Do we love and teach like the early church?

June 12, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
(Acts 2:46-47 (NIV))

I have often heard that non-believers are not reached through preaching, but through fellowship.

God came to earth as Jesus to fellowship with His creation face to face. Jesus taught, ate and lived with the people that He was trying to reach. He taught His disciples to reach out to people in the same way. They did not meet with people only on Sunday. They did not meet with people who happened to show up for an hour once a week to hear a message. They spent their time with the people, living, eating, teaching and enjoying each other’s company. They brought people to Jesus through a fundamental principle of friendship and love.

People are hungry for the Truth. They are hungry for the Love of the Father. This love can be shown by people. It is when this love is shown by people, when people can see Jesus in someone, that they are honestly and genuinely drawn to God. Once they are drawn, they need feeding and nurturing. It is this feeding and nurturing that continual fellowship in Jesus satisfies.

Jesus did not condemn when He taught. He came to bring life and more abundantly. Life is a gift from God. It is to be enjoyed. People come to know Jesus through true fellowship with believers.

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you tempted when others sin?

March 2, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.
(Galatians 6:1 (NIV))

We all like to think that we are masters over our sinful nature since we have accepted Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior.

How is that working out for you?

Paul knew better than to believe this or to even teach this concept. He knew that it would not take much to distract us before we were back involved in our old sinful habits. He warned us to always be on our guard so that we would not fall for the lies of the enemy and take our eyes off of Jesus.

He struggled with it himself!

We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.
(Romans 7:14-25 (NIV))

Think about that for a moment!

Paul, the very person who had a personal encounter with the risen Jesus on his was to Damascus, realizes that he sins. Paul, the very person who is credited with taking the Gospel to the Gentiles, recognizes his struggle with sin. If someone who is considered a pillar of faith knows that it is easy for him to still sin, why do we feel that we are perfect and that we can ignore temptation?

Don’t let the sins of others tempt you!

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you accept God’s authority?

August 22, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
(Romans 13:6 (NIV))

Too many people who are in authority seem to have forgotten that they are supposed to be God’s servants. Most of those people don’t even acknowledge that God exists, let alone serve Him. They do not give any respect to anyone or anything except their inner, sinful desires. Perhaps, if I may go out on a limb, this is why our society has sunk to new lows.

Even though many of the people who are in authority over us are there for selfish reasons, we must remember that they have been put there for a reason. We must pray that God will use them to His greater glory. Have you ever stopped to consider the fact that in the end times, the wheat and the tares are to grow up evenly and that maybe God is using these people to unknowingly fulfill His plans. Even so, we must pray that God’s Will be done. We must pray that we, on a personal level, may be able to accept God’s authority over that of human authority. We must be alert to the needs of the world and give what is needed when it is needed.

We must be prepared to give respect and honor for God loves everyone and does not wish for any to perish. God may plan to use us to show the love of Jesus to these people. We may be the one who plants the seed within their lives. If we do not honor and respect the authority, how can we expect them to honor and respect the authority that is God? We must teach by example. We may not like the actions of those in authority over us, but we must remember that no one is perfect and that we are all sinners in need of a Savior. What if you had not been shown enough respect and had not been shown salvation, after all, Jesus came to this earth not as a ruler, but as a common man?

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you preserve Godly knowledge?

July 14, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“For the lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge, and from his mouth men should seek instruction–because he is the messenger of the LORD Almighty. But you have turned from the way and by your teaching have caused many to stumble; you have violated the covenant with Levi,” says the LORD Almighty.
(Malachi 2:7-8 (NIV))

This makes my heart hurt and my spirit groan!

I realize that this is Old Testament, but it brings something to light that has always been a problem. That problem is that some people who claim to be priests, preachers or teachers are not preaching and teaching the truth. As a result, many people have been led astray.

Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.
(James 3:1 (NIV))

What is it about human nature that makes us think that we can change God’s Word and have it mean what we want it to mean? Why do some people think that the Bible is no longer relevant in this day and time? Truth is truth no matter when and where it is spoken. Sadly, too many people no longer speak the truth. They preach and teach what man wants to hear and not what God wants us to hear. Too many people preach a feel good theology that cannot save.

What did Jesus preach and teach when He walked among us?

Did He preach social justice? Did He preach good works? Did He preach legalism? Did He preach prosperity?

Jesus did not preach any of these things, so why do so many stray from the true message of the Gospel? He preached the good news of salvation through repentance of sins. He preached that He is the only way to the Father. He taught us that there would be false teachers. His disciples taught that there would be false teachers.

It saddens me to the point where my spirit groans to think that someone could take such a fantastic gift of grace and distort it so that people are caused to stumble. It is a sad reflection on society when so many of those who are supposed to preserve Godly knowledge are the very ones who are perverting it.

