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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Does your life support your claims?

August 21, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.
(1 John 2:6 (NIV))

Did you just get blind sided by this passage?

Think about that question in relationship to how Jesus reacted to situations and how you react to similar situations. Perhaps that saying from a few years ago holds more merit than we gave it credit for.

WWJD?

What would Jesus do?

His reactions ran the gamut, but one thing was consistent. Jesus always responded based on God’s Word and not on human emotions. We have been given instructions on how we are to live in order to follow His example.

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

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.

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. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
(Galatians 5:13-26 (NIV))

In essence, if we claim to be followers of Jesus, then we must strive to follow His life. The very fact that Jesus came to walk among us in order to save us shows the great love that the Lord has for us. Jesus did not do anything contrary to what the Spirit instructed, even to the point of dying on the cross. We know beyond doubt that Jesus walked this world as a perfect example of what the fruit of the Spirit is to look like. If we claim to follow Jesus and our lives do not reflect these traits, then we must repent and refocus our lives so that they do.

Does your life support your claims?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Does the Lord have all your heart, soul and strength?

June 17, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
(Deuteronomy 6:5 (NIV))

Do you love the Lord?

Let me ask this in a different way. What are you willing to give up for the Lord? Status? Career? House? Cars? Family? Friends?

Did you cringe at any of these things? Did you find yourself thinking something like, “As long as I don’t have to give up _______!”

What if God called you to sacrifice the thing that you loved most in order to follow Him? Would you respond like Abraham did with Isaac or would you respond like the rich young ruler?

Many people associate the words from Deuteronomy 6:5 with how Jesus responded in the following passage from Matthew.

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
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.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
(Matthew 22:36-40 (NIV))

If you truly love the Lord, you realize that everyone is made in the image of God. The way that we treat each other is indicative of how we treat the Lord and ourselves. Unfortunately, society’s definition of love means that we embrace their sins. Is this true love? Would you validate your sinful behavior to the point where you are killing yourself with alcohol or drugs and still claim to love yourself? How can we embrace the sins of others when we know that the same sin in our lives leads to death?

We must love as Jesus loved!

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.
(John 3:16-17 (NIV))

Perhaps we should look at this concept through these words. Love the Lord your God as He first loved us – with all of His heart, with all of His soul and with all of His strength. He had the love and commitment to sacrifice His Son to save us! Doesn’t this merit the gratitude and unfailing love of thankfulness?

Does the Lord have all your heart, soul and strength?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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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.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do we love each other enough to fulfill the law?

February 18, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

The commandments, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not covet,’ and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
(Romans 13:9-10 (NIV))

I hate to say this, but there are people who populate the pews of many churches throughout this world who harm other believers on a regular basis. What does that say about the way that we have faithfully taught what Jesus has commanded us to teach? It is easy to blame the people who harm others, but it is not so easy to take upon yourself the responsibility for their actions.

Should we bear the burden of the responsibility of the actions of other members of the Body of Christ?

I think that we are taught that we do!

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
(John 13:34-35 (NIV))

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.
(Romans 12:10 (NIV))

You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
(Galatians 5:13-15 (NIV))

If members of the Body have not been taught how to stop doing harm, then the Body has not properly fed them the Word of God. They have not been nourished to the point where they know what is Godly and righteous. They have not been allowed to mature in their faith.

Suppose parents have a child and this child starts to eat solid food. As soon as the child starts to eat, the parents do not turn this child loose and tell him to prepare his own meals. The child must be taught what to eat, what is good for them, and what is bad. All of this must happen before the child can be entrusted to prepare his own meals.

Perhaps the church is guilty of being this neglectful parent. We expect people to intuitively know what God wants them to do, what they are to read and study, and how they are supposed to live. We have not taught them how to not be harmful to others. We have not taught them how to love one another.

What have you taught your “children” in the faith? Do we love each other enough to fulfill the law?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you sharing the true Jesus with others?

January 27, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.
(Luke 19:10 (NIV))

What have you been taught about Jesus? In particular, what have you been taught about the reason that He came into this world?

Did He come to be a social justice warrior? Did He come to advocate for the poor? Did He come to spread peace and love, or did He come to call a lost and sinful humanity to repentance?

I realize that Jesus did many things when He walked this earth, and many of those things can be classified as falling into these categories that I listed, but they were all ways to reach the lost. Did Jesus teach on being just and fair in our dealings with each other? I can point out many situations where He did just that. He pointed out our sinful nature in these matters and asked us to seek God and follow His commands. Not following God’s commands is a sin. Jesus was telling us to repent and follow Him. Did Jesus teach on helping the poor? If you look back at Old Testament laws, that was already in place. A landowner was not supposed to harvest all the way to the corners of his fields. This was to be left for the poor. In other words, love your neighbor as yourself. Not doing so is a sin. Jesus was calling us to repent of our sin. When asked what the greatest commandments are, He responded that you are to love God and love your neighbor as yourself. The example that He gave involved a Samaritan man. In the culture of the day, Jewish people hated the Samaritans. In other words, Jesus was telling us to repent of our sin of hatred.

What is your definition of being lost? According to God, being lost is being a sinner.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
(Romans 3:23 (NIV))

And being a sinner has drastic consequences!

