Are you caught up in legalism or grace?

May 24, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Jesus replied, “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.
(Luke 11:46 (NIV))

Have you been loaded down with burdens about the laws of God? Has legalism kept you from knowing the true grace and peace that Jesus came to bring?

It is so easy to become caught in the throes of legalism, after all, there is a very valid reason that the law exists. It is when we become so overwhelmed with the letter of the law that we miss the true meaning of the law. When this happens, people spend more time concerned about the small details that they miss the big picture. They miss the very reason that the law was given to begin with.

Are you more concerned with how your church service is performed than with what is communicated through that service? Are you more concerned with what people wear than the fact that they are there?

Don’t load yourself and others down with burdens like these. Look to the One who gave the law and His grace and mercy instead of looking at the law.

The law cannot save. It only accuses and convicts the guilty, and we are all guilty of sin. Only God’s grace and mercy through the blood of Jesus can save.

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you carrying the weight of the world?

October 1, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.’
(Matthew 11:28 (NIV))

Sometimes it seems that I carry the weight of the world on my shoulders.

How about you?

Do you ever feel that you bear more than it seems possible to manage?

Life in this world is full of burdens. Every day presents each of us with troubles and pressures that seem to grow bigger and bigger as time goes on. It seems that we have no escape from what the world sends our way.

Fortunately, we have someone to turn to. We have someone who understands the burdens and will walk with us through them.

“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))

Jesus told us to come to Him and bring all of our burdens and troubles with us. He will make our path more joyful. He will make our path have a light that guides us. He will make our path to have a destination that is truly restful as we rest in the presence of God.

The next time that you feel overwhelmed, remember that Jesus bore the weight of the world for our sins when He was sin free. Can you imagine how weary He was during this ordeal – the physical weight of the cross and the emotional weight of all of the sins of all time?

Are you struggling under your own power, or are you resting in the assurance that Jesus will do as He says He will do?

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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Burdens

August 17, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.
(Matthew 11:28 (NLT))

What burdens do you carry?

Everybody has burdens that they must carry, for life is not burden free. Each of us face our own combination of things that Satan uses to weight us down and to keep us from God. These may be financial issues, health issues, personal issues, family issues, or a myriad number of other things. Regardless of what they may be, we all face times when we must carry a burden or two. Unfortunately, it is human nature to think that we are alone in what we face. Because of this, our burdens soon become more than we can bear.

Do your burdens leave you weary? Are your burdens too much for you to bear?

We, as believers, know that there is a hope for us. We do not have to carry our burdens alone. We have the hope that is Jesus. Jesus came to give us grace. He came to give us mercy. He came to give us hope. We do not have to face the burdens of this world alone. We have someone who is closer than a brother to help us through our times of trouble and burden. We have Jesus. All we have to do is allow Him to be our personal Lord and Savior. In exchange, He will give us rest from our burdens?

Do you allow Jesus to give you rest?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What burdens do you carry?

April 17, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.
(Matthew 11:28 (NLT))

What burdens do you carry?

Everybody has burdens that they must carry, for life is not burden free. Each of us face our own combination of things that Satan uses to weight us down and to keep us from God. These may be financial issues, health issues, personal issues, family issues, or a myriad number of other things. Regardless of what they may be, we all face times when we must carry a burden or two. Unfortunately, it is human nature to think that we are alone in what we face. Because of this, our burdens soon become more than we can bear.

Do your burdens leave you weary? Are your burdens too much for you to bear?

We, as believers, know that there is a hope for us. We do not have to carry our burdens alone. We have the hope that is Jesus. Jesus came to give us grace. He came to give us mercy. He came to give us hope. We do not have to face the burdens of this world alone. We have someone who is closer than a brother to help us through our times of trouble and burden. We have Jesus. All we have to do is allow Him to be our personal Lord and Savior. In exchange, He will give us rest from our burdens?

Do you allow Jesus to give you rest?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What better Christmas gift?

December 21, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
(Lamentations 3:22 (NIV))

When we hear these words, can we honestly claim them as our own?

It is not always easy to claim them because of the burdens of the world and the things that we face every “morning.” Yet, all we have to do is stop and reflect on God’s promises to see that He has gotten us through another day and that we were indeed not consumed by the burdens of this world.

Each day that we have is a gift from God and should be approached with thankfulness and joy for the enemy is all around and through God’s great love and mercy, we have escaped the enemy to see another day. The enemy that I speak of is death. Death through sin. Physical death and spiritual death are both a part of the enemy’s arsenal of weapons. The spiritual death is the consumption of our souls by the enemy.

Through God’s compassion, He sent His Son Jesus Christ to face the ultimate “consumption” for our behalf. Even though Satan tried to consume Jesus, Jesus defeated Satan, and through this act, we have the ability to claim that we will not be consumed by the enemy, but covered in grace and “compassion.”

What better Christmas gift can we receive?

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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There is no other way

August 11, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

When anyone came to a heap of twenty measures, there were only ten. When anyone went to a wine vat to draw fifty measures, there were only twenty. I struck all the work of your hands with blight, mildew and hail, yet you did not turn to me,’ declares the LORD.
(Haggai 2:16-17 (NIV))

I received an email today that referenced an earlier part of Haggai 2.

This is what the LORD Almighty says: `In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all nations, and the desired of all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the LORD Almighty. `The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares the LORD Almighty.
(Haggai 2:6-8 (NIV))

Is it just me, or we facing the events in this world because we have turned away from God?

Governments being overthrown. Economic uncertainty in the whole world and economic collapse in some countries. Public riots because of racial and religious tension. Looting and burning because they want to show the authorities that they can do what they want.

