Do you accept the hard teachings?

February 12, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”
(John 6:60 (NIV))

Far too many people only consider the easy things that Jesus taught, ignoring the things that they find difficult to understand or to put into practice. If you stop to think about this, everything that Jesus said has been difficult for us to put into practice. Human nature simply wants to do what it wants to do! It is a daily struggle to admit that we are sinners. It is a daily struggle to admit that we are not capable of anything on our own. We don’t like to admit that even on our best day, we are far from perfect.

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))

John 6:60 catches the disciples asking this question after Jesus tells the crowd something that just didn’t make sense from their perspective. Does it make sense to you?

Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me.
(John 6:53-57 (NIV))

Even though we have the benefit of two thousand years and much analysis, far too many people still have problems with this concept.

Think about it from this perspective.

What is the most intimate thing that you can do with something? You make it a part of yourself by either eating or drinking it. When this happens, the items that were consumed get broken down into the basic elements that you need and they become a part of you. There is no way to tell where you end and where these elements begin. I don’t know about you, but this sounds exactly like what Jesus wants for each of us. He wants each of us to consume Him in such a way that the very life that He came to give has become inseparable from the life that He has renewed within us. Just how do you consume Jesus? How do you make His teachings and His life inseparable from your? I love the simple instructions that we were given in Deuteronomy.

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.
(Deuteronomy 11:18 (NIV))

Focus on the Lord. Focus on the Word. Focus on the teachings even when they are hard. Accept them. Bind them. Make them integral to who you are!

Do you accept the hard teachings?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is your life built upon the cornerstone?

February 2, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone;”
(Psalms 118:22 (NIV))

Have you ever truly stopped to think about the meaning of the word cornerstone? There are a few basic meanings and I honestly believe that they both apply in this passage. One meaning represents a stone that is basically as the word sounds. It is the stone that is used at the corner of a building, but part of that definition also includes the fact that the cornerstone is laid in a formal ceremony. The other definition has the word cornerstone meaning a basic element.

I want you to think about these meanings with respect to Jesus.

When you think of a corner, you get a mental image of a change of direction. John the Baptist called everyone to change direction, only he used the word repent. Jesus offered us a way to repent of our sins by accepting Him as our personal Lord and Savior. God cemented this possibility through a formal event that has captivated millions since the time that it occurred. The trial, crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection were orchestrated like clockwork according to God’s plan, according to a ceremony that we still do not fully understand.

Has Jesus allowed you to change direction?

The basic tenet of Christianity is that Jesus is the not a mere man. He is the Son of God! That concept is the basic element of faith in Jesus. Jesus is the basic element of salvation!

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))

The more that I consider the meanings of the word cornerstone, Jesus fulfills all of them. He is the corner upon which we may change direction. He is the cornerstone that was established through God’s formal plan. Jesus is the basic element, the very foundation upon which our faith is built.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
(John 14:6-7 (NIV))

Is your life built upon the cornerstone?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Blessings to all in the new year!

January 2, 2018

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

” ` “The LORD bless you
and keep you;
the LORD make his face shine upon you
and be gracious to you;
the LORD turn his face toward you
and give you peace.” ‘
(Numbers 6:24-26 (NIV))

I honestly don’t think that there is a better prayer to pray for someone than these words.

Think about that for a moment.

There is absolutely nothing in these words except asking for God to bless. There is nothing in these words that is self-centered. Contrary to today’s societal norms, it all focuses on someone else. There is absolutely nothing in these words that asks for anything for the person who is praying.

All too often our prayers are self-centered. We claim that we are believers in Jesus, yet, we still focus only on ourselves in our prayers lives. Is this what Jesus taught us? Is this what Jesus would do?

“This, then, is how you should pray:
” `Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one. ‘
(Matthew 6:9-13 (NIV))

Jesus taught us to focus on God. If we focus on God, it only makes sense that we will seek to have God bless those around us, for we will already have experienced God’s blessings. We will have seen the world through His eyes, and, like David, we will hopefully become a man after God’s own heart. We will not see the world through selfish eyes, but through eyes that long to see God’s Glory manifested in the lives of everyone in the world.

For this coming year, and every year, it is my prayer that God will turn His face toward you and bless you. Are you ready to be blessed? Are you ready to have God bless others through you?

Happy New Year!

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you have room for Jesus?

December 22, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
(Luke 2:6-7 (NIV))

I have read this passage countless times and tonight something hit me that has never hit me before!

Do you realize that Jesus first encountered being turned away at His birth. Due to circumstances in his life, the innkeeper didn’t make room for Jesus. He didn’t try to allow Jesus in. He simply turned Him away. If he made excuses like everyone else makes excuses, the innkeeper probably said things like, “If it had been any other night,” or “I couldn’t be bothered. What would everyone else think?”

