What do you look for and what do you seek?

October 31, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Why does this generation seek a sign? Truly, I say to you, no sign shall be given to this generation.
(Mark 8:13 (RSV))

Do you seek signs from God?

In the days of Jesus, people wanted miraculous signs. They wanted something so grand that they would have no doubt about the origination of the sign. To be honest with you, I would not mind seeing such a sign myself !

The words of Jesus ring in my ears when I think that a sign would be great. They remind me that Jesus came not to bring people into salvation because it was an obvious choice from the physical perspective, but because they had the faith to believe. It is easy to believe when you see miraculous signs. Where is the faith in this? Faith requires much more. It requires believing in what you cannot see.

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
(Hebrews 11:1 (NIV))

If Jesus had given that generation miraculous signs, how long would they have believed? It may have lasted a few days, or even months, but, just like the Israelites in the desert, they would have begun to grumble and their faith would have faltered.

God wants us to have faith in Him.

Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.
(Zechariah 4:6b (NIV))

God wants us to know Him on a personal level, not on a level of might and power. The generation that Jesus spoke to was looking for the might and power when He was offering them the Lamb and the Spirit. They missed the greatest gift of all time simply because they had preconceived ideas of what to look for.

What do you look for in Jesus? What do you seek from Jesus?

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How are you convicted?

October 28, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
(Hebrews 4:12 (NIV))

I may be a little slow, but I just realized why many people don’t want to read the Bible.

Conviction!

Far too many people do not want to take a serious look at their lives. They would rather feel comfortable in their sin and try to plead ignorance. God’s Word holds up a measuring stick and it is out of reach by human standards. Instead of facing our shortcomings, we tend to ignore them in hopes that what we don’t know won’t hurt us.

Unfortunately, that is not how anything in this world works.

If you do not know that electricity can kill, do you refrain from suffering the consequences of a run in with a high voltage line?

If you do not know that fire burns, are you able to walk through the flames without needing medical attention?

The same principle applies in the spiritual world as it does in the physical world. Ignorance will not keep the consequences from you. In fact, it is said that we all have a God-shaped hole in our heart that longs to b filled. We are born to have a relationship with God, yet, far too many of us try to ignore that. As a result of this God-shaped hole, it is human nature to know that something doesn’t feel quite right even if we tell ourselves that it is okay.

If you claim that you do not know that something is a sin, does it lessen it any? If you did not know that placing your favorite activity above your family was wrong, would your family understand when you spend all of the monthly food budget on your hobby?

The same is true with God and His Word. If we do mot spend any time in His Word, we will not know God’s calling upon us. We will not understand that our actions have consequences. We will not understand that the reason we have no love in our life is because we have not loved Him.

God’s Word is living and active. It is like that small mustard seed. Once you start, you begin to understand and then you want to understand more. Soon, it begins to change your life.

There are two types of attitude toward conviction in relation to God’s Word. One is fear and condemnation. The other is an embracing love and guidance of our Father. The conviction of fear leads people away, while the conviction of love draws people in. Through love, we desire to change.

How are you convicted?

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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And who is my neighbor?

October 27, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
He answered: ” `Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ ; and, `Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ”
“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
(Luke 10:25-29 (NIV))

“And who is my neighbor?”

How many times have you asked that very same question simply because you did not want to be put outside of your comfort zone to help someone who was in need? I hate to say this, but I am guilty of this more than I care to admit.

Let’s face the truth. It is human nature to be concerned only with ourselves or those who immediately impact our lives. We become so wrapped up in our own little worlds that we fail to recognize the simple fact that we are only a small part of God’s creation, and, more importantly, we are not the center of that creation.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
(John 3:16 (NIV))

If God loves each of us that much, then each of us, no matter how many miles may separate us, are neighbors. We must continually strive to remember this the next time that we feel outside of our comfort zone.

What if Jesus decided that He did not want to come to earth as a man because He was going to be outside of His comfort zone?

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Don’t stop running your race of faith.

October 26, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

If you have raced with men on foot
and they have worn you out,
how can you compete with horses?
If you stumble in safe country,
how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?
(Jeremiah 12:5 (NIV))

I hadn’t really given this passage much thought, but a friend sent me an email with this version in his signature.

Jeremiah 12:5: “If you cannot run with the foot soldiers, what will you do when the horsemen come?”

I am not sure which translation this is, but it started me thinking and researching other translations. On the surface, Jeremiah 12:5 just appears to be about having the stamina to run the race and to keep your faith. I believe that it is much deeper than this. The Message translates this passage as:

So, Jeremiah, if you’re worn out in this footrace with men,
what makes you think you can race against horses?
And if you can’t keep your wits during times of calm,
what’s going to happen when troubles break loose like the Jordan in flood?
(Jeremiah 12:5 (The Message))

The passage is about keeping your stamina so that you can run the race, but it also warns us about the challenges getting harder. If we falter when things are not so difficult, how can we expect to keep our faith when the going gets tough?

