How can we do any less than love?

September 18, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.
(Luke 6:27-31 (NIV))

At what point do you think that God allows us to stop loving our enemies?

And, yes, this could very easily be a trick question.

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))

With that in mind, every single person is a loved child of God.

Does God stop loving? Does Jesus stop loving?

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

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

Love is a powerful force. It can turn an enemy into a brother. It can turn a foe into a friend. It can restore relationships that seem to be lost. It can bring healing and wholeness.

Do you remember the words that Jesus spoke on the cross?

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
(Luke 23:34 (NIV))

If Jesus can pronounce forgiveness and love after suffering what He suffered on the cross, how can we do any less?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What Goliaths are coming at you?

March 25, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.
(1 Samuel 17:45 (NIV))

Have you ever had something come against you that seemed impossible to overcome?

We all know the story of David and Goliath. We know that Goliath was a giant of a man. We know that he taunted the men of the armies of Israel to the point that they were afraid of him. Not a single man was willing to face Goliath in combat. The problem arose from the same human characteristic that we still suffer from today. Humanity looks at the physical and sees impossibilities. David, in his youth and faith, saw that his God was far greater than the enemy that he faced. He saw Goliath as merely another enemy for the Lord to defeat.

We know what happened. David picked up five smooth stones and secured them in his bag. One day we can ask David why he picked up five stones, for the very first stone found its mark. God guided the stone and killed Goliath. The enemy that had come up against God’s people to kill them had been defeated and the remaining solders tried to flee for their lives. It took the faith of a young man, some say a boy, to stand up against the enemies of God’s people.

Is there anything that we should learn from this?

Every day, those who profess a faith in Jesus face untold enemies. Do we, as the Body of Christ, act like the men of the armies of Israel and fear the battle? Do we try to appease the enemy by giving in a little and compromise our faith? Do we turn and run from the enemy? Do we see the physical and forget the spiritual?

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.
(1 John 4:4 (NIV))

Look at what God accomplished because David knew this?

In the middle of all that we face in this world, do you know this?

What Goliaths are coming at you?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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If God was willing while we were enemies, just imagine . . .

February 6, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!
(Romans 5:10 (NIV))

How do you become an enemy of God?

I realize that this is an odd question, but it is relevant to our understanding of God, our severed and fallen relationship with Him, and our way to salvation through God’s love as expressed at the cross.

Basically, the fall from grace in the Garden of Eden is the starting point for each and every single person who has ever lived. All of humanity was doomed to a sinful nature because of our rebellion, our disobedience to what God told us that we could and could not do. One definition of the word “enemy” states it quite clearly as someone who is antagonistic to another. Another definition defines an enemy as a hostile force. When we rebelled against God, we became just that. We became an antagonistic and hostile creation. We became sinners. We became enemies of God!

Thankfully, God did not let it end there! He loves us in spite of ourselves. He devised a plan to redeem us. Condemnation is for enemies. Love is for sons and daughters. He devised a plan to make us sons and daughters instead of enemies.

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))

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
(Romans 5:8 (NIV))

I am so thankful that salvation is freely given, for there is nothing that we could do to earn it. All that we have to do is accept it! God reached out to us in our sinful condition in hope that we would accept His offer to become His sons and daughters. If God was willing while we were enemies, just imagine what He will do for us as sons and daughters!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is the Lord your shepherd?

December 2, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
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.
Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
forever.
(Psalms 23:1-6 (NIV))

Have you ever truly looked at this passage in language that can make the Lord’s love personal? What if we paraphrase this passage to help us understand the personal relationship that the Lord desires with each of us and just what He will do for us when we accept His grace and mercy?

If I place my trust in Him, the Lord will be my personal shepherd and guide.
He will provide for all that I need.
He will give me peace and rest.
He will provide direction for my life.
He will provide complete restoration.
He will remove all fear and doubt.
He will provide comfort.
He will sustain us through the troubles of this world.
He will anoint us and bless us because we have placed our faith and trust in Him.
He will pour out His goodness and His love on us as we strive to follow Him.
He will provide us an eternal, permanent residence with Himself where all of the things previously mentioned will continue for all eternity!

I realize that this may sound like prosperity preaching, but it is far from that. What the Lord has promised us is mercy and grace. Through the gift of His Son Jesus, each of us have the opportunity to receive this wonderful gift and all of the blessings that have been promised. These gifts are not for the greedy, for all can possess them equally. These gifts are not for the cynic, for anyone who is a cynic has a hardened heart. These gifts are simply for anyone who will allow the Lord to soften their heart and show them that what they seek is only available through Him.

Do the things that David wrote of in this passage sound like something that you desire? All that you have to do is ask the Lord to be your shepherd!

Is the Lord your shepherd?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you desire to have faith like David?

November 14, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
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.
Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
forever.
(Psalms 23:1-6 (NIV))

David was probably one of the most prolific writers of all times. By today’s standards, he would have been considered a “self-made man,” yet, he focused on God in all that he wrote about. He eagerly embraced all that God had graciously bestowed upon him and gave thanks at all times for what God had done for him. It is true that David strayed, but when he was confronted with this fact, he realized his mistakes and repented. Psalm 23 speaks of the grace and mercy that God has bestowed upon David, and will bestow on anyone if they only seek after God. God will not allow those who earnestly seek Him to follow the paths of unrighteousness or to be troubled by enemies. We will still have troubles, but God is our assurance of victory through the troubles.

