We must occupy until He returns!

October 11, 2022

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Engage in business until I come.’
(Luke 19:13 (ESV))

Engage in business until I come!

If you read this parable and miss that the master is Jesus, then engage in business means just that. However, if you make the connection that Jesus is telling His disciples that He will be leaving, then you understand that engaging in His business is telling the world about the grace and mercy that is only found through Himself. Another translation puts it this way.

And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.
(Luke 19:13 (KJV))

As followers of Jesus, we are to occupy until He comes. This translation brings to the table a different, more emphatic instruction set for those who profess a faith in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. We are to occupy this world. When I read this translation, my mind automatically thinks of an occupying army. They do what they are commanded and do not fear the consequences, for they have an authority that is not native to the land that they answer to. They are to carry out the instructions that they have been given. As the Body of Christ, we have been given instructions that we are to perform until His return.

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))

The church, the Body of Christ, is an occupying army. We are instructed to take captive those who are currently not following Jesus. We are instructed to share the Gospel of salvation with a sinful and dying world. We are to rebuke the enemy. We are instructed to bind the power of the enemy and to show people how they can break the chains of bondage to sin.

The translations that refer to engaging in business don’t paint the complete picture in my mind. Most people think of buying and selling and making a profit when you mention business. I am not capable of reading this passage in the original language, so I have to rely on the people who have performed the translations. Word choice can make a big difference. I know that it does for me.

What about you?

What translation conveys this passage in the best way, the most understandable way, for you?

No matter which translation you choose, we are called to be doing the work that Jesus instructed us to do until He returns. Many people, myself included, believe that recent world events indicate that the time of the end is rapidly approaching. We are called to be His light in a dark and dying world. We are called to share the Gospel into the lives of sinners in need of a Savior. We are called to be about His business!

Are you performing the duties that we have been given?

We must occupy until He returns!

Copyright 1998 – 2022 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
https://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How is your prayer life?

July 29, 2022

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

pray without ceasing,
(1 Thessalonians 5:17 (ESV))

I love this translation of this passage. Most translations say to pray continually, but there is something in this translation that expresses the importance and the urgency of praying.

Think about this in the context of running a race. If you are running this race and you are told to keep running, what does that imply to you? In my mind, this comes across as a suggestion. It doesn’t give any hint as to the reason and the urgency. Now, imagine the same scenario, only this time you are told don’t stop! To me, this implies an urgency and importance to the fact that you must keep moving no matter what happens. Don’t give up. Don’t throw in the proverbial towel. Push through and finish!

The same is true in my mind of the urgency and importance of praying without ceasing. In other words, no matter what happens, keep praying!

Please don’t misunderstand what I am saying about the other translations.

pray continually,
‭‭(1 Thessalonians‬ ‭5:17 (NIV))

This translation has a very valid meaning, but perhaps what the author was trying to convey is a combination of both translations.

Pray continually and don’t stop!

In other words, always be in prayer and always push through and finish! Don’t give up! Don’t throw in the proverbial towel. Don’t surrender to the enemy. Keep in constant communication with God the Father through Jesus. This is especially true if you realize that prayer is simply talking to God AS WELL AS listening to God. If this is your definition of prayer, then you fully understand the importance of praying without ceasing!

How is your prayer life?

Copyright 1998 – 2022 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
https://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you anxiously seek Godly knowledge?

February 18, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

But as for you, Daniel, conceal these words and seal up the scroll until the end of time. Many will go back and forth and search anxiously [through the scroll], and knowledge [of the purpose of God as revealed by His prophets] will [greatly] increase.
(Daniel 12:4 (AMP))

Have you ever heard this passage translated in this way?

Perhaps you are more familiar with it from this translation.

But you, Daniel, roll up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. Many will go here and there to increase knowledge.
(Daniel 12:4 (NIV))

Most of us think of this passage with respect to the last sentence and take that to mean that people will be able to go everywhere easily and that human knowledge such as technology will increase. To be honest with you, this is a perfect picture of our world today. We have seen more advancements in the last one hundred years with respect to travel and human knowledge than we have over the last several thousand years.

I have a question for you to consider.

What was in the original Hebrew scrolls that made one translation allude to this as traveling here and there to increase knowledge while another translator chose to indicate that people will be going back and forth anxiously searching the scriptures for knowledge of the end of time?

I realize that everyone has their personal favorite translation that they like to use, but unless you are capable of fluently reading the original Hebrew and Greek manuscripts, we are all at the mercy of the people who translated God’s Word. We must learn to go beyond our favorite translation and cross reference other translations. We are to search the scriptures in such a way that we eagerly seek His insight into His Word, and if that means comparing translations to help us understand the intent of the original Hebrew and Greek manuscripts, then we must do so with prayerful consideration. Even if we only read one translation, we must pray for God to open our eyes, our hearts and our minds so that we truly understand His Word. We must be like the Bereans.

Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.
(Acts 17:10-12 (NIV))

We must examine the scriptures!

We must be eager in our examinations!

Do you search anxiously through God’s Word? Do you cross-reference from one passage to another and from one translation to another? Let’s take that back to the context originally spoken of in this passage. Let’s look at the increase in the desire to understand the end of time. Have you seen an increase in the eagerness to understand this knowledge?

Daniel, I now command you to keep the message of this book secret until the end of time, even though many people will go everywhere, searching for the knowledge to be found in it.
(Daniel 12:4 (CEV))

God’s Word is much more than instructions on how to live our lives. It is an insight into the very heart and mind of the Lord. It is an insight into God’s very plan as it unfolds.

Do you anxiously seek Godly knowledge?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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We were made to praise!

February 16, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

From the rising of the sun to its going down
The Lord’s name is to be praised.
(Psalms 113:3 (NKJV))

Everyone knows this passage, but have you looked at it in other translations. In this translation it appears to be talking about a period of time from sunrise to sunset, but is it? We know that when this was written, people lived their lives based on the rising and setting of the sun. It was understood that they were to praise the Lord every waking moment of every day. Each translation handles this just a little differently with the possible subtleties of the English language. They all convey the same thing, but some seem to take it to the next level.

From the rising of the sun to its setting,
    the name of the Lord is to be praised!
(Psalms 113:3 (ESV))

With the translator’s choice of words, the ESV begins to take on more possibilities, but the NIV fully expounds on the possibilities that are conveyed just through the choice of a few different words that still mean the same thing, but now, through the choice of words, we get a richer and fuller understanding.

From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets,
    the name of the Lord is to be praised.
(Psalms 113:3 (NIV))

Not only is this passage speaking of a time period, but, it is also speaking of an unlimited location. We know that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, but since the earth is in constant motion we know that there is always a sunrise and a sunset at any moment of the day at various places around the world. If we expand the concept of praising the Lord during your waking hours to the understanding that there will always be people who are awake, we understand that there should always be constant praise being lifted up to the Lord!

We know that we were created to be in fellowship with the Lord and to praise Him. The subtleties in translations of this passage prove the infinite wisdom of the Lord. His understanding is far greater than ours. The earth is indeed His and all that is in it should praise His glorious name!

We were made to praise!

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Is there a difference between gathering and assembling?

September 1, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
(Hebrews 10:25 (NIV))

It is amazing how subtle nuances in a translation can make something take on a completely different meaning. Since we have to rely on translations from the original Aramaic and Greek, the understanding of the full meanings of the original language and how it is translated into English can vary slightly. Each translation conveys the meaning, but sometimes the subtleties give a much better understanding of the depth of the original language. This is why I like to cross reference between many different translations to try and fully understand the intentions behind the words. This passage is an excellent example of just this.

What do you think of when you read the phrase “meeting together”? Do you simply think of a gathering of individuals that come together for a short time and then go their separate ways?

Now, let’s take this one step further and reference a different translation.

not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
(Hebrews 10:25 (NKJV))

What do you think of when you read the phrase “assembling of ourselves together”? Does this paint a mental picture of unity and purpose where people come together for a common goal?

I heard something today that brought these two phrases into a much better understanding. I think that this analogy will also paint a very interesting picture for you as well.

The example was of a watch. When you gather the components of a watch into one location, everything is there, yet it has no purpose. They are still just individual parts that do not work together. But, when those parts are assembled in the correct way, the result is a fully functioning time piece. Now, how does this apply to believers who simply gather together versus being assembled into a functioning body of believers? We, as the church, should be more than the sum of our individual parts. We should rely on the Lord to assemble us in such a way that we bring glory to Him by uniting in the task that we have been assigned.

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))

If all that we do is gather, then we are not fulfilling our calling. We must be willing to assemble!

Is there a difference between gathering and assembling?

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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Does your life reflect your hope?

April 6, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
(Isaiah 40:31 (NIV))

We have been told in other Scripture passages that we would face troubles. We have been told that there would be people who would faint from the things that they would face. Ezekiel wrote about Babylon coming against Israel and what would happen.

And when they ask you, ‘Why are you groaning?’ you shall say, ‘Because of the news that is coming. Every heart will melt with fear and every hand go limp; every spirit will become faint and every leg will be wet with urine.’ It is coming! It will surely take place, declares the Sovereign Lord.”
(Ezekiel 21:7 (NIV))

We aren’t yet to the point that Luke writes of, but the description is of something that we don’t want to see.

People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken.
(Luke 21:26 (NIV))

We are facing worldwide troubles. I am certain that some people are in a state of panic and could very easily faint from fear. Others have a peace that passes understanding. We have a hope that brings about a renewed faith even in the face of adversity.

