Today’s church needs to embrace the power of prayer!

June 1, 2015

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
(James 5:16 (NIV))

The early church knew the power of prayer. The apostles had watched Jesus pray and had seen the results of His prayers. They had prayed and seen the results of their prayers. They had seen first-hand what prayer can do. They were used to confessing one to another and praying for each other. When they lifted each other up in prayer, God gave them strength and increased their faith.

In today’s society, we have all but stopped this practice. Our hectic life-styles have become a burden. We seldom meet with each other. When we do, it appears that most of us put on a false front and say that everything is alright, while inside we are hurting. We need to return to the practice that James spoke of. We need to have a group of believers that we can turn to on a weekly or a daily basis. This group is our accountability group. They are there to listen and encourage, and most of all, pray for each other. When we meet together in this manner to fulfill God’s will for our lives, our prayers will be heard. A righteous man is one who seeks the will of God. If we seek the will of God, then God will hear.

Are your prayers powerful and effective or are they just quick and meaningless “hellos”?

Copyright 1998 – 2015 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you prepared?

February 15, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

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 6:12-13 (NIV))

This is so hard to remember when we are faced with trials and tribulations from all sides. Sometimes it even feels that all that we do is thwarted by an unseen enemy who hates what we love.

Wait a minute!

That sounds just like Satan and he does hate what we love.

And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down–that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.
(Revelation 12:7-9 (NIV))

Because of his rebellion against God, he and his fallen angels have been cast out of heaven. They hate God and desire nothing more than to usurp God’s authority. That is what happened when Adam and Eve allowed Satan to become the prince of this world. Our ancestors legally gave the authority that God gave them to Satan. Satan and his followers work in the shadows to deceive and destroy all that is God’s creation and all who call upon the name of the Lord. Just like we cannot see God, we cannot see Satan, but we feel the effects of his wrath against those who love God.

There is constant warfare in the spiritual realm because of these events. What happens in the physical world is only a shadow of what happens in the spiritual realm.

We are at war!

Our enemy cannot be seen, but we can arm ourselves with God’s armor and we can overcome the enemy.

Are you prepared for the struggle? Are you focusing your battle tactics where they belong?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you left everything behind?

November 22, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person–such a man is an idolater–has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them.
(Ephesians 5:3-7 (NIV))

We are called to be different!

We are called to be apart from the ways of the world!

What do you see and hear when you watch people who are living in the world and seeking their rewards from the world? You see and hear all types of profanity and immorality. You see all of the things that Paul warned us about in Ephesians 5:3-7. We are to be above the matters of the world. We should be abstain from things that are sexually immoral. We should abstain from any impurity.

Just what is considered immoral and impure?

Sexual immorality, greed, obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking are what God considers sin. Yes! Sin. That is exactly what these things are. When you stop to think about it, it makes perfect sense. God cannot associate with sin. Anyone who practices any of these does not have any inheritance in the kingdom of God. The only way that we can fall short of being in God’s presence is through sin!

Perhaps we should take a look at a more detailed list of sins.

Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
(1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (NIV))

Be careful what you follow. These words are clear as to the consequences of following these behaviors. Perhaps we should point these scripture passage out to those who claim that they are forgiven and still keep on living in their sin.

God did not send His Son, Jesus Christ to redeem us so that we could keep on sinning. He saved us from our sins so that we could leave them behind!

Have you forgotten to leave anything behind?

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

November 3, 2010

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.
In vain you rise early
and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat–
for he grants sleep to those he loves.
(Psalms 127:1-2 (NIV))

What is it that you labor over? Is it your job? Is it your fortune? Is it your family? We all have certain things that we long to build up in the way that we think is correct. Is it right in God’s eyes to labor over these things in the ways that we do? In other words, have you taken on something that God does not desire for you? Do you labor in vain?

It is human nature to want to build. Everyone wants to build a legacy, something that they will be remembered for. Unfortunately, it is all too fine of a line to cross before we come to the point where we are doing it out of pride and ego instead of out of a desire to serve. All too often we want to say “Look at what I have done.” It is too easy to have our motives shift to selfish reasons. Perhaps, we are also guilty of never having godly reasons to begin with.

