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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Do you understand real knowledge and wisdom?

October 4, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ;
(Philippians 1:9-10 (NIV))

Just what is real knowledge?

Several years, I went by my wife’s office only to find that her parking lot was roped off as a crime scene. This is where the police believe that a college professor parked while he went next door and killed his wife and two other people. This professor was supposed to possess knowledge. In fact, I understand that he was well respected in his field. Unfortunately, one moment of rash and erroneous decisions have made it so that he will never be able to practice his profession again. All of that knowledge and no outlet.

Human knowledge has its limitations. It has its errors in judgment and reasoning. It is flawed and no matter how much humanity claims that it can perfect human knowledge, there will always be circumstances that push us beyond our human ability to understand, reason and to respond.

All of us have become like one who is unclean,
      and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
   we all shrivel up like a leaf,
      and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
(Isaiah 64:16 (NIV))

With this truth before us, there is only one true knowledge. There is only one real knowledge. God is good and that Jesus Christ is His only begotten Son.

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))

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.
Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.
(John 1:1-5 (NIV))

When you gain knowledge, it is said that you are enlightened. Jesus is the light. Knowing Jesus and following Jesus will not result in senseless results of rash decisions based on false knowledge. Jesus will walk with you in all that you do. He will be with you. The knowledge of the Holy Trinity will be with you. He will give you wisdom. And, yes, there is a difference.

Do you know the real knowledge that God desires for you to know? Do you understand real knowledge and wisdom?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Will you be able to withstand the deception?

September 24, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

At that time if anyone says to you, `Look, here is the Christ!’ or, `Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect–if that were possible. So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time.
(Mark 13:21-23 (NIV))

How well do you know Jesus? How well do you know God’s Word?

Do you know them well enough to be able to discern the difference between the truth and a lie?

All too often, the enemy will shroud his lies in bits and pieces of the truth. He will use just enough of the truth to make his lies sound plausible. He will count on people not knowing God’s Word well enough to tell the difference between the truth and his lies. He will use just enough to entrap people.

Entrapment!

Do you honestly think that Satan cares how he tricks people into missing out on God’s grace and mercy? He only cares that he does trick people. It does not matter to him that he deceives people. It does not matter to him that he misuses God’s Word to deceive. He has only one goal and that is keeping as many people as possible from the redeeming grace offered through Jesus. Satan thinks that if he can’t be worshipped, then he will take that from God.

In the high-speed, fast-paced world that we now find ourselves in, we must know what we believe in. We must know what we have faith in.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
(Ephesians 6:10-18 (NIV))

Are you fully armed with the knowledge and truth that is God’s Word? Will you be able to withstand the deception?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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When the world seems to be falling apart, look up!

September 12, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“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))

I often wonder if Jesus were telling us to prepare for times of increasing trouble until He returns. It is possible to interpret this passage that way, especially when you take current history into account.

Think about that.

In my lifetime, I have seen:
– the removal of prayer from the schools
– legalized abortion
– terrorist attacks
– history being rewritten
– the attempt to remove God from all public life
– “tolerance”
– financial crises
– good called evil
– Christianity mocked and ridiculed
– the rise and acceptance of false religions
– the apparent increase in natural disasters

I could go on, but I think that you can get my point. We seem to be in a time of ever increasing trouble. It seems that we are in a downward spiral with no worldly ways to stop it, and that is true.

There is no worldly way to stop the troubles. They will come. They will come with ever increasing frequency. Then there will be a point in time in which God says, “Enough!” Until that time, we must fully rely upon our faith in God and in Jesus, for we have been given promises that this world will once again see Jesus. We have been given promises that those who are faithful to call upon the name of Jesus as Lord and Savior will be given authority to rule over this world. We have been given promises that grace will see us through. We have been given promises that we will have peace.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:7 (NIV))

As we face the troubles that the world throws at us, we must never lose sight of the promises that God has given us. We must never lose sight of the fact that Satan is causing the troubles in this world. We must never lose sight of the fact that God created the world and He can and will overcome the troubles of this world. He will overcome Satan.

