Is your faith strong enough for this?

January 16, 2023

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
(Matthew 5:44 (NIV))

This goes against everything that our sinful human nature desires!

We instinctively only love those who love us in return. We only want to pray for those whom we love, yet, we are called to break with our sinful human nature and do what we don’t desire to do.

Have you ever stopped to reflect on why we are called to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us? Perhaps the answer is so simple that we don’t want to see it.

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))

If you have come to the realization that our enemies are part of the world that God loves, then you begin to understand why we are called to love our enemies. God loves them just as He loves you and I. In fact, the only difference in God’s eyes are whether they have accepted the gift of grace freely given through the cross. The cross is the ultimate example of love.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
(Romans 5:8 (NIV))

If you stop to consider that you were once an enemy of God, then you realize that God showed you love when you were His enemy. As the Body of Christ, we are called to do the very same thing. We are called to show love to those who are our enemies, for it is through love and prayer that an enemy is lost and a friend is won. This takes a faith that goes far beyond what our sinful human nature can comprehend. It takes a faith firmly grounded in God’s word and in His promises. It takes a faith strong enough to realize that through God’s love anything is possible, even turning an enemy into a brother or sister in Christ! Do you possess a faith strong enough to surrender to God’s Will as He calls you to embrace your enemies with love?

Today’s society is uncertain. Evil is called good and good is called evil. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but we do know one thing – Jesus will come again! When He walked the earth, He called people to repent. He called them to this action out of love. If you have professed a faith in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, then you have shown a faith strong enough to accept that gift. Now, we are called to show a faith strong enough to share that gift even with our enemies.

Is your faith strong enough for this?

Copyright 1998 – 2023 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you praying for those who share the Gospel?

December 5, 2022

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel,
(Ephesians 6:19 (NIV))

Did you realize that Paul coveted the prayers from those whom he had ministered and taught so that he could reach others for Jesus?

Think about the implications of that concept. Paul, even though we consider him to be the man who took the Gospel to the Gentiles, realized that he is not capable of anything in his own strength. He wanted, or should I say that he needed constant under girding through the prayers of others for his ministry. He specifically asked them to pray that he be given the words that will fearlessly make the Gospel known. He realized that he is nothing without the power and guidance of the Lord. He realized that his words were useless, but the words spoken by the Holy Spirit through him were powerful beyond anything that any human could comprehend.

Take a look at the times in your life when you felt inadequate, when you felt at a loss for what to say. If you are like me, you simply stop and pray to be given the right words to reach the people who need to hear them. That is probably what Paul did as well, but he took it up a notch and asked for others to pray the same thing for him. Paul realized the power of prayer and he earnestly asked for the prayers of others.

The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
(James 5:16b (NIV))

We don’t hesitate to seek the prayers of others when we need God to intervene in our own lives. Let’s use this same approach and join in praying that we can fearlessly make the Gospel known. We must pray for ourselves and others to be given the words that will lead others to the saving knowledge of Jesus. If Paul, whom we consider to be a man who opened the Gospel to the world beyond Israel, earnestly asked for prayer to be able to fulfill his calling, then why should we think that we don’t need to do the same thing? Have we had Jesus appear to us in such a way that our whole life was changed? Are we stronger in our faith than Paul? Have we walked from country to country preaching and teaching the good news of Jesus? Are we as committed as Paul?

I know that I am nothing in God’s plans. He could easily raise up someone else to reach those whom He has called me to reach. My prayer for myself is that He continue to give me the words to share that will draw people closer to Jesus. In fact, like Paul, I covet your prayers for this. I ask for your prayers as I continually seek His wisdom each day. I also pray that you will open your heart to being prayed for. Every day that I sit down to do this, I pray for the Lord to give me the words that He would have me to say to reach whom He needs me to reach. In praying this, I also pray for the unknown-to-me individuals whom God has directed to what He has had me send.

I do not take these devotionals lightly. For the last twenty-five years, I have made it a point to not put my name front and center, for these are not about me. I take the following passage very seriously.

Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.
(James 3:1 (NIV))

With that in mind, I ask for each of you to pray for those who share God’s word, whether in full time ministry or in daily living. Pray that we seek His truth before we write or speak. Pray that we choose to use the words that God has given us. Pray that we stand firm in the seriousness of what we do.

