Will you stand firm in your faith and your freedom?

July 3, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
(Galatians 5:1 (NIV))

What is the difference between freedom and independence?

Do you think that they are the same?

We, as a nation, are about to celebrate the anniversary of our independence from rule by another country. Is this the same as freedom?

We, as believers, celebrate the fact that we have been set free. We are no longer bound by the sins that shackled us. Is this the same as independence?

One of the definitions for the word freedom says that it is a state of being free from confinement or physical restraint. One of the definitions for the word independence says that it is freedom from the control or influence of others. I find it interesting that the word freedom is used in the definition of independence.

I also find it interesting that this country was settled be those seeking freedom to worship God as they saw fit. They may not have all faced physical restraint, yet they were restrained in other ways. These people faced persecution because they did not believe as the official church believed. In the course of seeking their freedom to worship, they gained their independence. They were no longer controlled by others.

Over the course of many years, the freedom that was sought for became a desire to be independent.

Do you see the trend?

When we seek freedom, independence is earned. When we give up freedom, independence is taken away. This is true for both the physical and the spiritual. If we accept Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, we are set free from the bondage of sin and death. If we allow a small foothold to sin, we are once again burdened by what we had previously cast off. I honestly believe that this hold true for all aspects of our lives, and not just our individual spiritual lives.

Think about that for a moment.

Over the last several years things have changed in our country. Many are willing to give up freedoms in exchange for a dependency. Many are willing to give up freedoms for what they think will mean peace and security. Many are willing to give up freedom of religion in exchange for political correctness.

We have become complacent. We have become too willing to appease a vocal few. We have allowed the vocal fee to take our freedoms.

Freedom isn’t free. It has a heavy cost.

Jesus died on the cross to be able to set us free from sin. Countless people throughout our history have died to ensure that our freedoms remain. Have we become a consumer of the actions of others? Are we willing to sit back and observe or do we embrace the freedom and the price that has been paid and must be paid? Do we change our thoughts as easily as we change the channel? Do we stand firm in God’s Word or do we let others fill us with their thoughts?

Remember that Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice so that we could be given salvation. Thousands of men and women since then have paid the price for freedom. Are we willing to simply sit on the sidelines or will we stand firm in our faith and in our freedom?

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

April 29, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers–not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,

“God opposes the proud
but gives grace to the humble.”

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
(1 Peter 5:1-9 (NIV))

Words to live by! Words to model our lives after!

We must remember that we are not the ones who have made our salvation possible. All of us who serve God are in the same position: that of humble servants. Not a single one of us was righteous in God’s eyes without the Grace and Mercy bestowed upon us by the gift of Jesus Christ.

Those of us who are infants in the faith must have role models. Those of us who are to be role models do not need to be arrogant in our positions, for the positions were once reversed. The people in positions of role models were, at one time, infants in the faith.

All who are believers must take it upon themselves to strive to be all that Jesus wants us to be in this world:

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
(Matthew 5:14-16)

Light does not fight with light. Light fights against darkness. Light always wins!

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What good will we be if our light is going out?

December 6, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.
(Acts 17:30 (NIV))

There are many types of things that we can be ignorant of. We can be ignorant of the Law. We can be ignorant of our sin. We can be ignorant of our need for a savior, and we can be ignorant of God’s calling upon our lives.

We can also be ignorant of our need to repent!

This applies individually and as a society.

As I look around, I see evil being called good and good being called evil. Our world is turned upside down. I recently saw that only 49% of our country profess to a belief in Jesus. Sadly enough, in the age range of young adults, that is only about 25%. We, as a society, are rapidly turning and are greatly in need of repentance. How can we, as a society, repent, when the people who feel the need to repent are now in the minority?

There is an old Jewish saying that if the whole world repents, then the Messiah will come. One man sat out to bring the world to repentance. However, he found that the world was too big, so he decided to focus on his country. This, too, was too big, so he decided to focus on his town. He soon found that this, too, was too big. He decided to start with his street. Then his house. He finally decided that he needed to start with himself.

Start with yourself!

We all have things that we tend to push under the rug, so to speak. These things are the sins that we have become familiar with and tend to ignore. In God’s eyes, these sins are no different from the ones that we have a tendency to point our fingers at.

We have become ignorant of our own sins. Have we been focusing so much on the sins that we see in the world that we ignore our own? We need to stop and take a look at our own lives in context. We need to pray that we are following God’s will. We need to pray that we can be that light that the world will see and not a spent candle slowly devouring itself.

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
(Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV))

What good will we be if our light is going out?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is your heart troubled?

October 30, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.
(John 14:1 (NIV))

It seems like everything in this world is falling apart.

