Have you turned God’s Word into something less?

November 7, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“You shall have no other gods before me.

“You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

“You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.

“You shall not murder.

“You shall not commit adultery.

“You shall not steal.

“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
(Exodus 20:3-17 (NIV))

Controversy surrounds these simple, yet profound statements in today’s society. All of the Judeo-Christian ethic lies on this foundation which states that there is only one God, life is sacred and to respect others. Many people do not wish to acknowledge these truths as truths, or, even worse, that they even exist at all. They have tried to turn them into the 10 suggestions. Let’s take a look at the wording and how it’s meaning would change if they were not stated as they are.

You shall not murder.

Simple enough! But what would be the ramifications if it were worded differently? Try to remove the “negative” aspect of the Commandment. It might read something like this: Respect all human life.

It doesn’t carry the same impact as “You shall not murder.” Try to restate the others in a positive aspect and see what the meanings sound like when you are through. They do not carry the same message. They become what society has tried to turn them into, the 10 suggestions and not the 10 Commandments.

We, as believers, have a responsibility to uphold these basic premises of faith and life. Truth is not relevant. Truth is always the truth, no matter when and where it may apply.

Have you turned God’s Word into something less?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you fulfilling your duty?

October 22, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.
(Ecclesiastes 12:13 (NIV))

Everyone has things that they feel they need to do. Some people call them obligations. Some call them responsibilities. Some people call them their duty. Others may say that these things are their priority, while some simply refer to them as the right thing to do. No matter what you may call them, we all have something that we feel we must do.

What are the things in your life that you place as a priority, as your duty?

Is one of your duties to provide for your family? Perhaps you are a business owner and you have employees and customers that are a central part of your daily life. Perhaps you are called to be a first responder and you feel that your duty is to protect and to serve. If that is you, thank you for your selflessness!

No matter what you may feel that your duty or obligation may be, there is one that is far greater and a lot of people fail to ever do anything about it! In fact, Jesus was asked point blank and responded without any hesitation.

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
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.
(Matthew 22:36-38 (NIV))

I can hear it now. Some may say that these two passages contradict each other. One says to fear God and the other says to love God with all your heart. How can fear and love mean the same thing? To be honest with you, that is a concept that may be difficult for people to grasp, but the basic sentiment behind this is that you should desire to do what is right in God’s eyes. Perhaps a better way to refer to this potential contradiction is to look at it in terms of respect. When you respect God for who He is, you both love and fear Him at the same time. The fear comes from the simple fact that we are all sinners who deserve whatever judgment we have earned. The love comes from the fact that even though He is a just and righteous God and we are all guilty of our sins, He has freely offered grace and mercy in place of the judgment.

I find it interesting that the passage in which we are told to fear God is from the Old Testament and it was recorded long before grace was freely given. I love the fact that the passage in which Jesus told us to love God is in the New Testament. Jesus took the liberty to paraphrase the commandments and let it be known that we no longer had to fear God, but through Him, God reached out to us in love. Through God’s act of love for us, we can now approach God in love.

I don’t know about you, but I both fear God and love God. As a part of His creation, it is my duty to the Lord our God as Creator!

Are you fulfilling your duty?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are we truly capable of loving God in this manner?

July 25, 2018

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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.”
(Matthew 22:37 (NIV))

Are you capable of giving of yourself so thoroughly and so completely as Jesus described in this passage?

Think about that for a moment!

Can you love the Lord with all of your heart? This implies that there is not room for any other love in your heart.

Can you love the Lord with all of your soul? This implies that you are completely devoted to the Lord.

Can you love the Lord with all of your mind? This implies that you think of nothing else.

I don’t know about you, but this sounds pretty tough. It sounds extremely difficult, and it sounds impossible.

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
(Matthew 19:26 (NIV))

Let’s take a look at these three aspects of how we are to love the Lord with a fresh persepctive, with God’s persective.

It is possible to love the Lord with all of your heart and still have room to love others. When you love the Lord with all of your heart, you begin to see the world through His eyes and with His heart. You then learn to love others with the same love that the Lord loves them.

It is possible to love the Lord with all of your soul with a devotion to the Lord that overflows to those who are around you. They will see the joy and you will see the love and devotion that the Lord has for them.

And, yes, it is possible to love the Lord with all of your mind. Because you focus on loving the Lord and His Word, you begin to live what you love.

Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
(Psalms 1:1-2 (NIV))

You walk in His Word. You study. You sit quietly in His presence. As you learn to love the Lord with all of your mind, you learn to love His creation because He loves His creation. You learn to find solice in His word.

In all honesty, loving the Lord is an all consuming endeavor, but as you grow in your love for the Lord, your ability to reflect that love to others grows as well. We are told to love the Lord, but Jesus took this one step further and told us to love each other as we love ourselves.

And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
(Matthew 22:39 (NIV))

Are we truly capable of loving God in this manner?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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It is impossible for God to fail!

July 18, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

For no word from God will ever fail.
(Luke 1:37 (NIV))

You can look at this passage from several different perspectives.

God’s word is truth.

God never lies!

Anything that God decides to do will come to fruition.

God does not simply attempt to do something. He does it!

God’s word does not return empty.

I could go on an on, but I think that you understand the concept of the power of God’s word as truth.

If we can agree upon this, why do so many people find the following passages so difficult to believe?

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
(John 1:1 (NIV))

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
(John 1:14 (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))

Jesus is God’s word made flesh! He was sent to redeem those who believe.

Think about that in context to the passage from Luke.

For no word from God (Jesus is God’s word made flesh) will ever fail. Jesus came into this world to redeem those who simply believe. He is calling people to God through a redeeming grace bought by His blood on Calvary. This act of redemption will not fail. God is calling His children to Himself through Jesus. God is washing away the sins of those He calls through the cleansing power of the blood of Jesus! I love the way that Paul conveyed this truth.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 8:38-39 (NIV))

It is impossible for God to fail!

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you been called?

June 6, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
(Romans 8:28 (NIV))

Our lives are not meant to be easy. When we face something out of the ordinary, our first reaction is to think of ourselves and what it will mean to our way of life. They should have the exact opposite effect. We should rejoice in the knowledge that Jesus is with us through these times.

Everyone goes through things in their lives. We, as believers, are no different. We, as the Body of Christ, have been told that we will face things in our lives.

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))

The world has been turned over to sin, yet, if we place our faith in Jesus, we will see our lives brought to perfection. We will see our faith brought to maturity. We will see our salvation brought to completion! I don’t know about you, but these sound like good things that God is working in our lives.

Have you been called?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How are you at keeping the law?

January 26, 2018

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
(Galatians 5:14 (NIV))

How many people do you know who say that they love God, but their words and deeds give away that they do not love people? They do not love those they encounter. They may even go out of their way to avoid certain individuals or certain groups of people. I am sure that we are all familiar with the following story that Jesus told to a so called expert in the law.

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
(Luke 10:29-37 (NIV))

Have we heeded the lesson and truly learned to love our neighbor?

Has society told us to distrust and hate those who are different from us?

Does this sound like an attack from the enemy? Satan knows that if he can get us to hate each other, then we will have lost sight of what God truly desires for those who call Him Lord. We will fail at keeping the most important command in His law.

How are you at keeping the law?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you love the Lord like this?

October 6, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
(Deuteronomy 6:5 (NIV))

I love how God’s Word can say something different each time you read it. Perhaps I should say that differently. I love how God’s Word can speak to you in a different way each time you read it. To clarify, there is a difference between saying something different and having something speak to you differently. Is it God’s Word or is it our hearts and our ability to understand that is different?

Two days ago I read this passage and quickly moved on to Deuteronomy 6:6. Two days ago, that passage caught my attention. Today, I feel the need to be reminded, and to remind, how we are to love God.

Does the Lord have all your heart?

Your heart is what keeps you alive in the physical world. It is representative of the moment. Does God have you in this very moment?

Does the Lord have all your soul?

Your soul is the eternal. It is what will continue after the physical is gone. It represents your long term love for God. Does God have you for eternity?

Does the Lord have all your strength?

Your strength represents your abilities, even though they are very little when you consider all that God can do. Giving God all your strength means that you are giving everything you are to His Will. You surrender and rely on His strength. Do you fully rely on God?

I honestly do not know how many times that I have read this passage, but today, the Lord spoke to me in a way that opened my eyes, my heart and my mind to the depth of the love that we should feel toward Him. Without Him, we are nothing. Everything that we do should lift up His name. Everything we do should show the love that we have for our Lord, our God!

Do you love the Lord like this?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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