What is your answer to His question?

August 30, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say I am?”
(Luke 9:18 (NIV))

It all boils down to this simple question.

Jesus asked it when He walked the earth. He has asked it to millions of people since His crucifixion and resurrection. He is asking it to each of us today.

“Who do the crowds say that I am?”

Let’s get a little more personal and ask it as if Jesus were asking you.

“Who do you say that I am?”

That single question has caused so much division throughout history. You either believe that Jesus was a lunatic, a liar, a good man, or who He claimed to be. Your answer to this single question will determine not only how you spend the rest of your life, but it will also determine how you spend eternity.

If Jesus was a lunatic or a liar, He went to the cross out of a deranged desire to die and you are lost in your sins and have no hope.

If Jesus were simply a good man, then, once again, we have no hope, for a good man cannot atone for the sins of many. All throughout history, many “good” men have sacrificed themselves for others, yet the ones they made the sacrifice for have still perished.

If Jesus is who He claimed to be, then He knew exactly what He was doing and how it would end. His every action was a part of God’s plan of salvation and grace. If Jesus is who He claimed to be, then we have a hope that cannot be destroyed.

Jesus asked an important question two thousand years ago. He is still asking it today..

What is your answer to His question?

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are we listening?

August 29, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.
(Revelation 2:7 (NIV))

Are we listening?

Do we, as the Body of Christ, truly listen to the Spirit? Are we aware of what is going on in the world around us and how it relates to God’s timeline? Do we see things that make our spirits groan because they go against everything that we know to be true according to the Word of God?

Or do we simply ignore the world and the Holy Spirit? Do we live in our own little bubble oblivious to everything else?

Are you more worried about the score of the football game or are you worried about those who are still in need of God’s grace and mercy?

Do you watch the news and think to yourself that these sheeple had it coming to them or do you see lost souls in need of a savior?

Do you feel an inner tugging and an inner cry for God to restore His order?

Do you see the world and pray for the lost?

Do you see humanity and cry out to God to touch the hearts of people?

Contrary to what many believe, the church is not a social justice organization. Don’t misunderstand what I am saying. The church, the body of true believers, is to reach out to the sinners. We are to be the light on the hill that shines the way to Jesus. The church has one mission – to share the grace and mercy that God has given us through Jesus. If any of our undertakings as the Body of Christ do not have this as priority one, then the priority is wrong. We can minister to the homeless. We can minister to the widows and orphans. We can minister to the homosexuals as we are called to do, but the minute our ministry loses Jesus as the focus, it is not a ministry of salvation. It is a ministry of social justice.

Do you hear the Holy Spirit? Do you follow the Holy Spirit?

The Holy Spirit will never lead you to anyone else than Jesus. The Holy Spirit will never lead you to condemn people. The Holy Spirit will lead you only in the paths that follow God’s Word. The Holy Spirit is that still, small voice. He is not the loud anger the dwells within us at the sight of injustice.

The Holy Spirit is trying to reach the churches.

Are we listening?

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How do we grow away from God?

August 28, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV))

It is so difficult to not be anxious about the situations in the world today. People are losing their jobs. People are losing their homes. Prices are increasing. Natural disasters abound. Terrorism and wars are all the news. People no longer respect other people.

I find it difficult some days to remember that God is in control. It is human nature to want to be in control. When we are not in control, we grow anxious. We grow irritated. We grow away from God.

How do we grow away from God?

That is a simple matter of whom we place at the center of our lives and whom we place in control. When we grow anxious, we are saying to ourselves and to the world that we are the ones responsible for our happiness and our status. We ignore God and focus entirely on us. The more that we grow anxious, the further away that we get from God. It is a viscous cycle. The further we get from God, the more anxious we become and then the more we focus on us and our pitiful situations. I would venture to say that our problems as a society all stem from the single fact that as a society, we strive to do it on our own. We have removed God from far too many aspects of our lives. The more we remove God from our society, the more anxious we become about our own fate. We have become too focused on the wrong individual. Instead of focusing on God, we focus on ourselves. We no longer know peace. We no longer know God.

I do not pretend to know what tomorrow will bring. I do know that I can face anything that the world may throw at me as long as I keep God at the center of my life. I also know that I cannot face a single day without talking to my Lord and Savior. Sometimes it is only an internal groan from deep within my soul. Sometimes it is much more. No matter how the conversation goes, I find myself resting in God’s grace and reflecting on what He has done for us – for me. I find the anxiety melts away. I find peace overtaking me.

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

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is your thorn an excuse or is it your foundation of faith?

August 27, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
(2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (NIV))

Have you ever wondered what it was that Paul had to put up with, just what it was that Satan used to torment him?

I find it very interesting and intriguing that the man whom God chose to spread the Gospel to the gentiles was given an affliction that too many of us would have simply said was too overwhelming. We would have simply given up if we had to face the “thorn in my flesh” that Paul faced.

