Are you on watch for bad fruit?

October 10, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
(Matthew 7:15-20 (NIV))

Think about this the next time that you hear of something that is just too good to be true, or is just a little off of what God’s Word says that it should be. Most of the time, lies are obvious, but deception is a trick of the enemy. When things sound almost right with respect to God’s word, they are totally wrong.

It should be easy for believers to realize that the “fruit” does not match the source. We should be able to easily distinguish that the things the enemy tells us are too good to be true, especially when they contradict everything that we should know to be true according to God’s Word.

Why do people fall for the deceptions of the enemy?

Are we, as a fallen, sinful race, too far removed from the truth to even recognize it?

The words in Matthew are amazing and sadly amusing if you stop to actually understand what is being said. We have enough common sense to not look for grapes on an apple tree, yet, we easily fall prey to the small lies of the enemy in hopes that the promises are true.

Test everything against God’s Word. If something is supposed to bear goodness, but it lies to do so, does it really follow God’s Word? If you are promised that it is only a small digression and no one will know about it, can it be the correct fit?

We have been told what the things of God will bear.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
(Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV))

Think of this passage when validating the truth about something. Does it produce according to the fruit of the Spirit?

Are you on watch for bad fruit?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you understand real knowledge and wisdom?

October 4, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ;
(Philippians 1:9-10 (NIV))

Just what is real knowledge?

Several years, I went by my wife’s office only to find that her parking lot was roped off as a crime scene. This is where the police believe that a college professor parked while he went next door and killed his wife and two other people. This professor was supposed to possess knowledge. In fact, I understand that he was well respected in his field. Unfortunately, one moment of rash and erroneous decisions have made it so that he will never be able to practice his profession again. All of that knowledge and no outlet.

Human knowledge has its limitations. It has its errors in judgment and reasoning. It is flawed and no matter how much humanity claims that it can perfect human knowledge, there will always be circumstances that push us beyond our human ability to understand, reason and to respond.

All of us have become like one who is unclean,
      and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
   we all shrivel up like a leaf,
      and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
(Isaiah 64:16 (NIV))

With this truth before us, there is only one true knowledge. There is only one real knowledge. God is good and that Jesus Christ is His only begotten Son.

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))

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.
Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.
(John 1:1-5 (NIV))

When you gain knowledge, it is said that you are enlightened. Jesus is the light. Knowing Jesus and following Jesus will not result in senseless results of rash decisions based on false knowledge. Jesus will walk with you in all that you do. He will be with you. The knowledge of the Holy Trinity will be with you. He will give you wisdom. And, yes, there is a difference.

Do you know the real knowledge that God desires for you to know? Do you understand real knowledge and wisdom?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you been born of the Spirit?

September 16, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.”
(John 3:5-6 (NIV))

More people are aware of the verse just a few short sentences before this passage.

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.
(John 3:3 (NIV))

In fact, even nonbelievers are familiar with this passage to the point where they have created bumper stickers saying that they were born okay the first time. Ironically, their comments support the words that Jesus spoke about flesh gives birth to flesh. They either don’t understand the concept of being born again or they choose to rebel against the idea out of ego and pride. Think about that for a moment. When do we see the very first rebellion against God and what was the cause of this rebellion? Ever since Satan declared that he wanted to be God, pride has become a major issue. Pride became such an issue that it caused the fall from grace. It caused all the sins of the world. If you look at the Ten Commandments, everything that the Lord God told us to obey are things that lead us to Him and away from pride. We are to honor only God and His Name. We are not to pick part of His creation and worship it. We are to obey the Lord and live according to His desires and laws. Anything short of that is a sin.

All flesh has been corrupted by the fall from grace. That is why our ancestors were driven from the Garden of Eden. They had corrupted God’s perfect creation. As descendants of Adam and Eve, we are just as guilty.

God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.
(John 4:24 (NIV))

We cannot approach God in sin. We must be cleansed. We must be made anew. We must accept the grace and mercy given to us on the cross. We must accept the Spirit of God and allow Him to work in us from the inside out and make us people who are focused on things of the Spirit instead of things of this earth. We must allow God’s Spirit to be birthed in us!

Have you been born of the Spirit?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What do you ask for? What do you seek?

