Our society has perverted God’s concept of love!

September 30, 2014

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this” ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.
(Mark 12:29-31 (NLT))

I believe that our society has perverted this concept!

We are to love our neighbor as ourselves. Do you love yourself in the manner that lets you justify all types of sin within your life?

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 6:23 (NIV))

Do you love yourself differently than you love your neighbor? Would you allow yourself to be put into situations that would result in your death? Most of us would not. We have a self-preservation instinct that kicks into gear. Most of us would run to rescue our neighbor from a calamity, but we fail to run to their rescue when it is sin that is sentencing them to death.

Why?

Unfortunately, it is very simple.

Society has perverted the meaning of the word love to imply that love means acceptance of the person. Since it implies acceptance, then it is society’s conclusion that love means that you accept the sins of the person.

People claim that Jesus is love and that God is love, and they are correct. Unfortunately, they are applying society’s current definition of love to the one who is love. God’s love is forgiving. God’s love is unconditional. God’s love means dying for those He loves. God’s love is not accepting of our favorite sins. We cannot keep them simply because they are part of us and if God loves us, then He will accept us as we are.

What a crock!

If God could accept us in our sin, why were Adam and Eve kicked out of the Garden of Eden? If God could accept us in our sin, why did He mix up our languages and scatter us at the Tower of Babel? If God could accept us in our sin, then why did He have to send Jesus to walk among us?

God cannot associate with sin.

God is perfection. Sin is corruption. God is love. Sin is death. The two cannot meet.

Society has embraced the lie of the enemy. Love is not acceptance. Love is caring for the well being of another to the point of sacrifice. A sacrifice designed to reveal true love to those in need of love and redemption.

God’s love is not accepting of sin. It is accepting of the sinner if we will only turn away from our sin. God’s love looks at eternity. Sin looks at the moment. Please don’t allow the moment to be a false love that leads to an eternity away from God.

Copyright 1998 – 2014 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Whose acceptance is more important to you?

May 1, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“I do not accept praise from men, but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?
(John 5:41-44 (NIV))

Ouch! That hurts.

Would Jesus say this to us today? Have we become like the people that He was condemning in this passage?

Many claim to be part of the Body of Christ, but do our actions reflect this? Do we seek acceptance from man more than we seek acceptance from God? Do we look to people who are accepted by man and think that they must be Godly for they have been blessed with fame and fortune? How do we look upon Christian music artists and mega-church pastors? Do we praise them for their fame or do we listen and discern what they are saying with respect to God’s Word?

It doesn’t only apply at the grand scale. It can apply to a local congregation if we seek acceptance from one another instead of from God. Please do not confuse this type of acceptance with what we are called to do as a church. We, as the Body of Christ, are called to accept people as Jesus accepted people. We are not called to place the desire to be accepted by people above accepting Jesus.

After we have done something that the Lord has called us to do, do we seek acceptance from our friends, family and fellow members of the Body of Christ? I honestly believe that the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector has merit in our ways of seeking acceptance.

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: `God, I thank you that I am not like other men–robbers, evildoers, adulterers–or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, `God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
(Luke 18:9-14 (NIV))

When we seek acceptance from anyone else but God, we are trying to exalt ourselves. We are prideful. We want everybody to know who we are and what we have done. Is this how Jesus told us to serve?

“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
(Matthew 6:2-4 (NIV))

We can seek the acceptance of man or we can seek the acceptance of Jesus.

Whose acceptance is more important to you?

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What about you?

November 23, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

You are not a God who takes pleasure in evil;
with you the wicked cannot dwell.
The arrogant cannot stand in your presence;
you hate all who do wrong.
You destroy those who tell lies;
bloodthirsty and deceitful men
the LORD abhors.
(Psalms 5:4-6 (NIV))

Lord, help me to be a man after your own heart.

If you are like me, you probably see the things going on in this world and you are earnestly praying for a revival and for God’s Will to be done. It is so easy to slip from this type of prayer into one where we are thankful that we are not like those who are evil, wicked, arrogant, bloodthirsty and deceitful.

Be very careful.

