Is what you do beneficial and constructive?

April 9, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive.
(1 Corinthians 10:23 (NIV))

Is it just me, or has our society become overwhelmingly focused on rights? We constantly see things in the news or hear people proclaiming that it is their body and therefore their right. They proclaim that it is their right to love who they want, and that it is their right to do whatever they want.

I think that they have a misconception of what they refer to as their rights!

In all honesty, if you think about it, humanity has had that misconception all the way back to the Garden of Eden where Adam and Eve bought into the lie and thought that it was their right to be like God. Ever since then, it has been the mindset that, “It’s my right!

I love the two filters that we are given in this passage. These filters are what we should pass everything through before we even consider taking action on anything that we claim as a right.

1. Is it beneficial? This does not mean that will it benefit you alone? Will other people benefit in such a way that they grow and mature in life, in faith and in community?

2. Is it constructive? Will this build and leave a lasting impact on others or will it demean others and leave destruction in its wake?

These are simple enough questions to ask, but it is the answers that most of us fool ourselves on. We rush to judgment on our rights and actions. We become experts at justifying anything and everything that we want to do, but should we be so quick in doing so? Should we stop and answer these two questions from a different perspective other than our own? Should we look at our rights in relationship to these two questions from God’s perspective? Think about how potentially different the outcome in the Garden of Eden could have been!

Is what you do beneficial and constructive?

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

March 19, 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))

Words are a powerful device. Words can be uplifting and encouraging. Words can be sad and convey despair. Words can convey affection and in the next breath, they can convey anger. We have a tendency to use words rashly and in haste. It is so easy to let the wrong words slip off of your tongue. I would venture to say that every one of us on this planet has said something today that they wish could be taken back.

Most people think of unwholesome talk as the proverbial four letter words that we all tend to know even if we hate to admit it. However, have you stopped to think about what else may be considered unwholesome?

Words said in anger or in hatred destroy instantly. Words said in frustration never make the situation any better. Words aimed directly at provoking hurt are never able to be recalled. All of these types of words can be unwholesome for they destroy. They do not build up.

Jesus rarely used words that did not build up. I can only think of a few situations that He used terms less than uplifting. I do not think that being called a brood of vipers made those people feel good about themselves. However, even when Jesus said words such as these, they were not expressed in the rage and hatred that we often use. I picture the use of these words more out of pity than out of anger.

Unwholesome talk is anything that destroys what God is trying to accomplish in and through another person. Guard your tongue, for Satan can use it to do just that. Give pause to your words. Let your tongue be guided by the Holy Spirit. He will not give you unwholesome words. He will fill your mouth with words that will be a blessing to all who hear.

What comes from your mouth?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you thankful for God’s great mercy?

March 13, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Give ear, O God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy.
(Daniel 9:18 (NIV))

We do not make requests of you because we are righteous!

This hit me today in a way that it hasn’t hit me before.

How many times have you gone to God and asked for His intervention? Have you ever been guilty of arrogance during these requests? Did you make these requests out of a selfish desire that would benefit you? I think that we have all been guilty of this. I know that I have more times than I care to admit. When we do this, I can almost picture God sitting there shaking His head in disbelief that we are doing it again.

Isn’t it great to know that God does not grant our requests based on our righteousness?

All of us have become like one who is unclean,
    and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
  we all shrivel up like a leaf,
    and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
(Isaiah 64:6 (NIV))

I don’t know about you, but I am eternally grateful for God’s mercy, for without His mercy, I would have no hope. Without mercy, what can a filthy rag do?

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved.
(Ephesians 2:4-5 (NIV))

Are you thankful for God’s great mercy?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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It is finished and grace is yours!

February 18, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth.
(Isaiah 53:7 (NAS))

Can you imagine being completely innocent of all charges against you, yet, because everyone else will benefit, you remain completely silent? This is a hard concept for any of us to fully grasp, yet, this is exactly what Jesus did for us! What is just as amazing is that God told this to Isaiah about seven hundred years before it actually happened!

Does this give you any indication of just how much God loves you? He had it planned for Jesus to come into this world and to be lead like a lamb to the slaughter for our benefit.

Jesus died for you and I!

If you had been the only person in history who needed salvation, Jesus would have suffered everything for you alone! He did it without a single complaint. We all have our families that we think we would face danger for, but it is never really certain. Jesus did this for all people who would ever live, and yet He did it for each of us individually.

Reflect on the meaning of this sacrifice and rejoice in the fact that it is finished and grace is yours.

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How do you talk to God?

November 19, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”
(John 11:41-42 (NIV))

Jesus knew, and still knows, human nature extremely well. When He resurrected Lazarus, He petitioned God verbally with prayer so that those around would hear Him and believe. He did not need to do this. God would have heard Him even if He had not spoken a single word. He would have heard His heart, His Spirit, and His anguish. Yet, Jesus spoke out loud so that those around Him would hear and believe. Everyone knows the outcome of this event.

When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”
(John 11:43-44)

When we pray, is it necessary for us to speak out loud? Jesus taught the following:

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
(Matthew 6:5-6)

Prayer is an important part of life. It is a conversation with your Creator, your Father. When you talk to your earthly father, do you do it loudly in a public place, or do you find a private place where you can speak quietly and freely with each other?

How do you think that God wishes for you to talk with Him? How do you talk to God?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What comes out of your mouth?

June 8, 2018

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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))

Our mouths get us into so much trouble!

Sadly, what comes out of our mouths starts somewhere else. Even if we are good at holding our tongue, what does that say about our thoughts and our heart? Our mouth is simply a conduit for what is inside. We either focus on the worldly and sinful nature, or we focus on the traits that are of God.

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
(Galatians 5:19-21 (NIV))

What do you strive to have inside of you? Are you filled with the sinful nature of the world, or do you long for the characteristics that we know as the fruit of the Spirit? Do you long for your life, your words and your actions to reflect these traits?

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. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh 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 5:22-26 (NIV))

If unwholesome talk comes out of your mouth, what does that say about what is inside of you?

What comes out of your mouth?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you accept the hard teachings?

February 12, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”
(John 6:60 (NIV))

Far too many people only consider the easy things that Jesus taught, ignoring the things that they find difficult to understand or to put into practice. If you stop to think about this, everything that Jesus said has been difficult for us to put into practice. Human nature simply wants to do what it wants to do! It is a daily struggle to admit that we are sinners. It is a daily struggle to admit that we are not capable of anything on our own. We don’t like to admit that even on our best day, we are far from perfect.

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
(Isaiah 64:6 (NIV))

John 6:60 catches the disciples asking this question after Jesus tells the crowd something that just didn’t make sense from their perspective. Does it make sense to you?

Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me.
(John 6:53-57 (NIV))

Even though we have the benefit of two thousand years and much analysis, far too many people still have problems with this concept.

Think about it from this perspective.

What is the most intimate thing that you can do with something? You make it a part of yourself by either eating or drinking it. When this happens, the items that were consumed get broken down into the basic elements that you need and they become a part of you. There is no way to tell where you end and where these elements begin. I don’t know about you, but this sounds exactly like what Jesus wants for each of us. He wants each of us to consume Him in such a way that the very life that He came to give has become inseparable from the life that He has renewed within us. Just how do you consume Jesus? How do you make His teachings and His life inseparable from your? I love the simple instructions that we were given in Deuteronomy.

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.
(Deuteronomy 11:18 (NIV))

Focus on the Lord. Focus on the Word. Focus on the teachings even when they are hard. Accept them. Bind them. Make them integral to who you are!

Do you accept the hard teachings?

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