What do you do with your freedom?

July 3, 2018

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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))

July 4th is the day that we as a nation celebrate our freedom, but exactly what does that mean?

Too many people claim that they are free to do whatever they want. People even claim that it is their right to do whatever they want.

Where do we draw the line? When do personal freedoms cross over into the realm of evil and selfish indulgence?

I honestly believe that our founding fathers would be appalled at how we have allowed our society to be twisted into something that is more concerned about protecting the rights of people who wish to live outside of the law that in protecting the public. I honestly believe that they would be appalled at how we have allowed a vocal group of people to rewrite history and vehemently object to any mention of God in government or public life. I honestly believe that they would strongly object to our big government, huge debt, and the courts rewriting laws because they don’t like them.

I know that most of our founding fathers were willing to give all that they had, even their lives, for the common good. They did not see their roles as a full-time career or as a right that they had earned. They saw their roles as an honor and a responsibility that they must bear. They new the difference between servanthood and personal gain.

When do personal freedoms cross into the area of evil?

Personally, I believe that this happens when we lose site of other people. It is true that we are free, but that does not mean that we are free to sin, and that does not mean that we are free to do things that cause harm to others. With freedom comes responsibility. This applies to us as a nation and to the Body of Christ. We are free to choose, but we must weigh our choices.

God gave us free will. He also gave us a list of Ten Commandments that are supposed to guide us in our lives. When we turn from these commandments, we turn from God. We may have exercised our freedom, but in the end, our choices that we make in this “freedom” often lead to consequences beyond our comprehension.

Once again, I will state that with freedom comes responsibility – a responsibility to God, to our neighbors, to our families and to ourselves. We must not claim that we have the right, but pray that what we do is right.

What do you do with your freedom?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What are your reaction times like?

April 20, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,
(James 1:19 (NIV))

It seems that we are always being judged on our reaction times. What I find interesting is the things that we are being measured for. Some of them are important, such as how quickly you can apply the brakes in a car if an emergency arises. Some of them are just ridiculous such as how fast someone can eat a hot dog. Other reaction times can determine your life’s direction and your career choices, such as how fast you can run 40 yards. In the grand scheme of things, we face many things in our lives that are used to measure us for some aspect or another.

For what things do you wish your reactions times to be measured?

Are they the things of this world or are they something different?

If someone were to give us an evaluation based on the things in James 1:19, how would we be rated? Would we be considered quick to listen? Do we honestly hear what is being said? Do we understand and give our undivided attention? Do we hold our tongues? Do we quickly become angry? These are all things where we should strive to improve our reaction times, for when we do, it reflects not only on us, but on the one that we claim to follow.

What are your reaction times like?

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

October 20, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.
(Matthew 18:15 (NIV))

This is not such an easy thing to do. Most of us would rather simply hold a grudge instead of facing a confrontation, even if the potential outcome of that confrontation would have good results.

Human nature is such an interesting thing. We would rather bask in our anger, because it is what we know, than to take a chance of making peace. We have such trouble reaching out to each other. Perhaps that is why so many people also refuse to accept that God reached out to us. They simply cannot comprehend that someone is willing to bridge the gap and make peace.

Think about this passage. We are being told to do exactly what God did through Jesus. We had sinned against God. He came through Jesus to show us our faults so that we could be reconciled to Him. To those who listen, we have become members of the Body of Christ. To those who do not listen, they are still lost in their sin.

In other words, we are to treat each other as God has treated us. We are to seek reconciliation. We must be willing to reach out just as God reached out.

I am certain that each of us has at least one person who has sinned against us in such a way that we would prefer to never see them again, or to even think of them again.

What would Jesus do?

What would you do if you discovered that they had repented and were seeking reconciliation?

Sometimes faith is tough. Sometimes grace is tough. Sometimes obedience is tough. Sometimes love is tough, after all, love is a choice.

God made a tough choice to love us even when we did not love Him.

Are we ready to make that tough choice when it comes to others?

