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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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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Do you truly long to see Jesus?

August 11, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
(2 Timothy 4:8 (NIV))

Do you long for the appearing of Jesus?

Are you looking for Jesus to come for His church? Do you read God’s Word and look for evidence of His soon return in the world around us? Do you have a strong desire to see Jesus, or are you apathetic about His return?

I know that I ask a lot of questions, but these are questions that most people don’t ask of themselves. The answers that you provide for these questions are telltale of what you expect. There is a concept that says that you will find what you are looking for. That may sound obvious, but think about it for a moment. If you are looking for treasure, you will only stop once you find it. What if that treasure is also looking for you to seek it? What if the very thing that we treasure also treasures us?

That is exactly what Jesus is doing! He is our treasure. He knows our hearts. We are His treasure. He died on the cross so that we could be called righteous because He is righteous. If we seek Him as our treasure, then He will find us as His treasure. If we do not seek Him, then we will not find Him as a treasure. We will know Him as the righteous Judge. We are at a point in history where we must decide to take Jesus as our treasure. We must long to see Him. We must call upon His name as our personal Lord and Savior. When we see Him and how we see Him depends on our desire to see Him!

We can desire to see Him as our personal Lord and Savior and we will see Him when He returns for His bride, or we can ignore Him and then we will see Him as Judge. It is our choice. It is a choice that cannot wait!

Do you truly long to see Jesus?

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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Do you place your trust in the Lord?

July 28, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him,
(Nahum 1:7 (NIV))

You can probably figure out exactly what I am going to ask based on this passage. With what is going on right now in the world, trusting in the Lord is more important than ever. With that in mind, do you trust in the Lord?

Do you trust that the Lord is good?

Do you trust that the Lord is our refuge in times of trouble?

Do you trust that no matter how bad things have gotten or how bad they may get, that His plans are perfect?

I love that so many people who profess a faith in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior are at peace through all that is happening. We may be saddened by the events. We may be shocked by the events. We are probably even disgusted by the events, but we, as the Body of Christ, seem to have a peace through all of this.

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

If we truly trust in the Lord, we are promised that He will guard our hearts and our minds. We are promised that He will care for us. With what the world has gone through and with what is probably coming, we can rest assured that placing our faith and trust in the Lord means that we will have peace in the midst of the storms. We will have refuge when the enemy attacks. We will be guarded from the one who longs to keep us eternally separated from the Lord. Placing our trust in the Lord means that He is our salvation. He is our champion. He is our defender. He is our Lord!

Do you place your trust in the Lord?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you capable of waiting?

July 14, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.
(Psalms 27:14 (NIV))

There is something about human nature that doesn’t like to wait!

Do you have the patience to wait? Do you know of anyone who has the patience to wait? Have you ever thought about this passage in that context?

God uses things that are contrary to the sinful, fallen world to bring people to Him, and this is no different. Since waiting goes against human nature especially since the fall from grace, perhaps God uses the concept of waiting to teach us and to explore our hearts. He uses waiting to see if we are willing to go against our sinful nature. Let’s face facts. Waiting is not easy! Is God using this to see who is willing to go the extra mile and deny themselves in order to spend time with Him?

Think about that from the standpoint that humanity likes instant gratification!

I am sure that when you were growing up, you were constantly told, “Good things come to those who wait.” What better thing is there than the Lord, our God? Is He worth waiting for? Is He worth going against the world in order to receive Him? What do we receive when we what for the Lord? We come away with a wonderful understanding of who He is. We come away with a thankful heart because of what He has done. We receive an eternity in His presence! I find these to be the ultimate good that I long for while I wait for the Lord.

Are you capable of waiting?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you an active worker in the harvest?

July 6, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
(Matthew 9:37-38 (NIV))

What do you see when you look around?

Do you see what the world has to offer, or do you see a world of lost souls who need Jesus? Do you see an urgency to get the next big raise and promotion, or do you see an urgency to bring as many people as possible into God’s Kingdom?

Each of us will target our efforts based on what we see, which is a direct result of what is in our hearts. Sadly, it is often the world that is truly in our hearts. Even if we profess a faith in Jesus, many of us are still so caught up in the worldly task of living and making that almighty dollar, that we fail to see the world as Jesus sees it. We don’t truly see the lost because we are thinking of ourselves. We don’t see the needy because we are too worried about our own wants. We don’t make an effort to rescue the dying because we are too worried about the splinter in our finger that has demanded all of our attention!

