Who are your brother and sister?

September 23, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.
(1 John 4:20 (NIV))

I have often wondered how Jesus would answer someone if they had asked Him who is their brother or sister?

Perhaps Jesus would give an answer similar to the one He gave when He was asked what was the greatest commandment.

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
(Mark 12:29-31 (NIV))

Would He have answered with a parable similar to the Good Samaritan as He did when He was asked who is my neighbor? Jesus turned it around on the person who asked by telling the parable and then asked who he thought was a neighbor.

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
(Luke 10:37 (NIV))

Perhaps he would have answered similarly to when He was told His mother and brothers were outside and wanted to speak with Him.

He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”
(Matthew 12:48-50 (NIV))

Are we seeing a distinction between a neighbor and a brother? Are we being told to show love and mercy to our neighbors and to love those who do the will of His Father? Is there a difference between showing love and mercy to a neighbor and actually loving someone who is a member of the Body? This is a topic that will require much more than just a few paragraphs to bring to light. Suffice it to say that if someone calls upon Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior, they are a brother or a sister to anyone and everyone who also makes that same profession. We are to love them. We are also called to show love and mercy to those who are not part of the Body of Christ. If you stop to think about this last statement, perhaps the very love and mercy that you show will be what the Lord uses to reach their heart!

To play it safe, it sounds like we should show the love of Jesus to everyone. How can we claim to love God and still have hate in our hearts for anyone whom God loves?

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))

Who are your brother and sister?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How is your mind governed?

September 9, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.
(Romans 8:6-7 (NIV))

In case you were thinking this, no, it is not possible to be governed by both!

No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
(Matthew 6:24 (NIV))

Before I am accused of mixing scripture passages and meanings, it is important to understand that the love of money serves the flesh. It is the ultimate worldly and fleshly control on the human mind. It is the embodiment of lust, power and ego. When your mind is governed by the things of this physical world, it seeks carnal satisfaction. It seeks sin!

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

We must strive to overcome human nature and focus on Jesus. We must follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. When we falter, and we will, we must recognize our failures, repent and return to the Lord. We must desire to possess true peace as only it can be found in the Lord.

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

We have all seen what happens in this world when government is bad. People suffer. We have also seen what happens in this world when government tries to do what is righteous in the eyes of God. We have our own personal election each and every moment of every day. We can choose to be governed by the flesh and suffer the consequences, or we can choose to be governed by the Spirit and find peace.

How is your mind governed?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do you long to do as He says?

August 3, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
(James 1:22 (NIV))

Does that passage hit you in the same way that it hits me?

Far too many times it convicts me, for I know that no matter how hard I try, there will be times that I fail. I listen to the word. I long to do what it says. And still I fail.

Failure is not deliberate. Failure is not my goal. Failure is a setback and an obstacle to overcome.

God’s word is alive. It is the truth and it is how we should live our lives. It is a choice and it is one that I take very seriously. I desire to live my life the way that God desires me to live. Yet, I find myself in the same predicament as Paul when he wrote to the Romans.

We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do–this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
(Romans 7:14-20 (NIV))

We all have times when we do what we know we shouldn’t. It is our recognition of these times that helps us to mature in our faith. If we desire to do what God’s word says, then we will hate our failures. We will long to be obedient. If we only listen and do not have a desire to do, then we do not hold God’s word in our heart. We do not long to be what God calls us to be.

We can listen to God’s word in the same way that we listen to the radio. When you turn off the radio, do you honestly remember the songs that you heard? Or, we can listen to God’s word in the way that you listen to things that are close to your heart. It is a matter of priorities.

When you listen to God, do you long to do as He says?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What are the things that you willfully do?

June 24, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression.
(Psalms 19:13 (NIV))

Perhaps we should rephrase this first part to something a little more obvious and upfront.

Keep your servant from deliberate and intentional sins!

In other words, David was asking the Lord to keep him from doing the wrong thing when he knew the right thing to do. Perhaps we should pray what David asked so that we are kept from deliberately planning to sin!

I am going to ask a very blunt question, but I think that you can probably anticipate what it is going to be.

Do you deliberately and intentionally sin? Do you find yourself clinging to an old sinful nature that you simply don’t want to let go of? Do you love the sin more than you love Jesus? Are you willing to give up God’s grace for a momentary sinful pleasure? Please don’t misunderstand me. We are all human and we are all sinners. None of us are perfect. What we desire is often opposite of what we actually do. This is not something new to humanity, but it is something that we must overcome. Even Paul faced this in his life.

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
(Romans 7:15-20 (NIV))

I realize that this passage does not directly say that Paul deliberately and intentionally sinned, but we have to consider that Paul wrote that he had the desire to do what is good but could not carry it out. We probably also have the desire to do what is good, but what do we do with that desire? Paul knew what to do.

Human nature is sinful no matter how much we want to do what is right in the eyes of the Lord. Thankfully, we have been given grace and mercy through Jesus. When we find ourselves guilty of sin, willfully or otherwise, there are two things that we can willfully do. We can accept Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, and we can repent of our sin!

