Be vigilant and stand firm!

June 25, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them.
(Romans 16:17 (NIV))

How firm is your spiritual foundation?

Are you grounded in God’s Word well enough to know the difference between the truth, partial truth, and a lie?

What causes division? If you look at any scenario, it usually starts with a subtle difference such as what Satan used in the Garden of Eden. It is a twist of the truth to make you think that the twisted, partial truth is correct. This results in one group accepting the truth while another group has accepted the partial truth. The next subtle twist takes the partial truth further away from the truth. Eventually you have two sides who have split over something that started out small but grew to such a point that there is division between the groups.

Division is not a good thing in the Body of Christ!

God created each of us to be unique, but our uniqueness is not the same as division. Our uniquenesses complement and fulfill the uniquenesses of other members of the Body, but division separates us. It tears us apart, and if we are not careful, it will draw us away from Jesus. We must be so well grounded in God’s Word that we can distinguish partials truths and lies from the truth of the Gospel. We must not accept, or even entertain, anything that is less than God’s truth.

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!
(Galatians 1:6-9 (NIV))

Sadly, we still have people just like those whom Paul wrote of. They try to pervert the gospel of Jesus. They twist and manipulate words and by doing so, they twist and manipulate lives. Avoid such people. Stand firm in the truth. Measure everything against the truth of God’s Word. Do not be deceived.

But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.
(2 Corinthians 11:3 (NIV))

Be vigilant and stand firm!

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you truly have compassion for the lost?

February 19, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.
(Mark 6:34 (NIV))

Have you ever wondered what the Lord thinks of the world in its current state? Does He still have compassion on the people who are like sheep without a shepherd? Does He still love those who have turned away and refuse to listen?

Why then have these people turned away?
        Why does Jerusalem always turn away?
They cling to deceit;
        they refuse to return.
(Jeremiah 8:5 (NIV))

Unfortunately, this appears to be a human characteristic that will not go away. We are rebellious by nature and we have a tendency to cling to our sinful, deceitful nature. It is a choice that each of us must make.

Does it break His heart when we turn away?

Of course it does!

Does He still love us? Does He call us to repentance?

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. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God
(John 3:16-21 (NIV))

There is a line from a song that I think of quite often. It asks the Lord to break our hearts for what breaks His. I often wonder if my heart breaks when I see the rebellion, or do I simply find myself glad that it is not me? Do I have compassion for the lost or do I walk past them with blinders on?

For those who profess a faith in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior, we have been given a task.

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))

We are to share the Gospel and warn people of the consequences of a life lived in sin. We are to be as watchmen and alert those who have turned away and cling to deceit.

But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people and the sword comes and takes someone’s life, that person’s life will be taken because of their sin, but I will hold the watchman accountable for their blood.
(Ezekiel 33:6 (NIV))

Have you truly realized that the Lord will hold us accountable if we do not share the Gospel? We are watchmen who are called to warn the people. Are we truly taking this task to heart?

Do you truly have compassion for the lost?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you desire to be thoroughly equipped?

October 27, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

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 like to cherry pick so that you go through and find what you like and leave the rest behind?

This concept works for selecting fruit and vegetables, but it is sadly used in circumstances where it shouldn’t even be considered.

Think about this in relation to your Bible reading and study plan. Do you have a favorite verse? If you are like most people who profess a faith in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior, you probably have what most people refer to as a life verse. There is nothing wrong with that. That passage is your personal anchor that firmly grounds you in your relationship with the Lord, but it should not be the complete extent of your knowledge and understanding. It should be the starting point for a continually growing relationship and understanding of Scripture.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.
(John 1:1-4 (NIV))

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
(John 1:14 (NIV))

Scripture is God’s Word. Jesus is God’s Word made flesh. If we long for a relationship with the Lord, then we must spend time getting to know Him. That means that we get to know everything that there is to know about the Lord, for He is perfect. If there is something that we desire to avoid then that reflects badly on us. It shows that we desire to settle for less than perfect. It shows that we desire to settle for our sin. It shows that we don’t truly desire the Lord and the spiritual growth that comes from His Word.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
(Hebrews 4:12 (NIV))

Are you willing to allow yourself to be judged, taught, rebuked, corrected and trained in righteousness?

Do you desire to be thoroughly equipped?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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We need to live each day two ways!

September 7, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

“Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
(Acts 1:11 (NIV))

Have we forgotten this promise?

Too many people who profess a faith in Jesus look to Him as their Savior when they die and face eternity. This is a true depiction, but there is more. We are told that He will return at some point in history and those who are looking for Him will see Him return in the same way that He left.

Have you accepted this aspect of Jesus?

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))

In other words, we can’t pick and choose what we believe and ignore the rest. We must accept the fact that He will return one day and it may be before we die!

Why do so many people who profess a faith in Jesus live as if He is not going to return? Why do so many ignore the promise that He will be seen again on this side of heaven? We, as the Body of Christ, seem to have the eternal aspects of our relationship with Jesus well in hand, after all, Jesus saves us from the one thing that we all fear. He offers eternal salvation which overcomes the fear of the unknown, the fear of death. But what about the authority of Jesus in this world and His return to defeat the enemy and establish that authority? Why do we ignore, why do we forget about that aspect of Jesus?

