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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Do you pray for the peace of Jerusalem?

December 7, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May those who love you be secure. May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels.”
(Psalms 122:6-7 (NIV))

Do you consider Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel?

I realize that in today’s world, that is a loaded question, but we need to look at this from a much different perspective than what the world says. We need to look at it from God’s point of view!

If the place where the Lord your God chooses to put his Name is too far away from you, you may slaughter animals from the herds and flocks the Lord has given you, as I have commanded you, and in your own towns you may eat as much of them as you want.
(Deuteronomy 12:21 (NIV))

I will give one tribe to his son so that David my servant may always have a lamp before me in Jerusalem, the city where I chose to put my Name.
(1 Kings 11:36 (NIV))

David was God’s servant. He was also king of Israel. Israel is the nation of God’s chosen people. They were chosen to bring God’s truth to the world. David’s throne was in Jerusalem. Jerusalem in God’s Holy City. Arial photos and maps show that Jerusalem is in a natural formation that literally looks like the Hebrew letter “shin.” It is not the intent of this short writing to fully explain the meanings of the Hebraic letters. There are many people who have gone into great detail on how this letter represents God’s name. With that in mind, if God has placed His Name on Jerusalem who are we to argue with God?

Sadly, there are those who do not see it this way, who do not choose to believe the Biblical and historical records. There are also those who, fearing reprisal, will avoid the question. With recent announcements and events in the world, I choose to side with God. I choose to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

Do you pray for the peace of Jerusalem?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Would you like to deny death its victory?

November 28, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?
(1 Corinthians 15:55 (NIV))

Have you ever faced something that you knew was an inevitability?

There is an old saying that only two things are certain – death and taxes, and I would probably be able to say that around April of each year they may appear to be the same thing. I think it is human nature to fear anything that requires us to give up something, especially when we know that we will never get it back. In death, we give up our life thinking that we will never get it back. With taxes, we give up our money knowing that it is long gone.

I love the perspective that Jesus gave us about taxes.

“Show me a denarius. Whose image and inscription are on it?”
“Caesar’s,” they replied.
He said to them, “Then give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
(Luke 20:24-25 (NIV))

Through these words, Jesus let us know that money is a man-made thing and in God’s grand scheme of things, it is not important. Jesus told us to give to man what man has created. In that same logic, we are to give to God what God has created! Am I off base with this concept, for God created life? God did not create death. Death came about as a result of what Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden. From that time to the present, death has become a part of life. Up until the time that God sent His only begotten Son, Jesus, to live and to die as an atoning sacrifice, humanity had no hope of anything beyond the grave. Satan appeared to have won, but God had a better plan. God’s plan made it possible to escape the ultimate consequences of a physical death brought about by sin. Through God’s plan of redemption and grace, we can spend eternity in God’s presence in paradise! All that we have to do is profess Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior.

Would you like to deny death its victory?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What is it that you will receive?

November 15, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
(1 Peter 1:8-9 (NIV))

When I read this passage, the word “faith” and how the book of Hebrews defines it come to mind.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
(Hebrews 11:1 (NIV))

If you stop to think about it, loving someone whom you have never seen and having the faith to believe with confidence that this person can bring salvation are probably the two most difficult things to do. Both require a wisdom and a faith beyond what is humanly possible, especially if you look at these aspects from a so-called mature perspective.

Take a look back at your life.

Was there ever a time when you could display such characteristics in your life? Was there ever a time when you could be so innocent that it was actually possible for you to love without seeing and believe without seeing? I think I now have a better understanding of why Jesus told his disciples the following.

He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.
(Matthew 18:2-5 (NIV))

The world and all of the sinful natures that we experience take a toll on our innocence. It takes a toll on our ability to love and believe. It takes a toll on our ability to recognize grace and to receive salvation. Don’t allow the world to take away your ability to love. Don’t allow the world to take away your ability to believe. Don’t allow the world to take away the joy of your salvation.

What is it that you will receive?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is your belief clouded by doubt?

November 8, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.
(James 1:6 (NIV))

Why would anyone bother to ask for something if they didn’t believe that it could be attained?

