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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Is there such a place?

September 14, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?
(Psalms 139:7 (NIV))

Based on this passage, how do you react to people who tell believers to take our God and leave? How do you react to people who say that He only belongs in church?

Sadly, they have no understanding of just who God is and exactly how everything came into being. They fail to acknowledge Him and they also fail to understand that they cannot go anywhere in all of creation where His Spirit will not be. They fail to realize that He knows every single time that they reject Him!

This simple truth, as painful as it may be for those who choose to reject the Lord, is also a welcome truth for the time when they do have a change of heart. Because He is everywhere, all that anyone needs to do is simply say, “Lord, I am a sinner in need of a Savior!” Because of what Jesus did on the cross, we no longer have to go to a temple, the Temple, to sacrifice for forgiveness of our sins. We can repent and turn to the Lord anywhere we may find ourselves. It is a process as simple as A, B, C.

A. Admit that you are a sinner.
B. Believe in your heart that Jesus died for your sins, was buried and that God raised Him from the dead.
C. Call upon the name of the Lord by confessing that Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords.

If what David wrote were not true, how could any of us be saved? How could we be heard? How could the stirrings in our hearts and the thoughts of our minds be known? How could we be saved by simply following these steps to salvation if the Spirit of God was not everywhere?

Too many people try to place God in a box based on their own understanding. They try to limit where God can go!

Is there such a place?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you claim to be wise?

September 2, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil.
(Proverbs 3:7 (NIV))

Do you see any wisdom in the world?

Based on this passage, perhaps I should rephrase that question.

Do you see people shunning evil and fearing the Lord, or are they more interested in mocking and ridiculing the Lord and anyone who seeks to follow Him? Are these people trying to claim that they are wise? Contrary to what they may think, the Lord doesn’t agree.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
      and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
(Proverbs 9:10 (NIV))

The present state of the world reminds me of the parable of the wheat and the tares. The bad seed that produces the tares are those who do not fear the Lord. They are doing all that they can to disrupt God’s plans. We have known that this time would come. We have known what the people would be like who do not fear the Lord. They claim to be wise in their own eyes. They feel a false sense of self-worth. They feel that only they are right and anyone who doesn’t agree is an enemy.

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—
(2 Timothy 3:1-4 (NIV))

As members of the Body of Christ, we must pray that we not fall into the traps that the enemy has set. We must fear the Lord and shun all evil. We must not think that we are more than we are – filthy rags.

Do you claim to be wise?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Is there a difference between gathering and assembling?

September 1, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
(Hebrews 10:25 (NIV))

It is amazing how subtle nuances in a translation can make something take on a completely different meaning. Since we have to rely on translations from the original Aramaic and Greek, the understanding of the full meanings of the original language and how it is translated into English can vary slightly. Each translation conveys the meaning, but sometimes the subtleties give a much better understanding of the depth of the original language. This is why I like to cross reference between many different translations to try and fully understand the intentions behind the words. This passage is an excellent example of just this.

What do you think of when you read the phrase “meeting together”? Do you simply think of a gathering of individuals that come together for a short time and then go their separate ways?

Now, let’s take this one step further and reference a different translation.

not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
(Hebrews 10:25 (NKJV))

What do you think of when you read the phrase “assembling of ourselves together”? Does this paint a mental picture of unity and purpose where people come together for a common goal?

I heard something today that brought these two phrases into a much better understanding. I think that this analogy will also paint a very interesting picture for you as well.

The example was of a watch. When you gather the components of a watch into one location, everything is there, yet it has no purpose. They are still just individual parts that do not work together. But, when those parts are assembled in the correct way, the result is a fully functioning time piece. Now, how does this apply to believers who simply gather together versus being assembled into a functioning body of believers? We, as the church, should be more than the sum of our individual parts. We should rely on the Lord to assemble us in such a way that we bring glory to Him by uniting in the task that we have been assigned.

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))

If all that we do is gather, then we are not fulfilling our calling. We must be willing to assemble!

Is there a difference between gathering and assembling?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you practicing what you have learned?