What are you motives for building? Do you have a peace about you or do you have an uneasy feeling that you have to ignore? If you struggle with what you build, have you asked God for guidance? Have you asked God for confirmation? God will direct you. He will guide you in what He desires for you to build. It is far better to build what God desires and to complete the task than to build against His desires and face an emptiness in your life because of unfinished work.

What are you trying to build with your life? Are you succeeding? What is God calling you to build? Are they the same thing? What is God’s desired legacy for you? Turn to God and ask for His heart. Ask for His guidance. Ask to know what He desires for you.

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

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Can you find rest in the midst of your burdens?

October 12, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
(Matthew 11:28 (NIV))

The last few days seem like a blur. I know that the verse for yesterday’s devotional was this, but I feel that I am being led to stay on this passage.

What are your burdens? If you are like me, they seem to come in ever increasing torrents. Like I wrote earlier, the last few days seem like a blur. The last twenty four hours are hours that I wish could simply go away. We have all had days that just seem to weigh us down. Professing a faith in Jesus does not make them go away.

“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))

What Jesus does promise is that He will be with us and help us to overcome the trouble.

To the nonbeliever, this sounds like it is an escape. It sounds like we are professing a weakness. It sounds like we are not capable of dealing with our own lives.

It is not an escape. It is hope. It is not a weakness, for professing faith in Jesus requires a commitment. It requires strength to stand up in the midst of troubles and claim something as truth that no one can see. Ironically, though, it is a profession that we are not capable of dealing with our own lives. It is a profession that we need guidance.

Think about that for a moment.

How many have ever decided to experience something new. The first thing you probably did was to find someone who has experienced it before. You wanted to know as much about it as possible. You wanted guidance.

Life is no different. Have you ever experienced the joys and the sadness’ of life before in the same way that you are experiencing them now? You want to turn to someone for guidance. Jesus is that someone. He will be with you as you face the things that burden you. He will be with you as you experience the joys that are a part of life.

Life is a series of highs and lows, of mountain tops and valleys. Jesus doesn’t smooth out the way. He walks with you as you encounter each event in life. Walking with Jesus will not make you life smooth. It will not make your life easy. What it will do is it will make your life a blessing. You will find rest even in the midst of your worst days.

I have seen some bad days. I honestly do not understand how people make it through this life without the saving grace, rest and peace found only in Jesus.

Can you find rest in the midst of your burdens?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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His burden is light!

October 11, 2010

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))

Just a few short days ago, I learned something about the traditions of the Rabbis in Jesus’ time that shed a whole new light upon this passage. I think that it will also make you look at this passage in a different manner.

It is my understanding that from the ages of 6 to 10, young boys would memorize the first five books of the Torah. It is my understanding that the best of these young boys would go on to study and completely memorize what we call the Old Testament. The best of these students would go on to study under a Rabbi and to be his disciple. Only the best of the best could become a Rabbi.

Jesus changed this when He called common men to follow Him. He was telling them that He considered them to be the best of the best. Perhaps that is why many simply dropped everything and followed Him.

The interesting part of this is that each Rabbi had a slightly different interpretation of the Torah. His interpretation was known as his “yoke.” We think of a yoke as the part of the equipment used to hitch an animal to a plow, but in the days of Jesus, it also meant the interpretation of the scriptures. Perhaps it was referred to in this manner because the very act of obeying each command became very burdensome as if you were wearing a yoke.

Carefully consider the words that Jesus spoke. He was telling the Jews of His day that His yoke was easy and that it did not burden them down with the interpretations that others had added. His yoke was true. The burden that His true interpretation of the scriptures placed upon the individual was not a burden of rules and regulations, but an enlightening and empowering one of joy.

It is no wonder why people chose to follow Him. He offered the same thing that He offers today – truth and freedom.

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
(John 8:32 (NIV))

Do you know the truth and the freedom of Jesus’ yoke?

His burden is light!

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

October 5, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. God “will give to each person according to what he has done.” To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism.
(Romans 2:5-11 (NIV))

The old saying “What goes around comes around” is true. If you hold anger and resentment against someone, then it will come back to you when you do not want it to.

