Be still and rest in the presence of God

April 7, 2014

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.
(Mark 6:30-34 (NIV))

We are told many times to be still and rest in the presence of God. We need to spend quiet time with God so that He may pour out His teachings and His blessings upon us through the Holy Spirit. This cannot be done when we are busy all of the time.

Jesus had sent the disciples out to minister and to teach. When they got back, He knew that they had probably exhausted themselves in the works that they did and that they had probably been under attack from the enemy. Jesus knew that they needed to rest and to recharge themselves so they could continue.

Doing the work of God is not a race that must be finished quickly. It is an endurance race that requires rest and rejuvenation along the way.

Even when we plan to get the rest that we need, God may place people in our lives who need to have some of our time. Just as the crowd followed Jesus when He was taking the disciples to get some rest, sometimes, unexpected people come into our quiet time. This is not a bad thing if what they are seeking is also to learn and to be still with God. Solitude is not necessarily the prerequisite for being still before God.

You can be still and listen to God even in the middle of a large crowd. Jesus spoke many times to groups of different sizes. Do you suppose that the people in the large crowds listened to His voice as if He were speaking only to them? It is possible to hear God no matter where you are. All you have to do is be still.

When was the last time that you took the opportunity to be still and listen to God?

Copyright 1998 – 2014 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Contradictions!

July 5, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.
(2 Corinthians 6:3-10 (NIV))

Contradictions!

According to the world view, we are totally wrong in our faith, yet, according to God’s Laws we are totally right in all that we believe. Even though we are right in our faith, we must be humble and willing to endure whatever is presented to us for the sake of those who may be able to be reached. We should never act in such a manner as to give anyone cause to criticize us for making others stumble or fall in their faith.

Paul was an excellent example of what we are to do when faced with hardships because of our faith and our witness. Most of us will never have to face even a portion of the circumstances that Paul had to face for the Gospel. Still, in our everyday lives, we must strive to follow Paul’s example no matter what the circumstances.

No matter what we may face today, tomorrow, or whenever, we must always “REJOICE” for the grace and mercy of God has redeemed us!

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Don’t Compromise

June 18, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land where you are going, or they will be a snare among you.
(Exodus 34:12 (NIV))

How true this is!

The land where we are going is the world in which we live. Every day we face things that we either have to turn away from, or we allow them to have an influence in our lives. What are some of the things that you have allowed to have an influence in your life? Were they as harmless as they appeared to be when they first materialized in your line of sight?

The same warning that God gave to the nation of Israel during the exodus from Egypt still holds true today. We may not face the same issues, but the results can be just as catastrophic in our lives if we give in when we know that we shouldn’t. What seems like a harmless compromise often will lead to issues that we will only live to regret at a later date.

What have you compromised on lately?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How are you spending your morning?

March 29, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.
(Matthew 27:31 (NIV))

The events of the long night and morning were over. Jesus had been arrested, beaten, falsely accused and judged, and then sentenced to die a horrible death. The only thing left of God’s plan was the actual crucifixion. Think on those events as you read this, for many will be reading it at the time of day that things actually unfolded.

How are you spending your morning? Is it filled with reverence and thanks for what Jesus endured? As you pour yourself another cup of coffee, does the impact of Jesus’ suffering bring you to tears or do you even think of it at all? As you head to that meeting, do you reflect upon just how things would be if Jesus had not had His meetings with Pontius Pilate? When you feel the burdens of the day come crashing in around you, do you stop to think of the burden that Jesus bore as He carried His cross?

It is so easy to get lost in the trivial details of our own lives. We think that they are so important. We think that if we don’t close that next big sale, the world will fall apart. We think that if our children don’t get into that private school, their lives are over. All that we bear is the burdens and sins from our own lives. Imagine having the weight of the sins of the world hoisted upon you. Imagine the world being so engrossed in the usual activities that your sacrifice becomes trivialized. Imagine taking on the burden anyway because you love the people of the world.

Stop to think just what Jesus went through so that you can have grace and salvation. Retrace His steps as He carries His cross to Calvary. Put yourself in His place as the nails pierced His hands. Imagine how He felt looking down through history as He looked upon you at this very moment in time. He suffered and died for you and I. He did it willingly so that we may have grace and mercy.

Spend the day embracing His sacrifice, feeling His pain and emotions. Look upon your life as He looked upon it. Jesus felt that His sacrifice was worth everything that He endured. He felt that you and I were worth whatever price He had to pay.

Today, stop and thank God for His Son, Jesus, and His willingness to go to the cross for you and I. That day was a day of agony and fear, but through the fear we have a shining ray of hope – the resurrection on Easter morning!

