There is no difference for we are all sinners!

September 28, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

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

Most, if not all who read this can quote this passage, and rightly so. It is a foundational passage that clearly states that everyone needs a savior. It stands on its own with this meaning clearly conveyed and understood, but, have you ever looked at the complete sentence that this passage is taken from?

There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
(Romans 3:22b-24 (NIV))

Does the complete sentence add anything to or detract anything from your understanding of this passage? In all honesty, it still means that we are all sinners in need of a savior, but it goes much deeper in explaining this need and how to overcome this need. When this was written, Gentiles were looked down upon by many Jewish people. They were looked upon as unclean. If you remember the amount of criticism that Paul received simply because he ate with Gentiles, then you will understand the time period. When this sentence starts by saying that there is no difference between Jew and Gentile, it literally broke the traditional way of thinking. It clearly states that the Jew is not better than the Gentile and the Gentile is not better than the Jew. Both are sinners in need of a Savior and that salvation and grace can only be found through Jesus.

This was a radical concept when this was written!

Have we taken this radical idea and whitewashed it? Have we, as the Body of Christ, as Gentiles, forgotten that we were looked down upon as unworthy to receive grace and salvation by the very people that God’s gift of grace and salvation was promised through? Have we become arrogant in our salvation while looking at others as unworthy? Perhaps we need to not just quote the excerpt, but the whole sentence. Perhaps we need to focus on the whole truth and not just what we today call sound bites.

There is no difference for we are all sinners!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you truly confessed the name of Jesus?

September 24, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.”
(2 Timothy 2:19 (NIV))

There is a lot said in this passage. In all honesty, if I offered up my thoughts on all of the concepts presented, it would be a very long read. The concept behind these devotionals is a quick read to get people thinking and reading more for themselves. I could go into details and tie together different scriptures to explain God’s solid foundation, standing firm, being sealed, and the Lord knowing those who are His. Today, when reading this passage, the last part tugged at my spirit. This is something that every believer struggles with during their lives, whether it be within themselves, or whether it is within someone that they know and love.

Once we profess a faith in Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, we are to turn away from wickedness. We are to repent and follow Jesus in all things. That means that we are to do our best to stop sinning. Let’s face the facts. Most of us do not have any trouble with the things that we think of as the big sins. We don’t murder. We don’t take the Lord’s name in vain. Then there are what many people consider the lesser sins. We don’t steal, well at least, not the big stuff. Is that how we justify this in our minds as a lesser sin? I could go on, but we all have sins that we should turn away from.

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

Do you think that God sees the occasional sin caused by sinful human nature differently from the sins committed as a result of planned and premeditated wickedness? Perhaps I should rephrase that. All sin is reprehensible in the eyes of God. None of us are perfect. There is a difference between sinful actions that we accidentally commit simply because we are human and the sinful actions that we commit because we plan to commit them. As a believer, we are called to turn away from premeditated wickedness and sin. We are called to reject this sin and repent of this sin. If we confess that Jesus is Lord and still make plans to sin, then He isn’t our Lord. If we walk away from the premeditated wickedness and sin, and strive to follow Jesus as our Lord, we will falter along the way. We are only human. When we falter, we must turn to Jesus and repent.

If you look at the story of the woman caught in adultery, we read what Jesus instructed her to do with respect to her sin.

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 8:10-11 (NIV))

Had her sin been planned? Had her sin been one of choice? It was a lifestyle that was sinful. Jesus instructed her to leave her life of sin. That is the first step. Each of us must make a conscious decision to walk away from wickedness into the arms of Jesus. Once we make that decision, that confession of faith, we have taken that first step.

Have you truly confessed the name of Jesus?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What desires rule over you?

July 17, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.
(Galatians 5:17 (NIV))

Whatever you want!

Do you desire to do whatever you want? Is that your definition of freedom? Based on this passage, does that desire come from the flesh or from the Spirit? Don’t rush to a quick answer, for your quick answer will probably be heavily influenced by your own desires. Think about that for a moment. Since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, our flesh is sinful. Everything that we do according to our flesh is sinful and we are fully aware of the wages of sin.

For the wages of sin is death,
(Romans 6:23a (NIV))

We are given a gift that allows us to receive salvation, to receive grace.

but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 6:23b (NIV))

When we accept that gift, we receive the Holy Spirit to guide us in what we should do. The Holy Spirit will guide us contrary to our sinful nature. It is up to us to accept that guidance. Have you ever done something and instantly knew that it shouldn’t have been done? Have you ever wanted to do something, but a still, small voice wouldn’t let you? We choose to listen to the Holy Spirit. We choose to accept His guidance. Sadly, sometimes the flesh wins out and we do things that we instantly regret. Other times we listen to the Holy Spirit and obey. Have you noticed in your life the types of circumstances that you follow the flesh and the types of circumstances that you follow the Holy Spirit? Give God praise for the faith to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, and pray for the ability to stand firm in the face of those circumstances that lead to actions that you regret. Ask the Lord to give you wisdom to allow you to overcome the desires of the flesh!

What desires rule over you?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you called by His name?

