What are you capable of doing?

January 10, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
(John 15:5 (NIV))

It is human nature to think that we are invincible, that we are capable of doing anything and everything that we put our minds to. Is that really true?

I have read this passage many times, but today something caught my attention that has not come to my attention before. We read this passage and think that it means that without the Lord we cannot achieve anything. I realize that what I am about to say may have you questioning my thought process, but bear with me for a moment. If you read this passage again, pay very close attention to the part about bearing much fruit. Dare I say that this fruit is actually the fruit of the Spirit?

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))

Without the Lord and the fruit that we bear because of Him, we are left with our sin. We are left as the filthy rags that we are without Jesus!

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.
(Galatians 5:19-21 (NIV))

I realize that we are to commit everything that we do unto the Lord, but I also think we need to understand what Jesus is speaking of in this passage. The things that we do in this world, unless they bring someone to accept Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior, are of no eternal value. Our circle of influence is perhaps two generations if we are so blessed. Even so, that circle is very limited if you look at the world. What is important are things that leave an impact on someone else’s life for all eternity. We can be a bad influence and not share Jesus, or we can live our lives sharing Jesus with all whom we encounter. Leading someone to Jesus requires something of us. We simply cannot lead someone to Jesus if we do not remain in Him and He in us. Our fruit is a direct reflection of our relationship with Jesus. Sharing the Gospel is our single most important responsibility.

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

Can you see anyone doing this if they do not remain in Jesus and He in them? No one is capable of fulfilling this without Jesus!

What are you capable of doing?

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

December 23, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
(Luke 2:8-14 (NIV))

What an honor it must have been to be the first to hear the good news! The shepherds must have been terrified by the presence of the angels, after all, angels were not, and are still not an every day occurrence.

Luckily for us, God’s plan does not discriminate against us for not being there. In fact, it is probably with mixed blessings that we are embraced as part of God’s Kingdom. We do not have the first hand experience of having seen the angels, the star, or Jesus’ life. Sometimes, I wonder if I would have believed if I lived at the time of Jesus!

On the other hand, we have the faith of millions of people who have gone before us. We have the New Testament, the hundreds of years of prophesy study that proves Jesus is King of kings, the Messiah. It may be easier for someone today to come to faith than it was in Jesus’ day. Yet, through all of this “historical proof”, I sometimes feel empty. I think it is the desire of every believer to be able to go back in time and be a witness to the miracles and hear the teachings of Jesus firsthand.

We celebrate the birth of Jesus and look back in awe to the miracles. At the same time, we should look around us in awe of what God is doing today and look to the not-to-distant future and know what God is going to do. We celebrate the First Coming. Some tomorrow we will celebrate the Second Coming.

Merry Christmas!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you truly understand the fullness of God’s love?

December 13, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
(Ephesians 3:17b-19 (NIV))

How many times do we need to be told about the depth and breadth of God’s love for us?

Sometimes I feel that we could be told every second of our lives and we would still find times that we forget what is so prevalent in God’s message to us. Face the truth of our sinful existence. There have undoubtedly been times within the last twenty four hours that God’s love for you was forgotten.

Do you think that God is trying to tell us something?

Paul wrote about how wide and long and high and deep, and in the very next thought he tells us that God’s love surpasses knowledge. In other words, we cannot comprehend it because it is so vast. Perhaps that is why we constantly need to be reminded about the magnitude of God’s love for us. It is simply beyond human capacity to understand.

God’s love passes our ability to understand. God’s peace is also beyond our understanding.

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

Even with all of the sinful things in our lives, God loves us. All we have to do is accept it. Once we accept it, embrace it and embrace God’s peace so that you may be filled to the measure of all fullness of God.

Do you truly understand the fullness of God’s love?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Our God is a mighty warrior!

December 9, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.
        Selah
(Psalms 46:1-3 (NIV))

The events of the last several years have had me relying upon this verse far more than I have in the past. Let’s face it, recent events are very fear inducing. Wars. Rumors of wars. Terrorism. Bank failures. Energy shortages. Economic financial collapse. How can those who do not cling to the promises held within this passage face each day. Their only hope is in the institutions of the world. These institutions are man made and man is not perfect. Everything that man creates will eventually fall apart. Even institutions created with the very best of intentions will eventually fade from memory once the people who presented those intentions have left this world.

