Arm yourself

February 3, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For 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. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
(Ephesians 6:10-18 (NIV))

The world is not a safe place.

Most people only see what is in the physical and do not see the spiritual side of things that happen in this world. They are closely related and inseperable. We are to stand firm and be prepared to face anything that the enemy may throw at us in the physical and in the spiritual.

How does a soldier prepare for war? Constant training in the methods of warfare and in the tactics of the enemy is the standard preparation for any battle. We are to arm ourselves in a similar manner.

We are struggling against the evil side of the spiritual world. In order to prepare for this battle we must study the manual that God has given to us. We must utilize the tactics that we are told about. We must learn to recognize the enemy in all situations. We must immerse ourselves in God’s Word and be prepared to call upon it at any time in our lives and not only on Sunday morning.

It is true that we are taught to have love for another, but the Bible also tells us to do battle with the forces of the enemy. In other words, we must not just sit idly by and allow the enemy to do whatever he desires.

Arm yourself and prepare for a spiritual battle.

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

December 3, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

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

Unfortunately, life is not easy. Each of us will face things in this life that we cannot bear on our own strength. Satan will use everything within his power to overburden us to the point of breaking. He will afflict us with anything and everything that he has at his disposal.

Satan wants us to lose sight of Jesus, for when we lose sight of Jesus, we lose sight of hope. We must develop the faith to allow us to look beyond our situations and keep our eyes firmly focused on Jesus and the grace that He alone can offer.

“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))

We will have troubles in this world. We will have afflictions in this world. But, we must remember that we have the promise that our faith in Jesus will overcome these afflictions and these troubles. Jesus did not promise that we would keep us from having these troubles. He promised that through Him, we would overcome these troubles.

Jesus is our hope!

How do we keep that hope alive? How do we keep our faith when all around us is despair?

Focus on our joy in Jesus, our patience through Jesus, and our faith that Jesus will see us through anything that Satan may throw at us.

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

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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What is your definition of “good?”

September 22, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

But as for me, the nearness of God is my good;
I have made the Lord GOD my refuge,
That I may tell of all Your works.
(Psalms 73:28 (NAS))

When you think of things that are good for you, what comes to mind?

There was a time when I thought that fame and fortune would be good for me, after all, the people who are in the spotlight and who have wealth never seem to go without! They are always getting the attention and adoration of people no matter where they may go.

I am so glad that I came to my senses!

“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good–except God alone.
(Mark 10:18 (NIV))

I have learned to see things in a much different light. Perhaps I should say that I have learned to see things in the Light of Jesus Christ. The things that I used to think would be good for me I now see the “dark side” of and want nothing to do with this. If we seek after these things first, then our heart is going to strive to attain and hold on to these things no matter what the cost. Perhaps this is key to what we are told in Matthew.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
(Matthew 6:21 (NIV))

If we attempt to place anything before us as good except for God, then we will fall prey to the enemy and will soon start to accept that other things are good for us. When did any of these other things willingly sacrifice anything for our good? Think of what God gave to us? Did He ask anything from us before He gave it to us? Only a good and loving Father would do this. Nothing else or no one else would pay such a great price.

What is your definition of “good?”

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

September 21, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise. Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.
(Proverbs 19:20-21 (NIV))

Satan tries to deceive us. He feeds us lies often enough until we start to believe them. One of these lies is that we are all capable of being in charge of our own destinies. He knows that God has a unique plan for each one of us. He thinks that if he can get us to believe that we can follow our own sinful plans, we will be happier.

Think about that concept for a moment.

How often have you seen a group of people all follow their own plans? Does anything ever get done? Do God’s plans come to fruition? Chaos results. That is exactly what the father of all lies wants to have happen. When he can create chaos in the church, he keeps the church from fulfilling the great commission.

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
(Mark 16:15-16 (NIV))

In Satan’s mind, he has stolen that many more souls from God’s salvation. The bad thing about this is that we unwittingly may have helped him because we were not unified as a body.

When we are not unified as the Body of Christ, then we slowly find ourselves sinking into chaos. We may not realize it at first. We may not even realize it until something bad has happened. Still, we end up in chaos. We lose sight of our Father and we lose sight of His Son, Jesus. And, we find it more and more difficult to acknowledge the Holy Spirit, let alone hear Him. Sadly, we still think that we are doing God’s will, but we are straying from His will in an attempt to follow ours.

Think back upon your life. Have you ever been truly happy chasing after your plans and schemes? Personally, the happiest that I have ever been was when I fully trusted in God and fully relied upon His plans and purposes.

I know that the world thinks that this takes away personal choice and freedom, and in their perspective, I can see how the world can say that. However, and it is a big “however,” we are the Body of Christ. We are not here to follow our plans. We should know that we are here to bring others into God’s Kingdom. That is God’s purpose. That is God’s plan. I believe that the parable of the talents is appropriate at this point.

“His master replied, `Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
“The man with the two talents also came. `Master,’ he said, `you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.’
“His master replied, `Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
“Then the man who had received the one talent came. `Master,’ he said, `I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’
“His master replied, `You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.
” `Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
(Matthew 25:21-30 (NIV))

We are all given talents that we rare to use to fulfill what God has called us to do. God gave us those talents for a reason. If we hide our talents, or even worse, if we try to usurp the talents of others, we are not being good and faithful servants. We will find that our talents will be taken away from us because we have misused them.

We, as humans, have a tendency to lash out when we lose something. It is a cover-up for our own inadequacies. We blame others. When we start to do this, it is an attack from Satan. He uses this to further strain the bonds of unity that we, as the church, should have.

Listen to advice. Listen to Godly advice. Wisdom is not in worldly knowledge. Wisdom comes from knowing God and following His commands.

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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The weight of the world

September 9, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, LORD,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.”
(1 Kings 19:3-4 (NIV))

Wow!

Think about that for a moment. Have you ever felt like this? Have you ever faced a situation that you thought would be the end of you and your life as you know it? Have you ever simply wanted to give up and let the enemy win because the battle was too hard?

Even Elijah had these feelings. He feared for his life. In other words, Elijah saw the world and did not rely on God as he should. He was afraid of what the world would throw at him. He was so afraid that he actually ran away and prayed to die. Elijah was a great prophet of God, yet, he had feelings that were not from God.

How do you feel when you have moments like these? Think about how Elijah must have felt. Still, God did not abandon him. He will not abandon you.

Elijah was a great prophet. He heard God and he obeyed. Yet, in a moment of weakness, even a great prophet of God can lose sight of who is in control. God redeemed Elijah and had him speak His word again. Some would even say that Elijah’s greatest moments with God came after this episode.

Just because you have faltered in your faith, it doesn’t mean that God is not capable of using you for His purposes. I am sure that most of you have heard the old say, “God does not call the equipped. He equips the ones He calls.” He will equip you even when you feel that you are of no use to Him.

Don’t let the world make you lose sight of God’s calling. Focus on God, especially in the moments that you feel are your moments of failure. He will turn them into the seed that produces great things for His Kingdom.

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