Do you lose something in the translation?

October 30, 2009

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning–the first day.
(Genesis 1:1-5 (NIV))

These words create such a stir of emotion and conflict. Even within the church, people read these words and are confused by what they read. Many read these words and say that God did not create the world because there is no god. Others read these words and argue with the idea that even if God does exist, how could He have the power to create something from nothing? Others read this and what bothers them is the statement that this all happened in one day. They argue that it could not literally mean a twenty four hour day. How could all of this happen in such a short time? Perhaps these views have not taken into consideration this statement from Isaiah:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the LORD.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
(Isaiah 55:8-9(NIV))

These words provide something to think about with respect to creation and God in general. God and all of His infinite wisdom is far beyond our limited understanding. The Bible also tells us that a thousand years are as a day. Perhaps, from the beginning, God is telling us that we are to read every word from His Word with our faith and not our minds. How do you read the Bible?

Copyright 1998 – 2009 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Has your faith become foolish?

October 29, 2009

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?
(Galatians 3:1-3 (NIV))

How many of us have fallen into this very trap? We start out by accepting the truth and the Holy Spirit and then we soon allow human effort to take control. We earnestly desire for the Holy Spirit to rule in our lives, but we begin to place stipulations upon Him. We only want it when it is convenient for us. We want to limit it to only an hour every Sunday. We soon have replaced God’s Holy Spirit with our own definition of God’s Spirit. It is a definition that is completely devoid of the truth, for we do not understand God’s truth.

As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
(Isaiah 55:9 (NIV))

We are not supposed to fully understand God. We are to trust Him. It is when we do not trust Him that our human effort begins to take control. We feel that we must do something to bridge the gap that we perceive. The problem is that God did not make that gap, we did. God has given us a way to bridge that gap. All that we have to do is believe and receive. Unfortunately, all too often we begin to think that something more is required of us. We begin to feel that we have not earned it.

How true! We have not earned it. We can never earn it. It is a gift. After you receive a gift, do you begin to question the motives of the giver? Do you begin to seek ways to ridicule the giver? This is exactly what we do when we try to attain our goal by human effort. It will not work. We become fools in the eyes of the giver. The gift is perfect. We can do nothing to improve upon it. All that we can do is receive.

How is your reception?

Copyright 1998 – 2009 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do you have what it takes to persevere, to overcome?

October 28, 2009

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations.
(Revelation 2:26 (NIV))

What does it take to overcome?

Perseverance and focus of direction comes to mind.

In the last twelve months, I have had the honor of knowing two family members who have persevered. My cousin in Indiana has been coaching high school sports for twenty-six years. Last basketball season, his high school team won the state championship in their division. This fall, my 16 year old son and his high school band have persevered by earning a spot in their division in the national band festival to be held in Annapolis, Maryland. Both examples show what can happen when we have a focused sense of purpose. They show what is humanly possible when we strive for a goal that we have established.

Do you desire to see Jesus in all of His glory? Do you desire to sit at the feet of God and praise His Holy name? Do you want to walk closely with Jesus and know the very heart of God?

All too often, we will set a goal in the physical world and work incessantly to achieve that goal. Do we do the same thing for our goals where God is concerned? Do we spend countless hours practicing so that we can get it perfect? Do we spend every waking moment eating and breathing and thinking the very heart of what we say that we seek? What happens if a basketball team does not practice and they lose their focus? What happens if a band loses sight of the desire to play flawlessly? We have all seen these very things happen in one form or another.

Now, what will happen to our walk with God if we fail to devote the time to become mature in our faith? It isn’t a very pretty picture if we fail to overcome. Have you ever stopped to ask yourself exactly what we need to overcome? I can honestly tell you that it is not listed in Galatians 5:22-23.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
(Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV)

We are to overcome sin. We overcome sin by accepting Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior. Once we do this, then we must strive to follow Jesus. We must allow the Holy Spirit to come inside of us and to work within us. We must let the old, sinful self die and embrace the grace and mercy that we are freely given. We must strive to be like Jesus more and more each day.

Are you overcoming your sinful nature?