Have you heard these type of excuses from people who can’t be bothered with Jesus?

Have you ever made any excuses like these?

If you are like me, before I came to my senses and made room for Jesus, I said these and countless more. What is it about human nature that simply wants to ignore, reject or turn away the most precious gift that God could ever give? Why do we feel that our lives are just too complicated and we simply don’t have the room to allow Him in? Why do we feel that the busy lives that we live are too full, yet, we constantly take on more and more?

There is one thing that is missing from the innkeeper’s story. We do not read of him being rejected and condemned for not allowing Jesus in. We do not hear of the innkeeper being cast away by the Lord for not welcoming Him in. Thankfully, no matter how many times that we refuse to make room for Jesus, He still gives us another opportunity to receive His grace and mercy. But there will be a time for all of us when it will be too late!

Just don’t wait until it’s too late.

Do you have room for Jesus?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you delight in what brings delight to Jesus?

March 22, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
(1 Corinthians 13:6-7 (NIV))

Is this your definition of love?

Did you notice that this passage doesn’t say that love is accepting of the evil that is sin? Love does not delight in evil, so why do we think that if we love someone, then we accept the sin that they are involved in? Love means that we want the best for the person. Why would we accept evil and claim that evil is what is best for any person?

Jesus loves each of us, yet He didn’t say that it was okay for us to stay in our sin. He didn’t condemn us when He came to this world. He called us to repent. He called us to leave our life of sin.

“No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
(John 8:11 (NIV))

I often wonder if this is how people have come to believe that Jesus will allow sin? Do people think that because Jesus didn’t blast sin while He was on the earth that we won’t face judgment for our actions? When Jesus came to this world, He didn’t come to judge. He came to offer salvation. He came to offer hope. He came to offer a way to repent before the judgment happens, and it will happen.

Jesus came to bring truth so that the truth would conquer evil. He came in love. He came so that we can overcome the evil of sin.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 6:23 (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))

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you told God that you are sorry?

June 6, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Who is it you have insulted and blasphemed?
Against whom have you raised your voice
and lifted your eyes in pride?
Against the Holy One of Israel!
(2 Kings 19:22 (NIV))

When we do what we want to, we are rebelling against God.

You may ask, “What about free will?”

It is true that we have free will, but that free will that people claim as a blessing only has two options. We either accept God or we reject God. If we accept God, then we accept His Son, Jesus, as our personal Lord and Savior. We accept the salvation that was freely given and we repent of all sin in our lives. When we sin, we miss the mark and that mark was defined by God. Anything less than a perfect life on our own merits is still a life of sin. No matter how hard we try in the natural, we are not capable of a perfect, sinless life. Any sin is ultimately a rebellion, a rejection, an insult and a blasphemy against God.

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))

Fortunately, we don’t have to do it on our own. We don’t have to approach God on our own merits.

“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 he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”
(John 3:16-21 (NIV))

Since the fall from grace in the Garden, everything that everyone has ever done has been a sin against God. We are not capable of anything but sin in our fallen state. I am so thankful that God has provided a way for us to repent of our sins against Him.

Have you told God that you are sorry?

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Repentance is a decision that must be made!

May 12, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who push the truth away from themselves.
(Romans 1:18 (NLT))

Have you ever stopped to wonder what would make God angry? Have you ever wondered if you could make God so angry that He would reject you? I believe that we have an answer in this passage.

God hates sin!

God hates wickedness!

He longs for people to repent and turn to Him. If we love our sin and our wickedness more than we love God and His righteousness, then we are in trouble. We should despise our sinful nature. We should reject the wickedness that is inherent within every person because of the fall from grace.

We live in a fallen world, but we don’t have to accept the state of the world as our own. Think about that for a moment in relationship to something a little easier to understand. I know that everyone has had a job that you just couldn’t stand. You hated the thought of being there. You dreaded getting up in the morning and going to that job. Did you simply accept the dreaded job as a part of your life? I can safely assume that you took action to make a change. You decided that you would leave that life and begin a new life under much different circumstances.

You can decide to leave sin and wickedness in much the same way as you decide to leave other aspects of your life. It is perhaps one of the greatest gifts that God has given us. That gift is free will. God gave us the ability to decide for ourselves to turn from our sinful, wicked ways and to follow Him. He gave us the free will to embrace His truth for ourselves.

With this in mind, do you understand that God loves us. He will get angry with us because of our sinful nature, but, if we choose to embrace His truth and accept His Son, Jesus, as our personal Lord and Savior, and repent of our sins daily, then we can rest assured that God will not reject us. Seek God in all things and seek His truth, for life is found only with the Creator!

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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