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.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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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.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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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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Will the Lord know you?

February 5, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

“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))

Do you believe that it is acceptable in the eyes of God to profess a faith in Jesus and then be unwilling to give up your favorite sin?

Think about that in context of the woman caught in adultery. Jesus told her to leave her life of sin.

Think about that in context of the rich young ruler. Jesus told him to sell all he had and give everything to the poor and then follow Him. Jesus knew the rich man’s heart. He knew exactly the sin that the rich man wouldn’t give up.

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 deny ourselves the sins that we love and deny our sinful nature, then Jesus is going to deny us. We must sacrifice ourselves daily to what we desire and carry the cross that Jesus carried. He did what God called Him to do! We are to follow His example. At no point in His life did He sin, nor did He ever tell someone to continue sinning. If we are truly following Jesus, then we are truly spending time in His presence. We will desire to give up our sins. I realize that even the best of intentions will have pitfalls, but we are called to repent. We are called to change our lives to reflect Jesus in all that we do. We are called to be the light of the world, but not on our own. We are to reflect the light of Jesus. If we choose to cling to our sin, we are not filled with the light. It is a choice. We can choose Jesus or we can choose sin.

No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
(Matthew 6:24 (NKJV))

I chose this translation for this passage due to the use of the word “mammon.” It means riches. You cannot serve the riches of this world, whether they are money, lust or power, and still serve God. We must make a decision to walk away from our sins and follow Jesus. We will slip. We will falter, but if we seek forgiveness for these slips, and continue to strive to follow Jesus, then the Lord sees our heart. If we refuse to give up our sins, the Lord sees this as well. He cannot save someone who is unwilling to be saved.

If you realize that God cannot associate with sin and you aren’t willing to give up your sin, the resulting conclusion is obvious.

Will the Lord know you?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Never lose hope in the Lord!

January 21, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
(2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NIV))

Do you find the same comfort in this passage that I do?

With all the things, and some even coming from our churches, that are going on around us that are contrary to God’s Word, it is easy to lose heart.

Even with all this is going on, when we feel that we are wasting away as we see things that we know are wrong, take heart.

I know that this sounds strange to say that we should take heart when all around us is wrong in the eyes of God.

But . . .

If they were not so wrong, would we, as the Body of Christ, take a stand for what is right? We are being renewed daily in our faith, for we see things that go against God’s Word and we are taking a stand. Our conviction is growing. We are choosing which side we will be with. We can choose the world or we can choose God!

But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”
(Joshua 24:15 (NIV))

Do you feel your faith growing during these times?

Do you know that this will pass when it is God’s will?

Have you fixed your eyes upon Jesus?

I find myself longing for what is unseen, for I know that God’s promises will be fulfilled. His track record of fulfilled promises and prophesies is proof of that. All that we have to do is place our faith in the Lord and wait for His timing.

And, while we wait, we must pray and allow the Holy Spirit to renew us and to guide us.

I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
(Psalm 130:5 (NIV))

Never lose hope in the Lord!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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We must not accept sin as the new normal!

January 14, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
(Matthew 18:15-17 (NIV))

Sadly, just by choosing this verse, too many people will get offended. Society currently believes that if you love someone, then you accept them as they are. Society claims that people are made that way and as a result, there is nothing wrong with them. This has become rampant even in the church. Let’s play fill in the blank to see how that actually sounds.

I was born a(n) __________________, therefore, you have to accept me the way that I am.

Pick any of the following words and see how that sounds.

Arsonist
Murderer
Pedophile
Alcoholic
Thief
Sex Addict

Perhaps you have a few more that you can think of, but the concept is clear, sin is sin! Why do we, as the Body of Christ, not follow what we have been told? How can we be the light of the world if we allow the darkness to influence us? How can we share the truth of the Gospel if we can’t follow it ourselves? The last time I read anything about the Lord, He does not lead us into sin! In fact, He leads us away from sin. Jesus, when addressing the woman caught in adultery, was clear. We are to go and sin no more! We are to leave our life of sin. We are not to embrace the sin simply because our fallen nature made us this way! We are to become a new creation. We are to repent. We are to take up our cross and follow Him daily.

