How can we accept forgiveness if we cannot give it?

August 21, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
(Matthew 6:14-15 (NIV))

Does this bother you?

Do you ignore scriptures like this because it goes against what you want to believe? Does it remind you of someone that you still have not forgiven because of something that happened years ago? You did not realize that your salvation could possibly hinge on your ability to forgive others. God’s grace and mercy are truly a gift, for we cannot earn our salvation. Yet, these words speak of the possibility of losing that gift.

How could this happen?

Take a look at the true meaning behind God’s grace. Does He hate us or does He love us?

Hate would not offer a gift such as grace. Hate would call for revenge. Love is the only thing that can offer a gift such as grace. When we accept Jesus with our whole heart, mind and spirit, we fully accept His love for us and then His love indwells us in the form of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is part of the Triune God that we worship. If the Holy Spirit indwells us, then we have love for others within us. This love would cause us to pass God’s grace and mercy on to others. It would not allow us to harbor hatred and unforgiveness if we truly face what we have hidden from ourselves.

Closely examine every hiding place within your memory to search for those that you have not forgiven, for how can we accept forgiveness if we cannot give it?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you been made a part of the family?

April 3, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.
(Hebrews 2:11 (NIV))

Did you fully grasp the meaning behind these words in this passage?

It is commonly stated that those who believe in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior are part of the family of God, but has this concept truly taken hold of your life? It is human nature to say things so much that we soon begin to miss the true meaning of the words and the concepts because we begin to take things for granted. Sadly, it is human nature to become so familiar with something, that the excitement starts to fade!

For those of you who are married, I wish to present an example of what I am talking about. When you first said the words “I love you” to your spouse, there was a very strong emotion that was tied to those words. As the years progressed, you may say the same words, but there is a familiarity that is there. The meaning behind the words has slightly shifted in the relationship. The relationship is strong, but the words no longer convey the same strong emotion. Does your heart still race at the sound of their voice? Do you long for the times that you will be together? Or, do you simply sit on the couch and quietly enjoy each other’s company? Are you comfortable in your relationship? Are you confident of your standing in that relationship?

When you fist accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, how was your excitement level? How is it now? Are you still overwhelmed to be called a child of God, or have you grown so accustom to that concept that you don’t get excited about it anymore? Do you fidget and stammer for words when you pray or is there a comfort zone that has developed, just like there is a comfort zone in a healthy earthly family? Do you feel that you can know the Lord so well that He does truly feel like a brother?

Have you been made a part of the family?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you turned your troubles over to Jesus?

March 22, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
(John 16:33 (NIV))

What do you think of when you hear the word “trouble?” Perhaps it makes more sense to you to use the word “tribulation” instead. Perhaps you like to cut to the chase and you have come to the realization that trouble usually implies suffering and you choose to use the word “suffer” instead of the word “trouble.” The following three translations are good examples of word choice, but they all have the same underlying meaning, and that is that while we, as followers of Jesus, are alive and in this world, we will be faced with things because we are followers of Jesus. Though the word choices are different, they also all have the assurance that placing our faith in Jesus is the only way to overcome those troubles.

“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
(John 16:33 (NASB))

“I have told you this, so that you might have peace in your hearts because of me. While you are in the world, you will have to suffer. But cheer up! I have defeated the world.”
(John 16:33 (CEVDC))

“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
(John 16:33 (KJV))

Just as some people will say “Good morning,” others will simply say “Mornin'” or even “Hi!” It is the intent, it is the true meaning behind the words that we must understand. With that said, the message in John 16:33 boils down to this. If we rely on our own actions and our own abilities in this world, we will face things that will test our faith. They will test our very peace of mind. Focus on Jesus and let Him deal with the things of this world. Turn over your troubles, your trials, your tribulations and you suffering to the Lord of all creation. He is bigger than any problems that you will face.

Take a good, long look at your life!

Have you turned your troubles over to Jesus?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Just what is your definition of everyone?

March 7, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
(Acts 2:21 (NIV))

Have you ever truly stopped to contemplate the meaning of this passage?

To fully comprehend the meaning of this passage, you have to accept the definition of the word “everyone.” You also have to accept the fact that there were no modifying words applied to the word “whoever.” It did not say whoever is like me, or whoever is from your social status. It simply says whoever!