What are the things that you willfully do?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What master are you obedient to?

June 2, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.
(Romans 6:12 (NIV))

With each passing day, my heart breaks just a little more!

Is this what you expect to be the Lord’s response to what is happening in the world? Is this your response to what is happening in the world? Do you desire to have a heart that breaks when God’s heart breaks? If this is your claim, then what can the Body of Christ do when sin seems to be rampant?

Pray!

We must pray for those who have given in to sin. We must pray that they will come to the light that can save. We must pray that our leaders will make Godly decisions. We must pray that we don’t fall into the trap that the enemy is using to ensnare us in sin. Dare I say that we must pray for Jesus to return?

I realize that I have said in the past that things seem to be escalating. Is it just me, or do you feel like this escalation is accelerating far more rapidly in the last few months? Just how much more can the Lord allow before He returns? I have been watching and studying for several years, and many of the sources that I reference besides God’s Word are all saying the same thing.

Time is short!

What if Jesus returns for His true church next month? Are you ready? What if Jesus returns for His true church tonight? Are you still obedient to sin or are you ready? If you profess that Jesus is your Lord and Savior, you are claiming that He is your master. Is this true?

No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
(Matthew 6:24 (NIV))

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.
(1 Timothy 6:10a (NIV))

What master are you obedient to?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Don’t allow your faith and your love to grow cold!

May 1, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold,
(Matthew 24:12 (NIV))

Are you old enough to remember when you could disagree with someone and still call them a friend?

In all honesty, I could probably stop there and most of you would stop and reflect on how society and we, as individuals, have changed. There used to be a time when the disagreements weren’t over good being called evil and evil being called good. Most of us could agree on basic principles and we could have a rational, sane conversation over the differences that we did not agree on. Now, our differences are growing ever farther apart from each each and the chasm is growing deeper. Biblical principles are frowned upon by some and others take this to an extreme by saying that Biblical principles are hate speech.

I saw something today that made me stop and reflect on the concept that was being presented. With the shelter in place, social distancing and the concept that we must wear a mask in public, people appear to be isolating themselves from each other. Random instances where you accidentally bump into someone at the store are now being treated as threats to the individuals involved. Instead of a gracious smile and an “Excuse me,” people are becoming hostile to each other in these situations. Are we becoming so consumed by our own selfish attitudes and self-preservation, that we fail to recognize the humanity of others. We have been pushed farther apart in basic social values and now we are being urged to stay away from each other and hide behind a mask. Are we getting to a point where we will forget to love our neighbors? Will we become so engrossed with selfishness that we will no longer take the time to show a kindness to others?

If we profess a faith in Jesus, we are called to love our neighbor.

Don’t allow your faith and your love to grow cold!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Why are we drawn to return to our sin and slavery?

March 2, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
(Galatians 5:1 (NIV))

What is it about human nature that makes us return to something that we know we should leave behind? We have all been guilty of doing this very thing, and probably much more often than we care to admit. Apparently, human nature since the fall from grace has always had us doing what can only be called self destructive behavior. We know that we shouldn’t, but yet we do. This type of behavior has been pointed out many times, but probably the most accurate and disgusting is the following.

As a dog returns to its vomit,
so fools repeat their folly.
(Proverbs 26:11 (NIV))

As I stated previously, we all do it. Even the man who is credited with bringing the Gospel to the Gentiles fought this aspect in his own walk of faith. Paul was a very intelligent person, but yet he didn’t understand the self destructive nature that he fought against.

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
(Romans 7:15-20 (NIV))

This struggle that all of us face makes it clear why each of us are called to take up our cross daily. We are to deny that part of our human nature. We are to struggle with this sinful nature each and every time that it raises its ugly head in our lives. We are called to repent. Far too many people believe that this is a one-time occurrence, but it should be a daily attitude and activity. Do I even venture to say that, on some days, we may have to humble ourselves continually before the Lord and repent of our actions and our thoughts?

I know that we are a fallen creation, but I wish I had the magic answer as to why we return to our sin when we don’t want to. I wish I knew how to turn off that part of my life so that I never take my eyes off of Jesus. Just like Paul, I find myself doing the very things that I hate! I don’t know why! I long to do only what is good and righteous, yet on my own, this is not possible. I just know that we must be ready to fall on our knees whenever and wherever we may find yourself returning to our sin.

I want to leave you with one question that I hope you will take to heart.

Why are we drawn to return to our sin and slavery?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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God’s love is not how the world loves!

February 13, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
(1 Corinthians 13:6-7 (NIV))

Does this sound like the world’s current definition of love?

Society has taken the concept of love and twisted it so far from how God defines love. According to God’s plan, love is sacrificial, but there are some overlooked aspects.

