Can you realize your full potential on your own?

June 25, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
(Matthew 5:17-20 (NIV))

Have you ever stopped to reflect on the meaning of the word “fulfill.” There are several meanings and all of them shed a slightly different, yet profound meaning on these words that Jesus spoke.

According to Merriam-Webster.com, one meaning is to make full. If you consider the promises that God has given to us through the Law, those promises have been made full in what Jesus has done. Before Jesus, no one could live up to the ideals set forth through God’s Laws. The fulness of God’s Laws were salvation. We could not bring fulness on our own.

Another meaning is “to put into effect.” Still another is “to meet the requirements of.” There are more, but I think that my favorite definition is “to convert into reality; to develop the full potentialities of.” Before Jesus, the reality was that no one could fulfill the Law. Since Jesus, the reality is that no one else has fulfilled the Law. What are the full potentialities of fulfilling God’s Law? Think about that. We know what the outcome is when we fall short of God’s Law. Falling short of God’s Law is sin. The consequences of sin is death.

Through Jesus, we have realized the full potential of God’s Law. We have seen what it is to be perfect in God’s eyes. We have seen God set that example through Jesus. Jesus fulfilled the Law perfectly. We don’t need to fulfill it. This does not mean that we can do whatever we want. It means that we will not be condemned when we try in all sincerity and fall short. We will be condemned if we reject grace.

We can accept His fulfillment and His Lordship and, by grace, we can be granted our salvation – our fulfillment of God’s Laws through Jesus. We have a choice to make. We can accept this grace or we can live and be judged according to the Law – the very Law that ONLY Jesus was able to fulfill.

Can you realize your full potential on your own?

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Innocence or sin?

May 30, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.
(Matthew 19:14 (NIV))

Innocence and innocence betrayed! We were once little children in the eyes of God, innocent and very willing and eager to climb onto the lap of “Abba, Father.” Our innocence also lead to our fall from this peaceful existence into a life of sin and death. Our innocence was used against us by Satan in order to get back at God. Satan wanted to be God, and in his attempt at getting his desires, he was cast down from heaven. In his anger, he deceived humanity in our created innocence and now we are no longer innocent in the eyes of God. We are no longer those children who could sit on the lap of our “Abba, Father.”

Reading the words written in Matthew 19:14, I can’t help but wonder if Jesus was trying to tell us to come back to God as we were before the fall from grace, innocent and naive about the deceiving nature of sin. Deceit and distrust are a learned characteristic, as are honesty, truth and righteousness. We can be taught either characteristic, but, it is an attitude that actually makes us turn towards one direction or another. Little children are trusting by nature and have not learned to be wary of anything. When it comes to God, we need to trust wholeheartedly as a little child. When it comes to Satan, we must be wary of all things and have the wisdom of his ways so that we can avoid him.

Which attitude do you wish to have? Do you desire to have the innocence that God desires for you, or do you desire the wisdom of sin that Satan uses to trap? It is your choice!

Innocence or sin?

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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We cannot pick and choose parts of God’s Word!

April 5, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
(2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV))

I am going to touch on a subject that probably may step on some toes, but based on the above passage, it must be addressed.

I am speaking of the idea that we no longer have to read or abide by the Old Testament since Jesus came to free us from the law of sin and death. Jesus spoke directly to this false idea.

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
(Mark 5:17-20 (NIV))

We must remember that the only Word that the people had at this time was what we refer to as the Old Testament. Jesus was speaking clearly and telling us that we are to fulfill the commands given in these teachings. He did not change any of these teachings. He came to fulfill them and to offer grace and mercy for when we “missed the mark,” or sinned in God’s eyes. Jesus did not come to tell us that what was taught before no longer applied. On the contrary, Jesus tells us that it is very important and that we are to build our lives upon it.

We cannot pick and choose what part of God’s Word we want to follow. We are to follow it all. We should long to follow it for it pleases God and it makes our lives much better.

The next time that you hear someone saying that we no longer live under the Law, remind them that Jesus lived under the Law. We are still to live according to God’s Law. The only difference is that we have Jesus sitting at the right hand of God the Father intervening for us when we cannot keep the Law, after all, Exodus 20:1-17 still applies. At no time did Jesus tell us to place another god before God. He did not tell us that it was all right to murder. He never told us that it was all right to steal. Why do we think that He told us to ignore the rest of God’s Word in the Old Testament?

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Jesus came to finish God’s plan of salvation.

March 27, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
(John 19:30 (NIV))

Why did Jesus go to the cross?

What did He have to finish?

According to many people alive today, Jesus was concerned about social issues and equality. His own words let us know that this was not the reason for His crucifixion.

You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me
(John 12:8 (NIV))

Did Jesus come to preach acceptance of alternate lifestyles and diversity as some people now claim?

“Not everyone who says to me, `Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, `Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, `I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
(Matthew 7:21-23 (NIV))

Don’t get me wrong. Jesus is concerned about social issues. He cares for the poor. He cares for the outcast. He cares for those on the edge of society. He does not care for them as the world cares. He cares for their repentance and salvation.

We all know John 3:16 by heart. What the world, and often members of the Body of Christ, forget is that this is not the complete passage. There is more to embrace.

