Will you take up your cross if it means your life?

May 26, 2020


Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”
(Luke 9:23 (NIV))

Do you think of yourself as a disciple of Jesus?

Everyone who professes a faith in Jesus likes to think that they are a disciple, but are we, are you, ready to truly take up our cross?

Each one of us will face a different path as we walk out our lives in faith. It is possible that no two individuals will carry the exact same burden when they carry their cross, but we do know that all of us carry something through life. We either choose to carry our cross or we carry the weight of the sin that we refuse to let go of. It is a choice that each of us must make.

Do you want to be a disciple of Jesus?

If the answer is yes, then that requires repenting of your sins and picking up the weight of your cross as you follow Jesus. Following Jesus is not an easy thing to do. You have changed, but the world around you has not. You have changed, but your friends will still try to get you to fall back into the very same sins that you want to leave behind. Following Jesus may mean that you lose friends. It may mean that you become alienated from family. It may mean a job loss, but it will mean so much more!

Believing in and following Jesus is the only way to the Father and all of the blessings that are promised.

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))

Each of us have a decision to make. What are we willing to lose when we take up our cross and follow Jesus?

Will you take up your cross if it means your life?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What is your example?

June 5, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task. Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.

Deacons, likewise, are to be men worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons.

In the same way, their wives are to be women worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything.

A deacon must be the husband of but one wife and must manage his children and his household well. Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.
(1 Timothy 3:1-12 (NIV))

Jesus loves the sinner and hates the sin. However, the Bible clearly states that those in positions of authority should be “models.” Are the priests to model sin? If they renounce the sin, it is one thing, but to continue to embrace the sin is another. Do you agree that priests should model righteousness?

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
(1 Peter 2:9 (NIV))

Forget about the ordained clergy for a minute. We, as the Body of Christ, are all priests. We are the royal priesthood. We have been given instructions. If we are the royal priesthood, then we, as the Body of Christ, must model righteousness and not sin.

Homosexuality is a sin. Lust is a sin. Coveting is a sin. Greed is a sin. Knowing that something is a sin, yet making a conscious decision to continue down that path is one biblical definition of wickedness.

Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
(1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (NIV))

However, this is not from our own hand.

But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
(Romans 3:21-23 (NIV))

This does not mean that it is ok to continue to sin. Grace is not a free pass to do whatever we want.

As we grow in our faith, we are “perfected” in the image of Jesus. Jesus was sin free. He was not a sinner.

If you remember the adulterous woman who was going to be stoned, think about what Jesus told her:

But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

“No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
(John 8:1-11 (NIV))


The church cannot have leaders who refuse to follow the teachings of Jesus. We, as the Body of Christ, are the leaders. We should set an example for the world to follow.

What is your example?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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October 11, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.”
(Matthew 12:1-2 (NIV))

Some things never change!

Jesus had to deal with people pointing out the flaws and failures of those around them. It is sad that the very people who were making an issue of the so called flaws and failures were only trying to do this so that they would look good. These people were the established religious order and if things were not done their way, they made sure that they pointed them out.

Do you know anybody like this?

Were you like this at one point in your faith journey?

It is so easy to get caught up in thinking that what you do is the only way to do things and to interpret things that we miss out on the blessings because we are more focused on the letter and not the intent.

The Sabbath was, and still is, the day of rest. Unfortunately, things happen and life must still continue. We, as did the disciples, deal with what is needed. We, as the disciples were, are under scrutiny – under a microscope – because we profess a faith in Jesus. Some people scrutinize us because we are Christians. Others scrutinize us because we look differently or act differently than they do. Sadly, this is true even within the church.

Legalism is a deadly trap. Don’t allow others to force the letter of the law upon you. Don’t try to force it upon anyone else. Grace has purchased us. Legalism is a divisive force. Let’s focus on what unites us.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
(1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV))

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

If God can grant us grace and mercy through the blood of Jesus, then why do we still try to hold each other accountable according to our self-imposed laws?

Love and you will soon find yourself overlooking all of the little things.

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you ready to go where Christ is not known?

August 18, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation. Rather, as it is written:
“Those who were not told about him will see,
and those who have not heard will understand.”
(Romans 15:20-21 (NIV))

Paul did just that. He spread the Gospel as far as he could travel. He did not keep it to himself, nor did he keep it only for his close friends and family. He didn’t even keep it only for those who looked and acted like him.

