Are you truly prepared?

August 10, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,
(1 Peter 3:15 (NIV))

Can you truly say that you have placed your hope in Jesus?

Can you explain why you answered as you did?

Two simple questions, but do they have simple answers? Hopefully, you can say a resounding “Yes” to the first question. This question is the most important for you, for it determines your salvation status with God. God sees your heart and He knows if this is true. He also knows your reasons without you having to put them into words. But, that does not mean that we are off the hook when it comes to being able to explain why we answered as we did to the first question!

Think about that. If God knows our heart, then who are we giving an answer to?

If you read the passage again, you see that we are to be prepared to give an answer to everyone. In essence, our answer is our testimony. It is our witness. It is the story of how the Lord has saved us told in such a way that it draws others to Jesus!

We are to share the Gospel. We are to share Jesus in such a way that it is personal, after all, Jesus doesn’t save us by nation, or by state, or by city. He saves us individually, one heart and one life at a time. We must be prepared to share Jesus in such a way that others can understand what He has done for us, He can do similar for them.

Are you truly prepared?

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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Do you know God’s call?

March 24, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

“Be still, and know that I am God;
(Psalms 46:10a (NIV))

Have you found yourself looking at the state of the world and realized that you were shaking your head in disbelief? If you have, you are not the only one to experience this. To be honest with you, the whole world seems to be caught up in this mindset. It seems that everyone is trying to place blame on those who don’t think as they do. Hopefully, those who profess a faith in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior are not among those pointing fingers and placing blame. We should realize that anything and everything that is of this world can fall apart at a moments notice.

As the Body of Christ, we place our faith not in this world but in the one who created this world. When we face a storm, we shouldn’t look at the storm and panic. We should lift our eyes to the one who can calm the storm. When the world feels that there is a reason to panic, we simply need to fall to our knees, lift up our prayers and seek the very heart of God. Only then will we be able to know how to respond. To be honest with you, we should be the ones who are remaining calm when all around is is falling apart. That is the prime opportunity for the world to see that we have a peace that they do not have. This is the prime opportunity to witness to those who are in panic mode. This is the prime opportunity to introduce them to Jesus.

During these unprecedented times, we need to be still and listen for what God tells us. He may be calling us to do something that will have an impact on the lives of those who don’t know Him yet. Now that the whole world is facing uncertain times, we need to do what we, as the Body of Christ, have been called to do.

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

God has gotten the world to slow down. He is telling the whole world to be still. He is calling the whole world to repentance. He is calling the whole world to return to Him. We must be prepared to be His hands and feet. We must be prepared to be the boots on the ground who share His Gospel. We must be still and know what He is calling us to do.

Do you know God’s call?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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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 prepared for what you may face?

November 6, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
(Matthew 5:10 (NIV))

Many people in the church today have not been prepared for what is coming. Far too many people have been told that following Jesus is easy and everything in your life will begin to get better if you follow Jesus. I need to clarify something at this point and admit that God will begin to work things for your good when you start to follow Jesus. These things are probably best explained as a fresh manifestation of the fruit of the Spirit in your life.

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))

When these things are present in your life, people notice. They will be drawn to you because they see something that they desire in their own lives. This is the prime opportunity to share the Gospel, to share the source of your love, joy, and peace.

Sadly, when this happens, the enemy also takes notice. He will muster all resources to keep you from sharing the Gospel, for he knows that you have a powerful witness that must be stopped.

Hold fast!

Stand firm!

Do not allow the threat of ridicule or persecution keep you from following Jesus.

We are all familiar with the accounts of what the disciples and the early church had to endure. We may never have to face the same things that the disciples and the early Christians had to face, but what if we do? Are you prepared to completely place your faith in Jesus no matter the worldly consequences? Are you willing to stand firm and tell the world that you believe in Jesus and nothing that they can do will make you change your mind?

Are you prepared for what you may face?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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We must never forget that we are blessed to be a blessing!

October 23, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
(Acts 1:8 (NIV))

Did you notice anything in this passage that you haven’t seen before?

I know that most believers are familiar with this passage, but I want you to take the time to read it again and let the words, and their order, sink in.

Now that I have hinted at an order, let’s explore this concept a little further, for there is a sequence of events within this passage.

Many people who profess a faith in Jesus fail to embrace the Holy Spirit. Perhaps they simply fail to understand what the Holy Spirit brings to them, or they simply feel uncomfortable with what the Holy Spirit brings. Either way, they miss out on the power of God and the ability for it to manifest itself in their lives so that they can be used by God. To put it simply and succinctly, we must embrace the Holy Spirit in order to receive the power of God. Without the power of God, we can only attempt to do what the Lord has called us to do.

We will not be able to witness locally. Imagine what would have happened if the disciples had not been witnesses in Jerusalem.

We will not be able to witness to those around our home town. If the disciples had not been able to reach people in Judea and Samaria, the Gospel would have been isolated and never spread. If the disciples had not taken it to the ends of the earth, we would probably not be able to claim that Jesus is our personal Lord and Savior! All of this came about because the disciples embraced the power of the Holy Spirit. They did not hoard the Holy Spirit or the power that He brings. They shared this power and their testimony first with their home towns and then their surrounding neighbors. Two thousand years later, it is still being shared. Without the power of the Holy Spirit, this would not be possible.

We have been blessed with salvation. We have been blessed with the Holy Spirit and His power to share that salvation. We must never forget that we are blessed to be a blessing!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Has your faith saved you?

