Can you realize your full potential on your own?

June 25, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
(Matthew 5:17-20 (NIV))

Have you ever stopped to reflect on the meaning of the word “fulfill.” There are several meanings and all of them shed a slightly different, yet profound meaning on these words that Jesus spoke.

According to Merriam-Webster.com, one meaning is to make full. If you consider the promises that God has given to us through the Law, those promises have been made full in what Jesus has done. Before Jesus, no one could live up to the ideals set forth through God’s Laws. The fulness of God’s Laws were salvation. We could not bring fulness on our own.

Another meaning is “to put into effect.” Still another is “to meet the requirements of.” There are more, but I think that my favorite definition is “to convert into reality; to develop the full potentialities of.” Before Jesus, the reality was that no one could fulfill the Law. Since Jesus, the reality is that no one else has fulfilled the Law. What are the full potentialities of fulfilling God’s Law? Think about that. We know what the outcome is when we fall short of God’s Law. Falling short of God’s Law is sin. The consequences of sin is death.

Through Jesus, we have realized the full potential of God’s Law. We have seen what it is to be perfect in God’s eyes. We have seen God set that example through Jesus. Jesus fulfilled the Law perfectly. We don’t need to fulfill it. This does not mean that we can do whatever we want. It means that we will not be condemned when we try in all sincerity and fall short. We will be condemned if we reject grace.

We can accept His fulfillment and His Lordship and, by grace, we can be granted our salvation – our fulfillment of God’s Laws through Jesus. We have a choice to make. We can accept this grace or we can live and be judged according to the Law – the very Law that ONLY Jesus was able to fulfill.

Can you realize your full potential on your own?

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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We cannot pick and choose parts of God’s Word!

April 5, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
(2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV))

I am going to touch on a subject that probably may step on some toes, but based on the above passage, it must be addressed.

I am speaking of the idea that we no longer have to read or abide by the Old Testament since Jesus came to free us from the law of sin and death. Jesus spoke directly to this false idea.

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
(Mark 5:17-20 (NIV))

We must remember that the only Word that the people had at this time was what we refer to as the Old Testament. Jesus was speaking clearly and telling us that we are to fulfill the commands given in these teachings. He did not change any of these teachings. He came to fulfill them and to offer grace and mercy for when we “missed the mark,” or sinned in God’s eyes. Jesus did not come to tell us that what was taught before no longer applied. On the contrary, Jesus tells us that it is very important and that we are to build our lives upon it.

We cannot pick and choose what part of God’s Word we want to follow. We are to follow it all. We should long to follow it for it pleases God and it makes our lives much better.

The next time that you hear someone saying that we no longer live under the Law, remind them that Jesus lived under the Law. We are still to live according to God’s Law. The only difference is that we have Jesus sitting at the right hand of God the Father intervening for us when we cannot keep the Law, after all, Exodus 20:1-17 still applies. At no time did Jesus tell us to place another god before God. He did not tell us that it was all right to murder. He never told us that it was all right to steal. Why do we think that He told us to ignore the rest of God’s Word in the Old Testament?

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?

March 6, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: ” `Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: `Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
(Matthew 22:36-40 (NIV))

I want you to be honest with me. Actually, I want you to be honest with yourself. How well do you keep these two commandments?

We say that we love God, but do we love Him with all our heart and all our soul? That is a big commitment. It is one that takes more than an occasional “Amen” on Sunday. It takes more than simply having a Bible. It takes more than acknowledging God when it is convenient for us. Every aspect, every moment, every breath should be dedicated to God.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
(1 Corinthians 10:31 (NIV))

Is that possible for a sinful creation to place God above all else, after all, we are a selfish creation. We place ourselves above everything and everyone. Most of the time, we would rather ignore our neighbor if we could, yet we are told to love our neighbor as ourself. We are to not only place God above ourselves, we are to place our neighbor equal to ourselves.

Ouch !!!

I fully understand why Jesus answered the question in this way, but why does it have to shake us up, why does it have to rattle our cages, why does it have to make us move outside of our comfort zones? I suppose for the very same reason that Jesus placed God first in the Lord’s Prayer. It makes us think of others first. It makes us think of the well being of all of God’s creation and not just the part that He created for us. He wants to turn our world upside down. He wants us to reach out in praise. He wants us to reach out in prayer. He wants us to reach out in humility, for it is after we reach out to Him and to our neighbor, we realize His great love for us is not just for us. It is for everyone.

“This, then, is how you should pray:
” `Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’
(Matthew 6:9-13 (NIV))

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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