Spiritual blindness

April 1, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

They were on their way up to Jerusalem, with Jesus leading the way, and the disciples were astonished, while those who followed were afraid. Again he took the Twelve aside and told them what was going to happen to him. “We are going up to Jerusalem,” he said, “and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.
(Mark 10:32-34 (NIV))

I often wonder what the disciples thought when Jesus told them this.

Think about what your reaction would be if you had been privileged to have been told of God’s plans just a few days before they actually happened.

Would you have believed what you had been told? Would you think that the man you had faithfully followed had lost his mind? Would you even consider the fact that everything He had ever done or had ever said He would do had come true?

If you stop to think about it, we have been told exactly what God is doing. We have the prophets who reported in detail the very events that were about to unfold. We have the same prophets and Revelation to show us what will happen at some point in the future. Do we believe these words?

It is human nature to say that we believe, yet, when it comes down to the actual events unfolding before us, we tend to not be able to recognize them as they happen. Perhaps that is why the old newspaper reporter’s adage is appropriate. When writing a story, tell the people what you are going to tell them, tell them what you have to tell them, and then tell them what you told them.

How many times had Jesus told them of the events that would transpire, yet, they still did not believe it? Fortunately, even though we are blind to what is happening right before us, Jesus still loves us. He leads us through our blindness.

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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I have overcome the world

March 10, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
(2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (NIV))

I have some questions for you and I want you to honestly reflect upon your situation and not just simply read these words. I want you to give thought, and thanks, to the One who gives us strength.

Are you hard pressed? Do you feel the weight of your situation closing in on you?

Are you perplexed? Do you look around and see things that just don’t seem fair? Do things happen to you because you try to do what is right?

Do you feel that you are being persecuted? In this day and time, professing a faith in Jesus is not looked upon by society as it used to be. We are labeled as intolerant and hateful.

Do you feel that you are being struck down and that you are under attack? Does it seem that the enemy is having a field day with you life and that everything that you do is targeted within his cross-hairs?

Jesus said that following him would not be easy.

“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))

I want you to stop and let the last eight words of John 16:33 have time to sink in.

“But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Don’t just read them. Reflect upon them and recognize one simple fact – No matter what hardships we may face in this life, and we will face hardships, Jesus has accomplished something outstanding and miraculous. No matter what the enemy may throw at us, Jesus has overcome all of it. The pain may be great, but the grace, love and peace is greater. The attacks may come full force, but the peace that passes all understanding is stronger. The persecution may be unwelcome, but the cross is much greater.

We have a loving Father who created us and a Savior who has overcome all that the world may throw at us. We must simply keep our eyes focused on Jesus no matter what we may face, and then no matter what persecution we may face, we will not be abandoned. When we are struck down, we will not be destroyed. When we are hard pressed, we will not be crushed, and when we are perplexed, we will not despair.

What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?
(Romans 8:31 (NIV))

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

March 2, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD;
(Psalms 130:1 (NIV))

“Depths” conjure up many vivid and horrible scenarios for the human imagination.

Think about what you consider the “depths.”

Some of the more common meanings of the word include imagery that suggests an abyss, a profound or intense state, a reprehensibly low condition, and even a high degree of intensity. Nothing about this word evokes a peaceful, calm place. We hear people refer to the depths of depression, the depths of insanity, the depths of loneliness, and the depths of despair. None of these are places that any of us long to be visiting, let alone living in.

I find it very interesting, and not at all surprising, that the psalmist used this word, this imagery, to be the base from which he cries out to God.

When do you cry for help?

Is it when things are going well, or is it when things have taken a turn toward the depths? It is human nature to cry out. It is human nature to seek comfort and peace. And, contrary to what many people profess, it is human nature to seek God. For those who proclaim that they do not believe, they have replaced God with something else, something that they seek after.

It is when we are far from God, when we are in the depths that this world has given us, that we feel the innate need for God to fill us, to comfort us, to save us, and to console us. Fortunately, He will do just that. He will fill us with Himself. He will comfort us with His Word. He will save us from our sin, and He will console us. It is our depths that often lead us to God. It is our depths that make us realize that we are not capable of anything on our own. It is often in our depths that we see ourselves clearly and then we can turn toward God and be redeemed.

What depths do you find yourself facing? Do you find yourself drowning in the despair of your situations? Do you see no way out? Are you lost and without hope?

It simply takes an effort on your part. Simply cry out to God and place your faith and trust in Him. Cry out to the Son that was sent. Sincerely cry out from your depths and see what God will do.

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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What would Jesus do?

October 7, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life—in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.
(Philippians 2:14-16 (NIV))

How do you react to situations when you find yourself in less than ideal circumstances?

Do you complain or argue?

Let’s face the simple truth. It is human nature to look out for numero uno. It is human nature to see every situation from the “me” perspective. Sadly enough, all too often we react as if we were the only person who mattered. We complain when we feel that we are not getting what we deserve. We argue when we feel that we have to make our point of view understood and accepted.

Just what do we deserve?

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
(Romans 3:23 (NIV))

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))

Because we are all sinners, we deserve far worse than anything we can imagine. We deserve the very punishment that Jesus bore for our sins. By grace, we have been set free. By grace, we are offered salvation. How can we, who have been given everything in exchange for nothing, complain about what we may be facing at this moment?

The next time that you feel the urge to complain or argue, think about what you have been given. Think about what you deserve. I hope that this will make you think twice about your actions.

To put it simply – What would Jesus do?

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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Do my current actions glorify Jesus?

September 20, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
(Galatians 5:24-26 (NIV))

I hope that I don’t step on anybody’s toes with this, but I have seen far too much division lately. Division in our churches. Division in our society, and division within our government. Division that I do not know how it got started or what rumors are true. Frankly, I don’t care. What I do care about is the body of Jesus Christ.

I commend those who are called to serve and are willing to serve in whatever capacity that is needed. Some of the tasks of administration are thankless jobs. For those of you who serve in your churches or in your communities in those positions, I thank you.

Now, on to the subject close to my heart.

If we all focus on Jesus, then unity will follow.

We must remember the words that Paul wrote to the church at Corinth.

The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body–whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free–and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.

Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? But eagerly desire the greater gifts.
And now I will show you the most excellent way.
(1 Corinthians 12:12-31 (NIV))

How can we move as a body when we are divided? How can we fulfill God’s commands when we are not following God as a body?

From now on, I am going to ask myself one simple question. I pray that you will join me.

Do my current actions glorify Jesus?

If my answer is “no,” then I plan on rethinking my actions.

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is your religion worthless?

September 15, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
(Proverbs 15:1 (NIV))

Have you ever stopped to think about what your words produce? Do they turn away wrath or do they stir up anger?

We can all produce gentle words when the situation is not stressful and we can remain in control. What happens when the situation starts to get out of hand? What happens when someone cuts you off in traffic? What about the times when your spouse does something that seems to be a direct personal attack, even though it isn’t? What about any number of things that can happen throughout your day that can make your gentle words turn harsh? Sometimes it is not so easy to refrain from these words that stir up anger.

Even though it is difficult, we are given instructions to deal with one another in love and peace.

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
(Ephesians 4:1-3 (NIV))

Have you ever noticed that your words are like a magnet that attracts words that are similar. If you respond with harsh words, there is a very good chance that you will receive harsh words in return. If you respond with gentle words, the chance of receiving gentle words in return increases.

How would Jesus wish for you to respond? Think about what was written of in James.

If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.
(James 1:26 (NIV))

Could this mean that our harsh words prove our faith to be worthless? We must strive to follow Jesus in all things, even in the ways of our words.

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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