“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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”
(John 3:16-21 (NIV))

Jesus is the Light of the World. He walked among us to bring light, to teach God’s desires and to offer salvation through repentance. He came to seek and to save the lost! He did not accept the sin of the lost.

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 8:9-11 (NIV))

Jesus did not come to condemn. He came to bring salvation. He had to offer an atoning sacrifice that would cover all of our sins. He had to go to the cross. He had to finish the plan for repayment of our debt in sin.

Jesus did not come to condemn. Sadly, too many people are teaching that he came to ignore our sins and as long as we call upon His name we will be saved. Jesus did not tell the woman to call on him the next time she was caught in sin. He told her to leave her life of sin. If we continue to live in our sin, we are not truly living in the Light. We are still lost in our own evils and lost in the darkness.

Jesus came to finish God’s plan of salvation. God’s plan of salvation did not keep us in our sin. It cleansed us of our sin. All we have to do is repent and accept.

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Man’s wisdom or God’s wisdom?

November 26, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
(Matthew 5:3 (NIV))

Do you ever feel like you have the world under your control and everything is going your way?

I didn’t think so!

If you are like everyone else, then you feel the trials and tribulations that this world puts upon each of us. It can weigh us down. It can make us forget that we are God’s children.

At the same time, it can actually lead us closer to God. It is during these times when we tend to turn to God. Perhaps it is during these times when our God shaped holes start to ache for fulfillment, and of course, there is only one source of fulfillment. We realize that we are not the masters of our own lives and that we must turn to the one who is. We turn to God.

In the eyes of the world, this signifies a poor spirit, for we admit that we cannot make it on our own. We need someone bigger than ourselves. According to human society, there is no one bigger than ourselves. Society wants us to think that we are the masters of our own destiny. Society wants us to be proud, perhaps even arrogant. When we are proud and arrogant, we will not turn to God. The kingdom that the proud and arrogant seek is the here and now.

If society says that turning to God is a sign of a poor spirit, then I am glad to claim that banner. However, it takes a strength to turn to God when all around you tempts you to turn away. It is a strength that the world doesn’t understand. It is a strength of free will. We choose to not exalt ourselves and turn to the one who deserves all of the praise. We freely choose what God desires for us instead of what the world desires for us.

Man’s wisdom is contradictory to God’s wisdom. With that in mind, which would you rather be, proud of spirit or poor of spirit? You answer will determine your eternity.

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting

September 24, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“This is the inscription that was written:
MENE, MENE, TEKEL, PARSIN

“This is what these words mean:

Mene: God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end.

Tekel: You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.

Peres: Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”
(Daniel 5:25 (NIV))

I have wrestled with this passage for a few days. I feel that I am being led to use this passage, yet, at the same time, I have this feeling in my stomach that this is going to make some people angry.

Here goes!

Think about the words “You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.”

Who is doing the weighing? Who is making the decision that we could be found wanting? This is not the only place that we are given a stern message like this.

“Not everyone who says to me, `Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, `Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, `I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
(Matthew 7:21-23 (NIV))

Just how can someone be found wanting in the eyes of God?

I think that we see a glimpse of this in the above passage from Matthew.

Jesus warned against those who claimed the power of His name, but did not have a personal relationship with Him. If we have that personal relationship with Jesus, our hearts will seek after what is on His heart. We will seek to do His will. We will be in step with what He is calling us to do.

We can get out of step easily. We can follow false teachings. We can accept only part of Jesus, the part that most people like to think about – Savior. If we do not accept Jesus as both Lord and Savior, then we are refusing to listen and to follow. In other words, we will not know Him, and He will not know us!

We will be evildoers in His sight!

What happens when many get out of step with God?

Is it possible for a nation to get out of step with God?

The story from Daniel shows us that it is possible. They were shown the handwriting on the wall.

I often wonder what things we will be asked about when we stand before God. I know that we will be asked about our personal sins.

When I say to a wicked man, `You will surely die,’ and you do not warn him or speak out to dissuade him from his evil ways in order to save his life, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. But if you do warn the wicked man and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his evil ways, he will die for his sin; but you will have saved yourself.
(Ezekiel 3:18-19 (NIV))

Could we be found wanting because we did not take action to intervene for others, out nation and our world?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Blessed because of our faith

August 8, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
(Matthew 5:10 (NIV))

Unless you have been living under a rock, you are very well aware of what is going on with how the Body of Christ has been coming under attack from many different sides.

Christians are being labeled as hateful and bigoted. We are being ridiculed in the media at every opportunity that they get. Any show of faith is considered a violation of the so-called separation of church and state. And, I honestly believe that it may get worse.

Are you willing to stand up for your faith?

Are you willing to face persecution for what you believe?

Are you willing to boldly proclaim that Jesus is Lord of all even in the midst of the enemy?

I pray that we may never really face this scenario, but I also pray that if we do, each person who calls upon Jesus as Lord and Savior will not renounce His name.

Faith is a funny thing. When tragedy happens, those who did not have it suddenly find that they need it. I hope that the opposite is not true. When persecution happens, will those who profess a faith in Jesus suddenly find themselves rethinking their position.

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
(Hebrews 11:1 (NIV))

Is it time for a faith checkup?

Are you sure of what you hope for?

Are you certain of what you do not see?

I pray that no matter what we may face in life, that we, as the Body of Christ, face it with unwavering faith. I pray that we will be called blessed because of our faith.

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