July 15, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
(2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV))

It’s happened again! Or perhaps I should say that it is still happening. We can’t go a day without seeing something horrendous in the news. We can’t go a day without seeing the work of the enemy as he tries to divide us. We can’t go a day without seeing good being called evil and evil being called good.

I’m at a loss for words. All that I can do is feel the groanings of my spirit as it cries out to God. I honestly don’t know what the prayers from my spirit are saying. I just know that they are asking God to send His Spirit and bring peace to this troubled world. Still, in the midst of all that is happening, I know that everything is unfolding according to God’s perfect plan, even though all we see is chaos. I know that the enemy is not going to go quietly. His time is short and he knows it. We will see more evil arise. It is time that the Body of Christ unite and stand firm in our humility and in our prayers.

We must pray according to God’s Will. We must stand firm in our faith. We must also realize that this world is not our home. This world is sinful and will never be the world that we long for. The events that will lead to the fulfillment of the promises of an eternal home in paradise are unfolding. I realize that no one knows the day nor the hour, but I do believe that it will be sooner than the world thinks. All I know is that we, as the Body of Christ, should be praying for God’s perfect will. We should be praying for those who don’t know Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior.

In essence, if we are called by His name, we should be praying!

Are you called by His name?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Don’t reject God’s grace and mercy.

July 10, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

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

“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.
(John 3:16-18 (NIV))

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

Since the beginning, God has had a plan for our redemption. Ever since Adam and Eve chose to disobey God, God has put into action a plan that would bring us back to Him in a righteous and spotless fashion.

It is a simple plan.

Since we could not be perfect on our own, God sent His Son, Jesus to be perfect for us. Throughout Jesus’ life, crucifixion and resurrection, He was blameless in the eyes of God. All we have to do is accept the fact that we cannot do it on our own and call on the name of Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

If we were capable of being perfect, we would not need a Savior, but we are born into sin and cannot escape from it by ourselves. Swallow your pride and receive what has been freely given to you. It cannot be earned, but it can be rejected.

Don’t reject God’s grace and mercy.

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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This is true freedom!

July 2, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
(John 8:36 (NIV))

We are all familiar with this passage, but there is something that we probably need to clarify. Let’s start by asking one simple question.

What is your definition of freedom?

I told you it was a simple question. However, the answer is probably not so simple.

Do you go along with the definition that the world is trying to push on us at this point? According to this definition, freedom implies doing whatever you want, whenever you want, with whomever you want, regardless of what gets destroyed or who gets hurt. The old saying, “If it feels good, do it,” has nothing on this mindset. In fact, it pales in comparison to what is called freedom today. If you look up the word, freedom implies a liberation, being exempt from rules, and unrestricted. When theses concepts are taken with respect for others, you have balance and society. When you take these concepts to the extremes that we are seeing, you have debauchery, anarchy and riots. This type of freedom is self-centered, sinful and evil.

Is this your definition of freedom?

If you are reading this, I can safely assume that I know what your answer is.

Godly freedom is what we so desperately need. This freedom rescues us. It saves us from ourselves. It breaks the chains that bind us to our sinful nature.

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

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

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 they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people 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 their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
(John 3:16-21 (NIV))

Do you understand why things are as they are in the world? They have been led astray by the enemy and have been taught to hate the light. In fact, they call good evil and evil good. Their minds have been polluted and controlled. The so-called freedom that they are expressing will only lead to one outcome according to the first part of Romans 6:23.

But, God…

Finishing reading the rest of Romans 6:23.

This is true freedom! This is true liberation! We are no longer bound to or by our sinful nature. We no longer must face death. We can spend eternity with the Lord!

This is true freedom!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What master are you obedient to?

June 2, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.
(Romans 6:12 (NIV))

With each passing day, my heart breaks just a little more!

Is this what you expect to be the Lord’s response to what is happening in the world? Is this your response to what is happening in the world? Do you desire to have a heart that breaks when God’s heart breaks? If this is your claim, then what can the Body of Christ do when sin seems to be rampant?

Pray!

We must pray for those who have given in to sin. We must pray that they will come to the light that can save. We must pray that our leaders will make Godly decisions. We must pray that we don’t fall into the trap that the enemy is using to ensnare us in sin. Dare I say that we must pray for Jesus to return?

I realize that I have said in the past that things seem to be escalating. Is it just me, or do you feel like this escalation is accelerating far more rapidly in the last few months? Just how much more can the Lord allow before He returns? I have been watching and studying for several years, and many of the sources that I reference besides God’s Word are all saying the same thing.

Time is short!

What if Jesus returns for His true church next month? Are you ready? What if Jesus returns for His true church tonight? Are you still obedient to sin or are you ready? If you profess that Jesus is your Lord and Savior, you are claiming that He is your master. Is this true?

No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
(Matthew 6:24 (NIV))

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.
(1 Timothy 6:10a (NIV))

What master are you obedient to?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you following the Lord?

May 20, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

The whole Israelite community set out from the Desert of Sin, traveling from place to place as the Lord commanded.
(Exodus 17:1a (NIV))

I hope that I am not the only one who finds the intricacies within God’s Word to be fascinating. I love the little things like the way God uses and reinforces meanings. He paints word pictures in order for us to understand Him better. One example is how Jesus is the Bread of Life and that He was born in Bethlehem, the place of bread.

