We must pick up our cross no matter the cost!

July 7, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me.
(Acts 20:22-23 (NIV))

How many of us would willingly go somewhere knowing that there is a very good possibility that you would face great danger? Would you be willing to stand up for your faith even in the midst of hardships and prison? Would you go headlong into the situation even if you knew that this would be the outcome?

Paul faced many hardships during his travels to spread the Gospel, yet nothing that he faced was able to convince him to stop sharing the good news of Jesus. It was more important to him than his own life!

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.
(Acts 20:24 (NIV))

Can we make that same profession of faith?

For years I have been saying that a time is coming when speaking the name of Jesus would carry dire consequences from beatings to even death. That time is drawing closer. We are seeing things escalate at a rate that I would have never imagined being able to happen in my lifetime. Just look at what has happened in the last few years. What about the last few months? What will we be facing next? Are we ready, willing and able to have the same attitude as Paul did during his lifetime? Will we head into the hardships if that is where we are called? Are we ready to die to self and pick up the cross without counting the cost of our actions?

We must pick up our cross no matter the cost!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you accepted this glorious gift?

July 1, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
(Romans 8:1 (NIV))

Before Jesus came to this world to live and teach, and then to die for our sins, everyone lived under condemnation. No one was worthy to approach the Throne of God as righteous and blameless.

No one in all of history could have earned salvation on their own!

God knew that this was an impossibility due to the sinful nature of man ever since Satan was allowed dominion over this world. Still, God had a plan for a redemptive gift.

“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 he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 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 3:16-21 (NIV))

God gave us the ultimate gift! The gift is freedom from condemnation through Jesus Christ. All of our sins are forgiven once we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

Have you accepted this glorious gift?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you ashamed of the power of the Gospel?

May 19, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.
(Romans 1:16 (NIV))

How strong is your faith?

I realize that this sounds like a strange question to be asking someone who is reading something that is based on scripture. I have found that the simpler the questions are concerning spiritual matters, the more difficult that they seem to be to answer. The simple questions seem to require an in-depth look at yourself and most people are afraid of what they will see within themselves. So, with this stated, I want to ask once again, how strong is your faith? What do you see within yourself?

If you were told to deny Jesus or die, what would you do?

If you were told to bow down and worship a statue, what would you do?

If you were told to lie in order to preserve your life, what would you do?

If you were told to take a mark or lose your head, what would you do?

All of us see things going on in the world and we wonder if we are drawing closer to the time of the end when everything that God calls good is called evil and everything that God calls evil is called good. Do you have the strength of faith to hold fast to the goodness and truth that is the Lord even when all around you is proclaiming evil? Think about that for a moment. Consider how rapidly things have changed. Are you prepared to stand firm?

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
(Ephesians 6:13 (NIV))

Is your armor on?

We have been basically told that we cannot go to church. We have been told that we must wear a mask in public. We have been told that we must maintain social distancing. Now, we are being told that there is a plan to require a traceable vaccine in order to be able to resume “normal” life. I don’t know about you, but this doesn’t sound like the freedom that we have through the Blood of Jesus. In fact, it sounds like it is an attempt to control those who don’t know Jesus. Myself and countless others may be wrong, but do you want to gamble your eternity if what is happening is as it appears? Some may call this conspiracy theory, but for those who know God’s Word, it is all laid out. Study God’s Word. Look around you!

We must choose!

But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, 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))

Now is not the time to be timid!

Now is not the time to be ashamed of the Gospel.

Are you ashamed of the power of the Gospel?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you heard the Lord say to get moving?

May 13, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on.
(Exodus 14:15 (NIV))

God spoke these words to Moses when the Egyptians were pursuing them and had them cornered at the sea. To the Israelites, it looked like they had two choices – die at the hands of Pharaoh’s army or die in the sea.

God had other plans!

The Israelites were looking at their situation through worldly eyes. Many of them even vocalized their lack of faith.

They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt?
(Exodus 14:11 (NIV))

It is human nature to see the worst in a situation. It is hope that allows us to see the best in the very same situations. It is faith that allows us to take action on our hope and have results that astound the world. In this story, the Israelites overcame their worldly viewpoint and literally stepped out in faith and gave us a glimpse into the majesty and power that God has over His creation. Without their faith and this story, we may not realize that God controls His creation.