Copyright 1998 – 2009 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Dust off your armor, soldier, and polish it up.

October 27, 2009

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring–those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.
(Revelation 12:17 (NIV))

I have had this in the back of my mind for a while hoping and praying that it was not true or that wisdom would prevail and change the course of events that appear to be taking shape in the United Nations. I saw something today that makes me think that wisdom as we know it will not prevail. I saw something that makes me think this passage is about to see the beginning of its fulfillment.

It is my understanding that the United Nations is currently considering passing a “Defamation of Religions” resolution that would make it a crime worldwide to proclaim that Jesus is Lord. This resolution could be the very thing that Satan uses to begin making war against “those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.”

Again, I do not desire to turn this into a political issue, but rather, to shed light on the Biblical issues that we may very well be living through. It is true that no man can know the hour, but we are also told that we can know the season. When we feel the temperatures slightly cool, and see the leaves begin to fade from green to all colors of the rainbow, we know that fall is upon us. If we see things foretold of in Revelation and in Daniel begin to happen, surely we can apply the very same type of logic and realize that the season is changing. Just as wee know what will happen when fall arrives, we can know what will happen when the antichrist arrives. He will do the very things that we see beginning to happen already, only they will escalate to extremes.

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
(Ephesians 6:13 (NIV))

No matter when God’s plan finally unfolds, we will be facing some serious battles during our lives. Battles that will need to be fought on our knees in a unified spirit of prayer. These battles may come quickly or they may be delayed, but with the current state of the world, they will come. Prepare for God to be glorified.

I will count it an honor to be in the sites of the enemy for that will mean that I am doing what God desires of me. I will resist the dragon, the devil, Satan, the antichrist and all of his forces with God as my strength and my shield. We have been instructed to put on the full armor of God. To me, that means placing my faith in Jesus as my Lord and Savior, learning all that I can of God’s Word, and learning to listen to the Holy Spirit.

Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs—he wants to please his commanding officer.
(2 Timothy 2:3-4 (NIV))

Are you prepared for the battles that the enemy will send your way? Will the enemy ignore you because you are not a threat? Prepare your heart, mind and body to follow Jesus no matter what may come.

Copyright 1998 – 2009 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Where do you turn?

October 26, 2009

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

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

My Sunday school class has been using a series of books by a well known preacher and writer. As we have moved through them, we have decided that we don’t really have a teacher, but rather someone who will help to facilitate the discussions. As a result, we have taken turns acting as the facilitator.

This morning, a friend veered off from the book and delivered a fantastic lesson. Even though we had decided that we would not have a teacher because no one truly feels qualified to teach, God used him to teach us something. I know that I was taught something.

He started off the lesson by saying that he was going to read the definition to a word and we were to write down what we thought that word was. He went through three different definitions to three different words. After we knew what each word was, we were to write down the corresponding Bible verse or verses that were of special meaning to us in relationship to those words. Surprisingly enough, the verse that came to my mind for all three words was the very same verse. Other people came up with much different verses.

The definitions that my friend read to us gave us the following three words:
– assurance
– favorite
– comfort

His lesson was a very profound one for me. It made me think about why I love Psalm 46:10 so much. To put it into a nutshell, it gives me the assurance that He is God and He is always there. All I have to do is be still in His presence. It is my favorite, for it is easy to remember and focus on when the world begins to make things so hectic that I feel that I am about to lose myself. It brings comfort to me, for it reminds me that God is always there. He will not forsake me. He will not abandon me. He is and will always be there. He does not leave. All that I have to do is to be still in His presence.

To me, Psalm 46:10 is my “life verse.” It is the verse that I hold in my heart when I need assurance. It is the verse that I hold in my heart because of it’s promise. It is the verse I hold in my heart for times when I need comfort. I love other passages, for they all hold many delightful promises for me.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
(2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV))

However, I always return to Psalm 46:10. It is my foundation. It is where I turn when I need assurance. It is where I turn when I think of my favorite passage. It is where I turn when I need comfort.

Where do you turn?

Copyright 1998 – 2009 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Fear and rejoicing in these interesting times.