Paul willingly and eagerly took the Gospel of Jesus Christ to what was then the far reaches of his world.

We owe our very heritage and faith to his eagerness to make sure that those who had not heard would hear.

What if he had decided that blindness was his fate? What if he had decided to stay in Jerusalem? What if he gave up after the first time that he faced persecution? Would we be alive in the faith? Would we even be alive at all, for the events that God set into motion through Paul’s ministry have impacted lives throughout history. We have no idea what this world, what our own individual lives would look like if Paul did not go where he was sent.

Paul had a heart for God’s Word. He had a burning desire to see that God’s grace and mercy were shared with everyone.

Think about Paul the next time that you find yourself saying, “Someone needs to tell them about Jesus.” What if Paul said that?

Today’s society has such a wrong understanding of God’s grace and mercy. They have such a wrong image of Jesus. Because of these misconceptions, many people ridicule anything remotely associated with Christianity.

They have not been told the truth about Him.

They have not heard, so therefore they do not understand.

What if we all got out of our comfort zones and took it upon ourselves to help one person to understand? What if we relied on the Holy Spirit to help us to tell someone about Jesus? What if we all prayed for some of Paul’s enthusiasm for the Gospel to fall upon us?

The world would be a different place with each of us starting with one person who does not know the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Are you ready to step outside of your comfort zone?

Are you ready to go where Christ is not known?

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Commit to something completely

August 8, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.
(John 10:27-28 (NIV))

Many people cling to the last sentence of this verse, and rightly so. But, how many people do you know who cling to this sentence and ignore the first sentence? Claiming the name of Jesus as your personal Savior is only part of the complete process of salvation.

You must allow Jesus to be the Lord of your life, following Him in whatever He directs you. Many people who ignore the first sentence and all of its ramifications have not totally surrendered their lives to the authority that is Jesus. They see Jesus as somebody who they can call upon when they get themselves into trouble, someone who will bail them out of any of their mistakes. They see Jesus as some sort of personal insurance policy that they can call upon when things are not going their way. In the process, they completely ignore Jesus’ voice and what He is calling them to do.

Perhaps it is human nature to want to “Do it my way.” It takes a total surrender of your life to completely enjoy the full blessings that await you through Jesus Christ. Consider that the world rewards those who commit to something completely. This is especially true when you consider actors, musicians, etc. who must focus solely on what they do. If they are rewarded by a sinful world for their commitment, how much more will we be rewarded if we give everything we have to the One who created us and who saved us from our sin?

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Be a tea pot!

August 2, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

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.
(John 3:16-18 (NIV))

This passage never gets old!

If you are like me, this passage brings great peace, hope and joy for it reassures us of our faith and where it is placed.

Yet, at the same time, it turns and brings sorrow in the midst of the joy. It turns our focus from our joy to the condemnation of those who have not believed in Jesus.

Do you know someone who has not accepted Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior? Perhaps they are a loved one or a friend, or perhaps a coworker. Now, ask yourself this simple question.

“How will it feel to never see them for all eternity?”

How will you feel if they are taken from us this very day, and you had not even mentioned Jesus to them? How will you feel if their salvation was your sole reason for living and you had failed? How will you feel if you hear another friend or family member saying, “No one had the nerve to bring up Jesus. Now it is too late.”

John 3:16 is an amazingly reassuring passage when it comes to our own salvation. But we have a tendency to stop there. Once again, we fail to look beyond our own circumstances. We fail to see the opportunities that God has placed right in front of us. Opportunities that could very well mean whether someone will spend eternity with God or eternal separation from God.

We must read beyond our own perspective. We must see the world through God’s eyes and not ours. We must realize that grace is a gift that is free to spread.

I once heard someone say that they were a vessel to catch God’s grace. They then went on to say that they did not wish to be a pot or jar, for these were used for collecting for a later time. They wanted to be a tea pot or a watering pot, for these collect and hold just long enough to pass it on to where it is needed.

Don’t be a jar. Be a tea pot so that the grace and blessings that have been given to you may flow out to all those around you. Make it your goal to share grace with all who will hear so that they will be saved from the condemnation that is to come for those who have not believed in Jesus.

Be a tea pot!

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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