When the world seems to be falling apart, look up!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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It is time we let the Lord define who He is!

September 3, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.

Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue ruler said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.”

The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?”
(Luke 13:10-16 (NIV))

Do you try to put limits on Jesus? Are you guilty of doing what the synagogue ruler did in this situation?

Instead of praising God for what He has done through Jesus, do you find yourself trying to put your own rules and regulations on what He is doing? Do you find yourself trying to put God into the confines of what you believe He should be instead of letting Him be who He is?

This is human nature. We try to define our limited understanding through things that we do understand. We are all guilty of it.

Consider those who believe in evolution. They cling to something because they want a “scientific” explanation for how life came to be. They cling to what they consider to be logic because they do not want to accept the truth. Their only desire is to be able to clearly define everything based on their own understanding. They want to be able to have things so well classified that they can predict what will happen. They ignore faith for a false knowledge that they have defined. Their definition is not God’s definition. They want definitions that clearly state what can be expected only as long as it meets their version of what can be expected.

What about your definition of God? Would Jesus call you a hypocrite because you fail to see beyond your definition of what can be expected? It is time we let the Lord define who He is!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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It is not your definition of holiness that counts!

July 15, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.
(Hebrews 12:14 (NIV))

Do you ever find yourself thinking that if other people would simply see things your way, then everything would be better? Sadly, it is human nature to feel that we are always right, even when we have no idea what we are talking about. There is an old saying that a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing. That is absolutely true, especially if the knowledge is misguided. Consider the results of misguided knowledge and the consequences that all of humanity has been dealing with since the Garden of Eden. Without trusting God and relying on a twisted lie presented as truth, all of humanity has been dealing with a partial knowledge, a twisted truth and a false sense of righteousness ever since that event. With our limited knowledge, we tried to live our own version of holiness. We were tricked into believing that we could be just like God and ever since then, it has been human nature for each of us to believe that we are the best judges of what should be with respect to our lives.

We have tried in vain to replace God with our own image of God. We have tried to replace God’s righteousness with our version of righteousness. We have tried to keep God in a box of our own size and specifications. We have tried to replace God’s holiness and righteousness with ours!

As it is written:
“There is no one righteous, not even one;
(Romans 3:10 (NIV))

The next time that we start to feel that the world revolves around us, and we all get that way at times, it is important to remember one simple truth.

It is not your definition of holiness that counts!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you believe the Lord?

June 28, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.
(Genesis 15:6 (NIV))

What is your definition of righteousness?

If you are like me, it is probably not an easy thing to define at the personal level. We see ourselves and all of our flaws and we come to the conclusion that we can’t truly call ourselves righteous. We know all of our faults and imperfections. We probably even know some that are only faults and imperfections in our own minds. We see people who seem to have it all together and we compare ourselves and all of our known issues with a false perception of these individuals.

Did this passage in Genesis say that Abram was better than his neighbors? Did it say that he was wealthier or better looking than his neighbors?

No!

It simply says that he believed the Lord!

Do you believe the Lord?

That question may be as difficult to answer as my previous request to define righteousness. First of all, there is a difference between believing “in” the Lord and believing the Lord. Let me explain with an example. I believe in gravity. The concept makes sense, but do you believe gravity? Have you ever put gravity to the test? Have you ever said to gravity, I believe in you, but can I believe that you will keep me from floating away? If we believe in something, we acknowledge its existence. If we believe something, then we hold fast to the truth that it represents. Using the gravity example, we can say that we believe in it, but we have to believe the principle that if we step off of a cliff, we will fall to our death.

Believing in the Lord does not stop your from doing your own thing. Believing the Lord means that you trust Him and you know that His guidance is perfect. Believing the Lord is a major step to obeying the Lord. Being obedient to the Lord is a very good definition of righteousness. Abram, in his belief, was obedient.

Do you believe the Lord?

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