Pray that we know what to watch for

August 23, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Unless the LORD builds the house,
its builders labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
the watchmen stand guard in vain.
(Psalms 127:1 (NIV))

Every night that I sit down to write, I pray for guidance as to what God wants me to convey. I have a database of scripture verses that I have selected and tonight, I closed my eyes and “randomly” stopped on this verse. I do not think that this is an accident or a coincidence, for right before this happened, I was reading about the two conventions coming up for the Republican and Democratic presidential candidates. These two parties will officially select the individuals who will be in contention for the White House.

God is up to something in this world. He is up to something big!

Israel is surrounded by people who want to destroy her. Iran is threatening just that. Israel is preparing it’s citizens for 30 days of shortages and is giving out gas masks. They are also preparing their citizens for massive amounts of missile strikes in retaliation IF they decide to be preemptive with Iran. Russia is standing firm in their lack of support for Israel and support for Iran.

Does this sound familiar?

There are countless things that I see that trouble me with respect to how our world is heading. At the same time, these things intrigue me for they offer glimpses into the things that the prophets have written about. Could these things that are unfolding be the very things that we have read about?

We, as the Body of Christ, must stand firm in our faith. We must pray for God’s guidance and seek to follow His will for our lives, our families, our neighborhoods, our country and the world.

You are probably asking how this ties in with Psalm 127:1 and the current state of things.

We have been given God’s plans for His creation. It will be His plans that prevail. We may not like the state of things or the things that must happen, but they all part of God’s plans.

From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”
Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”
(Matthew 16:21-23 (NIV))

Jesus rebuked Peter for wanting his agenda and not God’s. We see things from a different perspective and even though we see things that go against what we have been taught to believe in, God has an eternal plan.

Think about that for a moment from Peter’s persepctive.

If you had been in Peter’s shoes, how would you react if Jesus told you the details about the painful death that He would face? Would you have stood as Peter did and try to physically protect Jesus? I honestly think that we would not, nor do we, understand exactly what God is unfolding. We see glimpses and we wonder if this is what we have been told to watch for.

Pray for God’s guidance and follow Him.

Pray for God’s Will and wait for miraculous things to happen.

Pray for wisdom to discern the worldly from the Godly.

Pray that the Lord watches over us as we stand in watch.

Pray that we know what to watch for.

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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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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Remember His strength

September 6, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
(Hebrews 4:15-16 (NIV))

Have you ever felt that no one could possibly understand what you are going through?

Do you ever feel that the weight of this world is just too much for you to bear? Do you feel that you are completely alone and have no where to turn?

I am sure that we have all felt like that at some point in our lives. We just can’t seem to find anything that offers us any hope at all. All too true, if we only look upon our situations with worldly vision. Fortunately, we have another way to look at things. We can look with faith.

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

Jesus has been where we are. He understands how you feel. He has faced the very temptations that we face. He has faced the very struggles that we face. We can lean on His strength when we are weak. We can rely on His love when we feel unloved. We can rely on His truth when all around us is a lie. We can rely on His grace and mercy even when we feel that we do not deserve it.

We can approach anything with confidence if we fully rely on Jesus. He may not keep us from the trials and tribulations, but He will see us through them if we only have faith. Too many times, people forget that He never leaves us, and they leave Him when things go bad. They try to face the trials and tribulations relying on their own strength and not the strength of the one who is with them.

The next time that you feel that you are facing life’s trials and tribulations on your own, remember that Jesus has been there. Remember that He is with you. Remember that His strength will carry you through our weaknesses.

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

August 16, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

For there are many rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision group. They must be silenced, because they are ruining whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach–and that for the sake of dishonest gain.
(Titus 1:10-11 (NIV))

For the sake of dishonest gain.

When this was written, there was a big debate over whether Gentile believers must be circumsized. People were teaching false doctrine around this and led many people astrray.

Today, we have similar debates over many other things, such as denominations, prosperity, healings, speaking in tongues, and many more. Could we be in the same situation with these as was spoken of in Titus? Are we being deceived because someone is an eloquent speaker? Are we being led astray because someone is out to fill their bank account?

It is so easy to be led astray. It only takes a good sounding speach filled with quick references to things that we know catch our attention. Once we acknowledge that there is a spark of familiarity in what is being taught, we make an assumption that the speaker knows the material. It is with sadness that I fear this is where we fail to validate the message. We accept it as truth without testing it against God’s Word. We have the basic belief, but fail to verify eveything else.

