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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Are you willing to listen to God?

May 15, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

The Sovereign LORD has given me an instructed tongue,
      to know the word that sustains the weary.
   He wakens me morning by morning,
      wakens my ear to listen like one being taught.
(Isaiah 50:4 (NIV))

What can sustain the weary?

Think about that question.

What makes you weary? Is it the world? Is it your job? Is it relationships that you wish were different? Is it the state of the world with all of the trials and tribulations that we must face? What sustains you in the midst of these trials and tribulations? What sustains you when you feel that you cannot go on?

Isaiah was given words to say to people who were weary. God gave him words of hope to speak to the people of Israel. Many of the prophesies regarding the coming of Jesus were spoken through Isaiah. What made Isaiah different from all of the people around him? Why was he able to hear God when the others did not? Perhaps we are given a clue as to Isaiah’s abilities in the remaining lines of the passage. God awoke Isaiah every morning and taught him. God spoke to Isaiah because Isaiah was willing to listen. What made Isaiah willing to listen?

What makes you willing to listen to someone? I believe that there are two primary reasons someone willingly listens to someone else. They love the person speaking, or they are interested in the topic. In Isaiah, I believe that we have found both. He loved the Lord and, because of this love, he also was very interested in what God had to say. He listened because he longed for God’s truth. This, alone, is enough to sustain the weary. Simply listening to God and taking his Word to heart is sufficient to sustain even the most weary of individuals.

Are you weary? Do you listen to God? Do you embrace every word that He has given us?

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
(Matthew 11:28 (NIV))

Have you found rest?

Are you willing to listen to God?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you trying to do things your way?

March 12, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”
    “No,” they answered.
He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.
(John 21:4-6 (NIV))

Do you consider yourself an expert in what you do?

Think about that question for a moment.

How willing are you to take the advice of someone who doesn’t know anything about what you do? How willing are you to even consider doing something differently than what you are accustomed to?

Now, is there something in your life that you are struggling with because you know that God is leading you in a certain direction, but you feel that you are constantly encountering roadblocks and obstacles? Have you stopped to consider that you are trying to fulfill your calling using your own strengths and plans? Perhaps you simply need to step back and accept the advice from someone else.

That is exactly what the disciples did, not only in this story, but in other stories as well.

Every time that they attempted to do something without Jesus, it did not go as planned. When they allowed Jesus to guide, things vastly improved. Fortunately for those who can claim spiritual descendancy to the disciples, they allowed someone else to lead them. They soon realized that they could not do it on their own. They needed Jesus.

What in your life is in need of the guidance that Jesus can give? Is it your job? Is it your family? Is it your calling? Is it a ministry that He is longing to use to spread the Gospel? Listen to that still, small voice. I think that you know the one. It is the one that says “Throw your net on the right side of the boat. . . ” It is the one that sounds foolish, but you just can’t seem to get it out of your mind. It is the one that is calling you to trust in something besides your own so-called expertise.

I once heard a story about how a revival got started. To summarize, many people got together to pray that a revival would start in their town. They met regularly, but with no results. Finally, someone asked after a rather lengthy prayer meeting if anyone felt anything. No one answered. This went on for several more prayer meetings, and still no one answered. Finally, at still another prayer meeting, someone reluctantly said that they felt that they were supposed to hit the table. They said that they had felt this way almost since the beginning of their prayer group, but they felt that it was foolish and didn’t mention it. Finally, they broke down and did what they felt they were being told to do. They hit the table.

Can you guess what happened?

Are you ignoring something because you feel that it is foolish? God is not calling the equipped. He is equipping the called. It is up to each of us to answer that call. He will call you in ways that you may think are foolish.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
       declares the LORD.
(Isaiah 55:8 (NIV))

Are you trying to do things your way?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you understand the depth of His love?

January 31, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Jesus wept.
(John 11:35 (NIV))

Do you truly realize the implications of these two words?

Without going into detail to expound upon the fact that Jesus is part of the Holy Trinity of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, I want you to consider some basic word swapping. What happens when you switch Jesus as the subject of this short, yet powerful sentence with God, Father, or Holy Spirit?

God wept.

The Father wept.

The Holy Spirit wept.

