Are you prepared for what you may face?

November 6, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
(Matthew 5:10 (NIV))

Many people in the church today have not been prepared for what is coming. Far too many people have been told that following Jesus is easy and everything in your life will begin to get better if you follow Jesus. I need to clarify something at this point and admit that God will begin to work things for your good when you start to follow Jesus. These things are probably best explained as a fresh manifestation of the fruit of the Spirit in your life.

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))

When these things are present in your life, people notice. They will be drawn to you because they see something that they desire in their own lives. This is the prime opportunity to share the Gospel, to share the source of your love, joy, and peace.

Sadly, when this happens, the enemy also takes notice. He will muster all resources to keep you from sharing the Gospel, for he knows that you have a powerful witness that must be stopped.

Hold fast!

Stand firm!

Do not allow the threat of ridicule or persecution keep you from following Jesus.

We are all familiar with the accounts of what the disciples and the early church had to endure. We may never have to face the same things that the disciples and the early Christians had to face, but what if we do? Are you prepared to completely place your faith in Jesus no matter the worldly consequences? Are you willing to stand firm and tell the world that you believe in Jesus and nothing that they can do will make you change your mind?

Are you prepared for what you may face?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What is it that your life is recognized for?

November 5, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.
(Matthew 12:33 (NIV))

What is your favorite fruit? Is it apples? Perhaps it is pears. Some people love figs, while others love oranges. If you had a tree that gave you your favorite fruit, how would you care for that tree? If the tree began to rot, would the fruit still be as good?

Now, think of your life. What type of fruit does it produce? Each life produces something.

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))

The fruits of the Spirit also provide sweet nourishment. Someone who is loving and filled with joy will make the lives of others transform from the spiritual nourishment that they share. You life is the tree that produces that fruit.

If a tree is diseased, it cannot send the required nourishment and other resources to produce the fruit. The fruit will be small and will be lacking much when compared to fruit produced by a healthy tree. Consequently, how can your life produce healthy fruit if your life is diseased by sin? How can you produce enough love to share if you are callous and cold hearted? How can you produce joy if you are miserable and mean. Just as a tree can be diseased, a life can be diseased. Just as that disease will harm the fruit a tree produces, your disease that you carry within your life will also harm the fruit that you produce.

What makes us different from an actual tree is that we can make a decision to turn to the healing. We can turn to Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior. He will give us the grace and mercy that will allow our lives to be healed. He will restore that which the sin has destroyed. He will give us the desire to produce good fruit.

What is your favorite fruit? Is it love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness or self-control?

What is it that your life is recognized for?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you do all things so that God may be praised?

November 4, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
(1 Peter 4:11 (NIV))

Have you ever stopped to truly reflect upon your motives?

Knowing human nature, I would venture to say that each of us think that we have pure motives for our thoughts and actions, but human nature is deceitful! According to this passage, everything that we do should glorify the Lord. Are you able to say that all of your thoughts and actions glorify God? There is one sure way to see if this is true. Simply have someone cut you off in traffic and see how you react! Do your words praise God? Do your actions bring glory to the Lord? There is a very good chance that even those of us who are able to spend most of our days praising the Lord will think or say or do things that are less than glorifying.

Is this your intent, or do you feel remorse when these situations bring out the sinful human nature that resides in all of us? Even if you repent of these thoughts, words and actions, what do your actions convey to the world? We know that if we repent, we will be forgiven by the Lord, but the world sees us and immediately calls us hypocrites because our actions don’t always match what we profess. Perhaps this is why we are told to think, speak and act as if we are glorifying the Lord. How we present the Lord through our personal conduct is sometimes all that the world will see. We are called to reflect His light, but if we aren’t careful, we reflect the wrong thing.

Please don’t misunderstand me on this. We are called to mature in Christ and become more and more like Jesus. This is what the Lord wants of us, but we must also recognize that we do not live in this world by ourselves. Everything that we do, especially if we profess a faith in Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, is under constant scrutiny by the world. We don’t want to give the world anything that they can claim as falsehoods and hypocrisy when it comes to our Lord. I believe that I can safely say that too many people look to those who profess a faith in Jesus expecting them to be perfect. They have a wrong understanding of those who follow Jesus.

We aren’t perfect, but we have a Lord and Savior who is!

We should always strive to reflect Jesus in all that we do, even when we are less than perfect ourselves. We should have the desire to do all things so that God may be praised!

Do you do all things so that God may be praised?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is it your desire to persevere?

November 1, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.
(Hebrews 10:36 (NIV))

There is never a good time to give in to the ways of the world!

It is imperative that everyone who professes a faith in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior persevere to finish strongly. Do not let the sins of the world sneak up on you, distract you and make you lose sight of Jesus and what He has called you to. Accepting Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior does not prevent you from sinning. It also doesn’t give you permission to continue in your sin. Accepting Jesus means that you realize that you are a sinner in need of a Savior. Accepting Jesus means that you realize that you cannot escape the consequences of your sin on your own. Accepting Jesus means that you recognize the grace and mercy that God has freely given to those who will simply profess that Jesus is Lord! Accepting Jesus means that you recognize the authority that Jesus has as Lord of your life. Accepting Jesus means that you surrender to that authority. Accepting Jesus means that you turn away from your sin and follow Him!