August 30, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
(Matthew 7:7-8 (NIV))

Many people know this verse, but they take it all wrong. They ask for worldly things that only benefit themselves. They do not fully understand and comprehend that what this speaks of is actually a desire for the knowledge of God and not for a desire for personal gain of worldly things.

What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?
(Matthew 16:26a (NIV))

Worldly possessions are not what God is speaking of, for we already know that God does not see worldly possessions as human nature sees them. To God, the ultimate treasure is an intimate knowledge of Him. It is for this knowledge that Jesus came and died so that we may have a relationship with God the way that God designed us to be in relationship with Him. We ask for this intimacy and we eagerly knock at the door to be allowed into this intimate relationship.

God did not send His Son, Jesus, to die so that we could have material possessions. Jesus died so that we could be reunited with God in spite of our sinful nature.

What do you ask for? What do you seek?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you pray for wisdom and understanding?

August 26, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand.
(Daniel 12:10 (NIV))

These words recorded in Daniel speak of the people who will see the three and a half years that will be the worst period of time in human history. All of history is coming to a pivotal point and each person has to make a decision. Each of us must choose to accept Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior or reject Him as the Son of the Most High God. Failure to make a choice is the same thing as rejecting Jesus. We must be able to answer the question that Jesus asked the disciples.

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
(Matthew 16:5 (NIV))

Our answer will determine our eternity. Our answer is not about us. It is only about Jesus! We may consider ourselves to be a good person, but we are nothing without Jesus.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
(Romans 3:23 (NIV))

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
(Isaiah 64:6 (NIV))

It should be the prayer of everyone who professes a faith in Jesus that wisdom and understanding be made manifest to all and that none should continue in their sin and wickedness.

Do you pray for wisdom and understanding?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How do you classify greatness?

August 19, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me `Teacher’ and `Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
(John 13:12-17 (NIV))

How do you classify greatness?

Is it military might and power? Is it financial wealth? Is it political power? Is it the ability to hire and fire people at will? Exactly what do you consider greatness?

Chances are that most of the population of the world thinks in terms similar to the questions listed above. We, as humanity, have a tendency to see greatness as an elevation of one person over others to the extent that the one person has power and authority over the others. We do not have a tendency to see greatness as a humble spirit that is willing to do anything for others.

On the contrary, this type of person is seen as weak by our society. We do not think of a person who is willing to be a servant as a great person. They are seen as nothing more than a door mat for others to walk upon. However, God has another opinion.

God sent His Son, Jesus, to be our servant. Jesus was with God, yet, He humbled himself to the point of death so that He could do what the Father asked of Him. Now, through His humility, He sits at the right hand of God the Father as an example of what we are supposed to be like.

Jesus came into this world and turned our perceptions upside down. He died so that many could have life. He arose from the grave to defeat sin and death. He ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of God, the Father.

How do you classify greatness?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do you understand the value of love?

August 1, 2019

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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))

There are many characteristics that we would like to think that are a part of our personality. It is human nature to think that we are better than we really are. With this in mind, what are your greatest personality traits?

Do you feel that you truthfully exhibit any of the following?

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.

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 5:19-23 (NIV))

I suppose that I should ask whether you feel you exhibit characteristics from the acts of the flesh or from the fruit of the Spirit. Each and every one of us wants to be considered loving, joyful, peaceful, kind, good, faithful and gentle, but to be honest with ourselves, we have to admit that we are only human and that we exhibit the other characteristics more often than we desire to. Even so, we have something to strive for with the Lord’s help. We are told that the greatest that we can present is love. We are also told, by the order of presentation, that love is a crucial fruit of the Spirit. We are also told that love is an identifying characteristic of those who claim to be disciples of Jesus.

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
(John 13:35 (NIV))

If this is the case, then it makes perfect sense that we are to love each other.

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
(1 Peter 4:8 (NIV))

Let’s put this in perspective. We can claim to have faith and we can be condemned by our lack of love. We can claim to have hope, and still be hateful. When we have love, the true love of Jesus, then faith and hope fall into place. We love the Lord and His creation. Out of this love springs the faith and the hope to share that love with the world. I believe that I am beginning to see why love is the greatest to remain.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
(1 Corinthians 13:8 (NIV))

Do you understand the value of love?

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