Are you diligently keeping watch?

January 22, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’
(Mark 13:37 (NIV))

Are you diligently watching and waiting for the Lord’s return?

These words from Mark are recorded as the last words in a brief story about a man leaving his servants in charge while he is gone. In this example, the man did not tell his servants when he would return. He simply told them to watch and be prepared.

Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch. Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping.
(Mark 13:33-36 (NIV))

If Jesus were to return for His church today, how would He find you? Would He catch you off guard or would you recognize that He is coming and would you be prepared to meet Him? Sadly, too many people who profess a faith in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior simply go about their daily lives with no thought to the question of “What if Jesus returned today?” It is the farthest thing from their minds, yet it should be the most important thing on their mind at all times.

Think about that in terms of a job. You are employed to do a certain task and when the boss is there, you perform the task as expected. But, when the boss is away for a day or two, do you perform your duties as you would if your boss were there?

Absence makes us lose sight of the importance of what we have been assigned to do! I’ll let you in on a little secret, though, with respect to the Lord. Unlike your boss, Jesus still knows your every thought and action. He knows who is diligently watching and waiting for Him.

We are to watch and wait for the Lord to return. Are you diligently keeping watch?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What are you capable of doing?

January 10, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
(John 15:5 (NIV))

It is human nature to think that we are invincible, that we are capable of doing anything and everything that we put our minds to. Is that really true?

I have read this passage many times, but today something caught my attention that has not come to my attention before. We read this passage and think that it means that without the Lord we cannot achieve anything. I realize that what I am about to say may have you questioning my thought process, but bear with me for a moment. If you read this passage again, pay very close attention to the part about bearing much fruit. Dare I say that this fruit is actually the fruit of the Spirit?

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))

Without the Lord and the fruit that we bear because of Him, we are left with our sin. We are left as the filthy rags that we are without Jesus!

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
(Galatians 5:19-21 (NIV))

I realize that we are to commit everything that we do unto the Lord, but I also think we need to understand what Jesus is speaking of in this passage. The things that we do in this world, unless they bring someone to accept Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior, are of no eternal value. Our circle of influence is perhaps two generations if we are so blessed. Even so, that circle is very limited if you look at the world. What is important are things that leave an impact on someone else’s life for all eternity. We can be a bad influence and not share Jesus, or we can live our lives sharing Jesus with all whom we encounter. Leading someone to Jesus requires something of us. We simply cannot lead someone to Jesus if we do not remain in Him and He in us. Our fruit is a direct reflection of our relationship with Jesus. Sharing the Gospel is our single most important responsibility.

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.
(Mark 16:15 (NIV))

Can you see anyone doing this if they do not remain in Jesus and He in them? No one is capable of fulfilling this without Jesus!

What are you capable of doing?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What is the source of your sustenance?

January 8, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”
(Matthew 4:4 (NIV))

We spend so much time thinking about what we eat. We spend so much time worried about eating the rights things in the right amount so that we don’t put on weight, or so that we will lose weight. It seems like every day we hear about new diets or nutrition supplements that are designed to make us the best possible physical specimen that we can be. The things that we put into our bodies are important, but why do we spend so much time and effort with this aspect of our lives while we neglect a very important aspect of our growth and maturity? Why do we ignore the spiritual aspects and focus on the physical when the physical is here today and gone tomorrow?

We need to focus on feeding our spiritual side. We need to feed on the very Word of God.

Jesus IS the Word made flesh.

Jesus IS the bread of life.

Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Bethlehem means house of bread.

I find it interesting that in order to receive salvation, each of us must accept Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior. We must embrace Jesus as the bread of life. But, we are not to stop there. We are to immerse ourselves in God’s Word in order to become like David, a man after God’s own heart. We can’t know the Father without spending time in His Word. We can’t truly know the Son, without spending time with the Word. We can’t mature in our faith without knowing the very heart of God! They go hand in hand.

We eat physical food to strengthen our bodies. We must also strengthen our spiritual nature. We need more than milk. We need to mature in our faith!

