True freedom is being released from darkness!

July 3, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
      because the LORD has anointed me
      to preach good news to the poor.
   He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
      to proclaim freedom for the captives
      and release from darkness for the prisoners,
(Isaiah 61:1 (NIV))

How do you define freedom?

July 4th is the day that we, as a nation, celebrate our freedom, but does freedom go deeper than what we have defined in our Declaration of Independence?

What can we, as humanity, be held captive by?

There is tyranny. There is political oppression. There is physical confinement. There is addiction. I am certain that if we try hard enough that we can come up with other things that are capable of holding us captive.

What about fear? What about death? What about the fear of death?

We can celebrate our freedoms that were signed into existence July 4, 1776, and we should rejoice over those freedoms, but there is another freedom that is far more important.

Humanity was condemned by the laws of sin and death, for we had sinned against God. In our sin, all were condemned to be captives of death. All were prisoners of a life that offered no escape from the consequences of this sin. We were, to use a line from a movie, “dead men walking.” We had no hope.

God had another plan!

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.
(John 3:16-18 (NIV))

Jesus came into the world to offer us grace and mercy. His willingness to go to the cross for us paved the way for His resurrection. His resurrection gives freedom to all who will profess that Jesus is Lord and Savior.

July 4th is an important date in our history, for it gave us freedoms that no other government had ever granted to its citizens. No matter how great these freedoms may be, they pale in comparison to the freedom that was given to us through the cross. As you celebrate with family and friends, don’t forget where true freedom comes from. It is not through a man-made declaration written in ink. It is from a God ordained declaration written in the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ. It is a declaration that was validated at the resurrection. It is a declaration that has no specific date. It is a declaration that each of us must accept for ourselves.

Only this declaration offers what no other can offer.

True freedom is being released from darkness!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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This is true freedom!

July 2, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
(John 8:36 (NIV))

We are all familiar with this passage, but there is something that we probably need to clarify. Let’s start by asking one simple question.

What is your definition of freedom?

I told you it was a simple question. However, the answer is probably not so simple.

Do you go along with the definition that the world is trying to push on us at this point? According to this definition, freedom implies doing whatever you want, whenever you want, with whomever you want, regardless of what gets destroyed or who gets hurt. The old saying, “If it feels good, do it,” has nothing on this mindset. In fact, it pales in comparison to what is called freedom today. If you look up the word, freedom implies a liberation, being exempt from rules, and unrestricted. When theses concepts are taken with respect for others, you have balance and society. When you take these concepts to the extremes that we are seeing, you have debauchery, anarchy and riots. This type of freedom is self-centered, sinful and evil.

Is this your definition of freedom?

If you are reading this, I can safely assume that I know what your answer is.

Godly freedom is what we so desperately need. This freedom rescues us. It saves us from ourselves. It breaks the chains that bind us to our sinful nature.

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))

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 they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people 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 their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
(John 3:16-21 (NIV))

Do you understand why things are as they are in the world? They have been led astray by the enemy and have been taught to hate the light. In fact, they call good evil and evil good. Their minds have been polluted and controlled. The so-called freedom that they are expressing will only lead to one outcome according to the first part of Romans 6:23.

But, God…

Finishing reading the rest of Romans 6:23.

This is true freedom! This is true liberation! We are no longer bound to or by our sinful nature. We no longer must face death. We can spend eternity with the Lord!

This is true freedom!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you accepted this glorious gift?

July 1, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
(Romans 8:1 (NIV))

Before Jesus came to this world to live and teach, and then to die for our sins, everyone lived under condemnation. No one was worthy to approach the Throne of God as righteous and blameless.

No one in all of history could have earned salvation on their own!

God knew that this was an impossibility due to the sinful nature of man ever since Satan was allowed dominion over this world. Still, God had a plan for a redemptive gift.

“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))

God gave us the ultimate gift! The gift is freedom from condemnation through Jesus Christ. All of our sins are forgiven once we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

Have you accepted this glorious gift?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you bold enough to proclaim the name of Jesus?

June 30, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Jesus is
“‘the stone you builders rejected,
      which has become the cornerstone.’
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
(Acts 4:11-12 (NIV))

Can you imagine the boldness that it took for Peter to proclaim these words to the Sanhedrin?

Can you imagine the shock that the members of the Sanhedrin felt when they heard these words? From their human perspective, I fully understand why they told Peter and John not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus. They were the authority and they did not want their authority to be replaced with the authority and power that Jesus gives!

