Have you accepted your freedom?

July 5, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.
(1 Peter 2:16-1 (NIV))

We have just celebrated another July 4th. It is a day of celebration for the freedoms that we enjoy in this country. It is a day that we celebrate the resolve of our founding fathers to break the chains that tied them to a king and country that did not see them as equals.

What was done by our founding fathers was great, but I want you to think about what Jesus did.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
(Romans 3:23 (NIV))

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 6:23 (NIV))

God the Father had the resolve to break our captivity to sin. Jesus the Son had the resolve to do what was needed to break our chains of bondage. He willingly went to the cross so that we could be free; so that we could have salvation. He freed us from a far greater bondage than any physical oppression. He freed us from sin!

“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 (NIV))

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.
(Romans 8:1-2 (NIV))

Please think about the fact that nothing in this world lasts. It is possible that something will happen and we will lose some or all of our freedoms that our founding fathers fought for.

The freedoms that are given through the Blood of Jesus can never be taken from us. We, in our human frailty, can turn our backs on the freedom from sin, but Jesus will never take it from us.

Jesus has broken every chain that can bind us to the law of sin and death!

All that you have to do is accept it.

Have you accepted your freedom?

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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The keys to the kingdom

May 20, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist–he denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.
(1 John 2:22-23 (NIV))

Who do you say that Jesus is? The answer to that single question carries more hope and faith than just about any other answer to any other question ever conceived. No matter how you answer, you are placing your faith in your understanding of God and His creation. Even if you do not believe that God exists, you are placing all of your faith in your answer. Your very being hinges upon your faith in something.

Faith is such a peculiar character trait.

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
(Hebrews 11:1 (NIV))

There is a void in each of our lives. That void is designed to be filled by God. Since sin came into this world, many things have been used to try and fill that void. Some use power. Some use wealth. Some use lust. Some even try to use God to fill that void. Everyone has faith that what they use will fill the void. Nothing can fill that void while we are still sinners. God cannot associate with sin. He cannot fill us when we are sinners. To this end, those who seek God without seeking salvation cannot find God. Salvation is available only through Jesus.

To those who call upon Jesus as Lord and Savior, we place our faith in the Biblical account of all of creation and God’s plan for redemption. Through this plan, we are given it all. We are given grace and mercy. We are given the atoning blood. We are given the Holy Spirit, and we are given God the Father.

Have you ever longed for a new car? You can test drive what you want. You can look at them at the dealer. You can sit in one, but it does not mean that it is yours. You have to take possession of the car. You have to have the keys! Trying to take possession of a new car without taking possession of the keys will get you nowhere. Take possession of the gift that is Jesus. He is the key to having God.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
(John 14:6-7 (NIV))

Who is the liar? Jesus claimed to be the Son of God. He was crucified, dead and buried. He arose on the third day. Thousands of people saw Him after His resurrection. They saw Him ascend into heaven. Is Jesus the Christ? Is He your Savior? Is He your key to God?

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.

March 7, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“The LORD bless you
and keep you;
the LORD make his face shine upon you
and be gracious to you;
the LORD turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”
(Numbers 6:24-26 (NIV))

Peace!

Have you ever stopped to think about the opposite of peace?

War!

I saw something the other day that made me think about God’s peace in a different light.

Ever since the fall from grace in the Garden of Eden, through our sin, we have been at war with God. We have attempted to do things our way with results that are less than stellar. We, as humanity, have been and still are in a war with God. We have rebelled and we are still fighting Him in all that we do. As a result of our war with God, things have happened throughout history and in each of our lives. We have suffered for our rebellion, and not because our Lord is a mean God. We suffer because we have rebelled. We have fallen away from His grace, but not His authority.

Accepting Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior is an acknowledgment that you are tired of fighting the war and the battles with sin. I know that to those who don’t understand, this next statement will label the Body of Christ as weak. Those who profess a faith in Jesus surrender to the authority that God was, is and is to come. God did not create us to be at war with Him. He created us to share in His peace. He created us to share in His blessings.

