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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What controls your spirit?

March 18, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
(2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV))

How are you holding up in the midst of all that is happening in the world?

Be honest with yourself. Are you falling into the panic and fear that the world insists on spreading? Have you focused only on the world to the point that you have ignored or completely forgotten the promises that we have been given by our Lord? If you are fearful because of the events occurring in the world, it is time to step back and take a serious look at all that has been promised by God.

He sent His only begotten Son, Jesus, to redeem us and restore us to Himself. This restoration saves us from sin and death. Why would He save us from such a fate and then abandon us? Fear is rooted in uncertainty and a sense of danger. We have already been told our destiny lies with Jesus. That is certain. We have also been told to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. Does this sound like something we need to fear? We have nothing to fear because Jesus bore all of our sin. He willingly paid the consequences of our sins and gave us His righteousness and grace. We have been told that Jesus will return for us. If He is returning, what do we have to fear in this world?

When we accepted Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, all fear has been defeated. It has been replaced with His power and His love. When we embrace the Holy Spirit, He gives us a sound mind. He gives us His mind to guide us.

No matter what may come our way while we are in this world, we have nothing to fear, for we are His and He is ours!

What controls your spirit?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Where does your help come from?

March 17, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.
(Psalms 121:1-2 (NIV))

In these days that we are facing, we need to stop walking around with our hands in our pockets and our eyes cast down at our feet. We do not need to respond like the world responds.

Lift up your hands in praise!

Lift up your eyes to heaven!

We have a hope that is far greater than anything this world can send our way.

but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
(Isaiah 40:31 (NIV))

He is our help. He is the Maker of heaven and earth. He is also our refuge at all times, but especially in times of trouble.

God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.
(Psalm 46:1-3 (NIV))

We are all human, and as such, we all are prone to get lost in the physical when we should focus on the spiritual. We focus on what we can see with our eyes when we should be praying to have our spiritual blinders removed so that we can see the Lord.

Do you lift your hands to heaven?

Do you lift your eyes to the Lord?

Do you lift your prayers to the Maker of heaven and earth?

These activities should be our first action and not our last resort. We should instinctively praise the Lord. We should automatically lift our eyes to the Lord. Prayers should be the first thoughts and words that come forth from our spirit and our lips. If this is true, then there is nothing that this world can send our way that will make us lose sight of where our help comes from.

Where does your help come from?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Will you let down the nets?

February 25, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”
(Luke 5:5 (NIV))

How many times have you worked and waited for God to do something in your life or through your life? It probably seemed like He would never do what you have had faith that He would do. Think how Simon (Peter) felt. Here was this rabbi who knew nothing about fishing. He had grown up as a carpenter, yet He was telling the fisherman what to do. Knowing how Peter often overreacted, I find it very interesting that he did what he did.

Peter did just as he had been told, even though he was tired. He was probably very irritable from working all night with no results, and he was probably harboring arrogant and sinful thoughts about the man who told him to let down his nets.

Think about this situation. We, too, are often like this. We are at our breaking point and do not see any purpose in continuing with what we are doing. We simply wish to give up. When we are faced with this type of situation and mentality, we must remember Simon Peter. Mentally, he was saying that this will never work. Intellectually, he was thinking that a carpenter doesn’t know anything about fishing. Spiritually, he was willing to give it one more try.

The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.
(Matthew 26:41b (NIV))

Simon Peter overcame his physical weakness and trusted in what his spirit was telling him. He was able to make that leap of faith that allowed Jesus to call him as one of His disciples. He was able to make that leap of faith when every other sign pointed in the other direction. Because of his willingness to say “But because you say so, I will let down the nets,” Jesus used him to reach through history and to touch millions of lives with the Gospel.

Is your spirit willing to obey that one more time when reason says you shouldn’t? Will you let down the nets?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Will the Lord know you?

February 5, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
(Matthew 7:21-23 (NIV))

Do you believe that it is acceptable in the eyes of God to profess a faith in Jesus and then be unwilling to give up your favorite sin?

Think about that in context of the woman caught in adultery. Jesus told her to leave her life of sin.

Think about that in context of the rich young ruler. Jesus told him to sell all he had and give everything to the poor and then follow Him. Jesus knew the rich man’s heart. He knew exactly the sin that the rich man wouldn’t give up.

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))

If we don’t deny ourselves the sins that we love and deny our sinful nature, then Jesus is going to deny us. We must sacrifice ourselves daily to what we desire and carry the cross that Jesus carried. He did what God called Him to do! We are to follow His example. At no point in His life did He sin, nor did He ever tell someone to continue sinning. If we are truly following Jesus, then we are truly spending time in His presence. We will desire to give up our sins. I realize that even the best of intentions will have pitfalls, but we are called to repent. We are called to change our lives to reflect Jesus in all that we do. We are called to be the light of the world, but not on our own. We are to reflect the light of Jesus. If we choose to cling to our sin, we are not filled with the light. It is a choice. We can choose Jesus or we can choose sin.

No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
(Matthew 6:24 (NKJV))

I chose this translation for this passage due to the use of the word “mammon.” It means riches. You cannot serve the riches of this world, whether they are money, lust or power, and still serve God. We must make a decision to walk away from our sins and follow Jesus. We will slip. We will falter, but if we seek forgiveness for these slips, and continue to strive to follow Jesus, then the Lord sees our heart. If we refuse to give up our sins, the Lord sees this as well. He cannot save someone who is unwilling to be saved.

