Aren’t you glad that Jesus welcomes sinners?

November 11, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
(Luke 15:1-2 (NIV))

Which group of people would you have been in if you were alive when Jesus walked the earth?

Each of us like to think that we would recognize Jesus and understand what He was doing if we were alive at that time. Is that true? Sadly, I am not certain that many of us would have recognized Jesus and understood what He was doing. Think about that for a moment in relation to our recognition and understanding of Jesus in this current time. To help with this, I want to do what I often do and ask a few questions that will hopefully cause you to reflect on your life and your understanding.

Do you believe that Jesus came to offer redemption to those who are sinners? If you believe this, then how can Jesus reach sinners if He didn’t associate with them? How could He call them out of their sin if He was chastising them from a distance?

Are you perfect? Are you a sinner? Did Jesus reach you because you were perfect according to your church, or did He reach you because you realized that you are a sinner in need of a Savior? Why do we, the members of the Body of Christ, look at sinners any differently than Jesus does? Why do we look at the sins of others as greater than our own sins? Why do we look at certain individuals who have professed a faith in Jesus and claim that their past sins are too great for them to be a member of the Body of Christ? When someone who is a very blatant sinner repents and professes that Jesus is their personal Lord and Savior, we should rejoice just as the angels rejoice!

In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.
(Luke 15:10 (NIV))

Unfortunately, not everyone who professes a faith in Jesus is able to see beyond what that person was and embrace them as the new creation that they are! They are not able to understand that the love that Jesus has shown to them is also available to all who will accept it. They seem to have forgotten that their sin was great when they turned to Jesus. Don’t let the distance from the point of your salvation blind you to what you used to be. Don’t let your life since your salvation blind you to the fact that there is still sin in this world and that the world still needs Jesus!

Pray that you don’t find yourself acting like the Pharisees and the teachers of the law?

I want to ask one more question. It is a question that I have asked before, but I feel that it needs to be asked again.

What would you do if, when you get to heaven, you find that Adolph Hitler had repented and accepted Jesus? Do you think that his sin was too great? Do you think that the Lord thinks his sin is too great? Would you storm out of heaven because you think that he shouldn’t be there? Would you question Jesus or would you understand that we are all sinners in need of a savior?

Aren’t you glad that Jesus welcomes sinners?

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

October 9, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“Don’t be afraid; just believe.”
(Mark 5:36b (NIV))

Do you know the first part of this story?

Jesus was asked by a ruler of a synagogue to come and heal his daughter. Along the way, a woman touched the hem of his robe and was healed. Jesus was sidetracked from his plans. During this time, some men came and told the ruler of the synagogue that his daughter had died. It appeared that Jesus was too late. It appeared that all hope was lost.

With that scene laid out before you, can you imagine the feelings of despair that the ruler of the synagogue probably felt. I can also imagine that he was probably also feeling anger toward the woman who had distracted Jesus. He was afraid that he had failed his daughter and that he had failed his family and himself. I can imagine the deep anguish that I would feel if I had gone to get someone who could save my son or daughter only to discover that circumstances had delayed the saving grace that I had been so sure of.

“Don’t be afraid; just believe.”
(Mark 5:36b (NIV))

Words.

Words that are so easy to say, yet, are so difficult to hold on to when all around you seems to be falling apart.

I want you to ask yourself this one question – Have any of the promises that God has made ever been broken?

Jesus, the word made flesh, had willingly gone with the man to heal his daughter. He had promised to go. It is not in his nature to break a promise, even when in the eyes of the world, things are too far gone for anything to happen. But, happen it did.

Jesus healed the girl. He brought her back from the dead. According to all worldly knowledge, it was too late, but according to God’s timing, it was not. In fact, the timing of this resurrection was perfect, for it magnified God through the actions that transpired.

With God, things may never be too late. Is there something in your life that just will not change, something that has been troubling you for a very long time? It is not too late for God to turn that around. Is there a dream that you feel that God has given to you, but it has not come to fruition and you are getting older? It is not too late for God to make it happen.

