Has your faith stayed strong?

June 6, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off–for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
(Acts 2:36-47 (NIV))

The early church did not have the ability to look back into history and see what Jesus had done. They didn’t need it! Many of the people who came to be believers in this time had seen Jesus perform the miracles and had heard Him teach. They had seen Him crucified and had seen Him resurrected. Those who did not see all these things happen, knew of them. They also had the eye-witness accounts of the disciples who had been with Jesus during all of this. No matter how they knew of Jesus, they knew that He is Lord and Savior of all Creation. They fervently praised God and prayed for what they knew comes from these actions.

Have the centuries dulled our intensity? Have they caused us to be less than our brothers and sisters from the early church? We have more evidence today that all of these things happened. Historical records besides the New Testament verify many of the accounts of Jesus’ life. Have we grown complacent in our faith? Take a serious look at your life and priorities. Can you say that you devote yourself to Jesus’ teachings and fellowship with other believers?

Has your faith stayed strong?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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And, oh what glory it is!

May 20, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

And I, because of what they have planned and done, am about to come and gather the people of all nations and languages, and they will come and see my glory.
(Isaiah 66:18 (NIV))

What should be important to you as a member of the Body of Christ?

Perhaps I should ask a different question. What is important to the Lord for you if you profess a faith in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior?

Prior to this verse, Isaiah 66 speaks of the things that people do in hopes of appeasing the Lord, but they fail to look at their own hearts and motives before doing these things. We are clearly told that the Lord looks at something besides our feeble attempts to please God.

“These are the ones I look on with favor:
     those who are humble and contrite in spirit,
     and who tremble at my word.
(Isaiah 66:2b (NIV))

The Lord longs for our hearts! He longs for humility. He longs for a righteous spirit within us. He does not desire sacrifices if our hearts are not His. He has so much that He wants to give to us if we first will give our hearts to Him. Sadly, too many people hold out. The Lord goes on to share all that He will do for those who love Him. He shares examples of what His love is like if we will only focus on following Him.

Unfortunately, there are far too many people who seem to be focused on the gifts instead of the giver. They are focused on the promises instead of the promise maker. Don’t get me wrong. The promises and the gifts are important, but do we have our priorities upside down? We should seek to know the Lord first and these gifts will be freely given. Instead, we seem to focus on what we will receive and completely miss out on the fact that the Lord is calling us to an intimacy with Him that is far more valuable than what we have a tendency to focus on.

Jesus came to bring salvation to anyone, nation, tribe or language, who would call upon His name, to any who would humble their heart and give it to Him. This is the only way that we can see the glory of the Lord! And, oh what glory it is!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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The treasure is every moment spent with Jesus!

May 3, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
(Matthew 6:21 (NIV))

This has been several years ago, but I still remind myself of the lesson learned. I had spent several months looking forward to my 30th high school reunion. Let’s face it, during high school you can’t imagine life without your friends. I was looking forward to seeing the people that I had spent so much time with and seeing what they had done with their lives. It had become a priority for me. I was nervous and excited at the same time. It was a day that I had hoped would rekindle old friendships.

Unfortunately, the day came and went and I did not make it. My priorities shifted when my family and I got in the car to drive to Augusta for the reunion. Within five minutes after getting in the car, one of my children had a major meltdown and wanted to go home. I was furious. I kept hoping and praying that he would get over it, so we kept going. It just got worse. I finally and reluctantly turned the car around to go home. The twenty minute ride home was not a happy one for any of us. Fortunately, my son finally regained composure and apologized profusely. I didn’t want to hear it. I thought I had a right to be mad and I was going to exercise my right.

Once we did get home, the more I thought about the events, the worse I felt. I had made a commitment to my son to always help him and try to understand the issues that he faces. I had gotten so wrapped up in what I wanted to do that I had completely overlooked where my treasure truly is. I have been blessed with grace and mercy. I have been blessed with a wonderful family. I have been blessed with a son who, if it were humanly possible, I would take upon myself the very things that I had gotten mad about. I was not willing to extend the grace and mercy that I had been freely given.

I was looking towards my past. I was ignoring my present and my future. All I could see was a missed reunion with people from my past. They are not my life. They are a part of what made me who I am, but they are not still a part of me. My son, who will always be my son, will forever be a part of me. I was foolish to get angry. Even God tells us not to look to our past. He tells us not to look for Him in the past or in the future. He tells us to seek Him now. My treasure is my present moment. I may not have another one. I don’t need to dwell on the past or ignore the present because I spend so much time planning for my future.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
(John 10:10 (NIV))

I had allowed the thief to steal the day from me by planting a seed of anger. I had allowed that seed to be planted because I was dwelling on the past.

