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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Do you possess this type of humility?

May 29, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,
(Philippians 2:3 (NIV))

In the grand scheme of things, how big is your ego?

Are you someone who has to come out on top no matter what you do?

Do you live for the glory? Do you live to be number one? Are you the kind of person who always wants to know what is in it for you?

One last question! Are you shunned by other people because of your selfish ambition or vain conceit?

I realize that these are difficult questions to answer about yourself, but sometimes we need to take a long and serious look at ourselves and repent of what we find. If we find that we are so self-centered that when we think of others, we simply think of how they can help us, then we have a problem. As a believer in Jesus, this is not what we are called to do.

not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
(‭‭Philippians‬ ‭2:4 (NIV))

We are called to imitate Jesus!

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
      did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
      by taking the very nature of a servant,
      being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
      he humbled himself
      by becoming obedient to death—
            even death on a cross!
(‭‭Philippians‬ ‭2:5-8 (NIV))

Do you possess this type of humility?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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We must treat others as Jesus would?

May 27, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit–fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other.
(John 15:14-17 (NIV))

Think about this passage. What does it mean to you to have the Son of God call you friend?

I can’t think of anything that has a more important meaning to my life, for a friend will do anything to help. A true friend does everything out of love with no regard for what they get in return. This is exactly what Jesus did when He went to the cross. He paid the ultimate price out of love with no regard to what He had to face. It is true that He faced fear before His physical death, yet He did not stray from His task. He knew that those who would call Him friend depended upon Him to save them.

Do you think that a master would do something like this for a servant? A servant is there to serve the master. The master usually cares little about the life of the servant. There is no love involved in this type of a relationship.

Do you see Jesus as a friend? Do you see others as Jesus sees them?

He desires everyone to come to Him. If this is true, then we must be the friends that Jesus is. We must show the same love to others that He has shown to us.

We must treat others as Jesus would?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Will you take up your cross if it means your life?

May 26, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”
(Luke 9:23 (NIV))

Do you think of yourself as a disciple of Jesus?

Everyone who professes a faith in Jesus likes to think that they are a disciple, but are we, are you, ready to truly take up our cross?

Each one of us will face a different path as we walk out our lives in faith. It is possible that no two individuals will carry the exact same burden when they carry their cross, but we do know that all of us carry something through life. We either choose to carry our cross or we carry the weight of the sin that we refuse to let go of. It is a choice that each of us must make.

Do you want to be a disciple of Jesus?

If the answer is yes, then that requires repenting of your sins and picking up the weight of your cross as you follow Jesus. Following Jesus is not an easy thing to do. You have changed, but the world around you has not. You have changed, but your friends will still try to get you to fall back into the very same sins that you want to leave behind. Following Jesus may mean that you lose friends. It may mean that you become alienated from family. It may mean a job loss, but it will mean so much more!

Believing in and following Jesus is the only way to the Father and all of the blessings that are promised.

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))

Each of us have a decision to make. What are we willing to lose when we take up our cross and follow Jesus?

Will you take up your cross if it means your life?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What is the condition of your heart?

May 12, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
(Ezekiel 36:26 (NIV))

Have the last few weeks made you stop and take a long, hard look at your life?

Have you found that the things of this world that you once thought were important no longer hold that exalted place in your life? Have your priorities shifted to the point where you feel that you have had a change of heart?

There are many characteristics of a life that is self-centered and self-absorbed. Most of these are described by a reference to the heart. Hardhearted. Cold-hearted. Heart of stone. I am sure that you can probably think of others, but I think that you understand the concept. The more time that we spend focused on the world and what it can provide to us often leads us to become non-caring with respect to other people that we see. Let’s face facts. When we are focused on the world, it tells us go for all that we can get no matter the consequences.

Does this sound like the type of life that we were created for?

Sadly, when we live our lives in this manner, we also lose sight of God! Our hearts become hardened to anything that relates to our relationship with the Lord. We can even get to the false conclusion that we are good and that we do not need God, Jesus or the grace that is freely given through the cross.

