Can you claim perfection in the eyes of God?

November 11, 2014

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.
(James 3:2 (NIV))

Do you know anyone who thinks that they are capable of doing no wrong?

For those of you who have been married for a long time, I heard those comments that you just made!

Seriously, though, do you know anyone who thinks that they are capable of doing no wrong? Do you know someone who has an ego so big that they think they are perfect? Do you know someone who fits that description and looks back at you when you look in the mirror?

We are all fallen individuals who have surrendered to sin. Sin controls us. We long for pleasure and we long for things that personally benefit us. It is these desires that cause us to do things that we should not do. We fall short of what we are called to be. We miss the mark. We sin!

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
(Romans 3:23 (NIV))

No one is perfect except Jesus. Contrary to what we may think, we sin more than we care to admit. We fall short in all aspects of our lives.

Fortunately, our salvation is not based on our perfection and on our ability to not sin. Our salvation is solely based on our acceptance of a gift of grace as presented through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Only Jesus had no fault. Only Jesus is a perfect man. It is through His atoning sacrifice that those of us who are not perfect can gain salvation.

Jesus never stumbled! Jesus never failed!

Can you truly make this claim?

Copyright 1998 – 2014 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do not steal. Do not lie. Do not deceive one another.

November 30, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

`Do not steal.
`Do not lie.
`Do not deceive one another.
(Leviticus 19:11 (NIV))

I think that it is safe to say that you can probably see each one of these events transpire before you see mid day. Perhaps, it is even safe to say that these events will happen before you see the beginning of your work day.

Isn’t it a shame that our society has stooped to such a state that these basic principles of life and Godly righteousness have become the exception instead of the rule. We have become a society so focused on “self” that we forget each other in our selfish struggles to attain what we desire. There is a saying that “He would sell his own mother if he could make a dime.” This saying used to be said of someone who was ruthless and conniving in a time when this was unusual. Now, it seems to have become the norm.

Perhaps we, as the Body of Christ, should take a serious look at ourselves! We are to be held accountable before God as well as man. We are also to be an example – a light unto the world.

Little things that may seem trivial in the eyes of the world are still sin in the eyes of God. Stealing, lying and deceiving are all sins, no matter how big or how small the item, the lie, or the deception.

No one is perfect, yet, we are called to follow Jesus as our example. Did Jesus steal? Did Jesus lie? Did Jesus deceive another? When we measure ourselves against Jesus as the example, we are all left lacking

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
(Romans 3:23 (NIV))

I know that I am extremely thankful for grace!

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What are you like on the inside?

July 11, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.
(Matthew 23:25-26 (NIV))

How many people do you know that put up appearances? The way they look from the outside is all righteous, but when no one is around, or they are in different company, they are completely different. Jesus spoke of people like this. There were people like that then and there are still people like it now.

What are you like on the inside? Do you change or do you stay consistent in your words and actions? Be sure that your motives are of God on the inside, and then what the world sees will also be of God.

I find it interesting that far too many people only look at the outside. They look at what the world sees. Have you come to the realization that worldly attitudes call for false facades? We try to be perfect on the outside because we, as a society, have been shown a picture of perfection all of our lives. This is a perfection that calls for the perfect body, perfect hair, the perfect job, the perfect house and the perfect attitude all the while we ignore what really matters.

In other words, we are all show and no substance.

What happens when age takes the body and the mortgage on the perfect house ties you to a job that has lost its perfection. Life is not about appearances. Life is not about looking good to the world.

When all of the outside trappings have lost their luster, what do you have?

You have what is on the inside. If you have spent your whole life focusing on the outside, then your world is easily turned upside down. Jesus called the Pharisees out for their teachings, but I think that we can also look at what society teaches us in the same manner.

The old saying, “You are what you eat,” comes to mind. If we fill ourselves with greed and self-indulgence, then we are nothing on the inside but greed and self-indulgence. If we fill ourselves with Jesus, then what are we on the inside?

I honestly believe that when we fill ourselves with Jesus, we bear fruit!

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
(Galatians 5:22-25 (NIV))

Once again, I think that I need to ask, what are you like on the inside?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What do you exercise?

May 9, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is much more important, for it promises a reward in both this life and the next.
(1 Timothy 4:8 (NLT))

Our society places way too much emphasis on the physical appearances of people while the spiritual aspects of their lives is hidden from even themselves.

