What did Jesus teach?

October 27, 2022

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
(Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV))

When Jesus walked the earth, did He spend His time forming social justice rallies? Did He spend His time plotting the overthrow of the Romans? Did He spend His time organizing food pantries? Did He spend His time organizing environmental cleanups?

No!

He spent His time doing something far more important! In His own words, He told us exactly why He came and what He was doing.

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.
(Luke 19:10 (NIV))

He was fulfilling the task set before Him by His Father.

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. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
(John 3:16-18 (NIV))

He was calling people to repent and to believe in Him. He was offering redemption and mercy that allows people to have eternal life. We are told to go and make disciples of all nations. Are we doing that? Are we reaching out to the lost with the love of Jesus and offering them the greatest gift of all?

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
(John 14:12 (NIV))

Are we doing what Jesus did? Are we seeking the lost? Have we become too afraid of the consequences of sharing the Gospel? Think about that question in relation to what Jesus told us.

“Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.
(Matthew 10:21-22 (NIV))

Have we, the modern church, watered down the teachings of Jesus to the point where we no longer know what He taught?

With this in mind, I have but one more question to ask.

What did Jesus teach?

Copyright 1998 – 2022 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
https://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you watching and waiting with high expectations?

October 25, 2022

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way.

For the Day will not come until after the Apostasy has come and the man who separates himself from Torah has been revealed, the one destined for doom.
(2 Thessalonians 2:3 (CJB))

There are times that I wish that I could read the scriptures in the original Hebrew or Greek with a full understanding of those original languages. There are subtleties and nuances in these words that have baffled translators for countless years. For example, the word translated as “Apostasy” comes from the original Greek word “apostasia.” The Liddell and Scott Greek Lexicon defines apostasia first as “defection, revolt;” then secondly as “departure, disappearance.” Depending on which definition you use, the whole meaning of this passage can change.

Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.
(2 Thessalonians 2:3 (NIV))

Most translations use the first definition, but since we don’t truly know what Paul intended, and the possibility that the definitions may have shifted over the years, the best that anyone can do is make an educated guess based on the context of the passage. If we simply use a word substitution, you begin to see the conundrum. One speaks of a rebellion while the other speaks of the Rapture.

…that day will not come until the revolt occurs
or
…that day will not come until the disappearance occurs

It is in these situations that I rely on a different source than human translations. I seek the Lord in prayer and prayerfully ask for discernment and understanding. As is the case for this passage, I often have to wait for the Lord’s timing. We know that we cannot know the hour or the day, but we can know the season. I venture that this also applies to God giving us insight into the clarity of passages such as this. If you think about it, people have been debating over the meanings of Scripture passages for a very long time. Only as the events described within the passage come into focus does the true meaning come to light.

Something just made my whole body tingle. We know that God’s Word often has a short term and a long term meaning. Is it possible that Paul’s choice of the word “apostasia” and the two very distinct meanings was intentional? Let’s try one more word substitution in order to convey what just came to mind.

…that day will not come until the revolt and the disappearance occur

Does this make sense? Humanity has to cross a line of no return in their rebellion against God AND the true church has to be taken out of the picture before the man of lawlessness will come on the scene. Does this indicate that God will judge the world’s rebellion and then remove the church based on His judgment? In many of my readings, this coincides with what many people believe will happen. Is it possible that the translators picked a single definition when Paul meant that both definitions were to be applied?

No matter how you choose to translate that word, one thing is certain. We must not allow ourselves to be deceived. We MUST keep our eyes focused on Jesus.

Are you watching and waiting with high expectations?

Copyright 1998 – 2022 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
https://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What is it that you seek?

September 28, 2022

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
(Matthew 6:33 (NIV))

What is it that you seek?

In our society, we have a tendency to seek after luxuries. That has been the human condition for as long as we have recorded history. To be honest with you, I am not exactly certain what God will give us, for He gives to each person according to His Will and His plan. All that you have to do is take a look at those whom He has blessed. Each blessing is different and each blessing is custom tailored to the person and their situation.