This is definitely not the way that God created us to live!

I want to ask the same question once again. Have the last few weeks made you stop and take a long, hard look at your life? The world may see these last few weeks as an attempt to avoid a pandemic, but God had other plans. What has He shown you about yourself? Has He been trying to remove your heart of stone?

What is the condition of your heart?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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You will never find greater riches than this!

April 24, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace
(Ephesians 1:7 (NIV))

What do you think of when you think of riches?

Is it the typical human nature responses such as money, big house, fancy cars and expensive toys?

Let me ask this another way.

What is it that you value the most?

Did you answer family and friends? Perhaps you thought of the gift of life itself. These are valuable to most people, yet, there is something that has far greater worth. It is of far greater worth than all of the riches of the world.

What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?
(Mark 8:36 (NIV))

Everything in this life is here today and gone tomorrow. With that said, how can we place value on something that does not last? How can we spend our lives striving for something that can be taken from us in the blink of an eye?

We are trapped in a world of sin and death. A world that we allowed to fall away from God. It is a world badly in need of something that is eternal, something that will not rust or decay with time. That something is God’s grace.

I know of nothing in this world that can bring eternal life, even though man has searched for just such a thing for a long time. I know of nothing in this world that can bring peace, even though we all long for it. I know of nothing in this world that can bring everlasting joy, even though there are things that bring us fleeting glimpses of joy. Nothing in this world can redeem us. Nothing in this world can provide forgiveness, and nothing in this world can give us grace.

With that said, the greatest riches of all is the very thing that can bring all of this. It is not of this world, for this world is fallen. It is from the very One who created this world. It is designed to bring each and every one of us back into the pre-sin relationship that we were supposed to have with God.

Let me ask a few more questions.

Does money make you happy? Do big houses make you happy? Do expensive toys make you happy? All of these things soon become the reason for living and then you discover that they leave you cold and empty. Only one thing can leave you joyfully filled and warm with the love of God.

Have you accepted the riches that God offers through His glorious gift of grace? Have you accepted the gift of salvation that was purchased at the cross by Jesus?

You will never find greater riches than this!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you fully walking with Jesus?

April 16, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
(Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV))

Everybody loves the last part of this passage.

And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
(Matthew 28:20b (NIV))

It is a wonderful assurance that the Lord will always be with those who follow Him. Sadly, most people fail to recognize that this scripture is at the end of a set of instructions that are known as the Great Commission. As believers and followers of Jesus, we are given a task. We are to share the Gospel and make disciples. We are to tell the world about the grace and mercy that is freely given through the cross of Jesus. As believers, that is our assignment. If we consider ourselves to be in the Lord’s army, then that is our direct order straight from the top! We are instructed to be on the front lines of this spiritual war.

I may get some people upset with the next few questions and sentences, but I feel that they need to be asked and stated.

In your understanding, why did Jesus come into the world? Was it to bring eternal redemption and restoration to the Father through the grace freely given at the cross, or was it to bring social changes that only impact the present? Did Jesus come to make this offer only to a select few or to the whole world? Have you accepted this offer of grace and salvation?

Did Jesus tie His being with us to His assignment to share the Gospel? If we have accepted Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, we have inherited the orders originally given to the disciples. We are to go and make disciples. We are to baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. We are to teach others to obey by teaching them to learn and understand. Do we truly obey? Do we truly understand what we are called to do?

Is there a reason why Jesus tells us that He will be with us always immediately following the instructions to share the Gospel?

Personally, I think that they go hand in hand with each other. If we choose to accept Jesus, then He will never leave us. He will guide us into what and where we are to go. Just as we are called to repent, we are also called to witness and to share the Gospel. The more we go and make disciples, the more we learn to rely on Him and the closer we draw near to Him. Jesus promises to never leave us, but through our lack of obedience, do we leave Him?

Is Jesus with you?

Perhaps I should ask it this way. Are you fully walking with Jesus?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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This is what the gift of the cross means!

