Affliction and anquish or rejoicing

November 9, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

I will be glad and rejoice in your love,
for you saw my affliction
and knew the anguish of my soul.
(Psalms 31:7 (NIV))

There is not a person alive who is not anguished about the affliction that is theirs, for there is not a person alive who does not suffer anguish and affliction within their life. It is said that there are certain things that are universal to humanity. Love, family, desire for a better life, and many more, yet the one that seems to cause the most grief is the inward affliction over our own fate, mortality and sinful nature. This is evident in every religion within the world. This is the basis for every religion in the world.

With all of the religions in this world, what makes believers in Jesus Christ different in this respect?

No other religion is based on the premise that God saw our affliction and sent His own Son to save us.

Every other religion is based on humanity’s attempt to reach God. Christianity is based on God’s attempt to reach man.

These two simple, yet profound, statements provide the basis for our faith, the reason for our rejoicing, for we truly do have a God who loves us, a Savior willing to die for us, and a Holy Spirit who came to give us peace even in the midst of trials and tribulations. No other religion is based on the simple truth of God reaching out to His creation. God created us. We fell from grace. God provided a way for us to redeem ourselves and rest once again within His grace.

Do you rejoice in the knowledge that God saw you and made a decision to reach out to save you, or are you still lost in your affliction and anguish?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do your enemies see Jesus in you?

November 8, 2010

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
forever.
(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.

How do you react to your enemies? Do they see Jesus in you and in your actions?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are your words unclean?

November 5, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
(Ephesians 4:29 (NIV))

What comes out of your mouth?

Perhaps, a different translation says it clearer.

Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.
(Ephesians 4:29 (NLT))

We are clearly told that we are to not speak using foul or abusive language. If we can control the tongue, then we are one step closer to controlling the heart. When we control the heart, we are able to follow the teachings of Jesus. We are able to do everything more closely to what Paul told us in Colossians.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men
(Colossians 3:23 (NIV))

If we speak in foul and abusive language, do we truly have Jesus as our Lord and Savior? Do we have the Holy Spirit within us and guiding us? Is this the type of language that God desires for us to use? The foul and abusive words only reflect what is in our hearts.

But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man `unclean.’
(Matthew 15:18 (NIV))

Think about the things that you say. Do they uplift or do they come out as unwholesome talk?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you too proud?

November 4, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, `Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

“When he came to his senses, he said, `How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ So he got up and went to his father.
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

“The son said to him, `Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

“But the father said to his servants, `Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
(Luke 15:11-24 (NIV))

Everybody is familiar with the story of the prodigal son. I heard someone comment on it that shed new light on God’s mercy and grace. God does not wait until we ask for forgiveness to forgive us. We are forgiven even before we ask for it. We must ask in order to receive it. Asking for forgiveness shows a change of heart on our part and prepares us to accept the grace that God has already granted us. Without this change of heart, we cannot accept God’s grace. We do not feel that we need it. It is a matter of pride. Asking for grace shows that we have humbled ourselves and many people are too proud to ask for anything.

Grace and mercy are free. We pay the price ourselves by swallowing our pride when we ask for them.

Are you too proud to accept God’s gifts?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you laboring in vain?

November 3, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Unless the LORD builds the house,
its builders labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
the watchmen stand guard in vain.
In vain you rise early
and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat–
for he grants sleep to those he loves.
(Psalms 127:1-2 (NIV))

What is it that you labor over? Is it your job? Is it your fortune? Is it your family? We all have certain things that we long to build up in the way that we think is correct. Is it right in God’s eyes to labor over these things in the ways that we do? In other words, have you taken on something that God does not desire for you? Do you labor in vain?

It is human nature to want to build. Everyone wants to build a legacy, something that they will be remembered for. Unfortunately, it is all too fine of a line to cross before we come to the point where we are doing it out of pride and ego instead of out of a desire to serve. All too often we want to say “Look at what I have done.” It is too easy to have our motives shift to selfish reasons. Perhaps, we are also guilty of never having godly reasons to begin with.

What are you motives for building? Do you have a peace about you or do you have an uneasy feeling that you have to ignore? If you struggle with what you build, have you asked God for guidance? Have you asked God for confirmation? God will direct you. He will guide you in what He desires for you to build. It is far better to build what God desires and to complete the task than to build against His desires and face an emptiness in your life because of unfinished work.

What are you trying to build with your life? Are you succeeding? What is God calling you to build? Are they the same thing? What is God’s desired legacy for you? Turn to God and ask for His heart. Ask for His guidance. Ask to know what He desires for you.

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

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

November 2, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
(Deuteronomy 6:6-9 (NIV))

I know that it has not been too long ago since this concept was used in this daily devotional. But that is the good thing about God’s Word – it does not get old; it does not become stale; it is always new and fresh!

How true this scripture is! Most of us remember when it was still considered moral and correct to pray in school and to post the 10 Commandments. How far we have sunk since the “highest court in the land” said that these things must be removed. We have a higher authority to answer to. If we cannot pray in schools, then events like those that happened in Littleton, CO will continue to happen, and prayer WILL be heard in schools as a result. The “experts” are now saying that in order to make our schools safer, we must increase security and possibly teach our children how to use guns to defend themselves. What they are proposing is very similar to pouring gasoline onto a fire. It does not help the situation, it makes it more explosive.

I had heard a well known Christian expert (I do not remember who) once say that he was invited to be a part of a board to determine what the problems are with our public schools. He was immediately ridiculed by other board members for being “right wing conservative” Christian. They went on to say that removing the 10 Commandments was the best thing that could have happened in the schools. It allowed for more “modern” thinking. Yet, at the same time, they stated that theft and other crimes were up drastically. This Christian expert proceeded to make a suggestion, “Maybe we should put up a sign in each classroom telling students not to steal.” At first everyone liked the idea until they realized that it was one of the 10 Commandments.

How far have we as a society come when truth is ignored just because people do not wish to face the fact that God is in control. If we do not follow His guidelines for life, then life will become just what we see in our society today. We must pray that our nation and our world turns from this madness.

if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
(2 Chronicles 7:14(NIV))

Tuesday, November 2 is election day. Pray that God’s Will be done. Pray for healing. Pray for God’s guidance. Pray that God’s people will humble themselves, pray and seek God’s face in the decisions that they make.

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

November 1, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.
(Revelation 3:5 (NKJV))

Do you ever feel like you will never overcome the weight of this world?

What is it that weighs you down? Is it debt? Addiction? Lust? Anxiety? Loneliness? The weight that the world burdens us with can not only take its toll on us emotionally, but it can drain us physically and spiritually as well. When you are drained physically, you start to drag and soon you find yourself in the dirt trying to pull yourself up. All too soon, you become comfortable in the dirt and eventually you don’t even realize that you are there. The next thing that the world throws at you drags you down even further. Soon you are filthy beyond recognition.

The weight of spiritual matters is just the same. When was the last time that you felt worthy? When was the last time that you did something and hoped that nobody would ever know?

God knows!

The good news is that He also knows that we cannot overcome the weight of the sin of this world on our own. He knew that we would need a Savior to bear the weight of our sins for us. Just what does that mean? It means that we can overcome, not through our own ability, but through the ability of Him who has overcome sin. All we have to do to overcome is to accept Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior and then keep our eyes focused on Jesus.

What color will your garments be?

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