Is it time for a transition?

April 29, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
(Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NIV))

Nothing in this fallen world lasts forever.

Everything has its season. Everything has a period of time in which it is appropriate. What is appropriate for one moment will not always be good for another period of time.

Life is full of stages. These stages are extended moments in time when your life seems to settle in to a nice, familiar pattern. Then things start to change. We see the transitions as a time in which uncertainty scares us to death. We don’t realize that the transitions are only temporary and that we will soon begin a new stage in our lives in which we will develop new familiar patterns.

At each stage, we experience life and we learn what God has to teach us in order to prepare us for the next stage. He is leading us down a path that will bring maturity and wisdom if we will only recognize where He leads.

My son is at just such a stage in his life. He is weeks away from graduating from high school. I suppose that he is not the only high school senior who feels this way, but I believe that he is not ready to make that transition. To be honest with you, I have been in a similar situation before. I was facing a transition that I was not sure I wanted to make and it scared me.

We have all had those types of transitions in our lives!

We are not ready to leave a season in our lives out of fear, out of familiarity.

How can we grow? How can we mature if we are fearful of where we are being led?

God did not create us to be stagnant and complacent in our lives, yet, all too often, we are just that. We see where God is leading, and we are afraid of the change. We are too comfortable with the time that we are in to see the glory and grace in the time where He is leading.

God gave us life.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
(John 10:10 (NIV))

Think about that for a moment.

Would life be full if we spent every second of every day in the same season? Would you appreciate grace if you have never known sin? Would you appreciate content if you never knew need? Would you appreciate love if you never experienced loneliness? Would you appreciate laughter if you never knew tears?

God did not promise us a perfect life if we accepted His Son, Jesus, as our Lord and Savior, He did promise to be with us through everything, through every season.

Human nature is a funny thing, for it can override the faith that we profess if we let it.

If God is with us, why do we fear the transitions?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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The value of perseverance

April 28, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
(James 1:2-4 (NIV))

You may realize that James 1:2 -3 was recently used. I cannot stress enough the importance of perseverance and joy in the midst of trials. With the uncertainty in the world, in our nation, and in our communities, we must be an example to all that we see. Even our personal lives must be approached with the joy and perseverance that is written of in James.

You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.
(Matthew 5:14 (NIV))

If we are the light of the world, the world will look to us to see how we react. We must always point to the true light, Jesus Christ. Satan attacks both believer and nonbeliever. God uses there attacks to mature us and to show the world how we should face things.

God would not allow us to have trials if they did not produce fruits of the Spirit. If we did not have trials, we would never mature in our faith and our walk with God. As a small child, you faced trials: dressing yourself, feeding yourself, tying your shoes. At the time, it seemed almost impossible to make it through the trial. But, now, looking back, you realize the benefits gained from those trials – maturity and growth. The trials that we face that test our faith are the same. God knows that we will mature as a result of these trials. Do not regret the trials. Welcome them for what they are – a way to get closer to God and to grow into the image of Jesus Christ. Also remember that the world is looking at you during your trials. The world is looking to see if what you profess is true.

Do you face your trials with joy? Does the world see that joy even when all around you is crying out for relief? Does the world see your joy as true?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Look to the LORD

April 27, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Look to the LORD and his strength;
seek his face always.
(Psalms 105:4 (NIV))

Who do you ask for advise when you need to make a major decision?

I want you to be honest with yourself.

Who is the first person that comes to mind when you need help deciding to switch jobs?

Who is the first person that comes to mind when you need help deciding to make a major purchase such as a house or a car?

Who is the first person that comes to mind when you are facing hardship?

I could go on with these types of questions, but I sincerely hope that you understand my train of thought. I hope that you realize that Psalms 105:4 is telling us to seek God for these situations and any and all others that may arise.

“My problems are way too small for such a big God!”

Is that what you find yourself thinking when you don’t seek God for all things?

And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
(Matthew 10:30 (NIV))

If God knows the number of hairs on your head, then He is not too big to be approached with your problems. Perhaps I should say it differently. Because He is so great and because He is so omniscient and knows all, He already knows of your needs and concerns. He is simply waiting for you to seek Him for guidance. He is waiting for you to turn to Him and seek a relationship creation to Creator, child to Father.

