Are you effective and productive?

March 15, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(2 Peter 1:5-8 (NIV))

Are you increasing? Are you growing? Are you maturing in your faith?

Looking back on my own faith journey, I can unequivocally say that I have grown, that I have matured in my faith over the course of my lifetime. I can also attest to the concept that we will never reach complete maturity while we are on this earth. I learn so much each and every day. I can read the very same passage that I read yesterday and discover new insight in the very same words. Nothing has changed in the words. The only thing that has changed is my comprehension of God’s ability to open up His Word into a whole new revelation.

Think about that in relationship to your faith and maturity. Think about your understanding in relationship to God’s unlimited understanding!

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
(Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV))

Doesn’t it make sense that we, in our limited understanding, would need to increase in our ability to understand? Doesn’t it make sense that we increase in our ability to understand by increasing our faith? After professing our faith, we increase our faith by striving to increase our righteousness, our goodness, in the eyes of God. We accomplish this by seeking His knowledge and by learning righteous self-control. We learn to persevere even in the face of adversity as we strive to mature into the likeness of Christ, who embodied true love in order to offer salvation.

None of us are there, yet, but we, as members of the Body of Christ, must strive to be effective and productive in our knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Are you effective and productive?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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There is nothing that is too big for our God!

March 12, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
(Romans 8:31 (NIV))

We all face things in our lives that make us stop dead in our tracks because we see no way around them.

For some people, this is a very long stop. They have a tendency to reflect on the circumstances way too much. These individuals may not believe in God and they feel that they are on their own. It is possible that these individuals may have a superficial understanding of God and think that He is not capable of doing anything for them. There are also those individuals who profess a faith in God, but the littlest trouble completely breaks that faith.

For those who earnestly profess a faith in the Lord, they truly understand that God loves us and He will intercede for us. These are the individuals who realize the difference between God and humanity.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
(Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV))

We are very limited in our understanding of the Lord. Each of us have a mental image of God, but no one has ever seen God. Our understanding is limited by our humanity. We simply cannot comprehend the majesty of the Lord in our current existence.

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
(1 Corinthians 13:12 (NIV))

Even in our limited understanding, we are repeatedly told of God’s goodness and His might. All we have to do is choose to focus on God in order to see this come about. When we face troubles, and we will, we must never lose sight of God’s power. Whether we cling to the way it was described in Romans or the way that it was recorded in Isaiah, we must never forget that we serve a mighty God!

Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear.
(Isaiah 59:1 (NIV))

There is nothing that is too big for our God!

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you desire to be holy?

January 11, 2018

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
(1 Peter 1:15-16 (NIV))

When you were growing up, was there someone whom you wanted to be just like?

We all have people that are role models for us at various times in our lives. As we grow and mature, some of these people lose that place while others step in to fill the void. Even so, there is something about each of these individuals that fill a need, that fill a hole in our lives at a certain time. Some of us looked up to one or both of our parents. Some looked to a certain grandparent as the role model. As we matured and our interests took on their own personality, we soon began to look upon individuals who had made a name for themselves in the areas that held our interest. All along the way, we saw something in each of these individuals that we recognized as unique and worthy of emulating.

What characteristics caught your attention?

For some, it is such traits as love and kindness. For others, it is a steadfast focus on the goal. For some, it is the willingness to do whatever it takes to succeed in the area of expertise.

When I read today’s passage, something made me realize that we have been seeking to emulate the wrong role models most of the time. Think back on those whom you desired to be like. Did they focus on Jesus? Did they strive to be holy and to bear fruit that reflects that holiness?

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
(Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV))

I know that we have a tendency to reference these traits quite often, but do we truly stop to reflect on the source? If you notice that Spirit is capitalize. This references the Holy Spirit aspect of God. These are traits that we should recognize as holy. These are traits that we should desire to emulate. We have been given instructions on how to be holy!

Do you desire to be holy?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you long for a pure heart?

December 5, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
(Psalms 51:10 (NIV))

What is a pure heart?

Do you think that it has anything to do with the following?

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
(Galatians 5:19-21 (NIV))

Perhaps I should ask if you think that it has anything to do with the lack of those characteristics and the presence of the following characteristics.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
(Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV))

Perhaps the best way to describe a pure heart is in a similar manner that God used to describe David.

After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’
(Acts 13:22 (NIV))

In essence, a pure heart despises the worldly, sinful nature and seeks the things of God. A pure heart longs to have the same desires that God has in His heart. Is this something that you truly desire? Think about that the next time someone cuts you off in traffic, or the next time that someone takes the credit for something that you have done.

