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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Have you embraced the peace that overcomes all fear?

March 13, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV))

With everything that this world is facing right now, look up!

Whether you believe that it is blown out of proportion, or it is real, look up!

As humanity, all of the combined knowledge and wisdom that we may have is nothing when compared to that of the One who created everything. With this in mind, if you place your faith in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, why do you fear? Fear is from the enemy. It is time that we conquer our fear with prayer! In doing so, we must remember that prayer is more than just a one-sided conversation where we unload all of our burdens on the Lord. He does love us and wants to hear what burdens us, but He also desires to speak to us, to give us His plan and purpose. He longs to give us His peace.

When was the last time that you honestly had a prayer conversation with the Lord? Is your faith strong enough for you to embrace your weakness and to fall on your knees seeking the Lord?

Have you embraced the peace that overcomes all fear?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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If God loves, how can we do any less?

February 12, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as I also have been fully known. But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
(1 Corinthians 13:12-13 (NASB))

All of our understanding of the ways of God are nothing. We cannot fully comprehend His wisdom, majesty and grace with our limited ways of understanding. How can a car know what the engineers who designed it were thinking? How can a computer software know what the software developers were thinking and planning? How can we, as the beloved creation of God, fully comprehend what His plans are?

One day, we will be able to understand, but that day is not going to happen in this world as we know it. All that we can do is have faith, hope and love. Faith that God will see us through all that we must face. Hope for salvation and a better life to come. Love for those around us, for they too are creations of God, and are equally loved by God the Father. He loved us so much that He sent His only Son, Jesus, to die so that we could have salvation.

God does not just love you and I, He loves everyone!

If God loves, how can we do any less?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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There is no other like our God!

December 5, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
(Colossians 2:3 (NIV))

I don’t know about you, but I don’t know of anyone, no matter how smart they think that they are, who can claim to possess all wisdom and knowledge. In order for someone to know everything, they would have had to be in existence from the very beginning of time. They would also have to be able to see everything, both the physical as well as the spiritual. Humanity just doesn’t have that capacity.

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
(1 Corinthians 13:12 (NIV))

Only the Lord possesses all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Only the Lord has been since the beginning. Only the Lord is able to see and to know everything in both the physical and the spiritual.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
      neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
      so are my ways higher than your ways
      and my thoughts than your thoughts.
(Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV))

Why do we, as fallen humanity, seek advise and counsel from others who are no better off than we are? Why do we turn to other people who are limited in wisdom and understanding in order to seek out wisdom and understanding? We must turn only to the Lord!

There is none who can compare with the Lord! There is none who can provide wisdom, truth and knowledge. Only God is good! He is the Creator of all things. He knows our innermost thoughts and desires. He has numbered the hair on our heads. He created all things because He loves us!

Where do you turn for wisdom and knowledge? Why not go to the one true source? There is no other like our God!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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We must learn that God is our only source!

December 3, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven and said:
“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
wisdom and power are his.
He changes times and seasons;
he deposes kings and raises up others.
He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to the discerning.
He reveals deep and hidden things;
he knows what lies in darkness,
and light dwells with him.
I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors:
You have given me wisdom and power,
you have made known to me what we asked of you,
you have made known to us the dream of the king.”
(Daniel 2:19-23 (NIV))

Daniel was given a glimpse of God in a manner like no other that I have ever heard! God used the king and Daniel to establish that He alone is in control.

Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, had asked his advisors, the wise men, to tell him the dream that he had and then tell him the interpretation. They replied correctly and told Nebuchadnezzar that no one living among humans could do such a thing. Even when Joseph interpreted pharaoh’s dream, the dream was described. Still, God knows the hearts of men. He uses dreams and visions to communicate with us. In this particular situation, He used the king as a vessel for the dream and He used Daniel to present His power and authority through the dream. Daniel understood the importance of the king’s request. He knew that he had to turn to God! Through prayer, the dream was revealed to Daniel. The Lord gave Daniel insight and wisdom. He revealed everything to Daniel that the king had asked his wise men to reveal to him.

We know the story, but do you understand the situation as it presented itself all of those years ago? Nebuchadnezzar had decreed that all wise men in Babylon be put to death if they could not do as he asked. There were dire consequences to be faced and only direct intervention from the Lord would be able to see Daniel through.

Have you ever faced situations where there seems to be no way to come out of them in one piece? I fully believe that this is what Daniel thought and that is why he and his friends began pleading with God for mercy. Pleading with God goes far beyond a simple prayer. You are earnest. In fact, you could even say that you are in anguish and are overwhelmed to the point of death. You go boldly before the Lord because you know that only He can save you!

I honestly believe that Daniel and his friends pleaded with God. They probably did not stop. They did not stray from their petitions. They did not falter. They were faithful to stay diligent in petitioning the Lord for what was needed and when He revealed Himself to Daniel, Daniel praised Him with the same effort that was used for the prayer.

God gives us wisdom, but it is not an easy thing for us to attain. We must be willing to stay with the Lord and wait for His counsel. We must learn that we cannot stray. We must learn to trust in the Lord in all that we do, both great and small. We must learn to praise God for answered prayers!

We must learn that God is our only source!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you worship like you are truly thankful?