A loving father will willingly provide guidance to his children. There comes a time in every life where that guidance is no longer offered. This does not mean that the guidance is not there. It simply means that the child has developed to the point where maturity and free will come into play. It is the responsibility of the child to seek the advise if it is desired. The father longs to be asked. The father longs for the relationship to grow beyond that of a parent to a child. He longs for the relationship to blossom into one of love, trust and mutual understanding.

God is the same way.

He could offer us advise in all things, but would we listen? We must learn to seek Him as a Creator, as a Father, as a Counselor, and as a confidant. We must be willing to lay ourselves at His feet and listen to His heart for our lives.

Lord, help me to seek your face always. Help me to stop reacting out of my frail humanity and rely fully on your unending divinity. I pray that in seeking you face in all things that I may be able to show others the glory and mercy that is there.

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Your best or your second best?

April 26, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“Cursed is the cheat who has an acceptable male in his flock and vows to give it, but then sacrifices a blemished animal to the Lord. For I am a great king,” says the LORD Almighty, “and my name is to be feared among the nations.
(Malachi 1:14 (NIV))

Do you give your second best to God? Do you expect God to give you His best?

“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead?
(Luke 11:11 (NIV))

It is true that all of our righteousness is as filthy rags, but we often tend to make them even more filthy because we do not offer our very best to God. We offer Him the blemishes of our life and expect Him to take them as our very best. We, in turn, eagerly await God to grant us our every desire for His blessings to be poured out upon us. If we expect God to bestow His best upon us, we should desire to give God our very best in gratitude. Lets face it, our best is still so far inferior to the least that God could give us. If we simply desire to give God our best, then we will not only be doing what we should, but, we will probably be blessed as a result. Perhaps we should even consider this act as an act of generosity, for out of the desires of our hearts we give.

A generous man will prosper;
he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.
(Proverbs 11:25 (NIV))

Perhaps we should even consider this act an act of faithful obedience. God is testing each of us to see what we are willing to give to Him so He will know what He can give to us. I would even venture to say that the story of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30 applies.

Do you desire to give God your best or your second best?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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He is alive

April 25, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.

He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”

They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?”

“What things?” he asked.

“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.”

He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.

When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.

While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”
(Luke 24:13-39 (NIV))

He’s Alive!!!

He’s alive and we are forgiven.

He’s Alive!!!

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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The bread and the cup

April 22, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.”

Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all drank from it.

“This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them. “I tell you the truth, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it anew in the kingdom of God.”
(Mark 14:22-25 (NIV))

Have you really thought about what Jesus was doing in these passages? It is easy to go through the motions without realizing exactly what the whole thing means.

The symbolism is astonishing. The implications are crucial to our beliefs. The continuing practice is an important part of our ability to remember just what was done in our behalf. We must also remember that Jesus did this at the Passover Sader, which was and still is the Jewish holiday in which they remember the gift of salvation and freedom from their Egyptian captors. On the anniversary of the very night that God delivered Israel from a physical bondage, God, through His Son, Jesus Christ, was delivering the world from spiritual bondage.

In Egypt, God accomplished this through the Angel of Death striking the first-born of Egypt. For the salvation of the world, God again struck down the first-born! He allowed His only begotten Son to die in our place!

The Passover meal is a very ritualized meal so that the Jewish people do not forget what God did for them. It is a time of celebration for those who partake of it. Jesus instituted a new “Passover” tradition in which all who believe that He is the Son of God and their Lord and Savior can partake. This meal is different from the original Jewish Passover meal in that it can be taken anytime and anywhere that there are believers.

The next time that you have the opportunity to sit at the Lord’s table, remember the pain, suffering, grace and salvation that this meal represents.

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you truly free?

April 21, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin– because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.
(Romans 6:4-7 (NIV))

What a glorious statement! We, as believers, are free from sin!

This does not mean that we do not sin. We are still human. What this means is that we are free from the punishment of sin. We have accepted Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior. He has paid the price for our sin. It has been washed away from us by His crucifixion. Through His resurrection, we have been granted the right to be born again, to be looked upon by God as righteous and spotless in His sight.

We will still sin.

We are in the world.

The world is controlled by Satan, the father of all lies and sin.

But, we will not be condemned to suffer the consequences of sin, for we have a risen Savior in Jesus Christ!

