Second-Guessing God

March 8, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

The angel of the LORD also said to her:
“You are now with child
and you will have a son.
You shall name him Ishmael,
for the LORD has heard of your misery.
He will be a wild donkey of a man;
his hand will be against everyone
and everyone’s hand against him,
and he will live in hostility
toward all his brothers.”
(Genesis 16:11-12 (NIV))

Abraham was a great man of God, yet, for all of his faith, he was not always patient to let God do what He had promised.

When Sarah did not bear any children, she gave Hagar to bear children for her. This caused a tremendous envy and jealousy that is still being played out to this day. The son born to Abraham by Hagar and his descendents have lived in hostility to their brothers ever since. The Arab nations and Israel claim the same roots in Abraham, yet, the conflict continues.

Consider that the custom was and is for the first-born to receive the blessing. According to the custom of man, that should have been Ishmael, yet, according to the ways of God, Isaac received the blessing and Ishmael was forced to flee with his mother. Perhaps if Sarah had not been so impatient with God, the events throughout history and especially the recent events in this world would never have happened.

Consider the fact that every time man tries to rush God or to second-guess Him, disaster follows. It happened with Adam and Eve. It happened with Abraham and Sarah. Is it happening in your life?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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God never changes!

November 9, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Remember, O LORD, your great mercy and love,
for they are from of old.
(Psalms 25:6 (NIV))

God never changes!

Too many people see God in the Old Testament and they do not see a continuity of character from there to the New Testament. They see the wrath and the plagues and the wars and do not realize that these are witness to God’s mercy and love. All of the events in the Old Testament that we learn as children are manifestations of God’s grace and mercy. Consider the flood. God loved His creation. He did not want to destroy it. He wanted to cleanse it and bring it closer to Him. He saved Noah and his family through the flood. He saved His creatures as well. Look at the Tower of Babel. Again, God wanted to bring His creation closer to Him. Instead, we turned to our own desires. In an attempt to get us to turn to Him, He confused our languages so that we could no longer rely on ourselves. What about Abraham? God called him to be closer to Him. Abraham trusted God and attempted to do as he was asked. Was it a wrathful God that saved Abraham’s nephew, Lot?

God has been calling people and drawing them to Him ever since He created us. He is merciful. He is loving. He longs for us to come out of our sin and turn to Him.

I am not too sure why people find it so difficult to reconcile Old Testament to New Testament. God is the same. He continually called out to us in the Old Testament. He finally called out to us directly through Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son. Jesus did not replace God the Father. He did not replace God’s mercy and love. He came to show us how great that mercy and love is.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.
(John 1:1-2 (NIV))

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
(John 1:14 (NIV))

We know that Jesus is part of the Trinity of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. He is part of that great mercy and love, just as God the Father is a part of that great mercy and love. God never changes. His authority is forever. His love is forever.

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

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Where there once was law, there is grace!

April 11, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned– for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law.
(Romans 5:12-13 (NIV))

“But sin is not taken into account when there is no law.”

This passage can be taken different ways, but stop and read it again from the perspective where Jesus came to give us grace. In effect, He removed the law, or should I say that He removed the consequences of the law?

I suppose that the meaning of these words can be argued, especially when you consider what was written in Matthew.

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.
(Matthew 5:17 (NIV))

Jesus did not abolish the law. Rather, He came to abolish application of the consequences of the law within our lives. He fulfilled the law by fully accepting those consequences upon Himself. He also opened the door for still another gift. He made the way clear for the Holy Spirit and all of the teachings of the Holy Spirit to come into our lives.

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))

If we live by the fruit of the Spirit, then we cannot be judged by the law for there is no law against these things. If we live by these, we do not sin. We cannot be judged. We cannot be held accountable for missing the mark if we don’t miss the mark.

But wait!

We are human and not capable of hitting the mark.

Doesn’t that put us back into sin and, consequentially, the law?

Are you beginning to see the dilemma that we face? We are to keep God’s laws and live by the Spirit, but since we are a fallen race, we cannot meet these expectations and are condemned.

Since one member of the human race condemned us to this dilemma, we needed one member of the human race to redeem us from this dilemma. That is why God sent His perfect Son, Jesus to live as one of us and to die as one of us. Through that one perfect life, there is now no more consequences of the law, for Jesus fulfilled all of the requirements of the law.

There is one thing for those who will simply accept it.

Where there once was law, there is grace!

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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You will never find greater riches than these.

March 25, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace
(Ephesians 1:7 (NIV))

What do you think of when you think of riches?

Is it the typical human nature responses such as money, big house, fancy cars and expensive toys?

Let me ask this another way.

What is it that you value the most?

Did you answer family and friends? Perhaps you thought of the gift of life itself. These are valuable to most people, yet, there is something that has far greater worth. It is of far greater worth than all of the riches of the world.

