Don’t be deceived because of your preconceived ideas!

September 13, 2022

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.
(Matthew 24:24 (NIV))

How well do you know God’s Word?

Can you tell the difference between the truth and a lie?

Do you think that you could be deceived by false messiahs and false prophets?

We think that we know Jesus, but does sitting in church for an hour a week bring you close enough to the Lord to be able to discern His voice over the many voices vying for your attention?

If a bank teller is taught how to recognize counterfeit money by becoming very familiar with the real thing, doesn’t it stand to reason that the only way for someone to truly recognize false messiahs and false prophets is to get to know the real Jesus, the true Messiah? In much the same way that money has a very distinguishable feel, Jesus has a very distinguishable truth to Him. You just need to take the time to know Jesus and not simply know a few sound bites that most people can relate to. Do you know why Jesus came into the world? Do you know what He taught about sin? Do you know what He taught about human traditions masquerading as worship? Do you know why He went to the cross? Do you know that the enemy knows God’s Word and will twist it to deceive you? Do you know that the enemy fears someone who truly relies on Jesus and who knows the power that is contained within the name of Jesus? Do you truly know Jesus?

There have been many false messiahs and false prophets throughout history. There will be a time when the ultimate false messiah will enter onto the world stage. Will you be able to recognize him when he performs his great signs and wonders?

We have all grown up hearing Bible stories. We have all heard preachers who put a twist to what they preach. Do you have any preconceived ideas because of these teachings? No one likes to be deceived. Now is the time to truly get to know Jesus. You must know Him as your personal Lord and Savior. You must know Him as the Lamb of God. You must know Him as the Mighty Warrior and the Prince of Peace. You must know that He hates sin but grace and mercy are freely given to all who will call upon His name and turn away from their sin. If someone or something does not call you to repent and turn away from your sin, then it is false. If someone or something doesn’t point to Jesus as the only way to the Father, then it is false. Do you have any preconceived ideas that are contrary to these two truths? It is time to know the real Jesus and not the sound bites.

Don’t be deceived because of your preconceived ideas!

Copyright 1998 – 2022 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
https://www.dailylivingministries.org
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We must listen to God’s Word and repent!

February 23, 2022

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Again and again I sent my servants the prophets, who said, ‘Do not do this detestable thing that I hate!’
(Jeremiah 44:4 (NIV))

The Lord spoke through Jeremiah and all of the other prophets and nobody listened. Is the Lord speaking to us today through His prophets? If so, have we become too jaded by our so-called intellectual superiority that we find ourselves doing the very same thing that was done by the people that God sent the prophets to? Do we keep doing the detestable thing that God hates? Can we even recognize when someone speaks God’s truth, or have we become so engrossed in our selfishness, ego and pride that we don’t even know His truth when it is right in front of us?

Do we, do you, look to Jesus?

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
(John 14:6 (NIV))

Have we become so comfortable in our faith in Jesus that we start slacking in our attention to His truth? Do we take our salvation for granted and assume that all is forgiven even if we continue to sin? Have we forgotten how to repent?

Think about that last question!

God sent the prophets to Israel when they started to fall away. Some people still thought that they were being faithful, but they still worshipped false gods. We profess a faith in Jesus, yet, do we worship false gods such as wealth, power, prestige, and personal choice? Aren’t these the very reasons that the Lord sent His prophets to call the people to repentance?

Are we missing His prophets today? Have we believed the lie that God doesn’t speak to us through His prophets anymore because that was an Old Testament practice? What about a New Testament passage that says He still gives us prophets?

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
(Ephesians 4:11 (NIV))

Is there someone in the world today that speaks God’s truth for this very moment in time? Is there someone in your life that speaks God’s truth into your life in such a way that you change directions, that you repent? Are you comfortable hearing from God and calling people to repentance?

We must listen to God’s Word and repent!

Copyright 1998 – 2022 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Even the powerful fulfill His Will!

December 20, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.
(Luke 2:1 (NIV))

If I were a betting person, I would say that Caesar Augustus probably thought that the census was his idea.

I love how the Lord makes things happen according to His purpose. I love how He uses people to fulfill His plans. Without the census, Joseph and Mary would not have had to make the trip to be counted. Without the census, Jesus would not have been born where the prophets had said that He would be born. Without this census, God’s timing would not have unfolded as we know it.

To Caesar Augustus, ordering the census was probably all part of an egotistical idea to see how many people fell under his rule, but to God, this was all part of His plan to accurately fulfill the many prophecies of the birth of Jesus. God is the master architect of all creation. He has been working His plan according to His purpose and His timing ever since the fall from grace in the Garden of Eden. This census did not take God by surprise. He knew it would happen exactly when it happened. He knew that it would be the catalyst for Joseph and Mary to be in the right town when Jesus was born.

