We must not accept sin as the new normal!

January 14, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
(Matthew 18:15-17 (NIV))

Sadly, just by choosing this verse, too many people will get offended. Society currently believes that if you love someone, then you accept them as they are. Society claims that people are made that way and as a result, there is nothing wrong with them. This has become rampant even in the church. Let’s play fill in the blank to see how that actually sounds.

I was born a(n) __________________, therefore, you have to accept me the way that I am.

Pick any of the following words and see how that sounds.

Arsonist
Murderer
Pedophile
Alcoholic
Thief
Sex Addict

Perhaps you have a few more that you can think of, but the concept is clear, sin is sin! Why do we, as the Body of Christ, not follow what we have been told? How can we be the light of the world if we allow the darkness to influence us? How can we share the truth of the Gospel if we can’t follow it ourselves? The last time I read anything about the Lord, He does not lead us into sin! In fact, He leads us away from sin. Jesus, when addressing the woman caught in adultery, was clear. We are to go and sin no more! We are to leave our life of sin. We are not to embrace the sin simply because our fallen nature made us this way! We are to become a new creation. We are to repent. We are to take up our cross and follow Him daily.

Sadly, we are seeing too many people profess that what has been called good is now evil and what was once called evil is now good. Society may claim this as the new normal, but the Body of Christ must stand firm.

We must not accept sin as the new normal!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What are you capable of doing?

January 10, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
(John 15:5 (NIV))

It is human nature to think that we are invincible, that we are capable of doing anything and everything that we put our minds to. Is that really true?

I have read this passage many times, but today something caught my attention that has not come to my attention before. We read this passage and think that it means that without the Lord we cannot achieve anything. I realize that what I am about to say may have you questioning my thought process, but bear with me for a moment. If you read this passage again, pay very close attention to the part about bearing much fruit. Dare I say that this fruit is actually the fruit of the Spirit?

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
(Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV))

Without the Lord and the fruit that we bear because of Him, we are left with our sin. We are left as the filthy rags that we are without Jesus!

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
(Galatians 5:19-21 (NIV))

I realize that we are to commit everything that we do unto the Lord, but I also think we need to understand what Jesus is speaking of in this passage. The things that we do in this world, unless they bring someone to accept Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior, are of no eternal value. Our circle of influence is perhaps two generations if we are so blessed. Even so, that circle is very limited if you look at the world. What is important are things that leave an impact on someone else’s life for all eternity. We can be a bad influence and not share Jesus, or we can live our lives sharing Jesus with all whom we encounter. Leading someone to Jesus requires something of us. We simply cannot lead someone to Jesus if we do not remain in Him and He in us. Our fruit is a direct reflection of our relationship with Jesus. Sharing the Gospel is our single most important responsibility.

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.
(Mark 16:15 (NIV))

Can you see anyone doing this if they do not remain in Jesus and He in them? No one is capable of fulfilling this without Jesus!

What are you capable of doing?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Has your faith saved you?

October 14, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
(Luke 7:50b (NIV))

Jesus spoke these words to a woman who had basically come into the house of Simon. She was not invited by the owner of the house, but she came in anyway to worship and minister to Jesus as He sat as a guest within the house. If you remember the story, she washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and then anointed Him with perfume. This brought ridicule from the “respected” members of society. Jesus responded to them and to Simon by saying that she was doing for Him what Simon, as the host, should have been doing. Simon did not do any of the customary acts of hospitality, yet he considered himself to be a good host and an obedient Jew.

These words and these events mean more than many of us may realize. Let’s take a good look at just how this actually has meaning for us today.

Simon represented the Jewish society set in their ways and oblivious to the true calling that God had placed upon them to bear the good news to the world. Instead of this mission being fulfilled, they acted just as Simon did. They refused to welcome their own Messiah in an appropriate manner. A woman who was an outcast in the eyes of traditional Jewish society saw Jesus for who is was and saw that her redemption was at hand. She went were she was not welcome in order to embrace the grace and mercy that she longed for. The woman is symbolic of the Gentiles, who in the midst of tradition and society, accepted the mission to bear witness in the midst of something that was not truly hers in the eyes of society.

Jesus was a Jew. According to Paul, Jesus had a specific order in which He came.

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 11:6 (NIV))

Just as He went into the house of Simon, He went first for the Jew, then, just as the woman came and accepted Him, the Gentiles accepted Him.

If you are not of Jewish heritage, you are a Gentile. We did not come to Jesus out of tradition. We came to Jesus just as the woman did. Out of faith. Just as He told her that her faith had saved her, we can also lay claim to that same piece of truth if we truly have faith.

Has your faith saved you?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you share the Gospel with the authority of Jesus?

September 10, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.
(Matthew 7:28-29 (NIV))

Do you remember your most favorite teacher? What made them your favorite? Was it the fact that they really knew what they were teaching and that they were passionate about what they taught? They taught from authority, for authority means that they know what they are teaching. They were more interested in conveying wisdom and knowledge instead of rules and regulations. They taught with joy and enthusiasm.

