Return to the freedom that is ours through God

January 18, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

For a long time Israel was without the true God, without a priest to teach and without the law. But in their distress they turned to the LORD, the God of Israel, and sought him, and he was found by them.
(2 Chronicles 15:3-4 (NIV))

Israel did many things that were detestable in the eyes of God. They turned completely away from Him. They worshipped at the temples of Ba’al. They did whatever was pleasing in their eyes. All of the while, God waited for them to return to Him. Even though they sinned against Him in practically everything that they did, God waited for them to return to Him. He knew that one day they would realize their iniquity and call out to Him. He knew that one day they would seek after His face once again.

We are all familiar with the parable of the prodigal son. What we have in 2 Chronicles 15:3-4 is a story of a prodigal nation that had strayed away from what they should be doing. Even so, when they realized the error of their ways, just as the prodigal son did, God, the Father, welcomed them home. He allowed them to find Him, and in so doing, they found themselves. They found the freedom and the joy that comes from knowing God. When you find freedom and joy, you truly do find yourself, because, without freedom and joy, the person that God created is not allowed to shine.

We must also realize that God is never very far away from us. No matter how far we may stray, God is as close as a simple turning away. We do not have to go all the way back to where we started to find God again. He will be there as soon as we make an effort to return to Him. Perhaps that is why He is so easily found once we truly seek Him, for He never really abandons us. We turn our backs on Him, but He never turns His back on us. This is true for an individual and it is true for a nation.

We are a nation that was founded on being able to turn to God. Our forefathers gave their lives so that they could have this freedom. Are we willing to return to the freedom that is ours through God?

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Lord, help us to walk in Your ways

September 4, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

And now, O Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul?
(Deuteronomy 10:12 (NIV))

If God wanted Israel to fulfill these desires, what does He want of us in today’s society?

When this was written, all that the nation of Israel had was The Law. The Law directed the people in what they should do, but it did not compensate for the fact that they could not keep The Law faithfully. If they did not do as was directed by the letter of The Law, they were not righteous in the eyes of God.

Or so they thought it would always be!

Jesus came and taught us that The Law is important, but it is the spirit of The Law that must be upheld. The Law can only show that we are far short of what God has asked us to be, and that we cannot do it on our own.

Now that Jesus has come, the above passage holds even more truth and promise than it did then. Imperfect humanity now has someone to call upon when we fall short of God’s righteousness. We can call upon the name of Jesus by saying that we are incapable of righteousness on our own. We can recognize Jesus as God’s Son, and our Lord and Savior.

Surely, we will all stumble in our walk with Jesus, but He is there to help us when we cannot make the journey on our own. He is there to carry us when we think that we cannot make the journey at all.

Today, we have even more of a reason to do as Deuteronomy 10:12 asks of us, for we now have someone who will help us to fulfill it.

Lord, help us to walk in Your ways, to love You, and to serve You with all of our heart and all of our soul.

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Judgment belongs only to Jesus

August 3, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
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 8:1-11 (NIV))

Then neither do I condemn you.

Can we, as the church, say the words that Jesus said and mean them?

Think about that for a moment.

It is not our place to condemn, for we are all sinners. Sometimes I think that the church forgets this. Sadly, the non-believing world sees our human faults and equates them to Jesus. How many times do you think Jesus literally shakes His head and thinks, “Will they ever learn?” I know that I have caused some of those episodes.

Just as the church forgets the part about not condemning, the non-believing world ignores that part about leaving your life of sin. To be honest with you, this is not limited just to the non-believing world. The individual members of the Body of Christ all sin. Some of us even have our own little “pet” sins. Still, we try to follow Jesus and give up our sins.

What is the difference between not leaving your sin and trying to leave your sin?

What is the difference between condemning others and reaching out to others?

What is the difference between being a witness for Christ and being a stumbling block?

When do we, as the Body of Christ, need to hold our tongues and hold our actions and when do we need to speak out?

The Body of Christ is made up of many different backgrounds and many different races. We are as different as night and day, yet we all share a common faith that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God, that He died and on the third day He arose, and that He now sits at the right hand of God the Father.

We share a common faith.

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.
(John 3:16 (NIV))

Just who does the world comprise?

It is not made up of people only like you. God loves us all. He loves the sinners who have claimed redemption and He loves the sinners who have not claimed redemption. With what is going on in this country right now, the Body of Christ needs to be in prayer about what God would have us do. We need to listen to that still, small voice and be the Light that He is calling us to be.

And, we also must remember that all sins are equal in the eyes of God. And, yes, that means our own little “pet” sins.

When I think of my sins each day, I am eternally thankful for God’s grace.

It is that grace that we must be showing to the world. Don’t allow the world to shake your faith and do not judge. Judgment and condemnation is not ours to show. Judgment belongs only to Jesus.

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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I have accepted my position

February 13, 2012

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 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 yours?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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