What are you doing?

October 8, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
(John 14:12 (NIV))

I may offend a few people with today’s passage and thoughts. I pray that perhaps I will make you think about this passage and the things that we, as the Body of Christ, should be doing.

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))

Do you believe in Jesus? Do you believe that Jesus is God’s one and only Son? Do you claim the gift of eternal life that this belief entitles you to? Sadly, that is where far too many people stop with their faith. They fail to respond by putting their faith into actions such as sharing the Gospel. We are called to go into all the world and preach the good news, but how many of us actually do anything for the Lord? How many of us read these passages that tell us that we have a responsibility and then simply choose to ignore them. What is recorded in John tells us that Jesus expects those who believe in Him to do what He spent His life doing. What is recorded tells us that He expects even greater things from us.

Are we living up to expectations?

We are not saved by works, but since we have been given the greatest gift that has ever been given, we should desire to share this gift with others. We should desire to do all that we can do to share the good news of Jesus!

What are you doing?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you have the faith to do something?

August 27, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

      What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
      But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”
      Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that–and shudder.
(James 2:14-19 (NIV))

We are told that we will be known by our fruit. What fruit do you bear?

We are told that we cannot earn our way to salvation through works. Does this mean that we do not do good works?

We are told that actions speak louder than words. Are you actions louder than a whisper?

Too many members of the Body of Christ cling to the notion that because we are saved by grace and that we are freed from the law of sin and death, we are also free from doing good works. Too many believe that since good works do not get you into heaven, they are not needed. Nothing could be farther from the truth!

Works without faith will not save us. Faith saves us. However, faith without works is not a true manifestation of faith. When we are fully aware of the grace that we have been given, we should fully desire to share that love and grace with all that we see. We should not simply sit upon our laurels and falsely profess that we have our salvation and the salvation of everyone else is not our responsibility.

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”
(Mark 16:15-18 (NIV))

Jesus gave us the responsibility.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said, “Action springs not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility.”

Are you ready to accept the responsibility that Jesus has given us?

Do you have the faith to do something?

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

May 25, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.
(John 12:23-26 (NIV))

This may seem off target for this verse since it speaks of Jesus telling His disciples that His time has come. However, the words that Jesus uses speak to all of us.

The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
(John 12:25 (NIV))

Memorial Day started back in the 1860s as a way to remember those who had given their lives in battle. Originally it was called Decoration Day since the way that people honored the fallen was to decorate their graves. Regardless of what it is called, we owe these men and women a debt of gratitude and honor for their sacrifice. Many people do not agree with war, but the truth is that these people stepped up to take the responsibility of righting something that they did not agree with and they were willing to give their lives for that calling.

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
(John 15:13 (NIV))

Most of us never knew these people throughout our history, yet we owe them so much. I can honestly say that it is a certainty that not all were believers in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior, still, I believe that they carried a spark of the Light that Jesus brought to this world. You cannot be exposed to the Light without having some of it take root.

Jesus laid down His life so that we could have life. These men and women did the same thing in their own ways.

We must never forget to honor those who have gone before us and stood for the truths that we, as the Body of Christ, hold fast to. They answered the call when an answer was needed. Would we be willing to answer a similar call today? Would we rely on the Light of Jesus to guide us in that answer?

Are you serving Jesus?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do you strive to practice strict self-control?

February 20, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

All athletes practice strict self-control. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.
(1 Corinthians 9:25 (NLT))

Some translations say that the athletes go into strict training. To me, this translation hits a little closer to home. We may not have any idea of what strict training may be, but we can all understand the idea of strict self-control.

Think about that concept for a moment.

What do you think of when self-control is mentioned?

Is it the will power to not eat the last donut in the box, or is it much more?

Personally, self-control and personal responsibility go hand in hand. Let’s face the truth. Our society no longer believes in personal responsibility. People claim that they were born that way, or they were raised in a bad home, or . . .

I think that you get the picture. Our society, and each of us as a member of the Body of Christ, must be willing to practice self-control. We must be willing to accept the responsibility of our actions. We must strive to live our lives as Jesus taught us.

Using the athlete example, a life in faith is not a sprint that starts and is over quickly. A life in faith is a lifelong journey, a marathon, in which we must be prepared to face any obstacles that the world throws our way. In order to do this, we must practice self-control. We must be willing to accept personal responsibility. If you are willing to accept personal responsibility, then you are capable of learning from your mistakes and focusing once again on the prize that is set before us.

Imagine this scenario.

You are standing in front of Jesus and He is judging your life. You have never accepted His grace and mercy as your own. Every aspect of your life condemns you. Your only response, “It wasn’t my fault. I wasn’t ready!”

I can only imagine the response from Jesus.

Strive for the prize that is won only through Jesus. Don’t allow the things of this world to sway your self-control.

Do you strive to practice strict self-control?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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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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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.
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This is the job of all believers!