Why would you ask and then vacillate, or waiver, about what you just asked for?

Think about this concept in the following contexts. From a man’s perspective, how would the following scenarios play out in relationship to the two questions above? Would you ask someone to marry you if you didn’t believe that it could happen? What if you asked someone to marry you and then immediately responded with something like, “Never mind! I didn’t mean it!”? Now, suppose that you then asked again and then changed your mind again.

The first scenario shows your lack of faith while the second scenario shows your lack of decisiveness. Both scenarios reflect negatively on you.

Think about this in terms of asking for something from God.

Why ask God for something if you don’t believe that He can or will do it? We have a tendency to place God in a box of our own design and by so doing, we limit Him to our understanding. If God spoke everything into existence, what makes you think that He is limited in His response to you?

Why ask God for something if you can’t decide what you want to ask Him? We are told that we should approach God with confidence.

In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.
(Ephesians 3:12 (NIV))

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.
(1 John 5:14 (NIV))

With this in mind, let’s take this one step further. When we approach God in confidence, we are told that this is the very definition of faith.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
(Hebrews 11:1 (NIV))

We must rest assuredly on the promises that we have been given. We must have faith that when we seek God’s will and when we ask for something in confidence according to His will, that it will be done. We must not be clouded in doubt?

Is your belief clouded by doubt?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you face trials with joy?

November 7, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
(James 1:2-3 (NIV))

From a human perspective, why would we consider facing trials something to be joyful about?

Trials make us uncomfortable!

Trials make us shed the comfort and safety of the known. They push the envelope and make us extend our boundaries. Trails make us get off of the couch and take action. Trials make us go beyond the known and step gingerly into the unknown.

In all honesty, trials actually make us grow and mature!

I realize that this may sound unconventional, but it is true. The trials that we face can have a very big impact on our lives if we allow them to mature us and to mature our faith. If you don’t face trials, your life will be one in which you feel that you are entitled to everything. If you don’t face trials, you will never know the pleasure of relying on something called faith. If you don’t face trials, how can we draw closer to God, after all, human nature seeks a place to turn to when things don’t go as we want them to go? If you think about this, facing trials with joy goes very well with the following passage.

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))

I don’t know about you, but I find great joy in knowing that Jesus has overcome the world. Armed with this little tidbit of wisdom, I try to make myself be joyful no matter what may come my way. I don’t always succeed right away, but eventually I come to my senses and begin to see and understand the joy through the trials and the troubles. After all, the cause of all of my trials and troubles has been overcome by Jesus!

Do you face trials with joy?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are we united and all together?

September 8, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.
(Acts 2:1 (NIV))

At first read, this passage doesn’t seem to say much, but something struck me after reading it again!

Pentecost was the day the Holy Spirit descended upon the body of believers and the church was conceived. Power and authority were given to the church to do the things that Jesus had said we would be able to do. Signs of this power and authority were clearly visible to everyone, for they were all gathered together and they all saw the outward manifestations of the power coming to them.

They were all together!

Not only were they together physically, I believe that they were also together spiritually. They were completely united in their faith in Jesus as their Lord and Savior. This was before man could interject subtle differences that split the body into factions. They focused on Jesus and His power and authority. When was the last time that you have seen the complete Body of Christ united under one Christ-centered banner? Have any of us ever seen this?

Have any of us ever truly seen God’s power and authority manifested as it was on the day of Pentecost? Some of us belong to congregations that say God doesn’t do this anymore. Some of us belong to congregations that would love to see any glimpse of God’s power. Some of us belong to congregations where God has provided more than a glimpse. No matter which type of congregation you may attend, one thing is certain and that is God will not be recognized as manifesting Himself if there is not a desire to see Him. We have to seek Him. We have to desire His presence. We have to be receptive to His power and authority!

Looking back at Pentecost, do you think that there were people that denied what had happened? Did they come away saying that God doesn’t do that anymore? Perspective is an amazing thing. It makes us see things differently from each other. Do you think those that were a part of what happened at Pentecost had a different perspective or were they united and all together in their understanding of what God was doing?

Are we united and all together?

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