Sadly, we are seeing too many people profess that what has been called good is now evil and what was once called evil is now good. Society may claim this as the new normal, but the Body of Christ must stand firm.

We must not accept sin as the new normal!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you seeing miracles in your life?

January 13, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.
(Matthew 13:58 (NIV))

Do you constantly see things happening in the lives of other people and wish that something similar would happen in your life?

Let me ask you a question and I want you to truly stop and think about your answer. Don’t simply just read through this without stopping to look at your life in respect to this question.

How is your faith?

We all like to think that we possess a strong faith, but do your actions reflect your self assessment? Do you read your Bible on a daily basis? Do you spend time in prayer on a daily basis? Do you spend time fasting from aspects of this world so that you can focus on Jesus? Do you seek after God’s heart so that you can know Him better? Do you seek to do His will in your life in all things? Do you seek the Lord and ask for things that burden your heart? Each of us desire things in this life. We must be careful how we act upon those desires. We can do a vast number of things, ranging from something wrong to nothing at all to seeking God’s desires for us. The Lord knows this.

You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
(James 4:2-3 (NIV))

Seeing miracles in your life is part of this spectrum of desires, our actions, and, consequentially God’s reaction to all of this. It comes down to faith. If we go through life not expecting to see miracles, guess what! You won’t. If you go through life with a faith that says we serve a God who can and will do great things, you will see God move in ways that you never expect!

Are you seeing miracles in your life?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you know the heart of God?

September 25, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.
(Matthew 24:37-41 (NIV))

Isn’t it amazing how easily we get so wrapped up in our own little worlds that we ignore the things that we should truly be wrapped up in?

Some people take this to the extreme with respect to the blessings they have been given in this world. They ignore spouse, children, other family and friends all for the sake of doing something that truly has no value beyond the day. No wonder the coming of the Son of Man will be as it is foretold. Even if we, as humanity, are given blatant signs that the time is drawing near, we will miss them because we are so wrapped up in our daily lives that are completely focused on our own little worlds.

Perhaps Psalms 46:10 is more appropriate than we care to admit when it tells us “Be still, and know that I am God.” We have let the worldly things become our gods and we pay homage to them in our frantic pace while we ignore the one, true God. God gave us our lives to enjoy. We are to enjoy each other. We are to use the talents that He has given us. We are to care for the world that He created for us. We are to embrace the salvation that He has given to us, and, especially, we are to enjoy our time with God.

Don’t get so wrapped up in this world that you miss what is truly important in your life.

Where is family?

Where is friendship?

Where is quiet time to sit at the feet of Jesus and to be still and know God?

Don’t be left behind because you did not know the heart of God!

Do you know the heart of God?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Stand firm in God’s promises!

July 26, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
(Romans 8:28 (NIV))

I have always been told that I needed faith. During the times that I was very down because of the lack of work, I was told that. Even during the times when things appeared to be going well, I was told that. Now, I have gotten to the point where most of the time I know that things will be okay because God is in control. Sometimes I try to control things myself, and that is when I start to worry. These times of worry are simply little “hiccups” in the daily routine and they will be smoothed over according to God’s plan. All we have to do is stand firm in His promises.

Our lives are not meant to be easy. When we face something out of the ordinary, your first reaction is to think of ourselves and what it will mean to our way of life. These times build character. They should have the exact opposite effect. We should rejoice in the knowledge that Jesus is with us through these times. We need to realize that we are being watched in our times of trouble to see if we really do live out our faith.

Everyone goes through things in their lives. We, as believers, are no different. Some have it easier, or so it seems. Some have it worse, or at least they want you to think that. The ones who seem to have it easier may simply be better at hiding the issues and the ones who have it worse may be better at trying to play off of other people’s pity.

Maybe some of the people who appear to have it easier have truly learned to rely on God and are firmly rooted in the knowledge that we gain from Romans 8:28.

We WILL have a better situation if we truly love God.

Stand firm in God’s promises!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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