Do you accept the hard teachings?

February 12, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”
(John 6:60 (NIV))

Far too many people only consider the easy things that Jesus taught, ignoring the things that they find difficult to understand or to put into practice. If you stop to think about this, everything that Jesus said has been difficult for us to put into practice. Human nature simply wants to do what it wants to do! It is a daily struggle to admit that we are sinners. It is a daily struggle to admit that we are not capable of anything on our own. We don’t like to admit that even on our best day, we are far from perfect.

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))

John 6:60 catches the disciples asking this question after Jesus tells the crowd something that just didn’t make sense from their perspective. Does it make sense to you?

Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me.
(John 6:53-57 (NIV))

Even though we have the benefit of two thousand years and much analysis, far too many people still have problems with this concept.

Think about it from this perspective.

What is the most intimate thing that you can do with something? You make it a part of yourself by either eating or drinking it. When this happens, the items that were consumed get broken down into the basic elements that you need and they become a part of you. There is no way to tell where you end and where these elements begin. I don’t know about you, but this sounds exactly like what Jesus wants for each of us. He wants each of us to consume Him in such a way that the very life that He came to give has become inseparable from the life that He has renewed within us. Just how do you consume Jesus? How do you make His teachings and His life inseparable from your? I love the simple instructions that we were given in Deuteronomy.

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.
(Deuteronomy 11:18 (NIV))

Focus on the Lord. Focus on the Word. Focus on the teachings even when they are hard. Accept them. Bind them. Make them integral to who you are!

Do you accept the hard teachings?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What are you hearing from the Spirit?

August 28, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
(Revelation 3:6 (NIV))

When John wrote down what he had been told to record in what we now know as the book of Revelation, he was given several messages for the churches. Each of the seven churches mentioned can be equated to an historical period, plus they can be equated to the conditions of almost any church that is in existence today. Each of the churches received a specific message that told them what they were doing right and what they were doing wrong.

How do you think these messages were received by the different churches?

How do you think these messages were received by the individual members of the different churches?

Now, imagine that you heard the following messages about your relationship with Jesus. How would you react?

You are dead. Wake up!

I am about to spit you out of my mouth!

I hold your sexual immorality against you!

Not very pleasant. Would you take it to heart and repent or would you go off in a huff because you got your feelings hurt? I have a little tidbit of information that you may want to consider. If it hurts your feelings, there is probably some truth to what you are hearing! Think about that from your experiences with different churches and pastors. Perhaps it was a passage of scripture that caused your feelings to be hurt. Whatever the situation may have been, remember the following.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
(Hebrews 4:12 (NIV))

God’s Word is not a sugar coated, feel good type of message. Truth can hurt. Are you willing to hear the truth even if it hurts your feelings? Are you willing to repent if the truth requires it?

What are you hearing from the Spirit?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How long did it take you to respond when Jesus called?

March 8, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.
(Matthew 4:22 (NIV))

Have you ever been in a situation where you knew immediately that you were committed for the rest of your life?

Some people will say that they knew instantly when they first met their spouse. How long would that have lasted if that person had turned you down? Some people may say that they knew immediately that they had to help with programs such as Compassion International. What happens when you are called home? There are very few times that everyone can agree that you realize you are committed for all of your life. Personally, I can count three times: the birth of our three children. The first time that I saw each of them, I knew immediately that I would always be committed to them.

I can hear some of you asking, “What about your wife?”

I can honestly say that I was instantly enthralled with her, but I was not able to make a lifelong commitment immediately. I love my wife very much, but it is a love that grew and continues to grow. From the day I knew that she felt the same, my commitment and my love has been unwavering. Next to my faith, she is the most important part of my life.

Still, it was not immediate!

Can you imagine what Peter and Andrew experienced that made them follow Jesus immediately?

Thinking back on my acceptance of Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior, it was not immediately upon hearing the Word. It took time for me to think. It took time for me to understand. It took time for me to fully embrace my sinful nature and the tremendous gift of grace. Looking back, I wonder what took me so long! I often wonder what type of faith is required to follow immediately as Peter and Andrew did?

How long did it take you to respond when Jesus called?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Did Jesus do away with the Old Testament?

January 14, 2014

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.

He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”
They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?”

“What things?” he asked.
“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.”

He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
(Luke 24:13-27 (NIV))

Do you believe that the Old Testament is valid and still has merit?

Be careful how you answer.

I watched a video today by a Messianic Jewish Rabbi. I have always been of the opinion that what we call the Old Testament is not to be ignored. It is still very much the Word of God. It is the Old Testament that Luke is referring to as the Scriptures. What we know as the New Testament had not been written. Jesus had to convince the two men who He was based on what was written about Him in the Old Testament. It pointed to Jesus as the fulfillment of the prophesies.

Do you have an understanding of ancient Jewish education? Do you think that you could do what was required of young men in this time? They memorized the Scriptures. They knew God’s Word. They could carry on a very intelligent conversation about what they had memorized. Today, we barely can recite John 3:16.

Do you think these two men on the road to Emmaus took the discussion lightly? Were they easily tricked into believing a lie? I honestly think that these two men could easily tell if what they were hearing were not true.

Do you think that because Jesus came, we don’t need to pay attention to the Old Testament?

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.
(Matthew 5:17 (NIV))

Jesus came to fulfill, or complete, what was started long ago. All of what He came to complete were Jewish Scriptures. He did not complete any Christian Scriptures. They did not exist. At no time are we told by Jesus or by His disciples to ignore the Scriptures from the Old Testament. Why do we, as the Body of Christ, think that we can change what has been carefully laid out by God since the beginning?

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
(2 Timothy 3:14-16 (NIV))

Copyright 1998 – 2014 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Combine it with faith!

September 7, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.
(Hebrews 4:1-2 (NIV))

Combine it with faith!

In other words, hearing and believing are two very different things.

Think back on your life. I am sure that there are many things that you have heard in your life that you did not believe. It would probably be safe to say that the first time that you heard the Gospel, you did not believe it either.

What makes someone accept something and make that leap from hearing to believing?

Some call it a sixth sense. Some call it a feeling. Some simply cannot put a name to it or even describe why they make that leap from hearing to believing.

Why do we have faith?

To many people, they find faith an absurd notion, especially when you consider that it means a firm belief in something for which there is no proof.

I like Paul’s definition.

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
(Hebrews 11:1 (NIV))

What do we receive by faith?

Have you ever wavered in your faith?

Do you think that it is possible to lose your faith?

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop–a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. He who has ears, let him hear.”
(Matthew 13:1-9 (NIV))

I find it compelling how many parables are told in which faith is compared to a seed. God is definitely trying to drive home His point that we must nurture our faith. We can hear and a small “seed” of belief is planted. We can allow that seed of faith to grow through our actions or we can allow that seed to die through our actions.

Have you heard?

Do you believe?

Has your belief turned into a strong faith?

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