Are you a new creation in Christ?

January 2, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
(2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV))

Everyone wants a clean start. We have all done things that we are not proud of. Quite often, we wish that we could simply forget our past and start again with a clean slate. Perhaps that is why so many people love to celebrate the beginning of a new year. It is as if you get a reset on the things that you wish you could have done differently. Sadly, too many people resolve to do things differently, but end up giving up on their plans after only a few days.

There is a reset that we can take advantage of that has so much more probability of lasting more than a few days. In fact, it has the ability to last for all eternity!

Think about that and what it truly means. Man’s religion can’t change you. Only by accepting God’s offer of a reset through the acceptance of Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior can you change for all eternity! Only through the process of being born again, can the new creation come.

Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”
Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.
(John 3:1-6 (NIV))

Are you a new creation in Christ?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you resolve to have your life reflect your claim?

December 31, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.
(1 John 2:6 (NIV))

Everyone likes to make resolutions. Can we all agree upon one that actually makes sense? Can we resolve to live our lives in a manner that reflects the life that Jesus lived when He walked among us? Can we resolve to live our lives according to the professions of faith that we make claiming that Jesus is our personal Lord and Savior? Can we resolve to live our lives in a manner that would make the Lord happy?

We have been given so many passages that provide instructions as to how we can stick to these types of resolutions, but perhaps the best passage to base our life upon in order to reflect Jesus is what we know as the fruit of the Spirit.

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))

If we strive to love as Jesus loved, we will be recognized as a follower of Christ. If we show joy and the peace that passes all understanding, we will be recognized as followers of Christ. If we strive to show all of these characteristics, we will be modeling our lives upon the core characteristics that Jesus possessed. We must also model one characteristic that needs to be clarified. In all things we do we must do them as to the Lord. Jesus lived His physical life in this manner. He came to show us just how God had intended for His creation to live and just how much God loves His creation.

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
(John 14:12 (NIV))

If we profess a faith in Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, our lives should reflect Jesus in all that we do!

Do you resolve to have your life reflect your claim?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What are you willing to lose?

December 18, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.
(Mark 8:35 (NIV))

It is human nature to not want to lose. This is especially true if losing means that you lose your life! Most of us aren’t even willing to lose if by our losing, everyone else wins. We have to come out on top. We have to prove that we are best at everything! This often means that we think that we are right even when we are eternally wrong!

Take a look at the words in the first part of the passage above. Saving your life implies that you place nothing above yourself. You will go to any extreme to make sure that your physical life is protected even at the expense of others. You are your first and often, your only priority. You possess no love. You possess no joy. You often possess no peace, patience, or kindness. Little about your life is good. Since you place yourself first, you possess little or no faith. You treat others as lower than yourself, so you lack gentleness and self-control. Does this sound like a life that you would want to live? Does this sound like a life that you would want?

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))

Does the second half of the passage start to sound better and make more sense?

We can’t live a life that is Christ centered if we strive to save our earthly life. We are called to be witnesses. We can’t witness to others if all we think about is ourselves. We can’t be willing to go because we would be outside of our comfort zone.

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

I know that I am forever thankful that Jesus was willing to lose His earthly life for the sake of others. What if He had balked at the idea of dying for our sins? What if he had decided to not leave the Father to come to earth? What if Jesus had decided that it was simply not worth leaving the glory of heaven to come into this world? The majesty of the story as told in Luke 2 would never have happened. The tearing of the veil of the Temple would never have taken place. Faith, hope and love would only be a dream of something that could happen. Grace and mercy would simply be nonexistent. John 3:16 would not be true.

All of this was made possible because Jesus was willing to lose His life for others. Most of us aren’t even willing to lose our place in line! It takes a sacrifice to place others first.

What are you willing to lose?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Does your life preach the good news?

December 4, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
(Romans 10:15 (NIV))

Do you read this and think to yourself that you are thankful you aren’t called to preach? Are you silently thankful that you have trouble stringing words together in a way that will make people understand? Have you bought in to the false assumption that preachers minister and church members receive? Is this in line with the words that Jesus left us with?

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

When we think of preaching, we have a tendency to think of someone who stands in front of a congregation on Sunday morning. I honestly don’t think that this is what Jesus meant. I have read this passage in context many times, and nowhere do I see anything that indicates that Jesus was only speaking to those who were eloquent of speech. There are many ways to “preach,” or to share the Gospel of Jesus. Standing in front of a crowd and proclaiming the Gospel is only one way. Whether you believe that these words were spoken by St. Francis of Asisi, they hold much truth and wisdom.

“Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.”
(St. Francis of Asisi)

We are not all gifted in the same ways, but as members of the Body of Christ, we are all called to the same task.

Let me ask a simple question for your consideration. How many remember having to write papers when you were in school? I remember all too well having to do this, yet, every time that a class was given an assignment, no two people did it exactly the same way. We readily accept this fact that we are all different in our lives, yet we feel that we have to follow a pattern to share Jesus. To be completely honest with you, if any of us had to convince someone else to follow Jesus based on our strengths, I seriously doubt that anyone would ever follow Jesus. It is when we allow Jesus to work through us and when we show what Jesus has done in our lives that people take notice. They will not pay any attention to our words or our strengths, but they will take notice of how Jesus turned our weaknesses into something wonderful. They will begin to see that Jesus can take their weaknesses and do the very same thing.

