Have you accepted your job as a minister?

August 21, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant–not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
(2 Corinthians 3:6 (NIV))

It has been said that the Old Testament and The Law are there to show us what we are supposed to do and how difficult it is to do it. If this is true, then the New Testament is there to show us that we have another way. The Law is there as the letter that we must follow perfectly and never falter or waiver from its course. The Spirit is given to us by the grace and mercy shown at the cross. The Spirit gives us redemption and salvation. It gives us freedom from the Law. This freedom does not mean that we are able to ignore the Law and do whatever we want. It means that we are given grace for we are not capable of being perfect even when we desire it with all of our hearts. It allows us to be human. It allows us to make mistakes and then learn from our mistakes.

The twist to all of this is that through the Spirit, we are all ministers one to another. In the Old Testament and under the Law, ministers had to be set apart from the rest of society. They had to be ceremonially pure. They had to be followers of the letter of the Law. If they did not follow the letter of the Law, they faced the possibility of death in the presence of God.

Today, we have grace and mercy as our mantle. We have salvation through the blood of Jesus. We have the Spirit. Through the Spirit, we are given life in the presence of God, were, before the Spirit, we only faced death. Speaking for myself, I do not long to follow the letter of the Law, for it is inflexible and unforgiving. I want forgiveness and mercy, for I know that I am not perfect and cannot ever achieve perfection on my own.

I need to repent and turn away from my sin!

I need grace!

I need to help others find that grace!

I, in all of my human shortcomings, am a minister of that grace. I have accepted my position.

Have you accepted your job as a minister?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you willing to have your heart tested by the Lord?

August 20, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests the heart.
(Proverbs 17:3 (NIV))

Is it just me, or does this passage make you realize that the things that we all go through in our lives can have a positive outcome or they can have a negative outcome? It is a matter of perspective and attitude. We can look at situations in our lives and wallow in self pity, or we can see the situations as a matter of a learning experience. In fact, everything that we face in this life can be seen as a learning experience.

A wise son accepts his father’s discipline, But a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.
(Proverbs 13:1 (NIV))

Consider the crucible and the furnace. They are necessary tools and steps to bring out the best in the precious metals. If you are familiar with refining metals, then you will understand the possibilities. Impure metals are heated to their melting point. Some of the impurities will burn away due to the high heat. Others will float in the molten metal for the metal worker to somehow separate. Then the molten metal is cooled, and, if necessary, the process is repeated until the metal has had the impurities removed. Now, imagine your life. Each of us has things in our life that are less than desirable in the eyes of the Lord. He refines us. He disciplines us in order to bring out the best in us. After all, aren’t we more important to the Lord than precious metals are to us? He is going to use the tools that He has to refine us, to test the very nature of our heart.

The Lord desires for us to have a pure heart. He calls each of us to Himself, and if we answer that call, He will mature us. He will purify us. He will give us opportunities to draw closer to Himself. The closer we draw to Him, the more we know Him and seek after His heart. When we seek after His heart, our hearts become refined. He desires to purify our hearts. The things that we go through in life will either draw us closer to Him and his righteousness and purity, or they will drive us to the evil desires of our hearts. Personally, I desire nothing more than to draw closer to the Lord. If that means that I must face the refiners fire, I am willing. Are you?

Are you willing to have your heart tested by the Lord?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Don’t follow your heart. Follow Jesus!

August 6, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.
(Proverbs 19:21 (NIV))

How many times have you been given advice to follow your heart? How many times have you given this advice? Is this really sound advice when you stop to consider how many times the Bible refers to the human heart as wicked and deceitful? Ever since the fall from grace, our hearts have been filled with selfish and sinful desires.

The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.
(Genesis 6:5 (NIV))

The heart is deceitful above all things
     and beyond cure.
     Who can understand it?
(Jeremiah 17:9 (NIV))

If you don’t think this is true, simply look at your own life. Are there things that you have done, or you think about doing, that would shock your family and your friends if they only knew what was in your heart? Do you look around at those whom you know and find yourself thinking that if they only knew the true you they wouldn’t want to be near you?

Human nature is so full of secrets and shortcomings that it is a wonder how any of us truly have any family or friends! We are so self-centered that even on our best days we still fail miserably at doing anything close to what the Lord calls us to do. We fail because we listen to our selfish and sinful hearts when we should be listening to the Lord.

Is your heart pure? What plans do you hide in your heart? What sinful desires do you hide in your heart? Life is a series of choices that we all must make. Every single day we are faced with a choice of who to follow. Do we follow our own sinful hearts or do we strive to follow Jesus?