God will reward you for your actions and thoughts in His time. No one is immune from this. The same way God allows everyone to have grace through the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ, God has granted that everyone will reap the rewards for what they do and think. No matter who you are, God will hold you accountable.

It only matters whose you are, not who you are. If you call on the name of Jesus, then your sins will be forgiven. Once you call on the name of Jesus, no matter who you are, God will work within you through the Holy Spirit to convict and to mature you into what He has called you to be. If you truly have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior, and have allowed the Holy Spirit into your life to work God’s will, then you will not want to store up wrath. He will remove it from you. But, if you have not let go of your wrath, then you have not fully allowed Jesus into your life.

Jesus was our example. He did not show wrath or any other unrighteous actions or thoughts. Do not confuse wrath with anger. Jesus was angered by the money changers in the Temple. He overturned their tables. But He did not let this anger grow into a vengeful wrath that consumed His life.

God gave us all of our emotions. We can be angered by something or someone, but we must allow the Holy Spirit to dictate what to be angered by and when to be angered. We must also allow the Holy Spirit to cleanse us of this anger and not allow it to become something that will harden our hearts and turn us away from God.

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What is your “blank?”

September 29, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

On that day there will be no light, no cold or frost. It will be a unique day, without daytime or nighttime–a day known to the LORD. When evening comes, there will be light.
On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half to the eastern sea and half to the western sea, in summer and in winter.
The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and his name the only name.
(Zechariah 14:6-9 (NIV))

Is this what you pray for?

Zechariah described what this world will be like once God’s Kingdom comes down upon the earth. It will be a marvelously beautiful world. God will have remade it and everything will be absolutely perfect.

Can you picture yourself in this setting?

Does it sound idealic or does it sound boring?

Think about that last question. When you read the words written in Zechariah, did you find yourself thinking that it would be wonderful, but you hope that they have ____________ ? What is the one thing that you think you simply cannot live without? That is your “blank,” that is your sin.

We all have things that we think we cannot do without. To some people, these center around wealth. Others – power. Others focus on food, entertainment, or even frivolous activities such as video games or computer activities.

I want you to honestly think about that for a moment. For those who have held steadfast in their faith, we will find ourselves in a wonderful place and in the presence of God. Yet, we, as frail humanity, find ourselves thinking that this is not enough. We need our “blanks.” In my opinion, we may be breaking a commandment.

You shall have no other gods before me.
(Exodus 10:3 (NIV))

We must carefully watch our thoughts, for Satan is always trying to trick us into giving up our salvation. When we are promised heaven, he will slyly bring up things and make us think we cannot live without them.

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 16:23 (NIV))

Don’t let Satan use your “blank” to become your stumbling block. After all, whatever God has promised is far better than what man or Satan can bring.

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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Are you weary?

September 7, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
(Matthew 11:28 (NIV))

Labor has been defined as the act or process requiring an expenditure of physical or mental effort especially when difficult or compulsory. Sometimes that labor is physical and sometimes it is spiritual.

All of us face it. All of us grow weary from it. In the physical world, there is no escape from this burden. Even the rich face it in some way. Perhaps the biggest burden that we all face is the spiritual burden that weighs us all down. This burden is a labor of fear and uncertainty, for the commonality that binds us all together is the fear and the uncertainty of what happens to us at the point of death.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
(Philippians 4:4 (NIV))

Paul wrote these words to the church at Phillippi and they hold true today. We must rejoice in the promise that Jesus will give rest to all who come to Him. He promises much more.

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 11:29-30 (NIV))

Some may think that Jesus has not kept His promise, for we still face burdens in this life.

“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))

Jesus did not promise to remove all troubles that make us labor and grow weary. He did promise to take those upon Himself and to help us through them. We can rest in the strength of Jesus to see us through all of our troubles. All that we must do is keep our eyes upon Him.

Are you weary from the labor of carrying your heavy burdens? Surrender your whole life over to Jesus and He will ease your burdens. He will give you the strength to see your way through them.

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