Do you truly desire to follow Jesus?

August 15, 2017

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 claim to follow Jesus? Do you consider yourself to be His disciple?

If you answered “Yes” to these two questions, then I have some more questions to ask. Do you still do the same things that you did before professing Jesus as your Lord and Savior? Do you still indulge in your personal favorite sins or have you given those up as a result of your relationship with Jesus? Do you still have the same friends as before you accepted Jesus? Has your vocabulary changed and you thought process changed or do you still spout off foul language? Have you lost friends because you no longer desire to associate with your old ways?

Following Jesus is not an easy thing to do, especially when you start realizing all of the things that you no longer desire to do. I want to stress one important aspect of following Jesus, and that is that too many people think being a follower of Jesus is about all the things that you can’t do. It is not about what you can’t do. It is about a change of heart and the realization that you no longer want to do these things. Jesus isn’t stopping anyone from sinning. He is simply pointing to a life where you lose your desire to sin. He is pointing to grace and mercy. He is pointing to redemption. He is pointing to a life that doesn’t end in death.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 6:23 (NIV))

Following Jesus is not easy, but when you consider the consequences of the alternative, it is the only choice I would ever make.

Do you truly desire to follow Jesus?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you truly prepared to follow Jesus?

January 18, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn

” `a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law–

a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’

“Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
(Matthew 10:34-39 (NIV))

When most people think of Jesus, they think of peace and love. Even the modern church thinks of Jesus in this way, but there is a side to Jesus, or should I say a side to proclaiming a faith in Jesus, that is far from what the world thinks.

Jesus came to this world out of love for God’s creation. He came so that sinners could be set free from the bondage of sin and death. Sadly, though, not everyone will accept that free gift. Not everyone will acknowledge that Jesus has the authority to offer the gift of grace. It is this aspect that brings the sword. In most cases, it is only a figure of speech, but in some cases, it is a literal result of the rejection of Jesus.

We have all seen families where some members of the family are very firmly rooted in their faith in Jesus while other family members vehemently deny Jesus. They are at odds. They are at war with members of their own family. In some cultures, proclaiming that you are a Christian and follow Jesus is a death sentence. Contrary to societal beliefs, following Jesus is not all acceptance, love and Kumbaya.

He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.
(Matthew 13: 37-39 (NIV))

There is a growing hatred in this world for anything that points to Jesus. The enemy is planting weeds in the hearts of people while Jesus is planting good seed.

There is a battle taking place. That battle may divide families. It may divide friends. Don’t let that battle find you opposing Jesus!

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you have trouble with your confession?

June 1, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.
(Matthew 10:32-33 (NKJV))

Have you ever stopped to truly reflect on this passage?

We know that if we confess that Jesus is our Lord and Savior before men, then Jesus will not deny us in heaven.

Do you have a difficult time confessing that Jesus is your Lord and Savior? Perhaps you have a few friends that you simply never mention Jesus when you are with them. Do the people that you work with even know that you profess a faith in Jesus? Are you too ashamed to even put a Christian emblem on your car?

We currently live in a nation where we might be looked at strangely for our faith, but we really don’t suffer any physical threats or death because we profess a faith in Jesus. At most, we might be called a few not so nice names. I find it all too sad that far too many people will not take the step of faith to publicly profess Jesus in relative safety. How can these same people think that if and when they will be put to the test of faith when it truly means something, they will respond with a boldness that they don’t have now? That happens when they are before a group of people who desire nothing more than to kill them if they profess Jesus?

Think about those questions and then think about this simple, yet true concept.

When you are learning anything in life, do you start off with the most difficult aspect or do you start off with something simple so that you can build up confidence? If you are five years old and want to play baseball, do you start off facing a pitcher who can throw 90 plus miles per hour, or do you start off hitting the ball off of a T?

How can we expect to profess Jesus when the enemy is coming at us at 90 miles per hour when we haven’t even been able to get to the point where we can profess Him in the safety of friends?

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you guilty of bending God’s truth?

April 4, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

And by this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
(1 John 2:3-4 (NAS))

What is truth?