I think that I need to clarify something at this point for those who may have missed it earlier. I am not saying that because we profess a faith in Jesus as our Lord and Savior that we can sin if we want to. Sin is something that we must honestly desire to remove from our lives, yet, because we are human, we will fail. In our effort to remove sin, we will sin. We will miss the mark.

If we long to sin, then we have a wrong impression of what Jesus came into this world to accomplish. He did not come so that we could sin as much as we want and then ask for forgiveness. He came into this world to give us a hope that we can earnestly seek after a righteous life without the consequences of our failures.

It is a matter of attitude.

Do you seek righteousness and life or do you seek sin?

You will earn what you seek.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 6:23 (NIV))

Are you truly free from sin and death?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Profit or loss

April 20, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ–the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
(Philippians 3:7-11 (NIV))

Have you ever had a complete about face with respect to something? Was there something that you thought was so important that you knew beyond any doubt that it would always be front and center in your life?

Paul had just these same thoughts.

He valued position. He valued societal standards. He valued what he thought was God’s plan for his life and the importance of the temple. He valued his Judaism.

It only took a moment in time and Paul’s values changed!

Think about that for a moment.

How would you handle striving for something that you thought would make your life complete, only to have an epiphany that made you realize it was all wrong? In Paul’s case, he spent over thirty years devoting himself to being the perfect Jewish man. In his mind, he had become what he felt God wanted him to be only to find out that what he had become was not anywhere near where God was leading him.

Would you react as Paul reacted?

Would you have the strength to admit that you had a change of direction? Would you willingly admit that you had been wrong? Would ego and pride keep you from fully changing course and proceeding with the same energy in a different direction?

Would you simply give up and focus on the wasted time?

Human nature is a funny thing. How many of us would react as Paul reacted? How many of us would accept by faith and then simply live out the rest of our days in the shadows? Still, how many would simply refuse to change course because we have spent too much time going in one direction to stop going in that direction?

I don’t profess to know exactly what Paul felt, but I know that the words he wrote have left an impression on my life.

I consider everything a loss if it does not lead me closer to Jesus!

What do you consider loss?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Salvation or foolishness?

April 19, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
(Galatians 2:19-20 (NIV))

In just a few days, we, as the Body of Christ, will celebrate the anniversary of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave. We need to truly reflect upon the meaning of what happened some two thousand years ago, for it had never happened before that time and it has never happened since. A man was brutally killed and three days later, He was alive again. Not only was He alive, He told us that if we follow Him, we too can have life after death!

Has any other person ever defeated death? Has any other person voluntarily faced the cruelty and torture that Jesus faced when He could have prevented it or even escaped it?

Jesus is unique in all of the history of the world!

He was with God in the beginning. He died on the cross. He arose again on the third day. He lives in the hearts of those who earnestly call upon Him. He sits at the right hand of God, the Father. He is our salvation!

This Easter morning when we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, we also need to celebrate our death to sin and our resurrection into grace and mercy paid for by the blood of Jesus.

Easter is perhaps the most important day to our faith. If we accept Jesus and the grace and mercy that He has freely offered to us, then it is a day of glorious salvation and freedom. If we have not accepted Jesus, then it is a day of foolishness.

How will your Easter Sunday be?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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The place of the skull

April 18, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha).
(John 19:17 (NIV))

I just love the way that God works in symbolism!

As we approach Easter and the resurrection, we must remember that in order for Jesus to be resurrected, He first had to die. He had to go willingly to the place of the Skull to die to himself so that God’s plan could be fulfilled.

Isn’t it interesting how we, before we can embrace the resurrection, must also go to our own place of the skull. We must be willing to die to our reasoning and intellect and follow solely on faith. We must accept something that makes absolutely no worldly sense. We must die to our inability to believe in something without seeing it. We must die to our own place of the skull.

It is amazing how God will work in us and through us once we have willingly laid ourselves at the foot of the cross once we surrender our own place of the skull.

We are now ready to fully embrace the resurrection and the grace and mercy that it brings. This knowledge has not only transformed our minds, it is now ready to transform our lives. It can now travel the longest distance known to humanity – the eighteen inches from our mind to our heart – and truly have an impact on us.

Have you died to your place of the skull?

Have you fully embraced the resurrection?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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