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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Pray for discernment as we face the future!

July 24, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name.
(Revelation 13:16-17 (NIV))

Control . . . and on a global scale.

In order for this to happen, several things must occur.

First and foremost, something must happen that makes people willing to do whatever those in authority say needs to be done. Then, they will need to remove cash and coins and convince everyone that it is for their own safety, security and convenience that everything goes digital. They will need to isolate people and then convince them that in order to resume normal life, they must receive something that indicates that they are safe from whatever excuse they originally used to make them go into isolation. In essence, they remove the ability to buy or sell without being tracked. They implement a way to tell if you are able to be tracked, and then they force you to be tracked if you want to participate in this thing that we call life!

Does any of this sound familiar?

Satan is the father of lies. He is maneuvering to have humanity do exactly what is told of in Revelation.

Watch the things of this world closely, for many lies are being told and many are believing them as truth. History is being rewritten. God’s Word is being ridiculed. Israel is being accused of war crimes for defending themselves. There are people who are trying to make us do things in the guise of making people safer. Will these actually pave the way for great confrontation? Nothing can be taken at face value.

Deception is the key to what is currently unfolding. Stay firmly rooted in God’s Word. Study so that you may know what the events in the world actually mean. Test everything by God’s Word. Do not accept anything espoused by man as the truth. Only God’s Word is true.

Don’t fall into the traps that are being laid. Keep your eyes focused on Jesus.

Pray for discernment as we face the future!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you ready for Jesus?

July 22, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.
(Matthew 24:27 (NIV))

Do you ever sit outside and watch the lightning as a storm approaches? Everything gets dark as the storm begins to build. The darker it gets, the worse the storm. Then, out of what seems like nowhere, lightning breaks forth and illuminates the sky. You never know where and when it will come, but you know that it will. You sit there in anticipation of the lightning. You sit there in awe of the splendor and the power. You sit there and watch in amazement at the lightning in the distance and you know that it is coming your way.

Take a serious look at the darkness of the storm that the world is currently facing. I am certain that some people will remember dark periods in their lives. There have been dark periods in not too distant history. The one thing that gave the world hope was a resolve to defeat the darkness. Today, too many people are more than willing to embrace the darkness.

We need the lightning!

We need Jesus!

I don’t know about you, but this passage gives me a mental image of Jesus coming in power and in light. He breaks the darkness with just His presence. He touches people here. He touches people there. His coming is like the lightning. It is a magnificent vision for those who have called upon His name as Lord and Savior. For those who have denied Him, it is one of sadness and fear.

Some believe that the Body of Christ will see this from the earth. Some believe that we will be by His side as He comes down from heaven. Either way, I can rest assured that this will be the most glorious entrance that the world has ever seen. It will be the most powerful display in all of history.

It will be a lightning show magnified by a heavenly host.

It will pierce the darkness. It will be a resounding victory just as we have been told.

Are you ready for the lightning? Are you ready for the power? Are you ready for Jesus?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Don’t fall for ungodly deception!

June 12, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Jesus said to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you.
(Mark 13:5 (NIV))

Jesus knew that strange times would come and that people would potentially be deceived by what would be happening. He told His disciples point blank to be on their guard so that they, and we, would not be deceived when situations arise. We must stand firm in our faith and be firmly rooted in God’s Word so that we can recognize false teachings when they are presented to us. It is my prayer that we will be so firmly grounded in God’s Word that we will instantly know the enemy’s attempts to deceive us when we see them. You have to realize that the enemy knows God’s Word and can twist it in ways that are designed to confuse those who are not totally immersed in God’s truth. Consider that the serpent tricked Adam and Eve by twisting the truth in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve walked with God. They knew Him in a way that we can’t possibly know God today. Still, they fell for the deception that the serpent used, and humanity has been paying the price ever since that day!

The enemy uses things out of context, or just a partial quote of scripture. He will twist just enough of God’s Word so that it still sounds right, but with the subtle change, it is now a lie. Consider what happens if he leaves out the last instructions from Jesus to the woman caught in adultery.

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
(John 8:9-11 (NIV))

If you twist this passage by removing “Go now and leave your life of sin,” it takes on a whole new meaning. It takes on a meaning completely opposite of what Jesus truly said and meant. Without those eight words, it sounds as if Jesus is telling the woman that whatever she does is okay, when what He is really saying is that she must repent and change her ways. The whole passage, when twisted like this, is now able to be a lie from the mouth of the enemy.

We must not take things at face value. We must know God’s Word. We must search God’s Word for verification and not for our sinful gratification. We must be 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 17:11 (NIV))

When someone is not educated in certain aspects of life, it is easy for them to be deceived in those areas. With everything that is going on in the world, be very careful with respect to what you embrace as truth. When you are firmly grounded in God’s Word, the Holy Spirit will be in communication with your spirit. Allow the Holy Spirit to guide you through the subtle lies of the enemy.

Don’t fall for ungodly deception!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you diligently keeping watch?

January 22, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’
(Mark 13:37 (NIV))

Are you diligently watching and waiting for the Lord’s return?

These words from Mark are recorded as the last words in a brief story about a man leaving his servants in charge while he is gone. In this example, the man did not tell his servants when he would return. He simply told them to watch and be prepared.

Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch. Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping.
(Mark 13:33-36 (NIV))

If Jesus were to return for His church today, how would He find you? Would He catch you off guard or would you recognize that He is coming and would you be prepared to meet Him? Sadly, too many people who profess a faith in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior simply go about their daily lives with no thought to the question of “What if Jesus returned today?” It is the farthest thing from their minds, yet it should be the most important thing on their mind at all times.

Think about that in terms of a job. You are employed to do a certain task and when the boss is there, you perform the task as expected. But, when the boss is away for a day or two, do you perform your duties as you would if your boss were there?

Absence makes us lose sight of the importance of what we have been assigned to do! I’ll let you in on a little secret, though, with respect to the Lord. Unlike your boss, Jesus still knows your every thought and action. He knows who is diligently watching and waiting for Him.

We are to watch and wait for the Lord to return. Are you diligently keeping watch?

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

December 23, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
(Luke 2:8-14 (NIV))

What an honor it must have been to be the first to hear the good news! The shepherds must have been terrified by the presence of the angels, after all, angels were not, and are still not an every day occurrence.

Luckily for us, God’s plan does not discriminate against us for not being there. In fact, it is probably with mixed blessings that we are embraced as part of God’s Kingdom. We do not have the first hand experience of having seen the angels, the star, or Jesus’ life. Sometimes, I wonder if I would have believed if I lived at the time of Jesus!

On the other hand, we have the faith of millions of people who have gone before us. We have the New Testament, the hundreds of years of prophesy study that proves Jesus is King of kings, the Messiah. It may be easier for someone today to come to faith than it was in Jesus’ day. Yet, through all of this “historical proof”, I sometimes feel empty. I think it is the desire of every believer to be able to go back in time and be a witness to the miracles and hear the teachings of Jesus firsthand.

We celebrate the birth of Jesus and look back in awe to the miracles. At the same time, we should look around us in awe of what God is doing today and look to the not-to-distant future and know what God is going to do. We celebrate the First Coming. Some tomorrow we will celebrate the Second Coming.

Merry Christmas!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 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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Are you on watch for bad fruit?

October 10, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
(Matthew 7:15-20 (NIV))

Think about this the next time that you hear of something that is just too good to be true, or is just a little off of what God’s Word says that it should be. Most of the time, lies are obvious, but deception is a trick of the enemy. When things sound almost right with respect to God’s word, they are totally wrong.

It should be easy for believers to realize that the “fruit” does not match the source. We should be able to easily distinguish that the things the enemy tells us are too good to be true, especially when they contradict everything that we should know to be true according to God’s Word.

Why do people fall for the deceptions of the enemy?

Are we, as a fallen, sinful race, too far removed from the truth to even recognize it?

The words in Matthew are amazing and sadly amusing if you stop to actually understand what is being said. We have enough common sense to not look for grapes on an apple tree, yet, we easily fall prey to the small lies of the enemy in hopes that the promises are true.

Test everything against God’s Word. If something is supposed to bear goodness, but it lies to do so, does it really follow God’s Word? If you are promised that it is only a small digression and no one will know about it, can it be the correct fit?

We have been told what the things of God will bear.

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

Think of this passage when validating the truth about something. Does it produce according to the fruit of the Spirit?

Are you on watch for bad fruit?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you easily deceived?

October 25, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I urge you, brothers, 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. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.
(Romans 16:17-18 (NIV))

It is easy to become bogged down in the world and what society is saying. Television advertising, television shows, sales people – they all try to flatter and convince you of something. Some is harmless. Some is not so harmless. Even the harmless can lead to harm if it is the beginning of a series. This even happens in the church.

Unfortunately, today, the church is influenced more by society than it influences society. Be careful to keep your eyes focused on Jesus and pray for God’s Will to be done.

Deception is an art form. It is an evil art perfected by the enemy. Satan will use anything that he can to deceive believers – even other believers. Stay grounded in the Truth of the Word so that deception can be avoided.

Are you firmly grounded so that deception will not make you stray?

Are you easily deceived?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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When was the last time that you were still?

September 7, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when men succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.
(Psalms 37:7 (NIV))

How many times have you found yourself wanting to do what God would have you do, only to have your “apple cart” upset by someone who is doing the worldly thing? I know that it happens far too often for my tastes. It is hard to keep the world from creeping in when this happens. We must do as the Psalmist told us. We must be still and wait on God. God has an eternal time clock and an eternal plan for not only us, but for the whole world and everyone in it. We must wait on God for what He is working in our lives. If we diligently seek Him, He will fill us to overflowing with the gifts that He would have us possess. We must also keep still and patient when it concerns the wicked schemes of others.

Often, people have come to know Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior only after they have succeeded in all worldly matters. Sometimes they achieve everything that they wanted from the world and still find an emptiness that they cannot fill. Sometimes, the world turns on them and they hit rock bottom and then they turn upward to receive Jesus. Either way, God was patient with them. He was still and waited until the time was right for these people to be reached. We must not look on these people and envy them for their worldly gain. We must pray for them and wait on God to work in their lives. Who knows? Maybe these people that are succeeding in their wicked ways will someday need to turn to God, and God has kept you waiting so that you could be the vessel that He uses to touch them. We must also remember that God created each of us as unique individuals and that He does not have two identical life plans or plans for salvation.

Be still. Listen to God. Is He telling you to watch and pray for those around you? God speaks in different ways to different people. He is that still, small voice. He does not force Himself on anyone, but He is eager to speak to those who will be still and listen.

When was the last time that you were still?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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