God, help me. I don’t know what to do.

October 25, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
(James 5:16b (NIV))

I don’t know about you, but there are many times that I just don’t feel effective. I simply feel overwhelmed, overpowered and overshadowed by the things in my life. These are the things that have a tendency to make us grown in agony because we simply have no other response that we can bring forth. I simply utter a few simple words and they always help me through whatever I am facing.

“God, help me. I don’t know what to do.”

Have you ever uttered these or similar words? I often wonder just how many people do say things likes this on a daily basis. I believe that everyone utters words like this at some point in their lives, whether they believe in God or not. I firmly believe that those who are strong enough in their faith to admit that we need God each and every day are the ones who will usher up simple prayers like this on a daily basis. We might even find ourselves saying them all throughout the day.

Perhaps this is what makes someone righteous in the eyes of God. We turn to Him daily because we cannot make it without Him. Contrary to what the world may say, I do not see this as a weakness. I see this as a strength that is firmly rooted in a hope and a faith that this world does not understand. When you see acts of terrorism, do you rejoice in what the world is doing or do you offer up a prayer to God? When you see wars and rumors of wars, do you find comfort in the circumstances or do you go to God and ask for peace? When you see injustice, do you think that this is how it should be or do you ask God for the strength to help you change it? When you see the lost, do you turn up your nose and think that they deserve what they get, or do you pray that God will touch them through you?

These types of prayers do not take long, but they show your heart. It shows a desire for the things that God calls righteous. If you seek the things that God calls righteous, then it stands to reason that God will call you righteous. It is when you pray for God’s Will that you find your prayers become powerful and effective, even when you do not feel powerful and effective.

Do you feel effective? Keep praying those short prayers asking for God’s help. He will show you His Will and then you will be effective.

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

February 6, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.
(Matthew 4:23 (NIV))

What would be your reaction to someone doing these things in your community?

Think about it carefully. Not only would this person be teaching and preaching in your church, they would also be healing anybody and everybody of anything that was wrong. Cancer. Diabetes. Paralysis. Blindness. Neurological problems. All would be miraculously healed by a person. Would you follow that person or would you be part of the gossip mill that would follow that person?

I am confident that the very emotions that you would feel are the very same emotions that people felt when Jesus walked the earth and did these wonderful things in Galilee. Human nature wants to embrace the miraculous and embrace the messenger of the miraculous. At the same time, the miraculous is different and human nature is afraid of what we do not know. I do know that I hope I would have accepted Jesus when He walked this earth. I also know that I am human and my faults are the same that kept many from embracing HIm. How about you? Can you say with complete certainty that you would have been one to embrace Jesus for who He is when He first walked this earth?

Sometimes I think that I would like to have lived during Jesus’ time on this earth. I would love to witness the Sermon on the Mount. I would love to walk with Jesus and listen to His teachings. I would hate to see the crucifixion and I would rejoice at the resurrection. I would love to be among the crowd at Pentecost. However, because of my human nature, I am also afraid that if I did not have the perspective of history as reported in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, I would not recognize who was right before me. With that said, it is probably best that I, like Esther, am alive for such a time as this.

God placed each of us in just the right point in history to bless us. Perhaps even more importantly, He placed each one of us in just the right point in history to bless those around us. Pray to be that blessing to others. Pray that you may have the faith to fulfill Jesus’ words.

I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
(John 14:12 (NIV))

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What does God have to do to get your attention?

January 4, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Balaam got up in the morning, saddled his donkey and went with the princes of Moab. But God was very angry when he went, and the angel of the LORD stood in the road to oppose him. Balaam was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him. When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road with a drawn sword in his hand, she turned off the road into a field. Balaam beat her to get her back on the road.
Then the angel of the LORD stood in a narrow path between two vineyards, with walls on both sides. When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, she pressed close to the wall, crushing Balaam’s foot against it. So he beat her again.
Then the angel of the LORD moved on ahead and stood in a narrow place where there was no room to turn, either to the right or to the left. When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, she lay down under Balaam, and he was angry and beat her with his staff. Then the LORD opened the donkey’s mouth, and she said to Balaam, “What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?”
Balaam answered the donkey, “You have made a fool of me! If I had a sword in my hand, I would kill you right now.”
The donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?”
“No,” he said.
Then the LORD opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road with his sword drawn. So he bowed low and fell facedown.
(Numbers 22:21-31 (NIV))

Have you ever encountered something that just seemed to go completely different than expected, even when you have done it many times before? Were you able to come up with a logical explanation for the change in the results?

Perhaps the change in the results were similar to those that Balaam had. He was so blinded to the fact that his donkey had never done anything like this before, yet he still blamed the donkey. He did not stop to even contemplate the reason for the change. He did not stop to think that perhaps there was a reason that his trusted donkey had done what she had done. He did not even consider that there is more to this life than meets the eye.