All throughout the Bible there have been examples of people that God has blessed with luxuries because they earnestly sought Him. Solomon comes to mind as one of these people whom God blessed with wisdom, power and riches. There are also examples of people who devoted their lives to God and only had locusts and wild honey to show for it. Don’t get me wrong. John the Baptist was thoroughly blessed by God for his devotion. It was simply a blessing that many people have trouble understanding.

Matthew, in writing this passage, speaks not of luxuries, but of every day necessities such as food and clothing. God provides exactly what we need. Take another look at John the Baptist. He was blessed by God for He provided John the Baptist with locusts and wild honey. I don’t think that we would consider that a blessing, but it truly was. It allowed John to preach repentance, to do God’s Will, and not worry about what he would eat or what he would wear. God provided just what John needed so that John could fulfill his unique calling.

This is an important concept!

God provided just what was needed! He does not send blessings in the same way to everyone. He knows us so well that His blessings are as unique as we are.

He sent locusts and wild honey to John to sustain him. He also sent manna to the Israelites while they wandered in the desert. Even when they did not seek first His kingdom, He provided. He provided wisdom to Solomon because he wanted to rule justly and righteously. As a result, God provided so much more.

Take a look at all that you have. What do you seek first – more possessions or God’s Word?

Life is ironic at times. When we seek after earthly security, it never comes. When we seek after God, He gives us Himself, His security, and all of these other things, too.

Seek after God’s kingdom and not the luxuries of this world. He will surprise you with what He does give you, especially when you don’t know what tomorrow will bring. Seek after the peace that passes all understanding. Seek after the One who can overcome all the troubles of this world! If you seek after these things, He will provide all that you need. In addition, you will be given eternity in His presence!

What is it that you seek?

Copyright 1998 – 2022 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
https://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Turn to the Lord!

August 11, 2022

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

God is our refuge and strength,
     an ever-present help in trouble.
(Psalms 46:1 (NIV))

How true this is!

We have a refuge from the storms of this life. God is always there to turn to no matter what our life is bringing to us or what the sinful, fallen world is sending our way. Whether we need to turn to God for safety and refuge or whether we turn to God in celebration, He is always there to turn to. He will never abandon those who earnestly seek Him and call upon His Son, Jesus Christ for salvation.

God is good all the time!

Do you earnestly seek Him? Do you truly desire the things that He promises over the things of this world?

If you simply look at the things of this world and have no other point of reference, there are some things that look appealing. I know that you have looked. What person hasn’t looked? What are the things that initially caught your attention in this world? There are things that we all like such as nice homes, nice cars, enough money to do what you want when you want, and the respect of those around you, but are these things the source of your strength or have they caused you more trouble than you care to admit? Even those who have these things still have troubles. In fact, I remember talking to someone about these things when I was in my mid-twenties. His reply to me was that having these things didn’t make your troubles go away. They just got bigger. A nice house and nice cars just lead to the same thing – headache! The only difference is the size of the headache, the size of the trouble.

With that in mind, no matter the size of your trouble, simply remember that God is our refuge. He is our strength. He alone is our help in trouble, and at this moment in time, the whole world is facing trouble. Pandemics, weather issues, extreme temperatures, supply chaine problems, food shortages, wars and rumors of wars are all signs of the troubles that the whole world is facing. We have had times of great wars and times of pandemics. We have had times of localized food shortages and weather, but we have never had things worldwide with the prospect of things of Biblical proportion. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but I rest assured that I have placed my faith and trust solely in the Lord.

When things in life are tough, take refuge in the Lord.

When things in life are tough, find strength in the Lord.

When things in life are tough, seek help from the Lord.

It is often said that life is tough, so that only leaves one possible conclusion.

Turn to the Lord!

Copyright 1998 – 2022 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
https://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you need to make adjustments to your priorities?

June 9, 2022

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
(Matthew 6:33 (NIV))

What is it that you seek in life? Is it self-indulgent? Is it self-gratifying? Is it something that you would be proud to tell someone about?

Far too many people seek the wrong things in life. Sadly, some people seek the right things but for the wrong reasons. These people seek to do what is right, but not because it is right, but because it will bring them notoriety and recognition. They seek the accolades of men and not the recognition by God.

It is a matter of the heart and priorities.

What are your priorities?

