Who are your brother and sister?

September 23, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.
(1 John 4:20 (NIV))

I have often wondered how Jesus would answer someone if they had asked Him who is their brother or sister?

Perhaps Jesus would give an answer similar to the one He gave when He was asked what was the greatest commandment.

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
(Mark 12:29-31 (NIV))

Would He have answered with a parable similar to the Good Samaritan as He did when He was asked who is my neighbor? Jesus turned it around on the person who asked by telling the parable and then asked who he thought was a neighbor.

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
(Luke 10:37 (NIV))

Perhaps he would have answered similarly to when He was told His mother and brothers were outside and wanted to speak with Him.

He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”
(Matthew 12:48-50 (NIV))

Are we seeing a distinction between a neighbor and a brother? Are we being told to show love and mercy to our neighbors and to love those who do the will of His Father? Is there a difference between showing love and mercy to a neighbor and actually loving someone who is a member of the Body? This is a topic that will require much more than just a few paragraphs to bring to light. Suffice it to say that if someone calls upon Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior, they are a brother or a sister to anyone and everyone who also makes that same profession. We are to love them. We are also called to show love and mercy to those who are not part of the Body of Christ. If you stop to think about this last statement, perhaps the very love and mercy that you show will be what the Lord uses to reach their heart!

To play it safe, it sounds like we should show the love of Jesus to everyone. How can we claim to love God and still have hate in our hearts for anyone whom God loves?

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.
(John 3:16 (NIV))

Who are your brother and sister?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Does the enemy ask who you are?

August 12, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?”
(Acts 19:15 (NIV))

Have you ever felt like the odd man out?

You know what I mean. The last person picked for something. The only one who has not chosen a side. The person who is so quiet that you don’t know what they want. The person who tries to drop names in hopes of being allowed in with the cool kids, but it backfires completely.

Think about that with an eternal, spiritual perspective. Imagine dropping the name of Jesus in a situation where the evil spirit fights back because it recognizes the fact that you don’t truly know Jesus. You are just claiming His name because you think it will provide some sort of advantage or gain in the situation.

Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this.
(Acts 19:13-14 (NIV))

There is a difference between using the name of Jesus and truly knowing Jesus. There is also a difference that leads to the enemy recognizing your authority over them. They recognize the power that can only come through truly knowing the Lord.

Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.
(Acts 19:16 (NIV))

Do you truly know Jesus? Can you boldly proclaim His name in the face of the enemy and know that the Lord will be with you through all that you face? All throughout history, truly knowing Jesus has had importance on an eternal level. We are getting to a point in history where a true relationship with Jesus is crucial in this physical world as well. We must be bold in our faith. We must stand firm in our convictions. We must proclaim the name of Jesus without fear and without shame. That is only possible if we truly have a personal Lord and Savior who stands with us closer than a brother. If this is true, then the enemy knows your name!

Does the enemy ask who you are?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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We must not accept sin as the new normal!

January 14, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
(Matthew 18:15-17 (NIV))

Sadly, just by choosing this verse, too many people will get offended. Society currently believes that if you love someone, then you accept them as they are. Society claims that people are made that way and as a result, there is nothing wrong with them. This has become rampant even in the church. Let’s play fill in the blank to see how that actually sounds.

I was born a(n) __________________, therefore, you have to accept me the way that I am.

Pick any of the following words and see how that sounds.

Arsonist
Murderer
Pedophile
Alcoholic
Thief
Sex Addict

Perhaps you have a few more that you can think of, but the concept is clear, sin is sin! Why do we, as the Body of Christ, not follow what we have been told? How can we be the light of the world if we allow the darkness to influence us? How can we share the truth of the Gospel if we can’t follow it ourselves? The last time I read anything about the Lord, He does not lead us into sin! In fact, He leads us away from sin. Jesus, when addressing the woman caught in adultery, was clear. We are to go and sin no more! We are to leave our life of sin. We are not to embrace the sin simply because our fallen nature made us this way! We are to become a new creation. We are to repent. We are to take up our cross and follow Him daily.

Sadly, we are seeing too many people profess that what has been called good is now evil and what was once called evil is now good. Society may claim this as the new normal, but the Body of Christ must stand firm.

We must not accept sin as the new normal!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Have you accepted your room reservation?

December 30, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
(John 14:1-3 (NIV))

This passage came up today and my first reaction was that it wasn’t appropriate as a New Year’s scripture. Then I read it a few more times and the realization of the hope for a better future for those who are in Christ became evident. It also became evident that what society truly desires as they celebrate the beginning of a new year is the ability to wipe away all of the past mistakes and move forward with hope for a better life in the new year. Let’s face the truth. When we make resolutions, we are simply professing a desire to change something about ourselves that we don’t like!

How is that working out for you?