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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
(John 3:16-21 (NIV))

We, as the intended recipients of God’s love, must be willing to walk away from our sin. We must be willing to embrace the truth, the only truth, that is God’s Word. Once we do, we are called to love as God loves, but that doesn’t mean that we condone the sin and the evil in people. I realize that this is often overused, but there is an old saying that, “We are to love the sinner and hate the sin.” Think about that in relation to the following example.

You are a parent who has a child that is involved in things that could get them in trouble with the law. Which of the following options shows true love? Do you overlook these actions because you say that you love them and you don’t want to interfere with their life, or do you try to make them change their life so that they don’t face any consequences from their activities? The first option actually shows that you don’t care enough to take action to prevent something bad. It may appear that you love them in the present, but you don’t love them enough to take action so that they will have a better tomorrow. Love sometimes has to be tough! As a parent, you have to stand in the gap and fight for the well being of your family so that they have a life that is not a result of bad decisions.

Put this into perspective by changing the scenario with respect to eternity. This time the child is rebelling and is lost. Do you overlook these actions or do you pray for them, do you try to reach them, do you love them enough to stand in the gap interceding for them? This time, the consequences have a much different and longer result. If we truly love this child, we will do anything and everything to bring them into a right relationship with the Lord.

My next thought was to ask you how do you think God feels, but I have already told you how He feels. He loves the world so much that He had a plan to redeem the world. That plan was not an easy thing to bring about. It cost the physical life of His only begotten Son, Jesus. Jesus came to defeat evil and sin. He came to protect us from the consequences of sin. God’s love perseveres and because of His great love, we have the glorious hope that we can trust in His Word. All that He asks is that you believe and turn away from the darkness of the evil that is in this world.

The world says that if you love someone, you accept them and don’t try to change them no matter the consequences. God loves us as we are, then calls us to repent so that we don’t face the consequences.

God’s love is not how the world loves!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you willing to suffer for Jesus?

October 21, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
(Romans 8:18 (NIV))

Suffering!

It means different things to different people. To some, it means that they have to take the limo instead of the helicopter. To others, it means that they are out on the street with no food for their family. To the Body of Christ, suffering is watching the world revel in the sin while we look on and pray for the world to turn to Jesus.

Suffering is a difficult thing to do, yet, each of us have different things that we are willing to bear with respect to suffering. To me, the biggest thing that I suffer over is the escalating decline of the value of faith in society. I am not saying that faith is declining. Rather, I am saying that it appears to me that sin of all types is increasing. It reminds me of a parable that Jesus told.

    Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.
    “The owner’s servants came to him and said, `Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’
    ” `An enemy did this,’ he replied.
    “The servants asked him, `Do you want us to go and pull them up?’
    ” `No,’ he answered, `because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’ “
(Matthew 13:24-30 (NIV))

There is suffering due to the enemy having sowed bad seeds among God’s creation. We will face suffering until that glorious day that Jesus returns. The sufferings that we must face are worth the struggle. They are worth the pain. They are worth the aggravation, for we have the promise that we will see salvation. We will see redemption.

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
(Colossians 1:13-14 (NIV))

Are you willing to face the consequences of your sins?

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 hate suffering, yet I would rather suffer because I have professed a faith in Jesus than to turn my back on God’s grace and face suffering in eternity. I know that we live in a society that expects to have both now and later, but in God’s kingdom, it does not work that way. We cannot simply pull out a credit card and swipe it and expect to have it easy now and easy later when the bill comes due. Our way of doing things doesn’t work.

We have a hope that can see us through all suffering. His name is Jesus. We can suffer now and cling to the hope that we have in Jesus, or we can abandon all hope and suffer eternal separation from God.

Nothing worth having is easy. I pray that I am willing to suffer for Christ.

Are you willing to suffer for Jesus?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Whom will you choose to serve?

May 15, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

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))

We are faced with choices every single day of our lives, but there is one choice that we are all called to make that will have ramifications for all eternity!

That choice is about whom we will serve.

I can hear the thoughts now after people read the previous statement. “I’m a free person. I don’t server anyone but myself!” I hope that you realize that a statement like this is an instant indication that you are not serving whom you truly should be serving. We have a choice. We can either choose to serve the Lord or we can choose not to serve the Lord. Anything less than a conscious decision to serve the Lord is literally a decision to not serve the Lord. Think about that with respect to what many people actually choose to serve.

No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
(Matthew 6:24 (NIV))

Being a servant is a conscious decision!

Have you made the right decision?

The wrong decision will result in a life of sin and self-centeredness. It may not result in an outright rejection of the Lord in your mind, but based on serving two masters, it will end up as the wrong decision for all of eternity. The right decision will result in blessings, grace and mercy beyond compare. It will result in a treasure far greater than anything that this world and the wrong master could ever provide, after all, all things of this world will tarnish, rust and decay. Only the treasure that is received from serving the Lord has eternal value!

Think about that in relationship to this saying that has been around for a long time.

Serve the Lord. The retirement plan is out of this world!

Whom will you choose to serve?

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