What do you do with your freedom?

August 2, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.
(Galatians 5:13 (NIV))

How do you define freedom?

You may find yourself among the group of people who look at freedom as a political right, as in being free to do whatever you desire. If this is the case, then you may be surprised to find that this definition is not the primary definition in many dictionaries. In many dictionaries, freedom is defined as personal liberty from bondage, slavery or confinement. No matter how you look at freedom, it is generally accepted to mean a state of being free, whether from confinement, bondage or in actions. It is the subtle nuances of the definitions that catch people off guard and have them making choices that are not the true definition of freedom.

In this country, we have many freedoms. We are free to choose how to live our lives. We are free to choose to do things that should probably be left undone. Yet, too many people make these choices simply because they think that they have a right to do so. Let’s put these types of choices in perspective. We have the freedom to go to the top of a tall building to enjoy the view. Some people take that freedom to extreme and jump! When a choice that someone makes under the guise of freedom harms themselves or others, is it really freedom? Would you want to be free in this manner, especially when you consider the consequences of the choices made in this type of freedom?

The freedom that Jesus came to offer is not this type of freedom!

We, as humanity, have been sentenced to a physical world where we simply cannot live without making mistakes. Those mistakes are called sin. No one is perfect.

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

Because of our sin, we have been tried, convicted and condemned.

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

The freedom that we have been given through Jesus is a washing clean of our sin and the consequences of that sin. Let’s look at it from a perspective not many of us will ever know, but hopefully one that will help us to understand. Imagine that you are convicted of murder and sentenced to death for your crime. You spend every day knowing that one day you will face the consequences of your actions and there is absolutely nothing that you can do. You desire to escape the consequences, yet you know that you deserve all that is coming.

With this image still fresh in your mind, the best way to describe true freedom is this.

Godly freedom is being given a pardon for the consequences of your actions and you are so thankful that you joyfully refrain from any similar actions. You also joyfully share the story of how you gained your freedom so that others may find theirs. Is this how you see freedom through Jesus?

What do you do with your freedom?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What are you willing to give up to be reconciled?

June 26, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation– if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.
(Colossians 1:21-23 (NIV))

It had to be a powerful gospel in Paul’s life. He started off persecuting the church. Yet, something happened in his life that made him give up all that he had earned for himself in the physical world.

Who in their right mind would give up worldly position and wealth for something the world considered of no importance?

Paul saw the power of the Gospel firsthand and was empowered by the Holy Spirit to spread that Gospel. He knew that Jesus is the Messiah and that He is the only way to enter heaven. Paul gave up worldly position for something that he knew was of far greater value than anything the world had to offer.

What are you willing to give up to be reconciled?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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And, oh what glory it is!

May 20, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

And I, because of what they have planned and done, am about to come and gather the people of all nations and languages, and they will come and see my glory.
(Isaiah 66:18 (NIV))

What should be important to you as a member of the Body of Christ?

Perhaps I should ask a different question. What is important to the Lord for you if you profess a faith in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior?

Prior to this verse, Isaiah 66 speaks of the things that people do in hopes of appeasing the Lord, but they fail to look at their own hearts and motives before doing these things. We are clearly told that the Lord looks at something besides our feeble attempts to please God.

“These are the ones I look on with favor:
     those who are humble and contrite in spirit,
     and who tremble at my word.
(Isaiah 66:2b (NIV))

The Lord longs for our hearts! He longs for humility. He longs for a righteous spirit within us. He does not desire sacrifices if our hearts are not His. He has so much that He wants to give to us if we first will give our hearts to Him. Sadly, too many people hold out. The Lord goes on to share all that He will do for those who love Him. He shares examples of what His love is like if we will only focus on following Him.

Unfortunately, there are far too many people who seem to be focused on the gifts instead of the giver. They are focused on the promises instead of the promise maker. Don’t get me wrong. The promises and the gifts are important, but do we have our priorities upside down? We should seek to know the Lord first and these gifts will be freely given. Instead, we seem to focus on what we will receive and completely miss out on the fact that the Lord is calling us to an intimacy with Him that is far more valuable than what we have a tendency to focus on.

Jesus came to bring salvation to anyone, nation, tribe or language, who would call upon His name, to any who would humble their heart and give it to Him. This is the only way that we can see the glory of the Lord! And, oh what glory it is!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How do you define love?