What can we hold on to? What can we cling to that will give us the hope and the peace that we all so earnestly seek?

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:4-7 (NIV))

Hold firmly to the Lord, for He will be with us. Even in the midst of the worst imaginable troubles, rejoice and give thanks for He is with us. I know that this is not easy to do, for human nature controls us even when we want God to fill us. Satan will torment us. He will do all that he can to keep us from praising God, for he knows that if we are not praising God we will be groveling in despair in the very situations that he has placed us in.

Praise God and give thanks for all that He has done, all that He is doing, and all that He will do. Use your praise to turn your fear into a celebration of God’s victory. After all, our God is a mighty warrior!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Only the Lord is a perfect fit!

December 6, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

The law of the LORD is perfect,
reviving the soul.
The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
The precepts of the LORD are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the LORD are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever.
The ordinances of the LORD are sure
and altogether righteous.
(Psalms 19:7-9 (NIV))

Some say that there is a God shaped hole inside of our hearts that we strive to fill. Some fill it with wealth; some with power; some with lust; some with greed; and some with false religions. All of the people who try to force fit a “square peg into a round hole” are never truly at peace. They occasionally can make something “fit” temporarily, but due to the mismatched shapes, whatever they place there eventually works its way out.

When this happens, there is much pain, sadness and anger. Filling the space that was intended for God to fill only leads to false hope and aggravation. The Psalmist knew of this and conveyed this truth very eloquently in the above passage. This was before the idea of a “God shaped hole,” but it conveys the same underlying truth.

How are you trying to fill this hole that yearns to be filled?

Only the Lord is a perfect fit!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is the Lord your shepherd?

December 2, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
forever.
(Psalms 23:1-6 (NIV))

Have you ever truly looked at this passage in language that can make the Lord’s love personal? What if we paraphrase this passage to help us understand the personal relationship that the Lord desires with each of us and just what He will do for us when we accept His grace and mercy?

If I place my trust in Him, the Lord will be my personal shepherd and guide.
He will provide for all that I need.
He will give me peace and rest.
He will provide direction for my life.
He will provide complete restoration.
He will remove all fear and doubt.
He will provide comfort.
He will sustain us through the troubles of this world.
He will anoint us and bless us because we have placed our faith and trust in Him.
He will pour out His goodness and His love on us as we strive to follow Him.
He will provide us an eternal, permanent residence with Himself where all of the things previously mentioned will continue for all eternity!

I realize that this may sound like prosperity preaching, but it is far from that. What the Lord has promised us is mercy and grace. Through the gift of His Son Jesus, each of us have the opportunity to receive this wonderful gift and all of the blessings that have been promised. These gifts are not for the greedy, for all can possess them equally. These gifts are not for the cynic, for anyone who is a cynic has a hardened heart. These gifts are simply for anyone who will allow the Lord to soften their heart and show them that what they seek is only available through Him.

Do the things that David wrote of in this passage sound like something that you desire? All that you have to do is ask the Lord to be your shepherd!

Is the Lord your shepherd?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you prepared for what you may face?

November 6, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
(Matthew 5:10 (NIV))

Many people in the church today have not been prepared for what is coming. Far too many people have been told that following Jesus is easy and everything in your life will begin to get better if you follow Jesus. I need to clarify something at this point and admit that God will begin to work things for your good when you start to follow Jesus. These things are probably best explained as a fresh manifestation of the fruit of the Spirit in your life.

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))

When these things are present in your life, people notice. They will be drawn to you because they see something that they desire in their own lives. This is the prime opportunity to share the Gospel, to share the source of your love, joy, and peace.

Sadly, when this happens, the enemy also takes notice. He will muster all resources to keep you from sharing the Gospel, for he knows that you have a powerful witness that must be stopped.

Hold fast!

Stand firm!

Do not allow the threat of ridicule or persecution keep you from following Jesus.

We are all familiar with the accounts of what the disciples and the early church had to endure. We may never have to face the same things that the disciples and the early Christians had to face, but what if we do? Are you prepared to completely place your faith in Jesus no matter the worldly consequences? Are you willing to stand firm and tell the world that you believe in Jesus and nothing that they can do will make you change your mind?

Are you prepared for what you may face?

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