In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.
(Hebrews 5:12-13 (NIV))

Are you acquainted with God’s Word?

What is the source of your sustenance?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Everyone must answer this question for themselves!

January 6, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “God’s Messiah.”
(Luke 9:20 (NIV))

We should all be familiar with the events that transpired right before this particular passage. Jesus was asking the disciples who the crowds of people say that He is. He received numerous answers and then He did the unthinkable. He turned the question to them. He made it personal. He made them profess. He made them take a stand!

Isn’t that what we are supposed to do with Jesus? We are to either profess that He is Lord or we deny Him. To this day, and until He returns, the same question is asked of each of us. We may hear the things that the world is saying of Jesus. We may hear the things that our family and friends are saying of Jesus. We may give some type of acknowledgment to what they are saying, but that is different from saying something yourself. What you speak becomes your reality.

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
(Romans 10:9 (NIV))

But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.
(Matthew 10:33 (NIV))

According to Romans 14:11, we know that every knee will bow and every tongue will confess, but when you speak it determines your eternity. Take a serious look at Jesus and ask yourself one question. Who do you say that He is? If you acknowledge Jesus as Messiah during this lifetime, you will bow out of thankfulness and humility. If you ignore this question or simply reject Jesus, then you will bow out of submission and shame.

Jesus is asking, “Who do you say I am?”

Can you answer with the same proclamation that Peter gave? Can you honestly claim that Jesus is God’s Messiah? It doesn’t matter what others say of Him. They don’t answer for you! Everyone must answer this question for themselves!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you a new creation?

January 2, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
(2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV))

Anyone who has accepted Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior has a tremendous reason to celebrate!

We like to celebrate the passage of time by having a major event at the transition from the last day of one year to the first day of a new year. In all honesty, this celebration is nothing more than a time to celebrate the fact that we made it through another year. For this simple fact, the whole world celebrates and then within just a few hours, we are back to the very same things as before the celebration.

What if we could celebrate something that would leave us completely different? What if we could celebrate receiving a gift so magnificent that it changes our eternal destiny? What if we could discard our sinful nature and replace it with the very nature of God through the gift of His Son, Jesus?

Each one of us was physically born into a sinful world and we inherited a sinful nature. That nature has condemned us. That nature has destined us for eternal separation from God. Through the gift that God gave us in Jesus, we can replace that condemnation and that destiny with a grace filled rebirth. We can be made new! We can repent and take hold of the promises of God. We can be made better than new! We can be made new in the image of Christ!

Are you a new creation?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is the Lord your shepherd?

December 2, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
forever.
(Psalms 23:1-6 (NIV))

Have you ever truly looked at this passage in language that can make the Lord’s love personal? What if we paraphrase this passage to help us understand the personal relationship that the Lord desires with each of us and just what He will do for us when we accept His grace and mercy?

If I place my trust in Him, the Lord will be my personal shepherd and guide.
He will provide for all that I need.
He will give me peace and rest.
He will provide direction for my life.
He will provide complete restoration.
He will remove all fear and doubt.
He will provide comfort.
He will sustain us through the troubles of this world.
He will anoint us and bless us because we have placed our faith and trust in Him.
He will pour out His goodness and His love on us as we strive to follow Him.
He will provide us an eternal, permanent residence with Himself where all of the things previously mentioned will continue for all eternity!

I realize that this may sound like prosperity preaching, but it is far from that. What the Lord has promised us is mercy and grace. Through the gift of His Son Jesus, each of us have the opportunity to receive this wonderful gift and all of the blessings that have been promised. These gifts are not for the greedy, for all can possess them equally. These gifts are not for the cynic, for anyone who is a cynic has a hardened heart. These gifts are simply for anyone who will allow the Lord to soften their heart and show them that what they seek is only available through Him.

Do the things that David wrote of in this passage sound like something that you desire? All that you have to do is ask the Lord to be your shepherd!

Is the Lord your shepherd?

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