August 17, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
(Philippians 4:9 (NIV))

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. If that is the case, do you flatter Jesus?

When Paul wrote his letter to the church at ‭‭Philippi, he was encouraging the believers there to take what they have learned from him about Jesus and put it into practice. In other words, he was encouraging them to imitate Jesus by following His teachings. Two thousand years later, that is still the very best advise that anyone can give.

How are you living up to imitating Jesus in all that you do?

It isn’t easy, is it?

No matter how sincere we may be in our desires, human nature keeps getting in the way. Our sinful nature keeps raising its ugly head and we soon find ourselves doing things that we truly wish that we could avoid. Perhaps we need to truly take a lesson from Jesus and pay attention to how much time that He spent in prayer with the Father. I would venture to say that if we start practicing this lesson more often, the other things that we are called to imitate would be so much easier to actually imitate. Spending time in honest, heartfelt communication with the Lord will lead to a stronger relationship, and a better understanding of and a stronger desire to be like Jesus!

There is only so much that we can learn if we don’t start practicing what we have learned. Obedience is critical. Obedience means doing what Jesus instructs us to do. Obedience means putting away our sinful nature and following Jesus. Obedience means that we imitate Jesus by putting into practice what we have learned.

Are you practicing what you have learned?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Where do you find your heart?

August 14, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
(Matthew 6:21 (NIV))

With everything that is going on in the world right now, I have a question for you that will help determine your true treasure.

Do you long for the way things were last year this time, or do you long for Jesus?

Take a look back at this same time last year. I will admit that things were not as stressful and unusual then as they are now. Still, they were far from perfect. In fact, if you look back over the last several years, you will see that things have not gotten any better. The political landscape has changed in the last few years, and is focused on following Biblical principles, but it is also evident that the opposition to this change is doing all in its power to bring down anything related to God’s Word as well as anyone who supports it.

It is possible to become so overwhelmed by the ever increasing troubles in this world that we fail to see that God is moving in and through all of the troubles. Is your heart burdened and fearful? If you think about this in relationship to where your heart is, then it is easy to come to the conclusion that it is possible for us to treasure the pain of this world. Have we become addicted to the point that we sit waiting for the next new information on the latest troubles in this world?

Where’s the peace when we worry? Where’s the faith when we worry? Where is our treasure when we worry?

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
(Matthew 6:34 (NIV))

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:7 (NIV))

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
(John 16:33 (NIV))

I have a favor to ask of everyone. It’s really quite simple. The next time that your heart becomes heavy because of the world, lift your eyes to heaven and remember that God is still on the throne. He is still in charge. Look to your eternal treasure and stay focused on Jesus!

Where do you find your heart?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What have you seen?

August 7, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

“And it shall come to pass afterward
That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your old men shall dream dreams,
Your young men shall see visions.
(Joel 2:28 (NKJV))

I have a list of sites and people that I monitor in addition to reading and studying, and all of the sites seem to be exploding with content about people who are having dreams and visions. I have not seen anything like this in the twenty plus years that I have been reading, studying and writing. It is as if the flood gates have opened!

I am seeing things from very well known individuals in the Body of Christ who are talking about recent experiences and dreams that they have had. I also see countless ones from people who are not well known, but have been given a glimpse of something that is beyond their understanding.

What do you think about dreams and visions?

Do you believe that the Lord will do, and possibly is doing at this time, things written of in Joel?

We have evidence all throughout the Bible that God uses dreams to communicate with people. If we say that we believe the Bible, then why do so many people laugh at the idea that God uses dreams today? Why do so many people who profess a faith in Jesus ridicule those who have the faith to step forward and share what they have seen?

Have you ever had a dream or a vision that you feel was from the Lord?

What have you seen?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do you place your trust in the Lord?

July 28, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him,
(Nahum 1:7 (NIV))

You can probably figure out exactly what I am going to ask based on this passage. With what is going on right now in the world, trusting in the Lord is more important than ever. With that in mind, do you trust in the Lord?

