We must pick up our cross no matter the cost!

July 7, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me.
(Acts 20:22-23 (NIV))

How many of us would willingly go somewhere knowing that there is a very good possibility that you would face great danger? Would you be willing to stand up for your faith even in the midst of hardships and prison? Would you go headlong into the situation even if you knew that this would be the outcome?

Paul faced many hardships during his travels to spread the Gospel, yet nothing that he faced was able to convince him to stop sharing the good news of Jesus. It was more important to him than his own life!

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.
(Acts 20:24 (NIV))

Can we make that same profession of faith?

For years I have been saying that a time is coming when speaking the name of Jesus would carry dire consequences from beatings to even death. That time is drawing closer. We are seeing things escalate at a rate that I would have never imagined being able to happen in my lifetime. Just look at what has happened in the last few years. What about the last few months? What will we be facing next? Are we ready, willing and able to have the same attitude as Paul did during his lifetime? Will we head into the hardships if that is where we are called? Are we ready to die to self and pick up the cross without counting the cost of our actions?

We must pick up our cross no matter the cost!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Why are we drawn to return to our sin and slavery?

March 2, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
(Galatians 5:1 (NIV))

What is it about human nature that makes us return to something that we know we should leave behind? We have all been guilty of doing this very thing, and probably much more often than we care to admit. Apparently, human nature since the fall from grace has always had us doing what can only be called self destructive behavior. We know that we shouldn’t, but yet we do. This type of behavior has been pointed out many times, but probably the most accurate and disgusting is the following.

As a dog returns to its vomit,
so fools repeat their folly.
(Proverbs 26:11 (NIV))

As I stated previously, we all do it. Even the man who is credited with bringing the Gospel to the Gentiles fought this aspect in his own walk of faith. Paul was a very intelligent person, but yet he didn’t understand the self destructive nature that he fought against.

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
(Romans 7:15-20 (NIV))

This struggle that all of us face makes it clear why each of us are called to take up our cross daily. We are to deny that part of our human nature. We are to struggle with this sinful nature each and every time that it raises its ugly head in our lives. We are called to repent. Far too many people believe that this is a one-time occurrence, but it should be a daily attitude and activity. Do I even venture to say that, on some days, we may have to humble ourselves continually before the Lord and repent of our actions and our thoughts?

I know that we are a fallen creation, but I wish I had the magic answer as to why we return to our sin when we don’t want to. I wish I knew how to turn off that part of my life so that I never take my eyes off of Jesus. Just like Paul, I find myself doing the very things that I hate! I don’t know why! I long to do only what is good and righteous, yet on my own, this is not possible. I just know that we must be ready to fall on our knees whenever and wherever we may find yourself returning to our sin.

I want to leave you with one question that I hope you will take to heart.

Why are we drawn to return to our sin and slavery?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you willing to have your heart tested by the Lord?

August 20, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests the heart.
(Proverbs 17:3 (NIV))

Is it just me, or does this passage make you realize that the things that we all go through in our lives can have a positive outcome or they can have a negative outcome? It is a matter of perspective and attitude. We can look at situations in our lives and wallow in self pity, or we can see the situations as a matter of a learning experience. In fact, everything that we face in this life can be seen as a learning experience.

A wise son accepts his father’s discipline, But a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.
(Proverbs 13:1 (NIV))

Consider the crucible and the furnace. They are necessary tools and steps to bring out the best in the precious metals. If you are familiar with refining metals, then you will understand the possibilities. Impure metals are heated to their melting point. Some of the impurities will burn away due to the high heat. Others will float in the molten metal for the metal worker to somehow separate. Then the molten metal is cooled, and, if necessary, the process is repeated until the metal has had the impurities removed. Now, imagine your life. Each of us has things in our life that are less than desirable in the eyes of the Lord. He refines us. He disciplines us in order to bring out the best in us. After all, aren’t we more important to the Lord than precious metals are to us? He is going to use the tools that He has to refine us, to test the very nature of our heart.

The Lord desires for us to have a pure heart. He calls each of us to Himself, and if we answer that call, He will mature us. He will purify us. He will give us opportunities to draw closer to Himself. The closer we draw to Him, the more we know Him and seek after His heart. When we seek after His heart, our hearts become refined. He desires to purify our hearts. The things that we go through in life will either draw us closer to Him and his righteousness and purity, or they will drive us to the evil desires of our hearts. Personally, I desire nothing more than to draw closer to the Lord. If that means that I must face the refiners fire, I am willing. Are you?

Are you willing to have your heart tested by the Lord?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you able to hear?

April 10, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

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

Have you been hearing some strange things lately?

That may sound like a very unusual question, but if you love the world, your hearing may be dulled. You may not be in-tune to what the Spirit is saying during these times in which we live. Logically, the next thing that needs to be brought up is another question.

Do you believe that the Spirit of God is saying anything to the churches today?

Do you hear the Spirit saying that the world is calling good, evil and evil is being called good?

Do you hear the Spirit saying that people have become lovers of self?

Do you hear the Spirit saying that you have left your first love or that you have become lukewarm?

Ouch!

It hurts when you ask things like this of yourself, but this is where the Spirit works. God calls us as individuals. He looks at our sins as individuals. He looks at our hearts as individuals, but when you are associated with others who are like-minded in sin, then the Spirit speaks differently. Just as He spoke to the seven churches as groups, the Spirit is speaking to us today as groups. He is also speaking to us as individuals. We must hear the Spirit and learn to respond to the Spirit. He may be calling us as individuals out of an existing situation into a new situation and direction if we can only hear what the Spirit is saying. The Spirit is trying to lead if we could and would only listen.

Are you able to hear?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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God, have mercy on me, a sinner!

July 8, 2015

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: `God, I thank you that I am not like other men–robbers, evildoers, adulterers–or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, `God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
(Luke 18:10-14 (NIV))

This brings up one simple but very painful question to answer.

Do you feel that you are better than others?

Ouch! Yes, I asked it.

As sinful, prideful and arrogant human beings, each of us has felt this at one time or another. It is human nature to self gratify. We like to look at others and compare our sins to theirs so that we feel better about ourselves. Why do we like to put others down in order to make ourselves feel better? Sadly, we never learn. Arrogance and pride are traits that seem to surface all of the time, yet, humility is one that we have to work to even see the light of day.

One thing that we need to learn from this passage is that God does not compare us with anyone else. He created each of us to be unique. The only thing that He looks at is whether we are being the unique person that Hen created us to be. Are we living our lives in sin or are we seeking after Him in all that we do?

I am far from perfect. I find myself comparing to others, but I always find the realization that my sins are enough to condemn me. It is at this point that I realize that I am not any better than anyone else. I am simply forgiven because I have called upon the name of Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior.

It is a matter of the heart. It is a matter of sincerity. It is a matter of willfully choosing to follow Jesus. We all make mistakes. It takes a humble person to admit the mistakes and repent. That is what the tax collector did.

God, have mercy on me, a sinner!

Copyright 1998 – 2015 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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