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 do you talk to God?

November 19, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”
(John 11:41-42 (NIV))

Jesus knew, and still knows, human nature extremely well. When He resurrected Lazarus, He petitioned God verbally with prayer so that those around would hear Him and believe. He did not need to do this. God would have heard Him even if He had not spoken a single word. He would have heard His heart, His Spirit, and His anguish. Yet, Jesus spoke out loud so that those around Him would hear and believe. Everyone knows the outcome of this event.

When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”
(John 11:43-44)

When we pray, is it necessary for us to speak out loud? Jesus taught the following:

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
(Matthew 6:5-6)

Prayer is an important part of life. It is a conversation with your Creator, your Father. When you talk to your earthly father, do you do it loudly in a public place, or do you find a private place where you can speak quietly and freely with each other?

How do you think that God wishes for you to talk with Him? How do you talk to God?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you have enough faith to understand?

October 1, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.
(Hebrews 11:3 (NIV))

What is your opinion of how the universe was formed?

Do you believe the current views from the worldly scientific community or do you believe that God created everything?

Which of these scenarios is more difficult to believe?

The worldly scenario states that all of the matter in all of the universe was in one location and suddenly exploded sending it off to eventually form what we see? Where did all of this matter come from to begin with? How old is this matter? How did it get collected into one place? What made it explode? What made the matter come together after the explosion to form the stars and the planets? There are many more questions that could be asked and the world doesn’t have an answer. It seems to me that they have established their own religion, their own set of faith beliefs that leave more questions asked than answered.

The Biblical scenario states the following.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
(Genesis 1:1 (NIV))

This only presents one question, and that question, if answered incorrectly, leads people to believe the worldly scenario of creation.

Who is God?

This single question either leads people to have more faith in their own understanding or it leads them to the one who is Creator of all things. It leads them to either believe that God exists or that everything is here purely by accident!

Personally, I find it so much easier to answer the one question than to answer the countless questions that the worldly scenario presents. I find it easier to understand that God is an eternal being who is spirit and truth. I find it easier to understand that God is all powerful and that He is good. I find it easier to understand that God is able to speak things into existence and that He is able to create things that are visible out of nothing! Once I understand that, everything else makes sense.

Can you say that about the worldly scenario and the few questions I previously brought up? Where did all of the matter come from? How did it all get in one location? How old is it? What made it explode? I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that it requires more faith, although misguided, to believe the worldly scenario. Think about that in relationship to one more question. How many explosions have you seen that resulted in something being created?

I fully place my faith and my understanding in the fact that the universe was formed at God’s command.

Do you have enough faith to understand?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you a doer of the Word?

July 31, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it–he will be blessed in what he does.

If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
(James 1:19-27 (NIV))

Perhaps the best way to say what these words say is simply the phrase “Be doers of the Word.”

We cannot honestly expect to “give lip service” to God and then go about our business ignoring Him! When you take wedding vows, do you expect to be able to say “I Do,” and then go about your life as if you were still single? When you accept a job from someone, can you do what you please and not show up when you agreed to? What is different with our promise to God and our acceptance of His only son, Jesus Christ, as our personal Lord and Savior? Is it because we do not see them that we “give lip service” and do not do what we should be doing?

Honesty and integrity of faith are what God seeks in us. When we accept Jesus, we also accept the rules of the gift of grace. Some people claim the gift, but deny the rules. God wishes for us to be faithful to Him, and to keep all other “gods” in there places. Anything can become a “god” if we place it above anything else. If money is so important that you would cheat to get more, then money has become your “god.”

Be doers of the Word. Remember, actions always speak louder than words. Do not let other “gods” keep you from God.

Are you a doer of the Word?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Does your life validate your claim?

June 26, 2018

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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))

Everyone is familiar with the old saying, “Actions speak louder than words!” Basically, it is possible to say one thing but have your actions say something completely different. A good example of this is saying that you want to help the poor and then when you think that no one is looking, you yell at a homeless person to get a job. Actions like this prove that all too often, what you say and what you do contradict each other.

I would not want to be thought of in this way even if I didn’t profess a faith in Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior!

I have heard several accounts of when followers of Jesus were first called Christians. One account says that the word “Christian” was a derogatory name that meant little Christs. Others convey a meaning of simply being a follower of Christ. Still others believe that it simply meant that those who were called by that name were anointed. No matter what you believe is the true root of the word, the meanings behind them carry a much deeper context. Think about that and apply each of these meanings to your life.

Do you act like a little Christ? If Jesus is your Lord and Savior, He is also your brother. Do you emulate your brother?

Do you act like a follower of Christ? If Jesus is your role model, do you strive to be like Him?

Do you act like you are anointed? If you believe in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, then you have these words to define your status.

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))

No matter which way you look at the origin of the word “Christian,” it should be looked upon as a badge of honor. it should be looked upon as a designation that you strive to follow Jesus in all that you do – both in word and in deed. With this in mind, I want to ask the following.

Do you claim to be a Christian?

Does your life validate your claim?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What are your reaction times like?

April 20, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,
(James 1:19 (NIV))

It seems that we are always being judged on our reaction times. What I find interesting is the things that we are being measured for. Some of them are important, such as how quickly you can apply the brakes in a car if an emergency arises. Some of them are just ridiculous such as how fast someone can eat a hot dog. Other reaction times can determine your life’s direction and your career choices, such as how fast you can run 40 yards. In the grand scheme of things, we face many things in our lives that are used to measure us for some aspect or another.

For what things do you wish your reactions times to be measured?

Are they the things of this world or are they something different?

If someone were to give us an evaluation based on the things in James 1:19, how would we be rated? Would we be considered quick to listen? Do we honestly hear what is being said? Do we understand and give our undivided attention? Do we hold our tongues? Do we quickly become angry? These are all things where we should strive to improve our reaction times, for when we do, it reflects not only on us, but on the one that we claim to follow.

What are your reaction times like?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you ask the Lord for boldness in the face of threats?

March 9, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.
(Acts 4:29 (NIV))

Most people hate confrontation and would rather avoid it at all costs. In fact, most people who profess a faith in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior have this false understanding that we are to avoid confrontation. Too many people believe that being a follower of Jesus means that you are to be passive in the face of threats.

So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”
(John 2:15-17 (NIV))

Does this sound like Jesus was passive?

Why does the world believe that those who follow Jesus are to be passive?

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))

It is true that Jesus told us to turn the other cheek, but that was in respect to personal attacks and showing love in return. We are to love the Lord!

“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.
(Matthew 22:36-38 (NIV))

When you love someone as strongly as we are told to love the Lord, then it is human nature to speak up when we see someone doing something wrong to them. For those who have families, would you sit idly by and watch a group of people do harmful things to your children? You would be bold and step in to defend them. And, no, I am not saying that we have to defend God. What I am saying is that we should be bold about pointing out that people are doing something contrary to what they should be doing. If that means that we speak the truth of the Gospel in the midst of threats and danger, then we need to ask the Lord for boldness.

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.
(2 Timothy 1:7 (NIV))

Do you ask the Lord for boldness in the face of threats?

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