All too often I find myself making excuses instead of doing what I know I should do. It is so much easier to make excuses than it is to obey. What a shame! I know that I miss out on many blessings and opportunities simply because I find excuses. Don’t get me wrong. There are times when I don’t make excuses, but the times that I do make excuses weigh heavily upon me. I find myself thinking about Paul and ask myself a simple question. What would the world be like today if Paul had allowed his “thorn” to stop him?

By God’s grace, Paul listened to God and we, as Christians, can trace our faith back to Paul’s obedience. God gave Paul the strength to see things through in spite of his thorn. He did not remove the thorn. If a perfect person could spread the Gospel to the gentiles, why would they believe? He would simply be another man who could speak eloquently. God used Paul’s thorn to keep Paul focused on Him, to keep him dependent upon Him.

What is your thorn? Is it an excuse or is it your foundation of faith?

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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The other side of rest

August 26, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
(Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV))

I realize that this is the same passage from a week ago. Today, I am looking at it from the other side of a long awaited rest from the world.

It was wonderful to escape the day to day trials of the world. It was wonderful to rest and recharge. It was wonderful to look out and see the majesty of God’s creation and to simply take it all in. I am thankful to have been able to spend the last week with my wife as we celebrated our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. Both of us rested from the hectic pace that is our daily lives.

No cell phones. No Internet. Then reality hit.

We are back and the world is still in turmoil. The world is still hectic. The world is still facing things that can only be described as attacks from the enemy. Satan did not go away while we were gone. All of the worldly crises did not go away while we were gone. If anything, even more attacks seem to have reared their ugly head while we were gone.

Should I be worried? Should I, as a member of the Body of Christ, turn and seek safety?

We are called to be in the middle of the spiritual battle that is taking place. We are not called to retreat. There are times when we will need rest so that we will be able to continue our part, but we, as the Body of Christ, should never run from the enemy.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 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 6:10-13 (NIV))

We are told to rest in God’s presence. We are also told that we are to put on the full armor of God. We are only human. We cannot go all out in part of God’s calling. We need rest. We need quiet time to spend time with God and to recharge.

Too much rest and we become lazy. Too much battle without rest and we become burned out.

Even Jesus had to get away from the crowds and rest in God’s presence. What makes us think that we can do it differently?

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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We all need rest!

August 16, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
(Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV))

I want to start off by saying thank you to all that have supported this ministry.

With that said, we all need rest. We need time to get away from the world and slow down and enjoy what God has created. We all need to spend time refreshing and strengthening our relationships whether these relationships are between a married couple or between yourself and Jesus. We need to take the time to recharge our batteries so that we can face the things that this world throws at us. Lately, I have seen far more than I could ever imagine being thrown at the Body of Christ. I feel a heaviness in my spirit. I need rest.

I have been blessed with a lovely lady as my wife for twenty-five years. I have been blessed with a family that loves the Lord. I have been blessed by God in so many ways. One blessing that I never imagined happening is my sharing of God’s Word through this devotional ministry. I may not have riches as the world thinks of riches, but I am rich in ways that the world can’t imagine.

There is a spiritual war that is unfolding. It is spilling over into the physical world. We all need to rest in Jesus so that we may be prepared for what is coming. Take the time to slow down and spend time with God. Listen for the Holy Spirit. Follow the words of Jesus. Spend time with God.

“Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
(Psalms 46:10 (NIV))

I love the first line of this passage. Many people use it and ignore the next two lines, but today, I feel that the last two lines of this passage need to be used and heard. We are to be still and listen to God. This gives us insight into His heart and His desires. Many people, and I probably have been guilty of this, use the first line of this passage to show what you need to do to get to know God without stressing the last two lines, which tell us why we need to know God.

The world is falling apart and many people believe that we are in the End Times. We are to know God so that we may tell a fallen, sinful world about salvation and grace. We are to exalt God and tell of His plan for redeeming each of us. God is to be exalted so that others may see Him and what He offers to those who will simply ask.

Sometimes we need to reset our priorities. Sometimes we need to spend time in our relationships. Sometimes we need to listen more than we talk. Sometimes we need to rest so that we may be better prepared to continue.

See you in a week.

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Don’t delay. Tomorrow may be too late!

August 15, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
(Matthew 24:36 (NIV))

What do you have planned for today? How about next week? What about your retirement? You probably have a basic idea of what you will be doing, or at least, what you want to be doing with the rest of your life. But, have you stopped to consider that your plans may be changed in the twinkling of an eye?

Jesus may return before all of your plans come to fruition. How would that leave you? Would you accept Jesus with open arms, or should I say, would Jesus accept you with open arms? Would your life be changed instantly to the point that all of your plans no longer mattered or would you be angry at the chaos that is caused by the events?

The return of Jesus will see many things happen, for most of which there will be two reactions. You can greet His return with joy or you can hide from Him because you have hidden from Him all of your life. His return will be welcomed by some and unexpected by some. Just as He came into the world the first time as a baby, His second coming will be unexpected by many. It will also be welcomed by those who seek Him, just as His first coming was welcomed by the wise men. I am not proclaiming a rapture, but I am proclaiming salvation. No one knows when He will return. All that you can know is that He will return for you.

Have you put off accepting Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior? Don’t delay. Tomorrow may be too late!

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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