In all honesty, I believe that these five words can be used to define a faith in Jesus. They can be used to help us walk through the darkest shadows of life. They can be used to encourage us when we walk through whatever wilderness we find ourselves in.

Don’t be afraid.

For I am the LORD, your God,
    who takes hold of your right hand
  and says to you, Do not fear;
    I will help you.
(Isaiah 41:13 (NIV))

Just believe!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you been born of the Spirit?

September 16, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.”
(John 3:5-6 (NIV))

More people are aware of the verse just a few short sentences before this passage.

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.
(John 3:3 (NIV))

In fact, even nonbelievers are familiar with this passage to the point where they have created bumper stickers saying that they were born okay the first time. Ironically, their comments support the words that Jesus spoke about flesh gives birth to flesh. They either don’t understand the concept of being born again or they choose to rebel against the idea out of ego and pride. Think about that for a moment. When do we see the very first rebellion against God and what was the cause of this rebellion? Ever since Satan declared that he wanted to be God, pride has become a major issue. Pride became such an issue that it caused the fall from grace. It caused all the sins of the world. If you look at the Ten Commandments, everything that the Lord God told us to obey are things that lead us to Him and away from pride. We are to honor only God and His Name. We are not to pick part of His creation and worship it. We are to obey the Lord and live according to His desires and laws. Anything short of that is a sin.

All flesh has been corrupted by the fall from grace. That is why our ancestors were driven from the Garden of Eden. They had corrupted God’s perfect creation. As descendants of Adam and Eve, we are just as guilty.

God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.
(John 4:24 (NIV))

We cannot approach God in sin. We must be cleansed. We must be made anew. We must accept the grace and mercy given to us on the cross. We must accept the Spirit of God and allow Him to work in us from the inside out and make us people who are focused on things of the Spirit instead of things of this earth. We must allow God’s Spirit to be birthed in us!

Have you been born of the Spirit?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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God’s timing is perfect!

August 29, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.
(1 Peter 5:6 (NIV))

Are you tired of waiting on God?

Do you think that you could do a better job than God does with your life?

If you answered “Yes” to either or both of these questions, I need to point out something to you. Based on the first two words in 1 Peter 5:6, do your answers make you sound humble? On the contrary, they indicate the exact opposite. In fact, it could be said that these answers border on pride. In order of the questions, they convey that you feel that you are more important than anyone else, and that you feel that you are more important than God.

Are you guilty of telling the Lord that He is too slow? Would you be spiritually ready if He did everything you asked according to your timeline? Can you tell the end from the beginning as well as every single turn that must be made to get to that end? Think about that last question in context of a road trip as a passenger in a car. You only know that you are moving forward. Some roads along the way are smooth like an interstate highway and you long to stay on these pleasant roads. Unfortunately, not all destinations can be reached via interstate. Sometimes there is road construction or sometimes you need to travel on a road that is bumpy and unpleasant, but it gets you where you need to go. When you arrive at your destination, you recognize each stretch of road for what it contributed to your arrival.

Think of your life in this manner!

When we say that we are tired of waiting on God, or that we could do a better job than God, we are trying to smooth out the road and arrive based on our understanding and not on the understanding of He who sees the end from the beginning. In fact, God has a unique plan and purpose for each person’s life. Some may travel the bumpy roads longer than others, but don’t lose hope. We simply need to humble ourselves and surrender to the Lord and acknowledge that He is in control.

You may just be surprised to find that God’s timing is perfect!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you accepted your job as a minister?

August 21, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant–not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
(2 Corinthians 3:6 (NIV))

It has been said that the Old Testament and The Law are there to show us what we are supposed to do and how difficult it is to do it. If this is true, then the New Testament is there to show us that we have another way. The Law is there as the letter that we must follow perfectly and never falter or waiver from its course. The Spirit is given to us by the grace and mercy shown at the cross. The Spirit gives us redemption and salvation. It gives us freedom from the Law. This freedom does not mean that we are able to ignore the Law and do whatever we want. It means that we are given grace for we are not capable of being perfect even when we desire it with all of our hearts. It allows us to be human. It allows us to make mistakes and then learn from our mistakes.

