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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Is this our attitude?

September 3, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen and paid fifty shekels of silver for them.
(2 Samuel 24:24 (NIV))

David knew that giving to the Lord meant sacrifice!

How many people today share this attitude and are willing to give even when they may not have an abundance from which to give? This is a difficult lesson to learn, and it is one that I personally struggled with for a long time as a new believer. It is so easy to get wrapped up in the concept that if I give, then I won’t have enough for myself. Did David have that attitude? David was king and probably did not lack for money. As king, he was probably used to people giving him gifts to honor his position. This was one such instance where the owner of the threshing floor probably offered it to David for that reason. Still, David realized that the gift and the sacrifice wasn’t truly from him if someone else gave it for him to use. Even though David was used to receiving gifts, he knew that he had to make a sacrifice out of his own resources in order to truly give to the Lord.

If we were in this situation, would we have accepted the offer and then tried to justify this in our own hearts and minds by trying to claim that they gave it to me so, therefore, it is mine? If I am giving it to the Lord, it is coming from me!

Did it cost you anything?

Perhaps a better question to ask is would you have given it if it had cost you something?

Everyone seeks to receive something from God, and rightly so, for He is a loving God who wishes to do good things for those who call upon His name. In fact, each one of us can receive eternal salvation if we will only accept it. Think about that for a moment. We are not willing to sacrifice when we give to the Lord, but when He gives to us, we think that it didn’t cost us anything so we can’t accept. We expect to sacrifice when we receive, but not when we give. We have accepted the lie that we must work for and pay for anything that is good. We have accepted the lie that says nothing is free.

David knew the cost of giving to the Lord. He knew that a true gift came from a personal sacrifice that reflects the heart of the giver.

Is this our attitude?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you a member of God’s household?

August 31, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household,
(Ephesians 2:19 (NIV))

Think about this passage for a moment.

When darkness falls and the doors to the home are locked, who remains inside the home when the homeowner turns out the lights? Who relies on the head of the household to provide security and rest?

I don’t know about you, but I have never seen someone who had the lives of family and friends under the safety of their roof leave doors unlocked so that the enemy could attack. By professing a faith in Jesus, we have been welcomed into the household of God. We have been given not only grace and mercy. We have been given a home that is far more secure than anything we can ever imagine. This world is not our home! We must never forget that we are only passing through on our way to a place that the Lord has prepared for us. We are to be citizens of heaven and we are to be called children of God. Human nature is sinful, but most of us love and provide for our children. How much more will the Lord do for us?

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
(Matthew 7:11 (NIV))

Have you ever stopped to truly think about what actually happens when we accept Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior? I realize that there is so much more, but the symbolism of these are represented very eloquently in Ephesians 2:19.

We trade being foreigners and strangers with God to being His children.

We trade being children of sin to being foreigners and strangers to the sinful world.

With all that is happening in this world, we must remember to not be a stranger to God. Are you a member of God’s household?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you truly prepared?

August 10, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,
(1 Peter 3:15 (NIV))

Can you truly say that you have placed your hope in Jesus?

Can you explain why you answered as you did?

Two simple questions, but do they have simple answers? Hopefully, you can say a resounding “Yes” to the first question. This question is the most important for you, for it determines your salvation status with God. God sees your heart and He knows if this is true. He also knows your reasons without you having to put them into words. But, that does not mean that we are off the hook when it comes to being able to explain why we answered as we did to the first question!

Think about that. If God knows our heart, then who are we giving an answer to?

If you read the passage again, you see that we are to be prepared to give an answer to everyone. In essence, our answer is our testimony. It is our witness. It is the story of how the Lord has saved us told in such a way that it draws others to Jesus!

We are to share the Gospel. We are to share Jesus in such a way that it is personal, after all, Jesus doesn’t save us by nation, or by state, or by city. He saves us individually, one heart and one life at a time. We must be prepared to share Jesus in such a way that others can understand what He has done for us, He can do similar for them.

Are you truly prepared?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you following God’s will?

July 13, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV))

If you profess a faith in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, I pray that it is your heart’s desire to be in God’s Will for your life. If you are like me, you desire to be in God’s Will in all aspects of your life, but it isn’t always easy. We are still humans and are bound by much more than we care to admit. Even though we profess a faith in Jesus, we still cling to our sinful nature even when we want to leave it all behind. The Lord knows that we have trouble with ten things that we are asked to obey. Perhaps this is why we are given three simple things to do.

Rejoice always!

We are to be thankful for the grace that has been freely given to us. We must remember that no matter what our circumstances, God’s grace is still there for us. We must rejoice when things are going well and we must rejoice when things are not going so well, for our circumstances are temporary. Grace is eternal. For this reason, we must rejoice in all things!

Pray continually!

Prayer in communication with God. We must learn to seek Him and hear Him in all things. When we are sad. When we are mad. When we are happy. When we feel all alone and scared. God is there to guide us and to comfort us. This only happens when we are truly in a relationship with the Lord and not just an “I need something, God” type of attitude.

Give thanks in all circumstances!

Are you able to be thankful for hardship? Most people only give thanks when something truly good happens in their lives. I want to propose that there is a reason that this is the last of the three things that we are called to do. If we learn how to rejoice always and then learn how to pray continually, giving thanks will come easier. We will have already cultivated the proper attitude. We will have already learned to rejoice in all things. We will have learned to pray in all things. The next logical step is to give thanks in all things. It makes sense to me that this is the last thing that truly proves that you love the Lord.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
(Romans 8:28 (NIV))

Are you following God’s will?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Come to Jesus and find rest!

June 19, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
(Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV))

All of us need rest in the physical world!