He did not consider that God was intervening in his life!

Are we blinded to this just as Balaam was?

Think about that for a moment.

Does God still speak to His people? Does God still seek out relationships with those who seek Him? Does God work in our lives to guide us, to lead us and to mature us into what He created us to be?

Why should we be any different from Balaam? Why should we limit God’s intervention to the pages of the Bible? The Bible is the story of what He has done. We are the story of what He is doing.

The next time that something seems too odd and out of the normal realm of things, stop and reflect upon what is going on. God may be using the unexpected to reach out to you. He may be calling you to something and that moment in time is the decisive point where you must listen and respond or miss out on His blessings.

Everyone marvels at the story of Balaam and the talking donkey, but how many people overlook the reason that the donkey spoke? It took something completely out of the ordinary to get Balaam’s attention.

What does God have to do to get your attention?

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

June 16, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
(Romans 12:12 (NIV))

Joyful, patient and faithful.

Paul had a consistency in his message that we need to be reminded of as often as we call upon the name of Jesus. Paul did not simply preach a message that proclaiming Jesus as your Lord and Savior meant that you did not have to undergo spiritual growth. He knew that accepting Jesus into your life as your personal Lord and Savior would mean a desire to become more like Jesus. The characteristics that he spoke of in Romans 12:12 are also repeated quite eloquently in Galatians.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
(Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV))

There is a consistency!

Just as God never changes, the Word that He gives those whom He calls as apostles, prophets and teachers should never change. Test everything. Do not take something as the truth unless you have verified it against God’s Word. He will not change. Jesus will not change. He told us that He only does what He sees the Father do. He is consistent.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
(Hebrews 13:8 (NIV))

Jesus was joyful during His ministry. He came to give us this joy.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
(John 10:10 (NIV))

Once again, consistency!

Are you consistent in your faith?

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

June 14, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

I will sing of your love and justice;
to you, O LORD, I will sing praise.
I will be careful to lead a blameless life–
when will you come to me?
I will walk in my house
with blameless heart.
I will set before my eyes
no vile thing.
(Psalms 101:1-3 (NIV))

Can you honestly say these words? Think about their meaning. This should be the desire of every single person who claims that Jesus is their personal Lord and Savior. These words renounce the sin of the world while focusing on the righteous things that God desires for us. We must praise God. We must lead a blameless life. We must have a pure heart, and we must keep our eyes focused on Jesus. We must not allow sin to catch our gaze. Can you do this? Can any of us do this perfectly?

All of us have become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
we all shrivel up like a leaf,
and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
(Isaiah 64:6 (NIV))

Through grace, we are forgiven. We are not perfect, but we can grow into maturity in our faith and in our actions. It is a matter of inner desire. If we desire to follow Jesus, then each day will bring opportunities to press on.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
(Philippians 3:12 (NIV))

Press on in praise. Press on for a blameless life. Press on for a pure heart, and press on in following Jesus.

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

June 10, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.
Those who know your name will trust in you,
for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.
Sing praises to the LORD, enthroned in Zion;
proclaim among the nations what he has done.
(Psalms 9:9-11 (NIV))

Do you seek the Lord?

Do you seek Him at all times or only when things are not going the way that you want them to go?

He is a refuge for the oppressed and a stronghold in times of trouble, but, if those are the only times that you seek the Lord, then are you truly seeking Him?

It is human nature to turn to someone when you feel that you cannot handle things on your own, but when things seem to be going our way, it is human nature to take the credit. We seem to want God in our lives only when we fail on our own.

Is that how you see God? Is that the only time that you honestly seek the Lord?

Let me pose a question.

For those of you who are married, do you honestly think that the relationship is strong and that you honestly know you spouse if the only time that you turn to them is when you want something from them? Can you honestly say that you know the very heart and desires of your spouse if you never spend time with them?

God is the same way. If we only turn to Him in times of trouble, how do you think the relationship is going? Can you honestly say that you have spent time at the feet of the Lord? Can you honestly say that you know the heart of God and what makes Him rejoice and what makes Him sad?

The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, but He is so much more than that if you will simply spend time in His presence. In order to know someone, you must spend time with them. you must learn what makes them happy and what makes them sad. you must learn what they love. You cannot learn this when you are seeking refuge. You learn it when the focus is off of you.

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

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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True branches and good fruit

May 31, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
(John 15:5-8 (NIV))

All good comes from God. We cannot do truly good things without God in our lives. When we become believers, we are grafted into the vine. We are not natural branches of “good” and “love”. Rather, we are allowed to graft onto the perfect vine and share in the fruits of that vine. We have the life of the vine flowing through us if the “graft” is true. If the “life” flows through us, then the fruit produced will also show the “life” of the vine. If the “graft” is not true, then the branch withers and dies and must be discarded.