August 15, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

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,
(Matthew 28:19 (NIV))

Do you realize that you have a written job description as a believer in Jesus?

It is the same for everyone who professes a faith in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior, but, unfortunately, too many fail to perform this one assignment. Our primary responsibility after accepting Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior is to share the good news of salvation with all whom we encounter. Every single one of us is a unique creation. Just as we realize that no two individuals are created the same, our abilities are unique as well. Some of us are eloquent in speech. Some are better with the written word. Some are better with actions. Some are more suited for expressing what Jesus has done through music, while others are visually creative and can convey God’s grace through eye catching artwork. If none of these describe you, then you may be gifted as a teacher or blessed as a caregiver. No matter what you talents may be, all of us can utilize our talents to fulfill our job description as followers of Jesus. We are to use what we have to reach our neighbors. We are to use what we have to reach the world!

This is the job of all believers!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Will you be cut off or pruned or are you bearing fruit?

August 7, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.
(John 15:1-2 (NIV))

Every believer probably thinks that they are bearing fruit for the Lord, and hopefully that is true. Have you honestly stopped to reflect on your life in relationship to this to seek the Lord and ask if your actions are producing what He desires from you? You may think that since you go to church, you are doing well, but do you witness to others? I realize that all of heaven rejoices when a single sinner comes to salvation, but that is not the end of our responsibility.

We are to share the Gospel so that others may come to a saving knowledge of Jesus. We are to witness. We are to tell others about the Lord in both words and in our actions. How can actions tell someone about Jesus? Just in case you have forgotten the old say, actions do speak louder than words. Our actions are to bear fruit.

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))

I don’t know about you, but these all sound like actions to me!

We can exhibit these fruits in such a manner that others notice a difference in our lives. We can let them see Jesus in our lives before we even begin to tell them about Jesus! Your actions will open up a window of opportunity that will often have others asking what makes you different. That is when you share Jesus in words.

I just realized something that I want to share with you. If our actions lead us to bear fruit, I want you to consider something. When you see a fruit tree or you see fruit in a store, does it pounce on you and tell you that you need it? You are enticed by what you see and experience. Your senses draw you in. The same thing can be said of the fruit that we bear for Jesus. If we present the fruit in such a way as to allow a person’s senses to draw them in, then they will desire to experience the sweetness of what the Lord has to offer. It is our assignment as members of the Body of Christ to yield fruit. Are we living up to that task?

Will you be cut off or pruned or are you bearing fruit?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Will you receive your reward?

July 8, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent me. Anyone who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and anyone who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man’s reward. And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.”
(Matthew 10:40-42 (NIV))

Have you ever thought about this passage and how it can impact your life and the lives of those around you?

Carefully consider that Jesus is telling us that if we go out in His name, it is as if He were the one who was going out spreading the Word. If we are received and the message that we bring is received, then Jesus is received. If we are rejected because of the message, then Jesus will be rejected. I know that all of us have heard this in different forms during our lives, but, no matter how you word it, we are to be Jesus to the world!

What an awesome responsibility! We are representatives of the Son of God! We have the authority to preach and to teach in the name of Jesus Christ. We also have the responsibility to our fellow man to tell them of the grace and mercy that God freely gives to any who would simply call upon the name of Jesus. If we are faithful in our task, then God, through the grace and mercy given through Jesus, will call us prophets, for a prophet speaks the will of God. It is God’s will that no one should perish. He will call us righteous, for through the cleansing power of the blood of Jesus, we are made spotless and righteous in His eyes.

The next time that you get an opportunity to share Jesus with someone, remember that we have a responsibility that should not be taken lightly. What if the person who shared Jesus with you had shirked their responsibility? Do not shirk yours.

Will you receive your reward?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What have you put behind you?

March 29, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.
(1 Corinthians 13:11 (NIV))

Maturity is something that many of us try to avoid. We have a tendency to fear responsibility and we have a tendency to think of maturity and responsibility as being one and the same. In all honesty, they are closely related, but it is possible to be responsible without actually being mature. In essence, maturity can be considered full development while responsibility often refers to accountability. A good example of this is a child who always cleans their room. They are definitely not mature, but they are responsible in certain aspects of their life.

Human nature tells us that we don’t like to be held accountable. All that you have to do is look at Adam and Eve after being tempted into eating the fruit. When God approached them about what happened, blame was placed elsewhere. They failed to take the responsibility for what happened.

If you look at maturity as the ability to recognize sin and responsibility as the accountability to stay away from sin, then we start to get a clearer picture of this passage.

A child will think, say and do things that are less than desirable. Hopefully, as the child gets older, they recognize the childish nature and desire to take on a more mature nature. They decide to leave the old, childish nature behind them in a similar manner to how a person who repents leaves the old, sinful nature behind them. They step closer to maturity by selecting to put things behind them and move forward without that baggage.

What have you put behind you?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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