Are we any different from Barabbas?

April 2, 2015

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Now it was the custom at the Feast to release a prisoner whom the people requested. A man called Barabbas was in prison with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the uprising. The crowd came up and asked Pilate to do for them what he usually did.

“Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate, knowing it was out of envy that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have Pilate release Barabbas instead.

“What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?” Pilate asked them.

“Crucify him!” they shouted.

“Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.
But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”

Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.
(Mark 15:6-15 (NIV))

Tonight, I was presented something that made me look at this in a different light and with a different perspective.

What do you think of Barabbas?

Have you often thought that he deserved to die? Have you ever wondered how the crowd could be so stupid and request the release of a murderer over Jesus?

We all know that it was God’s plan for Jesus to suffer and to go to the cross and die for our sins, but have you ever stopped to realize that Barabbas was a picture of the grace that Jesus would bring to everyone?

We do not know if Barabbas repented and accepted the true grace and mercy that Jesus came to bring, but he had that opportunity. Jesus went to the cross so that Barabbas might live and have that opportunity.

Are we any different from Barabbas?

In the eyes of humanity, our sins may not be as great as his, but in the eyes of God, we are just as guilty of sin as Barabbas was. Didn’t he deserve the chance to repent? Didn’t he deserve the chance to know the grace and mercy that God offers through the death of Jesus on the cross? God loves each and every individual that has ever walked the earth or ever will walk the earth. Jesus came to bring the gift of salvation to everyone and not just the ones that society thinks are the good people.

With the somber reality of the crucifixion rapidly approaching, we, as the Body of Christ, must come to terms with the fact that Jesus died for everyone. Just because you may think that someone is too far gone into their life of sin does not mean that the gift that Jesus died to offer is not available to them.

Would you be surprised to find Barabbas in heaven? Would you rejoice in his salvation? Would you rejoice in the salvation of those whom society considers too far gone to redeem?

Are you any different from Barabbas?

Copyright 1998 – 2015 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Isn’t it amazing?

December 24, 2014

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham:
Abraham was the father of Isaac,
Isaac the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,
Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar,
Perez the father of Hezron,
Hezron the father of Ram,
Ram the father of Amminadab,
Amminadab the father of Nahshon,
Nahshon the father of Salmon,
Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab,
Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth,
Obed the father of Jesse,
and Jesse the father of King David.

David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife,
Solomon the father of Rehoboam,
Rehoboam the father of Abijah,
Abijah the father of Asa,
Asa the father of Jehoshaphat,
Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram,
Jehoram the father of Uzziah,
Uzziah the father of Jotham,
Jotham the father of Ahaz,
Ahaz the father of Hezekiah,
Hezekiah the father of Manasseh,
Manasseh the father of Amon,
Amon the father of Josiah,
and Josiah the father of Jeconiahn and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon.
After the exile to Babylon:
Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel,
Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,
Zerubbabel the father of Abiud,
Abiud the father of Eliakim,
Eliakim the father of Azor,
Azor the father of Zadok,
Zadok the father of Akim,
Akim the father of Eliud,
Eliud the father of Eleazar,
Eleazar the father of Matthan,
Matthan the father of Jacob,
and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.

Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Christ.
(Matthew 1:1-17 (NIV))

It is amazing that we know so much about the genealogy of Jesus. It is amazing that He fulfilled so many prophecies and promises. In all of the generations, it only would take one small issue to have changed God’s plan. It is amazing that it happened at all. It is amazing that we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior when you consider that the enemy did not want this to happen.

Be thankful for the amazing birth! Be thankful for God’s amazing plan!

Merry Christmas!

Copyright 1998 – 2014 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Whose kingdom do you belong to?

October 8, 2014

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.
(Mark 13:8 (NIV))

I am sure that everybody is familiar with this passage. It is often quoted and many people read it and wonder what God is unfolding. I know that many people have their own understanding of this passage, but I came across something that caught my attention. When this was written, nation against nation did not mean the political and geographic boundaries that we think of. Nation against nation meant different people groups would rise up against each other. To put it in terms that our modern society has adopted, race would rise up against race. There will be hatred and fighting between the different races of humanity.

Sadly, we are seeing way too much of just that in our society and in our world. It is even coming from so called preachers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

There is something else that came to the forefront while reading this passage and that is in relation to kingdom against kingdom. Many people believe that this is what is referring to what we call countries. I believe that it is referring to this, but I also believe that it has another meaning.

