What do you need to give up?

November 12, 2015

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin! Such things must come, but woe to the man through whom they come! If your hand or your foot causes you to sin cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.
(Matthew 18:7-9 (NIV))

This is far different from the “If it feels good, do it” mentality that is so prevalent in the world today. The sad thing about this mentality is that it doesn’t recognize, or even care, that it is pushing sin as the preferred choice.

Do we, as the Body of Christ, admit that sin has crept into our lives or do we sit back and look at everyone else as the sinful ones? Have we become overwhelmed by the world that we fail to recognize what is sin and what is not? Are we able to not only recognize sin when it enters into our lives, but are we able to take the drastic actions that are needed to remove the sin from our lives?

I can still hear the old saying, “If everybody else jumped off a cliff, would you do it, too?”

Why are we, as humanity, so blinded to the sinful nature of our actions, even when we long to be righteous in the eyes of God? Why do we justify ourselves by saying that at least we are not as bad as someone else?

In the eyes of God, sin is sin. It doesn’t matter what it is.

Thankfully, God has provided a way for us to redeem ourselves. He knows that we can’t do it on our own. That way is through the atoning blood of His Son, Jesus. Sadly, too many people look upon this as a free ride to do whatever they want. It does not work that way!

We are to take drastic action!

We are to repent. We are to change our lives. We are to follow Jesus. We are to turn away from our sin. We are to leave our sin behind us. For some, that may mean ending friendships. For others, that may mean changing jobs, and still, for others, that may mean so much more.

We are to give up the things of this world when we follow Jesus.

What do you need to give up?

Copyright 1998 – 2015 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you fully embraced the new?

February 27, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more.
(Hebrews 8:12 (NIV))

Is there someone in your life who constantly reminds you of every single mistake that you have made? Do they bring up these mistakes even though they may have occurred so far in the past that even you had forgotten them? It is sad that there actually are people who will hold everything against you no matter how many times you apologize or how long ago the act may have been.

I can honestly say beyond a shadow of a doubt that God does not do that. He will forgive your sins if you simply accept His plan of redemption and grace. He will not bring them up to you again. He will wipe you record clean and treat you as if you had never sinned. I have heard this called justifying grace – a grace that God gives us “just as if I” had never sinned. He does not justify holding our sins against us. He sent Jesus to die on the cross so that He could justify forgiving us of our sins.

The next time that you encounter that special someone who constantly reminds you of your mistakes, smile, and rest assured that their memory cannot condemn you. Only God can condemn, and He has justified you through your acceptance of the atoning blood of Jesus Christ.

God forgives our wickedness. In order for this forgiveness to be complete, we must forgive ourselves. We cannot hold anything over ourselves if God has forgiven us for it. We must remember our actions, not so that we can condemn ourselves, but, rather so we can remember the sin that we have been saved from.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
(2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV))

God’s saving grace makes us new creations. Have you fully embraced the new even when confronted by the sins of the old?

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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There is power in the blood!

July 19, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

In the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living. This is why even the first covenant was not put into effect without blood. When Moses had proclaimed every commandment of the law to all the people, he took the blood of calves, together with water, scarlet wool and branches of hyssop, and sprinkled the scroll and all the people. He said, “This is the blood of the covenant, which God has commanded you to keep.” In the same way, he sprinkled with the blood both the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies. In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.
(Hebrews 9:16-22 (NIV))

Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness!

Do you think that this sounds barbaric?

What imagery does it bring to mind?

Do you agree with the examples that are given in this passage?

Now, think about the following sayings.

There is power in the blood.

There is life in the blood.

Blood brothers.

I could think of more, but I hope that you understand what I am getting at. Blood is essential to life. Without blood, life ceases. When a life is taken, most of the time, the removal of blood is part of the reason that the life ends. Even if that life is freely given out of choice, there is blood.

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
(John 15:13 (NIV))

Blood has become a symbol of the ultimate commitment. It is that commitment by Jesus that has brought us the ultimate in rewards. The blood of Jesus has brought us forgiveness if we will only accept it.

I have read this passage before, but the concept of a will did not sink in until reading it this time. Think about that from a worldly persepctive. God had something that He wanted to leave to His children, His creation. In worldly terms we understand that the heirs receive from the deceased through the will. God could not give grace to us without the formality. He needed to allow each of us to come to the inheritance freely. Inheritance is through blood. Jesus died so that we could inherit what He came to give to us. He arose from the grave to prove that He had the authority to give it.

This may sound a little morbid, but think of the offer of salvation as the reading of the will stating what Jesus left for you. Your personal salvation comes when you receive what He has given to you through His death and resurrection.

Always remember that there is power in the blood. There is life in the blood. Only through the blood can we be offered forgiveness.

It may sound legalistic, and to a point it is. Satan knows all too well about blood. He has been using it from the beginning of this world to draw people away from forgiveness. He has stated his case that all of humanity belong to him because of the sin of Adam and Eve. He makes that claim because of the inheritance through the blood. Jesus broke that inheritance and has offered us a new inheritance through His blood.

There is power in the blood!

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

June 15, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
(Acts 2:46-47 (NIV))

Why do you think the early church grew in numbers and in power?

Did they rely on committees to design a program to reach the demographics of their region? Did denominational offices tell them to preach and teach from an approved sermon outline? Did they keep their worship services to one hour so that they could be first in line at the restaurants? Did they have the latest in sound systems and presentation systems so that the congregations could be entertained by the images that accompanied the message?

I feel that it is safe to say that the early church did not have any of these things, yet, the early church grew and embraced people continually as they accepted Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. They relied on the power of God’s grace and mercy through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ to unite them. Once united in Jesus, God was able to freely do His Will among those who believed. Today, unfortunately, we tend to be divided by the petty differences that we see in each other instead of the unifying power that we should see in Jesus. We must focus on what God has done through Jesus instead of what each of us has done without Jesus.

We must unite in the power of Jesus and then we can reach the world as He desires for us to reach it. We must put aside our petty differences and remember that we, together, are the Body of Christ. We need each other. The early church knew this. We must learn this.

Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
(1 Corinthians 12:14-20 (NIV))

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you teach legalism or grace?

March 2, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’ You leave the commandment of God, and hold fast the tradition of men.
(Mark 7:6-8 (RSV))

These words have to be some of the least desired words that I would want spoken to me. Let’s face it, these words are condemning and offer little hope of salvation, grace or mercy.

What makes them so condemning?

They were spoken to the religious leaders of the day. They had so intermingled human laws and traditions to the point where it was more important to follow the exact letter of the law instead of following the intent of the law. They had taken what should have been instructions on how to attain mercy and grace and turned then into legalistic ritual. Instead of using the law as guidelines for how to treat each other and how to show compassion to each other, they developed strict details that allowed the religious “elite” to shun the majority of society. They used what God had intended to be a guiding principle and turned it into a controlling obstacle to grace.

If we are told the words of Mark 7:6-8, we have failed what God has asked us to do. We have failed to convey the grace and mercy that was freely given to us through Jesus’ death and resurrection.

We must be careful not to turn grace and mercy into legalism and bondage. If we teach falsely, we will be judged accordingly.

Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.
(James 3:1 (NIV))

Do your actions teach legalism or do they teach grace through the atoning blood of Jesus?

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