For days

July 31, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

For days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven.
(Nehemiah 1:4 (NLT))

Nehemiah did something that we seem to ignore today!

It is the first two words of this passage – for days.

We have become such an instant gratification society that if something does not happen immediately, too many of us simply give up.

We mourn. We fast. We pray to God, but when God doesn’t answer on our time table, we assume that the answer is no. Nehemiah knew differently. He knew that God is like the judge in the following parable.

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, `Grant me justice against my adversary.’
“For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, `Even though I don’t fear God or care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!’ ”
And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
(Luke 18:1-8 (NIV))

We must be persistent in our prayers. God answers every prayer, but He takes great joy in granting justice for those who call upon His name.

Do you call out for days or do you utter a few words and give up?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 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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What are you willing to endure?

May 24, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.
(2 Timothy 2:10 (NIV))

Paul was willing to endure anything and everything in order to spread the Gospel. It is his willingness to endure anything that allowed the Gentiles to be extended salvation. It is his willingness to endure everything that he faced that has allowed the spread of the Gospel and the rise of Western civilization. In essence, we owe our very history to the willingness of Paul to endure all for the sake of the Gospel.

One person can make a difference. Through the sin of one, all fell from grace. Through the grace of one, many are redeemed. Through the faith and perseverance of one, history was changed.

Humanity was doomed because of the sins of one. God came to earth, and as Jesus Christ, He redeemed the world. Paul was not the first person. He was not God made man. Paul was simply a man. He was a man who was willing to do whatever it took to achieve the task that he had been given. He was willing to endure all for the sake of the cross. He was put in prison. He was stoned. He was run out of towns. He did not waiver in his task. He knew that God’s Word is true. He was willing to do anything for the truth. He was willing to die for this truth.

Can we claim to be like Paul?

We live very comfortable lives. We close the doors to our homes and live in temperature controlled bubbles. We only venture outside of our bubbles to gather things to bring back into our bubbles. We are not willing to endure anything that draws us outside of our comfort zones that we have established within these “bubbles.”

Is this the way Paul would have lived his life? We have been given the very same good news that Paul was. He was willing to endure anything in order to spread the good news. Are we even willing to look beyond our bubbles to see the need of those around us? Do we see the lost souls in our own lives?

Are we willing to endure it all?

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

May 16, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
(Hebrews 12:11 (NIV))

Think about this statement.

Have you ever attempted to get in shape physically only to hurt in places that you didn’t even know could hurt? You probably thought seriously about reversing your decision to get in shape, only to later be thankful that you stuck with it.

This was self-discipline. How much more do we detest discipline that is imposed upon us? It is very painful to go through something knowing that you cannot do anything to change it, yet, afterward, it feels good to have survived it and to have “grown” from the experience. Perhaps this is the best example of the old saying “You can’t see the forest for the trees.” When we are in the middle of the discipline, we do not see the rewards or the long term goal. All we see is the immediate pain. We fail to understand the big picture, just as the bigger “forest” cannot be seen because we focus too much on the individual “trees.”

It is a matter of perspective. If we focus on the discipline, then we will become bitter and angry and overly exaggerate the pain. If we focus on the results, then the pain of the discipline takes a lesser position within our current situation, for we focus on the bigger picture.

God desires to mature each of us, and this will mean that each of us will go through some discipline. How we handle this discipline is a matter of focus and perspective. The bigger picture is becoming more like Jesus. The smaller picture is the pain and the discomfort that it causes “me” at this very moment.

What is your perspective?

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

May 6, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
(Luke 5:15-16 (NIV))

Jesus was and always will be. Yet, when He was on this earth, He did not gloat or boast or brag. He taught humbly, yet powerfully. Even though all knowledge was with Him, He did not forsake His quiet times that He spent in prayer. We can only imagine what His prayers were, but the important thing is that Jesus DID pray. He prayed constantly. As part of the Trinity, He had been with God the Father from the beginning, yet He still felt the need to pray.

Prayer! What do you think that prayer is?

Is it a one sided request that God do something for you?

Is it a one sided advice giving session?

Or is it a two-sided conversation where you freely talk with the Father? Jesus held conversations with God the Father. We know the contents of one side of one of His conversations. The prayer in the Garden of Gesthemene is probably the most intense prayer ever recorded, yet it was not a request, it was not advice, it was an earnest discussion with God the Father to discern His Will.

If Jesus, who was with God and who is God, felt the need to pray to God the Father, how can we do any less?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Anguish. Pain. Distress. Anxiety. Freedom!

May 4, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”

He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”
(Matthew 26:39-42 (NIV))

Anguish.

Extreme pain.

Distress.

Anxiety.

There have been times in each of our lives when we felt that things just couldn’t get any worse. We were at our limits as far as anguish, pain, distress and anxiety. We have prayed that God would remove the pain from our lives. We have felt something similar to what Jesus felt that night so long ago.

If this type of feeling only came once in your lifetime, we could probably face the single event knowing that if we make it through that one episode, then we will never have to face this severe anguish ever again. The sad thing is that we know that we may face these type of feelings many times during our lives.

Still, we survive. We continue to live out our lives.

Why?

We have been given a hope. We have a faith that is built upon the events that took place that night that lead to the crucifixion. We have a faith based on the resurrection three days later. That is why we can face the trials and tribulations that this world sends our way. Jesus bore the burden for us. He carried the weight of all of our sin, anguish, pain, distress and anxiety.

Think about that.

I can recall times when I literally felt that my heart would burst just from the burden that I bore. I am certain that each of you has felt the same. Now, multiply that feeling by the countless number of times in your life where you are distressed. The burden gets heavier.

Now, multiply that amount of anguish by the billions of people that have ever lived and will ever live and the anguish grows to be so large that it is difficult to comprehend. Yet, comprehend it is exactly what Jesus did. He not only understood the amount of sin, anguish and pain, He willingly bore that burden for us so that we would not have to bear it any more.

“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))

Jesus bore the sins of the whole world so that we can know peace. All that we have to do is accept that peace and turn our burdens over to Him. If He can carry the weight of the sin and anguish for all eternity, then He is more than capable of carrying you through whatever you may be facing.

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you accepted your mission?

February 22, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious. But you, son of man, listen to what I say to you. Do not rebel like that rebellious house; open your mouth and eat what I give you.
(Ezekiel 2:7-8 (NIV))

We have a mission!

Just like Ezekiel, we are to tell people of God’s Word, whether they listen or not. We must be faithful in fulfilling this mission, for we never know what seed that God may use us to plant in the life of someone. We may never know the outcome, but we must stand firm in the faith that we must plant that seed.

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, `Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
(Matthew 17:20 (NIV))

Someone had to have faith to tell you of the grace and mercy freely given to us through Jesus. Perhaps that faith was only as small as a mustard seed. Did that faith grow and spread into your life enough that you, too, accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior? If you have accepted Jesus a your personal Lord and Savior, then you have had a small seed planted within you that must grow and blossom. If you remember that the spiritual world has a direct correlation to the physical world, then you will recognize that there is a life cycle. A seed germinates and grows into a plant. The plant matures and produces seeds and then the cycle starts over. Someone planted the seed within you. If it has grown, then we have a mission to plant the seeds that God has entrusted to us into the lives of others. It is not our task to nurture those seeds. God will use others to do that. In fact, sometimes we may plant. Other times we may water, and still other times we may see the harvest. It is all part of the same mission.

We must never forget, as members of the Body of Christ, that we have a mission. We must plant the seed of God’s Word into the lives of others.

Have you accepted your mission?

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