Is the message of the cross foolishness or power?

April 3, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
(1 Corinthians 1:18 (NIV))

Ever since it happened, the crucifixion and the resurrection have been points of contention in the minds of millions, if not billions, of people. It is either looked upon as the most amazing gift and the most amazingly simple way for God to restore a lost creation to Himself, or it is looked upon as a childishly simple lie and a fairy tale. Ironically, both camps recognize the simplicity involved. Those who profess a faith in Jesus and what He accomplished on the cross understand the Gospel, or good news, in such a way that they realize God made it simple to receive salvation. All that you have to do is repent and ask Jesus to be your personal Lord and Savior. Those who look upon the cross as foolishness cling to the old saying, “If it looks too good to be true, it is!” They also often think that it doesn’t make sense that one man could save me by dying on a cross. What they fail to recognize is that one man was not just any man. He was the Son of Man. He was fully man and He was fully Lord.

I realize that there are many possible shades between these two ends of the spectrum, but in essence most can be included. Even those who profess that there is no God fall into the foolishness category. Many of those who profess this think that any and all concepts of a god, let alone the one true God, are all signs of an uneducated mind. They fail to see the evidence that is right in front of them. In all of their so-called wisdom, they fail to see the obvious.

Do you recall your life before you came to faith in Jesus?

Think about your attitude towards those who professed a faith in Jesus. If you are like most people, you probably bought into the stereotypical characterization of believers that the world wants you to believe. You probably had a tendency to look at all believers with a very jaded perspective. Now that you profess a faith in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, that characterization has hopefully been long gone. Looking honestly back at these periods in your life, which one was the foolish period?

The cross divides many aspects of this world. It divides time – B.C. and A.D. It divides families. It divides societies. Nothing in all of human history has been the source of so much division. It all comes down to a simple matter of perspective.

Is the message of the cross foolishness or power?

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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Who walks with you in times of trouble?

June 11, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.
(Isaiah 43:2 (NIV))

Everyone faces troubles in this world. Too many people have a false impression that because they follow Jesus they should not have any troubles. They get extremely upset when they face things in their lives. They forget what Jesus told us about following Him.

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))

They also forget that Jesus faced many troubles during His time on earth. Just because He was God with us does not mean that the enemy didn’t try to create trouble. Look at the wilderness experience. Look at all of the times that the officials wanted to kill Him. Look at the betrayal, the scourging and the crucifixion. Anyone who truly knows what Jesus experienced while on this earth should clearly understand that Jesus knew trials. He knew temptation. He knew suffering. Why do so many people believe that we won’t face trials in this life?

What was recorded in Isaiah is very important to understand. It lets us know that the Lord is with us. Jesus told us in John that He has overcome the troubles of this world. He has taken the trials and troubles upon Himself so that we don’t have to face them alone.

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
(Romans 8:31 (NIV))

I find these passages to be very reassuring. They remind me of the promises that we have been given. These promises let us know that if we have accepted Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, we have the Lord with us when we walk through times of trouble.

Who walks with you in times of trouble?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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He went through all of this for you!

March 30, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.

The Crucifixion of Jesus

As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. They came to a place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. Above his head they placed the written charge against him: this is jesus, the king of the jews.

Two rebels were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.'” In the same way the rebels who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

The Death of Jesus

From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).

When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.”

Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.”

And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.
(Matthew 27:27-50 (NIV))

He went through all of this for you!

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you thankful that Jesus faced this hour?

March 28, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”
(John 12:23 (NIV))

It is hard to imagine the idea of crucifixion as a means of glorification, but that is exactly what transpired!

Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.
(John 12:24 (NIV))

When Jesus went to the cross, He knew exactly what would transpire. He knew that He would die a painful death as an atoning sacrifice for all sin that had ever happened or ever would happen. He knew that Satan would think that he had won. Jesus also knew that the power of sin and death would forever be broken three days later when He would be resurrected. Jesus knew that He was the single seed of hope. In order for hope to mature and grow in this world, He had to make the ultimate sacrifice. Crucifixion is definitely not glorious, but overcoming the power of sin and death and being elevated to the right hand of God the Father is the ultimate glory.