It’s easy to think of Jesus weeping, after all He was fully human even though He was fully God. Swapping the subject out and replacing it with other incarnations of the Holy Trinity puts this verse into a different light? Have you ever thought of God weeping? Did you ever think that God’s heart could break? If you think of Him as Father, then perhaps you have considered how God’s heart breaks when we sin. Have you ever thought of the Holy Spirit weeping? If you have ever experienced that still, small voice, then you probably have felt the pain and the anguish that He feels when someone sins.

The original two words show the compassion and love that Jesus has, but if you extend to the obvious, it shows the deep compassion and love that is there in all incarnations of the Holy Trinity. I realize that each member of the Holy Trinity has a unique task that they perform, but they are all God. All three love. All three weep. All three are involved in the plan of redemption and grace. Think about that in context of these words in John 11:35. If Jesus wept, that means the very heart of God was broken and weeping.

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))

The Father wept!

I don’t like the fact that we break His heart, but I am so overjoyed that our God has compassion and love for His creation that He weeps when we do break His heart.

Do you understand the depth of His love?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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I love it that God chose to do a new thing!

January 3, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.
(Isaiah 43:19 (NIV))

Have you ever stopped to think about this passage? We have a tendency to think that we are the ones who always want something different. We think that we are the ones who want to do a new thing, but if you actually think about it, God is the only One who has ever done good and new things! All we ever do is ruin what He has done!

God created everything. He created it all as a location for us, His creation. What did we do? We ruined it!

All throughout the Old Testament, God would do something for us as a part of His nature, and we would ruin it. He gave us promises and we disobeyed. He sent prophets and we ignored them. Finally, His ultimate plan came into fruition. He sent His Son, Jesus. He came as Emmanuel, God with us. Do you realize that the last time that God walked with His creation was before the fall from grace in the Garden of Eden? He came back into His creation so that He could walk with us and talk with us. He came to teach us exactly what He longs for us to do so that we can have fellowship with Him once again. He came to offer us a way out of our sin and back into His grace.

All throughout history, man has tried to elevate himself up to be able to reach God. God’s new thing saw Him coming to earth to meet us! His new thing brought grace and salvation to all who would simply accept the ultimate gift. God restored us to Himself at no cost to us. He paid it all!

I find it interesting that God’s new thing brought restoration to a lost world. I find it interesting that His new thing is something that He paid and we receive the benefits. I love it that God chose to do a new thing!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you a new creation?

January 2, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
(2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV))

Anyone who has accepted Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior has a tremendous reason to celebrate!

We like to celebrate the passage of time by having a major event at the transition from the last day of one year to the first day of a new year. In all honesty, this celebration is nothing more than a time to celebrate the fact that we made it through another year. For this simple fact, the whole world celebrates and then within just a few hours, we are back to the very same things as before the celebration.

What if we could celebrate something that would leave us completely different? What if we could celebrate receiving a gift so magnificent that it changes our eternal destiny? What if we could discard our sinful nature and replace it with the very nature of God through the gift of His Son, Jesus?

Each one of us was physically born into a sinful world and we inherited a sinful nature. That nature has condemned us. That nature has destined us for eternal separation from God. Through the gift that God gave us in Jesus, we can replace that condemnation and that destiny with a grace filled rebirth. We can be made new! We can repent and take hold of the promises of God. We can be made better than new! We can be made new in the image of Christ!

Are you a new creation?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How big is your faith?

December 26, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.
(Luke 17:6 (NIV))

This is the time of year when it is easy to have faith. Christmas brings it out in many people, even those who are not true believers. This is the time of year when we, as believers must present our faith to the world in such a manor that it is obvious that true faith makes us different from the rest of the world. We must believe with all of our heart, body, mind and spirit that what Jesus said will happen. It is this faith that we present to the world that will bring people to Jesus.

Do you have faith as small as a mustard seed? A mustard seed is the smallest of seeds, yet, it grows into a big tree. Jesus is saying that He can use our faith, no matter how small, to accomplish His work.

Has your faith grown to be as big as a mustard seed yet?

Perhaps I should ask if your faith extends beyond Christmas. Is your faith dormant and in need of planting when it is not Christmas? Do you exude the same enthusiasm for Jesus in June that you do in December?

How big is your faith?

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