I often wonder if we have come to look at God’s harvest the same way that we look at grocery stores. When we go into a grocery store, we see all of the things that have been harvested and prepared for our consumption, yet we fail to recognize the work that was required to get everything there. We fail to see the time spent in preparing the soil. We fail to recognize the care that was taken to nurture the plants as they grew. We don’t ever think about the long days spent cultivating the crop and we definitely don’t think of the effort that goes into harvesting the crop. We simply look at the options and find ourselves thinking that the price we must pay is too high!

Do we think that the price that we must pay to work the harvest is too high?

Are we willing to prepare the soil of the heart to receive the seed? Are we willing to nurture that seed in the lives of those who have seen it sprout? Are we willing to cultivate that seed in the lives of those who are growing in their faith? Are we willing to step out in faith and join in the harvest? Have you been sent into the harvest field? Have you been obedient and have you gone?

Are you an active worker in the harvest?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Where does your heart direct you?

June 22, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.
(2 Thessalonians 3:5 (NIV))

In our lives, there are many paths that we can choose to follow. Some days, we make so many decisions that each minute potentially can change the outcome of our day, possibly our whole lives and even our eternity. If we broaden our perspective, we have the potential to impact the day of countless individuals that we encounter. If we follow God’s lead, we can potentially impact their eternal perspectives as well.

This is staggering!

Have you truly stopped to reflect on how our actions can have eternal consequences for not only ourselves, but for countless others as well?

Does this make you want to pray for your heart to be molded into a heart that seeks the Lords direction, love and perseverance?

Take a look at your life. Chances are good that each of us has had moments in our daily lives where we fail miserably at allowing the Lord to direct our hearts. If you are like me, you can probably vividly recall the worst moments when you moved completely opposite of what the Lord desired. Do you wish that you could have a do-over because of the pain that these moments caused?

It is not always easy to allow the Lord to direct our hearts, but it is what we, as members of the Body of Christ, must strive to do. We must pray that our hearts seek after the very heart of God! We must be willing to move in directions that go against our sinful human nature and see each other as God sees them. We must come to the realization what we are not the center of God’s universe. He placed us in His creation, but His creation is much greater than just you or just I. We must learn to see each other with the love that God sees each of us with. We must realize that the Lord is patiently calling to Himself all of those who are lost. We must love them as He loves them! We must be directed to show God’s love.

Where does your heart direct you?

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

April 14, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.

He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”
They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?”

“What things?” he asked.
“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.”

He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.

When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.
(Luke 24:13-35 (NIV))

I hope and pray that you encountered the risen Lord Jesus during Easter. I also pray that you continue to walk with Him during all the days of your life. He is with us even when we do not recognize Him. With that in mind, how would you want Jesus to see you in your daily actions?

Are you walking with Jesus?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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We have not been forsaken!

April 1, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
(1 Peter 5:7 (NIV))

As I sit here tonight, I am feeling like many people are probably feeling right now. I’m tired of the isolation. Even churches have gone to live feeds. I’m tired of the inability to socialize. I’m tired of the lack of basic essential supplies in many stores. I’m tired of not knowing how long this will last.

I’m tired of the uncertainty!

Does that sound like you?

Are you tired of all that is going on, or have you grown anxious because of the uncertainty? Perhaps I could even say that many people are borderline fearful. Is there a difference between being tired of a circumstance and being anxious or fearful because of a circumstance? Being tired of something implies that you wish it would go away. I find it interesting that many dictionaries will define the word anxious as an extreme uneasiness or fear and the word fear is defined as an unpleasant anticipation of danger. In essence, do you wish that the current circumstances in the world would go away or do you feel an unpleasant anticipation of danger because of the circumstances?

Depending on the translation and the wording, God tells us to “fear not” or “do not be afraid” 365 times. He knows human nature. He knows that we are creatures of comfort and creatures of habit. He also knows our hearts. He knows what causes fear in our minds and in our hearts. He also knows how to give us peace!

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.
(John 16:33 (NIV))

I have one more thing for your consideration in 1 Peter 5:7, and that is the word “cast.” When you place something, it implies a careful movement into a new position. The word cast implies that you are throwing something away from you and to a new place. You are throwing you anxiety away from you. You are willfully and purposefully taking your anxiety and trading it for His peace! Does this sound like instructions from someone who doesn’t care about us? He is telling us to turn to Him and cast our anxiety onto Him. He does not wish for us to go through these tribulations alone.

In the days ahead, stop and pray for the Lord to take away your anxieties and give you His peace!

We have not been forsaken!

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