Do you think that Caesar Augustus understood all of the ramifications of his census? Do you think that he knew what God was using him to bring about?

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
     neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
(Isaiah 55:8 (NIV))

We may not fully understand the details of things that God unfolds as He is unfolding them, but we do know that His plan is the victor in the end. We may not see every single little step or detail, but we know how it ends. We are to keep our eyes on Jesus and firmly place our trust in Him even when things look like they are completely falling apart. Think about that. The last thing that the Jews wanted to do was to be subjugated under Roman authority, yet it was that Roman authority that set in motion the very thing that allowed the birth of Jesus to fulfill prophecy.

Are we seeing anything in the world today that God could be using to fulfill His Will?

Even the powerful fulfill His Will!

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What do you believe?

September 20, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.
(1 John 4:1-3 (NIV))

In today’s world, deceit is everywhere. The prince of this world tries to deceive the faithful by wrapping his deception in a cloak that imitates the Truth.

Be careful in what you allow into your heart. Test everything. Satan can also appear as an angel of Light. If something does not acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior, run from it.

All of God’s Truth throughout the history of the Bible has pointed to one man through many prophecies. If something professes to be from God, yet does not acknowledge that Jesus is the only begotten Son, it is not from God.

Jesus foretold of this and left us a warning.

For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect–if that were possible. So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time.
(Mark 13:22-23 (NIV))

Do not be deceived, but keep your eyes focused on God and His Son, Jesus Christ.

What do you believe?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you sure you only want to hear pleasant things?

July 20, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

They say to the seers,
       “See no more visions!”
and to the prophets,
       “Give us no more visions of what is right!
Tell us pleasant things,
       prophesy illusions.
(Isaiah 30:10 (NIV))

Do you want to hear fairy tales, bedtime stories and other pleasant things, or do you want to hear the truth? Do you want to hear that the sinful things you do are okay, or do you want to hear the truth and repent of your sins? Do you want to be happy in your sin and lost for all eternity, or do you want to hear the truth that will lead you to an eternity with God?

Sadly, human nature seems to like pleasant things even if they are wrong. This seems to be getting more and more prevalent in the world today. Are we seeing what Paul wrote to Timothy coming to fruition?

For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.
(2 Timothy 4:3 (NIV))

Even Jesus experienced this with those who followed Him when He walked the earth. When He started teaching something that was difficult to hear, many would simply go home. At one point, He asked His disciples if they wanted to leave. I know that He already knew the answer to this question. He simply wanted them to search themselves and answer.

From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
“You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.
Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.
(John 6:66-68 (NIV))

How do you respond when you read or hear passages that state things that you don’t like? Do you get offended and go home, or do you dig in and look at yourself in relation to that passage so that you can learn and mature in your faith? Do you only read the pleasant parts of the Bible or do you read and study all of it?

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
(2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV))

I know that those who profess a faith in Jesus cling to the solid promise of salvation that is only available through Him. I know that we like to make wide-sweeping statements such as I know who wins in the end, but have you ever stopped to consider that the Bible is a story of the battle between God and Satan, between good and evil, and as such, there will be things that we do not like. In order to be fully equipped with the full armor of God, we must hear the truth. We need to know how to wage warfare against the enemy.

Are you sure you only want to hear pleasant things?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Does the Lord have all your heart, soul and strength?

June 17, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
(Deuteronomy 6:5 (NIV))

Do you love the Lord?

Let me ask this in a different way. What are you willing to give up for the Lord? Status? Career? House? Cars? Family? Friends?

Did you cringe at any of these things? Did you find yourself thinking something like, “As long as I don’t have to give up _______!”

What if God called you to sacrifice the thing that you loved most in order to follow Him? Would you respond like Abraham did with Isaac or would you respond like the rich young ruler?

Many people associate the words from Deuteronomy 6:5 with how Jesus responded in the following passage from Matthew.

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
(Matthew 22:36-40 (NIV))

If you truly love the Lord, you realize that everyone is made in the image of God. The way that we treat each other is indicative of how we treat the Lord and ourselves. Unfortunately, society’s definition of love means that we embrace their sins. Is this true love? Would you validate your sinful behavior to the point where you are killing yourself with alcohol or drugs and still claim to love yourself? How can we embrace the sins of others when we know that the same sin in our lives leads to death?

We must love as Jesus loved!

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))

Perhaps we should look at this concept through these words. Love the Lord your God as He first loved us – with all of His heart, with all of His soul and with all of His strength. He had the love and commitment to sacrifice His Son to save us! Doesn’t this merit the gratitude and unfailing love of thankfulness?

Does the Lord have all your heart, soul and strength?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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In all things we must seek God!

June 1, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
(Matthew 7:12 (NIV))

Isn’t it sad that something so simple and profound as this truth has been twisted into what has literally become the motto of way too many people. I am talking about the perversion of this passage into the saying “Do unto others first.”

