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 you complain or argue?

October 29, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Do everything without complaining or arguing
(Philippians 2:14 (NIV))

We are never satisfied!

Think about that statement. There is an extreme amount of truth in those words. We are constantly seeking something that we don’t have. We want more, and when we don’t get it, we complain or we argue. Take a serious look inward and think about what makes you complain or argue. If you are like me, then it is probably the insecurity and the emptiness that we all feel. There is a void that we long to fill. When we don’t get it filled, we complain and argue. If we look for perfect love through our relationships, then we will be disappointed. If we look for fulfillment through our jobs, then we will be disappointed. If we look for happiness in our material possessions, then we will be disappointed. Everything of this world will leave us short of what God intended. He has so much more planned for us.

To claim what He has planned, we simply must place our faith in Jesus. We must also place our hope in things that are of God and not of this world.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
(Matthew 6:21 (NIV))

If we place our hope and our hearts in things that will disappoint us, then we are setting ourselves up to complain. If we focus on Jesus and the hope that He brings, then we can simply realize that what disappoints us is not important. It is at this point that our whole life comes in to focus. We no longer have a need to complain or argue. We keep our eyes focused on the prize and not the obstacles along the way. This shows a sign of spiritual maturity, for you are able to realize that each moment is quickly gone and the next moment brings hope for something better.

Place you hope in Jesus. Allow the Holy Spirit to mature you. Do everything without complaining or arguing.

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

September 23, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
(2 Timothy 3:12 (NIV))

What would make someone deliberately choose to live a life that would get them persecuted?

From a worldly point of view, the fact that people will deliberately choose to live a life that will result in their persecution is extremely hard to comprehend. It is human nature to take the path of least resistance. Self preservation is a very strong human instinct. Even so, there have been millions of people since Jesus walked the earth who have chosen to live a godly life in Christ.

What makes this choice go against basic human nature?

Why do we make this choice?

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
(John 16:33 (NIV))

We have a promise of something much better than anything this world has to offer. If it were offered by a mere man, it would have no merit. The choice would be a foolish one. But, Jesus was no mere man. He was fully human and fully God. He alone holds the power to save us from our persecution.

For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men–the testimony given in its proper time.
(1 Timothy 2:5-6 (NIV))

Because He is the only way, the enemy attacks those who call upon the name of Jesus. Think about it. If Satan were not afraid of us living a godly life, would he attack those who follow Jesus?

Are you under attack?

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

September 16, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Who but God goes up to the heaven and comes back down? Who holds the wind in his fist? Who wraps up the oceans in his cloak? Who has created the whole wide world? What is his name—and his son’s name? Tell me if you know!
(Proverbs 30:4 (NLT))

Who indeed can do all of these things?

There is only one God!

His Holy Name has been proclaimed all throughout history. He created history when He created the heavens and the earth. He has made history all throughout humanity’s sinful venture through this existence. He created man. He sent the flood to destroy sin. He saved Noah through the flood. He parted the waters as the Israelites left Egypt. He manifested His glory in the desert as a pillar of fire by night and a cloud by day. He sent His only begotten Son.

Once again, we find God’s majestic plan of salvation and grace in the works long before it came to be. The writer of Proverbs knew that there would be a Son. The writer foretold of the ascension into heaven and of the return. Many, many years before the rest of the world would be allowed to know the Son, the Israelites knew that the Son of God would be coming. Yet, even in their knowledge, they did not recognize the Son when He came.

What has God told us that we do not recognize when it is right before our eyes?

Each of us think that we would have been able to discern the things that the Israelites missed. We tend to look back upon them as blind to the obvious, but I doubt that we are any better at discerning what is before us.

I have no doubt that the very God who holds the wind in His fist is still giving us insight into what He is doing. All we have to do is wait for the Lord and His Son, Jesus.

Do you know Jesus?

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

September 14, 2010

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))

Frustration !

