How well are you learning what the Lord is teaching?

August 3, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.
(Titus 2:2 (NIV))

There is an old saying that with age comes wisdom.

I suppose that all depends on your definition of wisdom!

Far too many people falsely think that knowledge is wisdom, but they fail to recognize the fact that what you may know can lead to bad results. Wisdom is so much more than knowing facts, especially when you consider that facts can be twisted to make you come to wrong conclusions. Wisdom takes the facts and allows you to discern truth. It is the application of good judgment to the facts. It is possible to be filled with knowledge yet still be unwise. It is also possible to be older and unwise. Sometimes even the wisest among us will still have things that they need to learn so that they can be better at discerning the truth.

I love the fact that this passage starts with “Teach the older men.” Instantly it implies that each of us still have much to learn with respect to our faith walk no matter what our age may be. It also implies that not a single one of us is completely mature. Each of us may need to realize that we may not be as mature in our faith as we think.

We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.
(Hebrews 5:11-13 (NIV))

We have so much to learn in our faith journey with Jesus. Not a one of us is perfect. We all have lessons that we are learning and many that we still need to learn.

How well are you learning what the Lord is teaching?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you able to discern the truth from the lies?

March 7, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
(1 Corinthians 13:11 (NIV))

I hear people say all the time that they are still a kid at heart. Think about that in relation to this passage. Do you still feel that you are a kid at heart?

He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
(Matthew 18:2-4 (NIV))

Does this passage from Matthew seem like it contradicts the passage from 1 Corinthians?

On the surface, they seem to be one of the things that too many people reference when they say that the Bible is full of contradictions. Are they really contradictions?

There are many aspects to being a child. Some are playfulness and silliness. How many of you would agree that as you grow older you stopped being as playful and as silly? You started to think differently and to see the world differently. In other words, you put away childish things and started looking at the world as a serious and dangerous place. It is not the world where your childhood imagination conjures up fantasy worlds of toys and unicorns. It is a place where these types of dreams, once looked upon as cute, will get you in trouble and lead to a life of problems.

Another aspect of childhood is innocence and trust. To some people, innocence and trust are just different words for childish silliness. Do you think like that? It is these characteristics that I believe Jesus was speaking of when He said that we need to come to Him like little children. Is this so silly of a notion?

Words have subtle nuances in meaning that are truly only understandable when you take things in complete context. Even today, calling someone childish paints a different image than saying someone is a trusting child. The first in intended as a derogatory cut while the second is a label of endearment. This is just one example of how knowing God’s Word can give you ammunition to explain to someone that the Bible is not full of contradictions. It takes faith and study to be able to truly discern what is truth and what is from the enemy.

Are you able to discern?

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is that pet sin that you won’t let go of worth it?

October 1, 2014

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ–to the glory and praise of God.
(Philippians 1:9-11 (NIV))

Do you think that you are able to discern what is best?

Do you think that you are able to remain blameless until the day of Christ?

Are you filled with the fruit of righteousness?

On the surface, these sound like simple questions, but have you actually tried to look at your life and honestly provide an answer? Do you believe your answers?

We all think that we can discern what is best, but do we always use God’s Word as the benchmark? Do we pick and choose what we think is good based on our own desires or do we honestly look to follow God in all that we do?

Do we, as the Body of Christ, do as society has us believe that truth is relative? How can we remain blameless if what we measure ourselves by is not a fixed target, but it is in the eyes of God? How can we claim to be righteous when the concept of righteousness is a moving target in our own eyes?

God has given us standards. He has given us instructions as to what is good and what is righteous. It is our fault, society and individually, that we have lost track of what is expected of us. In some cases, many of us have deliberately turned our backs on what God desires, yet, we still profess to follow Him.

I can hear His response now.

“Not everyone who says to me, `Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, `Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, `I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
(Matthew 7:21-23 (NIV))

It doesn’t get much clearer than this. If we are not able to discern what is good, remain blameless and stay righteous, we will be cast aside. Jesus will have never known us.

Is that pet sin that you won’t let go of worth it?

Copyright 1998 – 2014 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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We must continue to have faith!

September 12, 2014

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

For nothing is impossible with God.
(Luke 1:37 (NIV))

It is so easy to get discouraged, especially when you take a look at all of the things that are going on in the world today. Wars and rumors of wars are rampant. Sin is increasing. What is good is now called evil and what is evil is now called good. We are living in a time where nothing makes sense, for what is in each person’s heart is what is considered truth. Truth is no longer looked upon as absolute. We can create our own truth. It sounds like we are rapidly becoming a world that now chooses to no longer believe that there is a greater power than us.

We are not capable of being able to discern good from evil. We are not capable of creating our own truth. If humanity is capable of so much good, then why do we have all of the wars and the rumors of wars?

We are experiencing things that are foretold of in Daniel, Ezekiel and in Revelation. It seems that all around us is chaos. Do not fear, for we are given hope through the words written in Luke.

