This is the one test that you need to pass!

June 14, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you — unless, of course, you fail the test?
(2 Corinthians 13:5 (NIV))

This is one of those verses that most people wish that they could ignore!

No one likes to fail a test. Think about the implications of this concept of failing this test. This is not the only place where we hear that it is possible to fail in your faith. We are told that it is possible to do things in the name of Jesus, but not have a relationship with Jesus, to not have Jesus in your heart.

Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
(Matthew 7:22-23 (NIV))

This goes hand in hand with the truth that you cannot earn salvation.

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))

We must also come to the realization that there is a difference between doing work for the Lord and truly knowing the Lord. I can demonstrate this concept with a simple question about the people with whom you work. You may spend eight hours a day with them, but do you know their inner most secrets and desires? Do you know the pains that they feel and what causes them pain and what causes them joy? Doing work around the Lord does not draw you close to the Lord in exactly the same way as working with someone does not bring you close to them. That requires effort and intimacy that cannot be had when you are constantly doing.

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
(Luke 10:38-42 (NIV))

We must choose Jesus in all things in order to grow in intimacy with Jesus. The closer you draw to the Lord, the stronger your faith becomes. As your faith grows, your belief grows as well. When you believe and truly know the Lord, you desire to do things that will draw others to Him. These are the works that matter, for they are done out of a love of Jesus and not out of an effort to impress Jesus. It is a matter of perspective and priorities.

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
(John 14:12-13 (NIV))

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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
(John 3:16-18 (NIV))

God does truly love the world! Have you allowed that love to permeate your life so that your life reflects the love of the Lord and not you?

This is the one test that you need to pass!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you cheerfully sowing into God’s kingdom?

June 10, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
(2 Corinthians 9:6-7 (NIV))

Giving is a difficult thing to do sometimes, especially when you are facing hard times.

Has your giving changed recently? Have you cut back on the money that you give to your church and to other organizations? Have you found yourself thinking that “Just this once I’ll not give” only to find yourself with a knot in the pit of your stomach? Have you stopped giving of your time because you are using your time in efforts to bring in more money? Has your attitude changed about what God has given you and will give you?

We are all creatures of habit. No matter what our intentions may be, we often find ourselves responding as the world responds. We look upon the worldly situation as the only situation that will provide for our needs. When things turn bad, we quickly find ourselves forgetting what God has promised. We worry.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, `What shall we eat?’ or `What shall we drink?’ or `What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
(Matthew 6:25-34 (NIV))

Have you ever stopped to reflect upon the fact that God uses us to bless others? What you give will bless someone, who in turn will bless someone else. What you give will return to you in ways that only God can imagine. Are you cheerfully sowing into God’s kingdom?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How is your confidence and faith?

June 7, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
(Hebrews 4:16 (NIV))

Do you truly believe that their is mercy and grace at the cross, or do you only hope that what you have read and heard is true? Do you believe that you were lost in sin and the only way out of sin is through the atoning blood of Jesus?

Think about your answers to these questions while you think about God’s plan for our redemption in relationship to how human nature typically responds.

From a worldly point of view, who would have ever considered that the Son of God would be born in a manger? From a worldly point of view, who would have ever considered that the only begotten Son of God would never live in a palace and be worshipped while on this earth? To be honest with you, did you ever stop to reflect on why Jesus would leave heaven to come to earth? Or why He would willingly go to the cross to lay down His life? Why would He leave paradise to come to this world to live, suffer and die? These concepts lead each of us to answer one all important question.

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.”
(Mark 8:29 (NIV))

Who do you say that Jesus is?

If Jesus was only a man, then people are rightfully correct in saying that He was crazy for bringing down Roman authority upon himself. Then there is the question of the resurrection. How do you dismiss the countless eyewitnesses that saw Him alive after He was so publicly killed? What about the crucifixion? Some say that Jesus didn’t really die on the cross. But, you have to consider that the Romans had become proficient at killing. It has been said that crucifixion is one of, if not the most painful way to die. What about the spear in His side that pierced internal organs? Today we have the medical knowledge to save someone from these type of wounds, but this was not the case two thousand years ago. How could a mere man survive all of this to be seen only three days later in full strength and full health?

Personally, with all of that to consider, I have no doubts that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God. I also have no doubt about God’s great love for us.

Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
(Romans 8:34-35 (NIV))

I have read and studied God’s Word for a long time and nothing that I find in this world presents even a small shred of enough evidence to make my faith and my confidence falter.

How is your confidence and faith?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What have you been finding?