April 1, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
(1 Corinthians 13:4 (NIV))

Love can possess many different characteristics in the minds of those who try to define it. To some people, it is a strong affection such as what a mother has for her child. Others think of love as a sexual attraction. Some people even go so far as to define love by the things that they like.

What is your definition of love? Does it encompass any or all of the above?

How does God define love?

God’s love is not too proud to keep Him from reaching out to save. God’s love for us is kind. He does not reach out to us to condemn us. God’s love for us is not proud. He willingly did what He had to do to bring us salvation.

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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
(John 3:16-17 (NIV))

God’s love is patient.

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
(2 Peter 3:9 (NIV))

I could spend countless hours documenting the depth of God’s love for His creation. It is boundless, yet, it is simple at the same time. It is everlasting, yet it is concerned about your individual moments. It is powerful, yet it is gentle enough to hold each of us in our moments of weakness. It is all encompassing, yet it is able to focus on each of us individually. In essence, God’s love is perfect!

How do you define love?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you lovable?

January 10, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The Lord detests the way of the wicked, but he loves those who pursue righteousness.
(Proverbs 15:9 (NIV))

Do you think that you are a lovable person?

If you are like most people, you have a few people whom you are close to. Family members hopefully think that you are lovable. Friends may even think that to a point. What are the criteria on which they base this impression? Do they think that you are lovable because you and they have grown familiar with each other and your interests coincide with theirs? Perhaps they find you lovable because you are willing to sacrifice of yourself for their betterment. What is it that you find lovable in others? Is it the same type of things that others see in you? Do you know what the criteria are that people use to determine in their minds if you are lovable?

What about the Lord?

We know that the Lord loves us very much even though we are all sinners. It is for this reason that Jesus came!

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))

Proverbs 15:9 gives us some very interesting insight into the Lord’s love. It does not state that He hates the wicked, after all, they are also a part of His creation. What we do see is that He detests their wickedness. Based on the fact that we are all sinners, each and every one of us has wickedness within. The Lord detests that wickedness, but has established a way for that wickedness to be washed away and replaced with His righteousness. All that we have to do is admit that we are a sinner, believe in Jesus, and confess that Jesus is our Lord. If you have taken these steps, then you are pursuing righteousness.

Are you detested or loved?

Are you lovable?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you accepted the vastness of that goodness and love?

September 14, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

But the lovingkindness of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children.
(Psalms 103:17 (NAS))

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
his love endures forever.
(1 Chronicles 16:34 (NIV))

Both verses tell of the unending, unfailing love that God has for His creation, especially those who call upon His name in love and righteousness.

Don’t get this wrong! God loves everyone, and He does not wish any to perish. He shows unsaved people His love, but in many times that love goes unrecognized by the intended recipient. He does show His love to those who show Him their love. Perhaps it is the fact that they wish to express love in return that allows them to see the love that God pours out on them.

He wants to bless us!

God’s love is not limited to only those who are on His “good side.” Anyone can receive God’s love. If anyone turns to Him and repents, then He will be waiting for them with love, grace and mercy that will never end. Isn’t that amazing?

We are limited by human knowledge and capacity and probably every single one of us has trouble grasping the infinite capacity that God has to love us. We cannot comprehend the unlimited love that God has for us and how that love manifested itself for our salvation in and through Jesus Christ. Just as the human mind has trouble with understanding the vastness of the mathematical concept of infinite, we are also limited in understanding the height, depth, and breadth of God’s love.

God is good! Have you accepted the vastness of that goodness and love?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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One simple blessing that means so much!

August 2, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
(2 Corinthians 13:14 (NIV))

Paul knew how to use words.

In the second letter to the church at Corinth, he closed with what, in my opinion, is the ultimate prayer for those who strive to walk in their faith. Think about the words written above. This one simple sentence magnifies the Triune God in each one of His personas. It glorifies the attribute that we associate with each persona, and it asks that these attributes reside with us as we strive to walk in our faith.

One simple sentence.

One profoundly accurate picture of the God that we love. Perhaps it is more important to realize that this is one profoundly accurate picture of the God that loves us! Each of those characteristics are traits that God has that He has applied toward us. He has given us grace through Jesus. He has given us love through His gift of Jesus on the cross. He has given us fellowship with Himself and other believers through the empowering of the Holy Spirit.

God is love.

“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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”
(John 3:16-21 (NIV))

Paul’s words to the church at Corinth is my prayer for each of us. May we be filled to overflowing with grace, love and fellowship in the name of our God, His only Son, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.

One simple blessing that means so much!

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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