“Surely he was the Son of God!”

March 26, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.

At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus’ resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.

When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”
(Matthew 27:50-54 (NIV))

We are all familiar with the crucifixion account. We know that there were earthquakes. We know that the curtain of the temple was torn in two. We know that the centurion came to believe that Jesus was and is the Son of God. There is one thing in the account of the crucifixion that many overlook.

The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus’ resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.
(Matthew 27:52-53 (NIV))

Why do we overlook this? Why do we ignore one of the greatest resurrection accounts of what God has done? I know that our focus is on the death and resurrection of Jesus, but I find it extremely interesting that at the moment of His death, people arose out of their tombs.

Who were these people? Even before Jesus came into the world, people where longing for His coming. They believed even before Jesus physically walked the earth. They were looking at salvation through eyes that longed to see it. We look at salvation through eyes that have read it as it actually happened.

Why did they arise at Jesus’ death? That is an interesting question and I am probably going to open up some debate, but I believe that it is simply a matter of timing. Humanity has been given grace and mercy through the atoning blood of Jesus. Jesus had to die in order for our salvation to be redeemed. Those people who believed in Jesus before He walked the earth had to wait until He had fulfilled the plan of salvation. Once He breathed His last, the debt had been paid.

If we truly perceived the events that happened during the crucifixion, we would undoubtedly come to the same conclusion that the centurion came to. The sky grew dark, the earth shook, the rocks split, the holy people were raised from the dead and the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.

I honestly don’t think that any script writer could come up with something as awe inspiring as what actually happened.

There is a saying that truth is stranger than fiction. There is also a famous line from a movie that states, “You can’t handle the truth!” I also find it interesting that people base their perception of the truth upon their limited understanding. They refuse to believe until they see. I have never seen a millions dollars, but I know that it exists. Perhaps that is the limit to the faith of some people. They can believe things that they have never seen only if they are of a physical nature.

I know that people believe when they see miracles. I also know that we are told that we need to have faith without seeing miracles. Still, it is my desire to see people who are not believers come to the same saving knowledge as the centurion.

“Surely he was the Son of God!”

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

September 19, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.
(James 3:9-12 (NIV))

It is sad that the words written in James are all too true.

How many times have you left a wonderful worship service only to have someone cut you off in traffic and you find yourself saying things that you know you shouldn’t?

Be honest with yourself.

How can we, as the Body of Christ, do such things? How can we expect the world to see a difference in our lives when this is the rotten fruit that our mouths produce? How can we praise God, yet curse a part of His creation?

I can hear some of the grumbling now.

You are probably thinking that God did not intend for people to behave like those who get you upset. Did God intend for you to curse someone else? How is this showing the love of Jesus?

Did Jesus ever get angry? What angered Jesus?

You may be thinking about the money changers in the temple.

Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. “It is written,” he said to them, ” `My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a `den of robbers.’ ”
(Matthew 21:12 (NIV))

Jesus did not get angry at people for their sins against each or against God’s laws. He got angry over the fact that people took God for granted, or they did not respect God. Think of the Pharisees and the Sadducees. Why did Jesus get angry with them?

In every situation in which Jesus did show anger, it is not recorded that He cursed them or blasphemed. Why do we do any different?

Think about that old question, “Do you kiss your mother with that mouth?”

With some of the things that we all let slip, do we feel worthy of praising God with the same mouth?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Combine it with faith!

September 7, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.
(Hebrews 4:1-2 (NIV))

Combine it with faith!

In other words, hearing and believing are two very different things.

Think back on your life. I am sure that there are many things that you have heard in your life that you did not believe. It would probably be safe to say that the first time that you heard the Gospel, you did not believe it either.

What makes someone accept something and make that leap from hearing to believing?

Some call it a sixth sense. Some call it a feeling. Some simply cannot put a name to it or even describe why they make that leap from hearing to believing.

Why do we have faith?

To many people, they find faith an absurd notion, especially when you consider that it means a firm belief in something for which there is no proof.

I like Paul’s definition.

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

What do we receive by faith?

Have you ever wavered in your faith?

Do you think that it is possible to lose your faith?

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop–a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. He who has ears, let him hear.”
(Matthew 13:1-9 (NIV))

I find it compelling how many parables are told in which faith is compared to a seed. God is definitely trying to drive home His point that we must nurture our faith. We can hear and a small “seed” of belief is planted. We can allow that seed of faith to grow through our actions or we can allow that seed to die through our actions.

Have you heard?

Do you believe?

Has your belief turned into a strong faith?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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He who has an ear!

August 28, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
“May those who love you be secure.
May there be peace within your walls
and security within your citadels.”
For the sake of my brothers and friends,
I will say, “Peace be within you.”
For the sake of the house of the LORD our God,
I will seek your prosperity.
(Psalms 122:6-9 (NIV))

I just saw something that made my heart sink.

Actually, I saw two things within just a few minutes that made me start to pray.

The first thing I saw was that a Catholic bishop was denied the ability to hold a prayer gathering while a two hour Muslim prayer gathering was approved for the same event. I don’t want to say what event for I know that I will be accused of being political and/or racist.

The second thing almost brought me to tears. The leaders of a major North American Christian denomination are calling for a boycott of Israel until they stop “occupying” the land that God gave them.

Abraham was given a promise by God.

I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.”
(Genesis 12:3 (NIV))

That promise was fulfilled through the nation of Israel. I realize that Ishmael was also a decedent of Abraham, but the promise was through the first born of Sarah. Sarah interfered with the promise and gave her maid servant to bear a child. The promise was not through Ishmael. It was through Israel. Jerusalem is the capital. The lands that were given were part of the promise of God. Israel is not occupying lands.

I find it sad that more and more are turning from Israel and from the God of Jacob. The God of Jacob is the same God that Christians call Father. He promised the land and He promised to send a Savior. I do not see how someone who claims one promise can deny or completely ignore another?

What does that mean with respect to whoever curses you I will curse?

Think about that.

Pray about that.

Hold fast to the truth.

Do not let someone tell you otherwise.

I honestly think that we will see more things like the two episodes that I saw tonight. The battle lines are being drawn. The victory belongs to the Lord. Do not allow the rapidly changing world to change your mind or to change your faith.

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))

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Blessed because of our faith

August 8, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
(Matthew 5:10 (NIV))

Unless you have been living under a rock, you are very well aware of what is going on with how the Body of Christ has been coming under attack from many different sides.

Christians are being labeled as hateful and bigoted. We are being ridiculed in the media at every opportunity that they get. Any show of faith is considered a violation of the so-called separation of church and state. And, I honestly believe that it may get worse.

Are you willing to stand up for your faith?

Are you willing to face persecution for what you believe?

Are you willing to boldly proclaim that Jesus is Lord of all even in the midst of the enemy?

I pray that we may never really face this scenario, but I also pray that if we do, each person who calls upon Jesus as Lord and Savior will not renounce His name.

Faith is a funny thing. When tragedy happens, those who did not have it suddenly find that they need it. I hope that the opposite is not true. When persecution happens, will those who profess a faith in Jesus suddenly find themselves rethinking their position.

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

Is it time for a faith checkup?

Are you sure of what you hope for?

Are you certain of what you do not see?

I pray that no matter what we may face in life, that we, as the Body of Christ, face it with unwavering faith. I pray that we will be called blessed because of our faith.

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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