Are you praying for those who share the Gospel?

Copyright 1998 – 2022 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do you know this great hope?

November 2, 2022

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people,
(Ephesians 1:18 (NIV))

What do you see when you see the state of the world?

Unless you cling to the hope that we have in Jesus, what most people see in this world is dark and foreboding. To be honest with you, it is so easy to get wrapped up in the things of this world, especially when prices are escalating while the availability of resources seems to be plummeting. In many parts of the world, governments are expecting large numbers of deaths this winter due to shortages. We see the wars that are still raging and we see false peace being pushed. We see unstable governments all around the world, and we see evil being called good and good being called evil.

In the physical, when I see the state of the world, I am saddened. I am angry, and I am at a loss for what to do!

Thankfully, I know beyond any doubt that this world is not my home. I am a citizen of heaven, and I know that when things look bad here in this world, we are to look up for our redemption is near! As long as I keep my eyes on Jesus, I can rest confidently in the hope that I have in the promises of my Lord and my Savior. I don’t know what I will personally face in this world, but I do know one thing.

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
(Romans 8:18 (NIV))

I long to reveal the glory of the Lord in all that I do. Some days I do okay. Other days I fail miserably. Fortunately, since I am not capable of being perfect, I do not have to be perfect. All that I have to do is place my faith in Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior. There are times that I will fail miserably, but when that happens, I can seek His face, repent and pray for guidance. I am on a journey. Every step that I take is not going to be perfect, but as long as I keep my eyes focused on Jesus, my destination is clear. He is my hope. He is all the riches and glory that I need. He is my inheritance!

Do you know this great hope?

Copyright 1998 – 2022 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Have you been praying?

September 2, 2022

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
     “May those who love you be secure.
(Psalms 122:6 (NIV))

Do you love Jesus?

Do you love what Jesus loves?

What do you think of Jerusalem? Does it match what the Lord has said?

but I have chosen Jerusalem that my name may be there,
(2 Chronicles 6:6a (NIV))

Even when the people rebelled, He still looked on in love.

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!
(Matthew 23:37 (NIV))

Jerusalem is important to God. Jerusalem is crucial to God’s plans. Jerusalem, and Israel, were supposed to be the beacon shining God’s light to the world. They were chosen to serve this purpose and no matter how many times they rebelled against God, He still has a purpose for Israel and Jerusalem. Many scholars believe that prophetic events that we know as the end times, even though they will impact the whole world, are God’s call for Israel to accept their Messiah. Everything that happens during the end times are focused in and on Jerusalem and Israel. We know that they will be attacked and miraculously saved. We know that the antichrist will allow the temple to be rebuilt in Jerusalem. We know that the antichrist will go into the temple and declare himself to be God. We know that all nations of the world will turn on Israel, and we know that the battle in the valley of Har Megido, otherwise known as Armageddon, will take place in the land of Israel.

There is also one other thing that we must be aware of. God set the land aside for Israel as an inheritance.

for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever.
(Genesis 13:15 (NIV))

I realize that they did not possess the land for centuries, but it still belongs to the offspring of Israel. If you find this difficult to comprehend, all that we have to do is consider this passage and how Israel became a nation again after almost two thousand years. This basically transpired with the stroke of a pen!

Who has ever heard of such things?
     Who has ever seen things like this?
Can a country be born in a day
     or a nation be brought forth in a moment?
Yet no sooner is Zion in labor
     than she gives birth to her children.
(Isaiah 66:8 (NIV))

It is clear that the Lord loves Israel and Jerusalem. We know that He has warned against dividing the land since they returned.

I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. And I will enter into judgment with them there, on behalf of my people and my heritage Israel, because they have scattered them among the nations and have divided up my land,
(Joel 3:2 (NIV))

He does not like anyone to divide what He has given. In fact, many of the natural disasters and attacks that have happened in this country have happened on the very same days that plans we presented or agreed to that divided up Israel. We have to stop trying to take what God has declared as His and giving it away. Why are we, as humanity, so arrogant that we think that we can do whatever we want?

