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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How would Jesus respond to you?

June 20, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.”
(Luke 5:22-24 (NIV))

Can you imagine how these people felt after this transpired? They were simply thinking about trying to confront Jesus and He called them out for it!

What if this happened to you? How would you react if someone you had never met clearly singled you out for what you were thinking? Would you feel belittled? Would you feel bewildered? Would you be thinking, “How does he know what I am thinking?”

Did you notice that Jesus had started out with words? Once these events transpired, He escalated to action. He had the paralyzed man get up and walk!

He had healed the paralyzed man! He performed an action that they had never seen before. Jesus stepped into His role as God with us and had compassion and mercy on the man. He did not leave the man in the same condition as he was in when Jesus found him.

Isn’t that just like Jesus?

He ridicules the unbeliever and performs a miracle for those in need. Perhaps the word ridicules is a little strong, but the concept is that Jesus knows our thoughts and He answers with what is appropriate. For those seeking to mock Him, He displays wisdom and power. For those seeking His touch, He displays grace and mercy.

How would Jesus respond to you?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you surrendered authority to whom it belongs?

May 15, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Then Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”
(Luke 6:5 (NIV))

It is human nature to try and put God in a box. We try to twist words based on our limited understanding. We try to put limitations on God simply because we fail to understand that He has no limitations. We fail to realize that the limitations that have been given to us are the same type of limitations that a parent would put on a child. They are there for our protection, for our education and they are not there for the person who placed the limitations. A good example of this is the bedtime for a small child. That does not mean that the parents go to bed at the same time!

When God sets boundaries and establishes rules, He is fulfilling His role as God the Father. He is guiding us. He is keeping us from harm. In much the same way as a parent telling a child that he or she cannot have ice cream because it is bedtime, God established things that we must live by. One of those is the command to remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. We are to rest. We are to be reverent in our attitudes. We are to spend time in God’s presence. We are to slow down.

Be still, and know that I am God…
(Psalms 46:10a (NIV))

When we spend time in God’s presence, we begin to realize that we do have a tendency to place God in a box. If you want a modern day translation of the words that Jesus spoke in Luke 6:5, perhaps something like this makes sense, although it may sound condescending. “I created the world and I created the Sabbath. I can do what I deem as appropriate because I made the rules for you and not for myself!”

We have a big problem with realizing that God makes the rules and not us!

We need to surrender Lordship of our lives!

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you serving with Jesus or are you waiting to be served?

March 14, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
(Mark 10:45 (NIV))

What a powerful message! Too bad that too many believers seem to have forgotten this.

How can we serve if our only reason for believing is prosperity? How can we serve if we continually seek what is best only for us? How can we serve if we will not step outside of our comfort zone? How can we serve if we are afraid to trust in the God whom we proclaim as Father?

There are so many things that can distract us from our true calling in faith that it is not funny. The sad thing about this is that I believe a majority of them contradict the words that Jesus spoke as reported in Mark. All of the things that distract us are the very things that we desire when we seek to be served. We seek prosperity. We seek what is best for us. We seek to stay within our comfort zone. Sadly enough, we seek to place our trust in things that make us desire to be served.

Do any of these things sound familiar? It is an easy step into this type of thinking. This is exactly what Satan wants us to do. He wants us to turn from desiring to serve because Jesus came to serve, to desiring to be served. Serving is selfless. Being served is selfish.

Jesus came to serve. He came to be selfless. We are called to do what He did.

I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
(John 14:12 (NIV))

Are you serving with Jesus or are you waiting to be served?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you truly prepared to follow Jesus?

January 18, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn

” `a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law–

a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’

“Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
(Matthew 10:34-39 (NIV))

When most people think of Jesus, they think of peace and love. Even the modern church thinks of Jesus in this way, but there is a side to Jesus, or should I say a side to proclaiming a faith in Jesus, that is far from what the world thinks.

Jesus came to this world out of love for God’s creation. He came so that sinners could be set free from the bondage of sin and death. Sadly, though, not everyone will accept that free gift. Not everyone will acknowledge that Jesus has the authority to offer the gift of grace. It is this aspect that brings the sword. In most cases, it is only a figure of speech, but in some cases, it is a literal result of the rejection of Jesus.