Human nature is a difficult thing to deal with. We say that we want to change, yet most of us after just a few short days are right back at our old habits, our old sins. We cannot do it on our own! Our Father realized this and sent His one and only Son to be offered as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. All that we have to do is earnestly and truthfully accept this and grace is ours! We are forgiven of our sins. We accept the willing sacrifice of the one perfect man who was God with us. We recognize that we must turn to Him and repent of our sins. We must be willing to repent on a daily basis for we will not be free from the temptation of sin. We must accept the truth that temptation will not go away. We must also rejoice in the fact that when the world tries to tempt us, we have Jesus.

One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin,
    but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
(Proverbs 18:24 (NIV))

One day, we will see the Father’s house. What a promise for a better future that is. For the Body of Christ, that is not the beginning of a better future. The beginning is when someone decides to make a personal resolution that consists of three things.

1. Admit that you are a sinner.
2. Believe in your heart that Jesus Christ is Lord.
3. Confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord.

The good news is that we don’t have to wait for a new year to be born again, to start anew, to give our life to Christ! That resolution can be made at any time. Now is that perfect time.

This is one resolution that has eternal rewards with a room!

Have you accepted your room reservation?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Think about who you pray for!

September 17, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, because I hear about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints. I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ. Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.
(Philemon 1:4-7 (NIV))

Paul wrote many letters of encouragement to believers throughout his traveling. Some of the letters even had to take on a tone of discipline in order to get people back on the right track. Most of the letters were letters of teaching and encouragement.

The words that Paul wrote in this letter are excellent commendations for a person who truly sought to know God and to do His Will. Still, do you notice that even though Paul commended him for his faith and his works, there is one thing that he did – Paul prayed for this person. Even though he was doing what God wanted him to do and was faithful in his helping others, Paul knew that even the most faithful need prayer to under gird them and protect them from the attacks of the enemy.

Who do you pray for? Is it only the people that you know are in need of something? What about the people who are pillars of faith in your community? Shouldn’t we do as Paul and pray for them? Satan does not leave believers alone. We have seen all too often that even the people whom we see as faithful can falter.

When we pray we must not forget the faithful who are diligent in doing the Will of God. We must pray that they do not face the attacks of the enemy and that they will not give in to temptation, for nothing pleases Satan more than knowing that someone who has been bought by the blood of Jesus Christ has fallen.

With this in mind, wouldn’t you want someone praying for you so that you don’t fall into temptation?

Think about who you pray for!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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How do you see others? How do you see yourself?

January 28, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, `Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
(Luke 6:41-42 (NIV))

Isn’t it typical human nature to see the minor faults in others while we overlook the major faults within ourselves?

We simply like to point out the faults in others and exaggerate them so that our own faults are not noticed. We make others look worse than they really are so that we can make ourselves look better in the eyes of others.

How did Jesus handle this?

He simply pointed out the fact that we cannot be in any shape spiritually to “assist” others with their faults if we completely ignore all of ours. Jesus came into the world to teach and be an example of what we should be and how we should act. He never ridiculed or accused people of things. He simply taught by example. His example was flawless. He was perfect. He could point out someone else’s flaws and be justified in doing so publicly, yet, He chose to treat others with love, grace and mercy.

How can we, who are sinful, treat others as if we are sinless when He who was truly sinless treated others as if He were one of them?

How do you see others? How do you see yourself?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Does your life validate your claim?

June 26, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.
(1 John 2:6 (NIV))

Everyone is familiar with the old saying, “Actions speak louder than words!” Basically, it is possible to say one thing but have your actions say something completely different. A good example of this is saying that you want to help the poor and then when you think that no one is looking, you yell at a homeless person to get a job. Actions like this prove that all too often, what you say and what you do contradict each other.

I would not want to be thought of in this way even if I didn’t profess a faith in Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior!

I have heard several accounts of when followers of Jesus were first called Christians. One account says that the word “Christian” was a derogatory name that meant little Christs. Others convey a meaning of simply being a follower of Christ. Still others believe that it simply meant that those who were called by that name were anointed. No matter what you believe is the true root of the word, the meanings behind them carry a much deeper context. Think about that and apply each of these meanings to your life.

Do you act like a little Christ? If Jesus is your Lord and Savior, He is also your brother. Do you emulate your brother?

Do you act like a follower of Christ? If Jesus is your role model, do you strive to be like Him?

Do you act like you are anointed? If you believe in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, then you have these words to define your status.

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
(John 14:12 (NIV))

No matter which way you look at the origin of the word “Christian,” it should be looked upon as a badge of honor. it should be looked upon as a designation that you strive to follow Jesus in all that you do – both in word and in deed. With this in mind, I want to ask the following.

Do you claim to be a Christian?

Does your life validate your claim?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Does the Lord go with you wherever you go?

February 23, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
(Joshua 1:9 (NIV))

There will be many journeys that we will travel during our lifetime. There will be many perilous circumstances that we will encounter along those journeys. Do you have someone to travel with you? Do you have someone whom you can trust to never leave you and to never forsake you?

