Are you willing to suffer for the sake of the Gospel?

January 23, 2018

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.
(2 Corinthians 11:27 (NIV))

Your first reaction to this passage was probably like mine!

This is not something that I would willingly put myself through, nor would I want to find myself unwillingly in this type of situation.

Let’s face it. We have become creatures of habit. Perhaps I should say that we have become creatures of comfort! We have become so used to the air conditioned house with our refrigerators and entertainment devices that we forget what real sacrifice is. We leave our air conditioned homes, get in our air conditioned cars and drive to an air conditioned building to worship. Are we really sacrificing anything to praise God? Are we sacrificing anything to help spread the Gospel?

What if Paul had the same attitude that many of us have?

What if Paul was not willing to suffer for the Gospel?

How many of us would willingly do something that could land us in prison? How many of us would go head first into a situation knowing that the outcome could mean stoning, prison or death? Paul was willing to do this and so much more! Because of his desire to share the Gospel and his willingness to do whatever it took, we can claim our salvation. Can anyone claim their salvation because of what you are willing to do?

Are you willing to suffer for the sake of the Gospel?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What have you crucified?

January 22, 2018

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
(Galatians 5:24 (NIV))

When we commit to following Jesus and claiming Him as our personal Lord and Savior, we are expected to turn over our lives to His guidance. We are expected to have a desire to put an end to our sinful nature. It is true that we can turn to Jesus while still in our sin, but we are expected to allow Jesus to work in our lives and help us to remove the sinful passions and desires. Just as Jesus laid down His perfect life to bear the burden of our sin, we are expected to lay down our sinful life in order to embrace the grace that is freely given.

We are to crucify our sinful nature.

We are to desire to lay our sins and our burdens at the foot of the cross!

It is an even exchange. Jesus picks up our sins and we pick up His righteousness. I know I said that it is an even exchange, but it is not a fair exchange. All of us are sinners condemned by the very nature of sin. Jesus, by His very nature, is righteousness.

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

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

If Jesus is willing to give all so that we may have all, we should be willing to surrender ourselves in this exchange. We should be willing to crucify the sinful nature that has condemned us.

What have you crucified?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Does the Lord detest anything in your life?

January 19, 2018

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Differing weights and differing measures— the LORD detests them both.
(Proverbs 20:10 (NIV))

We have a tendency to think of dishonest scales when we hear this passage. Perhaps we should think about the possibility that it could also apply to the double standards that we, as humans, have a difficult time with? Be honest with yourself. We all have a select group of people to whom we apply a special set of standards. They can do no wrong and if they do, we make excuses for them. We also have the select group of people who can do no right in our eyes. Even if these people sold everything that they possess and used the money to feed the poor, we would find something wrong with their actions by attacking their motives.

Does this sound like differing measures to you?

It does to me!

What do you think the Lord thinks of this type of behavior?

What if He applied this type of behavior to you and you were not on the good end of the exchange?

Fortunately, we don’t have to worry about this.

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))

The passage does not say that whoever has blond hair and blue eyes. It also doesn’t say whoever has a college degree, nor does it say whoever belongs to a specific church in town. It simply states that whoever believes in Jesus will have eternal life.

If God doesn’t apply differing weights and measures to His children, why do we think that we have that right? We know that He detests these types of actions.

Does the Lord detest anything in your life?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you trust in God’s plans?

January 18, 2018

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
(Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV))

Did you have your life planned out?

How did that work out for you?

Almost everyone quotes this passage when they think of the blessings of God in their lives, but almost everyone fails to recognize one key piece of information about this passage. They forget the context in which it was delivered!

This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place.
(Jeremiah 29:10 (NIV))

Years prior to these words being recorded, most of the people in Jerusalem were taken into captivity and taken to Babylon. God’s timing was to have the descendants leave Babylon and return to Jerusalem. God spoke these words to the complete group of people who would be fulfilling His will by returning to Jerusalem, by returning to the city that God loves. It was God’s desire to prosper them so that they would not only have a hope and a future, but to be able to give a hope and a future to all of humanity through what would eventually transpire in and around Jerusalem.

I find it saddening that today’s prosperity oriented mindset reads these words and takes what God said to His people in exile and turns it into a promise to make us rich.