Society treats the resources of this world as theirs. It is there only for them and not for anyone else, now or in the future. Society lives “high on the hog,” yet forgets that the future relies on wisely managing so that the hog will be able to reproduce.

Stewardship is long forgotten.

“I want it now!”

“I deserve it!”

“I have a right to do it!”

Selfishness has become the rule.

It is a scary world that has been so rapidly transforming right before our eyes.

Can we solve the problems that the world is facing if we turn to God?

There is no other way!

Everything is His. He is the Creator. He longs to bless us, but . . .

He will not bless us if we are foolish.

He will not bless us if we ignore Him.

He will not bless us if we spit in His face.

Think of a father who has lovingly purchased several toys for his children. He sits back and joyfully watches as his children play with the toys as they were designed. Slowly, the children begin to take these precious toys and do things that they shouldn’t. He gently reminds them that if they take care of the toys, they will last a long time. They will give joy for many years. Some time later, the children forget these words and start to do things that will break the toys. As a father, he reminds them again and tells them that if they do not stop, he will have to take the toys from them.

The father still loves the children, yet, he must do what is needed to reprimand and to teach. Only when the children return with a repentant heart does the father allow them to once again have the toys.

We, as a society, as a world, have mistreated what God has given to us. We have turned our back on Him. We have even gone so far as to expel Him from public life.

It sounds to me that we need to turn to God.

if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
(2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV))

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do not imitate what is evil

March 28, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God.
(3 John 1:11 (NIV))

I am so saddened to see events in this world. I am saddened to see events in our own communities. Events that should never take place. Events that are the result of hatred and misguided values, if they are guided by any values at all.

What leads people to steal? What leads people to murder? What leads people to hatred of their neighbor?

Every day we see things on the news that make us shudder at the very thought of those things happening. What would we do if they actually happened to us? Would we be able to maintain our faith? Would we be able to keep from doing evil in retaliation?

I like to think that I am a faithful believer in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, yet, I know that it would be so easy to slip into evil thoughts and actions if the situation is right. Still, it is my prayer that God would give me strength and peace if any such situation would ever arise.

There is a difference between those who slip and regret it and those who simply plan evil.

What makes a person’s heart so hardened that they desire to only do evil? What makes a person call good evil and evil good? Have we turned so far from God’s Word that we no longer even know the difference?

Recent local events seem to have brought it out in full force. I have seen where people are saying that these events were justified. I honestly can say that these type of events are never justified. Evil is evil and there is no justification for doing evil.

Once again, I believe that it is time to turn to God in prayer.

if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
(2 Chronicles 7:13 (NIV))

Prayer is a powerful weapon. It is a weapon for good and it is a weapon that we do not wield often enough. Pray for God’s guidance. Pray that we return to His commands. Pray that we live our lives as if living for the Lord. Pray that we may be able to distinguish good from evil and then do only what is good. Pray that we my be a light that shines into the lives of those who do evil. Pray that the light will overcome the dark. Pray that the light of Jesus will shine brightly in us and through us so that the world will know of God’s love, grace and mercy.

It is time for God’s people to pray for His goodness and righteousness to become our priorities once again. Please join me in this prayer.

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Your grief will turn to joy!

March 22, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.
(John 16:20-22 (NIV))

How true this is!

The Body of Christ weeps at the events of this world. We see all types of evil that the world embraces as good and the good that God proclaims, they say is evil.

Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil.
(Romans 14:16 (NIV))

We are to turn away from evil and embrace what is good. We are to long for the good that God desires for His creation. We are to abhor the evil that has been unleashed. Do not embrace what you know to be evil.

It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.
(1 Peter 3:17 (NIV))

Wait faithfully for what you know will come to pass, for God keeps all of His promises. We must watch and wait in anticipation just as a mother waits in anticipation of the joy of a new life.

Jesus said to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you. Many will come in my name, claiming, `I am he,’ and will deceive many. When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.
(Matthew 13:5-8 (NIV))

Are you ready to rejoice after the birth pains have produced their joy?

Copyright 1998 – 2010 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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I have overcome the world

March 10, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
(2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (NIV))

I have some questions for you and I want you to honestly reflect upon your situation and not just simply read these words. I want you to give thought, and thanks, to the One who gives us strength.

Are you hard pressed? Do you feel the weight of your situation closing in on you?

Are you perplexed? Do you look around and see things that just don’t seem fair? Do things happen to you because you try to do what is right?

Do you feel that you are being persecuted? In this day and time, professing a faith in Jesus is not looked upon by society as it used to be. We are labeled as intolerant and hateful.

Do you feel that you are being struck down and that you are under attack? Does it seem that the enemy is having a field day with you life and that everything that you do is targeted within his cross-hairs?

Jesus said that following him would not be easy.

“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 want you to stop and let the last eight words of John 16:33 have time to sink in.

“But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Don’t just read them. Reflect upon them and recognize one simple fact – No matter what hardships we may face in this life, and we will face hardships, Jesus has accomplished something outstanding and miraculous. No matter what the enemy may throw at us, Jesus has overcome all of it. The pain may be great, but the grace, love and peace is greater. The attacks may come full force, but the peace that passes all understanding is stronger. The persecution may be unwelcome, but the cross is much greater.

We have a loving Father who created us and a Savior who has overcome all that the world may throw at us. We must simply keep our eyes focused on Jesus no matter what we may face, and then no matter what persecution we may face, we will not be abandoned. When we are struck down, we will not be destroyed. When we are hard pressed, we will not be crushed, and when we are perplexed, we will not despair.

What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?
(Romans 8:31 (NIV))

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