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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Are we good ambassadors?

January 9, 2018

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.
(2 Corinthians 5:20 (NIV))

Have you ever stopped to think about this passage from the perspective of the definition of the word ambassador?

The word ambassador means a diplomatic agent of the highest rank, an authorized representative or messenger.

Does this sound anything like the role that you have been filling while you live your life? Does this sound anything like the witness that you have had for Jesus on a daily basis?

A diplomatic agent of the highest rank stands firm and resolute for the interests of those who sent him. They constantly present the case of the one whom they represent. They are sent with authority and under authority. What they say and do is supposed to be the very words and desires of those who gave them that authority. They do not falter or fail in delivering the message that they were sent to convey!

Sadly, if you are anything like me, I have failed miserably at my assigned tasks. I can imagine a performance evaluation of my lackluster representation of Jesus. Do I do all that I should be doing to point people to the grace and mercy that is freely given through the atoning blood of Jesus? Do I do all that I should to tell people that they can be forgiven of their sins? Do I step outside of my comfort zone and share the good news?

We have been sent out as ambassadors.

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.
(Mark 16:15 (NIV))

Are we good ambassadors?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you understand the power of authority?

November 6, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
(Matthew 28:18 (NIV))

Have you given any thought to this passage?

Perhaps we should step back and take a look at the definition of authority. The common traits among the various different dictionaries all point to something similar to the following. Authority is the power to determine or provide legal resolution. In essence, authority is the power to settle issues and disputes or to control, command or determine outcomes.

In other words, Jesus has all power!

He is God’s legal authority over all of creation. It is by His power that we are either able to claim salvation or face condemnation. Jesus has been given the authority, but we have been given the choice. If we choose to accept God’s gift of grace through the atoning blood of Jesus, then Jesus has the authority to forgive our sins. If we reject this gift of grace, He has the authority to deny us just as we denied Him.

Sadly, many people fail to truly realize just how powerful authority truly is. When Jesus walked the earth, He encountered a Roman centurion who asked Jesus to heal his servant. This Roman centurion realized that Jesus had the authority, the power, to perform what was asked without ever going to visit the servant.

The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.
(Matthew 8:8-9 (NIV))

Authority means power! Authority means that the one with the authority can change outcomes! The centurion realize this. The centurion’s faith amazed Jesus and with a few words spoken, Jesus utilized His authority and honored the faith of the centurion by healing his servant.

Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that moment.
(Matthew 8:13 (NIV))

I love the implications of the words that Jesus spoke. “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” When belief in Jesus recognizes the authority of Jesus, the power of Jesus is unleashed.

Do you understand the power of authority?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you truly triumphant?

September 25, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.
(Revelation 12:11 (NIV))

Do you have what it will take to triumph over the enemy?

Are you willing to do what it takes to find eternal life?

For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.
(Matthew 16:25 (NIV))

If you truly stop to think about those two questions, there really isn’t any difference in what it takes to triumph over the enemy and what it takes to find eternal life. Both require placing your faith and trust in the blood of the Lamb. They require trusting Jesus completely with all aspects of your life, no matter what the world may do to you.

Do you trust Jesus completely?

Is your faith strong enough to lay down your life if necessary?

Jesus did it for you! Jesus did it for me!

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
(John 15:13 (NIV))

Jesus calls you and I friends. He laid down His life for us in faith that we would be able to accept His gift of grace and mercy. Have we taken this gift to heart and can we truly claim that we triumph over the enemy by His blood? Do we love this life or do we long to be with Him?

Are you truly triumphant?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you claim all the power in God’s Word?

August 2, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word.
(Psalms 119:114 (NIV))

I want to ask a very telling question if I may.

In which part of God’s Word do you place you hope? Is it Genesis? Perhaps it is Proverbs or Psalms. Is it Matthew or Mark? Is it Revelation? Perhaps it is a different book where you find your hope is firmly grounded. Perhaps you like to pick and choose exactly what you claim as truth and then discard what you don’t like.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
(Ephesians 6:10-17 (NIV))

How can anyone claim that God is their refuge and shield if they don’t accept all of God’s Word as truth and power? It is like someone putting on armor for protection during battle and saying that they don’t like the way the breastplate makes them feel, so they refuse to wear it. It is like someone refusing to put on the helmet because it would mess up their hair. Every page of God’s Word is power. It is life!

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
(2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV))

Do you claim all the power in God’s Word?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Focus on what unites us in Christ!

May 22, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.
(1 Corinthians 1:10 (NIV))

Can you imagine such a thing! What would the world think of the church if we could agree on all things as Jesus would direct us? What could the church do within this world if we all had the same mind and no divisions among us?

It is so nice to be able to think of these things. If we, as the body of believers, could put aside all of our petty differences that are so divisive and agree upon the things that unite us, we would be able to show the world that following Jesus is all that we claim it to be. In fact, it is much more.

Unfortunately, the church is made up of imperfect people who are still prone to sin. We want to do what is right, but we often get our own desires in the way. When that happens, someone else’s desires get in their way, and soon we have divisions. We cannot allow the enemy to take control of us because we have these divisions. We must constantly remind ourselves of what unites us – the atoning blood of Jesus – versus he who divides us while we are in this world.

This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.
(1 John 5:3-5 (NIV))

When it all comes down to what unites us, it is simple. It is our faith in Jesus Christ as the only begotten son of God and God’s plan to give us unmerited grace and mercy through Jesus.

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))

What is divisive within your heart that needs to be set aside so that you can focus in what unites us?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Jesus is the Lamb of God!

April 25, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.
(1 Peter 1:18-19 (NIV))

A lamb without blemish or defect!

Do you understand the reason for the quest for perfection?

When a gift was presented to royalty, it was expected to be the best that you could give. When a gift is given to God as an offering, does this not merit even more than an earthly king? I have often wondered if God’s instructions for the original Passover were actually intended to be a gift to God, for these lambs were also to be without blemish. The blood from these animals was to be presented on the door posts of the homes. I realize that this was as a sign, but could it have also been a thank you offering for what God was about to do? Was it a teachable moment? Every person who could claim that they were Jewish knew the importance of the blood. They knew the importance of without blemish or defect. When they were told that Jesus was a lamb without blemish or defect, they knew exactly what it meant. When they were told that they had been redeemed by the blood of the lamb, they knew exactly what it meant.

Jesus became the perfect lamb. He was born of a virgin. He lived a sinless life. He, like a lamb led to the slaughter, was crucified, dead and buried. But, nothing can hold Godly perfection. Through His resurrection we have been made clean.

It took someone who could be without blemish or defect. It took the only Lamb of God!

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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