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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Is the Lord your strength and salvation?

May 11, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

O LORD, be gracious to us;
we long for you.
Be our strength every morning,
our salvation in time of distress.
(Isaiah 33:2 (NIV))

In a world that is overrun with sin, we need a place to turn to when the world seems to be more than we can handle. We must rest in God’s presence every single day of our lives. We must start our day with God, turn to Him all throughout the day, and end our day with God.

Life is good, but life with God is great! He is our champion, our salvation and our comfort. We need no one else when we have God, and the only way to reconcile ourselves to God is through His Son, Jesus Christ! We cannot do it on our own. We are as filthy rags in comparison to what we should be. God sent salvation when we could not save ourselves. All it takes is professing that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior!

Do you have someplace to turn when the world gets too much to take?

Is the Lord your strength and salvation?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are your heart and mind guarded by the peace of God?

May 6, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:7 (NIV))

With everything that has been happening and is happening in the world, what is the state of your heart and mind?

We have all seen the news. We have all seen the shortages at the grocery stores. We have all seen far more than we care to want to experience, yet, some people are at peace while others are experiencing panic and much worse. Where do you fall in this wide array of responses? Are you at peace during all of this?

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
(John 16:33 (NIV))

Think about that for a moment. The whole world has been having trouble. Jesus has overcome the world. He has overcome the trouble. He brings peace in the midst of trouble to all who proclaim His name as their personal Lord and Savior. This doesn’t mean that the trouble goes away. It does mean that we get a better understanding of the world and its troubles. We realize that this world is not our home and that we have something so much better to look forward to. Think about this concept in this context. You are going on vacation to your favorite place in all of the world. Along the way, you end up sitting in some traffic. Does the traffic make you take your eyes off of your destination and the joy that you will experience once you have arrived at your destination? Since the promises of God are so much better than any earthly vacation that we may take, our joy should be so much greater. All that we have to do is keep our eyes on Jesus, after all, we have God’s promises of paradise for those who believe.

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))

I don’t know about you, but the promise of eternal life gives me complete peace. Please don’t misunderstand me. I sometimes worry. That is human nature, but I have a Savior who helps me overcome human nature. All that any of us need to do is take our eyes off of the world and forever place them on Jesus and the peace of God will continually amaze each and every one of us.

Are your heart and mind guarded by the peace of God?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you embraced the peace that overcomes all fear?

March 13, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV))

With everything that this world is facing right now, look up!

Whether you believe that it is blown out of proportion, or it is real, look up!

As humanity, all of the combined knowledge and wisdom that we may have is nothing when compared to that of the One who created everything. With this in mind, if you place your faith in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, why do you fear? Fear is from the enemy. It is time that we conquer our fear with prayer! In doing so, we must remember that prayer is more than just a one-sided conversation where we unload all of our burdens on the Lord. He does love us and wants to hear what burdens us, but He also desires to speak to us, to give us His plan and purpose. He longs to give us His peace.

When was the last time that you honestly had a prayer conversation with the Lord? Is your faith strong enough for you to embrace your weakness and to fall on your knees seeking the Lord?

Have you embraced the peace that overcomes all fear?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do you accept the proof?

February 7, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.
(Acts 17:31 (NIV))

Far too many people simply think of Jesus as the baby in the manger. They see the sweet innocence and gladly embrace a child. Some even fully embrace that He was sent by God.

Some see more than this.

Some see a teacher. Some see a prophet. Some see a martyr. Some see even more than this.

I fully embrace the description that the Bible gives to Jesus. This is a combination of Old Testament prophecy that is mirrored in New Testament fulfillment. I see Jesus as all of these things and more. He was a sweet and innocent babe. He was a teacher. He was a prophet. He was a martyr in that He came to die for our sins. But, there is more.

He is God’s only begotten Son. He is the son of man. He is both fully God and fully human. Jesus came to teach us. He came to show us God’s plan for salvation. He came to die so that plan of salvation could be realized. He died and was buried. On the third day, He arose again to being hope and fulfill the promises that had been made. He ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of God the Father, and He will return to judge the world.

