Do you have God’s good gifts in your life?

January 7, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
(James 1:17 (NIV))

Have you ever watched the ways of the world? They change to match the current view of what is “good.” In today’s society, “good” is described in terms of me, myself, and I and what is in it for “me.” This shows a complete disregard for others in many situations.

We, as a church, are often guilty of the same thing without even realizing it. When we pray, it is often for concerns and situations that are a direct influence on our lives. This can be taken in various ways. Perhaps, because we are part of the family of God through Jesus Christ, we extend our circle of influence to more people than we would if we did not accept Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior. This then results in more people directly affecting our lives in return.

Either way, God provides the true “good” that we seek. When the good that comes from God is bestowed on people, it does not change how God interacts with us and for us. He is constant in His dealings with us. It is us who are not consistent in our dealings with Him. He is steadfast and true. We are headstrong and wavering. He holds the truth and all goodness. We seek our own truth and what is good only for us. His love is perfect. Our love is selfish and self-centered. He loves all. We love only those who love us in return.

Perfection is His example. We can only be made perfect through His love and the grace and mercy granted us through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Do you have God’s good gifts in your life?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What are you willing to lose?

December 18, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.
(Mark 8:35 (NIV))

It is human nature to not want to lose. This is especially true if losing means that you lose your life! Most of us aren’t even willing to lose if by our losing, everyone else wins. We have to come out on top. We have to prove that we are best at everything! This often means that we think that we are right even when we are eternally wrong!

Take a look at the words in the first part of the passage above. Saving your life implies that you place nothing above yourself. You will go to any extreme to make sure that your physical life is protected even at the expense of others. You are your first and often, your only priority. You possess no love. You possess no joy. You often possess no peace, patience, or kindness. Little about your life is good. Since you place yourself first, you possess little or no faith. You treat others as lower than yourself, so you lack gentleness and self-control. Does this sound like a life that you would want to live? Does this sound like a life that you would want?

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))

Does the second half of the passage start to sound better and make more sense?

We can’t live a life that is Christ centered if we strive to save our earthly life. We are called to be witnesses. We can’t witness to others if all we think about is ourselves. We can’t be willing to go because we would be outside of our comfort zone.

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

I know that I am forever thankful that Jesus was willing to lose His earthly life for the sake of others. What if He had balked at the idea of dying for our sins? What if he had decided to not leave the Father to come to earth? What if Jesus had decided that it was simply not worth leaving the glory of heaven to come into this world? The majesty of the story as told in Luke 2 would never have happened. The tearing of the veil of the Temple would never have taken place. Faith, hope and love would only be a dream of something that could happen. Grace and mercy would simply be nonexistent. John 3:16 would not be true.

All of this was made possible because Jesus was willing to lose His life for others. Most of us aren’t even willing to lose our place in line! It takes a sacrifice to place others first.

What are you willing to lose?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Has your love matured to this level?

December 6, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
(1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV))

Have you ever given any thought to this passage and asked yourself why love is the greatest of these?

I realize that 1 Corinthians 13 defines characteristics that we all long to possess, but if you read through it carefully, you realize that these characteristics, no matter how desirable, are useless and meaningless if they are not accompanied by love.

Can we speak eloquently and have hatred in our hearts? Can we possess head knowledge and understanding of God’s Word and what He says will happen and still feel no compassion for those who are not saved? Can we possess a faith in Jesus and still have anger and animosity in our hearts? Is it possible to firmly believe, yet not care for others? Can we claim that we have hope for an eternity with the Lord and still neglect to share Jesus with others?

Each of these scenarios paints a picture of people who truly do possess desirable characteristics, yet, they all lack one crucial aspect.

Love!

Love is the manifestation of all that is best. Love places others above yourself. Love is the culmination of the desire to see others lifted up. In essence, love can be defined as putting your faith and your hope into action for the benefit of others.

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
(John 15:13 (NIV))

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))

To me, this type of love is the result of a mature faith and hope. Has your love matured to this level?

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

November 6, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
(Romans 12:16 (NIV))

This passage is taken out of a section that many translations refer to as “Love in Action.”

Think about that concept for a moment. Are you able to put these words into action?

Do you strive to live in harmony with others, both believers and nonbelievers? I realize that it is easier to do this when you are dealing with someone who shares your beliefs, but we are called to show love to everyone. How do you live in harmony with someone who takes great pleasure in taunting and tormenting you because of your faith?