It took faith! It also took a direct command from God to Moses to get the people moving.

Do you have that type of faith?

Have you heard the Lord say to get moving?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do you embrace God’s plan of grace?

April 9, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.”

Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all drank from it.

“This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them. “I tell you the truth, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it anew in the kingdom of God.”
(Mark 14:22-25 (NIV))

Have you really thought about what Jesus was doing in these passages? It is easy to go through the motions without realizing exactly what the whole thing means.

The symbolism is astonishing. The implications are crucial to our beliefs. The continuing practice is an important part of our ability to remember just what was done in our behalf. We must also remember that Jesus did this at the Passover Sader, which was and still is the Jewish holiday in which they remember the gift of salvation and freedom from their Egyptian captors. On the anniversary of the very night that God delivered Israel from a physical bondage, God, through His Son, Jesus Christ, was delivering the world from spiritual bondage.

In Egypt, God accomplished this through the Angel of Death striking the first-born of Egypt. For the salvation of the world, God again struck down the first-born! He allowed His only begotten Son to die in our place!

The Passover meal is a very ritualized meal so that the Jewish people do not forget what God did for them. It is a time of celebration for those who partake of it. Jesus instituted a new “Passover” tradition in which all who believe that He is the Son of God and their Lord and Savior can partake. This meal is different from the original Jewish Passover meal in that it can be taken anytime and anywhere that there are believers.

The next time that you have the opportunity to sit at the Lord’s table, remember the pain, suffering, grace and salvation that this meal represents.

Do you embrace God’s plan of grace?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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If God loves, how can we do any less?

February 12, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as I also have been fully known. But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
(1 Corinthians 13:12-13 (NASB))

All of our understanding of the ways of God are nothing. We cannot fully comprehend His wisdom, majesty and grace with our limited ways of understanding. How can a car know what the engineers who designed it were thinking? How can a computer software know what the software developers were thinking and planning? How can we, as the beloved creation of God, fully comprehend what His plans are?

One day, we will be able to understand, but that day is not going to happen in this world as we know it. All that we can do is have faith, hope and love. Faith that God will see us through all that we must face. Hope for salvation and a better life to come. Love for those around us, for they too are creations of God, and are equally loved by God the Father. He loved us so much that He sent His only Son, Jesus, to die so that we could have salvation.

God does not just love you and I, He loves everyone!

If God loves, how can we do any less?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do you accept the proof?

February 7, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.
(Acts 17:31 (NIV))

Far too many people simply think of Jesus as the baby in the manger. They see the sweet innocence and gladly embrace a child. Some even fully embrace that He was sent by God.

Some see more than this.

Some see a teacher. Some see a prophet. Some see a martyr. Some see even more than this.

I fully embrace the description that the Bible gives to Jesus. This is a combination of Old Testament prophecy that is mirrored in New Testament fulfillment. I see Jesus as all of these things and more. He was a sweet and innocent babe. He was a teacher. He was a prophet. He was a martyr in that He came to die for our sins. But, there is more.

He is God’s only begotten Son. He is the son of man. He is both fully God and fully human. Jesus came to teach us. He came to show us God’s plan for salvation. He came to die so that plan of salvation could be realized. He died and was buried. On the third day, He arose again to being hope and fulfill the promises that had been made. He ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of God the Father, and He will return to judge the world.

There, I said it. Too many people simply do not want to admit that God’s plan also includes a day of judgment. They don’t want to admit that there will be consequences for their actions.

Think about that for a moment, though.

Who would you rather be judged by – a perfect Creator in God, or God who became human so that He could fully understand our temptations? In order for God to set a day of judgment, He had to have appointed someone to act as judge. He had to appoint someone to act as a mediator between Himself and sinful man. He had to come into this world to live as we live and to set an example for each of us. He had to face the same temptations that we face. He had to overcome them and offer Himself as a replacement for our punishment.

Judgment is something that we all dread. It is something that we would rather not think about. It is something that we will face if we do not turn to the One whom God sent.

The first time that Jesus came into this world, He came to offer salvation. He came to show us how to avoid judgment. We can accept this offer or we can face judgment.

