What do you focus on?

April 27, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices–mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law–justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.
(Matthew 23:23-24 (NIV))

Does this sound like anyone that you know? Does it sound like you?

Just as in Jesus’ day, too many people pay more attention to the letter of the law and completely ignore the intent of the law. We need to make sure that we do not become like the Pharisees and perform our “worship” out of ritual and tradition. When this happens, it is easy to forget why the ritual and tradition started.

God gave us the Law as a guidance in how to live so that justice, mercy and faithfulness could thrive. It is human nature to forget the reasons and focus on the details.

Don’t let the reasons be hidden or overshadowed by the details. Focus on justice, mercy and faithfulness.

What do you focus on?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you embrace God’s plan of grace?

April 9, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.”

Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all drank from it.

“This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them. “I tell you the truth, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it anew in the kingdom of God.”
(Mark 14:22-25 (NIV))

Have you really thought about what Jesus was doing in these passages? It is easy to go through the motions without realizing exactly what the whole thing means.

The symbolism is astonishing. The implications are crucial to our beliefs. The continuing practice is an important part of our ability to remember just what was done in our behalf. We must also remember that Jesus did this at the Passover Sader, which was and still is the Jewish holiday in which they remember the gift of salvation and freedom from their Egyptian captors. On the anniversary of the very night that God delivered Israel from a physical bondage, God, through His Son, Jesus Christ, was delivering the world from spiritual bondage.

In Egypt, God accomplished this through the Angel of Death striking the first-born of Egypt. For the salvation of the world, God again struck down the first-born! He allowed His only begotten Son to die in our place!

The Passover meal is a very ritualized meal so that the Jewish people do not forget what God did for them. It is a time of celebration for those who partake of it. Jesus instituted a new “Passover” tradition in which all who believe that He is the Son of God and their Lord and Savior can partake. This meal is different from the original Jewish Passover meal in that it can be taken anytime and anywhere that there are believers.

The next time that you have the opportunity to sit at the Lord’s table, remember the pain, suffering, grace and salvation that this meal represents.

Do you embrace God’s plan of grace?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you worship like you are truly thankful?

November 28, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Then the Lord said,
“Because this people draw near
    with their words
And honor Me with their lip service,
But they remove their hearts far from Me,
And their reverence for Me
    Consists of tradition learned by rote,
Therefore behold, I will once
    again deal marvelously with
    this people, wondrously marvelous;
And the wisdom of their wise men shall perish,
And the discernment of their discerning men shall be concealed.”
(Isaiah 29:13-14 (NASB))

Are we guilty of “tradition learned by rote?”

Are our church services merely a series of traditions that we do because they are the way that we learned them? Do we understand the true meaning behind the traditions?

God spoke through Isaiah against meaningless traditions. Judgment was poured out on the descendants of Israel for simply doing “what they have always done.” They had forgotten that these traditions were actually acts of worship. Worship is not the act of doing things because that is the way they have always been done. It is a sincere reverence for God. It is a “thanksgiving” for what God has done for us, and not a series of rituals done in a certain sequence. God wants us to follow the intent of the Law, and not the letter of the Law. Jesus spoke against the Pharisees for following the letter of the Law without following the intent.

Are you bound by tradition learned by rote?

Are you truly thankful?

Do you worship like you are truly thankful?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do your words and deeds bring glory to the Lord?

November 26, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
(Colossians 3:17 (NIV))

If you dedicate something to someone, what type of effort do you put into the task?

If you are like most people, then you want the dedicated task to be the best that you can offer. Think about that and then answer this question. Have you ever seen someone dedicate a book that they have written to their children and then the book is so bad that it isn’t even legible? Chances are extremely high that much effort is put into anything that is dedicated to someone. You don’t want to offend the person with less than your best effort.

Have you dedicated your life to Jesus?

Did that last question make you stop mid thought? I honestly hope that it did, for when we profess a faith in Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, we are dedicating our life to Jesus. We are saying that we repent of our sins and will follow Jesus every day of our life. Are you thankful for the grace that you have been freely given? Are you thankful that the debt of your sin is no longer expected to be paid by you? Are you so thankful that you will leave behind your life of sin and follow Jesus? When we accept this grace, we are saying that whatever we do from that day forward is to the greater glory of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

Many cultures have a tradition that when someone saves your life, you are indebted to them and must serve them out of gratitude. If they do this for someone who has saved their physical life, how much more should we do for Jesus, who has saved our eternal, spiritual life? We should be so thankful that we glorify the Lord in all that we do.

