Are you thankful to be called a Christian?

April 10, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.
(1 Peter 4:16 (NIV))

Have you ever faced anything simply because you are a believer in Jesus?

Perhaps I should ask if you have ever been in a situation where you would have suffered if it was known that you were a Christian? Think about that for a moment as you answer the following. Did you withhold the fact that you were a Christian or did you deny that you were a Christian? There is a difference! Regardless of how you handled yourself in that situation, do you regret not standing up and identifying as a follower of Jesus? Do you feel that you have abandoned Jesus through your actions and words?

Consider Peter.

He denied Jesus three times during the events between Jesus being arrested and being taken to Pilate. All of us can put ourselves into the events and justify the actions that Peter took that night. In all honesty, it is not told in detail how Peter truly felt. We can only imagine what Peter was facing within himself as these events transpired and afterward. What we do know is that after the resurrection, Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him. Peter was able to put his shame behind him and accept the grace that Jesus was extending to him.

Think about that!

Peter denied Jesus three times. He had seen Jesus beaten so badly that He was not recognizable. Peter had seen Jesus crucified, dead and buried. The guilt of his denial of Jesus must have been unbearable. Even after Jesus arose, what was Peter thinking? Was he thinking that Jesus would never forgive him for what he had done? Was Peter thinking that he had committed something so bad that he would be condemned to suffer for all eternity?

Grace is amazing!

What Peter did discover is that Jesus forgave him. Three times he was asked if He loved Jesus and three times he responded that he did. I can almost imagine that with each response Peter gave Jesus, the burden of guilt was being lifted until it was completely gone!

That is what Jesus does! He lifts the burden of guilt and replaces that burden with a joy that comes from knowing that all of your sins are forgiven! There is nothing greater to give thanks for.

Are you thankful to be called a Christian?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you thankful that Jesus faced this hour?

March 28, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”
(John 12:23 (NIV))

It is hard to imagine the idea of crucifixion as a means of glorification, but that is exactly what transpired!

Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.
(John 12:24 (NIV))

When Jesus went to the cross, He knew exactly what would transpire. He knew that He would die a painful death as an atoning sacrifice for all sin that had ever happened or ever would happen. He knew that Satan would think that he had won. Jesus also knew that the power of sin and death would forever be broken three days later when He would be resurrected. Jesus knew that He was the single seed of hope. In order for hope to mature and grow in this world, He had to make the ultimate sacrifice. Crucifixion is definitely not glorious, but overcoming the power of sin and death and being elevated to the right hand of God the Father is the ultimate glory.

It is a glory that we can share! It is a glory that removes condemnation!

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,
(Romans 8:1 (NIV))

It is a glory that intercedes for those who believe!

Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.
(Romans 8:34 (NIV))

From a human perspective, it is difficult to be thankful for suffering. No one in their right mind would look on the sufferings of others as a good thing, but in the case of what Jesus did, it is an amazing thing. It is amazing how the sin of one condemned all to death and the sin free sacrifice of one settled the debt for the wages of sin and death. Personally, I hate the fact that my sin is why Jesus suffered and died, yet, at the same time, I am thankful that He faced that hour!

Are you thankful that Jesus faced this hour?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Can you imagine what God has prepared for you?

January 25, 2018

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” — the things God has prepared for those who love him—
(1 Corinthians 2:9 (NIV))

All of us, even in our limited resources, like to do nice things for those we love. Have you ever stopped to realize that it is a human trait to love those who love us in return? Do you think that God loves in this manner? Do you think that God only loves those who love Him?

We know for a fact that God did not wait for humanity to turn our love to Him before He showed us how much He loves us.

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))

Every act of love that we have toward God and for God is a result of the love that He showed for us. Without His love, all of humanity would be lost in our sinful nature. God willingly sent Jesus to die so that we might live!

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
(Romans 5:8 (NIV))

Think about this from a human perspective. Most of us would willingly give our lives to save someone we love. We would do whatever it takes to make sure that person was safe from harm. We would even do this in situations where the person we want to save may not love us the way that we love them. Isn’t this exactly what God did when He sent Jesus?

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
(John 15:13 (NIV))

God, through the life that Jesus led, died for us because He calls us friends. He laid down His life because He loves us. He laid down His life before we loved Him!

If God is willing to do such a great thing before we love Him, what will He do once we turn our hearts toward Him?

Can you imagine what God has prepared for you?

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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By His blood He paid the price!

April 14, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood,
(Revelation 1:5 (NIV))

By His blood!

We take so much for granted. We, as the Body of Christ, have a habit of glossing over exactly what Jesus did for us when He died on the cross. We trivialize the price that He paid for us. It was not a pretty picture!

Have we become so accustom to the story of the crucifixion and resurrection that we take it for granted? Do we even begin to realize the excruciating pain that Jesus endured so that we, in all of our sinful nature, could know grace and mercy?

Think about the worst physical pain that you have ever experienced. What was it? How does that compare to being flogged and having the flesh torn off of your back? How does that compare to having nails driven through your hands and feet? How does that compare to having to decide whether the pain of not being able to breathe is greater than the pain it takes to lift yourself up to take a breath? When was the last time that you bled so profusely that almost all of your blood left your body?

Jesus endured all of this and much more than our humanity can imagine. Jesus endured all of this because He loves us. Jesus did all of this because it was God’s plan to offer Himself as a living sacrifice to atone for our sins. Jesus did all of this just as John 3:16 says.

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))

What Jesus endured on the cross was endured willingly. What Jesus offers through the cross is offered freely.

By His blood He paid the price and by His blood we are saved!

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you where God wants you to be?

March 28, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;

in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight
(Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV))

Does anyone really understand the world and how it works? We see things from a small perspective. Can you tell the size of the forest while you are surrounded by trees? You must have a different point of view. Do not rely on what you can see. It may not be as it appears. Rely on God. He has a unique perspective since He is the Creator of all things.

Imagine that you are conducting an experiment with an animal in a maze. You can clearly see which way to go, yet the animal cannot, and go about in error. We are not very much different than that animal. God sees what we should do, yet, we do not see the complete picture and go around bumping into walls and making all sorts of mistakes. If we would only look to God, He can guide us through this worldly maze.

Are you lost, or do you know exactly what God wants for you?

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