What do you rejoice in?

May 18, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Though the fig tree does not bud
    and there are no grapes on the vines,
  though the olive crop fails
    and the fields produce no food,
  though there are no sheep in the pen
    and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
    I will be joyful in God my Savior.
(Habakkuk 3:17-18 (NIV))

Think about that passage for a moment.

The society was an agricultural society. What this passage describes is the equivalent of someone saying today:

Though the car breaks down
and the refrigerator needs repaired,
though the lawnmower won’t run
and the bill collectors are calling,
though there are no jobs to be found
and the house is being foreclosed,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.

No matter what the situation, we must rejoice in the Lord. No matter how desperate things may look, we must rejoice in the Lord. We are not the only people to have ever gone through trials and tribulations. We are, however, the ones who are facing them now.

Each generation goes through trials. We undergo tests of our faith. No matter what we may face, we can rest assured that the world cannot take our faith, unless we willingly give it up.

Faith is a choice. It is not something that we lose when things get bad. It is not something that we can set aside when things are going well. Faith should be an integral part of our daily lives. Faith is what sees us through the tough times. Faith is what we rejoice over during the good times. Faith is what we look back on and realize that it was faith that brought us through tough times.

Tough times fall on everyone. It is faith that makes the difference between despair and hope.

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
(Hebrews 11:1 (NIV))

I am certain that things will get better. I am certain that God will see us through this time. I am certain that the fig tree will bud and that there will be grapes on the vines, and that the car will run and the jobs will return. I am certain that no matter to what extent that these things happen, I will rejoice in the Lord. I will strive to maintain my faith.

What do you rejoice in?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you able to share the Gospel with shrewdness and innocence?

October 29, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.
(Matthew 10:16 (NIV))

Have you truly stopped to think about this passage?

Each of us understand the concept of being sheep among wolves. If we follow the instructions that Jesus left for all believers, then we are in a constant state of perpetual danger. Just as a sheep may be devoured by the wolves, we, too, may be devoured by the enemy if we are not careful. The passage doesn’t say to stay away from danger! In fact, the passage clearly states that Jesus sent the disciples out, and just like the disciples, He is sending us as well.

Jesus did give us instructions. We are to be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.

It sounds fairly simple, but have you ever thought about what it takes to be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves?

I realize that everyone typically thinks of snakes in a deceitful way, but Jesus was telling us to use some of the characteristics of snakes when we are sharing the Gospel. What do you think of first when you think of a snake? Do you think of the possibility that a snake could be under foot at any moment? With this in mind, do you constantly look for snakes? Is that being shrewd on the part of the snake? Perhaps we should look at this from a different vantage point. Does a snake show itself openly or does it hide until the opportune time arises. If we are to be as shrewd as snakes, we should be among the danger, but not exposed to it. We should watch and wait. Just as a snake may not show itself to everyone, we may not be called to show ourselves to everyone at one moment. We should size up whom we should approach and then make our move to share the Gospel. We are to use wisdom and discernment!

Look at this concept from the missions of Paul. When he entered a town, many times he would find someone who was prominent in the town and present the Gospel to them. If he was able to convert them, it became easier to convert others. Paul was shrewd in his evangelism. He understood human nature. He knew that if he could convert a person with contacts, then others would follow. In today’s society, the concept is that we are teaching the teachers. Even in this shrewdness of plan, Paul never failed to walk innocently amongst those with whom he shared the gospel. He did not do anything to betray the trust of those with whom he shared. He did not have ulterior motives. He did not seek any of the trappings of the physical world.

Are you able to share the Gospel with shrewdness and innocence?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What do you truly want?

September 30, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
(Psalms 23:1 (NASB))

Have you ever given any serious thought to the meaning of this passage?

Most people read this and take it to mean that anything that we could possibly want in this physical world is ours. Let’s take a step back and take a look at the word “want.” Our society has shifted the meaning of this word to mean something that we desire. We say things like, “I want a new car” or “I want a bigger house,” but is this the type of want that the Lord provides for? With this type of attitude, too many people fail to get what they want and, as a result, they fall away from faith. They misunderstand this passage and think that is means that the Lord our God is nothing more that a genie who is there to grant our every wish, our every desire. When this doesn’t happen, they falsely assume that since this isn’t true, nothing is true.

If this is your vision of God, then it makes sense why our society has become so self-centered and self-entitled.

If we look at this passage from the perspective and understanding of when it was written, we get a much clearer picture. A shepherd has multiple sheep under his care. He provides for the needs of the whole flock. He will lead them to green pastures for food. He will care for the sick. He will search for the lost. The shepherd makes sure that all under his care are protected from attack. The sheep know his voice and they follow him. They know and they trust him to provide for their needs both collectively and individually.

