What are we guilty of doing in our churches?

April 16, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

When Jesus entered the temple courts, he began to drive out those who were selling. “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be a house of prayer’; but you have made it ‘a den of robbers.'”
(Luke 19:45-46 (NIV))

We, as the Body of Christ, have a tendency to gloss over the events between Palm Sunday and the Upper Room, but it is crucial to remember one important event in relation to the temple during this time. Jesus made it a point to criticize the established practices of the day. He made it a point to let Jerusalem and all of Israel know that what they were doing in the temple was not acceptable in the eyes of God. They had turned the concepts of prayer, repentance and sacrifice into a business.

I want you to think about this for a moment. Most people who came to the temple came a long way so it was not easy for them to bring animals to sacrifice. As a result, someone started the practice of having animals and other offerings for sale within the outer courtyard. I am sure that these people thought that they were providing a service to their fellow Israelites who had come a long way, but it appears that they were more concerned about helping themselves get rich by charging high prices for their goods. It appears that they were so much more concerned about profit than honesty and righteousness. Jesus saw their hearts and reacted accordingly.

I want you to stop and consider some of the things that we allow to take place within the boundaries of our churches!

As we move from Palm Sunday into Good Friday and then Resurrection Sunday, it is my desire that everyone who professes a faith in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior would take a serious look at their actions and their motives for these actions. It is my prayer that each of us would reflect on what faith in Jesus and church has become. I want you to ask yourself a few simple questions.

Is this what Jesus had in mind when He went to the cross?

Do my actions and my motives glorify Jesus or do my actions and my motives glorify me?

In essence, we need to make sure that we treat the Lord’s house with the same zeal we know that Jesus had for the temple. Are we doing things that would make Jesus chase us out?

What are we guilty of doing in our churches?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How are you at keeping the law?

January 26, 2018

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
(Galatians 5:14 (NIV))

How many people do you know who say that they love God, but their words and deeds give away that they do not love people? They do not love those they encounter. They may even go out of their way to avoid certain individuals or certain groups of people. I am sure that we are all familiar with the following story that Jesus told to a so called expert in the law.

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
(Luke 10:29-37 (NIV))

Have we heeded the lesson and truly learned to love our neighbor?

Has society told us to distrust and hate those who are different from us?

Does this sound like an attack from the enemy? Satan knows that if he can get us to hate each other, then we will have lost sight of what God truly desires for those who call Him Lord. We will fail at keeping the most important command in His law.

How are you at keeping the law?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you thankful that you are not like others?

June 15, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: `God, I thank you that I am not like other men–robbers, evildoers, adulterers–or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, `God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
(Luke 18:9-14 (NIV))

Are you confident in your righteousness?

Based on the fact that we are all sinners, it is a false confidence.

Do you feel that everything that you say and do is in the will of God?

Make sure that when you answer that question no one is near you. We wouldn’t want them to suffer residual effects from the proverbial lightning strike.

It is so easy to fall into the trap that makes us think that our sins are not as bad as everyone else’s. It is so easy to fall into the trap of being judgmental. It is not our place to judge. It is our place to lead people to Jesus. If we try to judge and condemn, do you think we will have much of an influence on them for Jesus?

We are to lead sinners to Jesus. It is not our job to clean them up, after all, we are still dirty from our own sin. It is Jesus who will offer them salvation and through the Holy Spirit, He will begin to work in their lives just as He has worked in ours.

We have a tendency to look down on certain sin while our favorite sins we brush over. In the eyes of God, sin is sin. We are no better than those whom we look down upon. The only difference, and I say this with a prayerful heart, is that the Body of Christ has accepted the gift of salvation. We are not perfect in our salvation, for we sin daily. It is the attitude that matters. We strive to follow after God’s own heart and not rebel against it.

In this time in which we live, we have many opportunities to either offer a hand in grace or offer a fist in rebellion and hate. Think about the fact that Jesus never told the sinners to follow Him and continue in their sin. He told them, or should I say that He told all of us, to go and sin no more.

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How do you see yourself?

November 15, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: `God, I thank you that I am not like other men–robbers, evildoers, adulterers–or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, `God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
(Luke 18:10-14 (NIV))

Do you compare yourself to other people? Do you find their faults and fail to recognize the faults that you possess? Are you grateful that you are not like they are? Brace yourself ! Here it comes! Do you congratulate yourself on not being like others?

I know that these are painful questions, but they are questions that we must ask ourselves. We don’t want to get so full of ourselves that we think our set of filthy rags make us more righteous than someone else and their set of filthy rags. Even worse, we don’t want to get to the point where we think that we don’t have any filthy rags.

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))

Once again it is a matter of attitude. We must not elevate ourselves to the point that we feel that we are better than others. We must see ourselves as the reflection truly is. We must see ourselves as the sinful creature that is in need of grace and mercy. If we see ourselves as anything else, we are lying to ourselves. We are also trying to lie to God. He sees the truth.

How do you see yourself? How do you see others?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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A den of robbers?

November 25, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. “It is written,” he said to them, ” `My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a `den of robbers.’ ”
(Matthew 21:12-13 (NIV))

Are we any less guilty than the money changers and those selling doves within the temple?

You may ask how can I ask this question? No one actually sells anything within my church. We don’t exchange money and charge a fee. We go to worship!

What I am talking about is not within the church walls. Rather, we have allowed something within our society that reminds me of the money changers and those selling doves. It is not directly related to our church buildings, but it is directly related to the very reason that we have our churches.

I think that this can be clarified by one simple question.

How do you think that God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit view the commercialization of the day that we set aside to celebrate the physical birth of Jesus as our redeeming Lord and Savior?

Our society has slowly bought into the idea that Christmas is about buying the latest and greatest things, and we have slowly turned away from even mentioning Jesus or saying Merry Christmas. Too many people simply say happy holidays.

I know that I have said this before, but I feel that it bears retelling. Our tradition of wishing someone a Merry Christmas has a history that many do not know. The word “merry” in old English meant something much different than we think of it today. The use of this word in its original greeting actually had a meaning that is closer to the word “mighty.” The word “Christmas” was actually two words – Christ mass – a church celebration of the birth of Jesus. So, in essence, the saying “Merry Christmas” was a wish that the recipient of the saying would have a mighty and powerful celebration of the birth of Jesus, or a “Mighty Christ Mass.”

Sadly, the only mighty experience that many people have is the retail race that has become like a feeding frenzy before Christmas.

Have we allowed the money changers and those selling to rob us of the true celebration? Have we allowed the focus to be placed on retail sales instead of Jesus? What have we allowed to happen to the celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior?

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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