Do your words and deeds bring glory to the Lord?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Has your faith saved you?

October 14, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
(Luke 7:50b (NIV))

Jesus spoke these words to a woman who had basically come into the house of Simon. She was not invited by the owner of the house, but she came in anyway to worship and minister to Jesus as He sat as a guest within the house. If you remember the story, she washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and then anointed Him with perfume. This brought ridicule from the “respected” members of society. Jesus responded to them and to Simon by saying that she was doing for Him what Simon, as the host, should have been doing. Simon did not do any of the customary acts of hospitality, yet he considered himself to be a good host and an obedient Jew.

These words and these events mean more than many of us may realize. Let’s take a good look at just how this actually has meaning for us today.

Simon represented the Jewish society set in their ways and oblivious to the true calling that God had placed upon them to bear the good news to the world. Instead of this mission being fulfilled, they acted just as Simon did. They refused to welcome their own Messiah in an appropriate manner. A woman who was an outcast in the eyes of traditional Jewish society saw Jesus for who is was and saw that her redemption was at hand. She went were she was not welcome in order to embrace the grace and mercy that she longed for. The woman is symbolic of the Gentiles, who in the midst of tradition and society, accepted the mission to bear witness in the midst of something that was not truly hers in the eyes of society.

Jesus was a Jew. According to Paul, Jesus had a specific order in which He came.

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.
(Romans 11:6 (NIV))

Just as He went into the house of Simon, He went first for the Jew, then, just as the woman came and accepted Him, the Gentiles accepted Him.

If you are not of Jewish heritage, you are a Gentile. We did not come to Jesus out of tradition. We came to Jesus just as the woman did. Out of faith. Just as He told her that her faith had saved her, we can also lay claim to that same piece of truth if we truly have faith.

Has your faith saved you?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Christ is the reason for the season!

December 14, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done marvelous things;
his right hand and his holy arm
have worked salvation for him.
The LORD has made his salvation known
and revealed his righteousness to the nations.
(Psalms 98:1-2 (NIV))

I know that this is a repeat, but it is important to remind ourselves what it is that we choose to celebrate during December.

Do you celebrate family? Do you celebrate peace on earth? Perhaps you may be receiving this because someone wants you to read something to try to convince you to celebrate something at all!

First and foremost, we must always remember that the reason for the season is Jesus. For several hundred years, tradition has made it known that this is the time of the year to celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. We call it Christmas, but the roots of the name are much more meaningful than today’s society can even imagine. The word “merry” in Old English means “mighty.” The word Christmas is a shortened version of two words “Christ Mass” in which the birth of Jesus was officially celebrated by the church. People would wish each other a blessing so that they would have a MIGHTY (Merry) Christ’s Mass (Christmas). They wanted each believer to fully realize the gift of grace and mercy that was theirs because God sent His Son Jesus into this world.

God has made His salvation known!

He has revealed his righteousness to the nations!

That salvation and that righteousness is one and the same!

It is through Jesus!

I pray that you will truly have a Mighty Christ’s Mass this Christmas!

Christ is the reason for the season!

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is your armor ready?

August 9, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
(Ephesians 6:13 (NIV))

Armor is something that is thought of as protection, as something impenetrable. In the physical world, armor is often associated with metal and is imposing in nature. In the spiritual world, armor is not something that you wear, but something that you carry. You carry it in your hands and in your heart. This armor is the Word of God and it is a strong foundation on which to build everything that you do. The strength and protection that you receive from this armor comes from fully knowing that God always keeps His promises. He always protects His children. It is this knowledge, and the faith to hold on to this knowledge no matter the circumstances, that is the strongest armor that has ever been created.

All throughout history, men in armor have fought bravely and valiantly for something that they believed in. Even today, men in armor such military vehicles continue this tradition. They are fighting for earthly causes. How can we, when equipped to battle in the spiritual realm with God as our commanding officer and protector, not fully train to be part of the battle? We must keep our armor ready for we do not know what tomorrow may bring.

Do you have the right equipment for the coming battle?

Is your armor ready?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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