In other words, keep your eyes focused on Jesus!

June 9, 2014

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”
(Luke 21:34-36 (NIV))

In other words, keep your eyes focused on Jesus!

“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))

No matter what we may face in this life, we must never forget where our strength lies. We must never forget that we are not our own source of strength. If we rely upon ourselves, then we will be weighed down by the anxieties of life. Our anxieties are far greater than we are. They are not greater than Jesus. When we focus on Jesus and the promises that He has fulfilled, then our anxieties tend to pale in comparison. We see His eternal strength and the fleeting problems soon are no longer important. They may still be there, but Jesus will give us the strength, His strength, to see them through.

We must stay alert and watch so that we will be able to discern the anxieties that come our way. Our vision will see them approaching and in our frail humanity, we may panic. We must learn to see them through the eyes of Jesus. Through His eyes, all obstacles are made easier. He teaches us how to rely on Him while we encounter them.

Are you ever watchful?

Copyright 1998 – 2014 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Have you lost your focus?

May 28, 2014

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
(Colossians 3:12 (NIV))

Have you ever seen the cartoon with the two vultures who are waiting for something to die so that they can eat? The captions go something like this. One vulture says, “Be patient.” The other vulture says, “Patience ! I want to kill something !”

Let’s face it, we have all had times when we just couldn’t wait any longer for what we were hoping would happen. We pace the floor. We become very short tempered and as a result, we are anything but compassionate, kind, humble and gentle.

What does the world think of us at these times? What does the world think when they see us acting exactly opposite of what we say we strive to be?

Everyone has moments of weakness. Everyone has momentary lapses of sanity. Unfortunately, it is these very moments when we are at our lowest that the world chooses to recognize us for our faith. They recognize us out of ridicule. Regardless of the times that we are able to follow Colossians 3:12, the world sees us at the very times that we fail.

We are to strive to be perfect, yet, we know that we can never be. We are sinners, and are not capable of perfection on our own. There is a saying that Christians are not perfect, just forgiven. When we fail at perfection, we must fully embrace God’s grace that allows us to pick ourselves up and keep going. We must also embrace the need to show that grace to those who witnessed our stumble. We must not lash out at them when they ridicule us for not being perfect. We must show Jesus to them. We must be as Jesus was on the cross. He did not lash out. He did not condemn. He did not bring down wrath upon those who witnessed His crucifixion.

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
(Luke 23:34 (NIV))

When the world sees us stumble, remember how Jesus reacted. When you fall, your eyes may be temporarily diverted from your goal, but when you get up and resume your path, you see your way once again. The key is to get back up and to focus once again upon Jesus.

Have you lost your focus?

Copyright 1998 – 2014 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Be still and rest in the presence of God

April 7, 2014

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.
(Mark 6:30-34 (NIV))

We are told many times to be still and rest in the presence of God. We need to spend quiet time with God so that He may pour out His teachings and His blessings upon us through the Holy Spirit. This cannot be done when we are busy all of the time.

Jesus had sent the disciples out to minister and to teach. When they got back, He knew that they had probably exhausted themselves in the works that they did and that they had probably been under attack from the enemy. Jesus knew that they needed to rest and to recharge themselves so they could continue.

Doing the work of God is not a race that must be finished quickly. It is an endurance race that requires rest and rejuvenation along the way.

Even when we plan to get the rest that we need, God may place people in our lives who need to have some of our time. Just as the crowd followed Jesus when He was taking the disciples to get some rest, sometimes, unexpected people come into our quiet time. This is not a bad thing if what they are seeking is also to learn and to be still with God. Solitude is not necessarily the prerequisite for being still before God.

You can be still and listen to God even in the middle of a large crowd. Jesus spoke many times to groups of different sizes. Do you suppose that the people in the large crowds listened to His voice as if He were speaking only to them? It is possible to hear God no matter where you are. All you have to do is be still.

When was the last time that you took the opportunity to be still and listen to God?

Copyright 1998 – 2014 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Nothing is beyond God’s reach!

January 15, 2014

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save,
nor his ear too dull to hear.
(Isaiah 59:1 (NIV))

At first reading, this verse may not make sense. God can touch anything at anytime. His arm is not short! His hearing is exceptional!

