God will hear!

February 28, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Away from me, all you who do evil,
for the LORD has heard my weeping.
(Psalms 6:8 (NIV))

David was in anguish when he wrote this psalm. Anguish so deep that he wept uncontrollably. Still, he found comfort in the Lord. He found solace in knowing that the Lord was with him when he faced the evils that the world sent his way.

What evils do you face today? Do you turn toward God in those times?

What if the evils that we face grow tremendously? Will you and I still turn toward God in those times?

Think about those questions and reflect on these paraphrased stories from the non-mainstream news media.

A man was beaten because his party costume offended a Muslim man. The victim was lectured and the man who beat him was released without punishment by the judge. The victim was told that in certain countries, his act would have rightfully resulted in his death.

A government plan that mandates churches go against their beliefs and follow what the government dictates.

I am certain that you recognize the second summarized story, but sadly enough, the first one is also from this country.

Do these stories cause anguish within your heart? Do they cause you to weep because of the evil that they foreshadow? Are we ready to turn to God the way that David did in his times of anguish?

I have another piece of information for you to ponder. I have been reading some information from some historians and the consensus is that no country that has reached the point that we have as a nation has ever regained their former status.

Does that cause weeping and anguish? I know that it causes me some very serious distress. I know that I stand firmly in wanting to regain our faith, our values and our moral determination.

When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
(2 Chronicles 7:13-14 (NIV))

Turn to God in prayer. Follow David’s example and let the Lord know of your anguish and your weeping. Pray for His will to be done.

God will hear!

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord

February 17, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(Ephesians 5:19-20 (NIV))

What do you find yourself doing when you are happy and full of joy?

I honestly don’t think that it is something depressing.

If you are like me, then you find yourself with a light spring in your step and a song in your heart. Chances are that sometimes you may not even recognize the song. Many times it is simply a song of joy that has no words, but it is overpowering just the same.

Think about that for a moment.

This makes sense if you stop and think about the times where you feel that you need to pray and you simply can’t find the words. Your spirit lifts up the concern and it is heard. What makes a joyful spirit different from one in need of close communication through prayer with the Father? Just as the unspoken prayer is lifted up and heard, the unspoken praise is also lifted up and heard. There are moments, and they should be many, where we simply cannot express our love with words and a song of the heart reaches God when our words cannot convey our praise.

We have been given an amazing gift. We have been given grace when we deserve nothing. We have been given a reason to be joyful. We have been given a reason to have a song in our heart.

Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord!

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

February 15, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“The King will reply, `I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’
(Matthew 25:40 (NIV))

I read this and a question immediately came to mind. It was a question that sent chills down my spine. It was a question that made me realize that I can be considered one of the least of these and that I too am also someone who needs to do for others.

Think about that and then answer the same question that came to mind when I read this passage.

Have you ever felt that you were insignificant?

It is human nature to want to believe that we are of great worth and that we are worth more than our fellow brothers and sisters. This is pride.

The LORD detests all the proud of heart.
Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.
(Proverbs 16:5 (NIV))

Before his downfall a man’s heart is proud,
but humility comes before honor.
(Proverbs 18:12 (NIV))

Our significance does not come from our deeds, actions or abilities. It comes from grace. If we could not earn our salvation, then we can make no claim to be proud of.

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))

Are we proud to be a filthy rag? Are we any better than other filthy rags in the pile? We may find that we are not on the bottom of that pile, but that does not make us better than others. Eventually, all rags have one of two things happen to them. They are either washed or they are tossed away and destroyed. The rags do not have a say in what happens. We, as the Body of Christ, have proclaimed a faith in Jesus as the one and only one who can pick us up and wash us clean. We have made a stand and we have had a say in what becomes of us.

If we are as filthy rags, we are included in the least of these whether we admit it or not. Have you ever stopped to think that what you do for others means that you are doing it for Jesus?

And, now, the reality check !

Have you ever stopped to think that what someone does for you, they are doing for Jesus?

This puts things in a whole new perspective.

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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I have accepted my position

February 13, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant–not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
(2 Corinthians 3:6 (NIV))

It has been said that the Old Testament and The Law are there to show us what we are supposed to do and how difficult it is to do it. If this is true, then the New Testament is there to show us that we have another way. The Law is there as the letter that we must follow perfectly and never falter or waiver from its course. The Spirit is given to us by the grace and mercy shown at the cross. The Spirit gives us redemption and salvation. It gives us freedom from the Law. This freedom does not mean that we are able to ignore the Law and do whatever we want. It means that we are given grace for we are not capable of being perfect even when we desire it with all of our hearts. It allows us to be human. It allows us to make mistakes and then learn from our mistakes.