The twist to all of this is that through the Spirit, we are all ministers one to another. In the Old Testament and under the Law, ministers had to be set apart from the rest of society. They had to be ceremonially pure. They had to be followers of the letter of the Law. If they did not follow the letter of the Law, they faced the possibility of death in the presence of God.

Today, we have grace and mercy as our mantle. We have salvation through the blood of Jesus. We have the Spirit. Through the Spirit, we are given life in the presence of God, were, before the Spirit, we only faced death. Speaking for myself, I do not long to follow the letter of the Law, for it is inflexible and unforgiving. I want forgiveness and mercy, for I know that I am not perfect and cannot ever achieve perfection on my own.

I need to repent and turn away from my sin!

I need grace!

I need to help others find that grace!

I, in all of my human shortcomings, am a minister of that grace. I have accepted my position.

Have you accepted your job as a minister?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you chosen life through the Lord?

August 12, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
(Deuteronomy 30:19-20 (NIV))

These words were spoken long ago. So long ago that it has now become popular for many “scholars” to doubt that these words, or any other word from the Bible actually ever were spoken. What they doubt is not really the fact that these words were spoken, but the fact that there is truth behind them. A truth far greater than any truth humanity can fathom or create on our own.

Too many people have a hard time believing that there is a God, for they do not want to be accountable to anyone but themselves. They want to continue to believe that whatever they do is all right as long as it makes them feel good. God gave us words to the contrary. He gave them to Moses on Mt. Sinai. If you follow these words, you are promised life. If you do not, you are faced with death. Humanity is not capable of following these words to perfection. We are not capable of following them for more than a few minutes before we stray from their path.

How can we have life if we cannot follow the instructions that lead to life? God has given us a savior. He has given us someone who can, and has followed them to perfection. He has given us His Son, Jesus, to be our intercessor.

We now can choose life and know that our choice will be a true choice. We have a savior. We have a perfect intercessor who has taken all of our imperfections and removed them from us. We now have life and all of the promises that God has given to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Have you chosen life through the Lord?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What do you do with your freedom?

August 2, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.
(Galatians 5:13 (NIV))

How do you define freedom?

You may find yourself among the group of people who look at freedom as a political right, as in being free to do whatever you desire. If this is the case, then you may be surprised to find that this definition is not the primary definition in many dictionaries. In many dictionaries, freedom is defined as personal liberty from bondage, slavery or confinement. No matter how you look at freedom, it is generally accepted to mean a state of being free, whether from confinement, bondage or in actions. It is the subtle nuances of the definitions that catch people off guard and have them making choices that are not the true definition of freedom.

In this country, we have many freedoms. We are free to choose how to live our lives. We are free to choose to do things that should probably be left undone. Yet, too many people make these choices simply because they think that they have a right to do so. Let’s put these types of choices in perspective. We have the freedom to go to the top of a tall building to enjoy the view. Some people take that freedom to extreme and jump! When a choice that someone makes under the guise of freedom harms themselves or others, is it really freedom? Would you want to be free in this manner, especially when you consider the consequences of the choices made in this type of freedom?

The freedom that Jesus came to offer is not this type of freedom!

We, as humanity, have been sentenced to a physical world where we simply cannot live without making mistakes. Those mistakes are called sin. No one is perfect.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
(Romans 3:23 (NIV))

Because of our sin, we have been tried, convicted and condemned.

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

The freedom that we have been given through Jesus is a washing clean of our sin and the consequences of that sin. Let’s look at it from a perspective not many of us will ever know, but hopefully one that will help us to understand. Imagine that you are convicted of murder and sentenced to death for your crime. You spend every day knowing that one day you will face the consequences of your actions and there is absolutely nothing that you can do. You desire to escape the consequences, yet you know that you deserve all that is coming.

With this image still fresh in your mind, the best way to describe true freedom is this.

Godly freedom is being given a pardon for the consequences of your actions and you are so thankful that you joyfully refrain from any similar actions. You also joyfully share the story of how you gained your freedom so that others may find theirs. Is this how you see freedom through Jesus?

What do you do with your freedom?

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