Let the crucifixion humble you, and let the resurrection empower you.

March 31, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

Dogs have surrounded me;
a band of evil men has encircled me,
they have pierced my hands and my feet.
I can count all my bones;
people stare and gloat over me.
They divide my garments among them
and cast lots for my clothing.
But you, O LORD, be not far off;
O my Strength, come quickly to help me.
(Psalms 22:16-19 (NIV))

How can anyone read this and not recognize Jesus in these words? How can they read the words that David wrote hundreds of years before Jesus came to this earth and not see the amazing accuracy of how they were fulfilled?

God is amazing. God is awesome. He tells us what He is going to do before He does it, and yet, we still often fail to recognize that He is in the middle of everything. David wrote of His hands and feet being pierce. He wrote about the visible sign of distress and the bones being able to be counted. David told us about the guards dividing His clothes and casting lots. How many things do you want someone to accurately write about before you will believe them? Now, add the dimension of time and see what happens.

David was given the words to write that would transpire hundreds of years after he was no longer alive. He knew what would happen. He did not know when, but I am sure that he knew that God had given him something much more than he could understand. We have the luxury of being able to look back at what was written and then what actually transpired, yet, too many fail to believe. Could we have become so used to hearing the words that they have simply become like a child’s bedtime story to us? It sounds good, but it didn’t really happen.

In the next few days that lead to what we call Good Friday and then to Easter Sunday, think about the probability of these words coming true without having been set in motion by God. I am certain that you will realize the astronomical improbabilities of these events occurring just as they were described by David. Now, I have a task for each of us. Let the events engulf you. Let the grace enfold you. Let the crucifixion humble you, and let the resurrection empower you.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
(Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV))

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Why have you forsaken me?

March 30, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from the words of my groaning?
(Psalms 22:1 (NIV))

Have you ever felt like these could be your words? Have you ever found yourself uttering these words or words very similar? If you are human, you have probably felt like this at some point in your life.

Let’s face the truth. We have all had circumstances where our faith has been tested to the point that we begin to wonder if God has given up on us. I want you to stop and think about the words from Psalm 22:1. This is not the only place that they show up. We hear them again when Jesus is on the cross. Jesus speaks these very words during his crucifixion.

About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”–which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
(Matthew 27:46 (NIV))

With the celebration of the resurrection coming up next Sunday, we must not forget the crucifixion. Jesus suffered like we suffer, and then more. The Psalmist penned the words that we all feel at times. Jesus spoke these words during His crucifixion. Whether he said them as a message to those who witnessed the event or whether they were uttered to give meaning and point us to the words of the Psalmist, we must not forget that He did speak them. He spoke them to give us hope. He spoke them to let us know that God has a plan. He spoke them to show us that plan was in place hundreds of years before He actually came to this earth. He spoke them to give us insight into the fact that even when things appear to be dark and foreboding, God has not forsaken us. We simply have to be still and wait upon the Lord. We must not forget that Jesus had to go through the darkness before He faced the resurrection. Why should we be any different? God uses adversity to strengthen us and to use us for things far greater than we could imagine. We just have to have faith and stay focused.

Do you feel that God has forsaken you? Pray. Stay faithful and stay focused. I am certain that God has something amazing in store for you on the other side of your situation.

Celebrate the resurrection!

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Just how long does grass last?

March 29, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.
(Psalms 103:15-16 (NIV))

Human endeavors sometimes can make you laugh, especially when the endeavors are all geared towards what an individual can attain. Some people simply do not grasp the concept that they are only here for a short time and then they will be gone. All of their selfish striving will mean nothing one hundred years from now. It may even be sooner than that.

What do we do with the number of days that we have been given?

We cannot take any of the worldly possessions with us when we die. These possessions often rust and deteriorate even before we die. There is only one thing that is ours that we will be able to take with us when we die. Our soul is that one thing. Where we take it is up to us. If we recognize our mortality and accept the grace and mercy offered to us through the atoning blood of Jesus, then our soul will be taken to spend eternity with God. If we do not accept Jesus, then our soul will be cast into the lake of fire.

You cannot put a price tag on a soul, yet, a single soul is worth far more than all of the treasures that this world has to offer. What is the worth of all of the souls that have ever lived? What would be the price for all of these souls? I cannot begin to fathom the cost, yet, Jesus willingly paid for us all.

Our days may be like grass, but our memory will be eternal through Jesus!

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Would he tell us any different?

March 26, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

Can a man scoop fire into his lap
without his clothes being burned?
Can a man walk on hot coals
without his feet being scorched?
(Proverbs 6:27-28 (NIV))

Can a man associate with sin without falling into its trap?

Far too many think that they can do whatever they want without any repercussions. They think that they can stand on the edge without falling over. They think that they can live life in the fast lane without having an accident.