“There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
(Luke 21:25-28 (NIV))

In the midst of all that we face, we must continue to have faith, for it is by faith that we are saved. Consider the events depicted in Luke 1:27 – Luke 2:20. Mary exhibited a faith that led to the birth of Jesus. She held on to a faith that allowed a virgin to give birth. She held on to a faith that brought forth a child that would become the Lamb of God.

For nothing is impossible with God.
(Luke 1:37 (NIV))

Copyright 1998 – 2014 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you listen to advice?

May 20, 2014

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise.
(Proverbs 19:20 (NIV))

Do you listen to advice or do you try to do things on your own?

There is an old saying that says that two heads are better than one. In essence, advice is a wise thing to receive. It often gets you to stop and think things through. It often gets you to look at things from a different perspective. It gets you to slow down before you act without thinking.

Of course, not all advice is good. We must learn to balance where the advice comes from with the credibility of the one giving the advice. In other words, don’t be foolish and accept marriage advice from someone who has never been married. Definitely don’t accept advice about spiritual issues from someone who thinks that each of us is a god. Weigh the credibility and discern which advice to listen to.

Perhaps wisdom comes from being able to discern the fact that you need advice and the ability to discern that not all advice is good. Only one source of advice is completely correct all of the time. That is the source that you should trust implicitly for all of your instruction. Turn to the one who made everything. Turn to the one who wrote the instruction manual. Turn to God and His Word for all of your advice and instruction. Rely on Godly counsel also, but test their counsel to make sure it follows God’s Word.

Wisdom comes slowly. It comes from knowing that you do not know everything. It comes from knowing that other people do not know everything. It comes from realizing that God, who created everything, is the only true source of instruction. It comes from realizing that God is God and we are in need of Him. Rely on God’s Word and wisdom will follow.

Copyright 1998 – 2014 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Whose acceptance is more important to you?

May 1, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“I do not accept praise from men, but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?
(John 5:41-44 (NIV))

Ouch! That hurts.

Would Jesus say this to us today? Have we become like the people that He was condemning in this passage?

Many claim to be part of the Body of Christ, but do our actions reflect this? Do we seek acceptance from man more than we seek acceptance from God? Do we look to people who are accepted by man and think that they must be Godly for they have been blessed with fame and fortune? How do we look upon Christian music artists and mega-church pastors? Do we praise them for their fame or do we listen and discern what they are saying with respect to God’s Word?

It doesn’t only apply at the grand scale. It can apply to a local congregation if we seek acceptance from one another instead of from God. Please do not confuse this type of acceptance with what we are called to do as a church. We, as the Body of Christ, are called to accept people as Jesus accepted people. We are not called to place the desire to be accepted by people above accepting Jesus.

After we have done something that the Lord has called us to do, do we seek acceptance from our friends, family and fellow members of the Body of Christ? I honestly believe that the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector has merit in our ways of seeking acceptance.

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: `God, I thank you that I am not like other men–robbers, evildoers, adulterers–or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, `God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
(Luke 18:9-14 (NIV))

When we seek acceptance from anyone else but God, we are trying to exalt ourselves. We are prideful. We want everybody to know who we are and what we have done. Is this how Jesus told us to serve?

“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
(Matthew 6:2-4 (NIV))

We can seek the acceptance of man or we can seek the acceptance of Jesus.

Whose acceptance is more important to you?

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Good instructions then and now

June 12, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.
(1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 (NIV))

Paul often wrote words of encouragement. The words just before this passage start off reminding people that they cannot know the hour or the day, for it will come like a thief in the night. Paul encouraged the church of Thessalonians to stay away from the darkness and to stay in the light. He urged them to encourage each other. He encouraged them to live in peace with each other.

Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.
(1 Thessalonians 5:12-15 (NIV))

Being a part of the Body of Christ is more than claiming Jesus as your Lord and Savior. That will give you salvation, but it is not all that Jesus asks of each of us. We are to live out our lives encouraging other members of the Body of Christ. We are to live by the teachings that we have been left, and that does include the Old Testament.

We are to be examples to each other and to those who are not part of the Body of Christ.

We are to also listen to the Holy Spirit. We must live our lives in such a way that we respond to where He is leading us. We must not turn away from that leading, and we must not do anything that will cause others to turn away from that leading. We must listen to those who are in authority over us spiritually, yet we must not take that authority blindly. We must know God’s Word.

We must be able to discern when something is not true.

As Paul so aptly put it, we must test everything, for the enemy can make a lie sound like the truth. The enemy can seduce us with lies that are pure evil coated in an appealing shell of partial truth. If we are not careful, we can be be lead astray.

Paul knew this and his words to the Thessalonians were good instructions then and now. They are extremely good words to live out your life of faith in Jesus.

Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.
(1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 (NIV))

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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