Do you embrace God’s plan of grace?

April 9, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.”

Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all drank from it.

“This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them. “I tell you the truth, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it anew in the kingdom of God.”
(Mark 14:22-25 (NIV))

Have you really thought about what Jesus was doing in these passages? It is easy to go through the motions without realizing exactly what the whole thing means.

The symbolism is astonishing. The implications are crucial to our beliefs. The continuing practice is an important part of our ability to remember just what was done in our behalf. We must also remember that Jesus did this at the Passover Sader, which was and still is the Jewish holiday in which they remember the gift of salvation and freedom from their Egyptian captors. On the anniversary of the very night that God delivered Israel from a physical bondage, God, through His Son, Jesus Christ, was delivering the world from spiritual bondage.

In Egypt, God accomplished this through the Angel of Death striking the first-born of Egypt. For the salvation of the world, God again struck down the first-born! He allowed His only begotten Son to die in our place!

The Passover meal is a very ritualized meal so that the Jewish people do not forget what God did for them. It is a time of celebration for those who partake of it. Jesus instituted a new “Passover” tradition in which all who believe that He is the Son of God and their Lord and Savior can partake. This meal is different from the original Jewish Passover meal in that it can be taken anytime and anywhere that there are believers.

The next time that you have the opportunity to sit at the Lord’s table, remember the pain, suffering, grace and salvation that this meal represents.

Do you embrace God’s plan of grace?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do we love each other enough to fulfill the law?

February 18, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

The commandments, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not covet,’ and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
(Romans 13:9-10 (NIV))

I hate to say this, but there are people who populate the pews of many churches throughout this world who harm other believers on a regular basis. What does that say about the way that we have faithfully taught what Jesus has commanded us to teach? It is easy to blame the people who harm others, but it is not so easy to take upon yourself the responsibility for their actions.

Should we bear the burden of the responsibility of the actions of other members of the Body of Christ?

I think that we are taught that we do!

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
(John 13:34-35 (NIV))

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.
(Romans 12:10 (NIV))

You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
(Galatians 5:13-15 (NIV))

If members of the Body have not been taught how to stop doing harm, then the Body has not properly fed them the Word of God. They have not been nourished to the point where they know what is Godly and righteous. They have not been allowed to mature in their faith.

Suppose parents have a child and this child starts to eat solid food. As soon as the child starts to eat, the parents do not turn this child loose and tell him to prepare his own meals. The child must be taught what to eat, what is good for them, and what is bad. All of this must happen before the child can be entrusted to prepare his own meals.

Perhaps the church is guilty of being this neglectful parent. We expect people to intuitively know what God wants them to do, what they are to read and study, and how they are supposed to live. We have not taught them how to not be harmful to others. We have not taught them how to love one another.

What have you taught your “children” in the faith? Do we love each other enough to fulfill the law?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What do you do when the unexpected happens?

October 25, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
(Acts 1:9 (NIV))

I can picture the moment. Everybody is gathered around Jesus and everyone there is asking Him questions. They are filled with excitement. They have spent three years with Jesus. They saw Him perform miracles. They saw Him beaten and crucified. They saw Him die. And, they saw Him in His resurrection. Now, after the resurrection, they are eagerly looking for Jesus to bring God’s kingdom to this world.

And then . . .

The unexpected happens.

At least in their eyes, it does.

They were expecting Jesus to take His authority then and there, but He disappears!

Can you imagine how these people felt? Everything that they had seen. Everything that they had been a part of. Everything that they now expected was completely changed. I can imagine that their first reaction was that they were being abandoned. How would you feel?

God knew their hearts. He knew that they were expecting something that was not in His plan. God had compassion on these people. He sent messengers to tell them that their timing was not His timing.

They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
(Acts 1:10-11 (NIV))

Instead of despair, these people had a reason to believe. They had a reason to hope. They had a reason to pray. And pray they did.

Then they returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city. When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.
(Acts 11:12-14 (NIV))

How do you react when things don’t go as you expect them to?

We should take a lesson from these first believers. When things don’t go as we expect them to go, we should pray for God’s guidance and His wisdom.

What do you do when the unexpected happens?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Can you realize your full potential on your own?

June 25, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
(Matthew 5:17-20 (NIV))

Have you ever stopped to reflect on the meaning of the word “fulfill.” There are several meanings and all of them shed a slightly different, yet profound meaning on these words that Jesus spoke.

