Whose acceptance is more important to you?

November 22, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“I do not accept praise from men, but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?
(John 5:41-44 (NIV))

Ouch! That hurts.

Would Jesus say this to us today? Have we become like the people that He was condemning in this passage?

Many claim to be part of the Body of Christ, but do our actions reflect this? Do we seek acceptance from man more than we seek acceptance from God? Do we look to people who are accepted by man and think that they must be Godly for they have been blessed with fame and fortune? How do we look upon Christian music artists and mega-church pastors? Do we praise them for their fame or do we listen and discern what they are saying with respect to God’s Word?

It doesn’t only apply at the grand scale. It can apply to a local congregation if we seek acceptance from one another instead of from God. Please do not confuse this type of acceptance with what we are called to do as a church. We, as the Body of Christ, are called to accept people as Jesus accepted people. We are not called to place the desire to be accepted by people above accepting Jesus.

After we have done something that the Lord has called us to do, do we seek acceptance from our friends, family and fellow members of the Body of Christ? I honestly believe that the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector has merit in our ways of seeking acceptance.

    To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: `God, I thank you that I am not like other men–robbers, evildoers, adulterers–or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
    “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, `God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
    “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
(Luke 18:9-14 (NIV))

When we seek acceptance from anyone else but God, we are trying to exalt ourselves. We are prideful. We want everybody to know who we are and what we have done. Is this how Jesus told us to serve?

“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
(Matthew 6:2-4 (NIV))

We can seek the acceptance of man or we can seek the acceptance of Jesus.

Whose acceptance is more important to you?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you abide in the doctrine of Christ?

August 13, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son.
(2 John 1:9 (NKJV))

How many times have you known someone who claims that they are a Christian, yet their actions do not reflect that claim?

A true faith and belief in Jesus Christ will call a person to stay away from the things of this world that are not of God, for they will listen to the Holy Spirit in all that they do. The Holy Spirit will gently guide and encourage the believer to follow the ways of Jesus and to steer clear of the ways of the world.

It is an all too common belief that someone can accept Jesus, and then do whatever they wish. They think that by proclaiming Jesus as Savior, they have salvation. There is another aspect to Jesus. He must also be Lord of your life in order for salvation to be true.

You must ask Jesus into your heart, not your head. It is one thing to acknowledge that Jesus is the way to salvation. It is still another to accept that personally for yourself.

It has been said that there is head knowledge and that there is heart knowledge. Knowing that Jesus is Savior is head knowledge. Claiming that for yourself is heart knowledge. For many people, the distance from their head to their heart is a great chasm that cannot be crossed due to pride or arrogance. Where have you acknowledged Jesus Christ?

Do you abide in the doctrine of Christ?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you accepted the call to obedience?

May 13, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake.
(Romans 1:5 (NIV))

A heavy price has been paid for you to receive the call!

Ever since the call first went out, the world and all the powers that control it have tirelessly fought anyone who chooses to bring the call, to accept the call, or to forward it on. The enemy declared that it had won when it was able to place Jesus in the grave, but they did not count on the third day! The world did all that it could to persecute those who accepted the call, but then Jesus called Saul to reach the Gentiles and Saul, through a rebirth, became Paul. The world did all that it could to condemn Paul and throw him in prison in order to stop the call. The prison guards received salvation! The world did all that it could to eradicate the call by sending Christians into the colosseum. The church flourished and more people answered the call!

All around the world today, people who have accepted Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior are facing persecution and death because they have answered the call. They have declared that Jesus is the only way to heaven. They have declared that Jesus is part of the Trinity. They have declared that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God. To put it simply, they have replied “I believe” to the one question that can change your eternity. They have declared that they believe in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior, and just like the price that has been paid throughout the church age, many are paying the ultimate, heavy price today.

Do you feel comfortable in your faith in Jesus?

Do you avoid letting people know that you are a Christian?

Do you fear reprisals for your confession of Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior?

I was recently reminded that the Body of Christ, the church, is a family that we choose to belong to. If you have made that choice and answered the call, are you one hundred percent certain that you will be obedient in your faith no matter what the world may try to do? Keep in mind that the world’s outlook on Jesus is rapidly changing and your obedience may have drastic worldly consequences. I pray that I am able to be obedient, for I would rather be judged by a sinful world and found guilty of being righteous in the eyes of God, then be judged by a righteous God and found guilty of being sinful.

Are you prepared?

Have you accepted the call to obedience?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you setting a good example for others to follow?

January 21, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.
(1 Corinthians 11:1 (NIV))

It is said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. It is also said that the word “Christian” originally was used to refer to someone as a “little Christ,” for they imitated Jesus in all of His actions. In essence, the early Christians were trying to be exactly like Jesus in all things!

Can the same be said of us?

Jesus came into the world to show us how to live. He came into the world to give us an option to the way the world says we should live. He came into the world to overcome the enemy, the thief of our very souls.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
(John 10:10 (NIV))

If we profess a faith in Jesus, we are saying that we believe. We are saying that we accept Him as our personal Lord and Savior. We are saying that we desire to follow Him with all of our heart and with all of our life.

