Are you thankful to be called a Christian?

April 10, 2018

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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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Do your heart and your mouth profess the same thing?

April 4, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.
(Romans 10:10 (NIV))

Have you ever known someone who says one thing with their words and a completely different thing with their actions?

Sadly, the old saying that talk is cheap is true. We can say just about anything with our mouths while we do the exact opposite with our hearts and our actions. It is very true that what we keep in our hearts is who we really are. It is also true that the heart will give us away when our words will not.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
(Matthew 6:21 (NIV))

If you profess with your mouth a faith in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, does your heart profess the same thing? Do your actions prove that you are a follower of Jesus? Do your actions shine the light of Jesus to others? Do your actions preach the Gospel by living the example that Jesus called us to live?

Preach always. When necessary, use words.
(attributed to St. Francis of Assisi)

Our heart for Jesus should control our actions especially since actions do speak louder than words. Our actions are a direct result of what is in our heart. If what we say with our words is not the same as what we say with our actions, then Paul was correct.

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
(1 Corinthians 1:13 (NIV))

Do your heart and your mouth profess the same thing?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you find yourself groaning in your weakness?

March 14, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.
(Romans 8:26 (NIV))

Have you ever found yourself in a conversation and not know just how to say what you want to say? Perhaps you didn’t even know what to say, you just knew that you had a very strong opinion on the subject.

What do you find yourself doing in situations like this?

Do you through up your hands in frustration and let out an audible sigh? Do the people around you understand what you are attempting to express?

That is definitely a weakness of the human condition. We are often found without adequate words to express exactly what we want to express. When we simply can’t say what we want to say, we groan or sigh out of frustration. It’s too bad that we can’t be understood when we simply cannot verbalize what we feel.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was someone who could understand the groanings that we make when we can’t find the words to express ourselves?

I want you to consider something with respect to your relationship with God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
(Psalms 139:13 (NIV))

You are known intimately by the Lord. He understands you like no other. He understands the groanings of our spirit. He understands these groanings to be exactly what they are, for they are our desire to communicate concepts, emotions and desires that no earthly language is capable of communicating. We fail to be able to express our inner desires because we are a weak, sinful creation, but we still have the inherited memory of and a desire for a deeper communication with the Lord. Out of this weakness, our prayers are lifted up as groanings of the spirit.

Do you find yourself groaning in your weakness?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How do you desire to love?

March 2, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
(1 John 3:18 (NIV))

How many times a day do you say the words, “I love you.”?

Do you always mean it when you say them?

Do you have varying degrees of meaning behind what you say?

If you are like most people, these words could carry a meaning of anything from a strong like to a feeling of complete and total devotion. We say that we love ice cream. We say that we love puppies. We say that we love our families. We say that we love our spouse. We say that we love Jesus, and we say that we love God. When we say any of these, how do our actions reflect the statement? Do we say that we love puppies and then kick the next dog that we see? Do we say that we love our families and then spend all of our time at work? Do we say that we love Jesus and then use His name as a profanity? Do we say that we love God, yet choose to not spend time in His Word and in His presence?

It is said that talk is cheap and that actions speak louder than words. I truly like the following statement about how we are to convey the greatest love of all.

“Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.”
(St. Francis of Asisi)

Gospel means good news. It is the good news of God’s great love for us.

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))

God loves us so much that He sent His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross as an atoning sacrifice to save us from our sins. Even though Jesus was the Word made flesh, it took action on His part to redeem us and to claim us for the truth. God said that He loves us, but He showed us just how much He loves us through actions. Think about that concept as it applies to your own life. What garners more results? Telling someone that you love them, or going out of your way to show them that you love them? The Lord went way out of His way to show us!

We can follow His example and show love or we can simply utter a few words.

How do you desire to love?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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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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There is no other name by which we can be saved!

February 7, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
(John 6:68 (NIV))

Have you ever heard someone say that they will try something and if it doesn’t work out, that they will try something else?

Perhaps you have said something like this yourself.

I will be honest with you. There are some things where this is a valid approach. In fact, colleges have this concept down with classes like intro to psychology, intro to geology, and all of the other introductory classes. These are designed to give you a little information about the subject to see if you are interested in exploring in greater detail and depth. They are designed to give you a sampling of what that particular field of study has to offer.

If you have ever taken any classes like these, you probably remember the ones that interested you. Did you go on to learn in greater detail and depth? Was it the class, the material or perhaps it was the teacher who got you interested?

All of these classes are a good way to find out what interests you, but at some point you must make a decision and decide to follow a certain path. For Simon Peter, and the rest of the disciples, they had chosen to follow Jesus. They made this choice not because they would make a lot of money if they did, but because of the truths that they had heard. They had committed to the teachings of Jesus because He fulfilled all of the teachings that they had heard before. He fulfilled God’s Word!

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
(John 14:6 (NIV))

They realized, as I pray that you do, that Jesus was much more than just a man. They realized that all of God’s plans for their redemption and salvation was to be found in no other place, in no other man. It is for this reason that Simon Peter said that he had no other place to turn but to Jesus. Have you made that realization?

There is no other name by which we can be saved!

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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