Are you prepared to enter through the narrow gate?

June 7, 2023

Are you prepared to enter through the narrow gate?

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
(Matthew 7:13- (NIV))

Anyone who has professed a faith in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savor knows that Jesus is the narrow gate.

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))

He is the only way!

No one else or nothing else can save you, or can give you what Jesus can give. We must remember this when we fail to look to Jesus for all that we need, especially when we take a look at the world and what is happening. When the world turns on believers, don’t turn away from Jesus. When the enemy attacks, don’t turn away from Jesus. When the enemy proclaims that we are to worship him, don’t turn away from Jesus!

As followers of Jesus, we are called to stand firm. We are to fix our eyes upon Jesus and never lose sight of Him. We are to clothe ourselves in the full armor of God and stand against the enemy. The enemy will do all that he can do to make you surrender, to make you bow to him. Don’t bow to the evil rules and rulers of this world.

Bow only to Jesus! He is the narrow gate!

Are you prepared to enter through the narrow gate?

Copyright 1998 – 2023 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
https://www.dailylivingministries.org
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It is not a matter of “if,” but “when”!

May 31, 2023

It is not a matter of "if," but "when"!

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

When you pass through the waters,
     I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
     they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
     you will not be burned;
     the flames will not set you ablaze.
(Isaiah 43:2 (NIV))

Did you notice anything about this passage?

There is one word that is repeated three times in these seven lines. Repetition is used to emphasize, to drive home a point. In this particular case, God spoke through the prophet Isaiah to tell people that if they choose to follow Him, He will be there with them in all circumstances including the times that they face hardships and persecution. He never said that we wouldn’t face hardships and troubles. He simply stated that He would be with us during these times. In fact, He repeated this three times to drive home the point that He would be with us during these difficult times.

When!

Why when?

If you profess a faith in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, you will be hated by the world. You will face hardships and persecution!

You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.
(Matthew 10:22 (NIV))

If you profess a faith in Jesus, and your faith is strong enough to let the world know where you stand, you will be hated. You will be hated because the world hates Jesus. You will be hated because you don’t go along with the evil things that this world condones. In many countries, you can be put to death for professing a faith in Jesus. With the current events that are transpiring in the world today, this is only the beginning. Whether you believe in a rapture, or when it will happen, we are told that we will face hardships and persecution. If you profess a faith in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, we know that these times will come. We must be prepared.

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.
(Ephesians 6:11-17 (NIV))

It is not a matter of “if,” but “when”!

Copyright 1998 – 2023 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
https://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What are you in step with?

May 30, 2023

What are you in step with?

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
(Galatians 5:25 (NIV))

Do you listen to the Spirit?

Are you receptive to that still, small voice?

If you profess a faith in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, it is so easy to think that this is always true. Sadly, for most people it is not. Even those who desire nothing but to be in His Will make mistakes. Even Paul struggled with this. Thankfully, he wrote down his thoughts for us.

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
(Romans 7:15-20 (NIV))

Paul did not give up. He did not give in to his sin!

It is a matter of attitude. It is a matter of priorities. Even when we want to do what is right, we will fail. The key is to always keep your eyes focused on Jesus and your spirit willing to listen and learn from the Holy Spirit. When the times come, and they will, when you fail to do the right things that you know you should do, it is important that you do the things you did when you first accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior.

Admit that you are a sinner in need of a Savior, still!

Humbly seek His grace and mercy.

Repent and pray for the strength to stand firm in your faith.

If we strive to live by the Spirit, we will desire to keep in step with the Spirit, but since we are still not mature in our faith, we will falter. In much the same way a child who is walking with their father will become sidetracked by all of the things that catch their eye, we, too, are still a child in our faith journey. We will inevitably become sidetracked. We will sin. When this happens, it is important to remember that we must get back in step with the one who is leading us on this faith journey.

What are you in step with?

Copyright 1998 – 2023 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
https://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you out of your earthly mind?

May 25, 2023

Are you out of your earthly mind?

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you.
(2 Corinthians 5:13 (NIV))

Have you ever heard the expression, “They’re out of their ever loving mind.”?

Perhaps you prefer saying something like one of the following. One fry short of a happy meal. The elevator doesn’t go all the way up. He has a few loose screws. Or, he doesn’t have the sense that God gave him. But, no matter how you say it, the implications are that the person in question is crazy or even stupid.

If you profess a faith in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, then this is exactly how the world sees you! The world even calls us uneducated and ignorant. What is so ironically funny is that there are many believers who are just as educated according to worldly standards as those who make these claims.

Where do you claim to belong in this attack on the sanity of those who profess a faith in Jesus?

I don’t know about you, but I love the words that Joshua spoke.