Jesus referred to the kingdom of heaven. Satan was given dominion over the kingdoms of this earth. If you look at kingdom against kingdom in this manner, then we see the kingdom of Satan rising up against the Kingdom of Heaven. We see this every day in the way that good is called evil and evil is called good. We see this with the killing of Christians simply because they profess a faith in Jesus. We see this in far too many aspects of our society, most of which have rapidly become the norm. Satan’s kingdom is rising up against God’s Kingdom.

Take heart. Look up.

Keep your eyes focused on Jesus!

Birth pains are upon us.

If you have looked at any of the prophetic signs, you know about the moon turning to blood and the signs in the heavens. I know that we are told that we cannot know the hour or the day, but it sure feels like the season!

Whose kingdom do you belong to?

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

December 26, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
(Luke 2:8-14 (NIV))

What an honor it must have been to be the first to hear the good news! The shepherds must have been terrified by the presence of the angels, after all, angels were not, and are still not an every day occurance.

Luckily for us, God’s plan does not discriminate against us for not being there. In fact, it is probably with mixed blessings that we are embraced as part of God’s Kingdom. We do not have the first hand experience of having seen the angels, the star, or Jesus’ life. Sometimes, I wonder if I would have believed if I lived at the time of Jesus!

On the other hand, we have the faith of millions of people who have gone before us. We have the New Testament, the hundreds of years of prophesy study that proves Jesus is King of kings, the Messiah. It may be easier for someone today to come to faith than it was in Jesus’ day. Yet, through all of this “historical proof”, I sometimes feel empty. I think it is the desire of every believer to be able to go back in time and be a witness to the miracles and hear the teachings of Jesus first-hand.

Today, we celebrated the birth of Jesus and look back in awe to the miracles. At the same time, we should look around us in awe of what God is doing today and look to the not-to-distant future and know what God is going to do. Today we celebrate the First Coming. Some tomorrow we will celebrate the Second Coming.

Merry Christmas

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth!

October 2, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars–their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”
(Revelation 21:1-8 (NIV))

We have been given many wonderful pictures of what eternity with God will be like. The first part of this scripture is perhaps one that many people think of when they think of heaven and eternity with God. It is an extremely pleasant picture.

Now, consider the last part of this scripture. Many people choose to ignore this. They do not wish to acknowledge that we were told that the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars will not see this place, but will experience a much different outcome.

Who are these people who will experience this outcome? All those who have not truly accepted Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior (the unbelieving) will see this second death.

What about all of the other descriptions?

Consider that if you truly have accepted Jesus, then you are washed white as snow and all your transgressions are removed. In addition, the desire to continue will be removed if you truly have accepted Jesus. Without Jesus, not a single person can live as God calls us to live.

Are you living within God’s plan?

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Keep your eyes focused on Jesus during these troubling times

September 10, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

An oracle concerning Damascus:

“See, Damascus will no longer be a city
but will become a heap of ruins.
(Isaiah 17:1 (NIV))

Does this verse come to mind when you see what is unfolding in Syria?

Do you know about the prophesies about Damascus and the other nations in that part of the world?

Do you even care?

Do we simply set back and look at what is going on in that part of the world? Do we think to ourselves, “What does this have to do with me?”

Things are unfolding rapidly. Many people who follow Biblical prophesy are watching things with great anticipation.

Could the world’s military attention on Syria lead to the destruction of Damascus? Could it lead to the coalition of Arab nations and the land of Gog and Magog (Russia) that will attack Israel?

Do you know God’s timeline as outlined in the Bible? Do you know what was said to the seven churches? Do you know God’s plan for your salvation?

Each day brings something new. Each day makes me have greatly mixed emotions. I am saddened that the state of the world has become what it has become. I am saddened for all those who choose to ignore the Gospel. I am saddened for all those who have lost their lives and all those who will lose their lives. Yet, I rejoice for I know that God is in control. I rejoice because I can see things unfolding and I can see how they might be a part of God’s plan. I rejoice because I have accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior.

I rejoice because we have been told that those who truly call upon the name of Jesus will be saved.