Do you look for His return? Do you long for Jesus to return for His church? Do you look up and pray to see His glory and majesty?

I am thankful that we have the assurance of our eternal salvation for when we face death, but I am also extremely thankful for the promise that Jesus will return. We live each day of our lives thankful for the one, but I offer that it is time that we learn to live in anticipation of the other. We must not surrender the one in order to accept the other.

We need to live each day two ways!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are we seeing a lack of Godly training in the world?

August 6, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.
(Proverbs 22:6 (NKJV))

It seems like anyone and everyone can quote this passage, even if they don’t know any other passages. Sadly, we appear to be seeing the truth behind these words unfolding right before us.

Just what is training?

In essence, the concept of training implies the teaching of discipline and the importance of following that discipline. Instilling self-discipline into the life of someone starts early in childhood. For example, I am sure that most of you were told at some point early in your life that you were old enough that your wants won’t hurt you. In other words, you had been taught that just because you want something doesn’t mean that it will happen no matter how big of a temper tantrum you may throw. Usually, this statement resulted in the application of a different passage.

He who spares his rod hates his son,
But he who loves him disciplines him promptly.
(Proverbs 13:24 (NKJV))

Am I the only one who sees a direct correlation between training and discipline?

It appears that we are seeing what happens when children who are not disciplined grow up and still act like spoiled brats. Parents who raised their children to think that they can do no wrong have committed a great disservice to their children, to society and to the Lord! Perhaps Proverbs 22:6 could be paraphrased in this manner.

Discipline a child when he does wrong and when he grows up, he will have learned how to behave.

Sadly, no matter what translation you may quote or how you choose to paraphrase this passage, the results of not applying this Godly principle are a lack of discipline and a total lack of respect for anything that is contrary to someone’s feelings. Discipline teaches that feelings can be manipulated. Truth is always the truth. Discipline teaches to seek the truth beyond the feelings.

Are we seeing a lack of Godly training in the world?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are we thoroughly equipped to be God’s servants?

June 23, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

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))

Most believers are familiar with this passage, but most read it as I have presented it here. We have a tendency to take it as a stand-alone passage and forget the context that it was originally written. It is true that as a stand-alone passage, it does speak truth, for anything from God’s Word is God-breathed and useful in all righteousness, but there is more to this passage than this. These words about all scripture close 2 Timothy 3 after it is opened with these words about the last days.

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— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
(2 Timothy 3:1-5 (NIV))

We, as the Body of Christ, have taken these two passages and have made them unrelated. We look at the warning about the last days but fail to realize that the closing words from 2 Timothy 3 are instructions for us when we see the things of the last days unfolding right before our eyes. The words written by Paul to Timothy are instructions to continue in the faith. We are to stand firm in the face of adversity. We are to stand firm when we see people are becoming lovers of themselves. We are to stand firm in our faith when we see the world turning into lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. We are to stand firm by firmly rooting ourselves in the scriptures, and not just our favorite passages.

In order to recognize the truth, we must be firmly rooted in God’s truth. There are gems of godly wisdom and truth in every passage. Some truths are only recognizable when you understand the complete truth, for God’s Word is not just a collection of individual, unrelated nuggets. God’s Word is life!

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
(Genesis 1:1 (NIV))

From the first words in Genesis 1 to the last words in Revelation 22, there is an unfolding of God’s truth and in order to understand it, we must read and study it all.

He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.”
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.
(Revelation 22:20-21 (NIV))

It is said that all of scripture after the fall from grace details God’s plan to bring salvation and to restore His creation. How well do you know the story? How well do you know what the outcomes are for those involved in this story?

Are we thoroughly equipped to be God’s servants?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you fully walking with Jesus?

April 16, 2020

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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))

Everybody loves the last part of this passage.

And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
(Matthew 28:20b (NIV))

It is a wonderful assurance that the Lord will always be with those who follow Him. Sadly, most people fail to recognize that this scripture is at the end of a set of instructions that are known as the Great Commission. As believers and followers of Jesus, we are given a task. We are to share the Gospel and make disciples. We are to tell the world about the grace and mercy that is freely given through the cross of Jesus. As believers, that is our assignment. If we consider ourselves to be in the Lord’s army, then that is our direct order straight from the top! We are instructed to be on the front lines of this spiritual war.

I may get some people upset with the next few questions and sentences, but I feel that they need to be asked and stated.

In your understanding, why did Jesus come into the world? Was it to bring eternal redemption and restoration to the Father through the grace freely given at the cross, or was it to bring social changes that only impact the present? Did Jesus come to make this offer only to a select few or to the whole world? Have you accepted this offer of grace and salvation?

Did Jesus tie His being with us to His assignment to share the Gospel? If we have accepted Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, we have inherited the orders originally given to the disciples. We are to go and make disciples. We are to baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. We are to teach others to obey by teaching them to learn and understand. Do we truly obey? Do we truly understand what we are called to do?