It is a glory that we can share! It is a glory that removes condemnation!

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,
(Romans 8:1 (NIV))

It is a glory that intercedes for those who believe!

Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.
(Romans 8:34 (NIV))

From a human perspective, it is difficult to be thankful for suffering. No one in their right mind would look on the sufferings of others as a good thing, but in the case of what Jesus did, it is an amazing thing. It is amazing how the sin of one condemned all to death and the sin free sacrifice of one settled the debt for the wages of sin and death. Personally, I hate the fact that my sin is why Jesus suffered and died, yet, at the same time, I am thankful that He faced that hour!

Are you thankful that Jesus faced this hour?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you truly understand what Jesus did?

March 26, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!”
(Matthew 20:18-19 (NIV))

Have you truly come to terms with all that Jesus did for you and I, or are you still stuck in the mindset that all that Jesus accomplished can be summarized in a basket full of treats that will soon go away?

Think about that.

Even as adults, we have a tendency to look at the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus as only a day to get together with family and have fun with some events for the children. In the back of our minds, we know that it is more than this, but have we turned the most crucial day to our faith into nothing more than a chance to over eat? Sure, we have Good Friday services and many of us will get up and go to a sunrise service on Resurrection Sunday, but do we truly understand the full implications of what we celebrate? Have we become so jaded by the fact that we can turn on a TV or go to a movie and see things that appear to be miraculous? If that is the case, what happens when we truly read about the power of God raising Jesus from the dead? Do we take it for granted? Do we overlook the magnitude of the implications for those who truly believe, for those who truly call upon the name of Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior?

We are told many times that we don’t know what tomorrow will bring. Jesus implicitly foretells the events that He would face. He knew that His fulfillment of the plan for humanity’s salvation would transpire exactly as foretold. He knew that His willingness to lay down His life would mean that you and I could walk with assurance that our sins have been forgiven. He knew the weight of the world’s sin that He carried would mean that you and I could stand before God the Father as a spotless bride. He saw the faces of every person to ever live and He willingly offered His sinless life for our sin filled lives.

Without the crucifixion, there would be no resurrection. Without the resurrection, there would be no grace and mercy that could be given. Without the grace and mercy freely given at the cross, you and I would be forever lost in our sin.

Do you truly understand what Jesus did?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is your life built upon the cornerstone?

February 2, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone;”
(Psalms 118:22 (NIV))

Have you ever truly stopped to think about the meaning of the word cornerstone? There are a few basic meanings and I honestly believe that they both apply in this passage. One meaning represents a stone that is basically as the word sounds. It is the stone that is used at the corner of a building, but part of that definition also includes the fact that the cornerstone is laid in a formal ceremony. The other definition has the word cornerstone meaning a basic element.

I want you to think about these meanings with respect to Jesus.

When you think of a corner, you get a mental image of a change of direction. John the Baptist called everyone to change direction, only he used the word repent. Jesus offered us a way to repent of our sins by accepting Him as our personal Lord and Savior. God cemented this possibility through a formal event that has captivated millions since the time that it occurred. The trial, crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection were orchestrated like clockwork according to God’s plan, according to a ceremony that we still do not fully understand.

Has Jesus allowed you to change direction?

The basic tenet of Christianity is that Jesus is the not a mere man. He is the Son of God! That concept is the basic element of faith in Jesus. Jesus is the basic element of salvation!

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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
(John 3:16-18 (NIV))

The more that I consider the meanings of the word cornerstone, Jesus fulfills all of them. He is the corner upon which we may change direction. He is the cornerstone that was established through God’s formal plan. Jesus is the basic element, the very foundation upon which our faith is built.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
(John 14:6-7 (NIV))

Is your life built upon the cornerstone?

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