I am so thankful for grace!

August 15, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering.”
(Luke 11:52 (NIV))

I am afraid to say that we still have people alive today who fall into this category. These people take what should be simple, God-given guidelines on how we are to live our lives and turn them into legalistic ritual controlled by man.

God did not intend for us to spend so much time worried about the details that we miss the grace and the joy that He has freely given to us. How can we be joyful in our salvation if we are worried about following legalistic rituals that are human traditions and not required of God? If you remember, the word “sin” is an archery term that means to miss the mark. Legalism holds us to the judgement of missing that mark.

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
(1 Corinthians 15:56 (NIV))

Jesus came into this world so that we would be free from the law of sin and death. He did not mean that we could continue to sin. He gave us freedom to escape the consequences of sin and death. We are to follow the law, but since we are not perfect, we cannot uphold the law in all things. Legalism requires that we be letter perfect in all things and at all times. People who become experts in the law seem to like to point out the flaws of others. They don’t offer guidance and grace, only condemnation. Through the law, there is no victory.

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
(1 Corinthians 15:57 (NIV))

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you preserve Godly knowledge?

July 14, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“For the lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge, and from his mouth men should seek instruction–because he is the messenger of the LORD Almighty. But you have turned from the way and by your teaching have caused many to stumble; you have violated the covenant with Levi,” says the LORD Almighty.
(Malachi 2:7-8 (NIV))

This makes my heart hurt and my spirit groan!

I realize that this is Old Testament, but it brings something to light that has always been a problem. That problem is that some people who claim to be priests, preachers or teachers are not preaching and teaching the truth. As a result, many people have been led astray.

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))

What is it about human nature that makes us think that we can change God’s Word and have it mean what we want it to mean? Why do some people think that the Bible is no longer relevant in this day and time? Truth is truth no matter when and where it is spoken. Sadly, too many people no longer speak the truth. They preach and teach what man wants to hear and not what God wants us to hear. Too many people preach a feel good theology that cannot save.

What did Jesus preach and teach when He walked among us?

Did He preach social justice? Did He preach good works? Did He preach legalism? Did He preach prosperity?

Jesus did not preach any of these things, so why do so many stray from the true message of the Gospel? He preached the good news of salvation through repentance of sins. He preached that He is the only way to the Father. He taught us that there would be false teachers. His disciples taught that there would be false teachers.

It saddens me to the point where my spirit groans to think that someone could take such a fantastic gift of grace and distort it so that people are caused to stumble. It is a sad reflection on society when so many of those who are supposed to preserve Godly knowledge are the very ones who are perverting it.

We, as the Body of Christ, must study and understand God’s Word. We must hold each other accountable. It is often said that the members of the Body of Christ are to be priests to one another. What does that say to you with respect to preserving Godly knowledge?

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you caught up in legalism or grace?

May 24, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Jesus replied, “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.
(Luke 11:46 (NIV))

Have you been loaded down with burdens about the laws of God? Has legalism kept you from knowing the true grace and peace that Jesus came to bring?

It is so easy to become caught in the throes of legalism, after all, there is a very valid reason that the law exists. It is when we become so overwhelmed with the letter of the law that we miss the true meaning of the law. When this happens, people spend more time concerned about the small details that they miss the big picture. They miss the very reason that the law was given to begin with.

Are you more concerned with how your church service is performed than with what is communicated through that service? Are you more concerned with what people wear than the fact that they are there?

Don’t load yourself and others down with burdens like these. Look to the One who gave the law and His grace and mercy instead of looking at the law.

The law cannot save. It only accuses and convicts the guilty, and we are all guilty of sin. Only God’s grace and mercy through the blood of Jesus can save.

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Whose rules do you follow? Man’s or God’s.

August 11, 2015

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

” `These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
their teachings are but rules taught by men.’ ”
(Matthew 15:8-9 (NIV))

It is so easy to get side tracked by rules that men make. We like to come up with a vast multitude of rules for everything that we do. Sometimes these rules are good. Can you image any football or basketball game without rules? It would be utter chaos.

Man has even tried to create rules for how we can approach God. These rules have become rituals that often get repeated without end and eventually lose the meaning and the reason why they were created to begin with. When this happens, following the rules often becomes more important than the reason the rules were implemented. Following the rules becomes legalism and we soon miss out on the freedom originally intended.

We can be thankful that God has only given us ten basic rules to live by. These rules are the foundation for our society and our faith. However, we have had some problems keeping these rules. God gave us some additional rules to live by. These additional rules, if followed, allow God to overlook our shortcomings on the other rules.

Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
(Acts 2:38 (NIV))

Whose rules do you follow? Man’s or God’s.

Copyright 1998 – 2015 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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