We have all seen families where some members of the family are very firmly rooted in their faith in Jesus while other family members vehemently deny Jesus. They are at odds. They are at war with members of their own family. In some cultures, proclaiming that you are a Christian and follow Jesus is a death sentence. Contrary to societal beliefs, following Jesus is not all acceptance, love and Kumbaya.

He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.
(Matthew 13: 37-39 (NIV))

There is a growing hatred in this world for anything that points to Jesus. The enemy is planting weeds in the hearts of people while Jesus is planting good seed.

There is a battle taking place. That battle may divide families. It may divide friends. Don’t let that battle find you opposing Jesus!

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you ever felt ashamed of Jesus?

September 29, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.
(Luke 9:26 (NIV))

Have you ever been in a situation where you earnestly hoped that no one pointed you out as a follower of Jesus?

Perhaps you were in a situation where you knew that someone would criticize you or even threaten you if they knew you proclaimed a faith in Jesus? What did you do?

I honestly think that all of us have been in predicaments like this. It is a matter of how you handle it. It is a matter of your priorities. Is there a difference between these two possible responses: not speaking of your faith in Jesus; and denying Jesus if you are confronted? We have all been in situations where we feel uncomfortable. We have all been in places that we could tell were not friendly to those who follow Jesus. It is human nature to not divulge information that would put you in danger. In these types of places, we simply find a way to exit as soon as possible.

Do you think that Jesus sees our actions as being ashamed of Him?

Many people see this as an act of self-preservation. To quote a phrase used in today’s society, “Don’t ask. Don’t tell.” How do you see this type of action? What happens if they ask? Do you keep quiet and not answer? Do you deny your faith? Do you boldly proclaim that you believe that Jesus is who the Bible says He is?

Where does Jesus draw the line as far as what He considers as being ashamed of Him? Is our silence an admission of shame? Is our denial an admission of shame? Are any of these situations justified as self-preservation?

We all remember the story of Stephen being stoned to death. He did not deny Jesus and, as assurance, he saw heaven open up. Most of us remember the young lady at Columbine High School who was asked if she was a Christian. She did not keep quiet. She did not deny her faith. Her answer cost her life. She was not ashamed.

I know that we are only human and our actions are not perfect, even after we accept Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior. All that we have to do is look at how Peter denied Jesus and how Jesus forgave him to see grace in action. Then, as now, it is a matter of priorities. Peter repented and was forgiven. He went on to help spread the Gospel. We can repent when we deny Jesus. We can still be used to fulfill His will. The key is a repentant heart!

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Our hope is from above! Look up!

September 23, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
(Acts 7:55-56 (NIV))

I know that this was the verse from yesterday, but something stood out about this passage and how Stephen responded that warranted further consideration. I want you to pay special attention to how Stephen reacted when he was confronted by the Sanhedrin.

Most people, when confronted, will look down. This is often taken as a sign of surrender. Stephen did not surrender.

Some will look their accusers in the eyes. This can be taken as a sign of confidence in their stance based on their own merits. From what has been written, Stephen did not look his accusers in the eyes to stare them down.

Stephen also did not turn away out of shame, or as a veiled attempt to escape.

He looked up!

Stephen, even in his circumstances that lead to his death by stoning, refused to focus on anything else but his God and Savior. As a result, God appeared to him to give him confidence, to give him assurance, and to give him hope. Stephen was not disappointed by his focus!

I have been reading and watching many testimonies lately about dreams and visions that members of the Body of Christ are having. There is a common theme to these dreams and visions. We must keep our focus on Jesus no matter what the world may send our way. We must remember that our hope is not of this world. We have a God who loves us so much, that He sent His only begotten Son to live as one of us and to die bearing our sins. We have a risen Savior who was willing to suffer death on the cross and was resurrected so that He could now sit at the right hand of God, the Father. If we have them with us, as the Body of Christ, where else do we ever need to look?

We must never lose focus, because our hope is from above! Look up!

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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