But, take a second and maybe a third reading and consider that what is being said is that nothing is too small for God. If it troubles us, no matter how insignificant it may appear in the grand scheme of God’s plan, it matters to God. God’s arm is the proper length to save us no matter where we are and why we need Him. His ear hears all things, both great and small. He desires a relationship with each of us. He will meet us where we need Him.

Will you meet Him?

Copyright 1998 – 2014 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do you endure or do you give in?

October 15, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been proved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
(James 1:12 (NKJV))

Temptation is everywhere. Is it really possible for anyone to resist the temptation that they see everywhere they look? Even those who follow God have given in to temptation at some point in their lives.

Take a look at David. The Bible says that he was a man after God’s own heart, yet, in a moment of weakness, he did something that was a direct result of temptation. Even Jesus was tempted. When he was in the desert, Satan tempted Him, yet, Jesus held firm. What was the difference then between David and Jesus?

Only Jesus, as God’s Son, could perfectly resist all temptation. Frail humanity does not have the wisdom and insight that Jesus had due to His direct communication with God the Father. Jesus was perfect. No one else can ever be perfect in this world because of the sin introduced through Adam and Eve.

But, we have the power of forgiveness! God, through His infinite wisdom and mercy gave us His Son, Jesus Christ as a way to wash away the sins of this world. All we have to do is call upon the name of Jesus as our Lord and Savior and the sin results of temptation will be as far from us as the east is from the west.

Do you endure or do you give in?

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Know God and know peace

July 1, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 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 4:4-7 (NIV))

My Sunday School class has been discussing the topic of peace for the last few weeks. We seem to have discussed all aspects of the topic, including the question, “Is there a difference between physical peace and spiritual peace?”

Think about that question for a moment.

Can you be at peace when the whole world is falling apart around you?

Can you be at peace when you are faced with physical danger?

Can you be at peace even when you may face physical death?

Would you be at peace if your were told that you must deny your faith in Jesus or die?

I know that these are tough questions that I ask, but be honest with yourself. Can your faith withstand these tests? Would you be able to look the enemy in the eye and proudly and loudly proclaim that Jesus is your personal Lord and Savior? Would you be at peace with your answer?

Peace, as the world see it, is not how the Body of Christ sees it. I honestly think that the peace the passes understanding is a direct result of faith.

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

Can you have peace if you are not sure of the hope that we have in Jesus?

Godly peace is a strange and difficult concept for the world to understand. To be honest with you, I can see why they would have trouble. God’s peace requires faith. Faith is a certainty of what we hope for. It is a certainty of what we cannot see. To those who refuse to acknowledge that there is something more to this life than what we can see, I can understand, yet, I have questions for them.

Can you see the wind? We all know that it is there.

Can we see a molecule or an atom? We are not actually able to see these building blocks, yet, we take them as truth.

We have a peace about us when it comes to the wind. We have a peace about us when it comes to the building blocks, yet, many do not have a peace when it comes to God.

I pray that we will all have the peace that passes understanding and that we may stand firm in our faith no matter what we may face. This reminds me of the old saying:

No God – No Peace
Know God – Know Peace

” ` “The LORD bless you
and keep you;
the LORD make his face shine upon you
and be gracious to you;
the LORD turn his face toward you
and give you peace.” ‘
(Numbers 6:24-26 (NIV)

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do you fight the good fight?

May 21, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Timothy, my son, I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight, holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith.
(1 Timothy 1:18-19 (NIV))

Do you fight the good fight?

Do you hold on to your faith no matter what may come your way?

I realize that this is a difficult task to accomplish, especially when the whole world seems to be filled with such bad news. Economic collapse, pirates with speed boats, terrorists, wars and threats of wars are all part of the enemy’s strategy to make you lose focus – to make you lose sight of the one whom you have placed your faith. It is the desire of the enemy to so distract you that you will run aground in the world of sin. He knows that if you take your eyes off of Jesus, that it will be easy to make you lose your course.

What happens if you are driving and you take your eyes off of the road? Now, apply that very same principle to a life in faith. Faith is a long distance journey. Just like on a long distance road trip, a faith journey can find you in times of less focus and perhaps even exhaustion. A life of faith, just like a road trip, will require times when you allow someone else to drive so that you may rest. Just as you feel that the world is beginning to take its toll, completely turn over control to Jesus. He will guide you through whatever you may be facing. Allow Jesus to refresh you and to strengthen your faith. He will always walk with you, but sometimes He will do more if you simply allow it. He will carry you. He will under gird you and lift you up so that you can face whatever the enemy may send your way.