Do you accept the proof?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do you have the wisdom to rest in the presence of God?

November 20, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, LORD,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep.
(1 Kings 19:3-5 (NIV))

Have you ever been put to the test and simply wanted to give up and die?

It is not uncommon for people to feel that way. Elijah, who had just called down the fire of God upon a wet alter and proved that God was the true God and not he false prophet’s gods, felt this very thing when he was confronted with an attack from the enemy. Queen Jezebel had just threatened his life as a result of what had happened and Elijah ran for his life. Think about this. Elijah had just called upon God in a mighty way and He showed up, yet, at the threats of a single woman he forgot who was fighting on his side and ran. He literally wanted to die!

We all face situations in which we want to throw in the towel and give up, but we must remember who is on our side. We must also remember that God is not in the mighty deeds at all times. Just as with Elijah in 1 Kings 19:11-13, He was in the whisper. He was not in the wind, the earthquake or the fire.

What is it in your life that is currently testing you? Have you spent quiet time alone with God to hear His Will, or have you buried yourself with activity? Have you simply stopped everything because of the stress of the situation? Remember that Elijah rested and then traveled farther away from what was troubling him before he was able to discern God’s voice.

Perhaps we must simply place our trust and faith in God to deliver us. When we simply do this, He will answer in that whisper that only we can hear. We cannot hear it when we are in the heat of the battle.

What do you hear when you are faced with a test? Do you have the wisdom to rest in the presence of God?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What do you do when the unexpected happens?

October 25, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
(Acts 1:9 (NIV))

I can picture the moment. Everybody is gathered around Jesus and everyone there is asking Him questions. They are filled with excitement. They have spent three years with Jesus. They saw Him perform miracles. They saw Him beaten and crucified. They saw Him die. And, they saw Him in His resurrection. Now, after the resurrection, they are eagerly looking for Jesus to bring God’s kingdom to this world.

And then . . .

The unexpected happens.

At least in their eyes, it does.

They were expecting Jesus to take His authority then and there, but He disappears!

Can you imagine how these people felt? Everything that they had seen. Everything that they had been a part of. Everything that they now expected was completely changed. I can imagine that their first reaction was that they were being abandoned. How would you feel?

God knew their hearts. He knew that they were expecting something that was not in His plan. God had compassion on these people. He sent messengers to tell them that their timing was not His timing.

They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
(Acts 1:10-11 (NIV))

Instead of despair, these people had a reason to believe. They had a reason to hope. They had a reason to pray. And pray they did.

Then they returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city. When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.
(Acts 11:12-14 (NIV))

How do you react when things don’t go as you expect them to?

We should take a lesson from these first believers. When things don’t go as we expect them to go, we should pray for God’s guidance and His wisdom.

What do you do when the unexpected happens?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Hold on to what you have!

July 11, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
(Revelation 3:11-13 (NIV))

Hold on to what you have!

Have you honestly given thought to what you do have? What was the first thing that came to mind when you read that question? Was it your home? Perhaps it was your car. Perhaps you are not as material obsessed and what you thought of was your family. Perhaps you even went to the point of thinking about your life and all that you have been blessed with.

Now, step back and take a look at all of these things through the eyes of God. Did He send Jesus to die on the cross so that you could have a nice home or a nice car? Did He send Jesus so that you could have a loving family? Do you honestly think that Jesus came so that you could live your life in any manner that you choose?

Jesus came to offer to us the most prized possession that we could ever be given. He came to offer us salvation from our sins and the laws of sin and death. If you profess Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, then that is what you have. It is a possession that cannot be taken away, but it can be relinquished by turning away. It can be lost by not recognizing the tricks and lies of the enemy and turning to these life robbing sins once more. Professing a belief in Jesus as your Lord and Savior is only the beginning. It is a starting point, but it is not the finish line of the race. Paul often spoke of faith in Jesus as a race, a race that we must not only start, but one that we must finish.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
(Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV))

We cannot sign up to run the race and then sit on the sidelines. We will not receive the prize. We must hold on to what we have. We must embrace what we have been given. We must not allow anything or anyone to keep us from the finish that will allow us to receive the prize.

Hold on to what you have!

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