I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.
(Jeremiah 31:25 (NIV))

I love how the Lord tells us to place our hope in Him, and that He will give us strength so that we don’t grow faint. I did a search for the word “faint,” and I found that thirty-five of the returned passages in one translation are in the Old Testament. I find it interesting that the only passage that is in the New Testament in this translation is Luke 21:26. I love how after Jesus came to the earth to bring us hope and salvation, the only reference to fainting is of a future event and those who are fainting are those who do not know Jesus!

Do you know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior? Do you place your hope in Jesus as Lord?

Does your life reflect your hope?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do you have faith?

October 24, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
(Galatians 3:26-29 (NIV))

Have you ever stopped to think about the number of times that faith is mentioned in God’s word? In one translation alone, faith is mentioned 246 times and faithful is mentioned another 78 times. Faithfulness is mentioned another 59 times. I hope that you are seeing what I see.

I have a database of scripture verses that God has placed on my heart, and in my database, nearly twenty-five percent of the entries that I have reference faith, faithful or faithfulness.

Faith is important!

Can you honestly proclaim anything in this life without having a faith to back it up? Can you claim that tomorrow will come? Can you know that the seasons will come? Can you know that the next breath that you take will fill your lungs and prolong your life?

Can you proclaim that God is good?

Can you proclaim that God loves you?

Can you proclaim that you know where you will be after you leave this world?

Think about these questions. Can you see any of these with your physical eyes? And, yes, this also applies to the concept of tomorrow, the seasons, and air.

Have you ever seen God?

If you haven’t seen God, then how do you know that He exists? How do you know that He loves you? How do you know where you will be after this life?

I bet most of you are thinking of that line from the children’s song – “Because the Bible tells me so.” What makes these printed words on a page different from the other books that are in this world?

FAITH

To believe anything, to accept anything, you have to have faith. You have to understand and accept the basic principles that support the ideas being presented. You have to accept the idea that this world was created. You have to accept the idea that the creator is God. You have to accept the idea that God loves us. You have to accept the idea that we, as His creation, are sinful. You have to accept the idea that God wanted to wash away our sins. You have to accept the idea that He sent His Son, Jesus, to live among us and to die for our transgressions. You have to accept the idea that Jesus arose on the third day and sits at the right hand of God, the Father. You have to accept the idea that only through Jesus will you receive grace.

Perhaps we can define faith as a joyful acceptance of what we have never seen, yet we know to be true.

Do you joyfully accept Jesus and all of the promises that are fulfilled through Him? In other words, do you have faith?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do you want a clean heart or a pure heart?

May 29, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

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

Most of us can quote this passage as it is translated in the American Standard Version, below.

Create in me a clean heart, O God;
And renew a right spirit within me.
(Psalms 51:10 (ASV))

To be honest with you, that translation is so ingrained in my mind, that it is what I see no matter what translation I may be reading. Today, I think I truthfully read the New International Version for the first time. There were subtle nuances that became obvious to me.

Consider the two words that are used to describe the heart. One uses the word “clean,” which implies that all dirt has been removed as in a clean cup. The other uses the word “pure,” which implies a deeper cleanliness or purity. Consider a bar of gold. It can be dirty or it can be clean. Do either of these states cause any difference in the value of the gold. If you consider the purity of the bar of gold, we have a completely different understanding. If the bar of gold was 95% pure, it wouldn’t be worth as much as if it were 100% pure.

With this in mind, do you want a clean heart or a pure heart?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do you spend time searching God’s Word?

August 16, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

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 17:11 (NIV))

Do you believe everything that you see or do you search for confirmation?

Sometimes, the English language just can’t express what was recorded in the original language, or sometimes there are just more ways to say the same thing. I like the following translation. It gets right to the point.

They searched the Scriptures day by day to check up on Paul and Silas, to see if they were really telling the truth.
(Acts 17:11 (NLT))

In other words, they wanted to make sure that Paul and Silas were not making things up. They verified their teachings. Let’s face it, just because someone teaches doesn’t mean they know the truth. If you don’t believe this, simply look at what is going on in the world.

Test everything. Hold on to the good.
(1 Thessalonians 5:21 (NIV))

What do we use as a benchmark to test against?

Sadly, the world uses whatever criteria they find appropriate at the time. There is no set standard in the eyes of too many people in this world.

There is a standard!

It is unwavering. It is constant. It is infallible.

It is God’s Word!

The Body of Christ must learn to validate, to verify, everything against Scripture. God will not contradict Himself. He will not say that something is a sin and then change His mind and say that it is no linger a sin because society has changed. Where is the truth in that? Where is the firm foundation upon which we can build an unshakable faith?

If we don’t know God’s Word and search it daily, how can we distinguish between the lies of the enemy and the truth of God’s Word?

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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