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.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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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.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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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.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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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.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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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.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What is the source of your sustenance?

January 8, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”
(Matthew 4:4 (NIV))

We spend so much time thinking about what we eat. We spend so much time worried about eating the rights things in the right amount so that we don’t put on weight, or so that we will lose weight. It seems like every day we hear about new diets or nutrition supplements that are designed to make us the best possible physical specimen that we can be. The things that we put into our bodies are important, but why do we spend so much time and effort with this aspect of our lives while we neglect a very important aspect of our growth and maturity? Why do we ignore the spiritual aspects and focus on the physical when the physical is here today and gone tomorrow?

We need to focus on feeding our spiritual side. We need to feed on the very Word of God.

Jesus IS the Word made flesh.

Jesus IS the bread of life.

Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Bethlehem means house of bread.

I find it interesting that in order to receive salvation, each of us must accept Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior. We must embrace Jesus as the bread of life. But, we are not to stop there. We are to immerse ourselves in God’s Word in order to become like David, a man after God’s own heart. We can’t know the Father without spending time in His Word. We can’t truly know the Son, without spending time with the Word. We can’t mature in our faith without knowing the very heart of God! They go hand in hand.

We eat physical food to strengthen our bodies. We must also strengthen our spiritual nature. We need more than milk. We need to mature in our faith!

In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.
(Hebrews 5:12-13 (NIV))

Are you acquainted with God’s Word?

What is the source of your sustenance?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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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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Think about who you pray for!

September 17, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, because I hear about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints. I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ. Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.
(Philemon 1:4-7 (NIV))

Paul wrote many letters of encouragement to believers throughout his traveling. Some of the letters even had to take on a tone of discipline in order to get people back on the right track. Most of the letters were letters of teaching and encouragement.

The words that Paul wrote in this letter are excellent commendations for a person who truly sought to know God and to do His Will. Still, do you notice that even though Paul commended him for his faith and his works, there is one thing that he did – Paul prayed for this person. Even though he was doing what God wanted him to do and was faithful in his helping others, Paul knew that even the most faithful need prayer to under gird them and protect them from the attacks of the enemy.

Who do you pray for? Is it only the people that you know are in need of something? What about the people who are pillars of faith in your community? Shouldn’t we do as Paul and pray for them? Satan does not leave believers alone. We have seen all too often that even the people whom we see as faithful can falter.

When we pray we must not forget the faithful who are diligent in doing the Will of God. We must pray that they do not face the attacks of the enemy and that they will not give in to temptation, for nothing pleases Satan more than knowing that someone who has been bought by the blood of Jesus Christ has fallen.

With this in mind, wouldn’t you want someone praying for you so that you don’t fall into temptation?

Think about who you pray for!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do you share the Gospel with the authority of Jesus?

September 10, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.
(Matthew 7:28-29 (NIV))

Do you remember your most favorite teacher? What made them your favorite? Was it the fact that they really knew what they were teaching and that they were passionate about what they taught? They taught from authority, for authority means that they know what they are teaching. They were more interested in conveying wisdom and knowledge instead of rules and regulations. They taught with joy and enthusiasm.

Do you remember your least favorite teacher? What made this teacher different from your most favorite teacher? I would safely say that they are the ones who tried to teach rules and regulations instead of wisdom and knowledge. Do you remember the rules and regulations that they tried to teach? Probably not!

Consider that Jesus and the teachers of the law are identical to your most favorite and least favorite teachers. Jesus came to impart wisdom and knowledge with joy and enthusiasm. The teachers of the law taught rigid laws and doctrine. No wonder the crowds were amazed at His teachings. Up until this point in their lives, religious life was a chore dictated by very strict man-made rules and regulations that attempted to define and refine what God had commanded. Jesus came to set the captives free. He taught not of rules, but of grace and mercy.

We need to be careful that we do not teach as the teachers of the law, but, teach as Jesus taught.

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 28:18-20 (NIV))

Jesus told us to go and teach of Him. How do you teach? Do you try to enforce rules or do you passionately teach of grace and mercy?

It is my desire to be passionate about what I am given to send out. I pray that you will always see the passion within these words. Do you share the Gospel with the authority of Jesus?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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It is time we let the Lord define who He is!

September 3, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.

Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue ruler said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.”

The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?”
(Luke 13:10-16 (NIV))

Do you try to put limits on Jesus? Are you guilty of doing what the synagogue ruler did in this situation?

Instead of praising God for what He has done through Jesus, do you find yourself trying to put your own rules and regulations on what He is doing? Do you find yourself trying to put God into the confines of what you believe He should be instead of letting Him be who He is?

This is human nature. We try to define our limited understanding through things that we do understand. We are all guilty of it.

Consider those who believe in evolution. They cling to something because they want a “scientific” explanation for how life came to be. They cling to what they consider to be logic because they do not want to accept the truth. Their only desire is to be able to clearly define everything based on their own understanding. They want to be able to have things so well classified that they can predict what will happen. They ignore faith for a false knowledge that they have defined. Their definition is not God’s definition. They want definitions that clearly state what can be expected only as long as it meets their version of what can be expected.

What about your definition of God? Would Jesus call you a hypocrite because you fail to see beyond your definition of what can be expected? It is time we let the Lord define who He is!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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