Which branch are you? Do you bear the fruit of the vine, or do you wither and produce no fruit?

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

May 25, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Jesus gave them this answer: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these. For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.
(John 5:19-23 (NIV))

He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him!

Think about that statement. It has so many implications that I don’t know where to start.

With that said, I suppose the obvious place to start is what this means to those who do not profess Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. Countless numbers of people believe that they can get to heaven and the Father through ways other than Jesus.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
(John 14:6-7 (NIV))

Now, for the painful examination of ourselves, as believers.

Do we always honor Jesus?

Be honest.

Are there times in our lives when we do things that do not honor Jesus? Do our every actions reflect the teachings that we profess to believe? Do we honor God the Father when we fall short of honoring Jesus the Son?

If you are like me, then there are numerous times each and every day that you fail at what you intend to do. I fall short far too many times to even want to think about it. I know that I am covered by grace through the atoning blood of Jesus, still, my shortcomings make me feel extremely sad, for it is at those times that I realize that I caused Jesus’ pain and suffering.

For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these.
(John 5:20 (NIV))

The sadness of these words means that the Father showed the Son the pain that He feels because of our sin. If our shortcomings cause pain to the Son, then our sins also cause pain to the Father.

Once again, I realize the primary difference that God looks for in each of us. He looks at the heart. If we earnestly seek Him and profess Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we do honor the Father because we honor His Son. We may stumble and we may falter, but we do not seek to do harm and to live in sin.

Intentions.

God looks at the heart. He knows whether we are striving to do His Will, or whether we are seeking to honor ourselves. It is a matter of free will. It is a matter of priorities. It is a matter of your heart.

But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”
(Joshua 24:15 (NIV))

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

May 20, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
(2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV))

What is your favorite Scripture passage? What makes it your favorite? Did God use it to reach out to you at a time of terrible trouble? Did He speak to you through that passage when you were alone and lost? Did He use it to call you to Him and confirm your salvation?

God has given us so much of Himself through His Word. Think about your favorite Scripture passage. At best, it is only a few words. A few select words that God has used to touch your life. If God can soften your heart with only a few words, imagine what He can do with every word that is recorded as part of His Word. If we took to heart every morsel that is freely given to us, how would we be different? If we studied and memorized more of Scripture the way that we memorize our favorite passage, imagine how our lives would be changed!

If your favorite passage is looked upon as an appetizer to a grand feast, are we missing all that God has laid out before us? If you are offered an appetizer, do you simply stop with one morsel? An appetizer is simply the thing that awakens your hunger for what is to come. Your favorite passage is that appetizer. It should be looked upon as the morsel that awakens your hunger for all of God’s Word.

Are you hungry?

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

May 19, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”
“No,” they answered.
He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.
(John 21:4-6 (NIV))

Do you consider yourself an expert in what you do?

Think about that question for a moment.

How willing are you to take the advice of someone who doesn’t know anything about what you do? How willing are you to even consider doing something differently than what you are accustomed to?

Now, is there something in your life that you are struggling with because you know that God is leading you in a certain direction, but you feel that you are constantly encountering roadblocks and obstacles? Have you stopped to consider that you are trying to fulfill your calling using your own strengths and plans? Perhaps you simply need to step back and accept the advice from someone else.

That is exactly what the disciples did, not only in this story, but in other stories as well.

Every time that they attempted to do something without Jesus, it did not go as planned. When they allowed Jesus to guide, things vastly improved. Fortunately for those who can claim spiritual descendancy to the disciples, they allowed someone else to lead them. They soon realized that they could not do it on their own. They needed Jesus.

What in your life is in need of the guidance that Jesus can give? Is it your job? Is it your family? Is it your calling? Is it a ministry that He is longing to use to spread the Gospel? Listen to that still, small voice. I think that you know the one. It is the one that says “Throw your net on the right side of the boat. . . “ It is the one that sounds foolish, but you just can’t seem to get it out of your mind. It is the one that is calling you to trust in something besides your own so-called expertise.

I once heard a story about how a revival got started. To summarize, many people got together to pray that a revival would start in their town. They met regularly, but with no results. Finally, someone asked after a rather lengthy prayer meeting if anyone felt anything. No one answered. This went on for several more prayer meetings, and still no one answered. Finally, at still another prayer meeting, someone reluctantly said that they felt that they were supposed to hit the table. They said that they had felt this way almost since the beginning of their prayer group, but they felt that it was foolish and didn’t mention it. Finally, they broke down and did what they felt they were being told to do. They hit the table.

Can you guess what happened?

Are you ignoring something because you feel that it is foolish? God is not calling the equipped. He is equipping the called. It is up to each of us to answer that call. He will call you in ways that you may think are foolish.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the LORD.
(Isaiah 55:8 (NIV))

Are you trying to do things your way?

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