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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Look to the LORD

April 27, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Look to the LORD and his strength;
seek his face always.
(Psalms 105:4 (NIV))

Who do you ask for advise when you need to make a major decision?

I want you to be honest with yourself.

Who is the first person that comes to mind when you need help deciding to switch jobs?

Who is the first person that comes to mind when you need help deciding to make a major purchase such as a house or a car?

Who is the first person that comes to mind when you are facing hardship?

I could go on with these types of questions, but I sincerely hope that you understand my train of thought. I hope that you realize that Psalms 105:4 is telling us to seek God for these situations and any and all others that may arise.

“My problems are way too small for such a big God!”

Is that what you find yourself thinking when you don’t seek God for all things?

And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
(Matthew 10:30 (NIV))

If God knows the number of hairs on your head, then He is not too big to be approached with your problems. Perhaps I should say it differently. Because He is so great and because He is so omniscient and knows all, He already knows of your needs and concerns. He is simply waiting for you to seek Him for guidance. He is waiting for you to turn to Him and seek a relationship creation to Creator, child to Father.

A loving father will willingly provide guidance to his children. There comes a time in every life where that guidance is no longer offered. This does not mean that the guidance is not there. It simply means that the child has developed to the point where maturity and free will come into play. It is the responsibility of the child to seek the advise if it is desired. The father longs to be asked. The father longs for the relationship to grow beyond that of a parent to a child. He longs for the relationship to blossom into one of love, trust and mutual understanding.

God is the same way.

He could offer us advise in all things, but would we listen? We must learn to seek Him as a Creator, as a Father, as a Counselor, and as a confidant. We must be willing to lay ourselves at His feet and listen to His heart for our lives.

Lord, help me to seek your face always. Help me to stop reacting out of my frail humanity and rely fully on your unending divinity. I pray that in seeking you face in all things that I may be able to show others the glory and mercy that is there.

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

March 24, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
(Galatians 5:25 (NIV))

Have you ever read something that made you do a double-take?

This passage did just that for me. Paul made some very profound and bold statements in these few short words.

Reread this passage and be honest with yourself when you answer the following questions.

Do you honestly live by the Spirit?

I know that I long to live by the Spirit, but human nature prevents me from fulfilling this with any consistency. Paul expressed in his writing that his readers were living by the Spirit. What did they know and do that we do not?

Do you keep in step with the Spirit?

If you are like me, you long to keep in step, but all too often you find yourself several paces behind, or at best, you find that you have been distracted and are not even in the same zip code.

I often wonder how Paul was able to live by the Spirit, and to keep in step with the Spirit , but then I remember that Paul had an encounter that left a permanent impression upon his life. He encountered Jesus in a way that would leave even the biggest skeptic in a state of complete obedience.

Is that what it takes for us? Do we need such an amazing encounter that we can’t help but obey? I hope that is not the case, for we have to remember that Paul was persecuting the church. Jesus had to do something to change the course of Paul’s life. Hopefully, we are not persecuting His church. At best, we may be slightly engrossed in our lives and not give all that we can, but I honestly do not think that we can be accused of persecuting the church.

Drastic times call for drastic measures!

That is what Jesus did in the life of Paul. He drastically changed Paul. He changed him to the point of being able to live by the Spirit. Paul tried to weigh everything and do everything according to what the Spirit told him to do. Can you imagine how things would be different if Paul lived his life as we have a tendency to live ours? Imagine the way things would have unfolded IF Paul had gone back to Jerusalem to seek medical help for his sudden blindness. He would have not followed the leading of the Spirit to go to Damascus. Ananias would not have been needed because Paul was not there. Paul would not have been healed. He would not have started his mission to the gentiles. You would probably not be reading this right now.

I often wonder if I am living by the Spirit and if I am in step with the Spirit. This is something that I pray. I long to become able to better discern the gentle voice of the Spirit. This may be food for those who claim that Christians are weak minded, but I like to think that I would want to become like an obedient dog following his master. I long for this type of a relationship not because I am weak minded, but because I know the bond of love that is present in this type of relationship. Wherever the master goes, you guessed it, the dog follows. The dog is so in tune to his master that he instinctively knows where the master is leading.