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))

God does not place limitations on the words “everyone” and “whoever,” so why do we? Why do we think that “everyone” who is like us or “whoever” is like us are the only ones that can be shown the grace of God? If you stop to think about this silly concept, then I can safely say that most of us would not be eligible to call upon the name of the Lord, for we don’t match the ethnic or social status of Jesus when He walked this earth. We also don’t match the ethnic or social status of Paul, who is credited with spreading the Gospel to the Gentiles. In case that you forgot, Paul had been a Jew among Jews and basically anyone who was not a Jew, the Gentiles, were looked down upon by the upper echelon of Jewish society.

In other words, we don’t have any right to attach disclaimers and exemptions to the definition of the word everyone! It means every person without exception!

Just what is your definition of everyone?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How do you desire to love?

March 2, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
(1 John 3:18 (NIV))

How many times a day do you say the words, “I love you.”?

Do you always mean it when you say them?

Do you have varying degrees of meaning behind what you say?

If you are like most people, these words could carry a meaning of anything from a strong like to a feeling of complete and total devotion. We say that we love ice cream. We say that we love puppies. We say that we love our families. We say that we love our spouse. We say that we love Jesus, and we say that we love God. When we say any of these, how do our actions reflect the statement? Do we say that we love puppies and then kick the next dog that we see? Do we say that we love our families and then spend all of our time at work? Do we say that we love Jesus and then use His name as a profanity? Do we say that we love God, yet choose to not spend time in His Word and in His presence?

It is said that talk is cheap and that actions speak louder than words. I truly like the following statement about how we are to convey the greatest love of all.

“Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.”
(St. Francis of Asisi)

Gospel means good news. It is the good news of God’s great love for us.

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))

God loves us so much that He sent His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross as an atoning sacrifice to save us from our sins. Even though Jesus was the Word made flesh, it took action on His part to redeem us and to claim us for the truth. God said that He loves us, but He showed us just how much He loves us through actions. Think about that concept as it applies to your own life. What garners more results? Telling someone that you love them, or going out of your way to show them that you love them? The Lord went way out of His way to show us!

We can follow His example and show love or we can simply utter a few words.

How do you desire to love?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is your life built upon the cornerstone?

February 2, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone;”
(Psalms 118:22 (NIV))

Have you ever truly stopped to think about the meaning of the word cornerstone? There are a few basic meanings and I honestly believe that they both apply in this passage. One meaning represents a stone that is basically as the word sounds. It is the stone that is used at the corner of a building, but part of that definition also includes the fact that the cornerstone is laid in a formal ceremony. The other definition has the word cornerstone meaning a basic element.

I want you to think about these meanings with respect to Jesus.

When you think of a corner, you get a mental image of a change of direction. John the Baptist called everyone to change direction, only he used the word repent. Jesus offered us a way to repent of our sins by accepting Him as our personal Lord and Savior. God cemented this possibility through a formal event that has captivated millions since the time that it occurred. The trial, crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection were orchestrated like clockwork according to God’s plan, according to a ceremony that we still do not fully understand.

Has Jesus allowed you to change direction?

The basic tenet of Christianity is that Jesus is the not a mere man. He is the Son of God! That concept is the basic element of faith in Jesus. Jesus is the basic element of salvation!

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.
(John 3:16-18 (NIV))

The more that I consider the meanings of the word cornerstone, Jesus fulfills all of them. He is the corner upon which we may change direction. He is the cornerstone that was established through God’s formal plan. Jesus is the basic element, the very foundation upon which our faith is built.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
(John 14:6-7 (NIV))

Is your life built upon the cornerstone?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What do you do?

July 17, 2017

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))

Some people do the bare minimum in order to get by. I’m sure you know the type. There is probably someone like this where you work. There may be someone in your family who is like this. I hope and pray that you are not the one who people think of when asked about people like this.

Based on this passage, what do you think the Lord thinks about people who think that all they have to do is read God’s Word? I realize that it is important to read and study God’s Word, but it is not the type of book that you read and study just for the knowledge that you will gain. If you can recite passages verbatim, yet not understand and put that understanding into action, what good does it do? If you can recite the fruit of the Spirit, yet you don’t exhibit any of those characteristics, what good does it do?

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”
(Matthew 22:37-29 (NIV))

If you easily quote these words, but do not live it, all that you have accomplished is memorization. You have not grasped the meaning. You have not taken the words to heart and made them an integral part of your life!

God’s Word is truth! God’s Word is life! It has the power to transform you. Have you let it transform you?

Do you just listen or read God’s Word, or do you make it an integral part of your life?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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