Are you willing to suffer for the sake of the Gospel?

January 23, 2018

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.
(2 Corinthians 11:27 (NIV))

Your first reaction to this passage was probably like mine!

This is not something that I would willingly put myself through, nor would I want to find myself unwillingly in this type of situation.

Let’s face it. We have become creatures of habit. Perhaps I should say that we have become creatures of comfort! We have become so used to the air conditioned house with our refrigerators and entertainment devices that we forget what real sacrifice is. We leave our air conditioned homes, get in our air conditioned cars and drive to an air conditioned building to worship. Are we really sacrificing anything to praise God? Are we sacrificing anything to help spread the Gospel?

What if Paul had the same attitude that many of us have?

What if Paul was not willing to suffer for the Gospel?

How many of us would willingly do something that could land us in prison? How many of us would go head first into a situation knowing that the outcome could mean stoning, prison or death? Paul was willing to do this and so much more! Because of his desire to share the Gospel and his willingness to do whatever it took, we can claim our salvation. Can anyone claim their salvation because of what you are willing to do?

Are you willing to suffer for the sake of the Gospel?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are we good ambassadors?

January 9, 2018

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.
(2 Corinthians 5:20 (NIV))

Have you ever stopped to think about this passage from the perspective of the definition of the word ambassador?

The word ambassador means a diplomatic agent of the highest rank, an authorized representative or messenger.

Does this sound anything like the role that you have been filling while you live your life? Does this sound anything like the witness that you have had for Jesus on a daily basis?

A diplomatic agent of the highest rank stands firm and resolute for the interests of those who sent him. They constantly present the case of the one whom they represent. They are sent with authority and under authority. What they say and do is supposed to be the very words and desires of those who gave them that authority. They do not falter or fail in delivering the message that they were sent to convey!

Sadly, if you are anything like me, I have failed miserably at my assigned tasks. I can imagine a performance evaluation of my lackluster representation of Jesus. Do I do all that I should be doing to point people to the grace and mercy that is freely given through the atoning blood of Jesus? Do I do all that I should to tell people that they can be forgiven of their sins? Do I step outside of my comfort zone and share the good news?

We have been sent out as ambassadors.

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.
(Mark 16:15 (NIV))

Are we good ambassadors?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What are you trained to be?

November 3, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I may indeed be untrained as a speaker, but I do have knowledge. We have made this perfectly clear to you in every way.
(2 Corinthians 11:6 (NIV))

Every single one of us is good at something. Every single one of us has a special talent that we have nurtured because we are driven to pursue it in one manner or another. Some of us are driven to excellence in athletic endeavors. Some are driven to excel in music, while others are drawn to drama. Some are good at business, while others are more concerned with hospitality, kindness and caring.

What are you drawn to?

If you are like everyone else, you read, study or practice to get better at what you are drawn to. You become a sponge who is willing to absorb all that you can about your passion, about what drives you, about what you are drawn to. You grow in knowledge and wisdom. You grow in your training, whether it is from someone who is a mentor, or if it is through trial and error all on your own. Some people, like Paul, even have a divine calling. Even with the calling during his Damascus Road experience, Paul had to gain knowledge. He had to study. He had to wait for the Lord to lead him to the right place and time for his study and his passion to come together.

Today, we read the words that Paul recorded in his endeavors of spreading the Gospel to the Gentiles. We read his words of encouragement. We read his words of instruction. We read his words of chastisement when it was due. We know Paul as a great man of God, still, I have often wondered just what Paul was referring to when he said that he was given a thorn in his flesh.

Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.
(2 Corinthians 12:7b (NIV))

There has been much speculation about what this could be, but the one thing that is obvious is that Paul did not focus on this thorn in his flesh. Out of all of the writings that we have from Paul, this is the only instance that this thorn in his flesh is mentioned. He used the talent and the passion that he did have to spread the Gospel.

We all have knowledge and a passion for something. We all have that specific thing that we have been trained to be in our lives. It is time to use that training, that one passion, and let it be brought to the forefront in such a way that it leads people to Jesus!

What are you trained to be?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Your sins are not so great that grace cannot be yours!

October 20, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.
(1 Timothy 1:15 (NIV))

Do you believe that Paul thought that he was the worst sinner of all?

Does this sound like the man that history has shown to be the one who brought the Gospel to the Gentiles? Does this sound like the man who is responsible for writing numerous books from the New Testament? Does this sound like the man who went to prison for spreading the Gospel?

I realize that all of these things were after his Damascus Road experience. It was this experience that saw a change of heart and a conversion from Saul to Paul. I can understand Paul if he had stated that he had been the worst, especially when you consider all that he had done to persecute the church. Paul did not place his sin in his past. He did not try to say that he no longer sinned. Paul realized that he was human and human nature is sinful, even after accepting Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior.