We are taught from an early age that we need to “put on a good face.” We are told that physical perfection is to be valued. We are constantly bombarded with media propaganda touting the virtues of the latest exercise craze or the latest diet, and, yes, even the latest cosmetic surgery technique. All of these are designed to make us feel good about out outward appearance while ignoring the inner spiritual issues.

We cannot hide behind physical facades forever. No matter what people can do with exercise and medical technologies, all of us will grow old. All of us will eventually die. Contrary to the saying, he who has the most toys does not win. We have not been placed on this earth to behave vainly and in a superficial and shallow manner. We have been lied to by Satan. God desires for us to seek Him and His Word!

We are to exercise our spiritual side, for it is eternal. We have accepted the lies of the enemy as the truth. We have been told to focus on the fleeting while ignoring the aspects of our existence that may last forever. We cannot enter into the Kingdom of Heaven if we have not prepared for this. How we are to prepare is simple. We must accept Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, and then focus on following God’s Word. We must spend time within it on each and every day. We must exercise our faith.

What do you exercise?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you long for the old days?

January 3, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, `The old is better.’
(Luke 5:37-38 (NIV))

Do you long for the old days?

Think about that statement!

Have you grown in your faith since the times that you long for? Have you matured in your walk with Christ since that time?

I would venture to say that each of us has come a long way in our faith and in our relationship with Jesus since the days that we tend to long for. Would you trade your maturity for the immature ways of that time? Would you trade your faith for the faithlessness that you probably had at that time? In essence, we would not pour the new wine of our new faith into the lives that we now have. That would ruin us. The wine of our “old” faith is much better than the immature wine of the faith that was then “new” to us.

God is slowly maturing us. He is slowly perfecting us. He has always loved us, but He did not like the sin and the faithlessness that we were in. We are “older” now, but not as “old” and mature in our faith as we will become. Once we are standing in the presence of God, the faith that we have now will be as if it were new for all things will be revealed to us and we will no longer have any longing for the old days.

Paul says it very well.

And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God.
(Colossians 1:10 (NIV))

We should all long for the perfection that will be ours through Jesus.

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

November 17, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.
(Habakkuk 3:19 (NIV))

When we have the Lord on our side, or should I say when we are on His side, it feels like we can do anything. We feel creation in a way that we could never feel it without God’s presence.

Without God, we cannot accomplish anything of significance. With God, He can accomplish anything at all through us. That is the difference. Without God, we make feeble attempts that rely solely on our limited capabilities. With God, He pours out His Spirit upon us and through us to accomplish things that are impossible for us to accomplish. You have probably heard it said that God does not call and use the able, but, rather, he calls those who are not able so that it is obvious that they are not the ones who are doing the act. With this in mind, God is our strength for we cannot do anything without Him.

Take a look at some of the people in the Bible. Take a look at David, for example. He fell into temptation and sinned. He took another man’s wife and then had that man killed. David fell short of what God had called him to because of sin. Even through this sin, though, David turned back to God and repented. He acknowledged his sin and placed his full trust in God. Of course David had to face the consequences of his actions, but, he still was considered a man after God’s own heart. David placed his limited strength in the unlimited strength of the Lord. Because of this, David was promised many things, even though in his own strength he could not keep from sinning.

Do you place your limited strength in the unlimited strength of the Lord? Do you allow God to take you to the heights so that He may be glorified, or do you simply look at what God is calling you to and back away from it because you cannot do it?

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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True branches and good fruit

May 31, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
(John 15:5-8 (NIV))

All good comes from God. We cannot do truly good things without God in our lives. When we become believers, we are grafted into the vine. We are not natural branches of “good” and “love”. Rather, we are allowed to graft onto the perfect vine and share in the fruits of that vine. We have the life of the vine flowing through us if the “graft” is true. If the “life” flows through us, then the fruit produced will also show the “life” of the vine. If the “graft” is not true, then the branch withers and dies and must be discarded.

Which branch are you? Do you bear the fruit of the vine, or do you wither and produce no fruit?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Be Still

May 9, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“Be still, and know that I am God;
(Psalms 46:10a (NIV))

I once asked the question, “How often can you take the time to sit in silence?” If you are like me, the hectic lifestyles that we live do not allow many times like this. I still find myself struggling to find time each day to spend quietly with God. Many times it is only for a few minutes an evening as I sit in my office and my family is in another room. I read through the verses that have caught my attention and I find myself reflecting upon what God has placed upon my heart.