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: `God, I thank you that I am not like other men–robbers, evildoers, adulterers–or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, `God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
(Luke 18:9-14 (NIV))

In God’s eyes, we too are sinners. We are no better than those who practice these things. The only difference is that we recognize our failures, our sins, and we earnestly seek forgiveness and we earnestly seek after God’s own heart.

The difference between the Body of Christ and nonbelievers is knowledge. We were once like them. We don’t need to be arrogant in our salvation, for we did not earn it. They cannot earn it. It is freely given to all who seek.

I mentioned knowledge is the difference.

It is a knowledge that we are supposed to share.

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))

God does not take pleasure in sin. He sent His Son, Jesus, to offer grace and mercy. We have been given a task to share that grace and mercy with the world. Are we sharing it, or have we become like the Pharisee and stand off to the side and thank God that we are not like the sinners?

I am thankful for grace. It is my prayer that we, as the Body of Christ, will forever be thankful and not arrogant. it is my prayer that we do not act as the Pharisee, but rather as the tax collector. God does not want us to have a “holier than thou” attitude. We cannot reach others when we do. In fact, when we have that attitude, we are the ones who need grace.

I would rather be a humble person who recognizes that he is a sinner in need of a savior instead of a “holier than thou” person who completely misses the mark.

What about you?

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

November 14, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good–except God alone. You know the commandments: `Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’ ”
(Luke 18:18-20 (NIV))

People are still asking the same question today. The answer has not changed.

We are to keep the commandments, but we have been bought by grace for the times when we stumble.

This does not mean that we can apply the current feel good philosophy to these principles. We cannot take a look at ourselves and say that we had a difficult childhood, so that excuses my behavior. We cannot take a look at ourselves and proclaim that the reason we have sexual sin is because we were neglected as a child and are seeking love. We cannot claim that we were made fun of as a child because we were poor and that is the reason that we steal. We cannot claim that we were not told the difference between right and wrong and that is why we lie.

Society has taken the personal responsibility out of everything and look where it has gotten us.

The Bible did not tell us that we should not commit adultery or sexual sin unless we were born that way. The Bible did not tell us not to murder unless we were born with rage inside of us. The Bible did not tell us not to steal unless we were born with a disorder. The Bible did not tell us not to lie unless we would benefit from the lie.

We are told plain and simply “Do not” with no disclaimers and no exceptions.

If the Bible tells us not to do something, man has no right to claim that we are not bound by His instructions because we were created differently.

There is one sin that people are claiming that they were born that way. Consider another sin in comparison.

Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.
(Ephesians 5:18 (NIV))

If people who are prone to alcoholism claim that they are born that way, does society, does the family and does the individual excuse the behavior and the sin? Does God excuse the behavior and the sin?

Each person has something that Satan uses to trap you. God does not tell us to stay strong in all areas of our lives except what Satan is attacking us with. We are told to turn from all attacks of the enemy whether they are pride, greed, lust, gluttony, envy, or any other thing. We are not told to pick a favorite and embrace it.

God gave us instructions for a reason. He gave us grace for when we truly desire to but cannot fulfill these instructions.

Grace is a choice. Fighting the temptations from Satan is a choice. We know that we are sinners, but if we accept the lie that we are born that way and cannot change, we have already lost our salvation.

God did not send Jesus to teach and to die on the cross so that we could claim a false reason to keep on sinning.

Stay strong in God’s Word.

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Has your nature changed?

July 16, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
(Romans 5:8 (NIV))

I was recently presented with a concept that has made me look at this passage with more gratitude for what God has done for us through His Son, Jesus.

It is common knowledge that humanity has fallen from grace and that we have fallen into sin. It is also an accepted fact by the church that we are all sinners in need of a Savior. But, the question that was presented to me has had me reflecting on the answer for a few days. It is an answer that eludes me, but it brings some interesting things to the table.

The question sounds simple.

Are we sinners because we sin, or do we sin because we are sinners?

To be honest, my first reaction was that we are sinners because we sin.

Why do we sin?

If we sin because we are sinners, that means that our human nature has been set to seek sin. We seek after the things that are wrong. In other words, humanity has a sinful nature. Individually we sin because we have a sinful nature. We sin due to the fact that since the fall from grace, the righteous nature has been replaced with a sinful nature.

