Are you capable of giving what you long to receive?

June 15, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
(Colossians 3:13 (NIV))

What is it about human nature that makes us reluctant to give away what we have been freely given?

Why do we feel that we must hold on to things that shouldn’t even be a part of our lives?

We all seek grace and mercy, but are we willing to give what we so desperately seek for ourselves?

Through the atoning blood of Jesus, we have been given the gift of forgiveness. This is a gift that, once accepted, wipes clean our sinful past in God’s eyes as if it never happened!

For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
(Psalms 103:11-13 (NIV))

All who call upon the name of Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior have had their transgressions removed as far as the east is from the west. If the Lord can completely forgive us of our sinful nature, we should be able to forgive each other of any grievances, of any transgressions that we have with each other. In fact, we are told that we will be forgiven in the same manner that we forgive others!

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
(Matthew 6:14-15 (NIV))

Are you capable of giving what you long to receive?

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

October 3, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

At the end of seven days the word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to a wicked man, `You will surely die,’ and you do not warn him or speak out to dissuade him from his evil ways in order to save his life, that wicked man will die forn his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. But if you do warn the wicked man and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his evil ways, he will die for his sin; but you will have saved yourself.
(Ezekiel 3:16-19 (NIV))

When God spoke to Ezekiel and told him to warn Israel of their wrongdoing, God made it clear that if He sends someone to deliver His Word, that person carries the weight of those people as his responsibility. That is also true for today.

When God sent Ezekiel, Ezekiel did not have the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to deliver. He had the teachings of the Law to deliver. God sent Ezekiel to deliver prophetic words that would greatly impact their lives.

Today, we have words that will impact lives even more than in Ezekiel’s time. We can speak in general terms, not as prophets, but as people empowered by the Holy Spirit to warn people of their impending danger if they do not accept Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. Where we differ from Ezekiel is that we have a direct route to God that we can offer to anyone who is willing to receive it.

If God places us in situations that He desires for us to warn and to witness, we need to respond. If we do, then the decision and the consequences are the responsibility of the person we witnessed to. If we do not tell them, then the responsibility is ours to bear.

If we have truly accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, then we need to heed what God asks of us to do. It has a far greater impact than we realize.

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is your religion worthless?

September 15, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
(Proverbs 15:1 (NIV))

Have you ever stopped to think about what your words produce? Do they turn away wrath or do they stir up anger?

We can all produce gentle words when the situation is not stressful and we can remain in control. What happens when the situation starts to get out of hand? What happens when someone cuts you off in traffic? What about the times when your spouse does something that seems to be a direct personal attack, even though it isn’t? What about any number of things that can happen throughout your day that can make your gentle words turn harsh? Sometimes it is not so easy to refrain from these words that stir up anger.

Even though it is difficult, we are given instructions to deal with one another in love and peace.

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
(Ephesians 4:1-3 (NIV))

Have you ever noticed that your words are like a magnet that attracts words that are similar. If you respond with harsh words, there is a very good chance that you will receive harsh words in return. If you respond with gentle words, the chance of receiving gentle words in return increases.

How would Jesus wish for you to respond? Think about what was written of in James.

If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.
(James 1:26 (NIV))

Could this mean that our harsh words prove our faith to be worthless? We must strive to follow Jesus in all things, even in the ways of our words.

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Helpless, hopeless and lost?

September 8, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.
(Matthew 18:12-14 (NIV))

Are you lost?

Helpless, hopeless and lost?

Satan longs to have us feel this way.

God longs for us to feel helpful, hopeful and loved.

God also longs for us to mature spiritually and become the person whom He created us to be. Sometimes this requires tough love. Just as a parent must sometimes withhold things from a child, God must withhold things from us. Just as a parent must allow the child to enter into things that will teach them a lesson, so too with God and us.

We are creatures of habit. Each of us exists within certain boundaries that we have established or that have been established for us. These boundaries become our comfort zone. God, in His infinite wisdom, knows that our comfort zones foster stagnation. We soon grow complacent. We soon grow so rigid and confined within our comfort zones that we fail to recognize the need for spiritual growth and maturity. We become creatures of habit, and all too often our habits leave something to be desired. It takes something drastic to get our attention. It takes something that will make us look beyond our circumstances and look at our core beliefs and priorities.

God wants to get our attention. He wants to get us out of our comfort zones and focused on Him. Sometimes, that requires something bigger than we care to have happen. He wants us to take the time to fulfill Psalm 46:10a so that we may know Him and His will for our lives.