How many have thought about spiritual rest and the impact that it has on our physical existence? If we are truly at rest in the Lord, our physical world, no matter what we may face, will also be at rest. We will be at peace. If we focus on finding rest in the physical world first, we will never find true rest and our spiritual rest will also be nonexistent.

Think about your priorities.

God does not want us to be burdened and heavy laden. He wants us to have the peace that only He can provide. He has even given us a way to get that peace, because there is nothing that we can do to achieve it ourselves. Jesus is the peace that God has given us. He is our rest and our hope. He is our spiritual big brother who is looking out for us. We can have rest. It is a rest better than any we have ever known.

Come to Jesus and find rest!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you serving Jesus?

May 25, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.
(John 12:23-26 (NIV))

This may seem off target for this verse since it speaks of Jesus telling His disciples that His time has come. However, the words that Jesus uses speak to all of us.

The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
(John 12:25 (NIV))

Memorial Day started back in the 1860s as a way to remember those who had given their lives in battle. Originally it was called Decoration Day since the way that people honored the fallen was to decorate their graves. Regardless of what it is called, we owe these men and women a debt of gratitude and honor for their sacrifice. Many people do not agree with war, but the truth is that these people stepped up to take the responsibility of righting something that they did not agree with and they were willing to give their lives for that calling.

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

Most of us never knew these people throughout our history, yet we owe them so much. I can honestly say that it is a certainty that not all were believers in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior, still, I believe that they carried a spark of the Light that Jesus brought to this world. You cannot be exposed to the Light without having some of it take root.

Jesus laid down His life so that we could have life. These men and women did the same thing in their own ways.

We must never forget to honor those who have gone before us and stood for the truths that we, as the Body of Christ, hold fast to. They answered the call when an answer was needed. Would we be willing to answer a similar call today? Would we rely on the Light of Jesus to guide us in that answer?

Are you serving Jesus?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What will be your reward?

May 22, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.
(Revelation 22:12 (NIV))

What are the most obvious questions that present themselves after reading this?

If you are like me, the first thought that I had was will what I have done merit a reward?

I can hear the questions that arise from that question. Basically, they pivot around the truth of the fact that we can’t earn salvation by our deeds. Salvation is a gift of grace that is freely given to all who will receive. Is this where the reward comes in? Is Jesus differentiating between those who simply receive Him and those who receive Him and then bring others into the kingdom?

Think about that with respect to your life?

I hate to say this, but it is human nature to sit back and look around at the world and have the attitude that I have mine. I believe in Jesus!

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))

If you reflect on this, you realize that when you first accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, you are so thankful for what Jesus has done for you. As you mature, you begin to realize that what He has done for you He has freely done for everyone. All that they need to do is accept. It is at this stage in your faith that you begin to realize that you know people who could use a salvation relationship with Jesus.

Are you content with simply receiving yours?

Do you share the Gospel?

Each of us are called to do just that!

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.
(Matthew 28:19-20a (NIV))

I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of a greater reward than being a faithful servant and sharing the Gospel.

His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
(Matthew 25:21 (NIV))

What will be your reward?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What is the condition of your heart?

May 12, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
(Ezekiel 36:26 (NIV))

Have the last few weeks made you stop and take a long, hard look at your life?

Have you found that the things of this world that you once thought were important no longer hold that exalted place in your life? Have your priorities shifted to the point where you feel that you have had a change of heart?

There are many characteristics of a life that is self-centered and self-absorbed. Most of these are described by a reference to the heart. Hardhearted. Cold-hearted. Heart of stone. I am sure that you can probably think of others, but I think that you understand the concept. The more time that we spend focused on the world and what it can provide to us often leads us to become non-caring with respect to other people that we see. Let’s face facts. When we are focused on the world, it tells us go for all that we can get no matter the consequences.

Does this sound like the type of life that we were created for?

Sadly, when we live our lives in this manner, we also lose sight of God! Our hearts become hardened to anything that relates to our relationship with the Lord. We can even get to the false conclusion that we are good and that we do not need God, Jesus or the grace that is freely given through the cross.

This is definitely not the way that God created us to live!

I want to ask the same question once again. Have the last few weeks made you stop and take a long, hard look at your life? The world may see these last few weeks as an attempt to avoid a pandemic, but God had other plans. What has He shown you about yourself? Has He been trying to remove your heart of stone?

What is the condition of your heart?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do you feel as though you are having trouble?

April 28, 2020

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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))

Do the current issues in the world make you feel like you are having trouble?

Did you feel like you were facing troubles before all of this hit?

If you answered “Yes” to either or both questions, let me ask you one more question. Have you been focusing on the world or have you been focusing on Jesus?

There is an old saying that you will find what you look for. There is so much truth to this. If you are looking for wealth, then you will only see things that have a monetary value and you will miss the things that God blesses us with that are priceless. It is a matter of perspective. You see what you want to see. If you look at life through the perspective of the world, then all you will see are troubles. If you look at life through the perspective of being a follower of Jesus, then no matter what the world tries to make you see, you will see grace and mercy.

Don’t get me wrong. We are only human and we all will falter and see things through worldly eyes, but we don’t have to see things that way!

A friend has a saying that I think is fantastic. He says, “I have never had a bad day. I have had bad things happen on a good day, but I have never had a bad day!” I love how his attitude fulfills the very essence of John 16:33. He keeps his eyes on Jesus and by doing so, he reminds himself that Jesus is with him no matter what. I don’t know about you, but knowing that Jesus is with me makes all of my days good! Remind yourself that Jesus has overcome the world the next time that you feel you are facing troubles in this world.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
(Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV))

Do you feel as though you are having trouble?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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