Is it what you say it is? Is it what someone else says it is? Is truth relative or is a fixed target that is defined by someone with a higher authority than you or I?

Sadly, far too many people believe that there is no such thing as absolute truth. I was recently made aware of the irony of that statement. People who utter the words that there is no absolute truth expect you to believe what they say in that statement. What makes that statement true? If someone emphatically states that there is no absolute truth, they are breaking their own beliefs by claiming that statement as an absolute.

Don’t you just love the irony that the human mind can conjure up something that makes no sense and then convince themselves of its validity?

What do you believe to be true?

Who is the creator, who is the holder of absolute truth? Why does humanity choose to deny that there is such a thing as absolute truth?

Ego and pride come to mind as two of the most guilty reasons. We, as human beings, all are very prone to possess these traits in a negative manner. We all like to think that we are right and that no one else knows better than us. My wife claims that I have a hard time admitting when I am wrong. Have you ever been accused of having that trait?

We have a tendency to twist the truth when it makes us look good. We also have a tendency to believe a lie when it makes us look good. I know that it is difficult, but we must focus on Jesus and keep His commands to truly possess the truth. Anything less than that is a lie. A lie is anything that is not true. It can even be a simple bending of the truth, or a little white lie.

Are you guilty of bending God’s truth?

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How many nations do you feel are blessed by God?

July 29, 2015

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD,
the people he chose for his inheritance.
(Psalms 33:12 (NIV))

Based on this passage, how many nations do you feel are blessed by God?

Are we one of them?

With all that is currently going on in this country and many others, how do you think that God is responding? Is He trying to get our attention? Is He using His creation to send us signs and warnings that we must return to Him?

I honestly don’t feel that with what is currently happening in this nation that we are truly blessed as a nation. We once were and we may be once again if we heed the warnings and repent. I realize that this nation is made up of individuals and that a relationship with God through His Son, Jesus, is a personal and individual decision. There will always be those who profess a faith in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior and there will always be those who deny Jesus. Lately, it seems that not only are people denying Jesus, they are blatantly defying Jesus.

How can God bless any nation if its people deny Him and willingly and blatantly defy Him?

Copyright 1998 – 2015 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

April 27, 2015

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life–not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
(2 Timothy 1:8-10 (NIV))

Are you ashamed to testify about Jesus?

Are you willing to suffer for the Gospel?

Chances are very good that if you are ashamed of Jesus, then you will not be willing to suffer for the Gospel. Let’s face the truth. Are you even willing to tell someone about Jesus or do you change who you are depending on who you are around?

Faith in Jesus is not something that can be turned off and on to suit your needs. In fact, I would venture to say that this is not a true faith at all. We already know what will happen if we deny Jesus before men.

“Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.
(Matthew 10:32-33 (NIV))

That group of words should be enough of a reason to stand firm in your faith. It should be enough of a reason to make you be consistent in testifying about Jesus. Sadly enough, though, there are many people who will change their story depending on whom they are around.

Did Paul waiver in his faith? Think about all of the times that he was stoned or ran out of town because of his faith in preaching the Gospel. Think about the house arrests and the imprisonments. Think about his martyrdom. Paul did not waiver in his faith. He did not change depending on who he was around even though there were times, from a physical human perspective, where it could have benefited him.

How would God have treated Paul if he had wavered? How would the church that grew from his faith look today if Paul had wavered?

I honestly don’t think that we will see too many more years pass before we see Jesus return for His bride. With this in mind, what do you think that the members of the Body of Christ in your circle of influence would look like if your influence is all they see and they see that you are ashamed of the Gospel?

Your testimony matters! Your story matters! Your faith matters!

If you are the only representative of Jesus that people will see, what will be their impression of the Gospel?

Copyright 1998 – 2015 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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Are you ashamed of the Gospel?

September 5, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.
(John 3:19-21 (NIV))

How can we be the light of the world and share the Light of Jesus if we remove God and Jesus from everything in our public life?

Too many have given up talking about Jesus because we do not wish to offend anyone. Are we ashamed of Jesus?

Paul was not ashamed.

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
(Romans 1:16-17 (NIV))

Do we deny Jesus?

