Have you been encouraged and strengthened?

November 9, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.
(2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 (NIV))

At first read, this passage seems wordy and long, but if you stop and truly consider what is being said, everything comes into focus. In fact, this passage should become the prayer that we all pray for every member of the Body of Christ!

These words bless the person to whom they are directed.

These words identify from whom that blessing flows.

These words give glory to whom the blessings flow from.

These words describe the power and authority of Jesus and God our Father.

These words tell us of the great love that is held for us by Jesus and God the Father.

These words tell of the grace that is ours because of this great love.

These words should encourage us because they clearly show that we are His children.

And, because of this encouragement, these words give us strength to face the world.

It is amazing the power that words hold. God spoke everything into existence. Jesus is the Word made flesh. Our words can be used to approach the throne room of God. Our words of acceptance of Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior bring grace. Words can bring blessings. Words can bring encouragement and strength!

Have you been encouraged and strengthened?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you willing to suffer for your faith?

October 30, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.
(2 Timothy 1:12 (NIV))

When Paul wrote these words to Timothy, it is understood that he wrote them from prison in Rome. Even in the midst of being in prison, he had the strength of faith to reach out to assure Timothy and others that he stood firm in his faith. Paul knew beyond any doubt that his belief in Jesus was true. All you have to do is remember his Damascus Road experience to understand Paul’s strength of faith.

Even though Paul was strong in his faith, there is one statement in this passage that made me stop and reflect on my own attitude. It made me think about human nature and how any of us would react if we were put in prison. Most would feel ridicule, regret and shame. Now, how would you feel if you were thrown in prison for doing what you know is right? Does that sound like it is highly improbable? Take a look at Paul. Take a look at certain countries around the world where professing a faith in Jesus is either a prison sentence or a death sentence. Do you believe that this type of thing could not possibly happen to you?

We don’t know what is in store for us in the future.

We do know who holds our future!

The world may throw things at us that are unexpected. The enemy definitely will attack us with things that are unexpected. Professing a faith in Jesus is not a guaranteed life without hardships.

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
(John 16:33 (NIV))

Paul may not have recorded the words that Jesus spoke, but he definitely believed them and lived by them. Relying on your faith in Jesus is not something that we should ever be ashamed of. A true faith means that we are convinced that Jesus is with us even in the midst of suffering. A true faith recognizes this and is willing to deny the world even when it means suffering.

Please don’t misunderstand what I am saying. I am not implying that we must suffer to prove our faith. What I am saying is that there may come a day when we are called to reject Jesus or suffer. If this day ever comes, I pray that all who currently call upon the name of Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior will stand firm in their faith.

Are you willing to suffer for your faith?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is your faith built on substance and confidence?

October 26, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
(Hebrews 11:1 (NKJV))

Have you ever truly stopped to reflect on faith and what it means? Many people confuse faith with hope. If you imagine yourself going on a journey with faith as your destination, you would travel through hope long before you ever get to faith. Hope basically can be summarized as an optimistic attitude. Faith can be described as a confidence or a trust that something will happen. The two are related, but they are not the same. When you consider that the Bible uses the word “hope” to define faith, it quickly becomes obvious which is greater.

Faith is so much more than hope. Faith is substantial. Faith is what gives us strength to stand firm and strong when the storms of this world dash our hopes against the rocks. Faith is what gives us strength to guide us when the world throws us into a dry and barren place. Faith is what gives us strength to keep us focused on the prize when the enemy sends anything and everything at us to try and distract us. Faith is the peace that passes all understanding if we only allow it to firmly take root in our lives!

Faith is substance!

I love the way that the New International Version (NIV) translates Hebrews 11:1.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
(Hebrews 11:1 (NIV))

Faith is confidence!

With that in mind, let’s look at hope and faith with two simple questions.

Do you have hope that you are saved?

Do you have faith that you are saved?

Do your answers show that you are hopeful in your salvation or do your answers show that you are confident in your salvation?

Is your faith built on substance and confidence?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What are you conscious of?

October 25, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.
(Romans 3:20 (NIV))

Do you try to obey God’s laws?

How is that going for you?

If you are like me, the moment I wake up I start having trouble doing everything that I should be doing. Let’s face the truth. None of us can even obey the speed limit one hundred percent of the time! We think that we are doing good if we are driving 60 mph in a 55 mph speed zone. In essence, we are breaking the law.

Think about God’s laws. Let’s look at one that we all think that we are capable of keeping.