We must pray for the peace of Jerusalem!

Have you been praying?

Copyright 1998 – 2022 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
https://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What do you do in secret?

September 1, 2022

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
(Matthew 6:6 (NIV))

As believers, we are told not to forsake the assembly, but we are also told to do things in secret so that only the Father knows what we do. There are certain things that our Father wants us to do in secret, for if we do them in public, they will draw attention to us. If attention is drawn to us because of what we do, are we doing these things for the right reason? Are we simply doing them because we become the center of attention?

It is human nature to like attention. Personally, I believe that this comes as a result of the fall from grace. We long to be accepted. We long to have the praise of others, but in all honesty, what we truly seek is to fill that God-shaped hole that we all have because of the fall from grace. The proverbial fifteen minutes of fame is something that we all like because it makes us feel accepted. It makes us feel loved. It makes us feel important.

It is for this reason that Jesus tells us to not be like that.

“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.
(Matthew 6:1-5 (NIV))

If you want to have a conversation with someone whom you love, do you loudly and publicly say what you want to say or do you find a quiet, private place to share what is on your heart? Do you share the secrets of your heart so that all will see and hear, or do you share them only with the one for whom they are intended.

Your life is God’s gift to you. Your salvation is God’s gift to you. What you do with your life and how you live your life is your gift to God. He loves you. He longs for a loving two-way relationship with you. For those of you who had siblings, you know that you cherished the alone time with just you and a parent. Did you have little “secret” things that you did, such as fishing, baseball games, or movies? These things are what others would not understand. Family time is great, but there is something special about one on one. With that in mind, we must remember that God is our Father and He wants us to have that secret time with Him.

What do you do in secret?

Copyright 1998 – 2022 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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How is your prayer life?

July 29, 2022

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

pray without ceasing,
(1 Thessalonians 5:17 (ESV))

I love this translation of this passage. Most translations say to pray continually, but there is something in this translation that expresses the importance and the urgency of praying.

Think about this in the context of running a race. If you are running this race and you are told to keep running, what does that imply to you? In my mind, this comes across as a suggestion. It doesn’t give any hint as to the reason and the urgency. Now, imagine the same scenario, only this time you are told don’t stop! To me, this implies an urgency and importance to the fact that you must keep moving no matter what happens. Don’t give up. Don’t throw in the proverbial towel. Push through and finish!

The same is true in my mind of the urgency and importance of praying without ceasing. In other words, no matter what happens, keep praying!

Please don’t misunderstand what I am saying about the other translations.

pray continually,
‭‭(1 Thessalonians‬ ‭5:17 (NIV))

This translation has a very valid meaning, but perhaps what the author was trying to convey is a combination of both translations.

Pray continually and don’t stop!

In other words, always be in prayer and always push through and finish! Don’t give up! Don’t throw in the proverbial towel. Don’t surrender to the enemy. Keep in constant communication with God the Father through Jesus. This is especially true if you realize that prayer is simply talking to God AS WELL AS listening to God. If this is your definition of prayer, then you fully understand the importance of praying without ceasing!

How is your prayer life?

Copyright 1998 – 2022 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Is groaning a part of your prayer language?

May 6, 2022

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.
(Romans 8:26 (NIV))

I have been groaning a lot lately! I am also extremely weary. I know what to pray for, but I find that I am incapable of stringing together the words to petition our Lord for the things that weigh heavily on my heart.

So, I find myself fully relying on the wordless groans and the Holy Spirit to intercede, to understand what is weighing heavily on my heart.

I am certain that everyone has experienced times in their lives exactly like this. If you have not, then your heart has been hardened. Thankfully, we have a God who fully understands what it means to be human. He understands our weakness. He understands our fears.

To put it simply, He understands us!

When we groan, He knows why. When we can’t find the words, He knows exactly what is on our hearts and on our minds. This may sound very strange, but I have grown to find comfort in my groans for these very reasons. I have grown to find comfort in my weakness, for I know the One who uses my weakness to His glory!

Is groaning a part of your prayer language?

Copyright 1998 – 2022 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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God still saves those who call upon His name!