Many times, the events of the day will open up an avenue that God will use to reach out to me and ask me if I have done the best that I could possibly do in a situation. Just like any one of us on any given day, I fail miserably when I think about what I should have done. When this happens, I thank God for showing me what a fool I can be and then I praise Him for His grace and mercy. Tomorrow is a new day! It is another day that I, a mere toddler, can attempt to walk with God in all of His glory. I know that each day I will fall short of what He desires for me, but I also know that He will allow me to get back up. He will allow me once again take my place in my lifelong walk with Him.

Many times I miss the queues that tell me where He is going. I fail to hear that still small voice when He tells me to venture outside of my comfort zone. I long to get better at being able to discern His voice. I long to sit in His presence. I long to feel His guiding hand upon my life in all that I do.

There is no substitute for being in God’s presence and discerning His voice. It is something that we must learn. It takes patience. It takes practice. It takes a conscious effort each and every day. How can you know something if you do not take the time to study, if you do not take the time to learn? If we desire to know God, we must take the time. We must make a decision each and every day to make the time.

What will be your decision for today and every day for the rest of your life?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Anguish. Pain. Distress. Anxiety. Freedom!

May 4, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”

He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”
(Matthew 26:39-42 (NIV))

Anguish.

Extreme pain.

Distress.

Anxiety.

There have been times in each of our lives when we felt that things just couldn’t get any worse. We were at our limits as far as anguish, pain, distress and anxiety. We have prayed that God would remove the pain from our lives. We have felt something similar to what Jesus felt that night so long ago.

If this type of feeling only came once in your lifetime, we could probably face the single event knowing that if we make it through that one episode, then we will never have to face this severe anguish ever again. The sad thing is that we know that we may face these type of feelings many times during our lives.

Still, we survive. We continue to live out our lives.

Why?

We have been given a hope. We have a faith that is built upon the events that took place that night that lead to the crucifixion. We have a faith based on the resurrection three days later. That is why we can face the trials and tribulations that this world sends our way. Jesus bore the burden for us. He carried the weight of all of our sin, anguish, pain, distress and anxiety.

Think about that.

I can recall times when I literally felt that my heart would burst just from the burden that I bore. I am certain that each of you has felt the same. Now, multiply that feeling by the countless number of times in your life where you are distressed. The burden gets heavier.

Now, multiply that amount of anguish by the billions of people that have ever lived and will ever live and the anguish grows to be so large that it is difficult to comprehend. Yet, comprehend it is exactly what Jesus did. He not only understood the amount of sin, anguish and pain, He willingly bore that burden for us so that we would not have to bear it any more.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
(Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV))

Jesus bore the sins of the whole world so that we can know peace. All that we have to do is accept that peace and turn our burdens over to Him. If He can carry the weight of the sin and anguish for all eternity, then He is more than capable of carrying you through whatever you may be facing.

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is it time for a transition?

April 29, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
(Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NIV))

Nothing in this fallen world lasts forever.

Everything has its season. Everything has a period of time in which it is appropriate. What is appropriate for one moment will not always be good for another period of time.

Life is full of stages. These stages are extended moments in time when your life seems to settle in to a nice, familiar pattern. Then things start to change. We see the transitions as a time in which uncertainty scares us to death. We don’t realize that the transitions are only temporary and that we will soon begin a new stage in our lives in which we will develop new familiar patterns.

At each stage, we experience life and we learn what God has to teach us in order to prepare us for the next stage. He is leading us down a path that will bring maturity and wisdom if we will only recognize where He leads.

My son is at just such a stage in his life. He is weeks away from graduating from high school. I suppose that he is not the only high school senior who feels this way, but I believe that he is not ready to make that transition. To be honest with you, I have been in a similar situation before. I was facing a transition that I was not sure I wanted to make and it scared me.

We have all had those types of transitions in our lives!

We are not ready to leave a season in our lives out of fear, out of familiarity.

How can we grow? How can we mature if we are fearful of where we are being led?

God did not create us to be stagnant and complacent in our lives, yet, all too often, we are just that. We see where God is leading, and we are afraid of the change. We are too comfortable with the time that we are in to see the glory and grace in the time where He is leading.

God gave us life.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
(John 10:10 (NIV))

Think about that for a moment.

Would life be full if we spent every second of every day in the same season? Would you appreciate grace if you have never known sin? Would you appreciate content if you never knew need? Would you appreciate love if you never experienced loneliness? Would you appreciate laughter if you never knew tears?

God did not promise us a perfect life if we accepted His Son, Jesus, as our Lord and Savior, He did promise to be with us through everything, through every season.

Human nature is a funny thing, for it can override the faith that we profess if we let it.

If God is with us, why do we fear the transitions?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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