Do you understand the value of love?

August 1, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
(1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV))

There are many characteristics that we would like to think that are a part of our personality. It is human nature to think that we are better than we really are. With this in mind, what are your greatest personality traits?

Do you feel that you truthfully exhibit any of the following?

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.

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 5:19-23 (NIV))

I suppose that I should ask whether you feel you exhibit characteristics from the acts of the flesh or from the fruit of the Spirit. Each and every one of us wants to be considered loving, joyful, peaceful, kind, good, faithful and gentle, but to be honest with ourselves, we have to admit that we are only human and that we exhibit the other characteristics more often than we desire to. Even so, we have something to strive for with the Lord’s help. We are told that the greatest that we can present is love. We are also told, by the order of presentation, that love is a crucial fruit of the Spirit. We are also told that love is an identifying characteristic of those who claim to be disciples of Jesus.

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
(John 13:35 (NIV))

If this is the case, then it makes perfect sense that we are to love each other.

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
(1 Peter 4:8 (NIV))

Let’s put this in perspective. We can claim to have faith and we can be condemned by our lack of love. We can claim to have hope, and still be hateful. When we have love, the true love of Jesus, then faith and hope fall into place. We love the Lord and His creation. Out of this love springs the faith and the hope to share that love with the world. I believe that I am beginning to see why love is the greatest to remain.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
(1 Corinthians 13:8 (NIV))

Do you understand the value of love?

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

April 1, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
(1 Corinthians 13:4 (NIV))

Love can possess many different characteristics in the minds of those who try to define it. To some people, it is a strong affection such as what a mother has for her child. Others think of love as a sexual attraction. Some people even go so far as to define love by the things that they like.

What is your definition of love? Does it encompass any or all of the above?

How does God define love?

God’s love is not too proud to keep Him from reaching out to save. God’s love for us is kind. He does not reach out to us to condemn us. God’s love for us is not proud. He willingly did what He had to do to bring us salvation.

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.
(John 3:16-17 (NIV))

God’s love is patient.

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
(2 Peter 3:9 (NIV))

I could spend countless hours documenting the depth of God’s love for His creation. It is boundless, yet, it is simple at the same time. It is everlasting, yet it is concerned about your individual moments. It is powerful, yet it is gentle enough to hold each of us in our moments of weakness. It is all encompassing, yet it is able to focus on each of us individually. In essence, God’s love is perfect!

How do you define love?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What kind of heart do you have?

March 26, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
(Ezekiel 36:26 (NIV))

Do you think that what you put into your heart could turn your heart to stone?

Perhaps not literally, but it can definitely harden your heart!

It is possible for someone to fill their heart with such things that leaves them completely self-centered and devoid of any feelings, any sympathy, any empathy for anyone else or for things of the Lord. It is possible for someone to become so absorbed in things of the world and the so-called treasures that it has to offer that they become oblivious to the things of the Lord and the true treasures that He longs to give.

We need to be careful of the things that we allow into our hearts. The wrong things can lead us away from the Lord and harden our hearts. The right things can draw us closer to the Lord and restore the heart of flesh simply because we long to fill it with the things that are important to the Lord.

But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
(Matthew 6:20-21 (NIV))

Have you ever truly stopped to think what those treasures could be?

I honestly believe that we have been told things that we should treasure, things that we should strive to achieve that go hand in hand with our faith in Jesus.

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))

If we strive to possess these characteristics in our walk with Jesus, our priorities have already set what we treasure as things not of this world. Still, we are only human and the world can distract us. We need to stay steadfast in our desires to stay focused on Jesus. We must constantly seek to have a heart that is not hardened.

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
(Psalm 51:10 (NIV))

What kind of heart do you have?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you forgiven as you wish to be forgiven?

March 6, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Then the master called the servant in. `You wicked servant,’ he said, `I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
(Matthew 18:32-34 (NIV))

This is a recurring theme in the Bible. We are forgiven and shown mercy if we can forgive and show mercy to others.

Forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
(Matthew 6:12(NIV))

These are characteristics of God that we are to learn and put into practice. It is the same characteristics that brought Jesus to this earth to die for us.