Is there a reason why Jesus tells us that He will be with us always immediately following the instructions to share the Gospel?

Personally, I think that they go hand in hand with each other. If we choose to accept Jesus, then He will never leave us. He will guide us into what and where we are to go. Just as we are called to repent, we are also called to witness and to share the Gospel. The more we go and make disciples, the more we learn to rely on Him and the closer we draw near to Him. Jesus promises to never leave us, but through our lack of obedience, do we leave Him?

Is Jesus with you?

Perhaps I should ask it this way. Are you fully walking with Jesus?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Will your harvest be plentiful?

March 26, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.
(2 Corinthians 9:5 (NIV))

I think that it is safe to say that most people are not currently thinking about sowing, especially if it involves sowing into the lives of others. Think about that in the context of the life of Jesus. When He came into the world, it was not exactly a safe place to be. Did that stop Him from coming? He came into the world to teach and go to the cross to save us from our sins. He came knowing that He would die! Did that stop Him from coming? He had a mission and He did not let anything get in the way of bringing salvation to those who would listen and believe.

The current situation in this world is unprecedented, but we, as the Body of Christ, still have a mission.

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))

We are to make disciples!

We are to sow the seeds of salvation into the hearts of all whom we encounter. How do we do this when the world is in such a state? There is a quote that is attributed to St. Francis of Assisi. It says, “Preach always. When necessary, use words.” We can share the Gospel by living our lives as a living testimony to the power of grace. We can live our lives in such a way that people see a peace in us that just doesn’t make sense in this otherwise hectic world. We can live our lives in such a way that people ask why we are different. We can sow based on how we live our lives. We can plant the seed that others will nurture and God will reap.

So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor.
(1 Corinthians 3:7-8 (NIV))

Do you sow into the lives of those whom you encounter? Do they see something in you that is different from the world? Do they want to know what makes you different?

Will your harvest be plentiful?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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You will be amazed at what happens when you are devoted!

March 9, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
(Acts 2:42 (NIV))

They devoted themselves!

Do you ever wonder why people say that miracles don’t happen today? Do you wonder why we see a problem and it stays a problem? Do you understand that our current understanding of church and being the Body of Christ is far from what it used to be?

Why do you think that is true?

One simple word.

Devotion.

We, as the modern Body of Christ, look at Jesus as a filler for the parts of our lives that are empty. It is true that He is there to fill the emptiness, but He is so much more. The early church knew that professing a faith in Jesus meant more than simply acknowledging Him as savior. They knew Him as Lord and they devoted themselves to each other and to His teachings.

They devoted themselves in four areas – teachings, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer. It does not say that they devoted themselves to their work. It does not say that they devoted themselves to their families. It does not say that they devoted themselves to their favorite sports team.

Could you image how the Body of Christ would be today if we all gave the same amount of devotion, both public and private, that we give our college football teams? Can you imagine large stadiums of people to pray and to study God’s Word? In some countries it happens. People come from far and wide to hear the Gospel. Ironically, it is usually an American ministry that reaches out to these countries. It is sad that we do not do as the people to whom we send ministers and missionaries.

What is your idea of devotion?

Is it sitting in a church pew for an hour on Sunday? Is it adding a Bible study to your weekly schedule? Is it placing God first in all that you do? Does it mean that you willingly help those in need?

I often think that devotion is directly related to faith.

He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches.”
(Matthew 13:31-32 (NIV))

If we have the faith and the devotion to see that faith through, then both will grow to enormous proportions. As we devote ourselves to the four areas – teachings, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer – we will see things begin to happen that will strengthen our faith. We will see the results of our devotion. As a result, we will grow our devotion and our faith.

It is amazing what devotion, or dedication, can do, especially when it is focused on Jesus and God’s Word.

I think that we need to take a lesson from the early church and try devoting ourselves to Jesus. You will be amazed at what happens when you are devoted!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you focused on the task that all of us have been given?

February 11, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

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))

Do you think that Paul’s task was any different from the one that each of us have?

If you say “Yes,” what is the task that God has given to you? Why do you feel that you are exempt from what He told His disciples to do and what we have inherited by becoming His disciples?

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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 28:16-20 (NIV))

If you say “No,” are you fulfilling that task? Are you telling others about Jesus? Are you living a life that reflects Jesus in all that you do? Are you boldly proclaiming the good news of God’s grace and mercy as it was made manifest through Jesus’ birth, His life, death, burial, resurrection and ascension? Are you boldly sharing that He will come again?

Paul’s only desire was to be faithful to the one task that the Lord had given him. Paul wanted to be found faithful in sharing the Gospel with the world. That is also our task. Just like Paul, we are not called to simply tell one person. We are called to tell everyone we meet. There are numerous ways that we can fulfill our task, but no matter how we do it, we are all called to share the good news of Jesus. Think of this as your full time employment. What we do for a living in this world is not our true calling. It is a means to an end. Paul used his skills as a tent maker to finance his evangelism. What skills do you have that can be the basis of your evangelism?

Paul was focused. He had one goal in mind.

Are you focused on the task that all of us have been given?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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