They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.
(Titus 1:16 (NIV))

Do we disown Jesus?

“Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.
(Matthew 10:32-33 (NIV))

These passages are clear about what happens if we are ashamed, if we deny, or if we disown.

We have allowed God to be removed from public life. We have allowed prayer to be removed from school. We have allowed the removal of any reference to God or to Jesus from many aspects of our life and today, I read, and verified with several news agencies, something that completely broke my heart.

One of our political parties has completely removed any reference to God from their platform.

Are we, as a nation, ashamed of God?

Are we, as a nation, denying Jesus?

Are we, as a nation, disowning Jesus before men?

I can hear the comments already. Some of you are saying that this does not mean that these people are not believers. I do not know the people involved, so I am in no position to speculate. I am also not qualified to judge. What I do know is that which is written in God’s Word.

If we are ashamed of Jesus, or if we deny Jesus, or if we disown Jesus, then Jesus will not claim us as His own.

Sometimes what we omit speaks volumes more than what we say. If you proclaim that Jesus is your Lord and Savior, do not fall into the mindset where you are ashamed of Jesus.

Would you intentionally deny Jesus?

Sometimes, what is not presented is the presentation. If we remove God, how can we call upon His name and how can we claim to be in His will? Our act of omission may cause us to hear these words from Jesus.

Then I will tell them plainly, `I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
(Matthew 7:23 (NIV))

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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We can choose who we deny

April 18, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
(Mark 8:34b (NIV))

How many times have you heard this passage quoted? It is a common passage to be used when we think of the sufferings that we are told we will encounter in this world if we choose to follow Jesus.

I have a problem with teachings that are financial blessings based. It is true that God desires to bless us, but, we must not forget the opposite side of this, for we are told that we will have to take up our cross and follow Him. Bearing a cross is not a teaching of no problems and of rosy futures. We still have to face the truth that the enemy has dominion over this earth. When we make it known that we have placed our faith in Jesus, we become fair game for the attacks of the enemy.

“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))

Jesus knew that we would face troubles in this life. He did not promise that the troubles would go away. He did promise that He has overcome the world. This passage does not say that He has overcome the troubles and has made them stop. It states that He has overcome the troubles and will provide a way for us to walk through them.

We can either deny ourselves or we can deny Jesus!

If we deny ourselves, it may be possible that we would have an easier time in life. We don’t know what will happen in this life. We do know that if we deny ourselves in this life, eternity will be a blessing.

If we deny Jesus, I know that we will have a much harder eternity.

We can choose who we deny. Who will you deny?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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The love that Jesus showed

April 4, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
(Mark 8:34 (NIV))

Easter is rapidly approaching. The day that we praise for it is the yearly celebration of the resurrection of the crucified Jesus. It is something to celebrate. It is the culmination of all of the promises, for without the resurrection, the cross means nothing. Without the empty tomb, we are all guilty sinners without any hope.

Have you ever thought about why Jesus said that we must deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow Him?

The world thinks that following Jesus is a joke. They look upon those who proclaim a faith in Jesus as less than intellectual, as someone stuck in childlike fantasy. Following Jesus is not always the easy thing to do. We have influences from all realms of society that mock us and try to get us to do things that we know are not right. We are to stick to the path laid out before us as believers. We are to not only accept the grace and mercy but show this same grace and mercy to others.

Think about Jesus on the cross. Was it socially acceptable to do what He did? Was it politically correct to preach and teach as He did? Was is in His best interests as a human to be seen with tax collectors, adulterers and sinners of all types?

Jesus denied Himself in ways that we can only imagine. He said and did things that He knew would anger the Sanhedrin. He kept the company of those who were social outcasts. He did all of this without any regard for His well-being. He even went to the cross without any resistance.

This was the ultimate act of denying yourself. He placed others first.

We are to do the same. We are to seek the lost and offer them a path to grace. We are to see the hungry and feed them. We are to feel the pain of a lost world and pray. We are called to do things beyond ourselves.

By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
(John 13:35 (NIV))

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
(John 15:13 (NIV))

Think of the love that Jesus showed for all of creation.

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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