But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
(Joshua 24:15 (NIV))

I don’t care what the world thinks of me, for this world is not my home. I have been, and will continue to do what I am called to do to share my faith. At this present moment in time, the world thinks that they are right, but the Lord is patient. We must continue to be out of our minds in hopes of sharing the truth of the Gospel with those who are in need of a Savior before it is too late.

that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
     in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
     to the glory of God the Father.
(Philippians 2:10-11 (NIV))

We can profess Jesus now and be saved, or we can profess Jesus is Lord when it is too late. I don’t know about you, but waiting until it is too late is the epitome of being out of your mind, but sadly, that is how the world thinks.

With that in mind, I have but one more question for you to consider.

Are you out of your earthly mind?

Copyright 1998 – 2023 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
https://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you given up the indulgences of the flesh?

May 23, 2023

Have you given up the indulgences of the flesh?

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.
(Galatians 5:13 (NIV))

Do you still indulge in your past sins?

If you have professed a faith in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, what does your answer say about your faith?

By professing a faith in Jesus, you have admitted that you are a sinner in need of a Savior, but that does not mean that we can continue in our sin. Think of this in comparison to the relationship of a husband and wife. What happens when one spouse commits adultery and the other spouse forgives them? Does that forgiveness give the one who strayed in the relationship permission to do it again? If you answered that it does not, then why do those who profess a faith in Jesus do what we all agree should not happen?

We are told that the Blood of Jesus washes away all of our sins and that we are made white as snow through the cleansing blood of the Lamb. I love this amazing fact, this amazing gift of grace! I also love that if we truly seek His face, we are forgiven. If we repent, we are forgiven. It is a matter of attitude. We must desire to change. We must desire to repent daily and follow Jesus, but we are told that we are not to continue to deliberately choose to sin. We are to focus on Jesus and when we focus on Jesus, the sin that we have indulged our fleshly nature with soon becomes non-desirable and eventually nonexistent.

But, we can’t do it on our own. We must rely on Jesus every single moment of every single day of our lives!

There is a saying that each of us has a God-shaped hole that we try to fill with anything and everything that a human heart and a human mind can conceive. When we indulge the flesh, we attempt to fill that hole with the conceptions of our sinful nature. When we choose to serve one another humbly in love and obedience to Jesus, we indulge the righteousness that we are called to emulate. We choose to fill that God-shaped hole with what God intended.

It comes down to a personal choice.

What choices do you make on a daily basis?

Have you given up the indulgences of the flesh?

Copyright 1998 – 2023 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
https://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What do you have?

May 22, 2023

What do you have?

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
(1 Corinthians 13:1 (NIV))

I am at a loss with this passage!

I simply do not understand how someone who professes a faith in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior could live without showing the love that Jesus has called us to show. I simply do not understand how someone could be so in touch with God’s Word where they can recite scripture and not understand the very heart of what they are saying!

If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
(1 Corinthians 13:2-3 (NIV))

Everything that has been recorded since Genesis shows the overwhelming love that God has for His creation. If you truly stop to reflect on why everything was created to begin with, you realize the the Lord wanted to be in a loving relationship. You realize that, even though He knew what would happen, He gave us free will so that we could choose for ourselves whether we rebel or whether we love and follow.

Think about that!

We have each been given a choice of whether we would rebel, whether we would blindly follow a set of rules, or whether we would follow out of love. Basically, these words to the church in Corinth are targeted to those who simply follow the rules. They look at themselves in much the same way that the Pharisee saw himself in the following parable.

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
(Luke 18:9-12 (NIV))

The Pharisee did not feel love. He did not feel compassion. All that he felt was a attitude of “I’m right and you are wrong!”

Instead of love, he possessed arrogance.

What do you have?

Copyright 1998 – 2023 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
https://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are we understanding the urgency of our present time?

May 16, 2023

Are we understanding the urgency of our present time?

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.
(Romans 13:11 (NIV))

When Paul wrote these words to the Romans, he was warning them that the time had come to wake up from their sinful slumber for salvation was at hand. They had been living with no hope of salvation and Paul’s words were used as a proclamation that they now had hope, and that this hope was firmly grounded in Jesus!

Today, after two thousands years, we must be able to understand a different present time.

As believers in Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, we know that salvation is ours if we profess this faith and call upon the name of Jesus. Salvation has been made available to a sinful, fallen world for two thousand years. Today, we must watch and wait for the fulfillment of God’s plans as He draws the church age to a close.

I have stated many times in recent years that I, like many others, feel that God’s plans are rapidly unfolding right before our eyes. The events that we watch are too numerous to list here, for they are many. Just as God used Paul to tell the Romans that salvation was then available, I believe that God is using many things in this world to tell us of this present time. He is telling us to wake from our slumber.

The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.
(Romans 13:12 (NIV))

Paul preached salvation and grace based on his Damascus Road encounter with Jesus. He was correct in spreading this good news, this Gospel, to a sinful, fallen world. He was correct in helping them to understand that their time to repent was upon them. Today, we are closer to the time when Jesus gathers His church to Himself. Today, we are closer to the time when every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord. Today, we are in the times when we must do as Paul did and preach the Gospel to all whom we encounter.

Have we been woken up from our slumber?