What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?
(Mark 8:36 (NIV))

Everything in this life is here today and gone tomorrow. With that said, how can we place value on something that does not last? How can we spend our lives striving for something that can be taken from us in the blink of an eye?

We are trapped in a world of sin and death. A world that we allowed to fall away from God. It is a world badly in need of something that is eternal, something that will not rust or decay with time. That something is God’s grace.

I know of nothing in this world that can bring eternal life, even though man has searched for just such a thing for a long time. I know of nothing in this world that can bring peace, even though we all long for it. I know of nothing in this world that can bring everlasting joy, even though there are things that bring us fleeting glimpses of joy. Nothing in this world can redeem us. Nothing in this world can provide forgiveness, and nothing in this world can give us grace.

With that said, the greatest riches of all is the very thing that can bring all of this. It is not of this world, for this world is fallen. It is from the very One who created this world. It is designed to bring each and every one of us back into the pre-sin relationship that we were supposed to have with God.

Let me ask a few more questions.

Does money make you happy? Do big houses make you happy? Do expensive toys make you happy? All of these things soon become the reason for living and then you discover that they leave you cold and empty. Only one thing can leave you joyfully filled and warm with the love of God.

Have you accepted the riches that God offers through His glorious gift of grace? Have you accepted the gift of salvation that was purchased at the cross by Jesus?

You will never find greater riches than these.

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

February 15, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

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.
(Ephesians 6:12-13 (NIV))

This is so hard to remember when we are faced with trials and tribulations from all sides. Sometimes it even feels that all that we do is thwarted by an unseen enemy who hates what we love.

Wait a minute!

That sounds just like Satan and he does hate what we love.

And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down–that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.
(Revelation 12:7-9 (NIV))

Because of his rebellion against God, he and his fallen angels have been cast out of heaven. They hate God and desire nothing more than to usurp God’s authority. That is what happened when Adam and Eve allowed Satan to become the prince of this world. Our ancestors legally gave the authority that God gave them to Satan. Satan and his followers work in the shadows to deceive and destroy all that is God’s creation and all who call upon the name of the Lord. Just like we cannot see God, we cannot see Satan, but we feel the effects of his wrath against those who love God.

There is constant warfare in the spiritual realm because of these events. What happens in the physical world is only a shadow of what happens in the spiritual realm.

We are at war!

Our enemy cannot be seen, but we can arm ourselves with God’s armor and we can overcome the enemy.

Are you prepared for the struggle? Are you focusing your battle tactics where they belong?

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

February 8, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
(Psalms 139:23-24 (NIV))

As I read this passage, I had to stop and pray that my desires are the same as the ones professed by the Psalmist.

It is so easy to simply give “lip service” to God professing to desire what He desires for us. All too often, even under the best of intentions, we get carried away by the ways of the world and we simply forget to seek God in an earnest and sincere way. We get so involved in the daily details that are trivial in nature that we forget to seek after the things in our lives that are eternal in nature.

One hundred years from now, will it matter if you got that promotion at work? Will it matter if you were a member of that elite club that you just have to be a part of? Will it matter if your house is the biggest one in town?

There is only one thing that will matter in one hundred years!

I don’t want anyone to look back and realize that the one thing that truly mattered, they overlooked.

What is that one thing?

It can literally change your perspective on eternity.

Have you accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior? Have you earnestly sought after God’s own heart and realized that He is leading you to the saving grace that is only yours through the atoning blood of Jesus? That is the way that is everlasting. Allow God to search you and to lead you to the saving grace that He has freely given to all who will simply receive.

For those who have accepted this grace, allow God to search your heart and lead you away from any offensive way. That is my prayer for each of us, including myself.

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

February 4, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
(James 1:4 (NIV))

Are you like the vast majority of people today? Do you expect things to come to you instantly?

Noah spent over one hundred years building a huge ark when there was no water anywhere close by. How could such a huge ark be taken to the water? Still, Noah stood firm in his faith, even though he did not understand how it could happen.

I want you to carefully consider Abraham. He was given a promise by God that he would be the father of many nations, yet, when he was ninety years old, he had no children. Still, Abraham stood firm in his faith, even though he did not understand how it could happen.

What about Moses? He had fled Egypt and became a shepherd. God called him to return to Egypt and bring his people out of bondage. How could a simple shepherd bring out the vast numbers of people enslaved by Egypt? Still, Moses stood firm in his faith, even though he did not understand how it could happen.

Each of these people persevered in their faith even when they did not see any physical way that things would turn out the way they did. If maturity is the attaining of a final or desired state, then each of these people persevered until their faith saw maturation. We can mature in many ways, but being able to say that we possess a mature faith means that we lack nothing. We place our complete trust in God. We know that He will provide no matter what we may face.

I pray that we may all persevere until our faith is mature.

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