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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Are you too proud to accept God’s gifts?

October 12, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, `Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

“When he came to his senses, he said, `How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ So he got up and went to his father.
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

“The son said to him, `Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

“But the father said to his servants, `Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
(Luke 15:11-24 (NIV))

Everybody is familiar with the story of the prodigal son. I have heard someone comment on it in such a way as to shed new light on God’s mercy and grace.

God does not wait until we ask for forgiveness to forgive us. We are forgiven even before we ask for it!

We must ask in order to receive it, but He has already decided that He will forgive us. Asking for forgiveness shows a change of heart on our part and this change of heart prepares us to accept the grace that God has already granted us. Without this change of heart, we cannot accept God’s grace. We do not feel that we need it. It is a matter of pride.

Asking for grace shows that we have humbled ourselves. Sadly, far too many people are too proud to ask for anything.

Grace and mercy are free. We pay the personal price by swallowing our pride when we ask for them.

Are you too proud to accept God’s gifts?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you allowed yourself to be cleansed?

July 3, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.
(Psalms 51:1-2 (NIV))

Everyone desires mercy, but not everyone wants to be cleansed of the reason that they desire mercy!

Think about that in relationship to your own life. We all have something that we know that we shouldn’t do, but we do it anyway. We ask for forgiveness when someone brings it up, but do we truly desire to have this characteristic removed from our lives? Do we truly desire to be cleansed of what we continually ask for mercy for?

For some people, these traits are simply things that annoy those we love. We do them over and over again until someone says something and then we apologize by uttering a “Forgive me! I’m sorry!” For others, these traits are something much worse. They are so ingrained into our sinful nature that we do things that we know aren’t right by any stretch of the imagination. We know that our sins are forgiven and that we have been washed clean by the Blood of the Lamb, but we fail to do the one thing that will give us true freedom. We fail to do the one thing that the Lord desires for us to do.

We fail to surrender!

We fail to let go of our sins. We cling tightly to them even though we claim that we have left them at the foot of the cross. It’s just like old things that we have collected. We know that we should get rid of them, so we pack them up and take them away to be discarded. Far too many of us change our minds along the way. Why do we bring them back into our lives once we have gone through the motions? I often think that we are afraid of what our lives would be without these things. The fear of change keeps us from breaking free. Are we afraid of truly leaving our sins at the foot of the cross? Do we truly repent if we pick them back up? Jesus understood that we may desire to do what is right, but we face obstacles within ourselves. Jesus understands the human condition! He has walked where we walk.

“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
(Matthew 26:41 (NIV))

If you read Psalm 51 as a response to the words recorded in Matthew, they can and should be taken as a prayer that every believer presents to God when they are confronted with the sinful nature of the flesh. We should all desire to be cleansed. In order to be cleansed, we have to submit. We have to seek it. We have to allow God to cleanse us.

Have you allowed yourself to be cleansed?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you capable of giving what you long to receive?

June 15, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
(Colossians 3:13 (NIV))

What is it about human nature that makes us reluctant to give away what we have been freely given?

Why do we feel that we must hold on to things that shouldn’t even be a part of our lives?

We all seek grace and mercy, but are we willing to give what we so desperately seek for ourselves?

Through the atoning blood of Jesus, we have been given the gift of forgiveness. This is a gift that, once accepted, wipes clean our sinful past in God’s eyes as if it never happened!

For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
(Psalms 103:11-13 (NIV))

All who call upon the name of Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior have had their transgressions removed as far as the east is from the west. If the Lord can completely forgive us of our sinful nature, we should be able to forgive each other of any grievances, of any transgressions that we have with each other. In fact, we are told that we will be forgiven in the same manner that we forgive others!

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
(Matthew 6:14-15 (NIV))

Are you capable of giving what you long to receive?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you able to love as the Lord instructs?

March 1, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
(Colossians 3:12-14 (CEV))

Forgiveness!

How could we have been granted salvation without the forgiveness of our God and Father? We did not earn it. It was a gift. We were forgiven when we did not deserve to be forgiven.

We must humble ourselves and forgive others in a similar manner. If we cannot forgive, then we cannot be forgiven. After we forgive, we must love as God loves.

Jesus replied: ” `Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: `Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
(Matthew 22:37-40 (NIV))

Are you able to love as the Lord instructs?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you accepted God’s compassion for you?

November 27, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him.
(Psalms 103:13 (NIV))

How many times, as a child, did you do something terribly wrong? You knew that you were going to be in BIG trouble! You knew that there was going to be punishment for your actions. Many times you did receive punishment for what you had done. Think back and take a look at what you did and what you received in return.

Chances are that the punishment was far less serious than the action really deserved. Your earthly father had compassion on you and tempered the punishment with love. Our heavenly Father is far more compassionate than any person can ever be. No matter what you have done in your life, it can all be forgiven through one simple act of faith.

Profess the name of Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and the severe punishment for your sins is wiped away. You may still suffer the immediate consequences of your actions, but the long term consequences of sin are no longer to be applied to you. The wages of sin is death. God, through His compassion, has given us a way to escape what is rightfully ours to face.

Have you accepted God’s compassion for you?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Therefore go!

September 7, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
(Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV))

I am going to tax you a little on this one. Well, maybe a lot. I say this because most people would rather forget sentence structures and types. Do you remember the different types of sentences from your English classes? Do you remember the imperative sentence? In essence, it is a command.

Therefore go!

That sounds pretty straight forward to me. It is definitely a command. Do we, as the Body of Christ, obey that command? Previous generations took this seriously. Many people today take it seriously, but do we truly understand that this is our prime directive as a member of the Body of Christ? When you couple this with the next part of the sentence, we have another distinct command.

Make disciples of all the nations!

Most people have a difficult time making a disciple of their next door neighbor. Have we lost the passion to reach the lost? Have we lost the compassion that we should feel for others when we know that they will spend eternity separated from God? When there is a natural disaster, we go with supplies. We go with a desire to help. Where is that desire when it comes to making disciples?

How would Jesus react to our desire to reach the lost? Would He say “Well done,” or would He say “Therefore go!”

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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