Once we are at peace with God the Father, we experience the blessings of life in ways that we could never imagine. We see the joy in a sunrise. We see God’s grace in the midst of troubles. We hear the voice of God when the world is shouting at us loudly. And in all of this, we become content.

The dictionary defines contentment as the state of being happy and satisfied.

We are not content in the state of the fallen world. We are content in knowing that whatever happens, God loves us and will see us through whatever the world may send our way.

Have you ever known someone who is content in the middle of chaos? I have met a few individuals who can fit into this picture, however, this is not the image that we are given in God’s Word. God offers us peace and happiness even when we, as fallen humanity, are at war with God’s grace.

Are you still at war with God?

Have you surrendered?

Have you found peace?

Have you found true happiness and contentment?

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
(John 14:27 (NIV))

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Biblical Authority and Submission

March 1, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.

Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.

Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.

Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism.

Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
(Colossians 3:12 – 4:6 (NIV))

Many people have taken bits and pieces out of this scripture to uphold their beliefs about someone’s role in their household or in society in general.

Let’s take a look at the whole text and examine the overall meaning. Instead of saying that wives are inferior in status to their husbands, or that slavery is justifiable, take a look at the overall theme running through the scripture.

Paul was writing to not justify the bad practices of society, but to set an example of how we are to act even if we find ourselves in situations that are in authority or are in submission. Simply stated, Paul was saying that we are to be Jesus to the people that we are around, no matter how we find ourselves in relation to them.

If we are in authority, we do not need to take advantage of that authority and harm people under our authority. The old saying that absolute power corrupts absolutely is true. But, we must remember who is our absolute authority and focus on that.

If we find ourselves in a position of submission to others, we must not desire the power for ourselves, nor must we be angry about our situation. Do your tasks with joy and you will be rewarded. Bitterness is a hard pill to swallow. If you go about your day with bitterness because of your situation, others will treat you as you treat them. If, in your situation, you still maintain a glad heart and joy and love are reflected through you, others will reflect these back to you and your situation will not be as bad as it appears.

To use a saying from the computer industry, “Garbage in, garbage out!” Basically, what you put into life is what you will reap. Put Jesus into yours.

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Protection from the evil one

January 7, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.
(John 17:15 (NIV))

Everyone who claims that Jesus is their personal Lord and Savior clings to the hope that they will be taken to heaven. It is a promise that, if we maintain our faith, will come true. However, there is a fine line that many cross. Whenever they face troubles, they pray for that time to come quickly. They pray for Jesus to come and take them out of the world. Personally, I look forward to the day when I will be with Jesus in heaven. I also know that His timing is perfect and that I must remain strong and be patient. There are many times when I feel that I would rather be taken out of the world, but I know that it is not God’s timing. It is my desire to escape the attack of the evil one. I would rather flee than stand my ground.

Let’s face it. No one really likes confrontation. We want to avoid it if at all possible. The words that Jesus spoke in John 17:15 tell us that He does not want us to avoid confrontation. He does not want us to be removed from this world. He wants us to stay in the world and to stand up to the attacks of the enemy. He wants us to not only stand up to them, He wants us to be victorious. Jesus prays that God the Father will give us strength and that He will protect us so that the victories will come through Him and His strength. How is God glorified if He removes us from our attacks? God is glorified when we allow Him to be with us in all that we do.

If Jesus prayed for us not to be taken out of the world, why do we look for it when we are under attack? We must remember His prayer and join Him in His prayer for God to protect us. We can then be used to glorify God. There is an old saying that someone can be so heaven minded that they are no earthly good. How is God using you in the world? What battles has He won because of your willingness to go?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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You are not of the world!

January 4, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.
(John 17:13-19 (NIV))

Do you get upset by the things in this world?

To be honest with you, it is difficult to not get upset with what is going on.

Do you let them effect your attitude and your joy?

Think about that for a moment.

When Jesus came into the world, he came because of the love that God the Father has for His creation. He came to bring joy. Did Jesus alter His joy because of what was around Him, or did he live out His earthly life bringing joy, peace and love?

If Jesus had let the matters of the world get Him down like we allow them to do to us, can you honestly say that we would have the gift of grace and mercy that He came to bring? Would Jesus have allowed Himself to go to the cross? Would he have allowed Himself to suffer and to die if He did not keep His eyes focused on what truly matters?