What have we become as a society when God’s Word is changed to reflect the exact opposite of what He intended?

It is no wonder that we have increased crime. It is no wonder we have increased divorce rates. It is no wonder we have sex in public schools. It is no wonder we have allowed God to be removed from all aspects of our public life. He has been made fun of and ridiculed using twisted words that mock His truth. We have literally chased Him away.

We, as a society, need to seek after God and earnestly seek His forgiveness. Perhaps, then we can truly turn this country back to the strength it once knew when its citizens were not ashamed to humble themselves and pray.

if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
( 2 Corinthians 7:14 (NIV))

I honestly believe that we need to turn to God in prayer and ask for His guidance in all that we do, personally and as a nation. If we, as citizens of this country, would spend half the time in prayer that we spend complaining, we could see the fulfillment of this passage. We must seek God in prayer and earnestly repent of our sins. We must turn to Him in all things and not just the things that we are willing to give to Him.

In all things we must seek God!

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

April 14, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.

He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”
They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?”

“What things?” he asked.
“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.”

He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.

When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.
(Luke 24:13-35 (NIV))

I hope and pray that you encountered the risen Lord Jesus during Easter. I also pray that you continue to walk with Him during all the days of your life. He is with us even when we do not recognize Him. With that in mind, how would you want Jesus to see you in your daily actions?

Are you walking with Jesus?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do you see the hope that points to Jesus?

March 20, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
(Romans 15:4 (NIV))

What do you think of the Old Testament? Do you ignore it because it is boring reading through Deuteronomy and Numbers? Do you always turn to Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and everything after these books?

Paul was a very devout Jewish man. In fact, he was probably what the Jewish society of his day considered to be the ideal Jewish man. He had been educated as a boy. He excelled at his education in the Torah and was selected to go on with additional studies. He excelled there and went on even further. He was what they considered to be the cream of the crop, or the best of the best.

Paul gave all of this up after his Damascus Road experience. He met Jesus and his whole world was turned upside down. All of his studying and knowledge had been misguided. Even though it was acquired through misguided endeavors, Paul realized that it was the Word of God and it still applied. He only had to come to terms with what it really meant. He came to the realization that all of the Law and the Prophets were there to teach us not only as he had learned, but so much more. Every word spoke of the way that God wants us to live. Every word spoke of the ideal that could never be achieved by man. Paul also realized that it taught us of Jesus. Every word that tells us how God wants us to live gives us an insight into the path of salvation that God is working. Achieving an ideal and perfect life can not be attained by man. As a result, in order to see salvation, an ideal and perfect life must have lived. Only God’s Son could live such a life.

Paul knew the Hebrew Scriptures extremely well. He knew them well enough to realize that they truly pointed to Jesus. How can we truly understand Jesus if we do not understand all of the signs that point to Him?

Do you see the hope that points to Jesus?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are we still witnessing or are we simply waiting?

February 3, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
(Acts 1:7-8 (NIV))

Have we gotten tired of waiting? Have we given up being witnesses because we don’t see any evidence of His return? Do you tell yourself that witnessing is not your gift? Perhaps we have developed an attitude that we have done our part and it’s time for a rest. Have I left your excuse out of my list?

I don’t mean to sound harsh and degrading. I don’t want to sound like I am pointing fingers. I realize that we have all felt like this at some point or another. In fact, I have told myself that personal witnessing is not my gift more times than I care to admit. To be honest with you, I am not good at public speaking. I am not good at one on one, but, if you give me a keyboard and a verse, I believe that I have found my way of witnessing. With this simple truth about myself, I believe that if you look at humanity, you will quickly realize that God created each of us with unique gifts. Because each unsaved sinner is unique, each repentant sinner who has claimed salvation has a unique way of reaching someone else. It is a way that may be designed for reaching only one person. We must remember that each person is loved by God and the one that you are called to share the Gospel with may be the next person to share the Gospel with millions!

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up
(Ephesians 4:11-12 (NIV))

Just because our gift is not evangelism doesn’t mean that we can’t use our gifts to witness, to spread the Gospel!

It is true that we don’t know the hour or the date that the Father has set, but we all have an urgent task that we must not neglect. Whether it is by evangelism, writing, hospitality, generosity, music, or art, we all have a gift that we can use to witness to the amazing truth of the Gospel. Just because we don’t know the hour or the date doesn’t mean that we should stop using our gifts to reach the world. We are called to be faithful until He comes.

Are we being faithful with the gifts that He has given to us or have we grown complacent in our witness? Have we started using excuses like those I previously mentioned to convince ourselves that it is okay if we don’t witness? We need to take a serious look at what Jesus has called us to do and whether we are being faithful in that calling.

Are we still witnessing or are we simply waiting?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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