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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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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What are you earning?

September 20, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The wages of the righteous is life, but the earnings of the wicked are sin and death.
(Proverbs 10:16 (NIV))

Do you feel that you are paid what you are worth?

If you are truly honest with your answer, it wouldn’t surprise me to hear everyone say that they are underpaid and overworked. I think it is safe to say that even those who work for themselves think this. It is rare to find someone who turns down more money for their work.

Now, let’s look at our lives through the eyes of God.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
(Romans 3:23 (NIV))

Based on this and our understanding of what God calls wickedness, what have we earned? What wages have our sins brought us?

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 6:23 (NIV))

I love this passage! It starts off badly, but God . . .

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))

God does not want us to receive what we have rightfully earned. He has a plan of redemptive grace that allows us to trade what we should receive for that which we cannot earn on our own. All that we need to do to “earn” this grace is believe that Jesus is His one and only Son and accept Him as our personal Lord and Savior. Through God’s plan, we trade our wickedness for His righteousness. We trade sin and death for eternal life.

What are you earning?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is your spirit able to make that claim?

September 19, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.
(1 John 4:2-3 (NIV))

Too many people simply cannot believe that the Gospel is so simple. They feel that they must do something in order to receive anything from God, let alone salvation. They feel that unless they do something great for God, then they are not worthy to receive anything from God. Because of this misconception, many people find it impossible to believe that God would reach out to save them. They feel that God could not love them because of all the bad things that they have done, and that there is nothing great enough that they could do to reach God on their own!

Thankfully, this is not how this works!

It does require that we take a serious look at ourselves. In that introspective, we must recognize our need for salvation.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
(Romans 3:23 (NIV))

Even though we are all sinners, God has a plan to redeem us.

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))

Do you believe?

Can you believe that God would devise a plan so simple and all that we have to do is acknowledge that Jesus has come in the flesh from God as your personal Lord and Savior?

Is your spirit able to make that claim?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you been born of the Spirit?

September 16, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.”
(John 3:5-6 (NIV))

More people are aware of the verse just a few short sentences before this passage.

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.
(John 3:3 (NIV))

In fact, even nonbelievers are familiar with this passage to the point where they have created bumper stickers saying that they were born okay the first time. Ironically, their comments support the words that Jesus spoke about flesh gives birth to flesh. They either don’t understand the concept of being born again or they choose to rebel against the idea out of ego and pride. Think about that for a moment. When do we see the very first rebellion against God and what was the cause of this rebellion? Ever since Satan declared that he wanted to be God, pride has become a major issue. Pride became such an issue that it caused the fall from grace. It caused all the sins of the world. If you look at the Ten Commandments, everything that the Lord God told us to obey are things that lead us to Him and away from pride. We are to honor only God and His Name. We are not to pick part of His creation and worship it. We are to obey the Lord and live according to His desires and laws. Anything short of that is a sin.

All flesh has been corrupted by the fall from grace. That is why our ancestors were driven from the Garden of Eden. They had corrupted God’s perfect creation. As descendants of Adam and Eve, we are just as guilty.

God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.
(John 4:24 (NIV))

We cannot approach God in sin. We must be cleansed. We must be made anew. We must accept the grace and mercy given to us on the cross. We must accept the Spirit of God and allow Him to work in us from the inside out and make us people who are focused on things of the Spirit instead of things of this earth. We must allow God’s Spirit to be birthed in us!

Have you been born of the Spirit?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Freedom does not mean that we are to continue to sin!

September 13, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves.
(1 Peter 2:16 (NIV))

Godly freedom is not how the world thinks of freedom. Too many people in this world think that true freedom is the ability to do whatever you want, whenever you want. There are consequences!

Imagine that you have done something that ends up with you being put in prison. You have committed an act that was contrary to the laws of the land. For several years you sit in your prison suffering the consequences of your actions. As fortune would have it, someone comes along and pardons you for your actions. You are released. You have been set free from the consequences of your actions.

What do you do?

Do you return to the very same behavior that put you in prison to begin with? Do you do this knowing that the outcome will be the reinstatement of your prison sentence, or do you make a commitment to follow a new path that leads to a much better place?

I’m sure that you understand that each of us are guilty! Each of us are bound by the sinful nature that we are born with and the sinful actions that we continually do.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
(Romans 3:23 (NIV))

By all legal accounts, we face an eternity separated from God in a place that is far worse than any earthly prison.

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))

We have been pardoned! We have been shown grace and mercy. We simply must make a choice to follow Jesus and repent of our sin just as Jesus told the woman caught in adultery.

Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
(John 8:11b (NIV))

We have been set free from the consequences of sin, but we must make a choice to leave our life of sin. We cannot willfully continue in our sin or we will not like the eternal consequences.

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 in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
(Matthew 7:22-23 (NIV))

Freedom does not mean that we are to continue to sin!

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

August 8, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
(Psalms 73:25 (NIV))

What is more important to you, the people in your life or the things in your life?

Be careful how you answer!

One more question for you. Who is more important to you, the people in your life or the Lord?

I realize that these questions may seem ridiculous, but answered honestly, they will tell you more about yourself than you probably care to admit. If you value things over people, then where is your heart? Where is your love? Some may say that valuing the people in your life is important and should take precedence over the Lord, but let me ask you another question. Who are you going to turn to when everyone in your life has let you down? Who will you turn to when even your spouse, your children or your closest friend disappoints you or are taken from you? When this happens, many people turn to the Lord, but I want to propose that the time to turn to the Lord is long before anything like this happens. When you can truthfully claim that you love the Lord, then your complete perspective on life changes. When you look at things or people as a priority, this is, in most cases, a self-centered outlook on life even if you think that you place yourself low on your priorities list. You are looking at the things or the people to make you happy, to bring meaning to your life, and to make you whole.

Think about these simple facts. Things rust and decay. All people, no matter how good they are, will disappoint you eventually. We are all sinful by nature.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
(Romans 3:23 (NIV))

Only the Lord is unchanging.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
(Hebrews 13:8 (NIV))

With this simple truth, we should anchor our lives on a firm foundation that never changes. We should not look to things. We should not look to people. We should only look to the Lord! We only need to accept the grace and mercy freely given at the cross and claim the gift of grace for ourselves. When we honestly and truthfully make this claim, we have the Lord of all creation in our lives and nothing can surpass His majesty and glory!

Whom do you have?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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