That is the will of God!

Are you able to accept these conditions? Are you able to persevere in these conditions?

It might be easy to say that you believe, but do your actions reflect your words? Do you thoughts reflect your actions? If you are like me, human nature creeps in and we all do things that we wish we wouldn’t do. When these things happen, do you feel remorse? Do you regret the decisions that lead you to those actions? Do you fall on your knees in repentance?

Have you ever stopped to think about the relationship of repentance to perseverance?

I honestly believe that they go hand in hand, for without true repentance we would never be able to persevere. When we repent, we make a decision to make a course correction and get back to following Jesus. When we persevere, we simply repent and make course corrections all along the way until we get where the Lord leads. We don’t give up. We don’t give in to the sin. We keep our eyes focused on Jesus!

Is it your desire to persevere?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What comes out of your mouth?

October 31, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
(Ephesians 4:29 (NIV))

What comes out of your mouth?

Perhaps, a different translation says it clearer.

Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.
(Ephesians 4:29 (NLT))

We are clearly told that we are to not speak using foul or abusive language. If we can control the tongue, then we are one step closer to controlling the heart. When we control the heart, we are able to follow the teachings of Jesus. We are able to do everything more closely to what Paul told us in Colossians.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men
(Colossians 3:23 (NIV))

If we speak in foul and abusive language, do we truly have Jesus as our Lord and Savior? Do we have the Holy Spirit within us and guiding us? Is this the type of language that God desires for us to use? The foul and abusive words only reflect what is in our hearts.

But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man `unclean.’
(Matthew 15:18 (NIV))

Think about the things that you say. Do they uplift or do they come out as unwholesome talk?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you come to your senses?

October 30, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!’
(Luke 15:17 (NIV))

We all know the story of the prodigal son. We look at it to symbolize the willingness of a loving heavenly Father to welcome us back with open arms. If that is how you understand the prodigal son, then you are correct, for that is exactly how God is, but . . .

It requires a decision on our part first!

It requires us to come to our senses and leave the life that left us in the sinful state that we find ourselves. It requires us to repent.

Repentance implies regret. It implies a sadness over previous actions, a resolution to change as you move forward and a humility to realize that you cannot change on your own. In essence, it means that you have decided to change directions. To most people, the concept of a complete U-turn comes to mind. This represents a complete change of heart and change of mind. When you earnestly repent, you have a realization that you have been wrong and that you wish to return to what is right. Some people would call this an ah-ha moment. I love the way that this passage describes this moment.

He came to his senses!

It is said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results. What is it about human nature that makes us think that we can do it our way and that our way is going to be better than God’s way? We continually walk away from God and expect our lives to be these pictures of perfection in which everything goes our way all of the time. We have been blinded by the lies of the enemy. We have bought into the picture of insanity that the enemy has painted. I want to tell you that the outcome will always be the same. The details may change, but the end result is a life of sin and loneliness far from the loving arms of the Father.

It is important that we come to our senses, leave our sin, and return to the Father. He is waiting!

Have you come to your senses?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you able to share the Gospel with shrewdness and innocence?

October 29, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.
(Matthew 10:16 (NIV))

Have you truly stopped to think about this passage?

Each of us understand the concept of being sheep among wolves. If we follow the instructions that Jesus left for all believers, then we are in a constant state of perpetual danger. Just as a sheep may be devoured by the wolves, we, too, may be devoured by the enemy if we are not careful. The passage doesn’t say to stay away from danger! In fact, the passage clearly states that Jesus sent the disciples out, and just like the disciples, He is sending us as well.

Jesus did give us instructions. We are to be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.

It sounds fairly simple, but have you ever thought about what it takes to be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves?

I realize that everyone typically thinks of snakes in a deceitful way, but Jesus was telling us to use some of the characteristics of snakes when we are sharing the Gospel. What do you think of first when you think of a snake? Do you think of the possibility that a snake could be under foot at any moment? With this in mind, do you constantly look for snakes? Is that being shrewd on the part of the snake? Perhaps we should look at this from a different vantage point. Does a snake show itself openly or does it hide until the opportune time arises. If we are to be as shrewd as snakes, we should be among the danger, but not exposed to it. We should watch and wait. Just as a snake may not show itself to everyone, we may not be called to show ourselves to everyone at one moment. We should size up whom we should approach and then make our move to share the Gospel. We are to use wisdom and discernment!

Look at this concept from the missions of Paul. When he entered a town, many times he would find someone who was prominent in the town and present the Gospel to them. If he was able to convert them, it became easier to convert others. Paul was shrewd in his evangelism. He understood human nature. He knew that if he could convert a person with contacts, then others would follow. In today’s society, the concept is that we are teaching the teachers. Even in this shrewdness of plan, Paul never failed to walk innocently amongst those with whom he shared the gospel. He did not do anything to betray the trust of those with whom he shared. He did not have ulterior motives. He did not seek any of the trappings of the physical world.

Are you able to share the Gospel with shrewdness and innocence?

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