There, I said it. Too many people simply do not want to admit that God’s plan also includes a day of judgment. They don’t want to admit that there will be consequences for their actions.

Think about that for a moment, though.

Who would you rather be judged by – a perfect Creator in God, or God who became human so that He could fully understand our temptations? In order for God to set a day of judgment, He had to have appointed someone to act as judge. He had to appoint someone to act as a mediator between Himself and sinful man. He had to come into this world to live as we live and to set an example for each of us. He had to face the same temptations that we face. He had to overcome them and offer Himself as a replacement for our punishment.

Judgment is something that we all dread. It is something that we would rather not think about. It is something that we will face if we do not turn to the One whom God sent.

The first time that Jesus came into this world, He came to offer salvation. He came to show us how to avoid judgment. We can accept this offer or we can face judgment.

Do you accept the proof?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What will be measured out to you?

January 24, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
(Luke 6:38 (NIV))

We have all heard the old saying that you get what you give, but have you ever heard it put in such terms as this passage. You have also heard of the concept of the baker’s dozen where you actually get 13 instead of 12. The concepts presented in Luke take both of these ideas and take them up a notch. Think about that in terms of the wording in this passage.

A good measure is when the target measurement is not shorted, but actually is measured out even more than the target measurement. Now, what happens when you press something down? It becomes packed. It becomes compressed. Think about this in terms of vacuum packed. All of the air is removed so that what is measured out is so tightly packed that it takes less space. Shaken together and running over implies that even more is added. Keep in mind the vacuum packed concept. If you fill up a one cubic foot box and then vacuum pack the contents, it will probably only fill half of the box. Now, add more to it and vacuum pack it again. Keep doing this until what is being given is not only packed tightly and much more than you would think you would be given, but then it is topped off so that it is overflowing the box. If you have trouble visualizing this concept, take a look at the vacuum packed coffee “bricks” that you can buy. When you open this package and pour it into another container, it fills an area probably two to three times the size of the vacuum packed package.

I like to think that this is how the Lord gives to us!

Read Luke 6:8 again and you will see that there is a prerequisite for receiving the abundance that the Lord will give. We must give first! I realize that this sounds like prosperity Gospel, but humor me for a moment. We must give our heart to the Lord. We must give our life to Jesus. We must give our tithes and offerings out of joy, and we must give to others as their needs present themselves. When our heart is in line with the Lord’s, we will desire to be blessed so that we can be a blessing to others. The reason that we are asked to give first is so that the Lord can test our motives and to make sure that we are mature in our faith to follow His desires and not ours.

With this in mind, I have two questions that I still need to ask.

Are you becoming a cheerful giver?

What will be measured out to you?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What are you earning?

September 20, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The wages of the righteous is life, but the earnings of the wicked are sin and death.
(Proverbs 10:16 (NIV))

Do you feel that you are paid what you are worth?

If you are truly honest with your answer, it wouldn’t surprise me to hear everyone say that they are underpaid and overworked. I think it is safe to say that even those who work for themselves think this. It is rare to find someone who turns down more money for their work.

Now, let’s look at our lives through the eyes of God.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
(Romans 3:23 (NIV))

Based on this and our understanding of what God calls wickedness, what have we earned? What wages have our sins brought us?

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 6:23 (NIV))

I love this passage! It starts off badly, but God . . .

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))

God does not want us to receive what we have rightfully earned. He has a plan of redemptive grace that allows us to trade what we should receive for that which we cannot earn on our own. All that we need to do to “earn” this grace is believe that Jesus is His one and only Son and accept Him as our personal Lord and Savior. Through God’s plan, we trade our wickedness for His righteousness. We trade sin and death for eternal life.

What are you earning?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Will you be cut off or pruned or are you bearing fruit?

