We must remember that Jesus is the bread of life!

November 7, 2022

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Give us today our daily bread.
(Matthew 6:11 (NIV))

Most people read this passage to mean that we are to look to the Lord for our daily earthly sustenance. I wholeheartedly agree, for everything is His, but there is so much more to this passage than what we acknowledge on the surface.

Just who is the bread of life? Jesus is the bread of life and His earthly birth occurred in a little town that literally translates as the house of bread. With this information, what was Jesus telling us?

This, then, is how you should pray:

‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from the evil one.’
(Matthew 6:9-13 (NIV))

After starting off our prayers praising God, we are to ask for our daily dose of Jesus!

Think about that in comparison to our physical sustenance. How long can you go without eating? How long can you go without drinking? What happens to your physical body when you do not eat or drink? What happens to your spiritual being if you do not partake of your daily bread that is Jesus? I venture to say that just as when you do not feed your body, your body weakens, the same is true if you do not fee your spirit. Just as we need to feed our bodies, we are to eat daily of the bread of life. We are to hunger for the satisfying feeling that we get when we truly spend time in His presence and in His Word.

We are coming up on a holiday in which we indulge in feasting as a way of giving thanks. We sit around the table with family and friends and reminisce about the blessings that we have been given. We fill our physical bodies with food. If we ate like this every single day of the year, we would be extremely overweight. There is a feast that you can partake of every single day of your life and it will fill you to overflowing not with weight but with the fruit of the Spirit.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
(Galatians 5:22-23a (NIV))

We are to feast on Jesus! We are to recognize and embrace the simple truth that He is the bread of life and that all good things come through our acceptance of Him as our personal Lord and Savior.

I believe that there is one more truth to grasp.

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”
(Matthew 4:4 (NIV))

Even though Jesus is the bread of life and we are told that He is the Word made flesh, He tells us to not stop our faith, our hunger, with simply proclaiming His name. We are to hunger for all that God has for us. Think about that. If you go to a restaurant, they bring you bread as a starter. You eat that, but you know that something better is coming. I realize that there is nothing better than Jesus, but what He is telling us is that He is sufficient to satisfy your hunger, but you can have so much more if you simply ask. You can truly feast on all of the blessings of God. In order to do this, there is one simple truth that we must remember.

We must remember that Jesus is the bread of life!

Copyright 1998 – 2022 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
https://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What is it that you do?

August 3, 2022

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
(James 1:22 (NIV))

Are you content to hear a twenty minute sermon once a week and then profess to know how God desires for you to live?

If you want to learn how to be a better musician, you practice your instrument often. If you want to be a better tennis player, you practice and play often. If you want to run a marathon, you train and you run often. If you want to be good at your job, you go to school to learn the details about your chosen profession. Why do we think that we can do any different when it comes to living our lives according to God’s Word? Why do we think that we’ve got this “Christianity thing” down pat when we can’t even go one minute without failing miserably at putting our faith into action?

James tells us to do what the Word says, but how many of us actually spend enough time alone in God’s Word to know what it says? How many of us truly understand the concept of taking up our cross daily and following Him daily?

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.
(Luke 9:23 (NIV))

If we don’t do what His Word says, if we don’t take up our cross daily, if we don’t follow Him daily, are we doing anything more than giving lip service to something that we truly don’t understand? Are we guilty of simply being a poser?

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
(Matthew 7:21-23 (NIV))

I long to hear completely different words when I stand before Jesus!

His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
(Matthew 25:21 (NIV))

We know that only by professing a faith in Jesus will we be saved. Works will not do it. Associating with someone who professes a faith will not do it. Only by professing a faith in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior will bring you the gift of salvation, but we are called to put our faith into action. We are called to live according to God’s Word. We are called to emulate Jesus in all that we do. We are called to walk with Jesus and imitate what we see in Him. If we profess a faith in Jesus, then our heart should desire to do what He calls us to do, but we must do it only as He directs. It is so easy to see things that we think we should be doing and go off and do them without Jesus in our lives. If you consider Jesus in context to the passage from James, it bring clarity. Jesus was God with us, yet, He didn’t do what He wanted to do. He only did what God’s Word instructed.

Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.
(John 5:19 (NIV))

What is it that you do?

Copyright 1998 – 2022 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you truly willing to go where He leads?

April 13, 2022

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”
(Luke 9:23 (NIV))

As we approach the day that we acknowledge as the day of the crucifixion of Jesus, we need to stop and reflect not only on what Jesus did for us, but also on what He has called us to do.

We are to take up our cross daily! We are to follow Him!

Keep in mind that Jesus was speaking to His disciples before the crucifixion and all that we have recorded is that He told His disciples that He would be killed. We have no record of Him saying that He would be crucified on a cross. Can you imagine just what the disciples thought when He told them to take up their cross daily and follow Him? Were they able to put this together in their minds with what would happen, or did they have an epiphany the day of the crucifixion? When did they truly realize that Jesus was calling them to a life of sacrifice in which their lives were no longer their first priority? Did they realize that there lives were no longer theirs? They had a purpose far greater than any of them could have ever conceived of for their lives.

What about you?

When did you realize that Jesus is calling you to change, to repent, and to follow Him no matter where He leads? When did you realize that as a follower of Jesus, your life would become so much more than simply existing for a few short years? When did you realize that Jesus had given you a purpose greater than yourself? When did you realize that Jesus is your purpose?

Are you truly following Jesus?

Are you truly willing to go where He leads?

Copyright 1998 – 2022 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How good are you at denying yourself?

April 4, 2022

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.
(Luke 9:23 (NIV))

Everything has a cost!

It all comes down to what you are willing to do, what you are willing to pay in order to possess what you desire.

We think of this when we save for a down-payment on a house or a car. We think of this when we schedule a once in a lifetime trip. We think of this when we pursue a career, but have you truly thought of this concept as relevant when applied to following Jesus?

We should!

All of the things that we think of sacrificing for in this world are fleeting. Moth and rust will eventually take anything that we achieve and make it worthless, yet we spend so much time and effort on these things while we ignore the things that have eternal value. We think that following Jesus is easy. We think that following Jesus is something we do when all other things are completed. In other words, Jesus is not our priority. We should be willing to do as Jesus asked the rich young man.

Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
(Matthew 19:21 (NIV))

Sadly, too many of us respond in just the same way that the rich young man responded.

When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
(Matthew 19:22 (NIV))

We are not willing to give up our possessions and our priorities. We still focus on me, myself, and I. With that in mind, I want to ask you one simple question.

How good are you at denying yourself?

Copyright 1998 – 2022 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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We need each other!

September 21, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.
(Hebrews 3:13 (NIV))

There is an old saying that no man is an island. We do not, nor are we supposed to live in a total vacuum devoid of all contact with anyone else. We need each other. We find strength from the encouragement of others and we are to give encouragement to others so that they can find strength through us. In this process, we must not falsely believe that it is we who have the strength to give. We must realize that the source of our strength in in the Lord.

Be still, and know that I am God;
(Psalm 46:10a (NIV))

We must spend time daily in His presence, but we are not supposed to stay there isolated from other believers. We are to spend time in His presence and then spend time with other members of the Body of Christ so that we can encourage each other, so that we can lift up each other as we face the sinful, fallen world that we find ourselves traveling through. We are to reinforce, we are to encourage each other as we seek to follow in His footsteps.

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
(Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV))

To put it simply, we cannot encourage others if we don’t spend time with them. We are designed for fellowship with other believers. We know what we are to do, but do we truly understand when we are to do this?

What is your definition of “Today?”