June 3, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor.
(Proverbs 21:21 (NIV))

There are so many distractions in this world and all of them seem to focus on one target and one objective. The prime target is us! The prime objective of any distraction is to keep the attention of an individual off of what they should be focusing on, thus keeping them completely from the intended outcome. Distractions come in so many different forms, yet the enemy seems to know each of us so well that he can send just the right distraction, the right temptation, that will keep each of us in his grasp if we do not take action to steer clear.

What is that action?

We must stay focused on the Lord!

Even before Jesus came into this world to save us from our sins, God had a plan for us. We were to pursue His righteousness and love as He loves. Sadly, this was impossible.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
(Romans 3:23 (NIV))

Fortunately, the Lord knew this and had a more detailed plan.

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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
(John 3:16-21 (NIV))

If we accept this plan, then we are covered by grace. Even if we slip and fall when we are pursuing His righteousness and when we try to love as He loves, we can repent and get back on track. We may find bad days along the way, but, through God’s grace, we can repent and stand firm in His promises knowing that we will find that if we hold fast, He will be true!

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
(Lamentations 3:22-23 (NIV))

What have you been finding?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you believe it could happen at any moment?

May 31, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.
(1 Corinthians 15:52 (NIV))

Do you believe in the Rapture in which the true believers are suddenly caught up and taken away from this world and are instantly with the Lord?

I honestly don’t want to get into a debate about whether this concept is true or not. I simply want to pose a few questions to you.

Do you find this world to be a place of ever increasing evil where sin is considered good and anything godly and righteous is considered evil?

Do you long for the Lord to return and initiate a complete reset?

Do you long to be with the Lord?

Would you be upset if you were removed from this sinful, evil world and caught up to be with the Lord in heaven?

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.
(1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 (NIV))

Think about your answers and then think about this statement. The Lord is only going to come for those who long, who believe that they will see Him. I saw something from Maurice Sklar that really drives this point home. In it, he said of the Lord, “Those that do believe I am coming for them and those who do not are both correct.”

If you aren’t waiting, believing and expecting His return, can you honestly say that you truly belong to Jesus? Think about that from an earthly perspective. If you are separated from someone you truly love, what are your days like? Do you long to see them with all of your heart? Do you pray for their soon return? Do you hope and expect to see them at any minute? Are you disappointed when you don’t see them? This is how we should be with our love of the Lord Jesus! We should long to be with Him and, based on His promises, we should expect to see Him in the twinkling of an eye!

If we truly love the Lord, we should be expecting His return. We should be living for this event! Are you someone who believes that He is coming? Are you ready?

Do you believe it could happen at any moment?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What do you see being produced in your life?

May 30, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
(John 15:5 (NIV))

Sadly, too many people have twisted this concept around to mean that if you believe in Jesus, then you are surely to be blessed with worldly treasures and positions. This concept has slowly invaded our churches as many people flock to those who claim the fruit is of this world. The last time I read anything about fruit, it had nothing to do with riches or worldly attributes. If you stop to think about physical fruit, you think of a food group that doctors always tell us to eat more of. Fruit is healthy. Fruit builds you up. It helps to make you stronger, just as the fruit you will bear if you remain in Jesus!

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))

Do you see anything in this passage that says that we will bear fortune or fame? Do you see anything in this passage that says that we will be promised worldly riches? God does not measure things as the world measures them. In fact, with recent history in mind, if the world claims that something is good, run as far and as fast as you can away from it, for it will be opposed to the true goodness that comes only from God. What the world claims as good is not healthy. It does not build you up. It only serves to destroy.

When you look at your life, what do you see? Perhaps I should ask this another way. When others look at your life, what do they see? Do they see love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control or do they see things of the world?

What do you see being produced in your life?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you able to be content in all things?

May 23, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
(Philippians 4:12-13 (NIV))

Sadly, this is a lesson that I am still learning just as I would venture to say that many of you are also still learning.

Have you ever considered what it means to be content? Basically, it means satisfied or pleased. If you stop to look up the word satisfied, one definition means paid in full! Where have we heard that proclamation before? Is your life paid in full?

If we have accepted Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, our sin debt has been paid in full. Our debt has been satisfied and we should be content, for we have inherited so much more than the things in this world that can bring discontentment! Things like jobs, money, relationships, difficult times and ignorant people may get to us in the moment, but we have to keep our focus on Jesus. Our eternity with Him is not dictated by the things of this world. In fact, the things of this world should draw us closer to Him.

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
(John 16:33 (NIV))

We, as members of the Body of Christ, should find eternal contentment in His arms no matter the situation!

Are you able to be content in all things?

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