October 23, 2009

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

Therefore rejoice, you heavens
and you who dwell in them!
But woe to the earth and the sea,
because the devil has gone down to you!
He is filled with fury,
because he knows that his time is short.
(Revelation 12:12 (NIV))

When I read this passage this evening, I instantly received chills. It fills me with great hope, yet, at the same time, it fills me with great dread. My hope is built firmly upon Jesus, yet, there is a part of me that does not want to see this unfold, for it will mean that countless numbers of people who have missed grace and salvation will be undergoing something that I would not wish upon anyone. They will be caught up in the final countdown and conflict between God and Satan.

I do not intend to make this political, for there are righteous people who love the Lord on both sides of the political fence. What I do intend is to make people realize just how things may be unfolding as we live out our daily lives.

Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter.
(Isaiah 5:20 (NIV))

We see this happening more and more. Sin seems to rule the land, especially when there are constant battles in our courts about whether we can mention God in public places. Unborn children are denied the right to life and it is called a woman’s right to choose. There are constant threats of terrorism and wars. And, we are told that there will be a world wide government with the antichrist as its head. To be honest with you, it appears that things are unfolding far quicker than anyone could imagine. I recently saw a video of a presentation with an urgent plea. There is a treaty that is supposed to be ratified soon. This treaty, according to the video, states that it will establish a world government that will have authority over all current governments. Once a country becomes a member, that country cannot back out of the treaty without consent from all other members of that treaty.

Again, I do not intend to make this political, for God’s plans are far above our petty politics, however, it appears that God is using the world political systems to unfold His greatest revelation. To be honest with you, Satan is using our political systems as well in hopes that he will win. Satan knows that his time is short. He is ramping up his attacks. He is quickly setting the stage to try to redirect God’s plans for him and for this world.

Keep focused on Jesus. Keep focused on God. Keep focused on God’s Word. Watch the events of this world with prayer and anticipation. Pray that we may see God’s grace and mercy unfold.

After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice:
“Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.”
(Revelation 7:9-10 (NIV))

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
(Revelation 3:13 (NIV))

Copyright 1998 – 2009 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What is your definition of love?

October 22, 2009

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.
(1 John 3:16 (NIV))

What is your definition of love?

Does it include such things as roses and candlelight dinners?

Just in case you didn’t know it, there are many different types of love. The ultimate form of love is self-sacrificing for the benefit of someone else. It is often said that love is a choice. That is definitely true.

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
(John 15:13 (NIV))

Do you see a pattern developing through these two verses of scripture? Love is a willingness to put the well-being of someone else above your own well-being. This is not easy to do, for self preservation runs very strong as part of the human experience. In other words, we have to look beyond our humanity and reach for the same characteristic within ourselves that Jesus displayed when He willingly went to the cross to die for our sins.

It is not easy! I pray that if the situation should ever arise that I would make the decision that would prove my love. Can you imagine what Jesus felt when He did what He did? No wonder He spoke these words from the cross.

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
(Luke 23:34a(NIV))

What is your definition of love?

Copyright 1998 – 2009 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Can you respond “At Once”?

October 21, 2009

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him.
(Matthew 4:19-20 (NIV))

At once!

How long did it take you to came to the realization that you needed to follow Jesus? Was it something that took days, weeks, or months? Perhaps it even took years to finally touch your heart and make you see the truth behind the man who died on the cross? Let’s face facts. Most people alive today in this part of the world have heard of Jesus since they were very young. I will admit that some people do have a distorted view of Him, but they still know that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God.

Now, consider the men to whom Jesus spoke. They did not know Him. They had never heard of Him. If they had met Him in a crowd, they would probably not be able to pick Him out from the countless others that they would see. Still, they left everything and followed Him.

At once!

What was it about Jesus that made these men realize that they needed to follow Him? What was it about Jesus that made these men walk away from everything that they had ever known to simply follow a stranger?

I think that everybody has a vision of Jesus as a man who radiates righteousness. To many, thanks to movies, you could even say He glows with the presence of the Holy Spirit. I honestly believe that Jesus simply had, and still has, a powerful presence. This is a presence that either draws you to Him or turns you from Him simply based on your desires. If you desire righteousness, then you will be drawn to Jesus. I believe that it is our sinful natures that make us vacillate and take so long to respond.