Have you ever been in a situation in which nothing seemed to ever go right? You know how things should go, or at least how they should go according to your plans and desires. If you are like me, you have probably had times when you simply want to throw your hands up in desperation. You simply want to quit. I seem to be in the middle of far too many of these at this time. I would almost bet that many of you may alse be in these types of situations. Still we must persevere in Christ. With this in mind, I have resurrected this devotional from about a year ago. I know that if I am going through something, then i am not alone in my struggles. Others are facing similar situations.

Think about that.

Are these the situations in which you feel you are doing the wrong thing and going in the wrong direction, or are they the times when you feel that you are under attack by Satan because you are doing what you are supposed to do? Sometimes it is difficult to tell the difference. This causes frustration. Do you have times when you feel that you are simply going through the motions and that what you do will have absolutely no impact or effect on how things will turn out? This causes frustration.

Did Jesus ever get frustrated? The time that He overturned the tables of the money changers at the temple may come to mind. John 2:15 indicates that this was not frustration, but anger. Jesus hated what they had done inside the temple.

According to Merriam-Webster, “frustration” is a state of insecurity and dissatisfaction arising from unresolved problems or unfulfilled needs. In other words, frustration is brought about by personal needs and an anxious desire to see them fulfilled when they are not being fulfilled.

I almost dare to say that frustration can be looked upon as a sin, for many times it has its roots in sinful pride. Perhaps that is why Paul tells us “Do not be anxious about anything,” for it is a fine line between a righteous desire and sinful pride. It is a fine line that is so easy to cross even when you are trying to be faithful.

Pray for patience. Be thankful for what God has done in your life and be thankful that He is not finished with you yet. Keep your eyes focused on God, and frustration will fade away.

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

August 10, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

The LORD your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, and in the desert. There you saw how the LORD your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place.
(Deuteronomy 1:30-31 (NIV))

Have you ever heard the story about the footprints in the sand? It is a story of how one person walks with Jesus through all the times of his life, but, looking back at the tough times, he only sees one set of footprints when there had always been two sets before. He asks Jesus were He went. Jesus replies that He did not abandon him. He was carrying him!

Take a look at the words that are written in Deuteronomy. It clearly states that God carried those whom He went before. Jesus said that He only does what He sees the Father do.

So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am the one I claim to be and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.
(John 8:28-29 (NIV))

If God, who is the Creator of all things, carries those whom He created who call upon His name, and Jesus carries those who call upon His name, we, as the Body of Christ, have nothing to fear from whatever the enemy and this world may send our way. God is for us!

What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?
(Romans 8:31 (NIV))

To use a boxing term, we have a champion in our corner. If we truly call upon the name of the Lord in righteousness and sincerity, we have nothing to fear, for our champion, our loving father, is with us, carrying us.

When you look back at your life, how many sets of footprints do you see?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Could it be me?

August 4, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

And while they were eating, he said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.”
(Matthew 26:21 (NIV))

Can you put yourself into that upper room when Jesus spoke these words?

Think about that for a moment. He didn’t speak these words to a group of strangers. He spoke them to the twelve men that had spent the last three years with Him. These men had seen Jesus do things that no other man in the history of the world could even begin to imagine doing. They knew His heart and they knew Him. They all knew that Jesus had an ability to see to the very heart, yet, one of the people who sat in that room would betray Him.

And, Jesus knew it!

I can imagine myself sitting there. At first denial would come into mind. “Surely no one would even begin to consider such an idea!” Then, a strong, but brief bout of anguish. “Could it be me?” Then, just as the disciples did, I would probably begin to ask who it could possibly be.

I hate to say this, but human nature would also raise its ugly head in a way that would not be pleasant. We would all probably say to ourselves, “I am so glad that it is not me.” However, would any of us have a fist reaction that did not place us first? Would we stop to realize that even if it was not us, Jesus would still be betrayed? Would we be so absorbed in our own thoughts about our actions that we would miss the fact that Jesus would still be handed over to suffer?

My heart sinks when I think about what I would think and do if I were sitting in that room. However, I often feel that we still betray Jesus in many ways each and every day. Our betrayals may not be the one that God used to put His plan into motion, but they are still betrayals. They are still sins. They are the very reasons that Jesus willingly went to the cross.

