Guilty as charged?

January 20, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

This is my command: Love each other.
(John 15:17 (NIV))

If we were brought in front of the enemy and put on trial with only one charge – that we love each other – would we be found guilty?

Think about that.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
(John 10:10 (NIV))

What prompts someone to steal, kill or destroy? These are acts that do not come out of love. In fact, the lack of love can be found in all sin. Is greed an act of love? Is adultery an act of true love? Do you covet your neighbor’s possessions if you possess love? Can you truthfully honor your father and mother if you do not have love?

And the big question – can you have no other gods before God if you do not have love?

Love is crucial to our faith. Love is crucial to our lives.

Why do we have so much trouble at times fulfilling this simple command?

I have heard it often said that you may be the only Jesus that some people will ever see. If that is the case, then are we being a truthful representation of what we profess to believe? I know that we are only human, and that all of us will falter in our attempts, but do our attempts show a sincerity or do they show a halfhearted, superficial love that is there only to benefit us?

If we are to be judged on whether we fulfill this command, would we be found guilty of loving each other? Would we stand accused and convict ourselves by our actions, or would Satan acquit us for lack of evidence?

It is my prayer that we would all be found guilty as charged.

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Today

January 14, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.
(Hebrews 3:13 (NIV))

At first read, I had to stop and read this passage again. It didn’t make sense to me.

Then it hit me.

“As long as it is called Today.”

Do you live in the past? Do you live in the future? You always live in the the present. You always live in today. It is always today. With this in mind, it became obvious to me that we are to always encourage one another. We are to always lift each other up. There should not be a time when we are not encouraging each other. Perhaps I should say it a different way. There should never be a time when we put someone down. There should never be a time when we ridicule someone. There should never be a time when we are rude and mean to someone.

I know that I refer to the fruit of the Spirit a lot, but it applies to many different situations.

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))

If we do not possess the fruit of the Spirit, then what do we possess? Hate, anger, violence, rage, deceit, and self-centeredness are all things that go completely against what God tells us to do. They are all sins. These are easy traps for us to fall into if we do not surround ourselves with people who will encourage us in our walk of faith. If we do not have the encouragement from each other, we will fall. If we do not offer encouragement, others may fall.

Think about the last time that you offered spiritual encouragement to someone. Do you know how it impacted the life of the person to whom you gave the encouragement? Do you remember how it impacted your life? Did you even think that it did impact your life?

Encouragement is needed. It lifts up all to whom it is exposed. It is contagious. A gentle word of encouragement will spark a desire to encourage others who will then encourage others. In this fallen world, sin is rampant. As the Body of Christ, we must do all that we can to stop sin in its tracks. We must encourage each other at all times to follow what Jesus has taught.

Offer kind words of spiritual encouragement. If you are not good with words, actions speak volumes.

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Devotion

January 7, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
(Acts 2:42 (NIV))

Devotion!

According to Merriam-Webster, “devotion” is the fact or state of being ardently dedicated and loyal. The word “devoted” is a verb that means to commit, or to give over to a cause or activity.

I apologize for the vocabulary lesson, but I wanted to emphasize the strength of the commitment that the early church had with respect to fulfilling the teachings and the commands to fellowship and to love your neighbor, and to pray. They gave everything that was within them to the church. They did not simply attend a service for an hour one day a week. They devoted themselves to do anything and everything that the apostles taught.

What are you devoted to?

I am devoted to my family. I am devoted to doing what I promise that I will do. I am devoted to learning and studying and sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. I am devoted to prayer. I am devoted to fellowship.

However, I am only human and my devotion often falls short. Still, it is my desire and I do all within my physical capabilities to fulfill what my heart calls me to do.

Sadly, devotion is often lacking in today’s society. Too many people are only committed to themselves. They are only committed to doing things if they are the center of attention or if they will benefit somehow in the physical world. Whatever happened to being devoted simply because it is the right thing to do?

Devotion!

Perhaps you could almost call it a priority, for the things in your life that are a priority to you will receive your time and attention. What are your priorities?

I would like to challenge each person reading this, including myself, to make sure that our personal priorities fall in line with those written of in Acts 2:42. Let’s devote ourselves to the apostles’ teachings and to the fellowship with each other, to the act of breaking bread, both as physical sustenance and as the act of communion, and to prayer. I think that we will find our devotion to these priorities will see the church as it was in the beginning.