It is easy to say this, but very difficult to walk it through. We must make an effort to follow Jesus and repent when we stray so that the Lord’s purpose prevails.

In other words, don’t follow your heart. Follow Jesus!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you clothed as a new born?

December 17, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.
(John 3:5-6 (NIV))

When we were born of flesh, we were born of this world and of the things in it.

Unfortunately, being born of this world and the things in it meant that we were born into sin. Not a single one of us was born into this world without the power and the consequences of sin looming over us.

Satan is the god of this world and all of its fleshly sins. We are born of flesh. God cannot associate with Satan, so we must be “born again” of the Spirit.

In order to escape sin, we must be born of the Spirit to be of God. The Spirit is of God. Jesus came into this world to offer us a way to be clothed in the things of God. He offered us a way to become a new creation in the eyes of God! Jesus provided a way for each of us to be born anew. In order to enter into God’s kingdom, we must “shake off” the world and put on the Spirit and clothe ourselves in things that are of God and not of this earth.

Through inheritance, we become just as pure as the new born infant that we celebrate. We think of becoming more and more like Jesus, but have you ever stopped to think that we have to truly become a new creation for all that we know was of this world. All that we cling to as good was of this world. We must leave all of the behind and start anew. We must be clothed in the innocence of a new born baby.

Are you clothed as a new born?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Can you claim that purity on your own?

November 1, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false.
(Psalms 24:3-4 (NIV))

A pure heart is all God really asks for. If your heart is pure, then all things that you are involved in will also be pure, for the heart leads us where it is focused. If your heart is focused on sin and perversion, then your life will be full of sin and perversion. If your heart is focused on God and His righteousness, then your life will be filled with those things.

It is said that you are what you eat. Perhaps that saying should be stated that you are what your heart desires. Jesus even stated that what goes into your body does not make you unclean.

Nothing outside a man can make him `unclean’ by going into him. Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him `unclean.’ ”
(Mark 7:15)

So then, it is possible for people to ascend the hill of the Lord!

This is an awesome thought, for all throughout the Old Testament, being in the presence of God meant certain death. This death was probably due to the fact that people are sinful and God cannot be around sin. We are still sinful, yet, we have a Savior who has paid the price for our sins. Jesus Christ died on the cross for all of us, and through His selfless act, we have the ability to be made white as snow in the sight of God.

A popular laundry detergent for baby clothes states that it is 99 and 99/100 percent pure. We have the ability, through Jesus Christ, to be 100 percent pure in the eyes of God.

Can you claim that purity on your own?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you recognize the unchanging nature of Jesus?

September 24, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
(Hebrews 13:8 (NIV))

Have you ever heard people say that if Jesus were on the earth today, He wouldn’t teach the same things that He taught two thousand years ago?

Their reasoning is that we now live in a modern society that is different from the way things were two thousand years ago. They claim that humanity has advanced and that we have learned so much since Jesus walked among us. They claim that truth is not absolute and what is true for one person is not true for all. They claim that alternate lifestyles are now acceptable because society has accepted them and that Jesus would accept them as well.

If Jesus didn’t do it when He walked this earth, what makes you think He’d do it now?

Sin is still sin!

Just because humanity justifies something doesn’t make it right, especially in the eyes of God.

There is something about human nature that despises change, yet we are constantly looking for something new and better. Paul knew human nature. He warned us about falling for something that was not true. Yet, we have a tendency to do just that.

But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.
(2 Corinthians 11:3-4 (NIV))

Truth never changes.

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))

Do you recognize the unchanging nature of Jesus?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you a doer of the Word?

July 31, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it–he will be blessed in what he does.

If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
(James 1:19-27 (NIV))

Perhaps the best way to say what these words say is simply the phrase “Be doers of the Word.”

We cannot honestly expect to “give lip service” to God and then go about our business ignoring Him! When you take wedding vows, do you expect to be able to say “I Do,” and then go about your life as if you were still single? When you accept a job from someone, can you do what you please and not show up when you agreed to? What is different with our promise to God and our acceptance of His only son, Jesus Christ, as our personal Lord and Savior? Is it because we do not see them that we “give lip service” and do not do what we should be doing?

Honesty and integrity of faith are what God seeks in us. When we accept Jesus, we also accept the rules of the gift of grace. Some people claim the gift, but deny the rules. God wishes for us to be faithful to Him, and to keep all other “gods” in there places. Anything can become a “god” if we place it above anything else. If money is so important that you would cheat to get more, then money has become your “god.”

Be doers of the Word. Remember, actions always speak louder than words. Do not let other “gods” keep you from God.

Are you a doer of the Word?

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