April 6, 2022

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Alas! That day is so great
      there is none like it;
it is a time of distress for Jacob;
      yet he shall be saved out of it.
(Jeremiah 30:7 (NIV))

What is your understanding of the importance of Israel in God’s timeline?

What is your understanding of the tribulation that is spoken of in Revelation and hinted at in Jeremiah and many other books?

There are many who believe that the tribulation is what is referred to in this passage. You may be more familiar with it being called the time of Jacob’s trouble. Based on this concept, many believe that what is spoken of in Revelation is God’s plan to redeem, to refine Israel and that the church will be gone before this happens. As God unfolds His plan, more and more will be understood. Now, we can only speculate as to what all of this means and how the Lord will unfold all of it as His plan comes to fruition. One thing is certain. God is not through with Israel. He has plans to redeem Israel for Himself. He has plans to redeem Jerusalem to Himself. With this in mind, we must be diligent in our prayers.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
(Psalm 122:6a (NIV))

We must also be like the Bereans and search the scriptures for the truth as God unfolds it.

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))

God gave us His word.

I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe.
(John 14:29 (NIV))

We must dive deeply into His word so that we are able to recognize when things happen and believe. We must also share the Gospel so that others will believe. We must lead people to Jesus before they are distressed and troubled. We must lead people to Jesus so that they may know of God’s grace and mercy before it is too late.

God still saves those who call upon His name!

Copyright 1998 – 2022 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Confession is good for the soul!

October 7, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.
(James 5:16a (NIV))

They say that confession is good for the soul. If that is the case, what good have you done for yourself lately?

When we accept Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, we admit that we are a sinner in need of a savior. We admit, or should I say that we confess, that we are sinful, but does our confession end there? Do we feel that once we confess our sinful nature that all of our sins are never to surface again? Do we feel that our sins are completely removed from our lives so that we will never sin again?

I pray that this were true, but for those of us who have accepted Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, we don’t do it because we are perfect. We do it because we truly understand just how sinful our human nature can be. We realize that we cannot do it on our own. We realize that we need a savior. To use an old saying, the church is not a country club of perfect people. It is a hospital for broken people who realize that they need help.

Have you come to that realization?

It is as easy as ABC.

A is for admit that you are a sinner in need of a savior.

B is for believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and that God raised Him from the dead.

C is for call upon the name of the Lord Jesus.

Once you do this, you will need accountability. You will need people whom you can confess to and pray with. It is amazing what this combination can do when done in the spirit of love for each other and for Jesus.

The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
(James 5:16b (NIV))

Confession is good for the soul!

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Pray for discernment!

August 3, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

for your merchants were the great ones of the earth,
     and all nations were deceived by your sorcery.
(Revelation 18:23c (ESV))

I realize that I sent this out about seven months ago, but something in my spirit felt compelled to resurrect this again, especially in light of all that has transpired lately. Please understand that I am not against science, for God gave us wisdom and knowledge, but He also gave us the ability to discern what is right in His eyes. We must learn to rely on God for that discernment. We must learn to rely on God above all else. He will not forsake you. He will not let you be deceived if you go to Him in prayer. When in doubt, PRAY!!!

What do you think of when you hear or read about sorcery? Is it magic or is it something more?

The original passage was written in Greek, and the word that has been translated as sorcery in most of the English translations is the word “pharmakeia.” Pharmakeia means the use of medicine, drugs or spells. In essence, it is drug-related or drug-enhanced sorcery. What caught my attention is that all nations are to be deceived by this practice. In other words, could this be a worldwide deception based on pharmaceutical drugs?

Is that possible?

Can the whole world be deceived in such a manner?

Up until recently, I think that it is safe to say that most people would say that this was not possible. Now, people are changing their minds about this possibility, especially when you consider that people in every nation around the whole world are anxiously awaiting a vaccination so that their lives can return to normal. Is this the beginning of all nations being deceived or is it simply a coincidence?

I am not suggesting one way or the other as to whether to take the vaccine. That is a matter of some very serious prayer that each of us must undertake. What I am saying is for us to dive deeper into God’s Word so that we know as much as possible, so that we are fully prepared for battle.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,
(Ephesians 6:10-18 (ESV))

Do you recognize sorcery when you see it?

Pray for discernment!

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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