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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He must become greater

March 26, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

He must become greater; I must become less.
(John 3:30 (NIV))

The American Standard Version translates this passage as “He must increase, but I must decrease,” but no matter how you translate it, the concept is the same. We must seek more of Jesus in our lives and less of us.

To those who are not believers, this sounds like we are willing to give up our individuality. It sounds like we are willing to become mindless followers. It sounds like we are weak minded and not able to make decisions for ourselves.

How do you feel about how the world sees this passage?

Do you agree with this, or do you have a different understanding of what this means to a follower of Jesus Christ?

What traits about Jesus do you love? I know that we are glad to call him Savior, but what about Him makes us want to call Him Lord? What traits do we want to see increased in our lives?

More difficult questions that the unbelieving world does not understand, yet, we need to be able to understand this for ourselves. We need to be able to defend our faith when we are confronted. I know that we are to rely on the Holy Spirit in times like this, but we are also called to be prepared.

Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
(Ephesians 6:11 (NIV))

I firmly believe that Jesus lived an example of the traits that we should desire to see increase within us. We know them as the fruit of the Spirit.

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))

We know our actions and thoughts as well. They are of a sinful nature.

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.
(Galatians 5:24 (NIV))

If we look upon John 3:30 with this in mind, then it is clearly a matter of self examination. If we follow Jesus, we don’t want to give up our individuality. On the contrary, we want to give up our sinful nature and fill ourselves with what fills Jesus.

Personally, I do not know of anyone who is truly happy in their sin. The drunk does not want to be a drunk. He is trying to wash away something. The same can be said for any sin. The sin is an attempt to fill a void, and it often leaves a scar. If we seek to remove the sin and fill ourselves with Jesus, we are seeking healing. We are seeking peace, and we are seeking the truth.

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you have the power?

March 23, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.”
Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed from that moment.
(Matthew 9:20-22 (NIV))

Just what is faith?

What is the power of faith?

These are two very short and seemingly simple questions, yet they have left people perplexed and uncertain for thousands of years.

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
(Hebrews 11:1 (NIV))

Did the woman say to herself, “Maybe if I get His attention, He will be able to tell me what doctor to go see.”? No, she said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.” There was no hesitation in her convictions. There was not a single utterance of doubt. She knew what she believed and she knew what would happen. Faith is being sure and certain, but, perhaps it also rests heavily on the total removal of doubt that seems to fill our minds. After all, doubt removes certainty. It removes hope. Doubt is the natural enemy of faith.

Is it possible to have faith and still have doubt?

We are only human. We are sinners. We will have moments when our faith is overcome by doubt. After all, the enemy does attack and catch us off guard.

“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))

The power of faith allows us to keep our eyes on Jesus when all around us is falling apart.

The power of faith allows us to see God’s hand in and through the toughest storms that we will face.

The power of faith allows us to know beyond all doubt that Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords.

Do you have a faith? Do you have the power that can only come through that faith?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Focus on the True Blessings

March 20, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

When the LORD your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you–a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant–then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
(Deuteronomy 6:10-12 (NIV))

This warning applies to us today.

It is so easy to turn to God when things are not going so well. It is human nature to cry out in despair when things don’t look so great. When things begin to look better, we get very thankful. It is when things have been going well for a while that we begin to lose site of where the blessings have come from. We start to take them for granted. We forget to pause and give thanks and praise to whom they are due. Soon, we start to think that we are the reason things are good.

What is it about human nature that makes us turn our backs on the very One whom we should be praising? Do we get so awestruck by the good things that we get blessed with that we can’t see beyond our blessings? Don’t get me wrong. Blessings are wonderful. They show that God truly does love us. It is our reaction to the blessings that cause all of our problems. All too often we become so engrossed in the blessings that they become our god.

You shall have no other gods before me.
(Exodus 20:3 (NIV))

It is a matter of perspective. It is a matter of priority. God knew that we would be tempted by His blessings. He knew that we would seek after the blessings. He knew that we could be easily distracted, and He warned us. We are to focus on Him. We are to praise Him. When we are in the midst of the blessings, we must not be tempted by the blessings. We must remember that He is the blessing that we desire. Through Him, grace, mercy and salvation are ours. This blessing is of far greater worth than any physical blessings.

We must focus on the true blessings and keep the earthly blessings in perspective.

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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In the face of unsound doctrine

March 19, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.
(2 Timothy 4:1-5 (NIV))

“For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine.”

Does this sound like the world in which we live? People who are comfortable in their sin, not longing to hear the truth, are seeking justification for their actions in any way that they can. It is human nature to want to be accepted. We all want confirmation that what we do is not wrong. We all want to be around others who will affirm us in our beliefs and support us in our chosen paths, even if that path is wrong.