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

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

God had a plan to give us hope even when we were condemned in our sin and even when we were without hope. If we are all sinners and we deserve death, what type of a future do we have? God realized this and set things in motion to give us hope and a future. God knew that in order to fulfill His promises for this hope and future, He had to move the people back to Jerusalem. He had to set the plans in motion that would bring Jesus into the world. God’s plan was to give everyone a hope of overcoming death and a future in His presence.

Do you trust in God’s plans?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What do others see in you?

January 15, 2018

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
(Matthew 5:16 (NIV))

Each of us have a spark of something that we let the world see. For far too many, that spark is something far less than what it should be. They show the world anger, greed, deceit, lust, envy and much worse. They show the worst possible traits that humanity can possess. Does this sound like a group of people that you would want to associate with? I believe that I can safely say that most of us would not want anything to do with people who possess these traits.

The sad thing about human nature is that we all can exhibit these traits at any time of our lives!

When was the last time that you felt anger? When was the last time that you deceived someone, even if it was just the proverbial little white lie? When was the last time that you looked at something or someone and had thoughts that you weren’t proud of? When was the last time that you saw the things that others have and wished that you had them?

The question that we all need to ask ourselves is a simple one.

What do others see in me?

Do they see the sinful sparks that can ignite an all consuming fire of destruction or do they see the light of Jesus?

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.
(Matthew 5:14-15 (NIV))

If you have allowed the light of Jesus to have a place in your heart, don’t hide it under the destructive sinful nature that we all share. Allow the light to shine! Allow the light to break through the bondage of sin and death. Let the light shine so that others may see it and be drawn to it!

What do others see in you?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What is your reason for living?

January 12, 2018

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Let me live that I may praise you, and may your laws sustain me.
(Psalms 119:175 (NIV))

People want to live for many different reasons. Some want to see the world. Some want to fall in love and get married. Some want to start a business or write a book. Some want to see their children grow up. Some want to be rich while others want to be famous. Others simply want to leave their mark on the world by making people happy.

How about you?

What makes you want to get up each morning and live the day to the fullest?

What are you focused on that gives you a reason for living?

Have you ever said anything like what the psalmist wrote? Have you ever said that you want to live so that you can praise God?

After reading this passage and thinking about it, why don’t we ever give this as a reason for living? We owe our very existence to God for He created us. We owe our very intellect to God for He created us to have wisdom and free will. We owe so much to God and most of us simply take everything that He has done for us for granted. We look at our lives and we think that what we have is of our own doing.

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))

If we are unclean and the best that we can do is like filthy rags, how can we be responsible for anything good in our lives? When we look in the mirror we should not think that we have it made. We should be thankful that we are capable of claiming Jesus as our Lord and Savior. For everything that God has done for us, including send His only begotten Son, Jesus, to die so that we could live, we should be eternally thankful. We should lift Him up in praise. We should acknowledge that He alone is our reason for living.

What is your reason for living?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you desire to be holy?

January 11, 2018

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
(1 Peter 1:15-16 (NIV))

When you were growing up, was there someone whom you wanted to be just like?

We all have people that are role models for us at various times in our lives. As we grow and mature, some of these people lose that place while others step in to fill the void. Even so, there is something about each of these individuals that fill a need, that fill a hole in our lives at a certain time. Some of us looked up to one or both of our parents. Some looked to a certain grandparent as the role model. As we matured and our interests took on their own personality, we soon began to look upon individuals who had made a name for themselves in the areas that held our interest. All along the way, we saw something in each of these individuals that we recognized as unique and worthy of emulating.

What characteristics caught your attention?

For some, it is such traits as love and kindness. For others, it is a steadfast focus on the goal. For some, it is the willingness to do whatever it takes to succeed in the area of expertise.

When I read today’s passage, something made me realize that we have been seeking to emulate the wrong role models most of the time. Think back on those whom you desired to be like. Did they focus on Jesus? Did they strive to be holy and to bear fruit that reflects that holiness?

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 5:22-23 (NIV))

I know that we have a tendency to reference these traits quite often, but do we truly stop to reflect on the source? If you notice that Spirit is capitalize. This references the Holy Spirit aspect of God. These are traits that we should recognize as holy. These are traits that we should desire to emulate. We have been given instructions on how to be holy!

Do you desire to be holy?

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