If Jesus came to this earth to be God’s payment for our debts, if we accept this payment, then we must also be prepared to extend this payment to others. We have been shown unmerited favor and grace. We cannot keep this to ourselves. We cannot hold others to the same laws that we have been granted forgiveness from. If we are not willing to forgive, then how can we truly be forgiven. When we are forgiven, we have a joy that we wish to share with the world. It is a burden that has been lifted.

Does anyone owe you an unpaid debt?

Have you forgiven as you wish to be forgiven?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Has your love matured to this level?

December 6, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
(1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV))

Have you ever given any thought to this passage and asked yourself why love is the greatest of these?

I realize that 1 Corinthians 13 defines characteristics that we all long to possess, but if you read through it carefully, you realize that these characteristics, no matter how desirable, are useless and meaningless if they are not accompanied by love.

Can we speak eloquently and have hatred in our hearts? Can we possess head knowledge and understanding of God’s Word and what He says will happen and still feel no compassion for those who are not saved? Can we possess a faith in Jesus and still have anger and animosity in our hearts? Is it possible to firmly believe, yet not care for others? Can we claim that we have hope for an eternity with the Lord and still neglect to share Jesus with others?

Each of these scenarios paints a picture of people who truly do possess desirable characteristics, yet, they all lack one crucial aspect.

Love!

Love is the manifestation of all that is best. Love places others above yourself. Love is the culmination of the desire to see others lifted up. In essence, love can be defined as putting your faith and your hope into action for the benefit of others.

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
(John 15:13 (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.
(John 3:16 (NIV))

To me, this type of love is the result of a mature faith and hope. Has your love matured to this level?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you desire to be above reproach?

October 29, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.
(1 Timothy 3:2-3 (NIV))

The word overseer implies someone in a position of authority in the church. Typically, this is translated as pastor, elder or deacon, but if you stop to think about it, everyone who professes a faith in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior is in a position of authority. We are all able to minister to each other and to those around us. We are all called to tell the world about Jesus. We are all able to lead someone to eternal salvation, and, sadly enough, we can all fall short of our calling.

Everyone who professes to be a member of the Body of Christ is in the spotlight. We are being watched by those who do not believe. Every action and every word is under constant scrutiny by an unbelieving world. We should all strive to be above reproach. We should all be faithful, temperate and self-controlled. We should all be respectable and hospitable. Everyone who professes a faith in Jesus should be able to teach others about the one who has set them free. We must set a good example, a high benchmark, for others to follow as we strive to follow Jesus.

Our actions should reflect the character of Christ! We should strive to fulfill the instructions put forth for an overseer.

Think about that.

Have you ever lost your temper, even in the privacy of your own home? Have you ever lost self-control? Do those who live with you and work with you think that you are respectable and above reproach? Have you ever been less than gentle? Have you ever participated in or started a quarrel? Do you treat those around you with respect and dignity even when you are in a position of authority over them?

If we are human, the answer to these will probably be a yes, for we are all far from perfect.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
(Romans 3:23 (NIV))

Thankfully, we don’t have to rely on our lack of ability to be perfect. We never will be perfect on our own. It is when we take our eyes off of Jesus and look to ourselves, or the world, that we fail miserably. Only when we keep our eyes on Jesus are we able to begin to come close to possessing these characteristics. We may never hold a position of pastor, elder or deacon, but we can all strive to fulfill these Godly characteristics in our lives. We can all strive to be above reproach!

Do you desire to be above reproach?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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One simple blessing that means so much!

August 2, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
(2 Corinthians 13:14 (NIV))

Paul knew how to use words.

In the second letter to the church at Corinth, he closed with what, in my opinion, is the ultimate prayer for those who strive to walk in their faith. Think about the words written above. This one simple sentence magnifies the Triune God in each one of His personas. It glorifies the attribute that we associate with each persona, and it asks that these attributes reside with us as we strive to walk in our faith.

One simple sentence.

One profoundly accurate picture of the God that we love. Perhaps it is more important to realize that this is one profoundly accurate picture of the God that loves us! Each of those characteristics are traits that God has that He has applied toward us. He has given us grace through Jesus. He has given us love through His gift of Jesus on the cross. He has given us fellowship with Himself and other believers through the empowering of the Holy Spirit.

God is love.

“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 he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”
(John 3:16-21 (NIV))

Paul’s words to the church at Corinth is my prayer for each of us. May we be filled to overflowing with grace, love and fellowship in the name of our God, His only Son, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.

One simple blessing that means so much!

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