Did you pick up on that?

The shepherd provides for the needs of his flock. He does not provide for the selfish desires. The shepherd knows what is best for each sheep. He makes sure that each need is provided for. With this in mind, is wanting a bigger house a need or a selfish desire? For some people, it truly may be a need, while for others, it is a selfish desire. The Lord sees each of our needs and knows how best to provide for us. When David wrote these words, he understood this concept. He understood that the Lord, as his shepherd, was guiding his steps and that all of his needs would be provided for. David realized that everything was on the Lord’s timeframe and not his.

Sadly, our society has lost this understanding. We seek instant gratification in all aspects of our lives. We falsely believe that we can guide our own lives. We desire anything and everything under the sun, and sin runs rampant because we are so focused on the proverbial me, myself and I. Slow down and spend time in the Lord’s presence and you will begin to grasp the understanding that David had. The focus is not about us and our selfish desires. It is about the Lord’s plans and what is best for us.

I believe that it is time for us to reexamine what we truly want! What do you truly want?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you glad He went after you?

September 5, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.
(Matthew 18:12-14 (NIV))

Are you lost?

Helpless, hopeless and lost?

Satan longs to have us feel this way.

God longs for us to feel helpful, hopeful and loved.

God also longs for us to mature spiritually and become the person whom He created us to be. Sometimes this requires tough love. Just as a parent must sometimes withhold things from a child, God must withhold things from us. Just as a parent must allow the child to enter into things that will teach them a lesson, so too with God and us.

We are creatures of habit. Each of us exists within certain boundaries that we have established or that have been established for us. These boundaries become our comfort zone. God, in His infinite wisdom, knows that our comfort zones foster stagnation. We soon grow complacent. We soon grow so rigid and confined within our comfort zones that we fail to recognize the need for spiritual growth and maturity. We become creatures of habit, and all too often our habits leave something to be desired. It takes something drastic to get our attention. It takes something that will make us look beyond our circumstances and look at our core beliefs and priorities.

God wants to get our attention. He wants to get us out of our comfort zones and focused on Him. Sometimes, that requires something bigger than we care to have happen. He wants us to take the time to fulfill Psalm 46:10a so that we may know Him and His will for our lives.

Be still, and know that I am God
(Psalm 4610a (NIV))

Are you glad He went after you?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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It is finished and grace is yours!

February 18, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth.
(Isaiah 53:7 (NAS))

Can you imagine being completely innocent of all charges against you, yet, because everyone else will benefit, you remain completely silent? This is a hard concept for any of us to fully grasp, yet, this is exactly what Jesus did for us! What is just as amazing is that God told this to Isaiah about seven hundred years before it actually happened!

Does this give you any indication of just how much God loves you? He had it planned for Jesus to come into this world and to be lead like a lamb to the slaughter for our benefit.

Jesus died for you and I!

If you had been the only person in history who needed salvation, Jesus would have suffered everything for you alone! He did it without a single complaint. We all have our families that we think we would face danger for, but it is never really certain. Jesus did this for all people who would ever live, and yet He did it for each of us individually.

Reflect on the meaning of this sacrifice and rejoice in the fact that it is finished and grace is yours.

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Can you spot the wolves before they attack?

February 7, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it.
(John 10:12 (NIV))

Have you ever noticed that sometimes the one from whom the attack comes is not that obvious?

Think about that for a moment.

We are always on the lookout for the wolves that come our way, but not every attack from the enemy will be a direct and an announced attack. We are all on the lookout for the obvious, but are we so acutely aware that many times the attacks come from an unlikely source? Many times the greatest attacks that we will ever face come from sources that are familiar to us. They appear to be safe, and then when we least expect it, they become the source of all of our troubles. These literally are the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Thankfully, Jesus is our good shepherd. He loves us and cares for us. He walks with us and protects us from the attacks of the enemy. He will not abandon us to the ravenous enemy.

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
(John 10:11 (NIV))

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—
(John 10:14 (NIV))

Call out to Jesus. Spend the time needed to get to know Him. Take the time to learn His voice. Let Him guide you through the trials and tribulations that you will face in this life. He will show you the wolves in sheep’s clothing!

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What if you had been the earthly parents of Jesus?

December 21, 2015

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

This is a repost, but it is worth sharing again. What if you had been the earthly parents of Jesus?

All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.
(Isaiah 53:6 (NAS))

This time of year is when we think about the birth of Jesus and celebrate what God set in motion in these simple events.

