Have you been born again?

January 11, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, `You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
(John 3:5-8 (NIV))

I once saw a bumper sticker that said “Born OK the first time.” After two thousand years, it is hard to believe that people still do not fully grasp what Jesus was speaking about. Either that, or they prefer the sin that the flesh has them in.

The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.
(Matthew 26:41b (NIV))

The body, or the flesh, is weak and prone to sin. Sin cannot be overcome by the flesh. How can weakness overcome sin? It take a stronger presence to overcome the power of sin. Those who reject the Holy Spirit are rejecting God’s Grace and telling the world that they love their sin. Only righteousness can stand before God. Righteousness comes only from accepting Jesus Christ and allowing the Holy Spirit to enter into your life. This is what Jesus spoke of when He said that “You must be born again.” Those who reject this, reject God.

Take a close look at your life. Have you allowed the Holy Spirit to enter into your life in such a manner that the world sees the difference? Have you been born again?

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

January 10, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The Lord detests the way of the wicked, but he loves those who pursue righteousness.
(Proverbs 15:9 (NIV))

Do you think that you are a lovable person?

If you are like most people, you have a few people whom you are close to. Family members hopefully think that you are lovable. Friends may even think that to a point. What are the criteria on which they base this impression? Do they think that you are lovable because you and they have grown familiar with each other and your interests coincide with theirs? Perhaps they find you lovable because you are willing to sacrifice of yourself for their betterment. What is it that you find lovable in others? Is it the same type of things that others see in you? Do you know what the criteria are that people use to determine in their minds if you are lovable?

What about the Lord?

We know that the Lord loves us very much even though we are all sinners. It is for this reason that Jesus came!

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
(John 3:16 (NIV))

Proverbs 15:9 gives us some very interesting insight into the Lord’s love. It does not state that He hates the wicked, after all, they are also a part of His creation. What we do see is that He detests their wickedness. Based on the fact that we are all sinners, each and every one of us has wickedness within. The Lord detests that wickedness, but has established a way for that wickedness to be washed away and replaced with His righteousness. All that we have to do is admit that we are a sinner, believe in Jesus, and confess that Jesus is our Lord. If you have taken these steps, then you are pursuing righteousness.

Are you detested or loved?

Are you lovable?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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It is your choice. What is your decree?

December 21, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.
(Luke 2:1-4 (NIV))

Where did Ceasar Augustus get the idea that this census should be taken?

God uses non-believers to accomplish His will.

This census was probably the most important census in all of human history, for it set into action the fulfillment of the prophesy regarding the place of Jesus’ birth. God, through all of His infinite wisdom, used Ceasar Augustus to fulfill His will.

If God used Ceasar Augustus, who, both believer and non-believer, is God using today to fulfill His will?

We sit and watch the news and hear about war, rumors of war, false peace, and we are watching God’s will unfold before our eyes. We do not know at what stage in God’s plan we are, but we know that God is in control and that He is revealing history as we watch.

Do we, as believers, have the luxury of sitting idly by and watching it unfold, or do we have the responsibility to be an active part of God’s plan?

Jesus told us that we should recognize the season. He also told us to go into all the world and make disciples.

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.
(Mark 16:15 (NIV))

Are we making disciples in this time of harvest?

He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.
(Luke 10:2 (NIV))

Are you a willing worker?

Are you praying for a bountiful harvest?

Or are you simply content to watch as things unfold?

It is your choice. What is your decree?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What are you willing to endure to worship?

December 20, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.”
(Matthew 2:1-2 (NIV))

Do we earnestly seek Jesus?

Do we go out of our way to find Him and to worship Him?

Would you be willing to travel to the ends of your known world in hope of finding salvation?

In today’s world, it is not uncommon for people to travel further than the Magi did for something that is of little importance. We have churches in every community, yet, many people will never step inside of one. These same people will drive hours to see a favorite sports team, yet willingly ignore the grace and mercy that is there for the taking. Our society may be more technologically advanced, but are we wiser than our ancestors? Are we wiser than the Magi?

We seek superficial rewards!

What is of importance to you?

Do you feel that what the Magi sought was and still is of importance?

Where does it rank in importance to you?

What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?
(Mark 8:36 (NIV))

I honestly believe that our society has turned this upside down. We do not care about our souls. We only care about what the world has to offer. We only partake or participate in something if we are guaranteed a reward or a personal gain.

Too bad that the world does not consider gaining eternal life a big enough reward.

The Magi were considered to be wise men. I honestly believe that our modern interpretation of wisdom is all wrong. Wisdom is not worldly knowledge and power. In the eyes of God, this is foolishness. True wisdom comes from seeking God and recognizing what you seek when it does present itself. The Magi brought expensive gifts. They were kings. They were learned men. In their worldly status, they chose to humble themselves and seek God’s Son.

We should willingly do the same. We should seek Him to whom all praise is due.