“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))

Think about those words that Jesus spoke to His disciples.

Did He tell them, and us, to worry about the world and to let it drag us down, or did He tell us to keep our eyes on Him, because He is greater than the world?

Why do so many of His Body allow the world to get us down? I know that there are several things that are not right by God’s standards, but does that mean that we should lose our hope, our faith, and our joy? Should we simply role over and allow the enemy to have his way with us?

We have a hope greater than anything of this world!

We have a savior who is able to save us from anything and through anything that this world may send our way.

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 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Practice acts of faith!

December 14, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.
(Matthew 10:32-33 (NKJV))

Have you ever been in a situation in which you honestly hoped that the subject of Jesus did not come up? I don’t know if that is the same as actually denying Jesus before men, but it is too close for comfort.

This is a tough saying to deal with, for everyone probably has times when they at least thought about it. Only when your faith has matured do you face the question with a more stable attitude. Even so, everyone likes to think that they would not deny Jesus before men, that they would die rather than deny Him. I pray that this is true, yet no one really can say for certain until they are actually in that situation.

Faith is a strong thing if it is firmly rooted in God’s Word. Self preservation is also a strong thing, and unless faith is stronger, self preservation will win. How can you strengthen faith? Faith is very much like a muscle in that if you do not use it, it atrophies. If you practice acts of faith, your faith will increase.

Do not let your faith “muscle” atrophy from lack of use. If it does, the results may be denial. You will deny God and He will deny you.

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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This world is in need of what God has called you to do!

October 11, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
(Matthew 7:7-8 (NIV))

It has been said that Jesus stands at the door to our heart and knocks. God longs for a saving relationship with us through His Son, Jesus. He patiently waits for us to hear that knock and allow Him in.

Can you imagine the delight that God experiences when one of His children turn that knock around, when one of His children actively seek His face, His truth, His grace and His salvation?

Jesus came into this world to offer grace and mercy to a sinful and arrogant people. God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit patiently wait for someone to hear their gentle knock and to open up their life to the grace and mercy that is freely given to them. Now imagine someone who seeks this aggressively, who seeks God with all of their heart. If God is willing to give grace and mercy to those who are not answering God’s gentle knocking, imagine what God is willing to give to someone who seeks after Him with all of their heart.

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on.
(Exodus 14:15 (NIV))

It is a shame that too many people are like the Israelites from Exodus. We expect God to provide for everything, yet we are too afraid to step out in faith. I dare say that those who are afraid to step out in faith may also be the very same ones who do not turn to God and knock.

God rewards faith. God rewards those who knock.

Recently, I was speaking with some clergy friends and discussing the idea of pursuing some advanced Biblical education. Many of these friends told me to be prepared for things to start happening that I would not be able to explain. Each one confirmed that if we take a step in faith, God will meet us there and He will guide us and take us places that we could not imagine going.

He has given us a purpose. Now, He is waiting for us to embrace that purpose. Have you knocked at God’s door and asked what He has in store for you? Have you embraced your purpose?

If the Body of Christ will rise up and embrace that purpose, I believe that we will see God made manifest among the nations.

This world is in need of what God has called you to do!

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

October 10, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
(Galatians 3:26-29 (NIV))

There are people who say that Jesus was only a good man. If He were only a good man, would the original twelve have followed Him like they did?

I do not know of anybody who would be willing to die for something as radical as what Jesus was saying if they did not see first-hand that it was true!

If we accept that basic premise, then the words from Galatians have a very definitive meaning to us today, just as they did two thousand years ago. These people who witnessed the events surrounding Jesus’ life had such a powerful presence and such an honest and sincere story, that people believed them, and still believe them today.

Jesus came so that ALL people could be set free from the bondage of sin and death. This promise was given through Abraham and fulfilled through Jesus Christ. If we accept the promise, then we need to accept the fact that we are heirs to the Kingdom. All of this has only come about because of the love of God the Father in sending His only Son, Jesus Christ.

Are you an heir to the promise?

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