August 31, 2009

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
(Psalms 23:1-6 (NIV))

David was probably one of the most prolific writers of all times. By today’s standards, he would have been considered a “self-made man,” yet, he focused on God in all that he wrote about. He eagerly embraced all that God had graciously bestowed upon him and gave thanks at all times for what God had done for him. It is true that David strayed, but when he was confronted with this fact, he realized his mistakes and repented. Psalm 23 speaks of the grace and mercy that God has bestowed upon David, and will bestow on anyone if they only seek after God. God will not allow those who earnestly seek Him to follow the paths of unrighteousness or to be troubled by enemies. We will still have troubles, but God is our assurance of victory through the troubles.

David wrote that God would prepare a table before him in the presence of his enemies. He did not say that God would destroy the enemies. It is God’s Will that none should perish. Perhaps the reason that you still have enemies is this fact. God is using you to be an example of His grace and mercy to those who hate you so that they may come to an understanding of God’s grace and love.

Is there someone in your life who needs to see Jesus in you?

Copyright 1998 – 2009 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Stand Firm

August 28, 2009

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed! Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.
(Luke 12:49-53 (NIV))

Everyone thinks of the birth of Jesus as the beginning of peace on earth and good will towards men. In essence it is, but not until the Millennial kingdom is established upon the earth and Jesus returns to reign. Until then, there will be division even among families.

There will be great division caused by the mere mention of His name. Some people will be vehemently apposed to His lordship while others cling unrelenting to the promises of grace and mercy that He fulfills. It will become a very bitter battle that will literally divide.

Does this sound familiar?

Take a serious look at what is happening in the world today. At every level of society, Jesus is the root of much division simply because some people choose to be openly combative toward the teachings of Jesus and anything closely related to them. They choose to assume that all generations that have gone before them were uneducated and lived their lives blindly following “false” religion.

The division between the worldly and those who call upon the name of Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior is widening. The battle lines are drawn. We must be prepared to stand firm in our faith no matter whom we come up against. We must continue to pray for those who have not accepted Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior, but we must not allow ourselves to slip in our faith in order to avoid division.

Are you prepared to stand firm in your faith?

Copyright 1998 – 2009 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Giving Grace to others

August 27, 2009

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
(Galatians 6:7-10 (NIV))

The old saying “You are what you eat” has a lot of truth to it. But, in this case, it should say “You are what you feed on!” If you feed on the Word and things of the Spirit, you can’t help but reap things of the Spirit.

God wants us to do this in all ways, not just in our spiritual life, but also in our physical life within this world. We must be the light that shines for the world to see. This light must be allowed to shine on everyone at all times.

It is easy to do good to those who do good to us. Everyone is capable of doing this. We, as believers, must do good to everyone, whether they do good to us or not. We must show God’s grace and mercy to all that we encounter so that they may see God through us.

Jesus allowed that grace to be shown to us. We did not deserve it, yet, it was given to us freely. How can we, who did not deserve that grace and mercy, show nothing but grace and mercy to others who are as worthy as we are?

Copyright 1998 – 2009 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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August 26, 2009

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, `What shall we eat?’ or `What shall we drink?’ or `What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
(Matthew 6:28-34 (NIV))

What do you worry about in this troubling economy? Perhaps I should ask the following question. Do you still seek His kingdom first?

It is so easy to get overwhelmed with the news that we are constantly bombarded with. We hear of job cuts, housing foreclosures, furloughs, and many more troubling situations that are all related to our daily ways of life. It is no wonder why so many people are so concerned about whether they will have a job and how they will survive if they become one of the unemployed. I dare to say that even strong believers have wavered during these uncertain times. Lets face facts. Even when things are going fantastically, if we stop to worry about the scenarios that could unfold, we could go crazy. We could lose our faith.

Staying focused on Jesus is always the best thing to do. When things are great, praise God for what He has blessed you with. When things are only okay, praise God for what He has blessed you with, for He has still given you life and much more. When things are bad, take heart, for He will use the circumstances to teach you something about your faith and about Him. Even when things are bad, continue to praise Him for all that He has done, and for all that He will do.

Nothing in this world lasts forever. You cannot expect your life to be just as it is now for the rest of your life. How can you mature in your faith if everything is simply handed to you. I like the way that Paul states it.

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
(Philippians 4:12-13 (NIV))

Fully rely on God for all that you need and His strength will see you through whatever you may face.

Copyright 1998 – 2009 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.

God’s Family

August 25, 2009

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
(John 8:34-36 (NIV))

This is such a wonderful truth. Those who have sincerely called upon the name of Jesus as their Lord and Savior are now a son or a daughter and are a part of God’s family. This is a family that has bonds that are stronger than any earthly family could ever be.

I realize that some earthly families do not have the strong bonds, and to those who are a part of these types of families, I pray that your situation changes. As for me, I have been blessed with an extended family that is far more than I could ever ask for. For various reasons, it has been over fifteen years since I have been able to return home to Indiana and see my aunts, uncles, cousins and family friends. I just returned from three days driving up with my youngest son who has never even been to Indiana and had never even met any of my family besides my parents.

I pulled into familiar territory late Saturday afternoon and it felt so good to be there. I just started stopping in to see people. I made one stop to surprise a friend who, when we were in the second grade, his aunt married my uncle. He immediately started calling people. I told him that I had to take my son to Bloomington early the next day, but that we would be back around mid-afternoon on Sunday. When we returned, I was greeted by aunts, uncles, friends and their families and a cookout. On the way back from Bloomington, I stopped in to surprise my 86 year old great aunt. Her face lit up like I had never seen it before. I had cousins and aunts and uncles open up their homes for us to stay while we were there.

All of this made me think about the bonds that bring family together. If an earthly family can welcome someone whom they have not seen in fifteen years, how much greater is the grace and mercy that God bestows upon those who call Him Father?

Grace is a wonderful gift. It goes hand in hand with love.

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins
(1 Peter 4:8 (NIV))

If my sin of absence can be covered over so easily by my earthly family in Indiana, how much more can our sins against God be covered over by the grace, mercy and love offered to us through the atoning blood of Jesus?

Have you claimed your permanent position in God’s family or do you still think of yourself as unworthy – as a lowly slave? God does not see you like that.

Copyright 1998 – 2009 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.

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