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

Jesus walked among us telling us to live according to what God had planned. He called us to repent of our shortcomings, our sins, and to turn to God in all things. He used every situation that He was in as a teachable moment to drive this home. Repent in your dealings with others. Repent of your treatment of the poor. It is possible to do these things yet still miss out on the only reason that Jesus came. All of these can be labeled as works of the flesh if we do not have a repentant heart and a desire to follow Jesus in all that we do. A repentant heart is a result of the most important aspect of why Jesus came. Jesus calls us to love God and to love your neighbor as yourself. When we do this, our desires change. Our actions are no longer selfish in nature. We see ourselves and others as God sees them.

We are called to also seek and save the lost by sharing Jesus with them.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
(Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV))

Sadly, I believe that we, as the church, have missed the mark. We share Jesus only when we are comfortable, and we don’t emphasize where Jesus tells us to teach people to obey everything that He has commanded. We sugar coat it, and as a result, we see people developing incorrect images of Jesus. I know that this hasn’t been a saying in several years, but we must pay attention to “What Would Jesus Do?” According to the words recorded in Luke, Jesus clearly said that He came to seek and save the lost!

Are you sharing the true Jesus with others?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are we truly capable of loving God in this manner?

July 25, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”
(Matthew 22:37 (NIV))

Are you capable of giving of yourself so thoroughly and so completely as Jesus described in this passage?

Think about that for a moment!

Can you love the Lord with all of your heart? This implies that there is not room for any other love in your heart.

Can you love the Lord with all of your soul? This implies that you are completely devoted to the Lord.

Can you love the Lord with all of your mind? This implies that you think of nothing else.

I don’t know about you, but this sounds pretty tough. It sounds extremely difficult, and it sounds impossible.

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
(Matthew 19:26 (NIV))

Let’s take a look at these three aspects of how we are to love the Lord with a fresh persepctive, with God’s persective.

It is possible to love the Lord with all of your heart and still have room to love others. When you love the Lord with all of your heart, you begin to see the world through His eyes and with His heart. You then learn to love others with the same love that the Lord loves them.

It is possible to love the Lord with all of your soul with a devotion to the Lord that overflows to those who are around you. They will see the joy and you will see the love and devotion that the Lord has for them.

And, yes, it is possible to love the Lord with all of your mind. Because you focus on loving the Lord and His Word, you begin to live what you love.

Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
(Psalms 1:1-2 (NIV))

You walk in His Word. You study. You sit quietly in His presence. As you learn to love the Lord with all of your mind, you learn to love His creation because He loves His creation. You learn to find solice in His word.

In all honesty, loving the Lord is an all consuming endeavor, but as you grow in your love for the Lord, your ability to reflect that love to others grows as well. We are told to love the Lord, but Jesus took this one step further and told us to love each other as we love ourselves.

And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
(Matthew 22:39 (NIV))

Are we truly capable of loving God in this manner?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you able to love as the Lord instructs?

March 1, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
(Colossians 3:12-14 (CEV))

Forgiveness!

How could we have been granted salvation without the forgiveness of our God and Father? We did not earn it. It was a gift. We were forgiven when we did not deserve to be forgiven.

We must humble ourselves and forgive others in a similar manner. If we cannot forgive, then we cannot be forgiven. After we forgive, we must love as God loves.

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.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
(Matthew 22:37-40 (NIV))

Are you able to love as the Lord instructs?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How are you at keeping the law?

January 26, 2018

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
(Galatians 5:14 (NIV))

How many people do you know who say that they love God, but their words and deeds give away that they do not love people? They do not love those they encounter. They may even go out of their way to avoid certain individuals or certain groups of people. I am sure that we are all familiar with the following story that Jesus told to a so called expert in the law.

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
(Luke 10:29-37 (NIV))

Have we heeded the lesson and truly learned to love our neighbor?

Has society told us to distrust and hate those who are different from us?

Does this sound like an attack from the enemy? Satan knows that if he can get us to hate each other, then we will have lost sight of what God truly desires for those who call Him Lord. We will fail at keeping the most important command in His law.

How are you at keeping the law?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you thankful for the peace of Christ?

October 12, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.
(Colossians 3:15 (NIV))

Do you feel that you are a member of Christ’s one body?

Think about that concept for a moment and then truthfully answer the following questions.

Have you ever caused unrest or anger among other believers?

Have you ever held a grudge against someone in the Body of Christ for what had taken place in the past?

Have you refused to forgive someone who is a member of the Body of Christ?

I am not sure how you define peace, but if you have answered yes to any of these, it does not sound like the peace of Christ! Too many people define peace as the absence of conflict. If you stop to think about the complete range of emotions and events that just come short of conflict, we have opened ourselves up to a vast array of sinful behavior that is in no way related to the peace of Christ. In fact, we are told exactly how this will be treated.

We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.
(1 John 3:14-15 (NIV))

How do we allow the peace of Christ to rule in our hearts?

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.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
(Matthew 22:37-40 (NIV))

In essence, we are to love each member of the Body of Christ as if they were us for we are all members of the one body.

Does the peace of Christ rule in your heart?

Are you thankful for the peace of Christ?

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