Are you thankful to be called a Christian?

April 10, 2018

Image

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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Is your belief based on your ego?

September 29, 2015

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
(Ephesians 2:8-10 (NIV))

Too many people still believe that they can be saved by good works. They believe that it is of their own good works that will save them. This belief is based on ego. The inflated ego that they are different from everyone else and that they alone set their destiny. Nothing could be further from the truth.

All of us have become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; (Isaiah 64:6a)

Nothing that we can do can bring us to the level of righteousness that is required in order to be saved. It is by grace alone that we are saved. Grace is a gift freely given to all who will accept it. There is only one thing that we can do to receive salvation: accept God’s gift of grace.

Works then become important after we have received this gift of grace. These works are the acts of Christian love and compassion that we use to reach others for Jesus Christ. The works are no longer our attempt at becoming good enough for God. We work, not out of a need to prove ourselves, but out of a desire to prove that God loves us. In essence, we become the bearers of the good news of God’s grace once we have accepted God’s grace.

From which side of grace are you performing your good works?

Copyright 1998 – 2015 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Stay strong in your faith in Jesus!

September 14, 2015

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Be careful! Watch out for attacks from the Devil, your great enemy. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for some victim to devour. Take a firm stand against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are.
(1 Peter 5:8-9 (NLT))

Do you ever feel that you are alone in the things that you face?

Satan only has so many tricks up his sleeve. What he is using to attack you is nothing new. He has used it millions of times. He is the father of lies. He is not able to create. All that he is capable of is destroying and he only has so many things that he can use.

His biggest lie is that we cannot be worthy. If that is true, then why did God send His Son, Jesus, to die for our sins? Don’t accept the lie that your sins are too great to be forgiven.

Something that comes to mind as another lie from the enemy is that we are better than everybody else. Satan will use this to get to our ego and our pride and make us fall. We are no better than anybody else. God created all of us. He loves all of us equally. When we start thinking that we are better than someone else, we are guilty of the sin of pride and we fall right into the deception that the enemy has left for us.

He also likes to tell us that it is only a little sin. The next thing you know, you are trapped in something horrendous. Keep in mind that the enemy knows God’s Word well enough to twist it. He can make it sound true, when it is not. Even a small lie in the middle of the truth makes the whole thing a lie. Study God’s Word so that you are able to discern what is God’s truth and what is a lie.

We will all come under attack at some point in time. Remember who you are and whose you are. Don’t fall for the lies. Stand firm on the truth of God’s Word. Surround yourself with other believers.

I want you to remember that God created the zebra with his stripes. He also create them to be in a community. When they are in community, the animals that prey on them cannot tell where one zebra stops and another one starts. We, like the zebra, are strongest in community. Rely on each other. Rely on the truth that is God’s Word.

Rely on Jesus!

Copyright 1998 – 2015 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Blessings come in all forms!

January 15, 2015

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?
(1 Peter 4:12-17 (NIV))

Based on this passage, the people who are teaching a theology of prosperity may need to rethink what they are teaching. Don’t get me wrong. God does want to bless us, but we have also been told that we would have trouble. Jesus did not say that He would remove the trouble. He clearly said that we would have trouble.

“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))

We, as believers, will face troubles. We will face troubles that other people do not face. We will be persecuted simply because we call upon the name of Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior. This type of trouble should be welcome, for if we are ridiculed and persecuted because of the name of Jesus, then we are doing what He has called us to do. We are making ourselves known as members of His Body.

We will be blessed, but the blessings will come if we are willing to bless others. The blessings are not intended for those who simply seek the blessings. Perhaps we should even think of the troubles as a blessing, for they build character and mark us as followers of Jesus.

How are you blessed?

Copyright 1998 – 2014 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you eager to do what is good?

December 12, 2014

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope–the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
(Titus 2:11-14 (NIV))

Are you eager to do what is good?

Think about that question for a moment. This means that we are eager to do the right thing in all circumstances and not only when we are among other believers. It means that we live up the title of “Christian” all of the time. Think about that title. Followers of Jesus were given this name by the Romans because of the way that they acted. It literally means “little Christ.” It was meant as a sarcastic label, but the believers took the name as a name of honor.

They took the name with grace. They said “No” to what the Roman world was doing and they were willing to take a stand for what they believed. The were willing to give their lives if necessary. They relied upon the promises of God and the blessed hope of the glorious appearing. They desired to do what was good in the eyes of God no matter what the circumstances.

Today, too many people profess a faith as long as it does not mean that they will be hindered or ridiculed in any way. These type of people are in it only as long as nobody in the other crowd knows that they are Christians. They follow Jesus only when it is convenient. They change their persona as if they were changing a shirt. Their definition of good changes depending on how it fits in with what they need at the moment. They do not possess self-control. They sway with the wind and give in to wickedness.

If someone sarcastically calls you a “Christian,” would you eagerly confirm their sarcasm or would you deny Jesus?

Copyright 1998 – 2014 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you confident and unashamed in your faith?

November 14, 2014

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.
(1 John 2:28 (NIV))

It has been almost two thousand years since these words were spoken, yet the message is as true today as it was then. We must stay focused on Jesus. We must keep our eyes on the prize. We must not forget that He is coming again.

When Jesus returns, are you confident that you will be rewarded? Have there been times that you did less than you should have simply because you were in a group of people and you did not want to be thought of as a Christian? Have you been ashamed to show the world that you have been bought by the Blood of the Lamb? It seems that no matter how hard we may want to do what Jesus asks of us, we falter and we deny Him. We are not alone.

Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.”
“I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.”
But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same.
(Matthew 26: 34-36 (NIV))

We all know what happened to Peter a few short hours later. He did just as Jesus said He would do. Thankfully, Jesus did not come to condemn us in our sins. He came to forgive us of our sins. He looks at the heart. Just as He forgave Peter, He will forgive you if you simply ask for it. Even when Peter felt that he couldn’t be forgiven for his betrayal, he found that Jesus would not betray him. He fulfilled His promise. He encouraged Peter’s faith. He embraced Peter as if he had never sinned.

Are you as confident and unashamed in your faith as Peter?

Copyright 1998 – 2014 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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