Are you truly free from sin and death?

July 27, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin– because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.
(Romans 6:4-7 (NIV))

What a glorious statement! We, as believers, are free from sin!

This does not mean that we do not sin. We are still human. What this means is that we are free from the punishment of sin. We have accepted Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior. He has paid the price for our sin. It has been washed away from us by His crucifixion. Through His resurrection, we have been granted the right to be born again, to be looked upon by God as righteous and spotless in His sight.

We will still sin. We are in the world. The world is controlled by Satan, the father of all lies and sin. But, we will not be condemned to suffer the consequences of sin, for we have a risen Savior in Jesus Christ! This does not mean that we can choose to sin all that we want. It means that when we do slip up, we can ask for forgiveness.

We can ask for and be shown grace and mercy in spite of our sins. This is the ultimate freedom!

Are you truly free from sin and death?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Whom have you been asking?

July 17, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous for what others have, and you can’t possess it, so you fight and quarrel to take it away from them. And yet the reason you don’t have what you want is that you don’t ask God for it.
(James 4:2 (NLT))

Jesus came into this world in order to allow us direct access to God, yet, how many of us never approach Him?

Don’t think that I am only talking about those who are not believers. How many of the body of believers go to God in prayer on a regular basis? I hate to say it, but the number of us who approach God on a daily basis is probably a lot smaller than God desires for it to be.

People have a tendency to think that what they desire is insignificant and far less important to God than everyone else’s problems. We are too timid to approach God and reveal our hearts to Him. What we fail to remember is that He knows us better than we know ourselves. Perhaps we are afraid to approach God because we will actually discover the true person that God created us to be. He gave each of us a unique life, a life that He created. Each of us is precious in the eyes of God, yet we treat ourselves as trash. We have become more comfortable believing the lies of the enemy and living within these lies than we are with opening up to God, the Father, the Creator of each of us. We believe a liar and a thief. We do not believe our Lord.

The body of believers needs to firmly and boldly take possession of what God has for us, for if we don’t take possession of it, the enemy will rob us of it. All we have to do is ask God to give us what He has planned for us from the beginning of time.

I don’t proclaim that God wishes to financially bless us, for each person is unique and each person will be blessed by God according to God’s desires. What I do profess is that each of us is living well below what God has created for us. We do not have all that He desires for us because we have accepted the lies of the enemy. We have not asked God for His full truth. In other words, we get what we ask for! Perhaps we aren’t even asking the right person.

Whom have you been asking?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you allowed yourself to be cleansed?

July 3, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.
(Psalms 51:1-2 (NIV))

Everyone desires mercy, but not everyone wants to be cleansed of the reason that they desire mercy!

Think about that in relationship to your own life. We all have something that we know that we shouldn’t do, but we do it anyway. We ask for forgiveness when someone brings it up, but do we truly desire to have this characteristic removed from our lives? Do we truly desire to be cleansed of what we continually ask for mercy for?

For some people, these traits are simply things that annoy those we love. We do them over and over again until someone says something and then we apologize by uttering a “Forgive me! I’m sorry!” For others, these traits are something much worse. They are so ingrained into our sinful nature that we do things that we know aren’t right by any stretch of the imagination. We know that our sins are forgiven and that we have been washed clean by the Blood of the Lamb, but we fail to do the one thing that will give us true freedom. We fail to do the one thing that the Lord desires for us to do.

We fail to surrender!

We fail to let go of our sins. We cling tightly to them even though we claim that we have left them at the foot of the cross. It’s just like old things that we have collected. We know that we should get rid of them, so we pack them up and take them away to be discarded. Far too many of us change our minds along the way. Why do we bring them back into our lives once we have gone through the motions? I often think that we are afraid of what our lives would be without these things. The fear of change keeps us from breaking free. Are we afraid of truly leaving our sins at the foot of the cross? Do we truly repent if we pick them back up? Jesus understood that we may desire to do what is right, but we face obstacles within ourselves. Jesus understands the human condition! He has walked where we walk.

“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
(Matthew 26:41 (NIV))

If you read Psalm 51 as a response to the words recorded in Matthew, they can and should be taken as a prayer that every believer presents to God when they are confronted with the sinful nature of the flesh. We should all desire to be cleansed. In order to be cleansed, we have to submit. We have to seek it. We have to allow God to cleanse us.

Have you allowed yourself to be cleansed?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What do you ask of God?

June 28, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
(James 1:5 (NIV))

Too many people take this passage and paraphrase it to read something like, “ask God and it will be given to you.” They literally make it sound like God is in the business of being a genie who simply grants wishes. Upon a closer read of this passage, it becomes clear that God is generous with giving wisdom if you ask for it. We must, however, understand what wisdom is.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.
(Psalms 111:10 (NIV))

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
(Proverbs 9:10 (NIV))

If the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, do you truly desire to be given wisdom?

Most people associate the word fear with a strong emotion caused by an awareness of danger. Do you look upon the Lord as a source of danger? There is another definition that should be applied to the word fear when it is used in conjunction with fearing God. This definition means a profound reverence or sense of awe. Some ever say that it can simply mean a healthy and sincere respect.