“While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

If you realize that it is in our nature to sin, this takes on a whole new meaning.

All of us have become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
we all shrivel up like a leaf,
and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
(Isaiah 64:6 (NIV))

We are truly the filthy rags. We are not capable of doing good without grace, for we are all prone to sin. We sin because we have a sinful nature. Sin is anything that goes against the will of God.

Let me explain through an extreme example.

It is a sharks nature to feed. We have all seen the feeding frenzies. They cannot help their nature. It is deadly for anything that gets in the middle of it. Our sin is just as deadly for anyone who gets in the middle of it. Jesus did get in the middle of it. He came to provide a way for us to break the stranglehold that our sinful human nature has upon us. He came to provide a way, the only way, to change our nature. We were born, as human beings, into the life that has us sin because it is in our nature. We sinned because we were sinners.

We have been washed clean!

I just realized that this concept puts a whole new meaning into the concept of being born again. Our first birth was into the sinful nature that we could not escape. Our second birth, through Jesus, is into a renewed being who has had the sinful nature removed. Christ died for us while we still had that sinful nature. Through His death and resurrection, we have grace and mercy. We are free from our sinful nature.

Could our status change?

I honestly believe that it is at this point when we move from sinning because we have a sinful nature to one where we are sinners because we still sin. The difference is a matter of priorities. Being a sinner because we still sin implies that we have surrendered ourselves to Jesus and that we are seeking His Will. We will not be perfect in our walk. We will still sin. We will miss the mark, but it is our desire to follow God’s will.

I want to present one more idea for you to think about. It will require personal reflection.

Since accepting Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, do you feel that your nature has changed? Do you still find yourself thinking and doing the same sinful things you did before your salvation? Now, think about the sins that you feel that you need to lay at the foot of the cross. Have these changed since your salvation?

Do you feel that you have moved, through the power of the Holy Spirit, from a sinful nature to someone who sins?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What is your example?

June 5, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task. Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.

Deacons, likewise, are to be men worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons.

In the same way, their wives are to be women worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything.

A deacon must be the husband of but one wife and must manage his children and his household well. Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.
(1 Timothy 3:1-12 (NIV))

Jesus loves the sinner and hates the sin. However, the Bible clearly states that those in positions of authority should be “models.” Are the priests to model sin? If they renounce the sin, it is one thing, but to continue to embrace the sin is another. Do you agree that priests should model righteousness?

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
(1 Peter 2:9 (NIV))

Forget about the ordained clergy for a minute. We, as the Body of Christ, are all priests. We are the royal priesthood. We have been given instructions. If we are the royal priesthood, then we, as the Body of Christ, must model righteousness and not sin.

Homosexuality is a sin. Lust is a sin. Coveting is a sin. Greed is a sin. Knowing that something is a sin, yet making a conscious decision to continue down that path is one biblical definition of wickedness.

Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
(1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (NIV))

However, this is not from our own hand.

But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
(Romans 3:21-23 (NIV))

This does not mean that it is ok to continue to sin. Grace is not a free pass to do whatever we want.

As we grow in our faith, we are “perfected” in the image of Jesus. Jesus was sin free. He was not a sinner.

If you remember the adulterous woman who was going to be stoned, think about what Jesus told her:

But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

“No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
(John 8:1-11 (NIV))

LEAVE YOUR LIFE OF SIN!

The church cannot have leaders who refuse to follow the teachings of Jesus. We, as the Body of Christ, are the leaders. We should set an example for the world to follow.

What is your example?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Be prepared to take prisoners!

May 30, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
(Ephesians 6:12 (NIV))

We must remember that the sinner is not our enemy, it is the sin!

When we are faced with troubles, they do not come from human hands, or at least not directly. They originate from the powers that we, as humanity, allowed into this world through Adam and Eve.

We know the outcome of the eventual victory, but we are still faced with the individual battles before then. The saying, “Take no prisoners” does not apply in this battle. We must “capture” as many of the enemy’s soldiers as we can and bring them to our side.

Each of us was lost at one point in our lives. Likewise, each of those that we struggle against is lost. We must remove the indoctrination that the enemy has filled them with and fill them with the love of Jesus Christ.

When you go into battle for the Lord, be prepared to take prisoners!

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