You shall not murder.
(Exodus 20:13 (NIV))

It is probably safe to say that most people have not committed murder, not would they even consider it. But, what about the times when you are so angry at someone and you utter words that don’t even sound that bad in the grand scheme of things. Have you ever called someone a fool? Think about that the next time someone cuts you off in traffic!

But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
(Matthew 5:22 (NIV))

Let’s take a look at another one of God’s laws.

You shall not commit adultery.
(Exodus 20:14 (NIV))

Pretty straight forward. No sex outside of marriage. There are those who think that they can get away with it, but most people will agree with the basic concept.

But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
(Matthew 5:28 (NIV))

Most of God’s laws sound simple, yet they are so very hard to obey. The one thing that God’s laws do a good job of is reminding people of the daily struggle required to even attempt to be righteous in God’s eyes. God’s laws bring our shortcomings front and center. They make us conscious of the fact that we can’t do it in our own strength. We need a Savior. We need Jesus!

What are you conscious of?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you have the strength to wait for the Lord?

October 23, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.
(Psalms 27:14 (NIV))

There was a very popular song released in the early 1980s that said, “The waiting is the hardest part.” There have been many instances throughout popular culture that use something similar. If I remember correctly, there was a ketchup commercial that used a similar idea to describe the anticipation of the ketchup coming out of the bottle. Whether you are waiting or anticipating, human nature does not like to wait. There is something within our nature that simply does not like the idea of waiting. We get antsy. We get impatient. We get restless. We get irritated and then angry.

If we act like this when waiting for things that we can see in this physical world, how much less patience do we have for things that we cannot see?

There is an old saying that patience is a virtue.

I definitely agree with this idea. I also firmly believe that it is a character strength. I know that it is something that we must cultivate and allow to mature.

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

It is common to refer to things as getting stronger as they mature. If that is the case, then patience grows stronger as it matures as well. Waiting requires patience. It requires the strength of character to be willing to be still and wait. For those who love to fish, do you grow impatient after your fist cast? You know that getting what you came for requires time and effort.

Time and effort!

Have you ever stopped to think that maybe the Lord is testing us to see if we are willing to commit the time and effort to get to know Him and to wait for His truth? Think about that for a moment. He created us. He knows that we are impatient since the fall from grace. He knows that it will require a commitment, it will require a strength on our part, to wait for Him.

Do you have the strength to wait for the Lord?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you love the Lord like this?

October 6, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
(Deuteronomy 6:5 (NIV))

I love how God’s Word can say something different each time you read it. Perhaps I should say that differently. I love how God’s Word can speak to you in a different way each time you read it. To clarify, there is a difference between saying something different and having something speak to you differently. Is it God’s Word or is it our hearts and our ability to understand that is different?

Two days ago I read this passage and quickly moved on to Deuteronomy 6:6. Two days ago, that passage caught my attention. Today, I feel the need to be reminded, and to remind, how we are to love God.

Does the Lord have all your heart?

Your heart is what keeps you alive in the physical world. It is representative of the moment. Does God have you in this very moment?

Does the Lord have all your soul?

Your soul is the eternal. It is what will continue after the physical is gone. It represents your long term love for God. Does God have you for eternity?

Does the Lord have all your strength?

Your strength represents your abilities, even though they are very little when you consider all that God can do. Giving God all your strength means that you are giving everything you are to His Will. You surrender and rely on His strength. Do you fully rely on God?

I honestly do not know how many times that I have read this passage, but today, the Lord spoke to me in a way that opened my eyes, my heart and my mind to the depth of the love that we should feel toward Him. Without Him, we are nothing. Everything that we do should lift up His name. Everything we do should show the love that we have for our Lord, our God!

Do you love the Lord like this?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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There is no better traveling companion than the Lord!

August 31, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.
(Deuteronomy 31:8 (NIV))

Who is by your side in this journey that we call life?

Who has your back?

Most of us have very few people that we can actually say would never forsake us, who will never leave us. In all honesty, there will come a time when those few will not be able to go where you may have to go. They may try, but some things are just beyond human capabilities. Where does that leave you and I when we have reached the limits of human strength and friendship?

We have the Lord!

In all honesty, He should be our first choice, He should be with us always.

I’ll let you in on a little secret. He is with us always. It is we who fail to see that He is with us.

We place anything and everything as a priority and by doing this, we fail to see that the one who created us is always with us. As the passage says, He goes before us. He is with us. He will not forsake or abandon us. With this in mind, I want to ask one question of you.

Who is traveling with you on this journey that is your life?

There is no better traveling companion than the Lord!

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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