Paul realized that his sinful nature was still very much a part of him!

Paul also realized that grace extended even to him after all that he had done.

He could have given in to the idea that God could not save him after all that he had done. Thankfully, he did not believe this. Paul realized that the gift of grace was freely given for everyone no matter how great the sin. If God can extend grace to someone who persecuted and killed believers, I find it hard to believe anyone when they claim that God can’t forgive them for what they have done.

It is so simple!

Admit that you are a sinner.

Believe that Jesus died for your sins.

Confess that Jesus is the Son of God.

If salvation was freely given to Paul, who thought of himself as the worst of sinners, it can be freely given to all.

Your sins are not so great that grace cannot be yours!

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How do you consider yourself?

August 21, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
(Philippians 2:5-7 (NIV))

Do you ever feel that you are special, that you are of greater value than other people? Do you feel this way about other members of the Body of Christ? Do you find yourself thinking that because someone is not on a certain church committee that you are of more importance than they are? Do you find yourself thinking that because you give more that you are more important than anyone else?

What does that say about your understanding of the Gospel? What does that say about you?

It is human nature to brag and to gloat, but that is not a Christlike nature. We are to overcome the world and do as Jesus taught us. If anyone has a right to brag and to gloat and to be prideful, it would be Jesus. Did he brag about being the Son of God? Did He gloat about being the Word made flesh? Did He ever respond with an attitude of arrogance and pride by claiming to be the Son of God? Jesus, who had every right if anyone ever had a right, was humble and willingly took on the nature of a servant. Why do we, the creation, feel that we have to elevate ourselves and try to make ourselves something that we are not, something that we could never be? Why do we feel that we have to feel superior to everyone else when we are far from righteous.

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))

Most days I hate being human!

I know that I need to explain this statement. I will start by saying that I love life for it is a wonderful gift. I love family, friends and people in general. It is the fallen, sinful nature of being human that I hate. I see things in the world that I know break God’s heart. I see things in my life that I know break God’s heart.

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.
(Romans 7:15 (NIV))

When we see ourselves as more important than someone else, do you think that it breaks God’s heart?

How do you consider yourself?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What do you recognize within you?

August 7, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.
(Psalms 51:3 (NIV))

Do the things that you do make you lie awake at night? Do you regret the things that you do? Do you find yourself doing the things that you don’t want to do and not doing the things that you desire to do?

You are not alone. Sadly, it is part of the human condition. Even Paul, the man who is credited with spreading the Gospel to the Gentiles, faced this in his life.

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.
(Romans 7:15 (NIV))

The fact that it bothers you is a good sign. The fact that you regret your actions is a good sign. The fact that you are aware of your transgressions is a very telling trait of someone who longs to leave those actions behind and move forward following Jesus. Recognizing that you are a sinner in need of Jesus is critical, however, recognizing that you will still be tempted is also critical to your maturity in faith. We are made righteous in the eyes of God when we accept Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, but our flesh is still sinful. We must learn to overcome the very nature that we were born under. This is a maturation process that takes time.

David recognized his sinful nature. Paul recognized his sinful nature. What do you recognize within you?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Will the gates be open for you?

July 31, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Open for me the gates of the righteous; I will enter and give thanks to the LORD.
(Psalms 118:19 (NIV))

When this was written, grace was only an unfulfilled promise. Even though it was an unfulfilled promise, the psalmist knew that the promise would be fulfilled. He knew beyond doubt that if God had promised that He would provide a way for us to enter into righteousness that it would truly come to pass. He longed for that day.

The writer of this passage never lived to physically see the promise fulfilled, but he held fast to that promise. We have the benefit of being on the other side of that promise. We know that God sent Jesus to fulfill that promise. We have the full account of how He came to earth born of a virgin. We know of the people that he gathered together to teach. We know of the miracles that He performed. We know of the crucifixion and the resurrection. We know of the ascension, and we know of the power behind the spreading of the Gospel.

With all that we know, do we have the faith that the psalmist had? All that he had was a promise and he believed. We have all the accounts of those who knew Jesus and witnessed the events of His life, and some of us still have problems with faith.

Is your faith based on a promise or is your faith based on written accounts? Which takes more faith, to believe a promise or to believe after the fact? Am I the only one who looks at their faith and wonders if my faith would have been strong enough to believe a promise? I like to think that it would have been. Would I have been able to turn my eyes to the Lord and lift up my voice to heaven and proclaim that even though I have not seen, I will believe?

To be honest with you, I am simply thankful for the promises, for I know that they will always be “Yes” through Jesus! Because of Jesus offering us grace and mercy, those who accept that grace and mercy can enter the gates with thanksgiving and praising the Lord!

Will the gates be open for you?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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