We, as the Body of Christ, must study and understand God’s Word. We must hold each other accountable. It is often said that the members of the Body of Christ are to be priests to one another. What does that say to you with respect to preserving Godly knowledge?

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you understand and obey?

March 14, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their minds so they will understand them, and I will write them on their hearts so they will obey them. I will be their God, and they will be my people!
(Hebrews 8:10 (NLT))

I love the way the New Living Translation phrases this passage.

We are used to reading it translated something like the following.

This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel
after that time, declares the Lord.
I will put my laws in their minds
and write them on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people
(Hebrews 8:10 (NIV)

No matter how we are used to reading it, the meaning should not be lost on the reader. We are to think about God’s laws and reflect on their meaning. We are to strive to understand them with our intellect. We are to reflect upon what God is telling us with each passage that we read and not just simply read the words. There is more meaning in God’s Word than mere words. There is a reason that it is called the Living Word. If we study and reflect upon it, then God will use this reflection and study to teach us more about Himself. He will open up the same passage with more meaning as our maturity in Him increases. As our maturity increases through study, another aspect comes into play.

God’s Word makes the move from our minds to our hearts.

We begin to not only understand, we also begin to obey. We find ourselves longing to do the things that God wants. We find ourselves not only intellectually understanding. We find ourselves transformed by that understanding to the point where we actually apply it to our lives. We obey not out of fear, but out of a desire to seek righteousness.

Do you have a favorite translation that you read and study? For me, my favorite is the New International Version, but I find hidden gems of truth in every translation. Some translations, such as the New Living Translation, add wording that does not go against the intent or change the context, but it expands on the meaning and adds insight. I don’t know how many times that I have read Hebrews 8:10, and I know the intent of the words, but sometimes I need to be hit right between the eyes with what God is saying. I would venture to say that I am not alone in this. Sometimes we all need to be hit over the head with the proverbial 2×4 so that we recognize the truth behind what we profess to believe.

Do you understand and obey?

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are we a church based on God’s Word or on people’s opinions?

June 25, 2015

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:

These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, `I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.

Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.

To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
(Revelation 3:14-22 (NIV))

I read something last night that I had forgotten about the church in Laodicea. Actually, it was more about the long term meaning of the passage and the translated meaning of the name of the city – Laodicea.

Before we get into the name’s meaning, I want to make sure that everybody understands that the church at Laodicea was one of the worst churches of the seven that are mentioned in Revelation. Many theologians actually believe that the long term prophesy applies to the general church of today. With what I was reminded of in my readings last night, I sadly agree with them.

Laodicea literally translates to something like “People’s opinions,” or “People judged.” Some have even stated that it can be translated as “The will of the people.”

Think about this meaning and the fact that this type of church is considered to be one of the worst.

What do you see when you read about the different denominations. They started because of division and people wanted to change a few things that they didn’t agree with. What about the current issues facing society? Many people who profess a faith in Jesus are ignoring the Bible and are teaching what they want to teach. If I were a betting man, I would venture to say that most people who sit in the pews of the churches around the world don’t actually know what the Bible has to say. They rely on the person in the pulpit and don’t read it for themselves.

I have read the warnings that have been given to the church in Laodicea, the church based on people’s opinions. Frankly, I am scared to death to be outside of God’s Word for I know what awaits those who preach the will of the people instead of God’s Will.

Are we the prophesied church of Laodicea? Can we escape what is to come? Can we repent and turn into a church based on God’s Word?

Thankfully, we know that there will be those who overcome. It will take more than sitting in a pew for an hour and accepting whatever the preacher says as truth. We must read God’s Word. We must live, eat, sleep and breathe God’s Word. We must hold each other accountable and not allow people’s opinions to dictate the truth that we know to be God’s truth.

It is important to remember that God’s Word never changes! People and their opinions do.

Copyright 1998 – 2015 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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We need each other in our faith!

November 19, 2014

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
(Colossians 3:16 (NAS))

There are those who say that they do not need to go to church, that their belief is a personal issue.

Belief is a personal issue, yet, when all of the world is against what you believe in, it requires strength to survive and maintain those beliefs.

What if you want to grow your faith? All throughout history, people have taken comfort from others. When we teach our children, we do it in groups so that they may have the benefit of not only learning from the teacher, but also learning from each other. Why do we treat learning about God any different than we treat learning about anything else?

It is true that it is a relationship between the Creator and His creation, but the creation is a fallen entity and needs external support in order to stay focused. That is one reason why schools have class-rooms; to keep an order and a focus. Without that external support, our focus tends to stray. We need each other in all aspects of life, not just social. We must gather together as believers to help each other keep our focus on God and to help us grow.

Copyright 1998 – 2014 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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