I am so thankful for grace!

August 15, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering.”
(Luke 11:52 (NIV))

I am afraid to say that we still have people alive today who fall into this category. These people take what should be simple, God-given guidelines on how we are to live our lives and turn them into legalistic ritual controlled by man.

God did not intend for us to spend so much time worried about the details that we miss the grace and the joy that He has freely given to us. How can we be joyful in our salvation if we are worried about following legalistic rituals that are human traditions and not required of God? If you remember, the word “sin” is an archery term that means to miss the mark. Legalism holds us to the judgement of missing that mark.

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
(1 Corinthians 15:56 (NIV))

Jesus came into this world so that we would be free from the law of sin and death. He did not mean that we could continue to sin. He gave us freedom to escape the consequences of sin and death. We are to follow the law, but since we are not perfect, we cannot uphold the law in all things. Legalism requires that we be letter perfect in all things and at all times. People who become experts in the law seem to like to point out the flaws of others. They don’t offer guidance and grace, only condemnation. Through the law, there is no victory.

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
(1 Corinthians 15:57 (NIV))

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you teach what Jesus commanded or do you teach the world’s agenda?

November 18, 2014

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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 28:18-20 (NIV))

With all of the talk about embracing Islam, we have to remember the words that Jesus spoke. He did not tell us to embrace what is good about what others believe and make it a part of what He has taught us. He told us to baptize them and to teach them to follow Him.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
(John 14:6 (NIV))

Unless something confirms Jesus as the only begotten Son of God, then it is a false religion no matter how much humanity wants to embrace it.

He did not tell us to be like the Sadducees. They were more concerned with social issues and politics than they were about religion. Too many of our churches today preach social issues and do not focus on the saving grace that is available through Jesus. Jesus did not command us to do this. He commanded us to baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. He also taught us to teach people to obey everything that He taught. Jesus often criticized the Sadducees because they ignored God and focused on social and political issues.

He did not tell us to be like the Pharisees. They were more focused on God’s Word, yet they placed equal authority on human tradition and oral histories. Jesus often found fault with them.

Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!”
Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’ and ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is ‘devoted to God,’ they are not to ‘honor their father or mother’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:

“‘These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
their teachings are merely human rules.’”
(Matthew 15:1-9 (NIV))

What have we been told about embracing other gods? What have we been told about intermingling? What have we been told about embracing the world?

and after they have been destroyed before you, be careful not to be ensnared by inquiring about their gods, saying, “How do these nations serve their gods? We will do the same.” You must not worship the Lord your God in their way, because in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things the Lord hates. They even burn their sons and daughters in the fire as sacrifices to their gods.
(Deuteronomy 12:29-31 NIV))

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
(Romans 12:1-2 (NIV))

Too many people who call themselves Christians have lost site of what we are called to do. Too many embrace the world and water down what Jesus came into this world to accomplish. Jesus did not die on the cross so that we can embrace other religions and gods!

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
(Matthew 5:13 (NIV))

Jesus calls us to be the salt and light to the world, yet we allow the world to trample all over us! Too many so called members of the Body of Christ are preaching and teaching things that are contrary to what we have been commanded.

Do you teach what Jesus commanded or do you teach the world’s agenda?

Copyright 1998 – 2014 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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True life is through His blood

November 6, 2014

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

`Any Israelite or any alien living among them who eats any blood–I will set my face against that person who eats blood and will cut him off from his people. For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life. Therefore I say to the Israelites, “None of you may eat blood, nor may an alien living among you eat blood.”
(Leviticus 17:10-12 (NIV))

Life is in the blood, and Jesus freely gave His blood (His life) for us. We partake of this life through the symbolic blood of communion. But, this is not the true symbol of our redemption. It is possible to partake of the symbolic blood of communion without having taken part in the spilled blood of Jesus’ gift of His life for our sins.

Perhaps it is communion that makes many people, including those of the Jewish faith, to shy away from belief in Jesus. After all, the thought of drinking blood is repulsive to most people even if it is only symbolic.

