How do we see each other?

May 28, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
(Galatians 3:28 (NIV))

I long for the day that we truly see each other as Jesus sees us!

I have lived long enough to honestly say that I am tired of people treating each other differently simply because we may not look the same. I want it to end, but since we live in a sinful, fallen world, we are going to continue to see these types of things happen. It breaks my heart just as I am certain that it breaks the very heart of God. What is it about human nature that makes us want to lash out at someone because of our shortcomings, our sins? Ever since the fall from grace in the Garden of Eden, humanity has had to struggle with a vast array of sins including ego, pride and selfishness.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
(Philippians 2:3-4 (NIV))

The world is upside down. We are seeing things that our ancestors never saw. We also are doing things that our ancestors would have never dreamed about doing. This goes both ways. Some things are better while some things are worse. We, as the Body of Christ, recognize the intolerance and hatred. We also know that there is truly only one solution to this sinful nature. Unfortunately, not everyone will accept Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. It is also sad to realize that not everyone who professes a faith in Jesus is mature enough to embrace what the author of Acts recorded for us.

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.
(Acts 20:24 (NIV))

We must all come to the realization that each person is a unique creation and is loved by God. We must treat each individual with this in mind. For those individuals whom we see who have accepted Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior, we can embrace them as part of the family. For those who haven’t yet accepted Jesus, we can show them the love of Jesus and invite them into the family.

How do we see each other?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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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.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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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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Are you ready and able to stand?

February 19, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

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.
(Ephesians 6:12-13 (NIV))

This is so hard to remember when we are faced with trials and tribulations from all sides. Sometimes it even feels that all that we do is thwarted by an unseen enemy who hates what we love.

Wait a minute!

That sounds just like Satan and he does hate what we love.

And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down–that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.
(Revelation 12:7-9 (NIV))

Because of his rebellion against God, he and his fallen angels have been cast out of heaven. They hate God and desire nothing more than to usurp God’s authority. That is what happened when Adam and Eve allowed Satan to become the prince of this world. Our ancestors legally gave the authority that God gave them to Satan. Satan and his followers work in the shadows to deceive and destroy all that is God’s creation and all who call upon the name of the Lord. Just like we cannot see God, we cannot see Satan, but we feel the effects of his wrath against those who love God.

There is constant warfare in the spiritual realm because of these events. What happens in the physical world is only a shadow of what happens in the spiritual realm.

We are at war!

Our enemy cannot be seen, but we can arm ourselves with God’s armor and we can overcome the enemy.

Are you prepared for the struggle? Are you focusing your battle tactics where they belong? Are you ready and able to stand?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you strong in the Lord?

February 14, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

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. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
(Ephesians 6:10-18 (NIV))

No soldier in history has ever won a battle by not being prepared to face the enemy. We are in a battle. We either choose to accept God’s Son, Jesus Christ, as our personal Lord and Savior, or we reject Him. By rejecting Him, we have allowed the enemy to have victory.

Even if we accept the gift that God has given us, we must be prepared to face the attacks of the enemy. A good soldier will ready his weapons and his body for combat.

We are in spiritual combat. How do we prepare ourselves for this combat? By embracing the sword that is the Word of God. The more that we read and study, the more that we will be prepared to determine what is from God and what is from the enemy.

Soldiers have instructions on how to maintain and use their physical weapons. We also have instructions on how to use our spiritual weapons. Read the Bible and meditate on the meanings that the words have even today, for God is the same yesterday, today and forever.

Are you strong in the Lord?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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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 claim all the power in God’s Word?

August 2, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word.
(Psalms 119:114 (NIV))

I want to ask a very telling question if I may.

In which part of God’s Word do you place you hope? Is it Genesis? Perhaps it is Proverbs or Psalms. Is it Matthew or Mark? Is it Revelation? Perhaps it is a different book where you find your hope is firmly grounded. Perhaps you like to pick and choose exactly what you claim as truth and then discard what you don’t like.