Think about the definition of fear with respect to God. I already asked if you look upon the Lord as a source of danger. I want you to ask yourself, and give yourself an honest answer. Do you hold God in reverence? Are you in awe of His majesty and power? Do you respect the Lord enough to desire to not betray Him or to sin against Him? If you are able to truthfully answer these questions in a way that places the Lord God above all else, then you are on your way to possessing the greatest wisdom that you can ever possess. The next time that you begin to feel like God is a genie, remember that what He wants to give you is Godly wisdom.

What do you ask of God?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you prepared to preach the word?

May 22, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.
(2 Timothy 4:2 (NIV))

Do you consider yourself capable of preaching the Gospel?

I realize that this is a very scary question, but if you stop to think about it, we are all charged to tell the good news.

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
(Mark 16:15-16 (NIV))

I realize that Jesus said this to His disciples, but if we follow Jesus, then we are also His disciples. He did not tell them to appoint someone to go. He did not tell them to hire someone to go. He did not tell them to sit on the sidelines while others go. He did not tell them to sit and criticize those who are going. He simply said to go and preach!

For some of us, that is easier said then done. We may not be eloquent enough to string more than a few words together verbally. Some may be able to preach in ways that we don’t even think of as preaching. We can preach, or show someone, the Gospel by our actions. We can preach by putting the love of Jesus into something that will make people take notice and ask why. When they ask, then we can rely on the Holy Spirit to help us with the words.

Think about the woman caught in adultery. Did Jesus preach to her, or did He show love and mercy? We are all capable of doing that.

I realize that I have quoted this many times before, but it is a very valuable truth.

“Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.”
(St. Francis of Asisi)

Are you prepared to preach the word?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you ask the Lord for boldness in the face of threats?

March 9, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.
(Acts 4:29 (NIV))

Most people hate confrontation and would rather avoid it at all costs. In fact, most people who profess a faith in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior have this false understanding that we are to avoid confrontation. Too many people believe that being a follower of Jesus means that you are to be passive in the face of threats.

So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”
(John 2:15-17 (NIV))

Does this sound like Jesus was passive?

Why does the world believe that those who follow Jesus are to be passive?

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
(John 14:12 (NIV))

It is true that Jesus told us to turn the other cheek, but that was in respect to personal attacks and showing love in return. We are to love the Lord!

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.
(Matthew 22:36-38 (NIV))

When you love someone as strongly as we are told to love the Lord, then it is human nature to speak up when we see someone doing something wrong to them. For those who have families, would you sit idly by and watch a group of people do harmful things to your children? You would be bold and step in to defend them. And, no, I am not saying that we have to defend God. What I am saying is that we should be bold about pointing out that people are doing something contrary to what they should be doing. If that means that we speak the truth of the Gospel in the midst of threats and danger, then we need to ask the Lord for boldness.

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.
(2 Timothy 1:7 (NIV))

Do you ask the Lord for boldness in the face of threats?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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God can take our impure motives and turn them to His glory!

February 26, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice,
(Philippians 1:18 (NIV))

What does this passage mean to you?

I was given a very interesting point of view of this passage earlier today, and to be completely honest with you, it makes perfect sense!

When this passage was written, Paul was in prison and other people started to preach the Gospel. Some had pure motives while others had selfish motives. Paul recognized the value of both, since spreading the Gospel was his biggest concern. I know that I do this all the time, but let me ask a few questions of you.

Do you think that the people who heard the Gospel from those with false motives knew of those motives, especially if what they preached was true to the Gospel? Let me ask this a slightly different way. If you are channel surfing and come across a television preacher who is preaching the truth, will everyone ignore this preacher simply because they may seek money? Perhaps your church has a guest speaker and they are very eloquent at conveying the truth of the Gospel. Do you stop listening to them because they set up a table to sell the books that they have written?

Let’s be honest with ourselves!

We are all human and we all have motives for doing things that are less than perfect. Does that stop us from doing them? Does that stop us from listening to those who have less than perfect motives? Think about that in relationship to your job. What if you are having a bad day, but you need your paycheck? Do you put on a fake smile and go about your day, or do you storm off? Most people will put on a fake smile. They may have less than a proper motive, but they come across with something that will impact those around them in a positive way.

Think about that in terms of the Gospel!

As long as the truth is being preached, God can and does use that truth to help spread the Gospel. I don’t condone this, but have you ever seen two churches become rivals? They try to do anything and everything to be “better” than their rival. One may take out billboard ads with scripture passages while the other will place ads in local newspapers. One may apply for and receive a license for a radio station, while one may use the internet to broadcast their services. In all of this rivalry, who really wins?

If you say that God wins because the Gospel is being spread, then you are correct.

We are only human and our human motives are less than perfect, but God is perfect. In fact, He is perfection. To use an old saying, “God can take our mess and make a message!” If God can do that, then God can take our impure motives and turn them to His glory!

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