I once heard a talk given on priorities. It was a short, but powerful retrospective discourse that made me look inside myself and come to the conclusion that I had been the very person who had been doing things for the wrong reasons. I came away with the realization that I needed to place God first in all that I do. It has not been easy to live up to this realization. I fail many times a day. Still, I know that when I fail, I can ask for grace and mercy and repent and try again.

Seeking God’s kingdom first is not easy. Nothing worth having is easy. Think about your favorite past-time. Whether it is golf, art, or a musical instrument, it required work. Mastering it was not an easy task. That was only one part of your life. God’s kingdom is all encompassing. It requires all of your life. If you seek God’s kingdom first, He will give you grace and mercy so that everything else will fall in place.

What are your priorities?

Do you need to make adjustments to your priorities?

Copyright 1998 – 2022 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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We are called to do what Jesus did!

February 17, 2022

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another.
(1 John 3:10 (NIV))

The word “should” is used to express a command, an obligation, or something that is expected. Does this change the way that you read and understand this passage? Think about that in context. We use the word “should” so frequently that perhaps we have lost the understanding of what it means. Let’s try a little word replacement in the last sentence and see if that helps to strengthen our understanding.

We are commanded to love one another.

We are obligated to love one another.

We are expected to love one another.

Do these express a stronger sentiment than “We should love one another?” Our society has come to understand the meaning of that word to be something closer to the following scenario. It is suggested that we love one another, but I don’t think that we really need to. Is this how you have read and understood this passage? Is it nothing more than a simple suggestion that we can take or leave? If that is the case, then I truly am beginning to understand the state of the world. Each of us are so engrossed in our own little lives that we fail to realize that the whole world is in the same predicaments that we find ourselves in. We have accepted Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, but we fail to recognize that it is up to us to share Jesus to a lost and dying world. We don’t go out of our way to show compassion to anyone. We run full speed ahead and ignore all of the hurting people that we encounter.

What did Jesus do?

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
(Luke 19:10 (NIV))

Jesus saw the brokenhearted. He saw the outcast. He saw the sick and the dying. He saw the lost. He did not simply barge past them. He saw them and He had compassion on them. These people weren’t a hindrance to His ministry. They were, and still are, the sole purpose for all that He did.

And, . . .

We are called to do the same!

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
(John 14:12 (NIV))

We are called to do what Jesus did!

Copyright 1998 – 2022 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you been bold enough to ask, seek and knock?

October 29, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.
(Matthew 7:7 (NIV))

Does this sound too good to be true?

There is absolutely nothing in this physical world that can honestly make one of these claims, let alone all three. If you ask for something, how often do you receive what you ask for? If you are looking for something, or seeking something, how often do you truly find what you are looking for? How many times in your life have you gone up to a door and knocked and found nobody was home? The physical world is full of unfulfilled expectations and desires. In most instances we do not get what we ask for. We do not get what we seek, and we do not get doors opened for us and get met with welcoming and open arms.

I love how these words from Matthew point us back to our basic human needs. We want to be heard when we ask. We want to receive what is good for us. We want to find faith, hope and love. We long to be welcomed with open arms in much the same way that a loving grandparent will open the door and embrace us when we go to visit. We long for peace and assurance that we are loved and not just some random mistake. We long for grace. We long for Jesus!

He is waiting!

For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
(Matthew 7:8 (NIV))

Nothing in this world is guaranteed. We are not promised tomorrow. Ask for grace and mercy through the cross and it will be given to you. Seek salvation through Jesus and you will find it. Knock on the door to the very throne room of God, and with the gift of grace and mercy freely given through Jesus, it will be opened to you. It is up to you. You must ask. You must seek, and you must knock. We are told what will happen when we do.

We will receive the greatest gift to have ever been given.

We will find salvation and eternal life through Jesus.

We will have direct access to God the Father as His children.

Have you been bold enough to ask, seek and knock?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you thirst for the living water?

May 18, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

O God, you are my God,
     earnestly I seek you;
  my soul thirsts for you,
     my body longs for you,
  in a dry and weary land
     where there is no water.
(Psalms 63:1 (NIV))

All too often we hear words that speak of a dry and weary land where there is no water.