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))

How can anyone claim that God is their refuge and shield if they don’t accept all of God’s Word as truth and power? It is like someone putting on armor for protection during battle and saying that they don’t like the way the breastplate makes them feel, so they refuse to wear it. It is like someone refusing to put on the helmet because it would mess up their hair. Every page of God’s Word is power. It is life!

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
(2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV))

Do you claim all the power in God’s Word?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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I am confident that God is not through with me!

July 11, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 1:6 (NIV))

Do you have the hope to believe this passage, or is there something deeper, something stronger that you hold on to?

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

Based on this passage and how it relates confidence in the fulfillment, I would safely say that this passage could be paraphrased something like the following.

I have faith that God is not through with me since Jesus has started working in my life!

This passage is something that each of us should remember when we feel like the world is getting the best of us. Have faith that God will see us through! When we struggle with things in our lives, have faith that God will see us through. When we face the enemy, have faith that God will see us through! I have come to the realization that life is beautiful, but it is also a constant struggle. The enemy does all within his power to steal, kill and destroy, but we have a God who has given us the ability to have confidence, to have faith, in His promises. I especially love the promise that He is not through with us!

I am confident that God is not through with me!

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you conform or are you transformed?

January 16, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
(Romans 12:2 (NIV))

Do you like to fit in? Do you like to conform? Do you like to go along with people so that you don’t make waves?

What happens when the things that you need to do to be able to fit in go against the things that you hold to be true and vital to your life? Do you find yourself abandoning your principles, your faith, so that you fit in? If so, what type of faith, what type of principles did you have that you could so easily abandon them?

As the Body of Christ, we must remember that humanity turned over authority in this world to Satan when Adam and Eve, and all of humanity, fell from grace in the Garden of Eden. Think about that for a moment and then honestly think about your answer to the following question.

Do you truly wish to conform to a world that has fallen to the enemy?

During World War II, after Germany invaded France, those who fought against the German enemy became known as the Resistance. They did not conform to what the enemy tried to tell them to do. They fought back! I believe that the Body of Christ could learn a lesson from the French Resistance. Instead of conforming to the world, we need to fight back against the enemy that has taken our world.

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.
(Ephesians 6:12 (NIV))

Ours is not a physical battle. It is a spiritual war! The enemy’s deceptions are everywhere. We must test everything against God’s Word. We must be like the Bereans.

Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.
(Acts 117:11 (NIV))

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Pray for the children of sin and slavery!

December 30, 2015

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. At that time the son born in the ordinary way persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same now. But what does the Scripture say? “Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman’s son.” Therefore, brothers, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman.
(Galatians 4:28-31 (NIV))

We are the children of promise. All who believe in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior hold fast to the promises that He made and fulfilled. Jesus came so that all who believe could be granted salvation. That is a promise for all who are not ashamed to call upon His name.

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.
(Romans 1:16 (NIV))

Jesus came as a Jew to the Jews. We who believe in Jesus as Messiah are able to do so because of the Jews. They were chosen as the descendants of Abraham even when Abraham and Sarah tried to make God’s plan come true on their own. As a result, Ishmael was born of the slave girl. According to the customs of man, Ishmael was the first born and everything was rightfully his. God had other plans. Ishmael was not supposed to have happened. Ishmael’s little brother was who God had planned. In the eyes of that society, Ishmael was ridiculed. Satan has used this as a weapon against God’s intended heir ever since. It was used as a weapon when this passage was written. It is being used as a weapon now. Satan is ramping up the attacks.

It is nothing but a family fight manifesting itself in various ways! It is a struggle between the children of the law who are bound to man’s ways and to Satan versus the children of the promise of God. We no longer have to be children bound to the laws of sin. We have been allowed to break the bonds of slavery and claim our place as children of the promise. We, as believers in Jesus, are reborn as children of the free woman. Our sins have been forgiven.

We must pray for the children of sin and slavery. Pray that they will be able to break the bonds that keep them in their slavery. Pray that they will know Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior.

Copyright 1998 – 2015 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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