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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When you focus on praising the Lord, you don’t need to worry!

August 21, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
(Philippians 4:6 (NIV))

Do you worry? Are you anxious about things in your life that just seem to overwhelm you? Do you spend more time worrying about the what-ifs instead of praying to the one who can provide peace? What is it about our human nature that makes us worry about everything? I would venture to say that some of us even worry about whether our salvation is real because we may not feel saved at times.

Worry!

Anxiousness!

Anxiety!

Troubles?

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
(John 16:33 (NIV))

Why do we feel that we need to worry? Jesus told us that we would have troubles, but we can fully trust in Him to see us through our troubles. Think about that from this perspective. When we worry, when we are anxious, we say that we doubt Jesus. We say that we don’t think that He will fulfill His promises to overcome the world. Does this put a fresh and different perspective on worry and anxiousness? Does it make you want to stop and pray instead of worrying? Let’s take this one step further and offer up thankful prayers for what the Lord has already done for us. We should also prayerfully look forward to what He is doing for us in the moment and in what is to come.

When you focus on praising the Lord, you don’t need to worry!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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When you feel far from the Lord, repent!

May 29, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time?
(Psalms 77:18 (NIV))

It’s time to get personal about your faith!

Have you ever had times in your life when it felt like the Lord just wasn’t with you? Perhaps it was a matter of perspective. Let’s ask that question with a slightly different point of view. Have you ever had times in your life when it felt like you weren’t with the Lord? See how different the question is, as well as your answer, when you ask it from a position of aligning with the Lord instead of asking if the Lord is on your side?

Think about your life, your spiritual mountaintops and your spiritual valleys, from this perspective. Do you see a trend? Do you see a need to refocus your attitude? Do you see a need to repent and return to the Lord during certain times in your life?

As I have often stated, human nature is a strange thing. We can ignore warning signs that are directly in front of us and walk headlong into a sinful action that has dreadful ramifications upon us. We can also do everything physically in our power to avoid God and His path for us, and when we do, we wonder why we are in such dire circumstances. Will we ever learn to fully rely on the Lord? Will we ever learn to recognize His guidance? Will we ever stop being drawn into temptation?

The sad part is, that during these times, we blame the Lord, but in all honesty, it is our own actions that drive us into despair. It is the consequences of our own actions that make us think that the Lord is no longer with us. When we find ourselves walking through these times in our life, we must have the wisdom to repent. We must have the wisdom to say, “Lord, I know that it is not You. I know that it is all me. Forgive me! Help me to overcome my sinful nature so that I may walk with you all the days of my life.”

When you feel far from the Lord, repent!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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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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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.
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What do you live by?

March 20, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
(Romans 1:16-17 (NIV))

Are you ashamed to share the gospel?

Think long and hard about that question. Which is more likely to happen – you repeat the joke that you heard the other day or you tell the same person about how Jesus has changed your life? What type of a message are you conveying if the joke is off color and something that should not be repeated? Have you ever stopped to think that perhaps what you don’t do is having more of an impact than what you do?

Place yourself in this scenario. You are the guest of honor and featured speaker at a respected business convention. The place is packed. What will the audience think of you if the first words out of your mouth put down the event and the city because it was out of your way to come to this location? What will be their reaction if you praise the kindness of the host and the beauty of the city?

What if words are not your strong suit?

Preach always. When necessary, use words.
(St. Francis of Assisi)

Perhaps your actions are what people really pay attention to. Do your actions reflect your faith? Do your actions speak louder than your words? What do your actions say? Do your actions speak a different message than the words that you say?

According to Merriam-Webster, righteousness is “acting in accord with divine or moral law : free from guilt or sin.” Righteousness is basically thinking, speaking, acting and living according to what God desires. We are to live by His Word. We are to reflect His Word in all that we do, even when no one is watching, even when it is not politically correct to profess a faith in Jesus.

Faith is the backbone, it is the foundation of a life lived in Christ. It is not something to be turned on and off when it is convenient. It is what we should live by.

What do you live by?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you truly able to say this?

January 4, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
(Psalms 91:2 (NIV))

There are many things that I hate about our sinful human nature. Perhaps the one that I hate the most is our ability to say one thing while what is in our heart says something completely different. When I read this passage, my first reaction was to pray that these words would always ring true in my heart and in my life.

Think about that!

Human nature simply gives lip service. We read this passage, as well as many others, and we fail to make it our own. We fail to take it to heart. We fail to realize the depth and breadth of God’s love. There is a belief that we can pray the Bible. I honestly believe this, especially when I read this passage and think of all of the great things that the Lord has done for me.

As I read, my heart and mind are filled with joy. I see the words, but my spirit embellishes them. They take on so much more than what is written.

Lord, help me to always say great things about you, for no one else deserves all honor and praise. You alone are worthy, Lord. May I always look to you and turn to you as my solid rock, as my fortress, for you alone are my refuge in times of trouble. You are my shelter. You are my strength. You are my stronghold. Lord, you are my God. You are the only one in whom I can trust. When everything comes crashing down around me, you are there. When the enemy attacks, you are my strength and my shield. There is no one else whose greatness surpasses yours and there is no one else who is unwavering in his love for me. I long to seek shelter in the comfort of your loving arms!