How can we have a full life if we dwell on the past or spend too much time looking to the future. Life is now! The treasure is every moment spent with Jesus!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you overcome your pride?

January 9, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
(Mark 16:16 (NIV))

People say that it takes faith to believe in Jesus. I agree.

But I think it also takes faith to not believe in Jesus. It is a misguided faith, but it is a strong faith, none the less.

Think about that for a moment. Those who do not believe are saying that they are placing their future in the concept that God does not exist, or that Jesus is not who the Bible says that He is, or that there are multiple ways to get to heaven. No matter what their reason for not believing, they are willing to place the outcome of their eternity in their belief that they will not suffer the consequences of their sins. To me, that takes a very strong faith

I have heard it said that those who cling to religion are weak. That may be true, but I have also known some very weak-minded individuals who cling to other things, such as money, power and fame. These individuals try to fill their lives with something that will give them meaning. They are simply placing their faith in the wrong place. Often, they are placing it in themselves. Again, their faith is strong, but it is misguided.

If someone possesses that strong a faith, can you imagine once that faith is correctly placed, just how strong of a witness that they can be for God? Every single believer was once a nonbeliever. Every single believer has had an experience that made them see things as they really are. They had something happen to them that changed their priorities. At one point, every single believer was condemned, not by God but by their own sinful actions. It took a realization that we are not perfect. It took a realization that we can never be perfect. It took a personal realization that God’s grace is for me.

Think about that. God does not condemn, but we condemn ourselves when we chose to ignore His offer of grace and mercy. It is not unlike a drowning man refusing to be helped out of the water. God is offering that help to everyone.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
(Romans 3:23 (NIV))

In order to accept God’s grace, we must have the strength to admit that we are a sinner. Grace is freely given, but it has a price. Jesus paid the price and we must also pay a price. We must come to the realization that we need salvation. We must overcome our pride. It is our pride that can condemn us.

Have you overcome your pride?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What are the reasons for what you seek?

October 16, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tested him by asking him to show them a sign from heaven.
He replied, “When evening comes, you say, `It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ and in the morning, `Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” Jesus then left them and went away.
(Matthew 16:1-4 (NIV))

Ouch !

I often wonder how Jesus would have answered if they had come honestly seeking the truth instead of seeking to test him. They were asking for a sign to prove to them who He is. They came in their doubt. How would Jesus have reacted if they had honestly came in faith?

Think about that and then think of the following story told in Matthew.

The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, `Go,’ and he goes; and that one,`Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, `Do this,’ and he does it.”
(Matthew 8:8-9 (NIV))

What was the difference in attitude of the people coming to Jesus? What was Jesus’ reaction in both cases?

Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! It will be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that very hour.
(Matthew 8:13 (NIV))

Have you ever stopped to think that the way that we approach Jesus actually makes a difference? Have you ever approached Jesus and then later realized that you were testing Him, and not approaching Him in faith?

The Pharisees and the Sadducees came to Jesus seeking a miracle so that they could test him and then decide whether to believe. The centurion came to Jesus seeking a miracle because he believed.

Jesus could see within their hearts. He knew the reasons behind their requests. It was, and still is, a matter of priorities and faith.

What are the reasons for what you seek?

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

April 26, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”
(John 5:8 (NIV))

I don’t know too many people who like to be given orders!

Most people I know don’t even like to be given instructions, especially the men. It is human nature to only do things if we think that it is our idea, and then we still procrastinate terribly before we actually get started.

Is this situation any different from your typical life experience where you are told to do something?

Think about that for a moment. There has to be a motive, a desire to do the things that we are being commanded to do. If in doubt of this, simply remember your childhood and two commands that each of us have probably heard more than we care to admit. The first command is “Go clean your room!” Did you? Would you? If you are like me, this was a very dreaded thing to do and was always met with procrastination. The second command is “Go outside and play!” Chances are that this was said when you were inside and getting into trouble. It is almost a certainty that you were probably outside before those words stopped echoing off of the walls.

What is the difference?

It is a matter of priorities. It is a matter of desires. When Jesus spoke these words to the man who was paralyzed, you have to put yourself into the life of this man. He wanted nothing more than to walk. He wanted to be healed! The command that Jesus gave this man was exactly what he wanted to hear. He was obedient to the command! In his obedience, he received a blessing. If the man had not been obedient to Jesus, he would have spent the rest of his life on that mat. God has so many wonderful blessings in store for us if we would simply be obedient to His calling.

Are we capable of this type of obedience?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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