How does that camel taste?

March 13, 2017

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 cumin. 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))

Everyone likes to pick and choose, especially when it comes to following instructions. We all have things that we are good at following. We also all have things that we tend to ignore. We focus on our strengths while we tend to ignore our weaknesses and the things that we aren’t interested in. We think that we can replace our weaknesses with other aspects of our personal traits, but is this really how it works? Can we sit in church and give money while ignoring what Jesus is really calling us to give?

It takes more than sitting in a pew for an hour a week!

In today’s society, if we are aren’t interested in doing something personally, we have a tendency to ignore it or we give a little money to ease our minds. Don’t take the giving of money comment incorrectly. If we give with a true desire to help, then our gifts are true. If we give out of guilt or ignorance, God can and will use these gifts, but our motives are not true. Sadly, we can easily see what we perceive as the motives of others, but we fail to see our own. We give money, but we fail to give justice, mercy and faithfulness.

If all that we do as the Body of Christ is to sit in church and write a check, we are missing the calling that Jesus left us with.

We are to go into the world and make disciples!

We are to love our neighbors!

We are to show justice and mercy!

You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
(Matthew 7:5 (NIV))

We are to be faithful to the things that we are called to do in our own lives. We are to be faithful to all of the things that we are called to do for the sake of the Gospel, and not just the ones that man has said are the priorities! When we do what we normally do, are we straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel?

I have just one question for you,

How does that camel taste?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you truly as you appear?

October 4, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.
(Matthew 23:27-28 (NIV))

Jesus never held back!

Since Jesus was and is able to look at the heart and also know what we are thinking, it is not a big stretch of the imagination to realize that He used this to truly size up the people that He met. Unlike everyone else, Jesus wasn’t fooled by the outward appearances. He could see beyond what someone presented as their public persona and see exactly what was in a person’s heart.

Everyone is guilty of putting up a facade. We want those around us to see us for something that we are not. We want to be seen as more than we truly are. With that aspect of human nature squarely out in the open, would you truly want to have Jesus look at you the way that He looked at the Pharisees? What would He say about you? I just realized that I am pointing the finger at everyone else. I should be asking what would He say about me?

That is a scary proposition!

Are you ready and willing to have Jesus truly tell you about yourself?

Are you willing to hear what He has to say about you?

Are you willing to accept rebuke if that is called for?

Are you willing to repent and seek after righteousness?

Think about that last question for a moment. Have you ever read anywhere in the Gospels where a Pharisee was willing to repent? Have you ever thought about the nature of repentance and how repentance and pride and ego just can’t seem to coexist? We saw that in the Pharisees and we still see it today. Jesus was able to see it.

What does Jesus see in you?

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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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 clean from the inside or the outside?

January 25, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.
(Matthew 23:25-26 (NIV))

Sadly, too many people believe that they must get their lives in order before they come to Jesus or start attending a church. They are focused on the outside. They are focused on the appearances.

They are focused on the symptoms and not the cure!

It is not what is seen on the outside, but what God sees on the inside. Too many focus on the symptoms and overlook the root cause. They overlook the simple fact that they need Jesus!

Don’t focus on the symptoms, which are what is visible. Focus on what is inside. Focus on allowing Jesus to clean your heart!

Woe is an expression of grief, regret or distress. I find it interesting that we are told that those who focus on the outward are subject to woe. We could not have a clearer message that it is not the outward things that are the problem. When you go to a doctor with a health concern, do you want the doctor to give you medicine to mask the symptoms or do you want the doctor to get to the inner root cause of the problem?

Your spiritual life should be the same as your concerns when you have scheduled a doctor’s visit. You must allow the Great Physician to treat the inner sin and then the outer appearance of that sin will disappear.

Do you clean the inside or do you simply mask the outward appearance?

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What do you need to give up?

November 12, 2015

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin! Such things must come, but woe to the man through whom they come! If your hand or your foot causes you to sin cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.
(Matthew 18:7-9 (NIV))

This is far different from the “If it feels good, do it” mentality that is so prevalent in the world today. The sad thing about this mentality is that it doesn’t recognize, or even care, that it is pushing sin as the preferred choice.

Do we, as the Body of Christ, admit that sin has crept into our lives or do we sit back and look at everyone else as the sinful ones? Have we become overwhelmed by the world that we fail to recognize what is sin and what is not? Are we able to not only recognize sin when it enters into our lives, but are we able to take the drastic actions that are needed to remove the sin from our lives?

I can still hear the old saying, “If everybody else jumped off a cliff, would you do it, too?”

Why are we, as humanity, so blinded to the sinful nature of our actions, even when we long to be righteous in the eyes of God? Why do we justify ourselves by saying that at least we are not as bad as someone else?

In the eyes of God, sin is sin. It doesn’t matter what it is.

Thankfully, God has provided a way for us to redeem ourselves. He knows that we can’t do it on our own. That way is through the atoning blood of His Son, Jesus. Sadly, too many people look upon this as a free ride to do whatever they want. It does not work that way!

We are to take drastic action!

We are to repent. We are to change our lives. We are to follow Jesus. We are to turn away from our sin. We are to leave our sin behind us. For some, that may mean ending friendships. For others, that may mean changing jobs, and still, for others, that may mean so much more.

We are to give up the things of this world when we follow Jesus.

What do you need to give up?

Copyright 1998 – 2015 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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God looks at the heart!

March 25, 2014

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))

What makes a person an expert?

An expert is someone who has skill or knowledge in an area. In other words, they study or practice a subject until they can slice it and dice it in ways that were probably never intended to happen.

Think about this for a moment and then think about what it means to follow the letter of the law.

Following the letter of the law means that you are more concerned with being legalistic and doing what the law says to do to the very last detail. You become more concerned with following the checklist of things that you think the law asks of you to the point that you don’t really understand what the law was created to do.

What do you think of speed limits?

What is the purpose of a speed limit? What is the intent?

First and foremost, the speed laws were intended to provide a level of safety to those who are traveling and to those whom they encounter. As a typical driver, I can honestly say that the last thing on my mind is the intent of these laws when I look in my rearview mirror and see a police car. My first response is one that everyone has. Make sure that I am not doing something wrong because I don’t want a ticket.

What does this have to do with the intent of the speed laws?

Now, think about the spiritual laws that we have been given. Think about the laws that God has given us through His Word. We must be very careful not to end up trying to obey the letter of the law and miss out on the intent of the law.

God gave us life. He gave us His Word and His Laws. He also gave us grace. He knew that we are prone to focus on the wrong things. He knew that what was the most important thing to understand would be relegated to a minor status once we got our hands upon it.

How many times have you seen someone miss out on a blessing because they were focusing on the wrong things. Don’t get bogged down in the details to such a point that you don’t understand the intent.

God intends for us to have abundant life through the grace offered at the cross. Don’t lose sight of the gift because you are trying to understand the details.

God looks at the heart!

Copyright 1998 – 2014 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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