According to Merriam-Webster.com, one meaning is to make full. If you consider the promises that God has given to us through the Law, those promises have been made full in what Jesus has done. Before Jesus, no one could live up to the ideals set forth through God’s Laws. The fulness of God’s Laws were salvation. We could not bring fulness on our own.

Another meaning is “to put into effect.” Still another is “to meet the requirements of.” There are more, but I think that my favorite definition is “to convert into reality; to develop the full potentialities of.” Before Jesus, the reality was that no one could fulfill the Law. Since Jesus, the reality is that no one else has fulfilled the Law. What are the full potentialities of fulfilling God’s Law? Think about that. We know what the outcome is when we fall short of God’s Law. Falling short of God’s Law is sin. The consequences of sin is death.

Through Jesus, we have realized the full potential of God’s Law. We have seen what it is to be perfect in God’s eyes. We have seen God set that example through Jesus. Jesus fulfilled the Law perfectly. We don’t need to fulfill it. This does not mean that we can do whatever we want. It means that we will not be condemned when we try in all sincerity and fall short. We will be condemned if we reject grace.

We can accept His fulfillment and His Lordship and, by grace, we can be granted our salvation – our fulfillment of God’s Laws through Jesus. We have a choice to make. We can accept this grace or we can live and be judged according to the Law – the very Law that ONLY Jesus was able to fulfill.

Can you realize your full potential on your own?

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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God’s Holy City of Jerusalem

November 16, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
“May those who love you be secure.
May there be peace within your walls
and security within your citadels.”
(Psalms 122:6-7 (NIV))

It seems that every time that you turn on the television or the radio, or read the news on the Internet or in a newspaper, there is something going on in Israel. Recent events are no exception.

Have you ever wondered why such a little nation is the focus of so much attention?

First of all, it is mentioned 760 times in the Bible. In 2 Chronicles 12:13, it is referred to as “Jerusalem, the city the LORD had chosen out of all the tribes of Israel.”

It is clear that Jerusalem has held a special place in the eyes of God. Perhaps more important is the role that it is to play in the fulfillment of God’s plan.

I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.
(Revelations 21:2 (NIV))

Jerusalem is the only city that is mentioned as being in existence after Jesus’ return. Perhaps even more important is the fact that is is called “the Holy City” and is remade in the way that God desires for it to be.

In the eyes of the world, Jerusalem is not that important. However, we must learn to look beyond the eyes of the world and see things through the eyes of God. To God, there is no city that is more important. According to His plan, all of history hinges on Jerusalem: history that has happened and history that has yet to happen. We must be prepared for what is to happen. We must read God’s Word and study what is said about this city. We must look at it through the eyes of an eternal God, for it is the home city of our faith.

Think about that last statement. Jerusalem is our spiritual home town. It is the root and we have been grafted into it as the branches.

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Great adversity brings great triumph

October 26, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his officials so that I may perform these miraculous signs of mine among them that you may tell your children and grandchildren how I dealt harshly with the Egyptians and how I performed my signs among them, and that you may know that I am the LORD.”
(Exodus 10:1-2 (NIV))

Would you have remembered the way God saved the Israelites from captivity in Egypt if Pharaoh had let them go the first time Moses approach him? Would God’s miracles have been able to have been manifested for all of history to read about?

It is highly likely that if Pharaoh had given in the first time Moses came to him asking for the freedom of the Israelites, we would not remember the greatness of God, for He would not have needed to perform the miracles that He did.

Great adversity brings great triumph.

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.
(1 John 4:4(NIV))

God is greater than he who is in the world. If Satan can raise his ugly, sinful head, then God will bring about redemption in a mightier way than Satan rebelled. This is always true. When was the last time that you thought you had a winless situation only to find that God delivered you through the situation? You and everyone around experienced the awesome power of God.

Now, consider how much Satan rebelled against God and how the world followed him.

It took a mighty act from God to put Satan in his place!

What was that mighty act? Can you pinpoint the one ultimate act of God that has sealed the fate of Satan?

God hardened the hearts of the people two thousand years ago so that He could be glorified through the death and resurrection of Jesus, His only Son!

Today, we know the outcome. We are only waiting for the fulfillment of God’s plan.

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