I have two questions for each of us to consider.

Would we boldly proclaim Jesus under these type of conditions?

Would we resort to an unsuccessful attempt to stifle the power of Jesus?

The reason that I ask these two questions is based on the current events and trends in this world. If we are pulled in front of a governing body and given an ultimatum to not speak or teach in the name of Jesus, would we stand firm or would we surrender? What if we are told we will be killed if we don’t stop speaking and teaching in the name of Jesus?

If the tide turns further away from good and toward evil, will we be able to stand firm or will we give in to the point where we find ourselves telling others to not speak or teach in the name of Jesus?

How strong is your faith?

How firmly will you stand? Will you deny Jesus?

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

Are you bold enough to proclaim the name of Jesus?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you gotten a taste of the Lord’s goodness?

June 29, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Taste and see that the Lord is good;
(Psalms 34:8a (NIV))

Have you ever asked yourself why this passage uses the word taste?

Think about the process of tasting and eating and drinking. We slowly put something into our physical body via our mouth to see if we will like it and if it will be good for us. In essence, we are taking something that is foreign to our bodies and putting it inside of us. It becomes a part of us! We become intimately familiar with what we are tasting.

Ever since the fall from grace, God’s goodness has been foreign to our spiritual being. Due to our sinful nature, we are not sure what to do with what is good and pure. We sample, or taste, just as we do with physical food and drink to see if it is good. We taste of the Lord and find that His love and mercy is sweet and very good for our lives. We ingest bits of His Word and find that it is very palatable and we soon find ourselves wanting more. Just like physical food that tastes good, we find ourselves feeding on the Word of God and we find that it becomes integral to our lives. The more we taste, the more we want.

David wrote much about the goodness of the Lord. He understood it. He longed for it. He never wanted it to end.

Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
(Psalms 23:6 (NIV))

David had gotten a taste of the goodness of the Lord. As a result, he followed the Lord all the days of His life.

Have you gotten a taste of the Lord’s goodness?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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How is your faith?

June 26, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

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

How is your assuredness?

Are you able to accept things even though you may not have any physical evidence that it is as you desire? Do you know with certainty that your salvation has been bought with a price that you could not afford to pay? Are you positive that Jesus arose from the grave?

How you answer these types of questions is a direct reflection on your faith.

Even though we say it, it is not possible to share your faith. You can only tell others about your faith, but it cannot be shared. Faith is personal. Faith is something that must be built and maintained in a one on one relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ. Faith is something that God plants in your life and it slowly matures if you will let it. According to Matthew 17:20, faith can grow to tremendous size even if it starts off as small as a mustard seed.

There is a circle that cannot be broken if it is strongly built. That circle consists of faith, hope and love. Faith shows belief. Hope shows the desire for something better. Love shows the desire to share something better with those we meet. 1 Corinthians 13:13 tells us that the greatest of these is love, but I would safely venture that faith is the root of the three, for without faith, we have no hope, for we would not see any reason to look beyond our circumstances. Without faith, we have no love, for we would not see the need to look beyond ourselves and care for others.

Faith is a strong concept. With faith, we can move mountains. It is important to place your faith in the One who can return it multiplied. Only Jesus can return your faith so that it multiplies and spills over onto those around you.

How is your faith?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Is Jesus your strong tower?

June 25, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

The name of the LORD is a strong tower; The righteous run to it and are safe.
(Proverbs 18:10 (NKJV))

When this was written, it was long before Jesus had come upon the earth. It was long before humanity experienced the hope of salvation where we, as believers, have been able to firmly place our faith. Still, when this was written, it was known that the Lord was a safe place of refuge for those who truly love and trust Him.

Do you truly love and trust the Lord?

Are you concerned about all that is happening in the world? Are you panicking because of the unrest that is being reported on a constant basis? Or, do you look at all that is going on and faithfully proclaim that the Lord has it all under control?

“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 realize that it is difficult to not see the things of this world, but when we focus on Jesus, the things of this world grow strangely dim! We have to decide where we will run to and on what we will focus. It is a matter of priorities. Can we stand firm and, like Joshua, proclaim that we will serve the Lord?

It is a choice that we must make.

Is Jesus your strong tower?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What are the things that you willfully do?

June 24, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression.
(Psalms 19:13 (NIV))

Perhaps we should rephrase this first part to something a little more obvious and upfront.

Keep your servant from deliberate and intentional sins!

