Are we listening?

July 30, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Therefore I want you to know that God’s salvation has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen!
(Acts 28:28 (NIV))

When Paul was in Rome, local Jewish leaders came to him. During the visit, Paul spoke of what was told to their ancestors through Isaiah. Some believed while many did not. The last words recorded of that conversation are shown above. For over two thousand years, we, as Gentiles, have listened. We have taken the Gospel that Paul preached and have been able to reach a large number of people. It is true, just as it was in Paul’s day, that some people have perverted the Gospel for their own gain, but for the most part, Gentiles have listened.

The time is now here when we must stand firm in our faith. We must proclaim Jesus loudly and boldly to a world that is falling apart. Time is running out!

Yes, I did just say that.

I have this feeling in my spirit that this world will not return to what we knew just last year. I actually have mixed feelings about this, for I love life. I love my family and I love spending time with those I love. But, I love Jesus more. After years of study, I believe that we are seeing things unfold as we have been told in God’s Word. With the things that are going on in this world, evil is rising. I am seeing things in this country that I would expect to only see in regions of this world that have been known for being oppressive. I am seeing a global hatred of people who profess a faith in Jesus. I am seeing ethnicity rising against ethnicity. Just for reference, this is often translated as nation rising against nation. I am seeing a push to go completely digital with money as well as a push to collect and destroy any physical money once the digital is implemented. I am seeing a big push to wear masks. I realize that the virus is real, so I don’t want to get into a debate about wearing masks. What I find sad is that the whole world is engulfed in this. There are those who are pushing a vaccine in order to be able to take part in society. In other words, get vaccinated and you can buy and sell. Would that vaccine leave a visible mark?

Paul was right.

The Gentiles have listened. But, do we know and understand God’s Word well enough to do something with what we have heard? Are we praying for God’s Will, even if it means things get much worse, or are we praying for our will and our comfort?

We need to truly seek the Lord. We need to listen for His voice and His guidance.

Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
(Revelation 2:29 (NIV))

Are we listening?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What desires rule over you?

July 17, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.
(Galatians 5:17 (NIV))

Whatever you want!

Do you desire to do whatever you want? Is that your definition of freedom? Based on this passage, does that desire come from the flesh or from the Spirit? Don’t rush to a quick answer, for your quick answer will probably be heavily influenced by your own desires. Think about that for a moment. Since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, our flesh is sinful. Everything that we do according to our flesh is sinful and we are fully aware of the wages of sin.

For the wages of sin is death,
(Romans 6:23a (NIV))

We are given a gift that allows us to receive salvation, to receive grace.

but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 6:23b (NIV))

When we accept that gift, we receive the Holy Spirit to guide us in what we should do. The Holy Spirit will guide us contrary to our sinful nature. It is up to us to accept that guidance. Have you ever done something and instantly knew that it shouldn’t have been done? Have you ever wanted to do something, but a still, small voice wouldn’t let you? We choose to listen to the Holy Spirit. We choose to accept His guidance. Sadly, sometimes the flesh wins out and we do things that we instantly regret. Other times we listen to the Holy Spirit and obey. Have you noticed in your life the types of circumstances that you follow the flesh and the types of circumstances that you follow the Holy Spirit? Give God praise for the faith to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, and pray for the ability to stand firm in the face of those circumstances that lead to actions that you regret. Ask the Lord to give you wisdom to allow you to overcome the desires of the flesh!

What desires rule over you?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you called by His name?

July 15, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

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 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV))

It’s happened again! Or perhaps I should say that it is still happening. We can’t go a day without seeing something horrendous in the news. We can’t go a day without seeing the work of the enemy as he tries to divide us. We can’t go a day without seeing good being called evil and evil being called good.

I’m at a loss for words. All that I can do is feel the groanings of my spirit as it cries out to God. I honestly don’t know what the prayers from my spirit are saying. I just know that they are asking God to send His Spirit and bring peace to this troubled world. Still, in the midst of all that is happening, I know that everything is unfolding according to God’s perfect plan, even though all we see is chaos. I know that the enemy is not going to go quietly. His time is short and he knows it. We will see more evil arise. It is time that the Body of Christ unite and stand firm in our humility and in our prayers.

We must pray according to God’s Will. We must stand firm in our faith. We must also realize that this world is not our home. This world is sinful and will never be the world that we long for. The events that will lead to the fulfillment of the promises of an eternal home in paradise are unfolding. I realize that no one knows the day nor the hour, but I do believe that it will be sooner than the world thinks. All I know is that we, as the Body of Christ, should be praying for God’s perfect will. We should be praying for those who don’t know Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior.

In essence, if we are called by His name, we should be praying!

Are you called by His name?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you bold enough to proclaim the name of Jesus?

