Are you on watch for bad fruit?

October 10, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
(Matthew 7:15-20 (NIV))

Think about this the next time that you hear of something that is just too good to be true, or is just a little off of what God’s Word says that it should be. Most of the time, lies are obvious, but deception is a trick of the enemy. When things sound almost right with respect to God’s word, they are totally wrong.

It should be easy for believers to realize that the “fruit” does not match the source. We should be able to easily distinguish that the things the enemy tells us are too good to be true, especially when they contradict everything that we should know to be true according to God’s Word.

Why do people fall for the deceptions of the enemy?

Are we, as a fallen, sinful race, too far removed from the truth to even recognize it?

The words in Matthew are amazing and sadly amusing if you stop to actually understand what is being said. We have enough common sense to not look for grapes on an apple tree, yet, we easily fall prey to the small lies of the enemy in hopes that the promises are true.

Test everything against God’s Word. If something is supposed to bear goodness, but it lies to do so, does it really follow God’s Word? If you are promised that it is only a small digression and no one will know about it, can it be the correct fit?

We have been told what the things of God will bear.

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))

Think of this passage when validating the truth about something. Does it produce according to the fruit of the Spirit?

Are you on watch for bad fruit?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you being guided to the things of God?

October 1, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
(Psalms 23:2-3 (NIV))

Some people say that they do not believe that God is a loving Father. These words written by David paint a picture of someone who wants only the best for His children. If a parent were to wish something for their children, would it be what David wrote, or would it be like this? He makes me work in the sulfur mines, he leads me to the maddening crowds, he torments my soul. He leads me into sin in order to kill and destroy.

The opposite of what David wrote paints a very clear picture of Satan. Satan rebelled against God and, as a result, can’t stand to be anything anything like the Lord our God. His pride will not allow him.

Psalm 23 is proof that God is a loving Father. It is the lies of the enemy that trick us into believing otherwise. It is the children who do not listen that think He is full of vengeance and wrath.

Jesus spoke in parables regarding the love of God. He spoke and said that a father would not give a snake when asked for bread. This example shows that we, as sinful humanity, can give good things out of our sin. Since God is not capable of associating with sin, then He can only give good things. That is why He gave us His Son, Jesus Christ.

God gave us the very best gift that He could when He sent Jesus to us. He gave His sinful children grace and mercy. He has provided that way for us to lie down in His green pastures, to be lead beside His quiet waters, to have our soul restored, and to be guided in the paths of righteousness. If this does not sound like a loving Father, then you do not know what love is!

Are you being guided to the things of God?

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

September 30, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
(Psalms 23:1 (NASB))

Have you ever given any serious thought to the meaning of this passage?

Most people read this and take it to mean that anything that we could possibly want in this physical world is ours. Let’s take a step back and take a look at the word “want.” Our society has shifted the meaning of this word to mean something that we desire. We say things like, “I want a new car” or “I want a bigger house,” but is this the type of want that the Lord provides for? With this type of attitude, too many people fail to get what they want and, as a result, they fall away from faith. They misunderstand this passage and think that is means that the Lord our God is nothing more that a genie who is there to grant our every wish, our every desire. When this doesn’t happen, they falsely assume that since this isn’t true, nothing is true.

If this is your vision of God, then it makes sense why our society has become so self-centered and self-entitled.

If we look at this passage from the perspective and understanding of when it was written, we get a much clearer picture. A shepherd has multiple sheep under his care. He provides for the needs of the whole flock. He will lead them to green pastures for food. He will care for the sick. He will search for the lost. The shepherd makes sure that all under his care are protected from attack. The sheep know his voice and they follow him. They know and they trust him to provide for their needs both collectively and individually.

Did you pick up on that?

The shepherd provides for the needs of his flock. He does not provide for the selfish desires. The shepherd knows what is best for each sheep. He makes sure that each need is provided for. With this in mind, is wanting a bigger house a need or a selfish desire? For some people, it truly may be a need, while for others, it is a selfish desire. The Lord sees each of our needs and knows how best to provide for us. When David wrote these words, he understood this concept. He understood that the Lord, as his shepherd, was guiding his steps and that all of his needs would be provided for. David realized that everything was on the Lord’s timeframe and not his.

Sadly, our society has lost this understanding. We seek instant gratification in all aspects of our lives. We falsely believe that we can guide our own lives. We desire anything and everything under the sun, and sin runs rampant because we are so focused on the proverbial me, myself and I. Slow down and spend time in the Lord’s presence and you will begin to grasp the understanding that David had. The focus is not about us and our selfish desires. It is about the Lord’s plans and what is best for us.

I believe that it is time for us to reexamine what we truly want! What do you truly want?

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

August 19, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me `Teacher’ and `Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
(John 13:12-17 (NIV))

How do you classify greatness?

Is it military might and power? Is it financial wealth? Is it political power? Is it the ability to hire and fire people at will? Exactly what do you consider greatness?