In other words, David was asking the Lord to keep him from doing the wrong thing when he knew the right thing to do. Perhaps we should pray what David asked so that we are kept from deliberately planning to sin!

I am going to ask a very blunt question, but I think that you can probably anticipate what it is going to be.

Do you deliberately and intentionally sin? Do you find yourself clinging to an old sinful nature that you simply don’t want to let go of? Do you love the sin more than you love Jesus? Are you willing to give up God’s grace for a momentary sinful pleasure? Please don’t misunderstand me. We are all human and we are all sinners. None of us are perfect. What we desire is often opposite of what we actually do. This is not something new to humanity, but it is something that we must overcome. Even Paul faced this in his life.

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
(Romans 7:15-20 (NIV))

I realize that this passage does not directly say that Paul deliberately and intentionally sinned, but we have to consider that Paul wrote that he had the desire to do what is good but could not carry it out. We probably also have the desire to do what is good, but what do we do with that desire? Paul knew what to do.

Human nature is sinful no matter how much we want to do what is right in the eyes of the Lord. Thankfully, we have been given grace and mercy through Jesus. When we find ourselves guilty of sin, willfully or otherwise, there are two things that we can willfully do. We can accept Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, and we can repent of our sin!

What are the things that you willfully do?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are we thoroughly equipped to be God’s servants?

June 23, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
(2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV))

Most believers are familiar with this passage, but most read it as I have presented it here. We have a tendency to take it as a stand-alone passage and forget the context that it was originally written. It is true that as a stand-alone passage, it does speak truth, for anything from God’s Word is God-breathed and useful in all righteousness, but there is more to this passage than this. These words about all scripture close 2 Timothy 3 after it is opened with these words about the last days.

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
(2 Timothy 3:1-5 (NIV))

We, as the Body of Christ, have taken these two passages and have made them unrelated. We look at the warning about the last days but fail to realize that the closing words from 2 Timothy 3 are instructions for us when we see the things of the last days unfolding right before our eyes. The words written by Paul to Timothy are instructions to continue in the faith. We are to stand firm in the face of adversity. We are to stand firm when we see people are becoming lovers of themselves. We are to stand firm in our faith when we see the world turning into lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. We are to stand firm by firmly rooting ourselves in the scriptures, and not just our favorite passages.

In order to recognize the truth, we must be firmly rooted in God’s truth. There are gems of godly wisdom and truth in every passage. Some truths are only recognizable when you understand the complete truth, for God’s Word is not just a collection of individual, unrelated nuggets. God’s Word is life!

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
(Genesis 1:1 (NIV))

From the first words in Genesis 1 to the last words in Revelation 22, there is an unfolding of God’s truth and in order to understand it, we must read and study it all.

He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.”
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.
(Revelation 22:20-21 (NIV))

It is said that all of scripture after the fall from grace details God’s plan to bring salvation and to restore His creation. How well do you know the story? How well do you know what the outcomes are for those involved in this story?

Are we thoroughly equipped to be God’s servants?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Where does your heart direct you?

June 22, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.
(2 Thessalonians 3:5 (NIV))

In our lives, there are many paths that we can choose to follow. Some days, we make so many decisions that each minute potentially can change the outcome of our day, possibly our whole lives and even our eternity. If we broaden our perspective, we have the potential to impact the day of countless individuals that we encounter. If we follow God’s lead, we can potentially impact their eternal perspectives as well.

This is staggering!

Have you truly stopped to reflect on how our actions can have eternal consequences for not only ourselves, but for countless others as well?

Does this make you want to pray for your heart to be molded into a heart that seeks the Lords direction, love and perseverance?

Take a look at your life. Chances are good that each of us has had moments in our daily lives where we fail miserably at allowing the Lord to direct our hearts. If you are like me, you can probably vividly recall the worst moments when you moved completely opposite of what the Lord desired. Do you wish that you could have a do-over because of the pain that these moments caused?

It is not always easy to allow the Lord to direct our hearts, but it is what we, as members of the Body of Christ, must strive to do. We must pray that our hearts seek after the very heart of God! We must be willing to move in directions that go against our sinful human nature and see each other as God sees them. We must come to the realization what we are not the center of God’s universe. He placed us in His creation, but His creation is much greater than just you or just I. We must learn to see each other with the love that God sees each of us with. We must realize that the Lord is patiently calling to Himself all of those who are lost. We must love them as He loves them! We must be directed to show God’s love.

Where does your heart direct you?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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