We realize that Jesus died on the cross for our sins. Have you ever stopped to consider what that entails or have you thought about it from the view point of Mary, His mother?

Could you honestly feel no emotion if you knew that an infant would suffer and die for something that you had done?

What did Mary feel when she held Jesus for the first time? Did she see what was to come, or did she see only a baby? We may never know the answer to that question in this lifetime. We can know what we would feel if we were placed in that situation where we know that an infant was born to suffer and die for us. Thinking of Jesus as an adult, as the Son of God, makes it easier to comprehend and think about.

Think about Jesus as the infant who was sent by God to suffer and to die for us. Think about being the parents of that infant and having knowledge of the prophecies of what is to come. Jesus was fully God, yet He was fully man. He had earthly parents who loved Him and fully understood what was to happen.

What if you knew?

Could you face that in the life of “your” child?

Copyright 1998 – 2015 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Why did the crowds turn on Jesus?

March 30, 2015

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

The next day, the news that Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem swept through the city. A huge crowd of Passover visitors took palm branches and went down the road to meet him.
(John 12:12 (NIV))

Jesus made a very triumphant entrance into Jerusalem. It fulfilled prophesy. It ignited the hopes of the people. It united the people in believing that Jesus was a king, but not in the way that He truly was and is.

What happened in the few days from Sunday to Friday?

Why did the crowds turn on Him?

What made them go from enthusiasm to what can only be called rebellion and hatred?

I have often heard the saying that a person is intelligent, but people are dumb. They are like sheep when in a mob. The mob mentality was and still is something that can turn very quickly from a positive to a negative. Satan used this for what he thought would be his victory.

Are we still falling prey to the mob mentality today? Is the Body of Christ easily swayed by lies planted by the enemy? Do we simply accept things without verification when we are in large crowds? Why do we lose our ability to discern the truth? Are we afraid to stand apart from the crowd?

Think about these questions.

What happens to us, individually, as members of the Body of Christ if we fall into the mob mentality and go along with the mob? What happens if we deny Jesus? What happens if we go along with the mob to save our physical existence but lose our eternal existence with God?

Human nature is a fickle thing. One day we can be enthusiastically embracing something and the next day we can be vehemently denying it. It is my prayer that we can stay focused on Jesus and learn to deny our human nature. I know that I can trust Jesus. I am positive that I cannot trust myself.

Copyright 1998 – 2015 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you follow the good shepherd?

February 16, 2015

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”
(John 10:1-5 (NIV))

Sadly, in today’s society, it has come to the point where more and more people do not recognize the shepherd.

Do you recognize the shepherd?

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
(John 10:11 (NIV))

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me– just as the Father knows me and I know the Father–and I lay down my life for the sheep.
(John 10:14-15 (NIV))

Too many people are turning to whatever they think will make them feel good, whatever will satisfy the emptiness that they feel. All too often, what they turn to is just that – it is something that they turn to and in the process, they turn away from Jesus. Sadly enough, far too many never knew Jesus to begin with.

How many different lies about Jesus have you heard recently? I am sure that it is far too many to count, yet, these lies are what people believe. The lies have come from the thief. They are a very focused effort to steal and keep as many people from receiving salvation as possible. In my opinion, it was a very well orchestrated plan that relied heavily on removing prayer from public schools. It doesn’t end there.

We have seen circumstances that have allowed the thief to enter in and falsely lead people into things that are not of God. They have listened to false shepherds. They have listened to the thief. Pray that they quickly learn to recognize the true shepherd’s voice.

Do you follow the good shepherd?

Copyright 1998 – 2015 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Hypocrisy or true faith?

September 11, 2014

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.
(John 10:16 (NIV))

Do you ever feel that you and those who are just like you are the only ones that truly obey God’s Word and earnestly seek after His face? Do you find yourself looking at other “so called believers” and ridiculing their faith simply because they don’t worship exactly like you do?

Hypocrites!

Jesus had to face them in the days that He walked among us. We still have them today.

The human ego is a strange thing. Sometimes it keeps us humble and sometimes it steps way out of line and elevates our sense of self worth. It is ridiculous how we start to think that out of all of the vast nations of people in this world, He would be so selective as to deliberately keep many different groups of people from Him.

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 he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
(John 3:16-18 (NIV))

This does not read “For God so loved the Methodists,” or “For God so loved the Baptists.” It reads “For God so loved the world.” The world is a big place.

After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands
(Revelation 7:9 (NIV))

We, as believers are sheep. We hear the masters voice. We are all part of the one flock and Jesus is the shepherd.

Copyright 1998 – 2014 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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