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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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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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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Will you receive your reward?

July 8, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent me. Anyone who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and anyone who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man’s reward. And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.”
(Matthew 10:40-42 (NIV))

Have you ever thought about this passage and how it can impact your life and the lives of those around you?

Carefully consider that Jesus is telling us that if we go out in His name, it is as if He were the one who was going out spreading the Word. If we are received and the message that we bring is received, then Jesus is received. If we are rejected because of the message, then Jesus will be rejected. I know that all of us have heard this in different forms during our lives, but, no matter how you word it, we are to be Jesus to the world!

What an awesome responsibility! We are representatives of the Son of God! We have the authority to preach and to teach in the name of Jesus Christ. We also have the responsibility to our fellow man to tell them of the grace and mercy that God freely gives to any who would simply call upon the name of Jesus. If we are faithful in our task, then God, through the grace and mercy given through Jesus, will call us prophets, for a prophet speaks the will of God. It is God’s will that no one should perish. He will call us righteous, for through the cleansing power of the blood of Jesus, we are made spotless and righteous in His eyes.

The next time that you get an opportunity to share Jesus with someone, remember that we have a responsibility that should not be taken lightly. What if the person who shared Jesus with you had shirked their responsibility? Do not shirk yours.

Will you receive your reward?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Will your actions show you to be a disciple of Jesus?

February 1, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

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

Jesus came into this world to show the love of God for His creation. He did not come to show hatred and wrath. If we profess to believe in Jesus and follow His teachings, then how can we show anything but what Jesus showed to the world?

A true disciple of Jesus will allow this love that was brought to this world through Jesus to shine continually.

Can you honestly say that in all that you do, you show love?

It is a difficult thing to do. But, Jesus did not leave us alone. He sent the Holy Spirit to abide in us so that we could learn and do as we were taught. The Holy Spirit is there to guide us so that we can learn to walk as a true disciple of Jesus.

Will your actions show you to be a disciple of Jesus?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Does this passage scare you?

July 13, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
(Ephesians 5:5 (NIV))

Did you catch yourself reading this and doing a quick, personal inventory to make sure that you didn’t fall into one or more of these categories?

Did you answer honestly? Did you like your self evaluation?

It is human nature to think that things are either better or worse than they truly are. Did you read this passage and brush it off with the thought that you have it made? Perhaps you read this passage and each word that you read had you squirming because you think you haven’t done well enough! In all honesty, if you profess a faith in Jesus and strive to be an obedient disciple, then you probably had some fleeting thoughts that you have disappointed Jesus in some manner! If you are like everyone else who professes a faith in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, then it is safe to say that not a single day goes by where you don’t do something less than perfect.

Fortunately, our perfection is not what is required, especially when you consider what we are capable of!

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
(Isaiah 64:6 (NIV))

It is not our perfection. It is not our righteousness that gives us grace. It is a gift and all that we have to do is accept it!

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 they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
(John 3:16-18 (NIV))

If you have truly accepted this gift and have made Jesus your personal Lord and Savior, then you have been washed by the blood of the Lamb. You have been redeemed. You are being transformed and matured into the image of Christ. No matter what you may have been, you are a new creation in Christ. You may have been immoral, but you are being changed. You may have been impure, but you are being changed. You may have been greedy, but you are being changed. No matter what you may have been, grace has been given and you are being changed!

If you truly have accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, then all of your sins have been forgiven. Don’t let the enemy tell you otherwise. Don’t let the enemy scare you with the thought that you aren’t redeemed.

Does this passage scare you?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Does the world know that you are His disciple?

May 21, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
(John 13:34-35 (NIV))

Sometimes it seems like all that the world recognizes in people who profess a faith in Jesus is the less than loving way that we treat each other at times!

I am going to use a cliché because it seems to say best what we need to be thinking and doing.

What would Jesus do?

We know without a doubt that Jesus would not let the pettiness that leads to family squabbles become foremost in our minds. Why do we do that if Jesus wouldn’t? We know that Jesus even embraced Judas out of love and he betrayed Him unto death. Why do we treat each other as if they have done worse to us than what Judas did to Jesus? Think about that the next time that someone does something that makes you mad. Chances are that they aren’t even aware that they made you mad.

Think about your family. Has anyone ever made you angry? Do you still love them? Do they still love you? Sadly, sometimes families, since we are a fallen and sinful humanity, will say and do things that will leave a bad taste in your mouth. We all say and do things that we wish we could take back. Families are no different. The members of the Body of Christ are a part of a bigger family. By grace, we have been made children and heirs of God, but in our sinful nature, we will stumble. No one is perfect. We will hurt each other at times. Repentance is a big part of the love that we must show. Forgiveness is also a big part of the love that we must show. We must remember that each of us have been offered grace and what we have been offered, we must also offer.

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
(John 14:12 (NIV))

If Jesus offered grace and showed love to all who would accept, can we do any less? Will we be held accountable for our actions if we don’t? What will the world see in us if we don’t?

Does the world know that you are His disciple?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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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.
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Do you love or hate your sinful nature?

May 9, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters–yes, even his own life–he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
(Luke 14:26-27 (NIV))

Ouch! This is painful, yet, this is exactly what we are expected to do.

Do you love the sinful life that you live? Do you love the sinful nature of those who are a part of your physical family? Do you hate the sin that has taken control of the world, and as a result, the very nature of everyone, including yourself?

We live in a fallen world and everyone is saturated in the sin that this world is consumed with. As a result, we can’t truly love what is saturated in sin, including our own lives. We can love the individuals to the point where we care about them and want good things to happen, but our understanding of good is severely distorted because of the sin that we live in. Our understanding of love is severely limited.

I know that I have asked something similar already, but I think that it merits being asked again. Can you honestly love someone if they are saturated in sin? Can you honestly love your own life if it is engulfed in sin? Most, if not all, sin is based on the individual. It takes hold of a person’s heart and makes them the center of their own universe. It turns the individual into the center of their own worship. If we truly love our lives and each other, then we are not capable of truly loving God in all of His perfect glory.

I know that it is human nature to look out for yourself and to love yourself, but I honestly believe that we are being told to hate our sinful nature and make a decision to turn away from our sinful nature. You embrace what you love and you reject what you hate.

What do you think of your life and the lives of those around you?

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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