We, as the Body of Christ, do not need, nor can we afford, to be weak in our faith. If we falter when dealing with people in our everyday lives, how can we expect to step it up when we are confronted with troubles that we cannot imagine.

I like the way that The Message puts this in a better perspective.

And if you can’t keep your wits during times of calm,
what’s going to happen when troubles break loose like the Jordan in flood?
(Jeremiah 12:5b (The Message))

How many people do you know who face life as one big drama after another? Hopefully, as the Body of Christ, we do not fall into this, but we never know exactly how we will react when faced with troubles. One thing is certain, though, and that is that we have a hope. This hope is not the worldly hope, but the Biblical hope that means a certainty. We have a faith.

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
(Hebrews 11:1 (NIV))

We may never face the race against the horses, or the troubles that come like a flood, but we must be prepared in our faith to stand firm in what may come. We have a glorious savior and redeemer who will see us through all that we may face.

Don’t stop running your race of faith.

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What do you know?

October 25, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an evil spirit came from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him any more, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.
When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won’t torture me!” For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you evil spirit!
(Mark 5:1-8 (NIV))

Don’t you find this story just a little ironic?

Think about that for a moment. Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. He came to overcome the powers of sin and death. He came to defeat Satan and his demons. He came into this world to wage a battle for the very soul of each and every one of us, yet those whom He came to save did not recognize Him. Yet, those whom He came to wage war against knew Him and were afraid of Him.

Why do we, as created humanity, fail to recognize the divine when it is in front of us, yet we often embrace the sin before it even begins to get close to us? I find it amazing, yet sad, that the demons fear Jesus and far too many people could simply care less who He is. Sadder still, is that many people mock Him.

With this in mind, it is said that you cannot defeat your enemy unless you know your enemy. Do we, as the Body of Christ, know the enemy as well as the enemy knows Jesus? Do we proclaim the power that is ours through the atoning blood? Do we stand firm in the faith that Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords? Many battles throughout history have had decisive outcomes based on lies and deception – spies who infiltrated the ranks and helped to sabotage the other side. This is also true in the spiritual war that is being waged. We must know the enemy so that we can avoid the lies and the deception. We must know Jesus and God’s Word.

Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
(Ephesians 6:11 (NIV))

The enemy is counting on us not being able to recognize the deception.

We must fully clothe ourselves in the Light of Jesus so that we may know His grace and mercy and also so that we may know the enemy.

What do you know?

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Does God stop loving?

October 24, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.
(Luke 6:27-31 (NIV))

At what point do you think that God allows us to stop loving our enemies?

And, yes, this could very easily be a trick question.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
(John 3:16 (NIV))

With that in mind, every single person is a loved child of God.

Does God stop loving? Does Jesus stop loving?

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
(1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV))

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

Love is a powerful force. It can turn an enemy into a brother. It can turn a foe into a friend. It can restore relationships that seem to be lost. It can bring healing and wholeness.

Do you remember the words that Jesus spoke on the cross?

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
(Luke 23:34 (NIV))

If Jesus can pronounce forgiveness and love after suffering what He suffered on the cross, how can we do any less?

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Stand firm in your faith

October 21, 2011

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.
(Galatians 6:7-8 (NIV))

Deception seems to run rampant lately.

Are you able to discern what is the truth and what is a lie?

Think about that in context of the words from Galatians. God cannot be mocked! When all else fails, use this simple statement to guide you. All else will fall into place if this is your guiding thought.

If someone sows to please their sinful nature, this mocks God. Anger, jealousy, vengeance, hatred, aggression, and a mean spirit all mock God. Judging by other passages, there are many other things that mock God. Sexual immorality, lying, stealing, murder and anything that goes against His Word are all things that please the sinful nature.

I am sure that you have heard the old saying, “What goes around, comes around.” Look at the recent events in the world. Dictators who ruled with an iron hand have been brought down in just the same way that they ruled. There is also another saying that I firmly believe in, and that is “If you do not study history, you are bound to repeat it.” We, as a nation and a world, are reaping what has been sown. History books have been rewritten. We have found ourselves in a bad predicament.

It is said that you can put a frog in a pot of water and then slowly bring the water to a boil. The change is so gradual that the frog does not notice it until it is too late. Have we seen our society and institutions change in the same way that the frog found the water changing? We no longer hold true to the basic moral principles that helped to build this nation. Ironically, it is these very principles that have been under attack.

We need to sow to please the Spirit. We need to turn to God and pray, both as individuals and as a nation. We have become so divided that there is a widening gap between those who profess a faith in Jesus and those who do not.

There is a feeling within me that things will get worse before they get better. I do not wish to sound like I am spreading doomsday fear, but rather I hope that I am able to call upon the Body of Christ to stand firm in your faith. Do not waiver in the face of sinful nature, whether that sinful nature is internal or external. The world can and will send much our way, and if we do not stand firm in who we are and in whose we are, then the world will tell us.

If the world tells you who you are, I know that you will not like what it tells you.

Stand firm in your faith and tell the world that you belong to Jesus.

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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