Then there is pride! It is a nasty human trait. We can’t even get a job without having to convince someone that we are better than anyone and everyone else. What happens if you start to act like you truly believe this about yourself? Do you begin to develop tendencies to elevate yourself at the expense of others? Is this how we are called to show love?

As a member of the Body of Christ, we must remember that we were shown love when we didn’t deserve it. We must remember that we were shown grace and mercy when we didn’t deserve it. All too often, we do not show love as were are called to show love. Sadly, many times we show the exact opposite and we make it difficult for others to see Jesus in us or through us.

How difficult do you make this?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you able to love in this manner?

October 30, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
(Ephesians 4:2 (NIV))

Excuse the language, but have you ever simply wanted to say, “You idiot!” when dealing with certain people?

Be honest with yourself. You probably had someone pop into your mind when you read that question. Honestly, there are just some people that rub us the wrong way even if we try to not let them bother us. But, do they actually make you lose control or is it entirely up to you how you react?

It is said that love is a choice. We can choose to love even when the person is less than lovable. We can choose to be humble and gentle in our responses even when we are intentionally being provoked. We can choose to be patient even in situations where our patience is being put to the ultimate test. We can choose to bear with one another in love because there will be times when we are less than lovable and we will want someone to love us! If you actually stop to think about human reactions, they can all come down to a simple matter of ego and pride. In essence, our reactions are nothing more than our inner attitudes toward others. We think that we know more, or are better qualified to undertake a task. As already stated, love is a choice. It is only one of many, but it is the correct choice.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,
(Philippians 2:3 (NIV))

How do you value others?

Are you able to humble yourself even in the midst of people who are able to press all of your buttons?

Are you able to love in this manner?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you planted and prosperous?

July 19, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers.
(Psalms 1:3 (NIV))

Prosperity does not always mean money!

If a tree is planted by streams of water and yields its fruit in season, that tree is fruitful. It can be considered prosperous. It does exceedingly well exactly what it was created to do!

Do you judge others by financial prosperity? Do you judge yourself by financial prosperity?

Sadly, we have a tendency to judge prosperity by worldly benchmarks where financial gain is the easiest one to measure. We do this regardless of what calling God has placed on the individuals being measured. Please don’t misunderstand me and think that financial prosperity is not from God. It is very possible to be called by God to something where financial prosperity is needed. It is not exactly easy to have the gift of generosity and not have the means to fulfill that gift.

We must realize that not everyone is gifted the same.

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
(Ephesians 11-13 (NIV))

Each person has been gifted differently in order to equip us for His service. If we are obedient and serve as we are called, we will prosper. We will have an impact utilizing the gifts that we have been given. Just as the tree planted by streams of water yields it fruit, if we are obedient and stay planted in our calling, we will produce a yield. We will prosper in what we have been called to do.

Are you planted and prosperous?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you alert and paying attention?

June 27, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled.
(1 Thessalonians 5:6 (NIV))

Do you pay attention to what is going on in the world? Are you alert and watching and waiting or are you asleep? Are you ignorant of the things that God is unfolding right in front of us? Are you oblivious to the attacks of the enemy in the world in which we live?

Do you recognize God’s timeline unfolding or do you simply think that everything is as it has always been?

You can call me an escapist. You can call me someone lost in fantasy. You can call me a conspiracy nut. You can call me a Jesus freak, but nothing is going to change my mind. Nothing is going to change this inner feeling that there is something unfolding as we have been told in God’s Word. I refuse to lay down and sleep!

Let me ask you one simple question. Are you aware of the things that happen around you when you are asleep? Unless something startles you out of a sound sleep, you are oblivious to many things such as a gentle change in the weather, a power outage, a child coming into your room and standing next to your bed, and many, many more such things. It is the subtle changes that allow you to stay in a state of slumber. It is only the drastic changes that wake you to the events as they unfold. The enemy works in the same way. He has been and continues to slowly and subtly change things in a manner that will not shock you out of your slumber. Those who are not paying attention to the subtlety miss it. One day there will be a drastic change and they be awakened and it will be too late!

The Body of Christ is called to be alert and self-controlled. We are to be a witness for Christ. We are to shine the light of Jesus into the darkness of this world. How can we shine into and through this darkness if we fail to see and recognize the darkness?

Are you alert and paying attention?

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