Take a serious look at your life. Do people see Jesus in you?

Does your life preach the good news?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What have you conquered because of his love?

December 3, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
(Romans 8:37 (NIV))

There is an old saying that love conquers all.

To be honest with you, love does work wonderful things in the lives of those who show love and those who receive love, but there is one love that is far above any other love that has ever been professed. That is the love that the Lord God, our Father has for His creation. All that it takes to prove this is a simple reading of the following passage.

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 other love is powerful enough to alter your eternal existence? What other love is willing to sacrifice itself in order to offer something so great? What other love gives the recipient the ability to conquer the power of sin, death and the grave? What other love is willing to take on all of the sin and all of the pain in order to offer the recipient the ability to escape an eternal separation from itself?

For those who have accepted this great offer of love, you know exactly what I mean. Sadly, there are many who have not accepted this offer. It is for those who have not accepted this love that we must pray. They may feel that there is not a love so great. They may feel that they are not worthy of such a love. They may even feel that they have done such bad things that the offer could not ever be available to them. Perhaps these are the biggest things that any of us have to conquer, after all it is often our self image that keeps us from being who we are called to be.

Have you ever thought about what you had to overcome in order to even accept God’s love? Did He give up on you or did He keep pressing on until you came to the realization that His love is for you? Was it ego that kept you from God’s love. Perhaps it was envy or pride. It could have even been greed or lust that kept you away from the love of the Lord. This was the first thing that His love conquered. It will not be the last!

What have you conquered because of his love?

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

November 27, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 8:38-39 (NIV))

An old friend referenced this passage a few days ago. Sadly, she has been through a lot in the last few years, yet she clings to this passage, and rightly so. She taught me a lesson that I will not forget!

With all that we face in life, nothing is constant. Never take anything for granted in this physical, fallen world. Laughter and love will fade away and turn to tears and loneliness for every single one of us. We will all face things in this life that, if we aren’t properly grounded, will completely decimate us. In all that this world has to offer and all that this world will throw at us, nothing in this world will stand by us forever.

There is only one constant in this journey that we call life. Even though it came into this world, it is not of this world. It is not a part of the created order of things. It is the love that the Creator of all things has for us.

I love the words, “Abba, Father.” Someone once implied that the closest that they could come to understanding these words and the love that they represent is to think of them as “Daddy!” It is not a formal relationship that these words represent. They are the words that represent a loving relationship between creation and Creator in a way that reflects a relationship of a child to a father. The mere mention of “Daddy” elicits such a loving response from the child. It also elicits such a loving response from the father for the child. He bends down and wraps his arms around his child and lifts them up to be face to face with himself.

This is a love that exceeds all things!

Now, let’s take what we know of earthly love and elevate that love heavenward. Each one of us are loved by God in such a way and with such fervor, that our Father did not wish for any of us to be separated from Himself. He bent down to earth by sending His only begotten Son, Jesus, to offer us outstretched arms of love on the cross. These outstretched arms were opened wide to embrace us and lift us up to Him so that we can be face to face with God for eternity. This is a love that can withstand all things!

Thank you, Jody, for reminding me of this unfailing love that our Father has for us.

I am so convinced of the strength of God’s love, that I rely on that knowledge each and every day of my life.

What are you convinced of?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you fulfilling your duty?

October 22, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.
(Ecclesiastes 12:13 (NIV))

Everyone has things that they feel they need to do. Some people call them obligations. Some call them responsibilities. Some people call them their duty. Others may say that these things are their priority, while some simply refer to them as the right thing to do. No matter what you may call them, we all have something that we feel we must do.

What are the things in your life that you place as a priority, as your duty?

Is one of your duties to provide for your family? Perhaps you are a business owner and you have employees and customers that are a central part of your daily life. Perhaps you are called to be a first responder and you feel that your duty is to protect and to serve. If that is you, thank you for your selflessness!

No matter what you may feel that your duty or obligation may be, there is one that is far greater and a lot of people fail to ever do anything about it! In fact, Jesus was asked point blank and responded without any hesitation.

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.
(Matthew 22:36-38 (NIV))

I can hear it now. Some may say that these two passages contradict each other. One says to fear God and the other says to love God with all your heart. How can fear and love mean the same thing? To be honest with you, that is a concept that may be difficult for people to grasp, but the basic sentiment behind this is that you should desire to do what is right in God’s eyes. Perhaps a better way to refer to this potential contradiction is to look at it in terms of respect. When you respect God for who He is, you both love and fear Him at the same time. The fear comes from the simple fact that we are all sinners who deserve whatever judgment we have earned. The love comes from the fact that even though He is a just and righteous God and we are all guilty of our sins, He has freely offered grace and mercy in place of the judgment.

I find it interesting that the passage in which we are told to fear God is from the Old Testament and it was recorded long before grace was freely given. I love the fact that the passage in which Jesus told us to love God is in the New Testament. Jesus took the liberty to paraphrase the commandments and let it be known that we no longer had to fear God, but through Him, God reached out to us in love. Through God’s act of love for us, we can now approach God in love.

I don’t know about you, but I both fear God and love God. As a part of His creation, it is my duty to the Lord our God as Creator!

Are you fulfilling your duty?

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