June 30, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Jesus is
“‘the stone you builders rejected,
      which has become the cornerstone.’
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
(Acts 4:11-12 (NIV))

Can you imagine the boldness that it took for Peter to proclaim these words to the Sanhedrin?

Can you imagine the shock that the members of the Sanhedrin felt when they heard these words? From their human perspective, I fully understand why they told Peter and John not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus. They were the authority and they did not want their authority to be replaced with the authority and power that Jesus gives!

I have two questions for each of us to consider.

Would we boldly proclaim Jesus under these type of conditions?

Would we resort to an unsuccessful attempt to stifle the power of Jesus?

The reason that I ask these two questions is based on the current events and trends in this world. If we are pulled in front of a governing body and given an ultimatum to not speak or teach in the name of Jesus, would we stand firm or would we surrender? What if we are told we will be killed if we don’t stop speaking and teaching in the name of Jesus?

If the tide turns further away from good and toward evil, will we be able to stand firm or will we give in to the point where we find ourselves telling others to not speak or teach in the name of Jesus?

How strong is your faith?

How firmly will you stand? Will you deny Jesus?

But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.
(Matthew 10:33 (NKJV))

Are you bold enough to proclaim the name of Jesus?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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We must focus on being lovers of God!

June 5, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God-
(2 Timothy 3:1-4 (NIV))

I am sure that you have seen the jokes and the memes on social media about the type of year that 2020 has been so far. We hope and pray that things will get better, but I honestly think that what we are seeing is becoming the norm, especially when you read about what people will be like in the last days. In fact, when I first read this passage this evening, I did not have to struggle to think up very public examples of each one of these traits. I am certain that you can probably think of prime examples of each one of these traits as evidenced in our society as well.

Why have people become so blinded? Why have people become so self-centered and hate-filled? These traits go against every single one of God’s commandments. They also go against other traits that we are told we should strive to possess.

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))

Sadly, these traits are not what seems to be front and center in today’s world. Far too many in this world are being led astray by the enemy. They are being led down a path that comes in direct conflict with anything good – with anything from God! They are being led down a path of sin and evil.

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))

I am sure that we have all heard that as followers of Jesus, we live in the world, but we are not of the world. How are we, as the Body of Christ, to respond to people who are in open rebellion against God?

We are to share the Gospel! We are also told what to do if people will not listen.

If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.
(Matthew 10:14-15 (NIV))

We are to pray! We can’t soften hearts. Only God can. We must pray that those who rebel will repent and turn to the Lord. And, we must stand firm in our faith so that we are not led astray.

We must focus on being lovers of God!

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

May 4, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Before them fire devours,
behind them a flame blazes.
Before them the land is like the garden of Eden,
behind them, a desert waste–
nothing escapes them.
(Joel 2:3 (NIV))

I believe that we are in a transitional place, a place of growth and maturity. Each of us may be in a situation that has us literally between a rock and a hard place. We may find ourselves in the midst of so much fire and waste that we do not see any potential end. When we, as believers, find ourselves in this place in our lives, we must remember that God uses these times in our lives to refine us like silver.

This third I will bring into the fire;
I will refine them like silver
and test them like gold.
They will call on my name
and I will answer them;
I will say, `They are my people,’
and they will say, `The LORD is our God.’ ”
(Zechariah 13:9 (NIV))

It is in these times that one of two things may happen. We will either turn from God in our anger or turn toward God in our faith. It is God’s desire to purify us in our faith. He longs for us to mature into the image of Jesus.

I had a conversation not too long ago with someone who questioned whether being in the wilderness was a good thing or a bad thing. Take a look at Jesus after He was baptized. He went into the wilderness for 40 days. He did not do anything bad, yet He had to face the temptation before He could truly minister to those whom He came to seek and to save.

When we find ourselves in the desert or the wilderness, it is all a matter of our outlook, our perspective on the situation. We can either look at the situation and not see beyond our circumstances or we can see the “Light” of Jesus at the end of our journey. If we focus on the “Light,” then we should be able to stand firm in our desert and continually pray for righteousness.

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
(Psalms 51:10 (NIV))

Where are you?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Don’t be caught off guard!

April 20, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Look, I come like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake and remains clothed, so as not to go naked and be shamefully exposed.
(Revelation 16:15 (NIV))

Those who profess a faith in Jesus longingly await His return, but will we be ready when He does return?

It is human nature to let our guard down. We work for something or we desire something, and the longer we wait, the less devoted we seem to be. I fully understand how the old saying, “Out of sight, out of mind” came into existence. Human beings are so easily sidetracked. We soon loose sight of what we strive for once the reminders are removed from our immediate perception. How many families have been broken apart because of long distances? How many dreams have been set aside because of a perceived, more immediate need?

