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.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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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.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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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.
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I love it that God chose to do a new thing!

January 3, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.
(Isaiah 43:19 (NIV))

Have you ever stopped to think about this passage? We have a tendency to think that we are the ones who always want something different. We think that we are the ones who want to do a new thing, but if you actually think about it, God is the only One who has ever done good and new things! All we ever do is ruin what He has done!

God created everything. He created it all as a location for us, His creation. What did we do? We ruined it!

All throughout the Old Testament, God would do something for us as a part of His nature, and we would ruin it. He gave us promises and we disobeyed. He sent prophets and we ignored them. Finally, His ultimate plan came into fruition. He sent His Son, Jesus. He came as Emmanuel, God with us. Do you realize that the last time that God walked with His creation was before the fall from grace in the Garden of Eden? He came back into His creation so that He could walk with us and talk with us. He came to teach us exactly what He longs for us to do so that we can have fellowship with Him once again. He came to offer us a way out of our sin and back into His grace.

All throughout history, man has tried to elevate himself up to be able to reach God. God’s new thing saw Him coming to earth to meet us! His new thing brought grace and salvation to all who would simply accept the ultimate gift. God restored us to Himself at no cost to us. He paid it all!

I find it interesting that God’s new thing brought restoration to a lost world. I find it interesting that His new thing is something that He paid and we receive the benefits. I love it that God chose to do a new thing!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you on watch for bad fruit?

October 10, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
(Matthew 7:15-20 (NIV))

Think about this the next time that you hear of something that is just too good to be true, or is just a little off of what God’s Word says that it should be. Most of the time, lies are obvious, but deception is a trick of the enemy. When things sound almost right with respect to God’s word, they are totally wrong.

It should be easy for believers to realize that the “fruit” does not match the source. We should be able to easily distinguish that the things the enemy tells us are too good to be true, especially when they contradict everything that we should know to be true according to God’s Word.

Why do people fall for the deceptions of the enemy?

Are we, as a fallen, sinful race, too far removed from the truth to even recognize it?

The words in Matthew are amazing and sadly amusing if you stop to actually understand what is being said. We have enough common sense to not look for grapes on an apple tree, yet, we easily fall prey to the small lies of the enemy in hopes that the promises are true.

Test everything against God’s Word. If something is supposed to bear goodness, but it lies to do so, does it really follow God’s Word? If you are promised that it is only a small digression and no one will know about it, can it be the correct fit?

We have been told what the things of God will bear.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
(Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV))

Think of this passage when validating the truth about something. Does it produce according to the fruit of the Spirit?

Are you on watch for bad fruit?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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When was the last time that you truly prayed?

September 27, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

And foreigners who bind themselves to the LORD
      to serve him,
   to love the name of the LORD,
      and to worship him,
   all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it
      and who hold fast to my covenant–
these I will bring to my holy mountain
      and give them joy in my house of prayer.
   Their burnt offerings and sacrifices
      will be accepted on my altar;
   for my house will be called
      a house of prayer for all nations.
(Isaiah 56:6-7 (NIV))

For my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations!

When we, as believers go to our churches, what is it that we spend most of our time doing once we get there?

Chances are, if you are like most other congregations, you spend a good amount of time singing and an even larger amount of time hearing someone preach. Don’t take what I am about to say wrong, but, God did not say that His house was a house of singing or a house of preaching. It is a house of prayer. All throughout the Old Testament, we see God moving when His prophets prayed.

Jesus knew this principle. He became very angry when people turned the Temple into a place to make a profit.

“It is written,” he said to them, ” `My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a `den of robbers.’ “
(Matthew 21:13 (NIV))

Take a look at all of the great things that God accomplished through the apostles in Acts. Every time that one of these great works of God happened, you will find the words “they prayed.”

It is through prayer that God moves. It is through a fervent desire to see God move that He moves.

When was the last time that the Body of Christ got together in your church group and fervently prayed from the heart? Was it something that was so distressful that your very spirit cried out for God to intervene?

This is true prayer! When we turn to God out of a deep despair or desire, God will hear.

When was the last time that you truly prayed?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Will you be able to withstand the deception?

September 24, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

At that time if anyone says to you, `Look, here is the Christ!’ or, `Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. 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 13:21-23 (NIV))

How well do you know Jesus? How well do you know God’s Word?

Do you know them well enough to be able to discern the difference between the truth and a lie?

All too often, the enemy will shroud his lies in bits and pieces of the truth. He will use just enough of the truth to make his lies sound plausible. He will count on people not knowing God’s Word well enough to tell the difference between the truth and his lies. He will use just enough to entrap people.

Entrapment!

Do you honestly think that Satan cares how he tricks people into missing out on God’s grace and mercy? He only cares that he does trick people. It does not matter to him that he deceives people. It does not matter to him that he misuses God’s Word to deceive. He has only one goal and that is keeping as many people as possible from the redeeming grace offered through Jesus. Satan thinks that if he can’t be worshipped, then he will take that from God.

In the high-speed, fast-paced world that we now find ourselves in, we must know what we believe in. We must know what we have faith in.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
(Ephesians 6:10-18 (NIV))

Are you fully armed with the knowledge and truth that is God’s Word? Will you be able to withstand the deception?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you believe in this golden rule?

August 23, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

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))

Practically everyone knows the first part of this passage as “The Golden Rule.” Still others have their own golden rule that says “He who has the gold makes the rules.”

Personally, I hate the second saying even though it is meant as a joke. Even so, too many people seem to believe that money buys power. The Bible tells us that money, if not prioritized appropriately, causes many problems.

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
(1 Timothy 6:10 (NIV))

Money will cause many people to forget what was spoken of in Matthew 7:12. It causes people to treat others as if they did not matter. It causes people to mistreat others just so they can get more money or hold onto their money a little longer.

The love of money is the root of many evils. Money is fleeting. It can be destroyed. It can be lost in an instant. The evil that we do to gain money, or any other worldly possession or power, has eternal ramifications. It scars those whom the evil is done against, and more importantly, it causes even faithful believers to sin and turn from God’s Will.

We are to treat each other as we would want to be treated. Even if it were not a Biblical principle, it should be common courtesy to treat others as we would want to be treated. When we lose sight of this simple Biblical truth, we sin. We sin against other people. We sin against God. Perhaps we should even come to the realization that we may cause the one we have mistreated to sin out of anger.

How do you treat others? Do you see them as eternal, or do you see them as something to run over to achieve your goals?

Do you believe in this golden rule?

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