Satan counts on this. His demons count on this. They know the truth.

You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that–and shudder.
(James 2:19 (NIV))

They twist the truth.

They entice people to twist the truth.

Truth, once it is twisted, is no longer truth. It has become a deception.

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

We must know the difference between truth and deception. We must be able to discern the lies of the enemy, even when they are shrouded in words that seem true.

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. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
(Ephesians 6:12-18 (NIV))

Do you know the difference?

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

July 20, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.
(Mark 3:24-25 (NIV))

Truer words cannot be spoken, especially when you consider our country and our world in today’s circumstances.

In my lifetime, I have seen things change so rapidly, yet, not all change has been good.

One thing that appears to have changed for the worse is the deep divisions that are now so prevalent between people.

It used to be said that people could disagree and then put their disagreements aside and be friends. Now, if you disagree with someone, it is as if you are personally attacking them. There is too much selfish ego involved and no thought given to the simple fact that we are all human, and no one is perfect. Not a single one of us is right on everything. In fact, I think that I can safely say that most of us are wrong more times than we are right.

Are we so willing to alienate and create division when perfection is out of our grasp?

I understand the desire to create policies that take care of those who can’t take care of themselves. I understand the need to defend ourselves. I understand the need to be responsible to God, to others, and to ourselves.

I understand the need to be good stewards.

We must look upon everything that we have as a blessing from God and not as if it were ours to take and do with as we please.

Have you ever thought how history will look upon us?

“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years. These nations have progressed through this sequence: ‘From bondage to spiritual faith; From spiritual faith to great courage; From courage to liberty; From liberty to abundance; From abundance to selfishness; From selfishness to apathy; From apathy to dependence; From dependence back into bondage.'”
– quote attributed to Alexander Fraser Tytler (1747?1813)

I am not trying to be political, but rather bringing something to light. We, as a society have become far too divided, with far too little common ground in the middle. For a country that was founded on freedom of religion, it has now come to mean freedom from religion in the eyes of far too many people. Our ancestors fought to break the bondage that tthey were under. Jesus died to free us from the bondage of sin and death. Why are we headed back into bondage?

This must change.

if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
(2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV))

It is time to return to prayer and earnestly seek God’s face. We must turn from our wicked ways and pray that God will heal our land. We must pray that the words of Alexander Fraser Tytler, through God’s grace, will not come true.

Although, there is something else to consider.

Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.
“The owner’s servants came to him and said, `Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’
” `An enemy did this,’ he replied.
“The servants asked him, `Do you want us to go and pull them up?’
” `No,’ he answered, `because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’ ”
(Matthew 13:24-30 (NIV))

Is the world becoming divided, even polarized, in preparation for this to be fulfilled?

Whether this division is man made or all a part of God’s plan, we, as His church must pray, for without prayer, we are lost.

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you strong in your weakness?

June 29, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

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 12:10 (NIV))

Once again, we are told of things that don’t make sense, that go against human nature.

Why would anyone delight in these things? It almost sounds like Paul is saying that he would rather face these types of conditions than to face peace. What was he thinking?

Think about that for a moment and then think about your life. I know that when I think about my life, I have a new understanding of these words. Once again, it is a matter of perspective.

I think that Paul hit upon the concept of his strength and his faith and the relationship that the two have to each other. Before his Damascus road experience, Paul thought he had the world under his control. He felt that he was the ideal Jew and that he had done everything right, yet he lacked true faith and understanding. In his strength, Paul was weak in his faith.

After his Damascus road experience, Paul had a change of heart. He realized that his strength meant nothing. He realized that what he so proudly boasted of meant nothing in God’s kingdom.

Then, as now, too many people make the mistake of wanting strength, money and power. I know that there are always exceptions, but having strength, money and power often results in selfish desires with no thought to others or to God. Paul was driven, but for all of the wrong reasons. He was doing everything that society said that he should do.

Paul, during his evangelism to the gentiles, faced many things. Things that a good Jew would not have faced. Paul was going against the grain. Because he was doing what God called him to do, he faced ridicule and persecution from people who did not understand. In his weakness in the physical world, he relied more and more on his relationship to Jesus and God. His faith grew stronger. When he was weak in the physical world, he grew stronger in his faith.

If you are like me with what you face, and who isn’t in this life, then you face many weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and difficulties. It is my prayer that we may all grow stronger when we are weak.

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