Is it just me, or have things gotten very dry and weary lately? There doesn’t seem to be any hope in this world and it is becoming a wearisome burden to simply watch things as they unfold. As members of the Body of Christ, we know that we thirst for God. We know that this thirst cannot be quenched by anything of this world, but still we long for a glimpse of His righteousness as the world sinks further and further into a spiritual dryness. Just as we long for a cool and refreshing taste of water when we are physically dry and weary, we long for a cool and refreshing moment in the living water!

Stop to think about this statement. Without water, we die. We start to lose consciousness and eventually lose all touch with reality because our body has started to shut down.

We can go for days and even weeks without eating, yet, we cannot go for much more than twenty-four hours without water. Just as our bodies need water to survive, our souls need God to survive. We need to drink deeply of the life-giving “water” that freely flows from God through Jesus Christ. This water is freely given. It is available to any and all who desire it. There is only one stipulation, and that it can only be received by receiving Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior.

We thirst for water to satisfy our bodies. Do you thirst for the living water from God to satisfy your soul? There is only one source!

Do you thirst for the living water?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are we seeking the lost for Jesus?

April 28, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.
(Luke 19:10 (NIV))

What is your understanding of why Jesus came into this world?

His primary purpose was to bring restoration between God and a sinful, fallen humanity by offering salvation to anyone who would simply believe. This singular task was and still is intended to bring people back to the Father after the enemy deceived us in the Garden of Eden. When humanity allowed sin into the world, we lost the ability to be in relationship with the Father, for He is perfect and cannot associate with sin. Jesus came to offer humanity a way out of our sinful nature so that we can be in relationship once again with the Father. All of the problems that humanity faces are a direct result of our sinful, fallen nature. Poverty, greed, lust, and everything else are simply symptoms of the root problem and that problem is sin. Jesus didn’t come into the world to deal with the symptoms. He came to deal with the cause of all of the symptoms. He did not come into the world to be a social justice warrior, He came to destroy the root cause of social injustice. He did not come into the world to redistribute wealth. He came into the world to destroy the enemy and to turn people back to loving God instead of money.

Jesus came into this world to destroy the power of sin! He came to call people to a relationship with the Father through Himself. He came to redeem humanity for a loving Father.

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
(John 14:12 (NIV))

If Jesus came to seek and to save the lost, and we are called to do the works that He was doing, are we fulfilling this calling? He even left instructions for this task with His disciples.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
(Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV))

If Jesus told His disciples to go and make disciples of all nations, this is a self-perpetuating assignment. As disciples bring more people to Jesus, these new disciples are given the same task as those who discipled them. In essence, our primary task is the same as what Jesus proclaimed of Himself. We are to seek and to save the lost by showing them Jesus. We are to do what Jesus did!

Are we seeking the lost for Jesus?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you filled with the joy of the Lord?

December 11, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Blessed are they whose ways are blameless,
    who walk according to the law of the LORD.
Blessed are they who keep his statutes
    and seek him with all their heart.
(Psalms 119:1-2 (NIV))

Christmas is rapidly approaching in a year that has been far from ordinary!

With everything that has been happening in the world, have you been able to stay true to the faith that you profess? Have you been able to stand firm in your walk with the Lord? Have you done things this year that you said that you would never do? Have you been embarrassed by your actions?

This is a time to reflect on our sinful, human nature. This is also a time to reflect on what God has done for us by sending His Son to earth to give us grace. It is also a time to reflect on our attitude towards this gift. Do we truly keep His statutes and seek Him with all our heart? This Christmas morning, I pray that you are truly thankful and joyous, celebrating the true meaning of the day. I pray that you are able to lift your eyes to the heavens and truly be thankful even in the midst of the current state of this world, for this world is not our source of joy!

Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.
(1 John 2:15 (NIV))

Do you love the world? Do you find yourself looking to the world for your joy? As we draw near to the end of an unusual and difficult year, it should be obvious that the world is not where we, as believers, should focus. We must remember the true reason for the season and keep that joy. If we hold fast to that joy, we can face anything that the world and the enemy may send our way.

Are you filled with the joy of the Lord?

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