What are your reaction times like?

April 20, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,
(James 1:19 (NIV))

It seems that we are always being judged on our reaction times. What I find interesting is the things that we are being measured for. Some of them are important, such as how quickly you can apply the brakes in a car if an emergency arises. Some of them are just ridiculous such as how fast someone can eat a hot dog. Other reaction times can determine your life’s direction and your career choices, such as how fast you can run 40 yards. In the grand scheme of things, we face many things in our lives that are used to measure us for some aspect or another.

For what things do you wish your reactions times to be measured?

Are they the things of this world or are they something different?

If someone were to give us an evaluation based on the things in James 1:19, how would we be rated? Would we be considered quick to listen? Do we honestly hear what is being said? Do we understand and give our undivided attention? Do we hold our tongues? Do we quickly become angry? These are all things where we should strive to improve our reaction times, for when we do, it reflects not only on us, but on the one that we claim to follow.

What are your reaction times like?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you understand the mystery?

April 19, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great: He appeared in the flesh, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.
(1 Timothy 3:16 (NIV))

For many people, this is easily understood and makes perfect sense. To others, it is complete foolishness.

If you stop to think about the word foolishness, it means a ridiculous act or idea. Just what is so ridiculous about the idea of God as a loving creator? If God can create with words, why can’t His words reflect love and beauty? Why can’t they shine grace and mercy into a world that has fallen into sin and evil desires? Why is there such a mystery around the concept that God loves us enough to do something that will bring redemption to us?

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))

I once heard a story that puts a unique perspective to this!

A man who questioned the whole story of Jesus found himself out on his property during a bad snow storm. There was a huge flock of birds who were unable to fly away due to the weather. They were also freezing to death in the snow. He had a large barn so he went out to open the doors to let the birds go in, but no matter what he did, they would not go. He tried everything and still no luck in getting the birds to move. In desperation he thought, “If only I were a bird. I could lead them where they can find safety.” At that moment, he realized that this is what God had done. He became a man in order to show us the way to life! In an instant, he understood the mystery of God’s plan of salvation. It was not foolishness!

Do you understand the mystery?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Who do you say that God is?

April 11, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”
(Revelation 1:8 (NIV))

To paraphrase this passage, God is the beginning and the end. He is all things in between. He has always been. He is now, and He will always be. He is the Creator of all things. He holds all power and authority. His power and authority were in the beginning and they will be in the end. He is unchanging and no one can come close to His power and authority!

Humanity has spent thousands of years trying to define just who they think that God is. Along the way, various different groups of people have created false gods. Most of these are simply attempts at putting a limited understanding of creation onto a persona that they could understand and define. People have even gone so far as to create idols that they assign godlike attributes to.

I want you to stop and ask yourself a question.

Who do you say that God is?

Are you able to comprehend the God of the Bible or do you try to make up your own definition, your own mental image, of what you believe God to be?

We know that God is called “Father.” Is your understanding of a loving father swayed by an earthly father who was less than loving?

We know that God is called “Creator.” Do you struggle with the concept that God has the power and that everything was simply spoken into existence?

We know that God is called “Healer.” Are you so blinded to the fact that humanity allowed sin and death into the world that you can’t understand why God allows things to happen to those you love?

We know that God created us in His image. Do you struggle with the idea that He loves you so much that He took the time to create you? We know that He created us to be in fellowship, in relationship, with Him. Do you understand the concept of sin and the consequences of sin and how that relationship was broken in the Garden of Eden? Do you struggle with the idea that God did not want to spend eternity without us, so He devised a plan to redeem us so that He could call us His own? I could go on and on, but we are simply not capable of fully grasping all that God is.

Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty?
(Job 11:7 (NIV))

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
(Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NIV))

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.
(Isaiah 40:28 (NIV))

All of His wisdom and righteousness we cannot even begin to understand, but there is one thing that we can understand if we will simply humble ourselves.

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))

I feel that I need to ask this one question once again. It is my prayer that you dwell on this question and pray to come to a true understanding.

Who do you say that God is?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you truly understand what Jesus did?

March 26, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!”
(Matthew 20:18-19 (NIV))

Have you truly come to terms with all that Jesus did for you and I, or are you still stuck in the mindset that all that Jesus accomplished can be summarized in a basket full of treats that will soon go away?

Think about that.

Even as adults, we have a tendency to look at the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus as only a day to get together with family and have fun with some events for the children. In the back of our minds, we know that it is more than this, but have we turned the most crucial day to our faith into nothing more than a chance to over eat? Sure, we have Good Friday services and many of us will get up and go to a sunrise service on Resurrection Sunday, but do we truly understand the full implications of what we celebrate? Have we become so jaded by the fact that we can turn on a TV or go to a movie and see things that appear to be miraculous? If that is the case, what happens when we truly read about the power of God raising Jesus from the dead? Do we take it for granted? Do we overlook the magnitude of the implications for those who truly believe, for those who truly call upon the name of Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior?