Do you remember your least favorite teacher? What made this teacher different from your most favorite teacher? I would safely say that they are the ones who tried to teach rules and regulations instead of wisdom and knowledge. Do you remember the rules and regulations that they tried to teach? Probably not!

Consider that Jesus and the teachers of the law are identical to your most favorite and least favorite teachers. Jesus came to impart wisdom and knowledge with joy and enthusiasm. The teachers of the law taught rigid laws and doctrine. No wonder the crowds were amazed at His teachings. Up until this point in their lives, religious life was a chore dictated by very strict man-made rules and regulations that attempted to define and refine what God had commanded. Jesus came to set the captives free. He taught not of rules, but of grace and mercy.

We need to be careful that we do not teach as the teachers of the law, but, teach as Jesus taught.

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
(Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV))

Jesus told us to go and teach of Him. How do you teach? Do you try to enforce rules or do you passionately teach of grace and mercy?

It is my desire to be passionate about what I am given to send out. I pray that you will always see the passion within these words. Do you share the Gospel with the authority of Jesus?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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This is the job of all believers!

August 15, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
(Matthew 28:19 (NIV))

Do you realize that you have a written job description as a believer in Jesus?

It is the same for everyone who professes a faith in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior, but, unfortunately, too many fail to perform this one assignment. Our primary responsibility after accepting Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior is to share the good news of salvation with all whom we encounter. Every single one of us is a unique creation. Just as we realize that no two individuals are created the same, our abilities are unique as well. Some of us are eloquent in speech. Some are better with the written word. Some are better with actions. Some are more suited for expressing what Jesus has done through music, while others are visually creative and can convey God’s grace through eye catching artwork. If none of these describe you, then you may be gifted as a teacher or blessed as a caregiver. No matter what you talents may be, all of us can utilize our talents to fulfill our job description as followers of Jesus. We are to use what we have to reach our neighbors. We are to use what we have to reach the world!

This is the job of all believers!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you willing to surrender your will to the Lord?

August 14, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
(Isaiah 6:8 (NIV))

Willingness!

This seems to be a characteristic that is disappearing from many aspects of society. Is it disappearing from the people who claim to be members of the Body of Christ? Are we willing to stand up and say that we will go where the Lord sends us? It’s time to be honest with yourself and truthfully acknowledge the last time that you stepped forward when you saw a need or felt the Holy Spirit tugging at you. In hindsight, did you respond in a way that left you sitting there or did you wholeheartedly embrace the unknown for the Lord?

Being willing to respond and carry through with that response often places us outside of our comfort zones. We feel uncertainty when facing the unknown even when it is the Lord who is calling us to go. Think about this in respect to Abram. He heard the Lord tell him to leave the country where he lived and trust the Lord to lead him to a new land. Consider how different the outcome if Abram had simply said that he was afraid and wanted to stay where he was.

The Old Testament as well as the New Testament are full of people who were willing to answer and go. Abram went and we now know him as Abraham. Noah went and built an arc. Moses went and lead God’s people out of Egypt. Jacob went and scouted out the land. David went and fought Goliath. The disciples answered the call and followed Jesus.

We have a choice, but how do you think the Lord responds when we make a choice that is contrary to His calling? The Old and New Testaments are also full of people who heard God’s call and decided not to follow. Jonah ran and was swallowed. He eventually surrendered to God’s will. The rich young man heard the call from Jesus and turned and walked away. We never hear of him again. The two thieves on the cross answered differently from each other. One accepted Jesus and is with Him in paradise. The other cursed Jesus, and . . .

Take a very serious soul-searching look at yourself. Are you willing to do what the Lord asks?

Are you willing to surrender your will to the Lord?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you sure you know what is best for you?

August 5, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

This is what the Lord says – your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: ‘I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.’
(Isaiah 48:17 (NIV))

Do you honestly allow God to direct where you should go?

If you are like everyone else, chances are very good that you have probably gotten yourself into situations that have been less than ideal in your eyes. You tried to follow your own direction. How do you think these situations looked to those around you? How do you think they looked to God?

What have you got to lose? If you follow God’s direction, you will not find yourself in situations that will embarrass you because of stupid decisions. You won’t find yourself having to figure out which lies to tell so that you won’t get caught in the first set of lies you told.

Far too many people believe that the Bible is not relevant in today’s society. If you believe that truth is relative, then this is probably you. If you believe that there is no such thing as sin, then this is probably you. If you think that there is no one greater than you, then this is probably you. For the rest of us who know that truth is the same no matter what the circumstance, we know better. For those of us who know that sin is rampant in this world, we know better. For those of us who can’t imagine anyone being worse than we are, we know better.

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))

Filthy rags!

Can a filthy rag direct how to clean itself? Can a filthy rag lift itself out of the filth? Only God can cleanse us. Only God can direct us in the way that we should go. Reflect upon where you are going and repent. Allow God to direct your paths and He will draw you closer to Him.

Are you sure you know what is best for you?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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