No matter what the world may go through, keep your eyes focused on Jesus. Do not allow the world to distract you. Do not allow the world to keep you from finishing the race and receiving the prize.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
(1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (NIV))

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you ready to walk with God?

June 7, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.
(Revelation 21:2-4 (NIV))

Do you like the way the world is today? Do you think that the bad things that happen in this world are God’s desires for His creation? Do you think that God simply sits back and lets anything and everything happen? More importantly, do you think that God just doesn’t care what happens to His creation?

We must take heart, for the words written in Revelation tell of a time when God will restore His creation to the glory that He intended from the beginning. God did not create the world and everything in it to be separated from Him. He created this world and us to have fellowship with Him.

Do you find it hard to believe that God created this world and us so that He could fellowship with us?

When Jesus came to earth, that was not the first time that God chose to walk with man and to seek out those who would follow Him.

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?”
(Genesis 3:8-9 (NIV))

God’s original order will be restored. The old order that we know where sin runs rampant will be replaced. Once again, God will walk among His creation!

Are you ready to walk with God?

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you asked God to provide?

February 12, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

You do not have, because you do not ask God.
(James 4:2c (NIV))

How many of us are guilty of not approaching the throne of God?

Let’s face the truth. Human nature has us asking for things all of the time, but, when was the last time that you approached boldly and with the certainty that what you were asking for was actually a part of God’s Will? Do we ever truly have that certainty? Perhaps you need confirmation.

Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.
(John 16:24 (NIV))

Just what do you find joy in? Is it your family? Is it your job? Is it how you serve God? Perhaps your joy truly comes from desiring to know God’s heart and to fulfill His joy! When you desire to fulfill God’s plan for your life, you experience great joy for His joy has become yours. When you seek after God’s heart, then you can ask God anything that fits within the boundaries of that joy. When we truly find this, then we are complete for we have found what God created us for. When you know what God created you for, then the things that you ask will fit within His plan for you and He will provide.

What is God’s plan for your life? Are you confident of that plan? Have you asked God to provide?

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.
(1 John 5:14 (NIV))

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Faith in the midst of rejection

January 15, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. For this is what the Lord has commanded us:
” `I have made you a light for the Gentiles,
that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’ ”
When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.
(Acts 13:46-48 (NIV))

Have you ever been the “runner up?” Have you ever been given the consolation prize? Maybe you have even been given the prize because the person who had originally won it was not available to claim it. If you stop to think about it, that is exactly why most of the Body of Christ can claim salvation. Each of us are the recipients because the nation of Israel had rejected the very One that they have so long been looking for. They rejected their Messiah because they did not recognize how He was to come into this world.

Because of this rejection, we, the Gentiles, have been given grace and salvation. I often wonder how God’s plan would have unfolded if the Jews had accepted Jesus as their Messiah, especially since Jesus came for all.

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.
(Romans 1:16 (NIV))

We can speculate, but all I know is that we have been given grace and mercy through the actions of many Jews to which we, the Gentile believers, must be thankful for. Jesus was a Jewish man. His disciples were all Jewish men. Paul, who preached to the Gentiles, was a Jewish man. The society that rejected Jesus and His teachings was a Jewish society. The handful of Jewish men whom Jesus selected had directions to spread the Gospel. They did this faithfully.

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
(Acts 1:8 (NIV))

Through the faith of a few Jewish men, we, the Gentile members of the Body of Christ, have been brought into the kingdom. We must never forget that these men were Jewish, We must never forget that these men, like Jesus, were often rejected by their own. Would we have the faith and the strength to spread a message when our own people rejected it?

We owe much to the faith of these faithful servants.

We owe even more to Jesus for His sacrifice for us.

Pray for the nation of Israel. Pray that they may recognize their Messiah.

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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We must not forget why we celebrate

December 17, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the LORD Almighty
will accomplish this.
(Isaiah 9:6-7 (NIV))

God had it all planned from the beginning of time. Isaiah knew of God’s plan. The plan called for the birth of a child. Not just any child, but a special child to bear the weight of the world on His shoulders. Someone who would establish His reign forever, with righteousness, love, compassion and justice. Someone that any and all could call upon to bear their burdens for them.

At this time of year, we must not forget why we celebrate. We celebrate because that child that Isaiah spoke of has come, and because He has come, we now have hope. Hope of life eternal through the gift of God’s Son, Jesus Christ.

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