October 14, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
(Luke 7:50b (NIV))

Jesus spoke these words to a woman who had basically come into the house of Simon. She was not invited by the owner of the house, but she came in anyway to worship and minister to Jesus as He sat as a guest within the house. If you remember the story, she washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and then anointed Him with perfume. This brought ridicule from the “respected” members of society. Jesus responded to them and to Simon by saying that she was doing for Him what Simon, as the host, should have been doing. Simon did not do any of the customary acts of hospitality, yet he considered himself to be a good host and an obedient Jew.

These words and these events mean more than many of us may realize. Let’s take a good look at just how this actually has meaning for us today.

Simon represented the Jewish society set in their ways and oblivious to the true calling that God had placed upon them to bear the good news to the world. Instead of this mission being fulfilled, they acted just as Simon did. They refused to welcome their own Messiah in an appropriate manner. A woman who was an outcast in the eyes of traditional Jewish society saw Jesus for who is was and saw that her redemption was at hand. She went were she was not welcome in order to embrace the grace and mercy that she longed for. The woman is symbolic of the Gentiles, who in the midst of tradition and society, accepted the mission to bear witness in the midst of something that was not truly hers in the eyes of society.

Jesus was a Jew. According to Paul, Jesus had a specific order in which He came.

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.
(Romans 11:6 (NIV))

Just as He went into the house of Simon, He went first for the Jew, then, just as the woman came and accepted Him, the Gentiles accepted Him.

If you are not of Jewish heritage, you are a Gentile. We did not come to Jesus out of tradition. We came to Jesus just as the woman did. Out of faith. Just as He told her that her faith had saved her, we can also lay claim to that same piece of truth if we truly have faith.

Has your faith saved you?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What does the letter that is your life have to say?

September 18, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
(2 Corinthians 3:3 (NIV))

Every action that you take, every word that you speak and every thought that you think is shaping you and creating your story. That story is a witness to your true nature and a reflection of what truly lies within your heart, within your mind and within your spirit.

Are you ashamed by this concept? Do your actions, your words and your thoughts embarrass you?

Everyone has things in their lives that they try to hide from other people, but do you honestly think that God does not see these things? We all have our own private sins that we try to sweep under the rug. Jesus came into this world to offer us a chance to rewrite our letter, to erase our sins! In essence, professing a faith in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior is like receiving a huge bottle of spiritual whiteout. Unlike the whiteout that we use to correct mistakes, when Jesus covers our sins, there are no telltale indications that something different used to be there.

as far as the east is from the west,
      so far has he removed our transgressions from us
(Psalms 103:12 (NIV))

If God can forget our sins and give us a fresh new letter, why can’t we accept this? Why can’t we start a new story and have that story, that letter, be a witness for Christ!

What does the letter that is your life have to say?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Have you chosen life through the Lord?

August 12, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
(Deuteronomy 30:19-20 (NIV))

These words were spoken long ago. So long ago that it has now become popular for many “scholars” to doubt that these words, or any other word from the Bible actually ever were spoken. What they doubt is not really the fact that these words were spoken, but the fact that there is truth behind them. A truth far greater than any truth humanity can fathom or create on our own.

Too many people have a hard time believing that there is a God, for they do not want to be accountable to anyone but themselves. They want to continue to believe that whatever they do is all right as long as it makes them feel good. God gave us words to the contrary. He gave them to Moses on Mt. Sinai. If you follow these words, you are promised life. If you do not, you are faced with death. Humanity is not capable of following these words to perfection. We are not capable of following them for more than a few minutes before we stray from their path.

How can we have life if we cannot follow the instructions that lead to life? God has given us a savior. He has given us someone who can, and has followed them to perfection. He has given us His Son, Jesus, to be our intercessor.

We now can choose life and know that our choice will be a true choice. We have a savior. We have a perfect intercessor who has taken all of our imperfections and removed them from us. We now have life and all of the promises that God has given to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Have you chosen life through the Lord?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Will you be cut off or pruned or are you bearing fruit?

August 7, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.
(John 15:1-2 (NIV))

Every believer probably thinks that they are bearing fruit for the Lord, and hopefully that is true. Have you honestly stopped to reflect on your life in relationship to this to seek the Lord and ask if your actions are producing what He desires from you? You may think that since you go to church, you are doing well, but do you witness to others? I realize that all of heaven rejoices when a single sinner comes to salvation, but that is not the end of our responsibility.

We are to share the Gospel so that others may come to a saving knowledge of Jesus. We are to witness. We are to tell others about the Lord in both words and in our actions. How can actions tell someone about Jesus? Just in case you have forgotten the old say, actions do speak louder than words. Our actions are to bear fruit.

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))

I don’t know about you, but these all sound like actions to me!

We can exhibit these fruits in such a manner that others notice a difference in our lives. We can let them see Jesus in our lives before we even begin to tell them about Jesus! Your actions will open up a window of opportunity that will often have others asking what makes you different. That is when you share Jesus in words.

I just realized something that I want to share with you. If our actions lead us to bear fruit, I want you to consider something. When you see a fruit tree or you see fruit in a store, does it pounce on you and tell you that you need it? You are enticed by what you see and experience. Your senses draw you in. The same thing can be said of the fruit that we bear for Jesus. If we present the fruit in such a way as to allow a person’s senses to draw them in, then they will desire to experience the sweetness of what the Lord has to offer. It is our assignment as members of the Body of Christ to yield fruit. Are we living up to that task?

Will you be cut off or pruned or are you bearing fruit?

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