November 28, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Then the Lord said,
“Because this people draw near
    with their words
And honor Me with their lip service,
But they remove their hearts far from Me,
And their reverence for Me
    Consists of tradition learned by rote,
Therefore behold, I will once
    again deal marvelously with
    this people, wondrously marvelous;
And the wisdom of their wise men shall perish,
And the discernment of their discerning men shall be concealed.”
(Isaiah 29:13-14 (NASB))

Are we guilty of “tradition learned by rote?”

Are our church services merely a series of traditions that we do because they are the way that we learned them? Do we understand the true meaning behind the traditions?

God spoke through Isaiah against meaningless traditions. Judgment was poured out on the descendants of Israel for simply doing “what they have always done.” They had forgotten that these traditions were actually acts of worship. Worship is not the act of doing things because that is the way they have always been done. It is a sincere reverence for God. It is a “thanksgiving” for what God has done for us, and not a series of rituals done in a certain sequence. God wants us to follow the intent of the Law, and not the letter of the Law. Jesus spoke against the Pharisees for following the letter of the Law without following the intent.

Are you bound by tradition learned by rote?

Are you truly thankful?

Do you worship like you are truly thankful?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you have the wisdom to rest in the presence of God?

November 20, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, LORD,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep.
(1 Kings 19:3-5 (NIV))

Have you ever been put to the test and simply wanted to give up and die?

It is not uncommon for people to feel that way. Elijah, who had just called down the fire of God upon a wet alter and proved that God was the true God and not he false prophet’s gods, felt this very thing when he was confronted with an attack from the enemy. Queen Jezebel had just threatened his life as a result of what had happened and Elijah ran for his life. Think about this. Elijah had just called upon God in a mighty way and He showed up, yet, at the threats of a single woman he forgot who was fighting on his side and ran. He literally wanted to die!

We all face situations in which we want to throw in the towel and give up, but we must remember who is on our side. We must also remember that God is not in the mighty deeds at all times. Just as with Elijah in 1 Kings 19:11-13, He was in the whisper. He was not in the wind, the earthquake or the fire.

What is it in your life that is currently testing you? Have you spent quiet time alone with God to hear His Will, or have you buried yourself with activity? Have you simply stopped everything because of the stress of the situation? Remember that Elijah rested and then traveled farther away from what was troubling him before he was able to discern God’s voice.

Perhaps we must simply place our trust and faith in God to deliver us. When we simply do this, He will answer in that whisper that only we can hear. We cannot hear it when we are in the heat of the battle.

What do you hear when you are faced with a test? Do you have the wisdom to rest in the presence of God?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Where do your actions lead you?

November 19, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life,
but violence overwhelms the mouth of the wicked.
Hatred stirs up dissension,
but love covers over all wrongs.
Wisdom is found on the lips of the discerning,
but a rod is for the back of him who lacks judgment.
Wise men store up knowledge,
but the mouth of a fool invites ruin.
The wealth of the rich is their fortified city,
but poverty is the ruin of the poor.
The wages of the righteous bring them life,
but the income of the wicked brings them punishment.
He who heeds discipline shows the way to life,
but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.
(Proverbs 10:11-17 (NIV))

Too bad that nonbelievers do not take these words to heart! Nothing could be plainer than the truth these words speak of.

Today, too many people go about doing whatever “feels good” to them without any thought to the consequences of their actions. If you have ever studied Physics, there is a physical law that states for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. If these people would only realize that what is true in the physical world is also true in the spiritual world. Every time that they do a wicked act or do something that lacks spiritual judgment, then they are storing up equal and opposite actions that will be brought upon themselves. They store up rotten fruits as their reward for their actions. Believers store up abundant fruit that does not rot.

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))

Where do your actions lead you?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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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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Have you been acting foolishly?

October 28, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The way of a fool seems right to him,
    but a wise man listens to advice.
A fool shows his annoyance at once,
    but a prudent man overlooks an insult.
(Proverbs 12:15-16 (NIV))

If everyone lived by this truth, the daytime television shows that thrive on fights and outbursts would soon go away. Unfortunately, instead of thinking first, many in our society seem to act first and never think. This often leads to disastrous results.

I hate to say this, but this current philosophy of society is even beginning to find its way into the church. Nothing seems to be off limits in the eyes of many people. I bet that you can easily recall the last time that you heard someone talking badly about the preacher because a Biblically based message stepped on someone’s toes. Instead of taking the words that God wrote, and the preacher delivered, as an instruction on how to change their life, someone took it as a personal attack by the preacher.

We must pray for our society. We must pray for our churches. We must pray for our families, and we must pray for ourselves. We must pray that we are given discernment so that we never become like the fool who shows his annoyance and his ignorance. We must pray that we never become self-righteous and indignant. We must pray that God grants us wisdom in all that we do.

There is an old saying that “It is better to be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.” Think about this the next time that something begins to annoy you.

keep your tongue from evil
    and your lips from speaking lies.
(Psalm 34:13 (NIV))

Focus on God’s Word. Meditate upon it. Let His Word become your words.

May my tongue sing of your word,
    for all your commands are righteous.
(Psalm 119:172 (NIV))

Have you been acting foolishly?

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