Consider this passage from Exodus.

The Desert of Sin is another great example. Sinning is missing the mark. It is falling short of what God expects. It often leaves us barren and desolate. If you look up the word desert in a dictionary, it will probably be defined as a barren and desolate place. When we are trapped, when we are lost in sin, we are not capable of finding our way out of our desert. We cannot save ourselves. We need the Lord to guide us. What is described in this passage from Exodus is a perfect picture of how humanity is lost in a desert of sin and the only way out is to trust and follow the Lord. This is true collectively as well as individually.

Have you taken the steps to trust the Lord to lead you out of your desert? Have you turned your eyes upon Jesus and repented of the sins that left you barren and desolate? Have you recognized the meaning of the word picture that God has shown us? Without Jesus, each of us are left stranded and dying in the desert. With Jesus, we are lead to safety and righteousness.

Have you left your Desert of Sin?

Are you following the Lord?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you sharing the true Jesus with others?

January 27, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.
(Luke 19:10 (NIV))

What have you been taught about Jesus? In particular, what have you been taught about the reason that He came into this world?

Did He come to be a social justice warrior? Did He come to advocate for the poor? Did He come to spread peace and love, or did He come to call a lost and sinful humanity to repentance?

I realize that Jesus did many things when He walked this earth, and many of those things can be classified as falling into these categories that I listed, but they were all ways to reach the lost. Did Jesus teach on being just and fair in our dealings with each other? I can point out many situations where He did just that. He pointed out our sinful nature in these matters and asked us to seek God and follow His commands. Not following God’s commands is a sin. Jesus was telling us to repent and follow Him. Did Jesus teach on helping the poor? If you look back at Old Testament laws, that was already in place. A landowner was not supposed to harvest all the way to the corners of his fields. This was to be left for the poor. In other words, love your neighbor as yourself. Not doing so is a sin. Jesus was calling us to repent of our sin. When asked what the greatest commandments are, He responded that you are to love God and love your neighbor as yourself. The example that He gave involved a Samaritan man. In the culture of the day, Jewish people hated the Samaritans. In other words, Jesus was telling us to repent of our sin of hatred.

What is your definition of being lost? According to God, being lost is being a sinner.

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

And being a sinner has drastic consequences!

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

Jesus walked among us telling us to live according to what God had planned. He called us to repent of our shortcomings, our sins, and to turn to God in all things. He used every situation that He was in as a teachable moment to drive this home. Repent in your dealings with others. Repent of your treatment of the poor. It is possible to do these things yet still miss out on the only reason that Jesus came. All of these can be labeled as works of the flesh if we do not have a repentant heart and a desire to follow Jesus in all that we do. A repentant heart is a result of the most important aspect of why Jesus came. Jesus calls us to love God and to love your neighbor as yourself. When we do this, our desires change. Our actions are no longer selfish in nature. We see ourselves and others as God sees them.

We are called to also seek and save the lost by sharing Jesus with them.

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 28:19-20 (NIV))

Sadly, I believe that we, as the church, have missed the mark. We share Jesus only when we are comfortable, and we don’t emphasize where Jesus tells us to teach people to obey everything that He has commanded. We sugar coat it, and as a result, we see people developing incorrect images of Jesus. I know that this hasn’t been a saying in several years, but we must pay attention to “What Would Jesus Do?” According to the words recorded in Luke, Jesus clearly said that He came to seek and save the lost!

Are you sharing the true Jesus with others?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you overflowing with thankfulness?

November 25, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
(Colossians 2:6-7 (NIV))

Once again, we, as a nation, are coming up on our Thanksgiving holiday. I want to offer a challenge to everyone.

It is human nature to be thankful for family and friends. It is human nature to be thankful for things that impact us in this physical world where moth and rust destroy. There is so much more!

I want to ask you to reflect on what you are truly thankful for. I realize that this is not much of a stretch for this time of year, but here is the twist. I want you to take a look at your lives from an eternal perspective. I want you to reflect on the things in your life that have had an eternal impact. I want you to reflect on the things in your life that are important to your eternal well being and your eternal soul.

There are many things that we can claim to be eternally thankful for, including family and friends, but there is only one thing that gives us all of eternity to be able to express our thankfulness. There is only one thing that has been freely given to each of us that has such longevity. As part of the human race, we were born into sin. That sin came with a very heavy price. All of us fell short of the glory of God.

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

Our sinful nature condemned us and rightfully earned us a death sentence, yet, through God’s grace, we can know eternity with the Lord. It is a simple thing to receive God’s grace. All that any of us have to do is admit that we are a sinner in need of a savior and admit that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God and that He is that Savior. These admissions will change your life. They will lead you to repentance. they will change your eternal outlook.

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,
(Romans 8:1 (NIV))

This simple truth is so important in our eternal outlook. Without Jesus, we are condemned. With Jesus, we have an eternity to express our overflowing thankfulness.

Are you overflowing with thankfulness?

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