We are told many times that we don’t know what tomorrow will bring. Jesus implicitly foretells the events that He would face. He knew that His fulfillment of the plan for humanity’s salvation would transpire exactly as foretold. He knew that His willingness to lay down His life would mean that you and I could walk with assurance that our sins have been forgiven. He knew the weight of the world’s sin that He carried would mean that you and I could stand before God the Father as a spotless bride. He saw the faces of every person to ever live and He willingly offered His sinless life for our sin filled lives.

Without the crucifixion, there would be no resurrection. Without the resurrection, there would be no grace and mercy that could be given. Without the grace and mercy freely given at the cross, you and I would be forever lost in our sin.

Do you truly understand what Jesus did?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you turned your troubles over to Jesus?

March 22, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“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))

What do you think of when you hear the word “trouble?” Perhaps it makes more sense to you to use the word “tribulation” instead. Perhaps you like to cut to the chase and you have come to the realization that trouble usually implies suffering and you choose to use the word “suffer” instead of the word “trouble.” The following three translations are good examples of word choice, but they all have the same underlying meaning, and that is that while we, as followers of Jesus, are alive and in this world, we will be faced with things because we are followers of Jesus. Though the word choices are different, they also all have the assurance that placing our faith in Jesus is the only way to overcome those troubles.

“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
(John 16:33 (NASB))

“I have told you this, so that you might have peace in your hearts because of me. While you are in the world, you will have to suffer. But cheer up! I have defeated the world.”
(John 16:33 (CEVDC))

“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
(John 16:33 (KJV))

Just as some people will say “Good morning,” others will simply say “Mornin'” or even “Hi!” It is the intent, it is the true meaning behind the words that we must understand. With that said, the message in John 16:33 boils down to this. If we rely on our own actions and our own abilities in this world, we will face things that will test our faith. They will test our very peace of mind. Focus on Jesus and let Him deal with the things of this world. Turn over your troubles, your trials, your tribulations and you suffering to the Lord of all creation. He is bigger than any problems that you will face.

Take a good, long look at your life!

Have you turned your troubles over to Jesus?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you find yourself groaning in your weakness?

March 14, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.
(Romans 8:26 (NIV))

Have you ever found yourself in a conversation and not know just how to say what you want to say? Perhaps you didn’t even know what to say, you just knew that you had a very strong opinion on the subject.

What do you find yourself doing in situations like this?

Do you through up your hands in frustration and let out an audible sigh? Do the people around you understand what you are attempting to express?

That is definitely a weakness of the human condition. We are often found without adequate words to express exactly what we want to express. When we simply can’t say what we want to say, we groan or sigh out of frustration. It’s too bad that we can’t be understood when we simply cannot verbalize what we feel.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was someone who could understand the groanings that we make when we can’t find the words to express ourselves?

I want you to consider something with respect to your relationship with God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
(Psalms 139:13 (NIV))

You are known intimately by the Lord. He understands you like no other. He understands the groanings of our spirit. He understands these groanings to be exactly what they are, for they are our desire to communicate concepts, emotions and desires that no earthly language is capable of communicating. We fail to be able to express our inner desires because we are a weak, sinful creation, but we still have the inherited memory of and a desire for a deeper communication with the Lord. Out of this weakness, our prayers are lifted up as groanings of the spirit.

Do you find yourself groaning in your weakness?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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There is nothing that is too big for our God!

March 12, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
(Romans 8:31 (NIV))

We all face things in our lives that make us stop dead in our tracks because we see no way around them.

For some people, this is a very long stop. They have a tendency to reflect on the circumstances way too much. These individuals may not believe in God and they feel that they are on their own. It is possible that these individuals may have a superficial understanding of God and think that He is not capable of doing anything for them. There are also those individuals who profess a faith in God, but the littlest trouble completely breaks that faith.

For those who earnestly profess a faith in the Lord, they truly understand that God loves us and He will intercede for us. These are the individuals who realize the difference between God and humanity.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
(Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV))

We are very limited in our understanding of the Lord. Each of us have a mental image of God, but no one has ever seen God. Our understanding is limited by our humanity. We simply cannot comprehend the majesty of the Lord in our current existence.

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
(1 Corinthians 13:12 (NIV))

Even in our limited understanding, we are repeatedly told of God’s goodness and His might. All we have to do is choose to focus on God in order to see this come about. When we face troubles, and we will, we must never lose sight of God’s power. Whether we cling to the way it was described in Romans or the way that it was recorded in Isaiah, we must never forget that we serve a mighty God!

Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear.
(Isaiah 59:1 (NIV))

There is nothing that is too big for our God!

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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