The twist to all of this is that through the Spirit, we are all ministers one to another. In the Old Testament and under the Law, ministers had to be set apart from the rest of society. They had to be ceremonially pure. They had to be followers of the letter of the Law. If they did not follow the letter of the Law, they faced the possibility of death in the presence of God.

Today, we have grace and mercy as our mantle. We have salvation through the blood of Jesus. We have the Spirit. Through the Spirit, we are given life in the presence of God, were, before the Spirit, we only faced death. Speaking for myself, I do not long to follow the letter of the Law, for it is inflexible and unforgiving. I want forgiveness and mercy, for I know that I am not perfect and cannot ever achieve perfection on my own.

I need grace!

I need to help others find that grace!

I, in all of my human shortcomings, am a minister of that grace. I have accepted my position.

Have you accepted yours?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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A man planted a vineyard

February 9, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

A man planted a vineyard, and let it out to tenants, and went into another country for a long while. When the time came, he sent a servant to the tenants, that they should give him some of the fruit of the vineyard; but the tenants beat him, and sent him away empty-handed. And he sent another servant; him also they beat and treated shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed. And he sent yet a third; this one they wounded and cast out. Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; it may be they will respect him.’ But when the tenants saw him, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir; let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours.’ And they cast him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy those tenants, and give the vineyard to others.
(Luke 20:9-16 (RSV))

God created a beautiful place when He created the earth. Unfortuantely, the tenants that inhabited the land did not listen to Him and soon had turned over control to someone else.

These tenants would not listen to God. They would not listen to Noah. THey would not listen to Moses. They wanted complete control.

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, `Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’ ”
(Matthew 23:37-39 (NIV))

These tenants would not listen to God’s prophets. So, God sent His only Son, Jesus, to redeem the world to Him.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
(John 3:16 (NIV))

The tenants killed God’s Son thinking that they would then inherit the world and all that is in it.

What will God do?

He will come and destroy those tenants, but those who call upon the name of Jesus will not be destroyed. They will be the ones to whom He gives the vineyard.

We must realize that we are the tenants that this parable speaks of and that we must reject the ways of the “vineyard” and turn toward God.

Do we desire to take what is not ours or do we wish to inherit what God desires to give us?

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

February 7, 2012

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.
(Ephesians 6:10-11 (NIV))

This is particularly important to me right now. I am positive that it is also very important to others as well. We must be strong in our faith no matter what the enemy tries to send our way. He will lose if we simply call upon the name of the Lord to fight our battles for us.

I just realized something.

Even if we allow God to fight our battles with Satan, we are still to put on the full armor of God.

Think about that.

In a battle, unfortunately, those not directly involved will still get hurt. God’s armor will allow us to take that stand. It will allow us to bravely confront Satan and remind him that God will be our champion. Without that armor, would you confront Satan? Without a bulletproof vest, would you confront an armed robber? It is the same principle. God’s armor is our defense, our safety, our shield, and our salvation.

We are in a battle every day. Some days, it is just a little more obvious, but you never know when it will escalate. Always be prepared. Always put on the full armor of God. Stand firm in your faith because you have spent the time to know God and His promises.

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))

Don’t forget your armor!

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

February 6, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.
(Matthew 4:23 (NIV))

What would be your reaction to someone doing these things in your community?

Think about it carefully. Not only would this person be teaching and preaching in your church, they would also be healing anybody and everybody of anything that was wrong. Cancer. Diabetes. Paralysis. Blindness. Neurological problems. All would be miraculously healed by a person. Would you follow that person or would you be part of the gossip mill that would follow that person?

I am confident that the very emotions that you would feel are the very same emotions that people felt when Jesus walked the earth and did these wonderful things in Galilee. Human nature wants to embrace the miraculous and embrace the messenger of the miraculous. At the same time, the miraculous is different and human nature is afraid of what we do not know. I do know that I hope I would have accepted Jesus when He walked this earth. I also know that I am human and my faults are the same that kept many from embracing HIm. How about you? Can you say with complete certainty that you would have been one to embrace Jesus for who He is when He first walked this earth?

