We must focus on being lovers of God!

June 5, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God-
(2 Timothy 3:1-4 (NIV))

I am sure that you have seen the jokes and the memes on social media about the type of year that 2020 has been so far. We hope and pray that things will get better, but I honestly think that what we are seeing is becoming the norm, especially when you read about what people will be like in the last days. In fact, when I first read this passage this evening, I did not have to struggle to think up very public examples of each one of these traits. I am certain that you can probably think of prime examples of each one of these traits as evidenced in our society as well.

Why have people become so blinded? Why have people become so self-centered and hate-filled? These traits go against every single one of God’s commandments. They also go against other traits that we are told we should strive to possess.

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))

Sadly, these traits are not what seems to be front and center in today’s world. Far too many in this world are being led astray by the enemy. They are being led down a path that comes in direct conflict with anything good – with anything from God! They are being led down a path of sin and evil.

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))

I am sure that we have all heard that as followers of Jesus, we live in the world, but we are not of the world. How are we, as the Body of Christ, to respond to people who are in open rebellion against God?

We are to share the Gospel! We are also told what to do if people will not listen.

If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.
(Matthew 10:14-15 (NIV))

We are to pray! We can’t soften hearts. Only God can. We must pray that those who rebel will repent and turn to the Lord. And, we must stand firm in our faith so that we are not led astray.

We must focus on being lovers of God!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you ashamed of the power of the Gospel?

May 19, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.
(Romans 1:16 (NIV))

How strong is your faith?

I realize that this sounds like a strange question to be asking someone who is reading something that is based on scripture. I have found that the simpler the questions are concerning spiritual matters, the more difficult that they seem to be to answer. The simple questions seem to require an in-depth look at yourself and most people are afraid of what they will see within themselves. So, with this stated, I want to ask once again, how strong is your faith? What do you see within yourself?

If you were told to deny Jesus or die, what would you do?

If you were told to bow down and worship a statue, what would you do?

If you were told to lie in order to preserve your life, what would you do?

If you were told to take a mark or lose your head, what would you do?

All of us see things going on in the world and we wonder if we are drawing closer to the time of the end when everything that God calls good is called evil and everything that God calls evil is called good. Do you have the strength of faith to hold fast to the goodness and truth that is the Lord even when all around you is proclaiming evil? Think about that for a moment. Consider how rapidly things have changed. Are you prepared to stand firm?

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.
(Ephesians 6:13 (NIV))

Is your armor on?

We have been basically told that we cannot go to church. We have been told that we must wear a mask in public. We have been told that we must maintain social distancing. Now, we are being told that there is a plan to require a traceable vaccine in order to be able to resume “normal” life. I don’t know about you, but this doesn’t sound like the freedom that we have through the Blood of Jesus. In fact, it sounds like it is an attempt to control those who don’t know Jesus. Myself and countless others may be wrong, but do you want to gamble your eternity if what is happening is as it appears? Some may call this conspiracy theory, but for those who know God’s Word, it is all laid out. Study God’s Word. Look around you!

We must choose!

But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.
(Joshua 24:15 (NIV))

Now is not the time to be timid!

Now is not the time to be ashamed of the Gospel.

Are you ashamed of the power of the Gospel?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What are you capable of doing?

January 10, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
(John 15:5 (NIV))

It is human nature to think that we are invincible, that we are capable of doing anything and everything that we put our minds to. Is that really true?

I have read this passage many times, but today something caught my attention that has not come to my attention before. We read this passage and think that it means that without the Lord we cannot achieve anything. I realize that what I am about to say may have you questioning my thought process, but bear with me for a moment. If you read this passage again, pay very close attention to the part about bearing much fruit. Dare I say that this fruit is actually the fruit of the Spirit?

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))

Without the Lord and the fruit that we bear because of Him, we are left with our sin. We are left as the filthy rags that we are without Jesus!

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))

I realize that we are to commit everything that we do unto the Lord, but I also think we need to understand what Jesus is speaking of in this passage. The things that we do in this world, unless they bring someone to accept Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior, are of no eternal value. Our circle of influence is perhaps two generations if we are so blessed. Even so, that circle is very limited if you look at the world. What is important are things that leave an impact on someone else’s life for all eternity. We can be a bad influence and not share Jesus, or we can live our lives sharing Jesus with all whom we encounter. Leading someone to Jesus requires something of us. We simply cannot lead someone to Jesus if we do not remain in Him and He in us. Our fruit is a direct reflection of our relationship with Jesus. Sharing the Gospel is our single most important responsibility.

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.
(Mark 16:15 (NIV))

Can you see anyone doing this if they do not remain in Jesus and He in them? No one is capable of fulfilling this without Jesus!

What are you capable of doing?

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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Are you prepared for what you may face?

November 6, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
(Matthew 5:10 (NIV))

Many people in the church today have not been prepared for what is coming. Far too many people have been told that following Jesus is easy and everything in your life will begin to get better if you follow Jesus. I need to clarify something at this point and admit that God will begin to work things for your good when you start to follow Jesus. These things are probably best explained as a fresh manifestation of the fruit of the Spirit in your life.

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))

When these things are present in your life, people notice. They will be drawn to you because they see something that they desire in their own lives. This is the prime opportunity to share the Gospel, to share the source of your love, joy, and peace.

Sadly, when this happens, the enemy also takes notice. He will muster all resources to keep you from sharing the Gospel, for he knows that you have a powerful witness that must be stopped.

Hold fast!

Stand firm!

Do not allow the threat of ridicule or persecution keep you from following Jesus.