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Choices

June 28, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
(James 4:7-10 (NIV))

Life is a matter of choices. What you will eat. What you will wear. Where you will live. Will you get married? Will you have children? Will you seek fame?

Our choices make us who we are in this life.

We can turn our backs on God or we can acknowledge that He exists or we can fully embrace Him. We can live life as if we are the center of the universe and everything revolves around us, or we can realize that we are only a small part of creation.

We can choose to submit to God and resist the devil. We can choose to draw near to God. We can choose to walk through this life with humility or we can do anything and everything that we can to draw attention to what we can do.

Choices!

We all have made them, and dare I say that we have all made some bad ones in our lives. It is human nature. We cannot break that nature. We cannot change that nature.

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

Too many people use this to justify the bad choices that they make. They falsely think that we are destined to make bad choices, to sin, and therefore, they do nothing to strive to change. Yet, we can change. It is a simple choice that we must make. It is a choice to want to change.

He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
(Micah 6:8 (NIV))

Humility – What a concept that we fail to grasp. It is the quality or state of being humble. Merriam-Webster defines humble as not proud or haughty; not arrogant or assertive. We are told to live our lives humbly. We are told to humble ourselves before God. In other words, we are to realize that we are the creation, that we are His children.

It is a matter of choices.

What choices do you want to make?

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you in the downward spiral or in the uplifting arms?

August 30, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Better a dry crust with peace and quiet
than a house full of feasting, with strife.
A wise servant will rule over a disgraceful son,
and will share the inheritance as one of the brothers.
The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold,
but the LORD tests the heart.
A wicked man listens to evil lips;
a liar pays attention to a malicious tongue.
He who mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker;
whoever gloats over disaster will not go unpunished.
Children’s children are a crown to the aged,
and parents are the pride of their children.
Arrogant lips are unsuited to a fool–
how much worse lying lips to a ruler!
A bribe is a charm to the one who gives it;
wherever he turns, he succeeds.
He who covers over an offense promotes love,
but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.
A rebuke impresses a man of discernment
more than a hundred lashes a fool.
An evil man is bent only on rebellion;
a merciless official will be sent against him.
Better to meet a bear robbed of her cubs
than a fool in his folly.
If a man pays back evil for good,
evil will never leave his house.
Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam;
so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.
Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent–
the LORD detests them both.
Of what use is money in the hand of a fool,
since he has no desire to get wisdom?
A friend loves at all times,
and a brother is born for adversity.
A man lacking in judgment strikes hands in pledge
and puts up security for his neighbor.
He who loves a quarrel loves sin;
he who builds a high gate invites destruction.
A man of perverse heart does not prosper;
he whose tongue is deceitful falls into trouble.
To have a fool for a son brings grief;
there is no joy for the father of a fool.
A cheerful heart is good medicine,
but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
A wicked man accepts a bribe in secret
to pervert the course of justice.
A discerning man keeps wisdom in view,
but a fool’s eyes wander to the ends of the earth.
A foolish son brings grief to his father
and bitterness to the one who bore him.
It is not good to punish an innocent man,
or to flog officials for their integrity.
A man of knowledge uses words with restraint,
and a man of understanding is even-tempered.
Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent,
and discerning if he holds his tongue.
(Proverbs 17:1-28 (NIV))

It seems that society has chosen to forget these words from Proverbs. How far we appear to have fallen!

We fell from grace through Adam and Eve. We have been offered redemption through the blood of Jesus Christ. For those who have accepted that redemption, grace has returned. For those who have not accepted that redemptive grace, the fall from grace continues to grow worse. The laws of gravity appear to apply to a fall from grace also. Unless you accept help, you continue to fall, spiraling ever farther and faster from God. This is what we see in today’s society. Spiraling farther and farther from God’s Will. But it is not hopeless. Those who are on this spiral must be made aware of the gift of God’s Grace. He accepts us where we are and removes us from the sin and the spiral and then lifts us up, even though we do not deserve it.

Where are you? In the downward spiral or in the uplifting arms?

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