April 10, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

“. . . he was wounded and crushed for our sins. He was beaten that we might have peace. He was whipped and we were healed!”
(Isaiah 53:5 (NLT))

Nothing comes without a price!

Have you truly stopped to reflect on the great price that Jesus willingly paid in order to save us from our sins? Have you thought about how you would attempt to pay the price for yourself? It is impossible for us to pay the price for our own sins. We are guilty of far too many to even stop to think about. Multiply that by the number of people who have or will ever live and you begin to see the magnitude of the weight of the sins of the world. It is a burden that no man can bear.

At this time of year when Easter approaches, it is necessary to remember that Jesus was not simply a man.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.
Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.
(John 1:1-5 (NIV))

This does not sound like a simple man. Just as John said, Jesus was with God because He was God.

Only God could save us from our sins. Think about the pain and suffering that He endured in order to give you salvation.

Nothing comes without a price! Either you try to pay it yourself or you allow God to pay it for you.

This is what the gift of the cross means!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Does Jesus live in you?

April 8, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
(Galatians 2:20 (NIV))

What do you think of when you think of being crucified with Christ?

It is so easy to skip over hard questions such as this and simply think to yourself that you know what it means, but do you truly know? Are you able to articulate to yourself and to others just what this means to you? If you were asked to stand up in front of a group of people and answer this question, could you? If you were standing in front of the Lord and He asks you this question, what would your answer be?

We all know the standard answers to what this means, but that is only the beginning of what should be a personal response. Just as no two individuals are the same, I honestly believe that if we truly looked at ourselves and came up with our own personal response, no two responses would be the same.

It is said that when Jesus was on the cross, each one of us was on His mind. We know without a doubt that He died so that we could have salvation, but did He think of each one of us down to the individual sins that we have committed? Did He say, “I’m doing this so that Joe can be free from the power the enemy has over him and his addictions?” Did He say, “I’m here so that Mary can have freedom from the shame of her past?”

If Jesus thought of each one of us by name, what did He take to the cross on your behalf?

This is your personal response!

How can you express your thankfulness for the specific sins that He was crucified for?

Have those sins been replaced with Jesus living in you?

If you can give testimony of a personal response, then you should be able to boldly claim that Jesus lives in you! If Jesus lives in you, then you know exactly what Jesus took to the cross on your behalf. Jesus took all of our sins upon Himself when He went to the cross. The price that He paid was great. He did not walk away from the cross carrying anyone’s unpaid sins. The price He paid covered them all so that we can boldly proclaim that we have been crucified with Christ!

Does Jesus live in you?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you made your move?

March 30, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Come near to God and he will come near to you.
(James 4:8a (NIV))

I am sure that you have heard that God is everywhere and that He will never leave you, so how do you understand and comprehend this passage? If He is everywhere, isn’t He already near us?

God is everywhere, but sadly, too few people realize that He will not force Himself on anyone. We have to turn to Him out of a choice that we make, especially since we, as humanity, chose to turn away from Him as a result of the fall from grace in the Garden of Eden. We thought that we had been given knowledge, but instead, we lost all hope. Until God sent His Son, Jesus, into the world to pay the penalty for sin and death, we only knew the wages of our sin even if we chose good. Thankfully, God had a plan that would bring an end to this.

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))

Each of us must make a decision to come near to God. This is only accomplished by believing in Jesus as God’s one and only Son. Through the gift of grace freely given on the cross, the veil that separated God from humanity has been torn in two. God had set in motion a plan to bring us back to Him and the veil symbolized that completion of that plan. Jesus declared this culmination of God’s redemptive plan with His final words.

When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
(John 19:30 (NIV))

God used these events to unfold His perfect plan to draw each of us near to Him. God may use circumstances to get our attention, but He cannot make the decision for us. Our families and friends cannot make the decision for us. We have to be willing to put aside our pride and move closer to God. When we make that move, we will find that He is already closer than we could ever imagine.

Have you made your move?

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