One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin,
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
(Proverbs 18:24 (NIV))

With all that the world and the enemy will send our way during our lifetimes, we are not capable of making it through this life on our own. We are encouraged to not forsake the fellowship of other believers, for the Body of Christ offers encouragement. It offers fellowship. It offers prayer, and it offers truth when the world offers lies. One thing that the Body of Christ has to offer is constant reminders of God’s grace and mercy and His unfailing love for us. The Body of Christ can and will remind us to be strong in our faith. In our life, we are called to be faithful to the Lord. We are called to be faithful to God’s Word. When we know God’s Word, we have a constant reminder of all things as they were written in Joshua. The more that we know of God’s Word, the more that we know of His promises are true!

If we are told that there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother, then we can count on that for every day of our lives!

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.
(Deuteronomy 31:8 (NIV))

We are told many times that the Lord goes with us. Simply seek His heart and learn to walk with Him. Think about that for a moment. How would you like to invite the Lord to go with you wherever you go? How would you like for the Lord to guide your every step? How would you like to rest in the assurance that the Creator of the universe loves you and watches out for you?

It is so simple to have this for yourself. Simply pray something like the following.

Lord, Jesus, I am a sinner who is in need of a Savior. Without you, I am nothing. With you, all things are possible. I am tired of being nothing. I am tired of being a sinner without hope. Come into my heart and walk with me all the days of my life. Guide me in your ways. Protect me from the attacks of the enemy. I surrender all to you, Lord. Lead me and I will follow!

Does the Lord go with you wherever you go?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you truly able to be humble?

October 12, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
(James 4:10 (NIV))

Humility is a trait that is difficult for most people. To be honest with you, it is humility, or the lack of it, that caused Satan to rebel against God. It has been the proverbial thorn in the side of humanity ever since. To humble oneself requires a complete submission of yourself to the point where you are not proud, haughty, arrogant or assertive. In other words, to be humble means that you do not elevate yourself in words or deeds, but you simply live your life knowing that you are no better than other people.

Think about that concept in the light of the truth it contains.

God created all of us through the creation of Adam and Eve in the Garden. When Adam and Eve fell from grace, not a single one of us, their descendants, was spared from the consequences of that fall. We are all sinners. In the eyes of God, because of our sin, we are all the same. We are all equal. God loves each of us the same, yet, it is human nature to think that God loves us more than the next guy.

Can you look at yourself in the mirror and say that you think you are better than anyone else, or do you feel that nagging twinge of guilt when you honestly look deep inside?

I have asked this question before, and I will ask it again. What would your reaction be if, when you get to heaven, you find that Adolf Hitler had accepted Jesus as his personal Lord and Savior? Would you rejoice, or would you refuse to enter because you know that you were better than him? Would your reaction be evidence of humility?

I want you to take a look at this passage from the point of view of the person who most scholars believe wrote it: James, the brother of Jesus. How would you react to the crowds gathering around your brother and ignoring you? How would you react to the miracles that Jesus performed when you can’t even begin to do anything like them? How would you react to the crucifixion? How would you react to the resurrection? Would there be feelings of hatred? Would there be a crushed ego? Would there be guilt and shame, and would there be rejoicing? I find it interesting that the passage that instructs us to humble ourselves was written by someone who, from a worldly point of view, would have had to struggle to actually do that.

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What do you call yourself?

September 14, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–of whom I am the worst.
(1 Timothy 1:15 (NIV))

Do you think of Paul as a sinner?

Think about that for a moment. The man whom Jesus appeared to on the road to Damascus considered himself to be a sinner. The man whom we, as Gentiles, owe an incredible debt to for bringing the Gospel to us considered himself to be a sinner. The man who planted numerous churches throughout the known world of his day considered himself to be the worst sinner of all.

How do you see yourself? Do you consider yourself to be a sinner or do you have a holier than thou attitude?

We think that we are pretty good. It is human nature to look at others and point out their sins while we fail to recognize our own. Jesus even taught about this very aspect of human nature.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, `Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
(Matthew 7:3-5 (NIV))

Before his Damascus Road experience, Saul may have been a major sinner and persecutor of the church, but he had an experience that changed his life. Saul met Jesus. Saul became Paul. Unlike many people today, Paul did not forget what he had been. He did not forget the sins that he had committed. He never lost site of the fact that if it weren’t for his encounter with Jesus, he would still be lost in his sin. He never lost site of the fact that Jesus didn’t make him perfect and that his own human nature would take him right back to where he had been. Paul did not go around with an arrogance and an attitude of being perfect. He knew that he was far from perfect. He knew that it was nothing of his own doing, but it was by grace that he had been redeemed. Why do many members of the Body of Christ fail to recognize this in themselves? Why do we drive so many people away with our attitudes?

Do you call yourself a sinner?

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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