At once!

To respond in this manner takes a strong faith. It takes a strong desire. It takes a inner strength to admit that you need a savior. Too many people are not willing to admit to what they see as a shameful confession – that they are in need of a savior.

I pray that each of us are strong enough to admit that we are weak and that we need Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior. I pray that each of us come to that realization at once, before it is too late.

Have you come to that realization?

Copyright 1998 – 2009 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Where do you take refuge?

October 20, 2009

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.
(Psalms 9:9 (NIV))

Just how big of a trouble do you need before you tun to the Lord for strength and refuge?

Is it something major such as a serious illness or death? Perhaps it is something less serious such as a lost job. Perhaps it is something that doesn’t even effect you as directly as these, such as a slightly prodigal child.

Are you too proud to turn anything smaller than these over to God? Do you honestly think that God doesn’t want to be involved in the smaller matters of your life? What do you do with such things as rushing to work because you overslept? I am sure that we have all said things that we wish we hadn’t said. God can help in these areas, as well. He is a refuge for the oppressed no matter how big or how small the troubles that we find ourselves in.

I would venture to say that we all have people that we like to confide in when things are going less than perfect. Someone who we spill the very details of our troubles to. Why is it that we only turn to God when things are extremely bad? If you don’t believe this happens, look at the increase in church attendance right after September 11, 2001. We are a people looking for solace and comfort. Why do we only earnestly seek this comfort when things are extremely bad?

I honestly think that ego plays a huge part in this, for we all think that we can handle the small stuff, and then, before we know it, we have crossed that fine line that separates small from something we can’t or don’t want to handle. Perhaps we should simply walk with God and allow Him to be our refuge at all times. If we walk with God at all times, the troubles will not seem as big for we will have seen how He can deliver us through each and every trouble that we have had in our lives.

Don’t get me wrong. God will not keep us from the troubles, but He will walk with us through them. He will guide us through the wildernesses of life no matter how big or how small.

Have you turned your troubles over to God? ALL of them?

Copyright 1998 – 2009 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Harvest time! Here am I. Send me!

October 19, 2009

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.
(Luke 10:1-4 (NIV))

It is so easy to become engrossed in the preparations that you forget the actual task at hand.

Think about that for a moment. Have we, as the Body of Christ, as the church, and as individuals, put off what God has called us to do and falsely called it preparation? Have we simply dragged our feet and kicked the dirt to make it look like we are doing something when all along we are simply stalling and hoping that God will soon forget about what He asked us to do?

I know a young man. I have known him since he was born. In the space of six months, he was given an opportunity by God to help plant a church. We all think that we would be willing to do something bold if God called us to do it. From what I know, most of us are still sitting here in the planning stages. This young man heard the call, raised the money, got his passport, and is in Brisbane, Australia as part of the team who is planting a church in that city. I believe that when it will be six months from the birth of this vision, he will have been in Australia for almost three months. He went with his faith and his God.

Too many of us, and I include myself, are slow to act. we are like Moses was at the burning bush. He made every single excuse that he could think of. God answered each excuse with a solution. When Moses came down off of the mountain, it is recorded that he left for Egypt. What did he take with him? What did he carry along the way? I honestly do not think that Moses came off of the mountain and studied what had just happened. I don’t think that he came down and looked at his calendar to find an opening where he could fit God in. He simply obeyed.

We, as the Body of Christ, have an assignment. Just as Jesus sent out the seventy-two, He is sending out each of us. Some He will send to the far corners of this world. Some He will simply send next door. No matter where He may send you, respond. Do not become engrossed in the preparations. Do not try to fit God into you calendar. If you are faithful, He will fit your calendar into His timing. What is of importance will take place and what is not important will be forgotten.

Don’t spend so much time in preparation that you never respond.

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
(Isaiah 6:8 (NIV))

Are you willing to be like Isaiah? Will you skip all human planning and preparation and simply say “Here am I. Send me!”?

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