Just what is it that Jesus has given us? Life IS in the blood. Jesus freely shed His blood for us so that we may have eternal life. Jesus often set the traditions upside down. Perhaps it is for this reason that He chose to use the symbol of blood as the outward symbol of salvation. Accepting Jesus requires accepting all of Him, including the blood. If we can get past our societal hang-ups about the one, then we can accept the other, after all, when Jesus walked the earth, He often taught against the traditions of society without fully understanding the reasons behind them.

Have you freely accepted the blood of Jesus?

Copyright 1998 – 2014 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What traditions do you follow?

November 13, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.
(1 Corinthians 1:22-23 (NIV))

Isn’t it interesting how different groups of people look for different things before they will believe.

Jewish history is full of signs, wonders and miracles, so they expect something from God to be announced in that matter. The Greeks have always been known as the creators of intellectual thought, so therefore, anything must be analyzed and make logical sense.

What other traditions have we inherited that make us look at Jesus in ways that don’t allow us to truly see him as God the Father intended? What has society done to further distract us from seeing Jesus?

Humanity tries to do things the way that we think that they should be, but hasn’t God told us that His ways are not man’s ways. If we try to approach Jesus in any way that man has devised, then we will miss the intentions of God when He sent Jesus to us.

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)

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How would you react if someone said that they are the Son of God?

May 24, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” But Jesus remained silent.
The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.”
“Yes, it is as you say,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?”
“He is worthy of death,” they answered.
(Matthew 26:62-66 (NIV))

How would you have reacted if someone said that they are the Son of God?

Now, put yourself into Jerusalem some two thousand years ago and imagine that you do not have the perspective of history. You don’t know about the resurrection because it hasn’t happened yet. You can simply base all of your decisions and reactions upon the traditions that have been taught to your fathers and to you. Based on these traditions and interpretations of the scriptures, you and everyone you know expects the Messiah to be a strong military leader who will establish His kingdom. With this in mind, you realize that this man does not fit your expectations of what the Messiah is supposed to be.

But that is not the complete picture!

Would you have been wise enough to recognize that God never does things in an expected way? I can only pray that I would recognize that.

Looking back, we have the ability to see that God had told Israel that the Messiah would come to this earth twice. The very scriptures that they read and thought that they understood also pointed out their very actions.

We celebrate the crucifixion and the resurrection, but would our hearts have been open, would our eyes have been open to what God was doing right before us? I often wonder about this and then I become thankful that I have the perspective of history. I may never know how I would have reacted. I may never know if I would have recognized Jesus as the Messiah. I only know that because of the plan that God put into action from the beginning of time, I can, at this very moment praise God for the grace and mercy given to me through the cross.

We may never know how we would have reacted if we were alive then, but we can know how we react today. Does His name bring anger like it did to the high priest, or does His name bring you the greatest joy?

How do you react to Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior?

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you truly thankful?

November 20, 2012

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 (unknown))

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. Judgement 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?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Open up the gates to your pen

February 16, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me– just as the Father knows me and I know the Father–and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.
(John 10:14-16 (NIV))

Are we truly one flock?

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))

I know that Jesus has given us the great commission, but do we truly open up to those who are different from us? Are we willing to allow other sheep into our pen? Do we fully embrace those whom Jesus has embraced? Do we truly listen to His voice when it comes to those who are different than us?

Would we welcome a former Muslim into our “pen,” or would we hold this brother or sister in Christ at a distance out of fear of the unknown? We have become creatures of comfort and it is a shame that we are only comfortable around others who are like us. Think about all that we are missing when we do not fully embrace believers who are not like us.

Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
(1 Corinthians 12:14-20 (NIV))

No matter how we are told this fact, it is still the same simple fact. We are to be one in Christ. We are to embrace each believer just as Jesus embraces each believer. Have you ever stopped to think that in the eyes of the early Jewish believers, we are the ones who are different. What would have happened to the church if they had not overcome their fear of those who are different? I thank God that they were able to go beyond their comfort zones.

Open up your pen and go beyond your comfort zone.

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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