It is difficult to define this word without using the word in our efforts, but basically it means that we are to encourage each other at the present time and on this day. We are not to wait! We are not to deny the need! We are not to take the attitude that we will deal with it tomorrow, for tomorrow will never truly come. Tomorrow will turn into today and a new tomorrow will be waiting for us. We can’t do anything tomorrow, but we can do so much “Today!” When we are alone, we wallow in self pity. We don’t have other brothers and sisters to remind us of the glorious promises that are all yes through Jesus. When we are alone, we begin to believe the lies of the enemy. I know that Jesus had the disciples so that they could share the Gospel, but have you ever thought about it from a different perspective? When Jesus walked the earth, He was not alone!

As members of the Body of Christ, there is one thing that we must remember. We need each other!

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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We all need rest daily!

May 24, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.
(Matthew 11:28 (NAS))

I have sent this before, but I feel that it bears repeating. I am sure that you will agree that there are some days where the world just seems to overwhelm you even when you know that you have a Savior who is there for you and will give you rest. Jesus did not tell us that we can only turn turn to Him once. In fact, we are often told that we need to repent daily, so why should we not be able to turn to Jesus on a daily basis for rest?

At this very moment, I feel extremely heavy-laden. I am weary in body and mind, but my spirit still knows that I have a place of strength to which I can turn and I do turn. The world has a way of beating each of us down, no matter how much we desire to stay focused on Jesus. We must never forget that He is our source of strength when the world oppresses us in any manner.

The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed,
    a stronghold in times of trouble.
(Psalms 9:9 (NIV))

It has taken me a long time to grasp this simple, yet profound truth. I know that I still have a long way to go in fully claiming this truth as my own, for in my humanity, I have times of weariness where it is difficult to stay focused. To be honest with you, I know that everyone does. It is only human nature. Rejoice, for we can overcome our nature if we keep our eyes focused on Jesus. Even in times of trouble, He is with us.

And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
(Matthew 28:20b (NIV))

It is comforting to know that we have a place of refuge where we can go; that we have a friend who stays closer than a brother. We can always turn to Jesus, and I pray that we always do. Isn’t it good to know that He is always there when we feel that we are weary. We can rest in His grace and mercy. We can rest in His love. We can rest in the assurance that He has overcome the world.

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))

It is my prayer that everyone finds true rest in Jesus.

We all need rest daily!

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Will you take up your cross if it means your life?

May 26, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”
(Luke 9:23 (NIV))

Do you think of yourself as a disciple of Jesus?

Everyone who professes a faith in Jesus likes to think that they are a disciple, but are we, are you, ready to truly take up our cross?

Each one of us will face a different path as we walk out our lives in faith. It is possible that no two individuals will carry the exact same burden when they carry their cross, but we do know that all of us carry something through life. We either choose to carry our cross or we carry the weight of the sin that we refuse to let go of. It is a choice that each of us must make.

Do you want to be a disciple of Jesus?

If the answer is yes, then that requires repenting of your sins and picking up the weight of your cross as you follow Jesus. Following Jesus is not an easy thing to do. You have changed, but the world around you has not. You have changed, but your friends will still try to get you to fall back into the very same sins that you want to leave behind. Following Jesus may mean that you lose friends. It may mean that you become alienated from family. It may mean a job loss, but it will mean so much more!

Believing in and following Jesus is the only way to the Father and all of the blessings that are promised.

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))

Each of us have a decision to make. What are we willing to lose when we take up our cross and follow Jesus?

Will you take up your cross if it means your life?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What do you rejoice in?

May 18, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Though the fig tree does not bud
    and there are no grapes on the vines,
  though the olive crop fails
    and the fields produce no food,
  though there are no sheep in the pen
    and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
    I will be joyful in God my Savior.
(Habakkuk 3:17-18 (NIV))

Think about that passage for a moment.

The society was an agricultural society. What this passage describes is the equivalent of someone saying today:

Though the car breaks down
and the refrigerator needs repaired,
though the lawnmower won’t run
and the bill collectors are calling,
though there are no jobs to be found
and the house is being foreclosed,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.