Are you instinctively in tune to where the Spirit is leading? Are you even in the same zip code?

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

January 12, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Give us each day our daily bread.
(Luke 11:3 (NIV))

Each day !

I bet most people don’t realize that when they pray what we refer to as the Lord’s Prayer, we are asking God to give us patience and faith.

Think about that if you will.

If you are anything like me, you want to know that today is taken care of. You also want to know that tomorrow is covered, as well as every day that you can envision in your future. It is only human nature to think like this. However, God wants us to think differently.

He wants us to rely on Him !

He wants us to turn to Him each and every day of our lives. He wants us to build a relationship of trust, patience and faith. We need to grow to trust in the promises that God has given to us.

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.
(2 Corinthians 1:20 (NIV))

We need to learn to be patient, for patience will help us to see what God has planned. Patience will also allow us to see others as God sees us.

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
(Ephesians 4:2 (NIV))

Faith !

Give us each day our daily bread.
((Luke 11:3 (NIV))

These words beg for God to give us faith. It is a faith that is there for this very moment in time. It is a faith that tomorrow will be what God desires. It is a faith that places all of your tomorrows squarely on the very shoulder of the One who created everything.

I did a search in the Bible for the word “tomorrow” and I was surprised at how many times the word is used to describe a promised victory by God. It is used all throughout the story of the Israelites in Egypt. Every time that God delivers a plague on Egypt, which is a fulfillment of the promise of freedom for the Israelites, Moses delivers the news that the promise will come tomorrow.

Each day requires us to believe that God will also take care of tomorrow, for the passage does not say “give us one day,” it says “Give us each day.” There is a faith that God will deliver a tomorrow as well.

The Israelites saw what happens when they have the faith to believe in today, as well as tomorrow. Their “tomorrows” saw their freedom from captivity. Our tomorrows see the freedom from the power of sin. Our tomorrows also see us taken care of by a God who loves us.

This does not mean that He will take care of us in our frivolous ways. It means that He will give us what we need. There is a difference between what we want and what we need.

We need God. We need Jesus. We need the Holy Spirit.

Focus on God and all else will fall in place.

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

December 22, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
(Philippians 4:13 (NKJV))

This is easy to remember at this time of year. It is also easy to remember this at Easter. However, it is also very easy to forget this each and every day that we live if we allow our focus to shift away from Jesus.

At this time of year it is so easy to get wrapped up in the commercialism that society has wrongfully placed upon the celebration of the birth of Jesus. We look at the things of the world and we begin to feel that we are inadequate because we do not have the highest paying job, an executive title, and we cannot purchase the newest, most expensive gadgets. At this time of year, many people will feel that the weight of the world is all on their shoulders.

It is so sad that the time of year when we celebrate the greatest gift of all, too many people feel that they are worthless and lost.

We, as the body of Christ, must not lose sight of why Jesus came to this earth. He did not come to sell the latest and greatest gadget. He did not come to make people feel inadequate. He did not come to condemn.

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.
(Luke 19:10 (NIV))

How would Jesus approach those who have lost focus? How would Jesus approach their problems? We need to reach out to those whom Jesus would reach out to.

I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
(John 14:12 (NIV))

Share the love of Jesus by showing each and everyone a very Merry Christmas!

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

December 20, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John. Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
(Mark 10:41-45 (NIV))

This is a lesson that we still have trouble with today. Every church has a few select people who feel that they have to run the whole church. They feel that unless they are involved, it isn’t done correctly. Perhaps it is simply a matter of ego or power. I hate to say this, but perhaps we are all guilty of just such behavior from time to time. No matter what the cause, it is not Biblical. Jesus spoke against this. He taught that we are not to desire authority, but to give of ourselves freely.

Where do you fall in the spectrum of authority? Do you long for people to cater to your every whim? Do you long to be pampered? Do you want people to jump to attention when you enter a room? What does this say about this type of person? Which of the following traits does this type of behavior exemplify?

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))

Jesus turned the world upside down. The Son of God, who has all authority, came to serve. How can we, who have no authority, desire it for ourselves? We think of ourselves as better than Jesus! In other words, we have elevated ourselves to a position of worship.