Chances are that most of the population of the world thinks in terms similar to the questions listed above. We, as humanity, have a tendency to see greatness as an elevation of one person over others to the extent that the one person has power and authority over the others. We do not have a tendency to see greatness as a humble spirit that is willing to do anything for others.

On the contrary, this type of person is seen as weak by our society. We do not think of a person who is willing to be a servant as a great person. They are seen as nothing more than a door mat for others to walk upon. However, God has another opinion.

God sent His Son, Jesus, to be our servant. Jesus was with God, yet, He humbled himself to the point of death so that He could do what the Father asked of Him. Now, through His humility, He sits at the right hand of God the Father as an example of what we are supposed to be like.

Jesus came into this world and turned our perceptions upside down. He died so that many could have life. He arose from the grave to defeat sin and death. He ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of God, the Father.

How do you classify greatness?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you acknowledge such great love?

May 27, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
(John 15:13 (NIV))

It is that time of year when we remember those men and women who have given their lives for our country. I can’t attest to the relationships that each of these people had with Jesus, but I know one thing is certain. They valued the principles that placed the lives and well being of others above their own needs. Thankfully, I still see this in many people today.

There is a quote that I feel summarizes this willing sacrifice quite well.

“Only two defining forces have ever offered to die for you; Jesus Christ and the American G. I. One died for your soul; the other for your freedom.”
Author: Unknown

Today, like every other day of the year, I am truly thankful for each type of sacrifice that has been made. I am prayerfully thankful for the grace and mercy that was freely given through the atoning blood of Jesus on the cross. For this I am eternally grateful. I am also thankfully for the men and women who have answered the call to defend the freedoms that we, as American citizens, have. It is through their sacrifice that we have the great opportunity to choose to worship Jesus as well as when, where and how. Sadly, there are people who reject both sacrifices. It is with humble heart that I present this request to the Body of Christ. The times are urgent. The need is great. We must be bold and do what we are called to do to spread the Gospel. We must be willing to lay down our lives so that others may know the freedoms that we know.

Do you acknowledge such great love?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you have God’s good gifts in your life?

January 7, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
(James 1:17 (NIV))

Have you ever watched the ways of the world? They change to match the current view of what is “good.” In today’s society, “good” is described in terms of me, myself, and I and what is in it for “me.” This shows a complete disregard for others in many situations.

We, as a church, are often guilty of the same thing without even realizing it. When we pray, it is often for concerns and situations that are a direct influence on our lives. This can be taken in various ways. Perhaps, because we are part of the family of God through Jesus Christ, we extend our circle of influence to more people than we would if we did not accept Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior. This then results in more people directly affecting our lives in return.

Either way, God provides the true “good” that we seek. When the good that comes from God is bestowed on people, it does not change how God interacts with us and for us. He is constant in His dealings with us. It is us who are not consistent in our dealings with Him. He is steadfast and true. We are headstrong and wavering. He holds the truth and all goodness. We seek our own truth and what is good only for us. His love is perfect. Our love is selfish and self-centered. He loves all. We love only those who love us in return.

Perfection is His example. We can only be made perfect through His love and the grace and mercy granted us through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Do you have God’s good gifts in your life?

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

October 19, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.
(1 John 3:16 (NIV))

Several years ago, everyone was asking “What would Jesus do?” I understand the concept behind the question, for it makes us stop and reflect on our actions in any given circumstance. I know that it has made me stop and rethink my actions on many occasions, but perhaps we should ask ourselves another question.

What can I do that will make me more like Jesus?

When we ask what would Jesus do, it places Jesus at the center of our lives. It places Jesus as the ideal that we are to copy, that we are to imitate. To be honest with you, that is definitely not bad, after all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. With this in mind, it is perfectly okay to ask what would Jesus do. It shows that we strive to be like Jesus in our actions. Eventually, though, we need to move from an outward action to an inner desire, an inner change of heart. Jesus needs to become personal to us in ways far beyond imitation.

We need to desire, we need to strive to be more like Jesus!

For many people, that is conveyed by the simple question, “What would Jesus do?” These simple words convey their inner desires. For other people, the subtle nuances between these two phrases can take on such a powerful meaning. The simple question, “What can I do?” can convey a selfishness in the eyes of some people, while in the eyes of others, these words imply a total surrender to Jesus. They can indicate a me first type of mentality, or they can indicate that the person has reached the limits of their own understanding and are ready for complete surrender.

Perhaps the two questions go hand in hand. There are times when we need to ask ourselves what we can do that will make us more like Jesus. Then there are times when we need to ask Jesus what He would do in the situation in which we find ourselves.

No matter what you may ask, be prepared for an answer that may surprise you. It is essential to remember that Jesus did a wide variety of things including turning over the tables of the money changers. The one thing that was common in the life and actions of Jesus is that He obeyed God even to death. The next time that you face a situation in the world or in your life, remember that obedience to the Father was His only priority.

What would Jesus do?

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