Wars and rumors of wars.

Catastrophic natural disasters of ever-increasing magnitude.

An ever-increasing hatred of anything righteous.

When will it end?

We sit poised at the precipice. We are at a point where the uncertainty of the world is closing in and bringing many people to despair. It is also bringing many people to completely reject God.

It also can bring isolated pockets of great joy into each life if we will simply open our hearts to what God is doing.

As believers, we have a choice to make. We can choose to let the troubles of this world get to us, or we can turn to Jesus and fully embrace the joy and the salvation that He has freely given to us. Through this salvation, we can also fully embrace the hope that things will be better.

It is my prayer for you and your family and friends that you will fully embrace the grace, mercy and joy that God has given to us through the gift of His son, Jesus Christ. I truly do not understand how those people who have not placed their faith and hope in Jesus can face each day, for they rely on the errant perception that humanity can make things better.

Let’s face it. Most times we can’t even agree on what we will have for dinner. How do you expect humanity to agree on anything that can make things better? It is human nature to insist that our way is right and everybody else is wrong. We firmly stand our ground because we don’t want to admit that we might be wrong. Many people think that they are not capable of making a mistake. To me, that is the biggest mistake that anyone can make.

When was the last time that you saw any person live their complete life without making any mistakes? Mistakes lead to troubles. Each life will eventually lead to trouble. There has only been one life that never made any mistakes, and through His life, we are given an amazing gift of grace, salvation, joy and hope.

I honestly cannot say how humanity’s troubles in the past compare to those of today. I do know that all throughout history, humanity has only recently come to the point where we are capable of destroying lives at an alarming rate. These and other things that I hope never happen can lead someone to be troubled.

Is your heart troubled? Trust in God and trust in Jesus!

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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He who has an ear!

August 28, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
“May those who love you be secure.
May there be peace within your walls
and security within your citadels.”
For the sake of my brothers and friends,
I will say, “Peace be within you.”
For the sake of the house of the LORD our God,
I will seek your prosperity.
(Psalms 122:6-9 (NIV))

I just saw something that made my heart sink.

Actually, I saw two things within just a few minutes that made me start to pray.

The first thing I saw was that a Catholic bishop was denied the ability to hold a prayer gathering while a two hour Muslim prayer gathering was approved for the same event. I don’t want to say what event for I know that I will be accused of being political and/or racist.

The second thing almost brought me to tears. The leaders of a major North American Christian denomination are calling for a boycott of Israel until they stop “occupying” the land that God gave them.

Abraham was given a promise by God.

I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.”
(Genesis 12:3 (NIV))

That promise was fulfilled through the nation of Israel. I realize that Ishmael was also a decedent of Abraham, but the promise was through the first born of Sarah. Sarah interfered with the promise and gave her maid servant to bear a child. The promise was not through Ishmael. It was through Israel. Jerusalem is the capital. The lands that were given were part of the promise of God. Israel is not occupying lands.

I find it sad that more and more are turning from Israel and from the God of Jacob. The God of Jacob is the same God that Christians call Father. He promised the land and He promised to send a Savior. I do not see how someone who claims one promise can deny or completely ignore another?

What does that mean with respect to whoever curses you I will curse?

Think about that.

Pray about that.

Hold fast to the truth.

Do not let someone tell you otherwise.

I honestly think that we will see more things like the two episodes that I saw tonight. The battle lines are being drawn. The victory belongs to the Lord. Do not allow the rapidly changing world to change your mind or to change your faith.

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.
(Revelation 2:7 (NIV))

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you prepared to recognize the enemy?

May 29, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 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. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
(Ephesians 6:10-18 (NIV))

We must remember that we are in a battle. This battle may show no physical signs of war such as physical destruction, wounds and death, but we are in a battle just the same.

Preparation is the way to win at anything. Athletes train in order to be prepared for the big race. Soldiers train in order to be prepared for the battle. Firefighters train in order to be prepared for the big fire. We, as believers, are in the Lord’s Army and we must prepare for the day and time when we will face the battle. We must train in order to face the enemy whenever and wherever he may present himself.

How do we train to face Satan? By fully relying on God! Rely on His promises. Rely on His Word. Rely on His Son, Jesus Christ, and rely on the Holy Spirit. If we fully rely on God and trust in all that He has promised, we will be prepared to face the enemy. We will also be able to recognize the enemy, for he is crafty and deceiving. It is not unlikely that we have already faced the enemy and we did not recognize him because we had not yet followed the instructions that Paul gave to the Ephesians. In fact, we face the enemy every day, whether we realize it or not.

Are you prepared to recognize the enemy and repel his attack?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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