August 7, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.
(John 15:1-2 (NIV))

Every believer probably thinks that they are bearing fruit for the Lord, and hopefully that is true. Have you honestly stopped to reflect on your life in relationship to this to seek the Lord and ask if your actions are producing what He desires from you? You may think that since you go to church, you are doing well, but do you witness to others? I realize that all of heaven rejoices when a single sinner comes to salvation, but that is not the end of our responsibility.

We are to share the Gospel so that others may come to a saving knowledge of Jesus. We are to witness. We are to tell others about the Lord in both words and in our actions. How can actions tell someone about Jesus? Just in case you have forgotten the old say, actions do speak louder than words. Our actions are to bear fruit.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
(Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV))

I don’t know about you, but these all sound like actions to me!

We can exhibit these fruits in such a manner that others notice a difference in our lives. We can let them see Jesus in our lives before we even begin to tell them about Jesus! Your actions will open up a window of opportunity that will often have others asking what makes you different. That is when you share Jesus in words.

I just realized something that I want to share with you. If our actions lead us to bear fruit, I want you to consider something. When you see a fruit tree or you see fruit in a store, does it pounce on you and tell you that you need it? You are enticed by what you see and experience. Your senses draw you in. The same thing can be said of the fruit that we bear for Jesus. If we present the fruit in such a way as to allow a person’s senses to draw them in, then they will desire to experience the sweetness of what the Lord has to offer. It is our assignment as members of the Body of Christ to yield fruit. Are we living up to that task?

Will you be cut off or pruned or are you bearing fruit?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you a member of God’s family?

January 14, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
(John 3:3 (NIV))

I was recently given a very interesting glimpse of God’s love for us through the birth of my granddaughter! Let me explain, and for those of you who have recently experienced the birth of a child, you probably already understand.

Is there anything that makes the human heart happier than the birth of a child? It brings joy to the mother and father and all who are related to them. People gather all around to celebrate the birth of the precious new life! They bestow gifts on the parents and on the child. They make a commitment to always be there for the child as they grow and mature. They instantly love with more love than they could possibly imagine.

Think about that in terms of being a child of God’s.

When we are born again, we are born of the Spirit. We accept the grace and mercy freely given to become a son or a daughter of God. In true fashion, we literally are born again. We are birthed into the family of God! Don’t you think that the Lord is filled with joy when someone truly decides to call Him Father? The human joy that we experience when we hold a newborn member of our family is overwhelming. How much greater is the joy that God and all of heaven feel when we are born into God’s family?

There is no greater joy in this world than the birth of a child. There is no greater joy that God can experience than the rebirth of one of His beloved children.

Have you given God great joy? Are you a member of God’s family?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What have you conquered because of his love?

December 3, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
(Romans 8:37 (NIV))

There is an old saying that love conquers all.

To be honest with you, love does work wonderful things in the lives of those who show love and those who receive love, but there is one love that is far above any other love that has ever been professed. That is the love that the Lord God, our Father has for His creation. All that it takes to prove this is a simple reading of the following passage.

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 other love is powerful enough to alter your eternal existence? What other love is willing to sacrifice itself in order to offer something so great? What other love gives the recipient the ability to conquer the power of sin, death and the grave? What other love is willing to take on all of the sin and all of the pain in order to offer the recipient the ability to escape an eternal separation from itself?

For those who have accepted this great offer of love, you know exactly what I mean. Sadly, there are many who have not accepted this offer. It is for those who have not accepted this love that we must pray. They may feel that there is not a love so great. They may feel that they are not worthy of such a love. They may even feel that they have done such bad things that the offer could not ever be available to them. Perhaps these are the biggest things that any of us have to conquer, after all it is often our self image that keeps us from being who we are called to be.

Have you ever thought about what you had to overcome in order to even accept God’s love? Did He give up on you or did He keep pressing on until you came to the realization that His love is for you? Was it ego that kept you from God’s love. Perhaps it was envy or pride. It could have even been greed or lust that kept you away from the love of the Lord. This was the first thing that His love conquered. It will not be the last!

What have you conquered because of his love?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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