Do you long for a pure heart?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How are you recognized?

August 8, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
(Matthew 7:20 (NIV))

Most people in today’s society are not able to identify most fruit bearing plants and trees simply by looking at them during the off season. We are more used to going to the store and getting what we want from the produce department. However, most of us would still be able to tell an apple tree from a pear tree if there were apples hanging from the limbs. Even with fruit hanging from the limbs, we are pushing our limits when we try to identify what type of apple, for some are sweet while others are tart.

Are we able to tell anything about a person at first glance? Can we tell whether they are a believer in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior simply by knowing their name? Can we tell any more about someone if we simply look at them?

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))

Based on the examples that we see as the fruit of the Spirit, we can sometimes see these traits simply by looking at someone. However, everyone can have a period of time when these traits appear to be genuine and the same person can have a period of time when these traits appear to not be present at all in their lives.

It takes time for fruit to mature!

Can you walk up to a tree and pick an apple and eat it as soon as the flower falls off and the fruit starts to grow? We may see the potential for a mature fruit, but we have to be patient. The same is true of people. We can see the potential for the fruit of the Spirit, but we have to allow it to mature. Jesus spoke of this using seed.

Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop–a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.
(Matthew 13:3-8 (NIV))

Just because something, or someone, has the potential to be something, that doesn’t mean that it will happen. Many things come into play. For people, many distractions can keep us from bearing the fruit that God has intended. It is human nature to be able to see the shortcomings of others when this happens, but do we easily recognize it in ourselves?

Do others recognize the fruit that God wants you to bear?

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you focused on the future or His presence?

April 18, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
(Psalms 91:2 (NIV))

Far too many of us say that we trust the Lord, but we still want signs. We still want to know what is going to happen in this world as God unfolds His plans.

We look at the news and see things unfolding that bear a striking resemblance to things written about the end times. We see things that go against God’s Word as they are accepted as truth by the world and we wonder how long this will go on before we see things unfold as prophesied. We look at the state of the world and we long to see righteousness. We long to see the truth proclaimed and every knee to bow and every tongue confess. Sometimes we get carried away with our desires to see Jesus that we focus more on the events that are transpiring than we do on spending time in God’s presence.

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
(Luke 10:38-42 (NIV))

It is so easy to become like Martha in our preparations for the coming of Jesus and miss the fact that we can sit at the feet of Jesus at this very moment. I, like many people, like to study prophesy because it is the hope to which we hold. It is the truth that hasn’t come to be. It is the fulfillment of God’s promises. Even though this is all true, we need to be careful that we don’t focus so much on what is to come that we miss out on what God is doing in this moment. Perhaps it is best stated by what a friend said has become her daily prayer.

Lord, I just want to know what you want me to know when you want me to know it!

I would just like to add the following.

Lord, it is not my world. It is yours. I love you and I trust you. You are my refuge in times of trouble. You are my fortress in this world that has turned away from you. I praise you for your goodness and mercy!

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you still desire your sinful nature?

February 16, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.
(Romans 8:5-8 (NIV))

It seems that a lot of people today only have their minds on what they want. It is no wonder that many people refer to our society today as the “me” society. Everyone seems to think only of themselves. They do whatever they want without any serious thought of the consequences to themselves or to those around them. To me, this sounds very much like those people who Paul described in Romans 5:8. They live only for what they desire and when they desire it. They seek after love that is not true, joy that is fleeting, peace that is medically induced, kindness that is bought, goodness that is false and faithfulness that is fleeting. Their desires cause them to shift course whenever things start to get bad or whenever they feel that they can get their next desire met.

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. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.
(Galatians 5:22-24 (NIV))

When we sacrifice the sinful nature, we not only fully embrace what God desires, but we should also fully reject what we have become addicted to. We must focus on Jesus and trust in Him. We must forget the past and look to the future that He has saved us for. He did not die on the cross to keep us bound to our sinful nature. He died so that we can break free of that bondage. In order to do this, we must give ourselves completely to Him. We cannot be someone who claims that Jesus only came to teach about love. Love will not save you. We cannot be someone who thinks that they can pick and choose what they wish to believe. Jesus is a complete package. We must be the ones who proclaim that Jesus came to die for us. We must proclaim that Jesus is our personal Lord and Savior. We must proclaim that His love for us kept Him on that cross. We must proclaim that it is this same love that will help us to defeat our sinful nature.

If we proclaim Jesus as our Lord and Savior, and if we allow Him to work in our lives to clear the sinful nature, then we will be able to focus on what the Spirit desires and make these desires our desires.

What do you desire?

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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