I often wonder if Judas had turned to Jesus and said that he was sorry, what would have become of Judas. Sadly, Judas, even though he spent three years with Jesus, did not think to ask for forgiveness. He did not learn from any of the teachings of Jesus. Did Judas think about the woman caught in adultery and the compassion that Jesus showed? Did Judas remember Jesus telling others to forgive someone who sins against you seventy times seven?

Each of us betray Jesus in some way each and every day. Don’t forget that grace is there for the asking. It is a matter of the heart. It is a matter of priorities. My priority is to seek Jesus in all that I do and to have the wisdom to know when I fail at my priority.

Could it be me?

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

July 27, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
(Mark 16:16 (NIV))

People say that it takes faith to believe in Jesus. I agree.

But I think it also takes faith to not believe in Jesus. It is a misguided faith, but it is a strong faith, none the less.

Think about that for a moment. Those who do not believe are saying that they are placing their future in the concept that God does not exist, or that Jesus is not who the Bible says that He is, or that there are multiple ways to get to heaven. No matter what their reason for not believing, they are willing to place the outcome of their eternity in their belief that they will not suffer the consequences of their sins. To me, that takes a very strong faith

I have heard it said that those who cling to religion are weak. That may be true, but I have also known some very weak-minded individuals who cling to other things, such as money, power and fame. These individuals try to fill their lives with something that will give them meaning. They are simply placing their faith in the wrong place. Often, they are placing it in themselves. Again, their faith is strong, but it is misguided.

If someone possesses that strong a faith, can you imagine once that faith is correctly placed, just how strong of a witness that they can be for God? Every single believer was once a nonbeliever. Every single believer has had an experience that made them see things as they really are. They had something happen to them that changed their priorities. At one point, every single believer was condemned, not by God but by their own sinful actions. It took a realization that we are not perfect. It took a realization that we can never be perfect. It took a personal realization that God’s grace is for me.

Think about that. God does not condemn, but we condemn ourselves when we chose to ignore His offer of grace and mercy. It is not unlike a drowning man refusing to be helped out of the water. God is offering that help to everyone.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
(Romans 3:23 (NIV))

In order to accept God’s grace, we must have the strength to admit that we are a sinner. Grace is freely given, but it has a price. Jesus paid the price and we must also pay a price. We must come to the realization that we need salvation. We must overcome our pride. It is our pride that can condemn us.

Have you overcome your pride?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Plant your mustard seed!

May 4, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
(Mark 4:40 (NIV))

Can Jesus ask these questions of you and I?

Fear is a part of life whether we want it to be or not. It takes unshakable faith to say that you are never afraid. If you don’t believe me, walk out into the middle of an Interstate highway and try not to get afraid of being hit. Some things, like that example, you should be afraid of, for a certain amount of fear is a good thing. It will keep you from doing something foolish.

Jesus was speaking to His disciples about what I would think of as anxiety. This is an unhealthy fear. His disciples were afraid of the consequences of a natural event. They possessed and anxiety about the consequences of their situation. Jesus, in saying these words, basically told them that as long as He was with them, they had nothing to fear.

Step back for a moment.

Did Jesus wake up on His own and stop the storm before it caused the fear? Did Jesus give His disciples a false sense of security so that they went blindly into the storm? On the contrary, Jesus stopped the storm that arose as He went with them. He did not stop the storm from occurring. He stopped the storm after His disciples cried out to Him for His touch.

Do you have storms in your life that you need for Jesus to touch and to calm? Have these storms come about since you asked Jesus to be your Lord and Savior? He will calm the storms in your life, but, just like the disciples, you must call out to Him. You must desire for Him to touch your life and to calm the rough seas and the storms as they come in around you.

Why are you so afraid?

Turn these fears over to Jesus. Allow your faith to mature. Give the anxieties in your life over to Jesus. He will calm the storms. He will give peace where the anxieties have created turmoil.

Do you still have no faith?

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, `Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. ”
(Matthew 17:20 (NIV))

Plant your mustard seed!

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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