Is that what we are doing? Do our lives lead people to Christ? Do our lives present a good example of what being a follower of Christ truly means?

Preach always. When necessary, use words.
(attributed to St. Francis of Assisi)

Are you setting a good example for others to follow?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What is your relationship to evil?

November 2, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
(Romans 12:21 (NIV))

As I sit here contemplating this passage, I can’t help but think about the things that are going on in the world at this time. How do we, as the Body of Christ, react to a world that is becoming vehemently anti-Christian? How do we react to a world that says it’s ok for people to do whatever they feel is right, yet that very same world condemns those who profess a faith in Jesus?

I have often wondered if the following passage, just as most passages of scripture, have both a near-term and a far-term meaning.

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
(John 16:33 (NIV))

These words were spoken by Jesus to His disciples as He finished telling them that they would scatter because of what was coming. He also told them that they would not see Him for awhile, but He would return. The time that Jesus spoke of to His disciples had them uncertain about their lives. This was the period of time between the crucifixion and the resurrection. They probably felt that the whole world was against them. If you remember, they even stayed indoors and locked the doors because they were afraid of what they thought might happen.

Was Jesus also speaking to us today?

We have been told that in the last days we would face trouble. We are seeing it beginning to unfold. We wonder what the world is going to send our way. We even wonder if we just simply need to stay to ourselves and avoid the world. I realize that none of us were alive when Jesus spoke these words, but they seem to apply to us more and more each day. So, just how do we face this world as it turns further and further away from Jesus? How do we face the world when the very thing that gives us, and the world, hope is the very thing that they hate? We have been told things like turn the other cheek. We have been told to go the extra mile. We have been told to love our neighbor as ourselves. Perhaps we simply need to realize that if we had not come to the realization that we are sinners in need of a savior, we might still be part of the world. We might still be part of the problem instead of the messengers proclaiming the solution!

We must not allow evil to overcome our faith. We must not allow evil to silence the message that we are called to share. We must not withhold the Gospel because we are afraid! We must stand firm and be bold, especially in the face of evil.

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.
(1 John 4:4 (NIV))

We must remember that Jesus is greater than, and has already overcome, any evil that may come our way. If we have called upon Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, that relationship is greater than anything the enemy will send our way!

What is your relationship to evil?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you thankful to be called a Christian?

April 10, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.
(1 Peter 4:16 (NIV))

Have you ever faced anything simply because you are a believer in Jesus?

Perhaps I should ask if you have ever been in a situation where you would have suffered if it was known that you were a Christian? Think about that for a moment as you answer the following. Did you withhold the fact that you were a Christian or did you deny that you were a Christian? There is a difference! Regardless of how you handled yourself in that situation, do you regret not standing up and identifying as a follower of Jesus? Do you feel that you have abandoned Jesus through your actions and words?

Consider Peter.

He denied Jesus three times during the events between Jesus being arrested and being taken to Pilate. All of us can put ourselves into the events and justify the actions that Peter took that night. In all honesty, it is not told in detail how Peter truly felt. We can only imagine what Peter was facing within himself as these events transpired and afterward. What we do know is that after the resurrection, Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him. Peter was able to put his shame behind him and accept the grace that Jesus was extending to him.

Think about that!

Peter denied Jesus three times. He had seen Jesus beaten so badly that He was not recognizable. Peter had seen Jesus crucified, dead and buried. The guilt of his denial of Jesus must have been unbearable. Even after Jesus arose, what was Peter thinking? Was he thinking that Jesus would never forgive him for what he had done? Was Peter thinking that he had committed something so bad that he would be condemned to suffer for all eternity?

Grace is amazing!

What Peter did discover is that Jesus forgave him. Three times he was asked if He loved Jesus and three times he responded that he did. I can almost imagine that with each response Peter gave Jesus, the burden of guilt was being lifted until it was completely gone!

That is what Jesus does! He lifts the burden of guilt and replaces that burden with a joy that comes from knowing that all of your sins are forgiven! There is nothing greater to give thanks for.

Are you thankful to be called a Christian?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you practice your faith?

December 12, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
(James 1:2-4 (NIV))

Imagine an athlete who did not practice his sport. Imagine a musician who did not practice their instrument. They would not be able to perform what they profess to be able to do.

Now, imagine a Christian who did not practice their faith! Faith requires patience, perseverance, and, yes, trials. It is through these adversities that our faith is strengthened, our righteousness made complete in the eyes of God. We may profess a faith in Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, yet, when trials come, do we abandon the faith or do we hold stronger to it?

Think of the trials as practice in the same way the musician practices to become better. Think of trials in the same way as physical conditioning of the athlete so that they may endure long periods of physical activity. No one who claims to be well versed in any area is that way without a devotion to that activity. The same is true of faith.

It requires a spiritual conditioning in order to be strengthened and utilized the way God intended. Therefore

” Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
(James 1:2-4(NIV))

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