It is my prayer that we find our true reward through Jesus this Christmas.

What are you willing to endure to worship?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What are you willing to lose?

December 18, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.
(Mark 8:35 (NIV))

It is human nature to not want to lose. This is especially true if losing means that you lose your life! Most of us aren’t even willing to lose if by our losing, everyone else wins. We have to come out on top. We have to prove that we are best at everything! This often means that we think that we are right even when we are eternally wrong!

Take a look at the words in the first part of the passage above. Saving your life implies that you place nothing above yourself. You will go to any extreme to make sure that your physical life is protected even at the expense of others. You are your first and often, your only priority. You possess no love. You possess no joy. You often possess no peace, patience, or kindness. Little about your life is good. Since you place yourself first, you possess little or no faith. You treat others as lower than yourself, so you lack gentleness and self-control. Does this sound like a life that you would want to live? Does this sound like a life that you would want?

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

Does the second half of the passage start to sound better and make more sense?

We can’t live a life that is Christ centered if we strive to save our earthly life. We are called to be witnesses. We can’t witness to others if all we think about is ourselves. We can’t be willing to go because we would be outside of our comfort zone.

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.
(Mark 16:15 (NIV))

I know that I am forever thankful that Jesus was willing to lose His earthly life for the sake of others. What if He had balked at the idea of dying for our sins? What if he had decided to not leave the Father to come to earth? What if Jesus had decided that it was simply not worth leaving the glory of heaven to come into this world? The majesty of the story as told in Luke 2 would never have happened. The tearing of the veil of the Temple would never have taken place. Faith, hope and love would only be a dream of something that could happen. Grace and mercy would simply be nonexistent. John 3:16 would not be true.

All of this was made possible because Jesus was willing to lose His life for others. Most of us aren’t even willing to lose our place in line! It takes a sacrifice to place others first.

What are you willing to lose?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you still trying to earn what is freely given?

December 10, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.
(Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV))

There is an old saying that you get what you pay for. This implies that anything of value has a great cost for the one who possesses it. It also implies that if you didn’t pay anything for it, then it is worthless. The thought is that anything of worth and value requires a sacrifice of something of worth or value in order to obtain it.

There is another old saying about something being too good to be true. This actually piggybacks onto the other saying. In essence, if it is supposed to be so valuable and there is no sacrifice to receive it, is it truly worth anything?

There is profound truth in these sayings, but too many people fail to recognize that they only apply to a limited understanding of the world, and that limited understanding is ours! I am certain that everyone reading this can describe at least one situation in your life in the last year in which these old sayings were proven to be true. Get rich quick scams come to mind as one potential situation. However, there is one area in the lives of each and every one of us where we can throw our limited understanding out of the window!

God’s grace is that one and only time!

Are you ready and willing to get what you pay for when you consider that all of us are sinners and the consequences of sin is death? Is this what you want to pay for and receive? Grace is a gift that comes at a great price, but the price was paid by Jesus. None of us have to pay the price that we should rightfully pay. Jesus paid it all. We pay nothing, yet we receive everything! I realize that this sounds too good to be true, but it is far from that. It is our limited human understanding that makes us think that we must pay the price or it is not a valid exchange. On the contrary, the price was so high that no one could ever pay what they owe. We were doomed by our sin with no way of redemption. God saw this and devised a way to pay this high price once and for all for each and every one of us. We can’t earn it. We owe nothing to receive if. All that we have to do is accept!

Are you still trying to earn what is freely given?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What have you conquered because of his love?

December 3, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
(Romans 8:37 (NIV))

There is an old saying that love conquers all.

To be honest with you, love does work wonderful things in the lives of those who show love and those who receive love, but there is one love that is far above any other love that has ever been professed. That is the love that the Lord God, our Father has for His creation. All that it takes to prove this is a simple reading of the following passage.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
(John 3:16 (NIV))

What other love is powerful enough to alter your eternal existence? What other love is willing to sacrifice itself in order to offer something so great? What other love gives the recipient the ability to conquer the power of sin, death and the grave? What other love is willing to take on all of the sin and all of the pain in order to offer the recipient the ability to escape an eternal separation from itself?

For those who have accepted this great offer of love, you know exactly what I mean. Sadly, there are many who have not accepted this offer. It is for those who have not accepted this love that we must pray. They may feel that there is not a love so great. They may feel that they are not worthy of such a love. They may even feel that they have done such bad things that the offer could not ever be available to them. Perhaps these are the biggest things that any of us have to conquer, after all it is often our self image that keeps us from being who we are called to be.

Have you ever thought about what you had to overcome in order to even accept God’s love? Did He give up on you or did He keep pressing on until you came to the realization that His love is for you? Was it ego that kept you from God’s love. Perhaps it was envy or pride. It could have even been greed or lust that kept you away from the love of the Lord. This was the first thing that His love conquered. It will not be the last!

What have you conquered because of his love?

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