That brings up another interesting issue. What is morally right and what is wrong? What is truth and what is a lie?

Sadly enough, the answers to these two questions, which go hand in hand with each other, have lost any solid answer in my lifetime. What is right and wrong is now subject to individual interpretation and truth is relevant. Does this fit into the words from 2 Timothy? Does this describe our society and enforce what is spoken of when we are told that people will gather around them teachers saying what their ears want to hear?

Human nature is a funny thing. Why do we seek what is not true? Why do we seek to do what is wrong? What is inside of us that makes us turn away from the truth?

In these days that we find ourselves living in, we, as the Body of Christ, must stay the course. We must stay focused, and according to 2 Timothy, we must keep our head, be willing to endure hardship, and tell people the truth whether they long to hear it.

I know that this may sound like I am telling you to be annoying to those who do not wish to hear, but keep in mind, everything is in God’s time. how many times did you hear someone telling you about Jesus before you finally came to the knowledge of God’s saving grace?

But wait!

And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave, as a testimony against them.
(Mark 6:11 (NIV))

I know that this may sound like a contradiction, but think about that for a moment from this perspective. The story in Mark is told of what we are to do when we encounter any location where no one will listen. It does not tell us that there is no hope for those people. It tells us that we are to leave. It does not mean that others will not be able to reach them.

Some will plant. Some will water. Some will harvest.

We are to keep our faith. We are to spread the truth. We are to reach as many as we can with the Gospel. We must remain prepared to preach the Word both in season and out of season, when we are welcomed and when we are despised.

Are you prepared to do what you are called to even in the face of unsound doctrine?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Deny yourself?

March 16, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
(Mark 8:34 (NIV))

Have you ever given any thought to what it means to deny yourself?

One of the definitions of denial is to withhold. When you deny yourself, you refrain from satisfying your own desires and needs. In other words, you withhold things from yourself.

I know that this concept goes against human nature, so why are we told to deny ourselves?

Think about this statement from Jesus. He foretold of His actions. He would deny Himself. He would allow things to happen. He would not defend Himself to His accusers. He was about to bear a heavy burden. He was about to carry His own cross and go down a path that is difficult to travel. He was about to go where it is difficult to follow.

What would have happened if Jesus had not denied Himself? What would have happened if He had not carried His cross and traveled the road that He had to travel?

Fortunately, we do not look at this passage with that answer in our set of Biblical knowledge, for Jesus did deny Himself to the point of the cross. He saw that others would benefit from His actions.

For those of you who are Trekkies, you may recall the saying that Spock often used, “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one.”

God looked upon humanity and saw a great need. It was a need so great the it was universal. There was not a single person who had ever lived or would ever live who did not have that need.

Jesus denied Himself for us. He did not satisfy his own desires. He satisfied the desires of God the Father.

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))

We must refrain from satisfying our own needs and desires when all around us is a sea of humanity that has a need to know of Jesus. The cross that we bear may not be the same as Jesus, but we will face trials for our self denial. The world is fond of telling people that it is ok to do whatever you want, to place yourself first. There are even those who take self denial to the extreme and commit painful acts upon themselves to show that they are denying themselves. Godly self denial is not about these acts.

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: ” `Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: `Love your neighbor as yourself.’
(Matthew 22:36-39 (NIV))

Denying yourself without loving God and loving your neighbor is worthless. You must complete the three fold instructions – deny yourself, take up your cross, follow Jesus. It is not possible to do only one.

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What have the locusts eaten?

March 9, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten–
the great locust and the young locust,
the other locusts and the locust swarm–
my great army that I sent among you.
(Joel 2:25 (NIV))

Is there something in your life that you feel you have had taken from you through no fault of your own? It could be health. It could be finances. It could be family. It could be any number of things. We all have something that fits this definition.

Each of us who claim Jesus as Lord and Savior of your life can lay claim to the promises made in Joel. God will repay us for the years the locusts have eaten. We may not understand how or when, but they will be repaid. That is a promise made by God and God cannot go against His Word. That is impossible.

No matter what the enemy may have taken from you, rest assured in the promises of God. We must stand firm in our faith that what God says is true or will come true. When we doubt this, all we have to do is look at the life of Abraham and the promises that God made to him. At a very old age, God changed his name from Abram to Abraham, from what meant “exalted father” to “father of many.” Even though Abraham was almost one hundred before God began to fulfill the promise that He had made, God did keep His Word.

I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.
(Genesis 22:17-18 (NIV))

Abraham had a rocky road to travel during his life, but he faced it with the faith that God would keep His promises. Because of his faith, God did keep His promises and the descendants of Abraham are indeed as numerous as the stars.

What is it in your life that you need to have faith that God will repay you for even if the locusts have eaten it?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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