We are all familiar with the accounts of what the disciples and the early church had to endure. We may never have to face the same things that the disciples and the early Christians had to face, but what if we do? Are you prepared to completely place your faith in Jesus no matter the worldly consequences? Are you willing to stand firm and tell the world that you believe in Jesus and nothing that they can do will make you change your mind?

Are you prepared for what you may face?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What is it that your life is recognized for?

November 5, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.
(Matthew 12:33 (NIV))

What is your favorite fruit? Is it apples? Perhaps it is pears. Some people love figs, while others love oranges. If you had a tree that gave you your favorite fruit, how would you care for that tree? If the tree began to rot, would the fruit still be as good?

Now, think of your life. What type of fruit does it produce? Each life produces something.

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))

The fruits of the Spirit also provide sweet nourishment. Someone who is loving and filled with joy will make the lives of others transform from the spiritual nourishment that they share. You life is the tree that produces that fruit.

If a tree is diseased, it cannot send the required nourishment and other resources to produce the fruit. The fruit will be small and will be lacking much when compared to fruit produced by a healthy tree. Consequently, how can your life produce healthy fruit if your life is diseased by sin? How can you produce enough love to share if you are callous and cold hearted? How can you produce joy if you are miserable and mean. Just as a tree can be diseased, a life can be diseased. Just as that disease will harm the fruit a tree produces, your disease that you carry within your life will also harm the fruit that you produce.

What makes us different from an actual tree is that we can make a decision to turn to the healing. We can turn to Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior. He will give us the grace and mercy that will allow our lives to be healed. He will restore that which the sin has destroyed. He will give us the desire to produce good fruit.

What is your favorite fruit? Is it love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness or self-control?

What is it that your life is recognized for?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How are you recognized?

September 26, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

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

Do you get apples from a pear tree? Do you get pecans from a peach tree? Do you . . .

I realize that these sound like very silly questions for anyone older than three or four years old, but it is the same concept when we look at the fruit of the Spirit.

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))

Do you see love in a hateful person? Do you see kindness in a selfish person? Do you see joy in an angry person? I realize that it is possible for a hateful person to show a small amount of love, but not enough to overshadow the hate that fills them. It is possible for a selfish person to show an occasional kindness, but it is not an ever present characteristic in their lives. And just as you don’t see anything that resembles true joy in an angry person, you don’t see true anger in a joyful person. All of these are contradictions to each other. It is possible to even say that these sample pairings are the extremes of the same characteristics. At one end you have love and the other end you have hate.

As members of the Body of Christ, we are called to bear good fruit. Do you?

How do you see yourself? How do you think others see you? How does the Lord see you? Do you show love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control? Do your actions reflect the light of Jesus or do they embrace the sins of this world?

If you were to be judged by your fruit, which end of the extremes would you be on? Would you be found to bear good fruit? Would you be neither good nor bad, hot nor cold? We know what Jesus thinks of those who are neither hot nor cold.

So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.
(Revelation 3:16 (NIV))

How are you recognized?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Will you be cut off or pruned or are you bearing fruit?

August 7, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.
(John 15:1-2 (NIV))

Every believer probably thinks that they are bearing fruit for the Lord, and hopefully that is true. Have you honestly stopped to reflect on your life in relationship to this to seek the Lord and ask if your actions are producing what He desires from you? You may think that since you go to church, you are doing well, but do you witness to others? I realize that all of heaven rejoices when a single sinner comes to salvation, but that is not the end of our responsibility.

We are to share the Gospel so that others may come to a saving knowledge of Jesus. We are to witness. We are to tell others about the Lord in both words and in our actions. How can actions tell someone about Jesus? Just in case you have forgotten the old say, actions do speak louder than words. Our actions are to bear fruit.

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 don’t know about you, but these all sound like actions to me!

We can exhibit these fruits in such a manner that others notice a difference in our lives. We can let them see Jesus in our lives before we even begin to tell them about Jesus! Your actions will open up a window of opportunity that will often have others asking what makes you different. That is when you share Jesus in words.

I just realized something that I want to share with you. If our actions lead us to bear fruit, I want you to consider something. When you see a fruit tree or you see fruit in a store, does it pounce on you and tell you that you need it? You are enticed by what you see and experience. Your senses draw you in. The same thing can be said of the fruit that we bear for Jesus. If we present the fruit in such a way as to allow a person’s senses to draw them in, then they will desire to experience the sweetness of what the Lord has to offer. It is our assignment as members of the Body of Christ to yield fruit. Are we living up to that task?

Will you be cut off or pruned or are you bearing fruit?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What do you see being produced in your life?

May 30, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
(John 15:5 (NIV))

Sadly, too many people have twisted this concept around to mean that if you believe in Jesus, then you are surely to be blessed with worldly treasures and positions. This concept has slowly invaded our churches as many people flock to those who claim the fruit is of this world. The last time I read anything about fruit, it had nothing to do with riches or worldly attributes. If you stop to think about physical fruit, you think of a food group that doctors always tell us to eat more of. Fruit is healthy. Fruit builds you up. It helps to make you stronger, just as the fruit you will bear if you remain in Jesus!

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))

Do you see anything in this passage that says that we will bear fortune or fame? Do you see anything in this passage that says that we will be promised worldly riches? God does not measure things as the world measures them. In fact, with recent history in mind, if the world claims that something is good, run as far and as fast as you can away from it, for it will be opposed to the true goodness that comes only from God. What the world claims as good is not healthy. It does not build you up. It only serves to destroy.

When you look at your life, what do you see? Perhaps I should ask this another way. When others look at your life, what do they see? Do they see love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control or do they see things of the world?

What do you see being produced in your life?

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