Be still, and know that I am God
(Psalm 4610a (NIV))

Just how does God get your attention so that He can bring you back into the flock?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Love priorities – God and others

July 8, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Jesus replied: ” `Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: `Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
(Matthew 22:37-40 (NIV))

I don’t know about you, but to me, this sounds likes Jesus is telling us that if we love God with all our heart, soul and mind and love others as much as we love ourselves, everything else would become easy to uphold.

Think about that for a minute.

If we loved others as much as we love ourselves, would we need to be told not to murder? Would we need to be told not to steal? After all, we would be so concerned about the well being of others that we would not covet what they have enough to steal.

If we loved God with all that we are, would we need to be told to not have any other gods before Him? Would we even consider doing anything that would break His heart?

Combine those two commands and look inward. Would we need to be told to not do anything that would be a sin? We would simply be of a heart and mind that would not even consider breaking any of God’s commands.

I have often heard that we are to set our priorities as God, others, and then self. We seem to have that in some very distorted circular sequence where is is self, self, and self. We allow God within our circle for an hour on Sunday and all too often we don’t even include others at all. If we can redefine our priorities in accordance with God’s priorities, then all would be much better. They are not circular. They are linear. I find it very interesting, though, that when we focus on God’s priorities, our distorted priorities change and God’s amazing grace will bring it back full circle. If you think only of yourself, when you are in need, you may feel that no one will help you. As a result, you feel that you must steal to get what you need. If you have God as your priority and then others, God will provide. The blessings that He pours out upon others will be used to bless you just as you have used your blessings to bless others.

I challenge each of us to do as Jesus spoke.

Love God and love others as we love ourselves.

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

June 25, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
(Romans 12:14 (NIV))

Is there anyone in your life that just seems to have it in for you? Maybe there is someone who just does things that always seem to have negative consequences for you and others. Do you know someone who constantly seems to change their story so that they always come out on top?

It is difficult to like these type of people. It is difficult to love these type of people. It is human nature to wish them harm, or at least to wish that they would go away. In most instances, when we have someone like this in our lives, it takes all of our strength to restrain ourselves to keep from cursing them.

If we encounter people like this, we are told to bless them.

Bless the very ones who cause us pain and persecute us?

It is so difficult to do this. It goes against everything that our earthly existence tells us to do. Perhaps that is why we are to bless those who persecute us. We learn to see others through the eyes of Jesus and realize that they, too, are fallen sinners in need of salvation.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
(Romans 12:17-21 (NIV))

We are not in a position to judge. Only God can see the heart and know if what they do is from bad intentions. We are to bless those who curse us.

Why?

Jesus wants us to react as He reacted. He wants us to be a witness for the Gospel and not a stain in the minds of those who do not know Him.

Our reactions to those who persecute us may be the very thing that God will be able to use to soften a heart and bring someone into His grace and mercy. If you curse those who curse you, is this a good example of God’s grace and mercy?

Who do you know that could use a blessing from you?

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

June 17, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless
(Titus 3:9 (NIV))

I have read this passage before, but tonight, it came across much differently than it has in the past.

I want everybody to think of these words and read Titus 3:9 once more.

“We can’t do that in this church. We have never done it that way before.”

Legalism, no matter how it is shrouded, is still legalism. We can adhere to the letter of God’s law or strive to fulfill the intent. We can fuss over enforcing man-made traditions in the church or we can embrace love and grace with open arms. We can be so strict about ritual or we can embrace the meaning that caused someone to start the ritual.

What controversies do you face in your walk of faith? Are they worth the time and the headache?

It is said that age brings rigidity and a desire to not change. We have a tendency to like continuity in our lives. If something breaks that continuity, we have a tendency to not accept the change. It is my prayer that each of us embrace whatever God may be sending our way, no matter how it may be coming to us.

I want you to think about something for a moment.

Imagine yourself as a devout Jew of the time that Jesus came to this earth. How many people were not willing to embrace what He came to teach? How many people shouted to stone Jesus, or how many shouted to crucify Him? Sometimes we must simply be open to what God is showing us in and through the change. The Pharisees and Sadducees missed the blessing and the grace because they were not willing to explore the possibility that God was moving amongst them in a way that did not fit their preconceived ideas.

How many of our “foolish controversies” are a result of our preconceived and rigid ways? I pray that we may be softened so that we do not burst when confronted with the “new wine” of Godly change.

Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.
(Matthew 9:17 (NIV))

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