Are we understanding the urgency of our present time?

Copyright 1998 – 2023 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
https://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What’s on your mind?

May 12, 2023

What’s on your mind?

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.
(Romans 8:6-7 (NIV))

Two very distinct examples of what awaits us if we continue to let the flesh rule our minds.

We are told in Galatians what we face, what we will see as the characteristics of the mind governed by the flesh, and they are not pretty.

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
(Galatians 5:19-21 (NIV))

Do you see these characteristics in your life?

If so, what does that say about the things that control your mind? What does that say about the actions that we must take?

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
(2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV))

When we accept Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, we have accepted the grace that is freely given, but we have also accepted the fact that our lives are not supposed to be the same as before we accepted Jesus. We are to relinquish the things of this world, the things of the flesh, and focus on the things of God. We are to strive, with His help, to replace the acts of the flesh with things of the Spirit. We are to bear good fruit according to His purpose.

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

We are to make a daily decision to have our minds governed by the fruit of the Spirit.

I realize that we are born sinners and that we live in a sinful, fallen world, but the decision is ours. We have been told that we will face troubles in this world, but we are to focus on Jesus, for He has overcome the world. We are to fill our minds with things of God and not things of this world. You will be surprised at what can and will happen in your life when this becomes your priority. It all starts with what you think about!

What’s on your mind?

Copyright 1998 – 2023 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
https://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you let down your guard?

May 9, 2023

Have you let down your guard?

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.
(Proverbs 4:23 (NIV))

God has called people to stand guard, to be watchmen against the attacks of the enemy. Anyone who professes a faith in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior is called to be ever vigilant and warn others of the lies and deceitful tactics of the enemy. We are to be the proverbial watchmen on the walls for our families, our churches, our communities, and our world. We are called to share the Gospel, but we are also called to stand guard for the sake of the Gospel in much the same manner as the watchmen posted on the walls of the old city of Jerusalem.

We are to be a warning of impending danger!

I have posted watchmen on your walls, Jerusalem;
they will never be silent day or night.
You who call on the Lord,
give yourselves no rest,
(Isaiah 62:6 (NIV))

We have a responsibility, but we must also stand guard over our own hearts. We do not want to see any lies of the enemy change what we treasure as the truth. We must stand guard against the thief that comes to steal, kill and destroy our love for the Lord which is our greatest treasure.

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

What is the current state of your heart?

Is the Lord still your greatest treasure?

We must be diligent. We must be able to protect our own hearts from the attacks of the enemy.

Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
(Ephesians 6:11 (NIV))

We must make sure that we are fully girded and ever vigilant. We don’t want to ever have to answer this following question.

Have you let down your guard?

Copyright 1998 – 2023 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
https://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How do you see Jesus?

March 31, 2023

How do you see Jesus?

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

He was despised and rejected by mankind,
     a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
     he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
Surely he took up our pain
     and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
     stricken by him, and afflicted.
(Isaiah 53:3-4 (NIV))

We are rapidly coming up on the anniversary of the events that these words refer to, but, all too often we don’t truly think of what Jesus suffered in order to offer us grace and mercy.

We gloss over everything to the point where the words recorded in Isaiah make us very uncomfortable to even think about. To prove my point, how many people have seen Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ”? Did you turn your eyes away during the scourging scenes and the crucifixion scenes? Were they difficult, even unbearable, to watch? I want you to consider some summary information that I have gleaned from experts who have studied scourging and the Roman practice of crucifixion. These experts, most of whom are all believers, have indicated that what actually happened is far worse than the scenes that we turned our eyes away from.

I am not going to go into details, but what Jesus suffered is far worse than most of us can even imagine, yet, He did it willingly!

I know that sounds way beyond our human capability of comprehension, but the pain and suffering were very real. The love that He felt, and still feels for us, is very real. The offer of grace and mercy that is freely given because of the Lord’s great love is very real.

I truly believe that we do a great disservice to what Jesus went through when we don’t portray the events as they really were. Don’t get me wrong, for I love the old movies about the life of Jesus, but they often make it look like the punishment was not as great as it truly was. They make it look like the resurrection was not a total physical body repair job, but simply an event similar to when Jesus said that the girl was only sleeping. It even goes further than raising Lazarus from the dead. If you remember, he had been dead several days and everyone told Jesus that he would smell. From what I have been able to study about scourging, the very skin was ripped from the body. From what I have read about crucifixion, the vital organs shut down.

This was suffering. This was pain. People turned their faces away from this site in much the same way that we turned our faces away from the scenes in the movie.

Do you want to know how much Jesus loves you? Simply look at a true account of what He went through. Then, take a serious look at what God had to do to resurrect His battered, bleeding, and broken body. That miraculous event should make any skeptic fall to their knees and boldly profess, “My Lord, my God, and My Savior!”

How do you see the one who was despised and rejected?

How do you see Jesus?

Copyright 1998 – 2023 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
https://www.dailylivingministries.org
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