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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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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With Jesus, all things are possible

June 11, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me.
(Romans 7:21 (NIV))

Paul knew that human nature was to turn to sin even when we don’t want to. Paul, who turned away from everything that he had been raised to follow, knew that sin lurks behind every shadow. Paul, the man whom Jesus sent to share the Gospel with the Gentiles, often found himself in situations that would easily allow sin. He knew very well that the possibility to sin is constantly present. He also knew that he had to stay focused on Jesus in order to avoid falling into the trap of sin.

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

It is true that human nature leads us into sin if it is left to its own desires. But, there is a bigger truth that we must all embrace. That truth is that God longs to give us salvation from our sins. He accomplished this through the atoning blood of Jesus, His only begotten Son.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
(John 3:16 (NIV))

Grace and mercy are a wonderful gift from God, the Father. They cannot be earned. They cannot be purchased. They are freely given to any and all who will simply ask with a desire to turn away from their sin. With salvation comes the Holy Spirit to live within us. The Holy Spirit will guide us and help us to keep evil at bay so that we can focus on Jesus.

Paul was correct in saying that evil is right there with him. However, with the presence of the Holy Spirit and the power of Jesus, we can overcome evil and live in righteousness. We must never let down our guard. We must constantly be ready to overcome the enemy.

With Jesus, all things are possible.

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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