Are you thankful to be called a Christian?

April 10, 2018

Image

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 confident and unashamed in your faith?

November 14, 2014

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.
(1 John 2:28 (NIV))

It has been almost two thousand years since these words were spoken, yet the message is as true today as it was then. We must stay focused on Jesus. We must keep our eyes on the prize. We must not forget that He is coming again.

When Jesus returns, are you confident that you will be rewarded? Have there been times that you did less than you should have simply because you were in a group of people and you did not want to be thought of as a Christian? Have you been ashamed to show the world that you have been bought by the Blood of the Lamb? It seems that no matter how hard we may want to do what Jesus asks of us, we falter and we deny Him. We are not alone.

Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.”
“I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.”
But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same.
(Matthew 26: 34-36 (NIV))

We all know what happened to Peter a few short hours later. He did just as Jesus said He would do. Thankfully, Jesus did not come to condemn us in our sins. He came to forgive us of our sins. He looks at the heart. Just as He forgave Peter, He will forgive you if you simply ask for it. Even when Peter felt that he couldn’t be forgiven for his betrayal, he found that Jesus would not betray him. He fulfilled His promise. He encouraged Peter’s faith. He embraced Peter as if he had never sinned.

Are you as confident and unashamed in your faith as Peter?

Copyright 1998 – 2014 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Where do you worship?

April 25, 2014

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

In the thirtieth year, in the fourth month on the fifth day, while I was among the exiles by the Kebar River, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God.
(Ezekiel 1:1 (NIV))

It sounds like Ezekiel was completely overwhelmed with his visions of God. He did exactly as I would do. He memorized the exact time and place that God came to him. I know that I would never forget such an experience, and it is human nature to want to create points of reference so that we can remember our special moments. However, we must be careful not to make the location more important than the encounter.

Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters–one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”
(Matthew 17:4 (NIV))

Just like Ezekiel, Peter had an experience where he witnessed something that God desired for him to see. Peter was so moved by the experience that he wanted to build what basically would have been a set of shrines, or places of worship. The only problem is that Jesus knew the shrines would become more important than what actually happened there.

Ezekiel did not dwell on the location. He did not turn it into a place of worship. He knew that God was and is to be worshipped in truth and in spirit.

Take a serious look at your worship life. Have you turned your worship into a routine dictated by a place? Have you become so rooted in your habits that the place of worship is more important than the worship? We must learn not to dwell upon the insignificance of the place, but rather, we must learn to focus on the importance of “Who” we worship. God is not limited to only one place. He is everywhere. We must worship at all times and when we come together on Sundays, we must worship in unity as a single Body of Christ.

Copyright 1998 – 2014 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you have the faith to proclaim that Jesus is the Christ?

January 9, 2014

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Then he warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ.
(Matthew 16:14-20 (NIV))

As the Body of Christ, we are all familiar with this story and the ramifications of what Simon Peter answered when Jesus asked him “Who do you say I am?” Peter’s answer has been echoing in the minds of believers to this day. They are words that each believer must come to accept on a personal basis.

I found out something today about this story that made me see this in a whole new light.

As anyone in real estate will tell you, “Location. Location. Location.”

I uncovered some history about Caesarea Philippi that left me in awe and amazement.

Caesarea Philippi was the location of shrines to Baal and other false gods. Many believe that this was the area where a group of evil angels came into the world. It is this same group of evil angels who corrupted the human race in the days of Noah. These evil, or fallen, angels, were the same ones cast out of heaven with Satan. The shrines were located at Mount Heron. Heron means “Forbidden Place.”

I love this!

Jesus not only asked His disciples who they think He is, but He did this in the middle of an area completely dedicated to Satan and his followers. Jesus did not hold back and He does not hold back. He will go to the gates of hell and rescue someone from the enemy. Peter claimed that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of the Living God, at the very doorstep of the enemy.

I now have a much different understanding of this passage. I also have a very different understanding of the eternal battle that each of us are involved in. I definately have a different understanding of why Jesus called Simon Peter the Rock. How many people do you know who would go into enemy territory and proclaim victory over the enemy?

Do you have the faith to proclaim that Jesus is the Christ?

Copyright 1998 – 2014 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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The Body of Christ

December 13, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.
(Acts 10:34-35 (NIV))

Have you ever seen a group of “Christians” who belittle members of the Body of Christ because they are not the same background as themselves? Perhaps, in a state of ignorance, we are all guilty of this at one time or another. However, we must come to the full knowledge that what was written about in Acts holds true to this very day.

No single group or nation has an exclusive to salvation and grace.

Israel was the chosen nation. They were chosen to deliver God’s plan of salvation for all man. Through the lineage of David, Jesus came to seek and to save the lost from every nation, and not just Israel.

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.
(Romans 1:16 (NIV))

There is a recurring theme. That theme is that God has not chosen only one group of people to save. He is offering salvation to anyone who will call upon the name of Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior no matter what nation, race, or traditions.

And they sang a new song:
“You are worthy to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
and with your blood you purchased men for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation.
(Revelation 5:9 (NIV))

The Body of Christ is wonderfully diverse. Remember that the next time that you start to feel the lies of the enemy sneak into your thoughts. The idea that God shows favoritism to any group of people is a lie from the enemy designed to divide us. God desires to unite us based on our unity in Christ.

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Where do you stand?

June 18, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.
(1 Peter 3:17 (NIV))

What do you call good? What do you call evil?

Does society agree with you?

Does society do things that you would consider evil?

Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God.
(3 John 1:11 (NIV))

There may come a day when those who choose to follow God will be looked upon as evil. I know that some would say that this has already started. I like to think that I would willingly suffer for doing what God calls me to do, yet, I am only human. I have human frailties and weaknesses.

Would I be like Peter and deny Jesus?

Would I be forgiven?

Would I hold fast to the faith that I profess to have?

Would my faith be proven to be as great as a mustard seed?

When you hear the word “evil,” what do you think of? Is it murder? Is it stealing? Is it something much bigger than these? Evil can get a small foothold and grow into something that can completely destroy all it touches.

God’s love restores all that it touches. It is good, yet our society seems to want to label this is hatred and evil.

What do you think?

Where do you stand?

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How bold are you?

March 22, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. He is

” `the stone you builders rejected,
which has become the capstone. ‘

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”
(Acts 4:8-12 (NIV))

This is the very same Peter who denied Jesus three times in just a few short hours. What made the bold change in his outlook? Only a few days earlier, he was afraid for his life and denied Jesus because he did not want to be put to death. Now he is boldly proclaiming the divinity of Jesus before the very same people that he was afraid of before.

Peter had experienced a life changing event. He had seen Jesus crucufied and buried. He had seen Him resurrected and fully alive. He had seen Him ascend into heaven. I don’t know about you, but seeing these events unfold before my eyes would have made me bold as well.

Perhaps that is the problem. We did not see the actual events happen and because of this, we are not filled with the boldness that Peter relied on when he spoke these words.

Why is it that we are not filled with that same boldness, after all, we have historical evidence that these things happened? Have we become too timid because we are too comfortable? Peter had to face the ultimate denial before he could face the ultimate faith. Perhaps this is true. Have you ever known someone who had sunk to the lowest point that a oerson could sink and then come to salvation through Jesus? They are bold!!!

Perhaps boldness comes from a realization of just how much we have been saved from!

How bold are you?

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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