Sometimes I think that I would like to have lived during Jesus’ time on this earth. I would love to witness the Sermon on the Mount. I would love to walk with Jesus and listen to His teachings. I would hate to see the crucifixion and I would rejoice at the resurrection. I would love to be among the crowd at Pentecost. However, because of my human nature, I am also afraid that if I did not have the perspective of history as reported in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, I would not recognize who was right before me. With that said, it is probably best that I, like Esther, am alive for such a time as this.

God placed each of us in just the right point in history to bless us. Perhaps even more importantly, He placed each one of us in just the right point in history to bless those around us. Pray to be that blessing to others. Pray that you may have the faith to fulfill Jesus’ words.

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))

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you an avid fisher of men?

January 26, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.”
(Mark 1:17 (NIV))

We could have never fully understood these simple words that Jesus spoke if God had not sent Jesus to this earth to walk among us as one of us. God knew that humanity needed to be taught face to face and that the only way that this could be accomplished was for Him to send His only Son to be our teacher.

How can anybody be a fisher of men? Fishing requires the use of nets and hooks and results in the death of the fish.

We can not and do not want to utilize these implements to the same end results. We are to be a different type of fisherman. We are to cast the net of the Gospel so that it entices people with the truth and not ensnare them with deception. Look at what you do when you fish. You “bait” the hook with something that is appealing so that the fish will desire to take it. Little known to the fish is the fact that danger lurks just beneath the surface of that appealing bait. When we follow Jesus and become fishers of men, we have nothing to hide. All of the truth is just that – TRUTH. There is no falseness and there is no hidden danger. Perhaps this is why the world is slow to accept Jesus as the only way to eternal salvation. The world still sees the danger associated with the appealing bait and is reluctant to accept Jesus because of what they are afraid is hidden below the surface.

If the world is reluctant to take the “bait” of the Gospel, then we must be the light of Jesus to the world in their reluctancy. We must be ready, willing and able to show that there is no hidden danger and that Jesus truly is the Son of God. We must cast our nets so that people see Jesus in our “casting” and not the danger of the hooks that Satan uses in his deception.

Are you an avid fisher of men?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord

January 19, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

So honor the Lord and serve him wholeheartedly. Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshipped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord alone. But if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.
(Joshua 24:14-15 (NLT))

In today’s society, we have many choices as to what or whom we will serve. It ranges from self to family to work to a social or political cause. Many people throw themselves one hundred and ten percent behind the choice that they make. This is not necessarily a bad thing, for commitment is good. What is bad is if the choice of what or whom to serve is against the principles of a righteous God. What is even worse is if the chosen thing to serve takes the place of God, or is done without the guidance of God.

God has a calling upon each of our lives. He has a unique purpose for each of us. HE has a place where we are to serve. However, we must be careful in our service, for if we lose sight of the fact that it is God who calls us to that service and through that service we are serving Him, then we do not honor God. We may even begin to take on the characteristics spoke of in Matthew.

No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.
(Matthew 6:24 (NIV))

Serving God will reap untold rewards in heaven “where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:19b (NIV))

If we choose to serve anything but God, we are cheating ourselves, and, of course, we are cheating God. God gave us grace and mercy. Out of an attitude of thankfulness, the least that we should do is make the commitment to serve God.

Whom or what do you serve?

As for me, I stand firmly on the same words written in Joshua – “But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.”
(Joshua 24:15 (NIV))

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

January 16, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.
(Ecclesiastes 11:5 (NIV))

How many know-it-alls do we have in this circulation?

Have you ever attempted to tell God how He should do things? I think that we are all guilty of it from time to time. It is a common occurrence throughout the Bible. Some of the stories you may be aware of. Stories such as Abraham and Sarah who had heard God’s promise and tried to make it come true on their terms. There are many others, but the issue is not the ones who have done it, but the ones who are still doing it.

We are all infants in our faith, and as infants, we do not fully understand the work of God. Just as an infant will attempt to show his or her physical parents how they can do things, we, as spiritual infants, are also guilty of trying to show God what we can do.

As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
(Isaiah 55:9 (NIV))

We must learn, as the infant learns, that we are not the one in charge. God is in control. We do not understand, nor do we have the capacity to understand, all that God can do.

And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good.
(Genesis 1:9-10 (NIV))

God can create with a word and it is good. All that we can do is utter words of destruction if we do not watch our tongue.

What do you profess to tell God?

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