God told us very plainly that we are not capable of avoiding the repercussions of our actions even if we have no desire to fall into sin. Literally, we are not capable of holding flames without getting burned. We cannot live our lives as if God will protect us from the very things that we do. Professing a faith in Jesus and in God is not an open pass to do all of the things that we know we shouldn’t. Too many people believe that they can do whatever they want as long as they ask forgiveness. Is this truly a faith that follows what God desires?

But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
(John 8:1-11 (NIV))

Jesus did not tell the woman to not get caught or to be careful. He told her to “Go now and leave your life of sin.” Would he tell us any different?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Go and do likewise!

March 25, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

Jesus replied: ” `Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: `Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
(Matthew 22:37-40 (NIV))

First look up and then look out.

We are to focus our love in that order. We are to love God first and foremost and then love each other as we would love ourselves. Jesus did not tell us to look in. He did not tell us to love ourselves. It is human nature to do that. In fact, we have a tendency to place ourselves first, even before God. The words that Jesus used to answer the question are very difficult to fulfill for this very reason. We have a tendency to do exactly opposite of what God desires.

Isn’t that ironic?

We are to do exactly opposite of what comes natural. Perhaps this is due to the sinful nature that we inherited as a result of the fall of Adam and Eve. What we know we should do, we do not do. What we know we should not do, we have a tendency to do. Paul even faced this very dilemma.

So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God–through Jesus Christ our Lord!
(Romans 7:21 – 25 (NIV))

We are to establish our priorities in love. We are to turn our back on the way that the world says we should love. We must love God first and we must love our neighbor as ourself. Just who is our neighbor?

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. `Look after him,’ he said, `and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
(Luke 10:29-37 (NIV))

Go and do likewise!

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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If the rocks can sing of God’s greatness, why can’t you?

March 24, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.
(Psalms 19:1-2 (NIV))

What better way to prove that God exists then to let His own creation sing the praises of His name!

I do not understand how someone can look at all that is in this world and the fine balance that exists and still claim that there is no such thing as God. What is even more intriguing is how these people who claim that everything can be explained scientifically are uninformed about the very scientists who used to claim this line of thought. The same scientists who used to say that everything could be explained scientifically are now stating that they are convinced that the earth and everything else was designed.

At first reading of this statement, it doesn’t sound that significant, but consider the fact that if they are saying that everything was designed, then they are saying that there was a designer! What brought about this change in thinking? From what I can gather, the very technology that they used to say would prove that the earth arose from a big bang and that life evolved has proven that the basic building blocks are so intricate that there is no other explanantion except that they were designed.

Isn’t it amazing how, even when people try to disprove that God exists, His very creation sings of His handiwork. The very rocks tell of His awesome power. Leave it to sinful man to try and disprove what creation itself rings forth. Perhaps this is the influence of the enemy creeping into the lives of these people, for he does not want God to be glorified. He wants to be glorified. If he can not be glorified, then he will do all within his abilities to keep God from being glorified. What better way to accomplish this than to attempt to convince “educated” minds that everything we see just happened and was not designed and created.

When was the last time that you simply sat under the night sky and looked up at the stars? Were you not amazed at the sheer beauty and the majesty of what you saw? Now consider that the same God who created this beauty and majesty loves you so much that He sent His Son, Jesus, to walk this earth as one of us. He taught us what God is like. He taught us what we should be like. He taught us that God is indeed the Creator and that He can make the rocks to sing His praises!

If the rocks can sing of God’s greatness, why can’t you?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you able to be re-molded?

March 23, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.
(Jeremiah 18:1-4 (NIV))

Is your life going the way that you want it to go? Have you made a complete mess of things trying to live your life on your terms? If you are like a lot of people in our society, you probably believe that you have to do it your way in order to succeed. As a result, many people make such a complete mess of their lives that they feel nothing can help them to salvage and restore what they have left.

Repent!

When we have tried to do things on our own, we have missed the mark. There is an old archery term that means to miss the mark. That word is “sin.” We have sinned. We have missed the mark that is the life that God intended for us. We are out of sync with the potter’s wheel. We no longer turn effortlessly. We are drastically out of balance. When this happens, God, who is the ultimate potter, will take the clay that is our life and re-center it and reshape it to make us into the vessel that will glorify Him in our remaining days.

All that we have to do is allow Him to work within our lives. God will take that useless lump and bring it back into balance and then create something beautiful out of your life.

the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
(Genesis 2:7 (NIV))

God created us from dust. We literally are clay in His hands. Each of us must allow God to reshape us when we get out of balance. Each of us must allow God to redefine our purpose in life when we have lost sight of that purpose for which He created us.

Allow God to be the potter.

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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