No matter what the situation, we must rejoice in the Lord. No matter how desperate things may look, we must rejoice in the Lord. We are not the only people to have ever gone through trials and tribulations. We are, however, the ones who are facing them now.

Each generation goes through trials. We undergo tests of our faith. No matter what we may face, we can rest assured that the world cannot take our faith, unless we willingly give it up.

Faith is a choice. It is not something that we lose when things get bad. It is not something that we can set aside when things are going well. Faith should be an integral part of our daily lives. Faith is what sees us through the tough times. Faith is what we rejoice over during the good times. Faith is what we look back on and realize that it was faith that brought us through tough times.

Tough times fall on everyone. It is faith that makes the difference between despair and hope.

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
(Hebrews 11:1 (NIV))

I am certain that things will get better. I am certain that God will see us through this time. I am certain that the fig tree will bud and that there will be grapes on the vines, and that the car will run and the jobs will return. I am certain that no matter to what extent that these things happen, I will rejoice in the Lord. I will strive to maintain my faith.

What do you rejoice in?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Why are we drawn to return to our sin and slavery?

March 2, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
(Galatians 5:1 (NIV))

What is it about human nature that makes us return to something that we know we should leave behind? We have all been guilty of doing this very thing, and probably much more often than we care to admit. Apparently, human nature since the fall from grace has always had us doing what can only be called self destructive behavior. We know that we shouldn’t, but yet we do. This type of behavior has been pointed out many times, but probably the most accurate and disgusting is the following.

As a dog returns to its vomit,
so fools repeat their folly.
(Proverbs 26:11 (NIV))

As I stated previously, we all do it. Even the man who is credited with bringing the Gospel to the Gentiles fought this aspect in his own walk of faith. Paul was a very intelligent person, but yet he didn’t understand the self destructive nature that he fought against.

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
(Romans 7:15-20 (NIV))

This struggle that all of us face makes it clear why each of us are called to take up our cross daily. We are to deny that part of our human nature. We are to struggle with this sinful nature each and every time that it raises its ugly head in our lives. We are called to repent. Far too many people believe that this is a one-time occurrence, but it should be a daily attitude and activity. Do I even venture to say that, on some days, we may have to humble ourselves continually before the Lord and repent of our actions and our thoughts?

I know that we are a fallen creation, but I wish I had the magic answer as to why we return to our sin when we don’t want to. I wish I knew how to turn off that part of my life so that I never take my eyes off of Jesus. Just like Paul, I find myself doing the very things that I hate! I don’t know why! I long to do only what is good and righteous, yet on my own, this is not possible. I just know that we must be ready to fall on our knees whenever and wherever we may find yourself returning to our sin.

I want to leave you with one question that I hope you will take to heart.

Why are we drawn to return to our sin and slavery?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What fills your thoughts?

February 27, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Let heaven fill your thoughts. Do not think only about things down here on earth.
(Colossians 3:2 (NLT))

It is so easy to get caught up in the things of this world, after all, we are physical beings living in a physical world. We know best what we see on a regular basis. Heaven is something that we envision, but have never seen. Our jobs and our daily worries are far more realistic to us than a promise of eternal life.

Isn’t it such a shame that we fall into the trap that the enemy has set for us? Satan wants to distract us from the truth about God’s promises by keeping us so focused on the physical world and the needs that it presents. He knows that if he can keep us focused on the things of this earth, we will forget to think of the things of heaven. He knows that if we forget to think of the things of heaven, then we will soon forget to think of God at all. When we stop thinking of God, then we have become worldly and have lost all hope.

It is important to spend time within God’s Word each and every day. It is important to spend time in prayer each and every day. We must take the time to learn what are God’s desires for the world, for our nation, for our neighborhood, for our church, for our family, and for ourselves. God cannot teach us if we do not spend time reflecting upon His Kingdom and His Word. We must be still within His presence and let God fill our thoughts.

Be still, and know that I am God
(Psalm 46:10a (NIV))

What fills your thoughts?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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