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do my current actions glorify Jesus?

September 20, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
(Galatians 5:24-26 (NIV))

I hope that I don’t step on anybody’s toes with this, but I have seen far too much division lately. Division in our churches. Division in our society, and division within our government. Division that I do not know how it got started or what rumors are true. Frankly, I don’t care. What I do care about is the body of Jesus Christ.

I commend those who are called to serve and are willing to serve in whatever capacity that is needed. Some of the tasks of administration are thankless jobs. For those of you who serve in your churches or in your communities in those positions, I thank you.

Now, on to the subject close to my heart.

If we all focus on Jesus, then unity will follow.

We must remember the words that Paul wrote to the church at Corinth.

The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body–whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free–and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.

Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? But eagerly desire the greater gifts.
And now I will show you the most excellent way.
(1 Corinthians 12:12-31 (NIV))

How can we move as a body when we are divided? How can we fulfill God’s commands when we are not following God as a body?

From now on, I am going to ask myself one simple question. I pray that you will join me.

Do my current actions glorify Jesus?

If my answer is “no,” then I plan on rethinking my actions.

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Just who are His sheep?

September 17, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“Then he will say to those on his left, `Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

“They also will answer, `Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

“He will reply, `I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

(Matthew 25:41-45 (NIV))

Do you love Jesus?

Think about His conversation with Peter after His resurrection.

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.
(John 21:15-17 (NIV))

Jesus commanded Peter to feed His sheep.

Just who are His sheep?

The whole world is His and the people in it are His creation. Everyone is part of the flock that Jesus refers to. Even the ones who do not call upon His name as Lord and Savior are part of the flock. They are simply the lost sheep.

Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, `Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
(Luke 15:4-7 (NIV))

If Simon Peter was the rock upon which Jesus built His church, we should do as Peter was instructed. We should feed His sheep. We are to see others through the eyes of Jesus and care for them as He would care for them. We are to feed the hungry. We are to give water to those who thirst. We are to give shelter to those in need. We are to care for the sick. We are to visit those in prison.

Are you caring for the sheep that God has placed in your life?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How do you react?

August 31, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
(Acts 1:9 (NIV))

I can picture the moment. Everybody is gathered around Jesus and everyone there is asking Him questions. They are filled with excitement. They have spent three years with Jesus. They saw Him perform miracles. They saw Him beaten and crucified. They saw Him die. And, they saw Him in His resurrection. Now, after the resurrection, they are eagerly looking for Jesus to bring God’s kingdom to this world.

And then . . .

The unexpected happens.

At least in their eyes, it does.

They were expecting Jesus to take His authority then and there, but He disappears!

Can you imagine how these people felt? Everything that they had seen. Everything that they had been a part of. Everything that they now expected was completely changed. I can imagine that their first reaction was that they were being abandoned. How would you feel?

God knew their hearts. He knew that they were expecting something that was not in His plan. God had compassion on these people. He sent messengers to tell them that their timing was not His timing.

They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
(Acts 1:10-11 (NIV))

Instead of despair, these people had a reason to believe. They had a reason to hope. They had a reason to pray. And pray they did.

Then they returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city. When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.
(Acts 11:12-14 (NIV))

How do you react when things don’t go as you expect them to?

We should take a lesson from these first believers. When things don’t go as we expect them to go, we should pray for God’s guidance and His wisdom.

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Fellowship and accountability

August 5, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their work:
If one falls down,
his friend can help him up.
But pity the man who falls
and has no one to help him up!
(Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (NIV))

Everyone needs support. Even Jesus had the twelve with Him. It is true that He was teaching them, yet, they were with Him. Perhaps it was the other way around. Perhaps the twelve had Jesus to help them up when they fell! Do you think that this is what really happened?

Either way you look at it, Jesus surrounded Himself with other people. He knew that it is not good to be alone. We need the comfort and security that comes from associating with those who are seeking the same things that we are. We need support and encouragement in our daily walk with Jesus. We cannot do it alone. Even though we may have invited Jesus to be our Lord and Savior, we need the day to day accountability that fellowship provides. We have been told that we should not stop meeting together with believers.

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
(Hebrews 10:25(NIV))

Accountability and support cannot be ignored. We hold each other up. We hold each other accountable. We pray for each other. We love each other.

When was the last time you provided accountability or were accountable to someone else?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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