I realize that many people are afraid to alter anything within God’s Word, and rightly so. We don’t want to change the meaning, or the power that is God’s Word. We must always return to it for our strength and for our guidance. I honestly believe that the Lord finds glory when we use His Word and personalize our worship of Him. Think about that for a moment in the context of this passage. Think about the author of this passage. It was his heartfelt, personal praise of the Lord. It touched the very heart of the Lord. Can you praise the Lord in a similar manner? Can you express your inner thoughts and praise in a way that is truthful and pleasing to the Lord?

Are you truly able to say this?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Does your life preach the good news?

December 4, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
(Romans 10:15 (NIV))

Do you read this and think to yourself that you are thankful you aren’t called to preach? Are you silently thankful that you have trouble stringing words together in a way that will make people understand? Have you bought in to the false assumption that preachers minister and church members receive? Is this in line with the words that Jesus left us with?

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.
(Mark 16:15 (NIV))

When we think of preaching, we have a tendency to think of someone who stands in front of a congregation on Sunday morning. I honestly don’t think that this is what Jesus meant. I have read this passage in context many times, and nowhere do I see anything that indicates that Jesus was only speaking to those who were eloquent of speech. There are many ways to “preach,” or to share the Gospel of Jesus. Standing in front of a crowd and proclaiming the Gospel is only one way. Whether you believe that these words were spoken by St. Francis of Asisi, they hold much truth and wisdom.

“Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.”
(St. Francis of Asisi)

We are not all gifted in the same ways, but as members of the Body of Christ, we are all called to the same task.

Let me ask a simple question for your consideration. How many remember having to write papers when you were in school? I remember all too well having to do this, yet, every time that a class was given an assignment, no two people did it exactly the same way. We readily accept this fact that we are all different in our lives, yet we feel that we have to follow a pattern to share Jesus. To be completely honest with you, if any of us had to convince someone else to follow Jesus based on our strengths, I seriously doubt that anyone would ever follow Jesus. It is when we allow Jesus to work through us and when we show what Jesus has done in our lives that people take notice. They will not pay any attention to our words or our strengths, but they will take notice of how Jesus turned our weaknesses into something wonderful. They will begin to see that Jesus can take their weaknesses and do the very same thing.

Take a serious look at your life. Do people see Jesus in you?

Does your life preach the good news?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is sharing the good news of Jesus your priority?

November 16, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.
(Acts 20:24 (NIV))

What is your biggest priority in your life?

Some people might answer that their biggest priority is family. To be honest with you, that is a good priority to have. but is it the biggest priority?

Some people might answer that their biggest priority is to leave their mark in the world. Do you think that whatever mark they may try to leave will even be remembered one hundred years from now?

Some people might answer that their biggest priority is to make lots of money. This, in and of itself, is not bad. What is bad is the love of money. If you want to make lots of money simply because of greed, what does that get you?

No matter what your priorities are in life, if you are a believer in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, then everything pales in comparison to placing the Lord first.

You shall have no other gods before me.
(Genesis 20:3 (NIV))

Is there any priority in your life where placing the Lord first would not be a better option? If you place your family as a priority, imagine how much better it would be if you, and your family, placed the Lord first. What if leaving your mark on the world meant that you shared the Gospel with those around you and you lead many to a saving grace in Jesus? You would be remembered for all eternity by those whom you led to Jesus. If you desire to bring in lots of money, what if it was a priority to bring in lots of money to buy Bibles to distribute to those who desperately want God’s Word.

What we place as a priority is only bad if that priority is not Christ centered. Each of us have a different calling. Each of us have a unique way to share the Gospel. Our gifts and our desires should not be our priorities. How we use them to testify to the good news of God’s grace should be the utmost priority.

Is sharing the good news of Jesus your priority?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What does the Lord do with you?

October 5, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The Lord watches over all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy.
(Psalms 145:20 (NIV))

It is said that your life is defined by your choices!

Think about that in context to the following and see if you don’t agree.

Who you date and who you marry.

If you go to school and where you go to school.

The things that you love to do and the things that you do to earn a living.

How you see the world and how the world sees you.

If you have children or if you don’t.

If you got that promotion or if you quit your job.

I could go on and on about the choices that we all face and how each choice impacts our life far beyond what we could possibly imagine at that moment. Think about the choices that you have made in your life. Your life, as it is, is a direct result of your choices with each choice taking you down a path that is completely different from the one if you had only chosen differently. With that in mind, it is often said that life is a journey. You never truly know where you will go in life until you are there. Some people try to control that journey by making choices that they feel are the ones that will lead to wealth and power only find themselves alone and miserable. Others will make choices in life based on friendship and love only to find themselves surrounded by people who love them deeply no matter what they may have of value in this world.

I realize that I have avoided the biggest choice that anyone can make in this life, and that is the choice you make about the Lord.

To put it simply, the choice you make about who you say He is will impact you for all eternity. He is waiting with open arms to embrace you and to show you such grace and mercy, but you have to accept it. You have to claim it. You have to love the truth and love the Lord. You have to proclaim it! If this is your choice, then the Lord will watch over you. Sadly, you must be prepared for horrible consequences if you do not, for we are told what will happen to all who do not profess that Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords and their personal Lord and Savior!

What does the Lord do with you?

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