If you realize that God cannot associate with sin and you aren’t willing to give up your sin, the resulting conclusion is obvious.

Will the Lord know you?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Nothing is too difficult for our Lord!

December 12, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Lift up your heads, O you gates;
    be lifted up, you ancient doors,
    that the King of glory may come in.

Who is this King of glory?
    The LORD strong and mighty,
    the LORD mighty in battle.

Lift up your heads, O you gates;
    lift them up, you ancient doors,
    that the King of glory may come in.

Who is he, this King of glory?
    The LORD Almighty–
    he is the King of glory.
(Psalms 24:7-10 (NIV))

David gave us a look into the future when Jesus returns not as Savior, but as a mighty warrior reclaiming what is God’s. It is amazing that God gave this message to us through David, when Jesus was several generations from being born. Yet, God gave David this psalm describing exactly what would happen not at Jesus’ first coming, but at His second coming. If David, who was looking at this as if looking through a telescope, could have the faith to believe God, then we, who have the advantage of being able to look back at Jesus’ first coming, should have all the more faith that what God said through David will come to pass.

True, David was a man after God’s own heart, yet, David was not free from sin. God used David in all his human failings to not only give us these words, but to also give us Jesus himself.

If God can use David, who was a sinner, to give us a sinless Savior, how can God use you? Nothing is too difficult for our Lord!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you have the wisdom to rest in the presence of God?

November 20, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, LORD,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep.
(1 Kings 19:3-5 (NIV))

Have you ever been put to the test and simply wanted to give up and die?

It is not uncommon for people to feel that way. Elijah, who had just called down the fire of God upon a wet alter and proved that God was the true God and not he false prophet’s gods, felt this very thing when he was confronted with an attack from the enemy. Queen Jezebel had just threatened his life as a result of what had happened and Elijah ran for his life. Think about this. Elijah had just called upon God in a mighty way and He showed up, yet, at the threats of a single woman he forgot who was fighting on his side and ran. He literally wanted to die!

We all face situations in which we want to throw in the towel and give up, but we must remember who is on our side. We must also remember that God is not in the mighty deeds at all times. Just as with Elijah in 1 Kings 19:11-13, He was in the whisper. He was not in the wind, the earthquake or the fire.

What is it in your life that is currently testing you? Have you spent quiet time alone with God to hear His Will, or have you buried yourself with activity? Have you simply stopped everything because of the stress of the situation? Remember that Elijah rested and then traveled farther away from what was troubling him before he was able to discern God’s voice.

Perhaps we must simply place our trust and faith in God to deliver us. When we simply do this, He will answer in that whisper that only we can hear. We cannot hear it when we are in the heat of the battle.

What do you hear when you are faced with a test? Do you have the wisdom to rest in the presence of God?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What do you do when the unexpected happens?

October 25, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
(Acts 1:9 (NIV))

I can picture the moment. Everybody is gathered around Jesus and everyone there is asking Him questions. They are filled with excitement. They have spent three years with Jesus. They saw Him perform miracles. They saw Him beaten and crucified. They saw Him die. And, they saw Him in His resurrection. Now, after the resurrection, they are eagerly looking for Jesus to bring God’s kingdom to this world.

And then . . .

The unexpected happens.

At least in their eyes, it does.

They were expecting Jesus to take His authority then and there, but He disappears!

Can you imagine how these people felt? Everything that they had seen. Everything that they had been a part of. Everything that they now expected was completely changed. I can imagine that their first reaction was that they were being abandoned. How would you feel?

God knew their hearts. He knew that they were expecting something that was not in His plan. God had compassion on these people. He sent messengers to tell them that their timing was not His timing.

They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
(Acts 1:10-11 (NIV))

Instead of despair, these people had a reason to believe. They had a reason to hope. They had a reason to pray. And pray they did.

Then they returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city. When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.
(Acts 11:12-14 (NIV))

How do you react when things don’t go as you expect them to?

We should take a lesson from these first believers. When things don’t go as we expect them to go, we should pray for God’s guidance and His wisdom.

What do you do when the unexpected happens?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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When the world seems to be falling apart, look up!

September 12, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“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 often wonder if Jesus were telling us to prepare for times of increasing trouble until He returns. It is possible to interpret this passage that way, especially when you take current history into account.

Think about that.

In my lifetime, I have seen:
– the removal of prayer from the schools
– legalized abortion
– terrorist attacks
– history being rewritten
– the attempt to remove God from all public life
– “tolerance”
– financial crises
– good called evil
– Christianity mocked and ridiculed
– the rise and acceptance of false religions
– the apparent increase in natural disasters

I could go on, but I think that you can get my point. We seem to be in a time of ever increasing trouble. It seems that we are in a downward spiral with no worldly ways to stop it, and that is true.

There is no worldly way to stop the troubles. They will come. They will come with ever increasing frequency. Then there will be a point in time in which God says, “Enough!” Until that time, we must fully rely upon our faith in God and in Jesus, for we have been given promises that this world will once again see Jesus. We have been given promises that those who are faithful to call upon the name of Jesus as Lord and Savior will be given authority to rule over this world. We have been given promises that grace will see us through. We have been given promises that we will have peace.

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

As we face the troubles that the world throws at us, we must never lose sight of the promises that God has given us. We must never lose sight of the fact that Satan is causing the troubles in this world. We must never lose sight of the fact that God created the world and He can and will overcome the troubles of this world. He will overcome Satan.

When the world seems to be falling apart, look up!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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