How long has it been since you accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior?

Is your faith as strong now as it was when you first believed? Have you found yourself slowly losing sight of Jesus in your daily life? Have you found yourself questioning whether you believe at all because you don’t see any movement on His promise to return? One thing is certain!

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.
(2 Corinthians 1:20 (NIV))

Just because we don’t see God moving according to our desires and our timing doesn’t mean that He is not moving. Don’t give up! Stand firm in your faith while He completes His task of bringing others into His grace.

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
(2 Peter 3:9 (NIV))

Don’t let the world make you lose sight of Jesus. Don’t lose hope in His promises. He will come when you least expect it.

Don’t be caught off guard!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Why are we drawn to return to our sin and slavery?

March 2, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
(Galatians 5:1 (NIV))

What is it about human nature that makes us return to something that we know we should leave behind? We have all been guilty of doing this very thing, and probably much more often than we care to admit. Apparently, human nature since the fall from grace has always had us doing what can only be called self destructive behavior. We know that we shouldn’t, but yet we do. This type of behavior has been pointed out many times, but probably the most accurate and disgusting is the following.

As a dog returns to its vomit,
so fools repeat their folly.
(Proverbs 26:11 (NIV))

As I stated previously, we all do it. Even the man who is credited with bringing the Gospel to the Gentiles fought this aspect in his own walk of faith. Paul was a very intelligent person, but yet he didn’t understand the self destructive nature that he fought against.

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))

This struggle that all of us face makes it clear why each of us are called to take up our cross daily. We are to deny that part of our human nature. We are to struggle with this sinful nature each and every time that it raises its ugly head in our lives. We are called to repent. Far too many people believe that this is a one-time occurrence, but it should be a daily attitude and activity. Do I even venture to say that, on some days, we may have to humble ourselves continually before the Lord and repent of our actions and our thoughts?

I know that we are a fallen creation, but I wish I had the magic answer as to why we return to our sin when we don’t want to. I wish I knew how to turn off that part of my life so that I never take my eyes off of Jesus. Just like Paul, I find myself doing the very things that I hate! I don’t know why! I long to do only what is good and righteous, yet on my own, this is not possible. I just know that we must be ready to fall on our knees whenever and wherever we may find yourself returning to our sin.

I want to leave you with one question that I hope you will take to heart.

Why are we drawn to return to our sin and slavery?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you ready to be hated?

February 28, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

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))

Following Jesus apparently has its drawbacks! The world looks at us with disdain. The enemy looks at us and sees our former sinful selves. We will be shunned and ridiculed by the world. We will be hated, despised, rejected and accused of being ignorant fools. We will be laughed at, mocked and possibly so much more, yet, we who have professed a faith in Jesus are ready to stand firm in our faith. We pray that we are prepared to face the battles that will come our way.

We must be prepared!

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.
(Ephesians 6:10-17 (NIV))

I know that this sound like an impossible task, but we must remember who is for us if we profess a faith in Jesus.

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
(Romans 8:31 (NIV))

With these scriptural truths, I pray that we are fully prepared for what the world, for what the enemy may send our way. They can hate us all they want as long as we have a God who loves us for proclaiming that Jesus is Lord!

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.
(John 3:16 (NIV))

We are given a choice. We can love the world and be despised by God or we can be hated by the world and loved by God?

Are you ready to be hated?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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We must not accept sin as the new normal!

January 14, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
(Matthew 18:15-17 (NIV))

Sadly, just by choosing this verse, too many people will get offended. Society currently believes that if you love someone, then you accept them as they are. Society claims that people are made that way and as a result, there is nothing wrong with them. This has become rampant even in the church. Let’s play fill in the blank to see how that actually sounds.

I was born a(n) __________________, therefore, you have to accept me the way that I am.

Pick any of the following words and see how that sounds.

Arsonist
Murderer
Pedophile
Alcoholic
Thief
Sex Addict

Perhaps you have a few more that you can think of, but the concept is clear, sin is sin! Why do we, as the Body of Christ, not follow what we have been told? How can we be the light of the world if we allow the darkness to influence us? How can we share the truth of the Gospel if we can’t follow it ourselves? The last time I read anything about the Lord, He does not lead us into sin! In fact, He leads us away from sin. Jesus, when addressing the woman caught in adultery, was clear. We are to go and sin no more! We are to leave our life of sin. We are not to embrace the sin simply because our fallen nature made us this way! We are to become a new creation. We are to repent. We are to take up our cross and follow Him daily.

Sadly, we are seeing too many people profess that what has been called good is now evil and what was once called evil is now good. Society may claim this as the new normal, but the Body of Christ must stand firm.

We must not accept sin as the new normal!

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