David wrote that God would prepare a table before him in the presence of his enemies. He did not say that God would destroy the enemies. It is God’s Will that none should perish. Perhaps the reason that you still have enemies is this fact. God is using you to be an example of His grace and mercy to those who hate you.

How do you react to your enemies? Do they see Jesus in you and in your actions?

Do you desire to have faith like David?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What are you willing to give up to be reconciled?

June 26, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation– if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.
(Colossians 1:21-23 (NIV))

It had to be a powerful gospel in Paul’s life. He started off persecuting the church. Yet, something happened in his life that made him give up all that he had earned for himself in the physical world.

Who in their right mind would give up worldly position and wealth for something the world considered of no importance?

Paul saw the power of the Gospel firsthand and was empowered by the Holy Spirit to spread that Gospel. He knew that Jesus is the Messiah and that He is the only way to enter heaven. Paul gave up worldly position for something that he knew was of far greater value than anything the world had to offer.

What are you willing to give up to be reconciled?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you able to do this?

June 2, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
(Luke 6:27-28 (NIV))

Why does Jesus ask us to do exactly the opposite of what our human nature wants us to do?

Life would be so much easier if we just gave in to our human nature!

Or would it?

Sometimes we think that life would be so much easier if we didn’t have the internal struggles that we have because we choose to follow Jesus. We wouldn’t have to resist temptation. We wouldn’t have to be nice to our pesky neighbors or that weird uncle that everyone seems to have. We wouldn’t have to worry about who we mistreated to get that promotion. We wouldn’t have to worry about anyone but ourselves!

If you are like most people, we seem to degenerate into this type of individual several times a day. Do you honestly like yourself when you sink to this level? Do you like it when other people have their moments and they sink to this level? Life in this fallen world is difficult, but it would be so much more difficult if we did not profess a faith in Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior. I am forever thankful that Jesus came into this world to offer us grace and mercy. Jesus modeled life as God intended it to be. Jesus showed us how to live a sinless life. He showed us how to live a life of love expressed to God, to Him, to the Holy Spirit and to each other.

Do you truly want to know what humanity would be like if we do not live our lives as we are told in Luke? Those traits are fruits of a life lived in Christ; a life spent listening and following the guidance of the Holy Spirit. If we ever want to consider how life would be if we did not live in Christ, then all that we have to do is read about the seven years written about in the book of Revelations.

Jesus did not tell us that following Him would always be easy.

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))

He also did not tell us to give up!

Are you able to follow what Jesus asks of those who follow Him?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Deliberate sin is harmful to your eternity!

April 26, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.
(Hebrews 10:26-27 (NIV))

Have you accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior?

Do you still sin?

If you are human, the answer to that question is going to be a resounding yes.

Perhaps I should ask if you deliberately sin? Do you make a conscious decision and tell yourself, “I think that I will go and commit this sin!” None of us want to admit that we do this, but is it something that we do anyway?

We are all human and we will always make mistakes. We will always miss the mark. Even on our best day, we will sin. Even when we don’t intend to, we will sin!

Did you pick up on that concept?

Intention.

Did we set out to do it? Did we do it deliberately? What is the difference between doing something deliberately one time versus doing something deliberately every day? What is the difference between deliberately sinning once and when we deliberately keep on sinning? Is one a simple matter of a human mistake and the other a matter of open rebellion against the one whom we profess as Lord and Savior? One we can repent while the other is a direct flaunt of our rebellion.

Is this why we are told that if we deliberately keep on sinning we have no hope of grace?

It all comes down to a matter of the heart. You either have a repentant heart or a sinful heart.

What’s in your heart?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do you pray for your enemies?

January 19, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles.
(Proverbs 24:17 (NAS))

The love of God encompasses everyone, even people whom we consider to be our enemies.

Remember that God does not wish for anyone to perish. He does not have people that He has singled out to destroy. His heart does not rejoice when someone sins.

A common definition of an enemy is someone who does not desire the same things as you. If you consider this as a starting point when you consider who are your enemies, then the best thing to do is pray that the enemy becomes a friend.

Rejoicing when someone falls is not what God would have you to do. Rejoice as the angels in heaven rejoice when someone who is lost becomes found. Remember the parable of the prodigal son. Jesus told us that God is like that father who greatly rejoiced when the lost son returned. Do not be like the other brother who was angered by the return. Pray for the return.

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you truly prepared to follow Jesus?

January 18, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn

” `a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law–

a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’

“Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
(Matthew 10:34-39 (NIV))

When most people think of Jesus, they think of peace and love. Even the modern church thinks of Jesus in this way, but there is a side to Jesus, or should I say a side to proclaiming a faith in Jesus, that is far from what the world thinks.

Jesus came to this world out of love for God’s creation. He came so that sinners could be set free from the bondage of sin and death. Sadly, though, not everyone will accept that free gift. Not everyone will acknowledge that Jesus has the authority to offer the gift of grace. It is this aspect that brings the sword. In most cases, it is only a figure of speech, but in some cases, it is a literal result of the rejection of Jesus.

We have all seen families where some members of the family are very firmly rooted in their faith in Jesus while other family members vehemently deny Jesus. They are at odds. They are at war with members of their own family. In some cultures, proclaiming that you are a Christian and follow Jesus is a death sentence. Contrary to societal beliefs, following Jesus is not all acceptance, love and Kumbaya.

He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.
(Matthew 13: 37-39 (NIV))

There is a growing hatred in this world for anything that points to Jesus. The enemy is planting weeds in the hearts of people while Jesus is planting good seed.

There is a battle taking place. That battle may divide families. It may divide friends. Don’t let that battle find you opposing Jesus!

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