There is only one who is worthy of all worship. There is only one who is worthy of all praise. We must present ourselves humbly at His throne.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.
(1 Peter 5:6 (NIV))

In all things that you do, do them as if you were doing them for God. Be a willing servant.

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

December 1, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.
(Luke 22:27 (NIV))

Have you ever thought about this passage?

I honestly think that this may be one of the biggest reasons why people refuse to acknowledge Jesus as Lord and Savior. It is human nature to expect someone in authority to be served. You don’t expect someone in authority to be serving.

If you went to a store and had a problem with the service, you would probably ask to see the manager. How would you react if the person you were introduced to was on his or her hands and knees scrubbing the floor? How would you react if their clothes were coveralls instead of professional attire?

Now, carefully consider the idea of following someone who people say is God’s Son and has all authority in heaven and on earth, and then they tell you He came and was poor, beaten, mocked and killed, how would you react?

It goes against everything that conventional wisdom tells us to be true.

Could it be that in order to understand Luke 22:27, you must understand that authority is not what we understand it to be? When we think of authority, we think of the master. We don’t think of the servant. Think about the store manager scenario once again. How do you think that person became the store manager? In many instances, it is by doing what they knew needed to be done, and then being recognized for that knowledge, that initiative. They know every job within their store and are not ashamed to do the dirty work if it will help.

God sent Jesus, His only begotten Son, to do just that. Jesus knew everything that there is to know about this world, so, in a superb plan to make things right, He willingly came to this earth to do the dirty work. He came willingly to do the job that no one else knew how to do. He came to do the job that only He could do, even though He had all authority over all creation. He simply accessed the situation and willingly did as His Father determined. He was not afraid to get His hands dirty, for He loves the business of His Father. He loves us!

Being a servant does not mean that you have a place of no authority. It simply means that you recognize the need to do something and that you are not afraid to do it yourself.

I have heard many people say that a good manager will not ask his employees to do something that he is not willing to do himself. Even though the authority may be there to simply dictate that it be done, sometimes it requires the personal touch by someone who wants to make sure it is done according to higher standards.

What is your perspective on authority?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Just who are His sheep?

September 17, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“Then he will say to those on his left, `Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

“They also will answer, `Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

“He will reply, `I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

(Matthew 25:41-45 (NIV))

Do you love Jesus?

Think about His conversation with Peter after His resurrection.

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.
(John 21:15-17 (NIV))

Jesus commanded Peter to feed His sheep.

Just who are His sheep?

The whole world is His and the people in it are His creation. Everyone is part of the flock that Jesus refers to. Even the ones who do not call upon His name as Lord and Savior are part of the flock. They are simply the lost sheep.

Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, `Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
(Luke 15:4-7 (NIV))

If Simon Peter was the rock upon which Jesus built His church, we should do as Peter was instructed. We should feed His sheep. We are to see others through the eyes of Jesus and care for them as He would care for them. We are to feed the hungry. We are to give water to those who thirst. We are to give shelter to those in need. We are to care for the sick. We are to visit those in prison.

Are you caring for the sheep that God has placed in your life?

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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What are you willing to give to God?

August 20, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “I tell you the truth,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
(Luke 21:1-4 (NIV))

What is it that you are willing to give to God?

Think carefully about this question.

Do you give only what is extra? Do you give only an hour on Sunday? Do you give only when it is convenient for you?

Honor the LORD with your wealth,
with the firstfruits of all your crops;
(Proverbs 3:9 (NIV))

God wants us to give to Him first. He wants us to freely give back to Him what He has freely given to us.

Why does God desire this?

then your barns will be filled to overflowing,
and your vats will brim over with new wine.
(Proverbs 3:10 (NIV))

God longs to bless us, but only if our hearts are truly His and we are mature in our faith. We need maturity so that we can be trusted with whatever He may entrust to us. We need maturity to realize that all that He gives to us in this world is only temporary. We need maturity to realize that everything is His to begin with and if He entrusts us with anything, it is not to be hoarded for ourselves. If we can be trusted to freely give back what He has given to us, then He can trust us with much more.

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