Are you on watch for bad fruit?

October 10, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
(Matthew 7:15-20 (NIV))

Think about this the next time that you hear of something that is just too good to be true, or is just a little off of what God’s Word says that it should be. Most of the time, lies are obvious, but deception is a trick of the enemy. When things sound almost right with respect to God’s word, they are totally wrong.

It should be easy for believers to realize that the “fruit” does not match the source. We should be able to easily distinguish that the things the enemy tells us are too good to be true, especially when they contradict everything that we should know to be true according to God’s Word.

Why do people fall for the deceptions of the enemy?

Are we, as a fallen, sinful race, too far removed from the truth to even recognize it?

The words in Matthew are amazing and sadly amusing if you stop to actually understand what is being said. We have enough common sense to not look for grapes on an apple tree, yet, we easily fall prey to the small lies of the enemy in hopes that the promises are true.

Test everything against God’s Word. If something is supposed to bear goodness, but it lies to do so, does it really follow God’s Word? If you are promised that it is only a small digression and no one will know about it, can it be the correct fit?

We have been told what the things of God will bear.

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))

Think of this passage when validating the truth about something. Does it produce according to the fruit of the Spirit?

Are you on watch for bad fruit?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you willing to have your heart tested by the Lord?

August 20, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests the heart.
(Proverbs 17:3 (NIV))

Is it just me, or does this passage make you realize that the things that we all go through in our lives can have a positive outcome or they can have a negative outcome? It is a matter of perspective and attitude. We can look at situations in our lives and wallow in self pity, or we can see the situations as a matter of a learning experience. In fact, everything that we face in this life can be seen as a learning experience.

A wise son accepts his father’s discipline, But a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.
(Proverbs 13:1 (NIV))

Consider the crucible and the furnace. They are necessary tools and steps to bring out the best in the precious metals. If you are familiar with refining metals, then you will understand the possibilities. Impure metals are heated to their melting point. Some of the impurities will burn away due to the high heat. Others will float in the molten metal for the metal worker to somehow separate. Then the molten metal is cooled, and, if necessary, the process is repeated until the metal has had the impurities removed. Now, imagine your life. Each of us has things in our life that are less than desirable in the eyes of the Lord. He refines us. He disciplines us in order to bring out the best in us. After all, aren’t we more important to the Lord than precious metals are to us? He is going to use the tools that He has to refine us, to test the very nature of our heart.

The Lord desires for us to have a pure heart. He calls each of us to Himself, and if we answer that call, He will mature us. He will purify us. He will give us opportunities to draw closer to Himself. The closer we draw to Him, the more we know Him and seek after His heart. When we seek after His heart, our hearts become refined. He desires to purify our hearts. The things that we go through in life will either draw us closer to Him and his righteousness and purity, or they will drive us to the evil desires of our hearts. Personally, I desire nothing more than to draw closer to the Lord. If that means that I must face the refiners fire, I am willing. Are you?

Are you willing to have your heart tested by the Lord?

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

March 29, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.
(1 Corinthians 13:11 (NIV))

Maturity is something that many of us try to avoid. We have a tendency to fear responsibility and we have a tendency to think of maturity and responsibility as being one and the same. In all honesty, they are closely related, but it is possible to be responsible without actually being mature. In essence, maturity can be considered full development while responsibility often refers to accountability. A good example of this is a child who always cleans their room. They are definitely not mature, but they are responsible in certain aspects of their life.

Human nature tells us that we don’t like to be held accountable. All that you have to do is look at Adam and Eve after being tempted into eating the fruit. When God approached them about what happened, blame was placed elsewhere. They failed to take the responsibility for what happened.

If you look at maturity as the ability to recognize sin and responsibility as the accountability to stay away from sin, then we start to get a clearer picture of this passage.