Do you trust that the Lord is good?

Do you trust that the Lord is our refuge in times of trouble?

Do you trust that no matter how bad things have gotten or how bad they may get, that His plans are perfect?

I love that so many people who profess a faith in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior are at peace through all that is happening. We may be saddened by the events. We may be shocked by the events. We are probably even disgusted by the events, but we, as the Body of Christ, seem to have a peace through all of this.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:7 (NIV))

If we truly trust in the Lord, we are promised that He will guard our hearts and our minds. We are promised that He will care for us. With what the world has gone through and with what is probably coming, we can rest assured that placing our faith and trust in the Lord means that we will have peace in the midst of the storms. We will have refuge when the enemy attacks. We will be guarded from the one who longs to keep us eternally separated from the Lord. Placing our trust in the Lord means that He is our salvation. He is our champion. He is our defender. He is our Lord!

Do you place your trust in the Lord?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you capable of waiting?

July 14, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.
(Psalms 27:14 (NIV))

There is something about human nature that doesn’t like to wait!

Do you have the patience to wait? Do you know of anyone who has the patience to wait? Have you ever thought about this passage in that context?

God uses things that are contrary to the sinful, fallen world to bring people to Him, and this is no different. Since waiting goes against human nature especially since the fall from grace, perhaps God uses the concept of waiting to teach us and to explore our hearts. He uses waiting to see if we are willing to go against our sinful nature. Let’s face facts. Waiting is not easy! Is God using this to see who is willing to go the extra mile and deny themselves in order to spend time with Him?

Think about that from the standpoint that humanity likes instant gratification!

I am sure that when you were growing up, you were constantly told, “Good things come to those who wait.” What better thing is there than the Lord, our God? Is He worth waiting for? Is He worth going against the world in order to receive Him? What do we receive when we what for the Lord? We come away with a wonderful understanding of who He is. We come away with a thankful heart because of what He has done. We receive an eternity in His presence! I find these to be the ultimate good that I long for while I wait for the Lord.

Are you capable of waiting?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do you see the Lord as Holy Glorious?

June 10, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

And they were calling to one another:
    “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;
     the whole earth is full of his glory.”
(Isaiah 6:3 (NIV))

There are two basic premises outlined in this passage. Two very true details that we need to fully embrace. How we embrace them determines our whole outlook and understanding of God the Father, Jesus His Son, and the Holy Spirit.

First and foremost, the LORD is holy. I am not certain if the word “holy” is repeated three times because of a subliminal reference to the Trinity, or whether it is repeated simply as a matter of driving the concept home. It may even be both. No matter why it is repeated, we must never forget that the LORD is holy. If we treat God in any way less than holy, we have sinned. We have taken the Creator of all things and redefined Him within our comfort zone. We do not praise Him if we make Him less than He is.

Ouch!

I hate to say this, but human nature finds us doing just that. We have a tendency of not understanding just how magnificent that He is. We tend to define God and our relationship to Him by our own thought processes and our own relationships. God is holy.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
      declares the LORD.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.
(Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV))

We cannot comprehend God. We must simply trust Him and accept that He is holy.

The second premise that is presented is the fact the the whole earth is full of His glory.

Everywhere that you look, you see wondrous things that God has created. Can man imagine a rainbow into existence? Can humanity divide the waters above from the waters below? Can anybody create a continent and clothe it in the vast splendor that we see?

God’s glory is manifested through His creation. Not only is He holy, but everything that He creates is glorious.

I hope that you fully caught what I just said. Everything that God creates is glorious. God created you and I. It is simple deductive reasoning that allows us to draw the conclusion that we are intended to be glorious. Even though we have fallen from grace through our sin, we are intended to be glorious. Even though we may not always follow God’s call, we are intended to be glorious.

God sent His glory into the world so that we could gain salvation and grace. Jesus, the son of God and the son of man, came into this world so that we could be washed clean and reunited with God in all of His glory.

Holy. Glory.

How do you see God in relationship to these two simple words? Do you see the Lord as Holy Glorious?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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