What does a road trip have to do with a shipwreck? What does a shipwreck have to do with fighting? What does fighting have to do with faith? Perhaps it all comes down to a single, yet profoundly simple truth. Do you have the faith and the confidence to trust Jesus in all things? If you do, then He will walk with you in all that you encounter. He will never leave you. The promise made to Joshua still holds true for each of us today.

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.
(Deuteronomy 31:8 (NIV))

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Praise Him all the more!

May 7, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Praise the LORD.

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
his love endures forever.
(Psalms 106:1 (NIV))

Sometimes we just simply need to praise God.

Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
(Habbakuk 3:17-18 (NIV))

When things are going our way, we give thanks and praise to God for His blessings. We are eager to lift up praises when we are joyous. It seems to come so much easier when our hearts are light. Turn that joy into sadness and it becomes more difficult to praise God.

Why do we find it difficult to praise God when things are tough? Does He love us any less? Perhaps it is we who have slipped in our faith and affection.

Do you think that the Biblical writers did not have the same stresses that we do today? What if we put Habbakuk into perspective. Today we see a fig tree and we see a plant that offers a hobby for the owner. The same thing with grapes. Most of us in today’s society do not have sheep and cattle so the association is also missed. Consider that when this was written, if any of these things failed to produce or the sheep and the cattle were gone, it was equivalent to someone losing their job in today’s society. It may even be the same as someone losing their home.

I reiterate that sometimes we just simply need to praise God. If we can raise our voices in praise even when things are not good, we will grow stronger in our faith. We will grow closer to God and then when things do turn around, we will praise Him all the more!

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What do your thoughts tell you?

March 5, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good–except God alone. You know the commandments: `Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.’ ”
“Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”
Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
(Mark 10:17-22 (NIV))

Jesus had a way of searching the heart, or perhaps I should say that he had a way of making people search their own hearts. We do not know what happened to this man. Did he closely inspect his heart and realize that he was controlled by his wealth, or did he go his own way and not give another thought to what Jesus said?

When Jesus walked the earth, He did not preach to those whom He knew were not ready to fully receive Him, yet, he did not ignore them, either. Jesus had a way of making people look at themselves in detail. The man went away sad not because he had great wealth, but probably because he realized that Jesus was right. He probably walked away thinking about what Jesus had said and became convicted that maybe he did let his wealth control him. Jesus had planted a seed in this man’s heart that would grow and possibly blossom into the fruit that Jesus knew the man needed.

Notice that Jesus did not pursue him. He let him go his own way knowing that what He had said would be the subject of much thought and reflection. It is thought and reflection that leads a person to acknowledge that something needs to change. It is thought and reflection that leads to a person realizing that they are a sinner in need of a Savior.

What do your thoughts tell you?

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Who are we to judge?

February 14, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.
(Luke 6:37 (NIV))

It is so hard not to judge. When you get the urge to judge, step back and take a look at the situation from a different perspective. Ask yourself the following questions.

Do you know the details about the person’s life?

Do you know the state of the relationships that person is involved in?

Do you know the medical issues that the person is dealing with?

Do you know whether that person is facing a life changing situation?

These are just some of the things that can make an individual do things that will make someone want to judge them. Any of these issues as well as countless others could easily sway your appearance to others. Would you want them to judge you because you are angry that someone you love has hurt you deeply? Would you want someone to judge you because you don’t act the way they do simply because you have a medical condition that has involuntary movements, sounds or the inability to focus or multitask?

Each of us faces situations in our lives that are known only to us and to God. If we are forgiven through the atoning blood of Jesus, how can others judge us? In turn, how can we judge others for their sins, especially when the sins that we claim forgiveness of are no better than their sins in the eyes of God.

If you start to feel self-righteous, remember the prostitute that Jesus met.

The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
(John 8:3-11 (NIV))

Jesus spoke words to live by: “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Are any of us in a position to judge? Are we without sin? Why do each of us want to pick up our stones so quickly?

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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