A child will think, say and do things that are less than desirable. Hopefully, as the child gets older, they recognize the childish nature and desire to take on a more mature nature. They decide to leave the old, childish nature behind them in a similar manner to how a person who repents leaves the old, sinful nature behind them. They step closer to maturity by selecting to put things behind them and move forward without that baggage.

What have you put behind you?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you mature in your faith?

December 27, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
(Ephesians 4:14-16 (NIV))

As we mature in Christ, we should not be easily misguided by the enemy. The more we study the truth, the more we will recognize the lies of the world.

When you are a child, it is easy to be misguided. A child does not know the truth about anything. As it grows, it learns what is right and wrong.

How many of you can remember getting into trouble when you were a child because you listened to the wrong “friends”? Now that you are older, would you get into that trouble again? We have matured and are no longer as easily misguided. We should constantly be in God’s Word so that we can not be easily misguided by the lies of the enemy.

Are you mature in your faith?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you long for the day of completion?

October 24, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 1:3-6 (NIV))

Isn’t it wonderful how we can come to Jesus just as we are and He accepts us in all of our rags? What is even more wonderful is that once we come to Jesus, He does not leave us in our rags. He begins to work within us and turn us into what God had intended for us to be all along.

We are not completed works. We are works in progress. We are not the same as we were the day we accepted Jesus as our Savior, and we are not the same today as we will be when we stand before the throne. We are constantly being changed into the image of Christ.

In this world, we will not be able to be completed due to the nature of sin. But when we stand before God, through the redemptive and cleansing power of Jesus’ blood, we will be completed.

God does not do anything only half way. He gave us a way to salvation through Jesus Christ, and He also gave us a way to be completed in His image.

So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
(Genesis 1:27)

God created us in His image from the beginning. It was the introduction of sin into the world that corrupted that image. Through Jesus Christ, we again have the potential to be created in his own image.

When you look into the mirror, whose image do you see? Do you long for the day of completion?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do we still look at things from the same perspective?

September 19, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
(1 Corinthians 13:11 (NIV))

Our ability to understand things changes as we mature and grow.

Looking back at your childhood, did you fully understand how things were in the world? Did you know about such things as death and taxes? Did you fully understand the grace and mercy that God showed the world through His Son, Jesus Christ, or did you spend your days thinking about playing and what happens to tadpoles to make them change into frogs?

Just as that tadpole changed, God has planned for us to change and to grow, both physically, mentally, and spiritually. Are you the same as you were when you were six years old? Do you expect to be the same when you are sixty? Do you expect to be the same when you are with Jesus?

Our ability to understand changes just as our bodies change. Perhaps it is this change that makes us more and more grateful for what God has given to us through Jesus! Hopefully, we no longer look at sin through the understanding of a child. Hopefully, we realize the full ramifications of our sin and the eternal consequences that it brings.

Do we still look at things from the same perspective?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What is winning this conflict in your life?

June 25, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.
(Galatians 5:17 (NIV))

What is your definition of freedom?

If you accept society’s understanding of that word, freedom means the ability to choose to do whatever you may wish to do and to say whatever you may wish to say. This is the freedom that focuses on the flesh and leads someone to choose sin.

Is this the way that someone who has been set free from bondage defines freedom?

This freedom implies no more chains. It implies that there will be no more consequences of the bondage. It implies an overwhelming joy that comes only when such a heavy burden has been removed. This is the type of freedom that comes when you focus on things of the Spirit. This is the freedom that allows someone to overcome the consequences of sin.

To far too many people, they see no difference in these definitions of freedom, but there is a significant and costly difference!

They are at opposite ends of the spectrum. There is no way that you can have both. When we choose the flesh, we deny the Spirit. When we choose the Spirit, we deny the flesh. Our life, and our eternity, are determined by which we choose and, consequently, which we deny. I have seen this illustrated as each person having two distinct paths that they can follow, or two distinct creatures within them – one good and one evil. The one that wins the conflict is the one that is fed.

What is winning this conflict in your life?

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