. Do you fall into one of these groups?

In addition to these, I have seen a large number of people who appear to be turning to the Lord. If you can judge the numbers based on what you see on social media, many people are turning to the Lord for peace. They are realizing that there is something going on far greater than anything that humanity can control, as if we can control anything.

Human nature is a funny thing. We are told that even in the midst of great tribulation, there will be people who will fail to recognize what is going on and turn to God. Others will turn to God in all things that they do. Somewhere in the middle are those who acknowledge God and only turn to Him in times of trouble. I realize that I have oversimplified the vast range of reactions, but in all honesty, those who long to see God will find Him in all things that they encounter. I think that something I recently saw says that very well. To paraphrase, there were two sides in a conversation.

Side 1: This virus has shut down the schools.

Side 2: Prayer is now back in the classroom.

Side 1: This virus has shut down the churches.

Side 2: The church is not made up of buildings. People are worshipping wherever they are.

I’m sure that you’ve seen something similar. As previously stated, those who long to see God will find Him in all things, while those who are focused on the world will never see God in anything.

Do you long to see God?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you prepared?

March 19, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

The days of punishment are coming,
      the days of reckoning are at hand.
      Let Israel know this.
Because your sins are so many
      and your hostility so great,
the prophet is considered a fool,
      the inspired person a maniac.
(Hosea 9:7 (NIV))

These words were written to and about Israel long ago, but do you see anything in them that is true today?

Let me rephrase that general question into a few distinct questions.

When you look at the things that are going on in this country and in the world, are you overcome with the vast number of ways that humanity has found to sin against God? We take innocent life and call it choice. We take all the things that God has called a sin and an abomination and call it good. Anyone who points out that the world is going against God is ridiculed, chastised and labeled an old-fashioned fool. Anyone who speaks about Jesus as the only begotten Son of God and the only way to get to the Father is labeled a bigot and a lunatic. Do I need to go any further? Do you see these things happening more frequently or are you looking at the world through blinded eyes?

If Israel was warned of days of punishment coming for doing these things, where does that leave today’s society and world?

You may call me a fool and a maniac, but I need to ask more questions. I will say that many people are thinking about the world in its current state, for I am seeing many people who are posting Bible verses, ideas on how to love our neighbors, and even very strongly worded instructions to pray for God to protect His people. With this in mind, I want you to seriously think about your answers to the questions that are probably already lingering in your thoughts and hopefully your prayers.

Are you following God’s Word and have you accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior?

Does it break your heart to see the things that go against God’s Word?

Is it possible that everything is coming to pass just as God has foretold?

Is it possible that we are too blinded by the world to truly recognize what is in front of our eyes?

Would you recognize unfolding events as part of God’s plan?

Do you believe that God will punish His creation for their sinful nature?

Do you believe that the world is becoming more engrossed in sin?

Sadly, most of us go about our daily lives with no thought about what is going on around us. We need to open our eyes. We need to be aware of the times and our surroundings. We need to wrap ourselves in God’s Word. We need to wrap ourselves in God’s love by accepting Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior. We need to embrace the truth that God has a timeline and it is drawing close to His fulfillment of that timeline. We must be prepared to be called a fool for Jesus and a maniac for God.

Are you prepared?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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When you look at yourself, what do you find?

March 5, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.
(Ephesians 5:3 (NIV))

Did this hit a little too close to home?

If not, when was the last time that you took a very serious and in-depth look at yourself?

If you examine yourself with God’s Word as the benchmark, you will always come up short. If you aren’t finding anything, then you aren’t looking!

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?
(2 Corinthians 13:5 (NIV))

We have been given other things to look for beside sexual immorality, impurity and greed. We have also been told the consequences if we do not take action to correct these traits.

Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
(Ephesians 5:4-5 (NIV))

If we have professed a faith in Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, then we are called to do the things that Jesus did. I have not found a single passage that says that He possessed any of these traits that we are told are improper. If we truly desire to follow Jesus, then we are to follow Him in all aspects of our lives. Jesus never embraced sin. He rebuked sin. He told people to leave their life of sin and follow Him.

With that said, I want to ask you one more time to take an in-depth look at yourself. Examine your life through the eyes of Jesus.

When you look at yourself, what do you find?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What do you hear?

January 30, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.
(John 8:47 (NIV))

Contrary to what the world thinks, God does speak to us if we only know how to listen.

Just like in any relationship, we have to know the heart of the other person. We have to know them on a deeper level than just a casual acquaintance. We must be able to pick up on subtle intents based on our knowledge of the person. For all of the married men who are reading this, I am sure that a subtle roll of the eyes by your wife carries a meaning that only you understand. With this as an example, perhaps it is easy to understand that intimacy with someone means that not all communications are with words. Sometimes we are able to “hear” things because we know someone so well that we can understand things that others would not pick up on.

Does God always speak in an audible voice?

If we have accepted His Son, Jesus, as our personal Lord and Savior, we can be called His children. That is God reaching out to us in love. If we spend time with His Word, we know His heart. That is us reaching out to God in love. We draw closer to Him and we begin to know what breaks His heart and what bring Him joy. We begin to recognize the subtle differences in us as we mature in our faith and our relationship with the Lord. We feel peace and joy when we walk with Him and we feel anxiety and sorrow when we stray.

We have also been given the Holy Spirit to guide us. That is God walking with us in love. He is that still, small voice that lives in us to teach us how to walk with the Lord in a relationship as a loving Father and His child.

There are so many ways that we are able to hear what God says. We just have to be open to hearing and be willing to respond. We must desire a relationship with God in order to hear Him.

Do you desire that relationship?

What do you hear?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How do you classify greatness?

August 19, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me `Teacher’ and `Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
(John 13:12-17 (NIV))

How do you classify greatness?

Is it military might and power? Is it financial wealth? Is it political power? Is it the ability to hire and fire people at will? Exactly what do you consider greatness?

Chances are that most of the population of the world thinks in terms similar to the questions listed above. We, as humanity, have a tendency to see greatness as an elevation of one person over others to the extent that the one person has power and authority over the others. We do not have a tendency to see greatness as a humble spirit that is willing to do anything for others.

On the contrary, this type of person is seen as weak by our society. We do not think of a person who is willing to be a servant as a great person. They are seen as nothing more than a door mat for others to walk upon. However, God has another opinion.

God sent His Son, Jesus, to be our servant. Jesus was with God, yet, He humbled himself to the point of death so that He could do what the Father asked of Him. Now, through His humility, He sits at the right hand of God the Father as an example of what we are supposed to be like.

Jesus came into this world and turned our perceptions upside down. He died so that many could have life. He arose from the grave to defeat sin and death. He ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of God, the Father.

How do you classify greatness?

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