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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Does the Lord have all your heart, soul and strength?

June 17, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
(Deuteronomy 6:5 (NIV))

Do you love the Lord?

Let me ask this in a different way. What are you willing to give up for the Lord? Status? Career? House? Cars? Family? Friends?

Did you cringe at any of these things? Did you find yourself thinking something like, “As long as I don’t have to give up _______!”

What if God called you to sacrifice the thing that you loved most in order to follow Him? Would you respond like Abraham did with Isaac or would you respond like the rich young ruler?

Many people associate the words from Deuteronomy 6:5 with how Jesus responded in the following passage from Matthew.

“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. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
(Matthew 22:36-40 (NIV))

If you truly love the Lord, you realize that everyone is made in the image of God. The way that we treat each other is indicative of how we treat the Lord and ourselves. Unfortunately, society’s definition of love means that we embrace their sins. Is this true love? Would you validate your sinful behavior to the point where you are killing yourself with alcohol or drugs and still claim to love yourself? How can we embrace the sins of others when we know that the same sin in our lives leads to death?

We must love as Jesus loved!

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))

Perhaps we should look at this concept through these words. Love the Lord your God as He first loved us – with all of His heart, with all of His soul and with all of His strength. He had the love and commitment to sacrifice His Son to save us! Doesn’t this merit the gratitude and unfailing love of thankfulness?

Does the Lord have all your heart, soul and strength?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What comforts you through the darkness?

June 8, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
(Psalms 23:4 (NKJV))

Everyone faces darkness and tough times in their lives. What do you do when this happens? Do you cower in fear? Do you give in to the attacks of the enemy? Do you throw yourself a pity party and lock yourself away from the world in hopes that your tough times will go away? Do you lash out at the world trying to put up a front? Do you attack head-on in such a way that you think that you are able to overcome these times on your own?

To be honest with you, we have all probably used each one of these approaches in our lives when dealing with darkness and tough times. Have any of them truly worked? Did the tough times go away? Did your stress levels return to a peaceful state?

I have been on my journey with Jesus for a long time, and each time that I have faced a tough time in my life over the years, it has actually gotten easier to deal with. With each event, I have learned more about the promises of God. I have learned that I can trust Him to see me through, even when the world seems to be crashing in all around me. It hasn’t come easily, and my journey is still a work in progress, but I know that my faith is firmly placed in the One who created all things. I know that He will see me through all things, even the darkness. With the track record that the Lord has allowed me to experience, I can look back in all honesty and see how He was leading me. With this assurance, I can look ahead in all faith and know that He will lead me according to His will with my maturity in Jesus as the goal.

I don’t know about you, but I find great comfort in this truth even when I do not see any worldly way out of the darkness. I find great comfort in knowing that He is always with me!

What comforts you through the 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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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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Have you come to your senses?

April 23, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

When he came to his senses, he said, `How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!
(Luke 15:17 (NIV))

How far have you wandered from your Father? What caused you to wander? Did you see something that looked appealing to you? Did you think to yourself that you would do something for a little while and then return? Perhaps you simply found yourself drifting away and did not even realize it until it was too late.

I like the words “When he came to his senses.” The son had realized that he was a fool for choosing to stay in the squalor that he found himself in. He realized that he had a way out of his predicament and he was going to accept the consequences, humble himself and ask for forgiveness.

When did you come to your senses? Did you wake up one morning and not remember were you were? Did you look in the mirror and not recognize the person you saw? Maybe your personal story is not as bad as these examples, but each of us has a story. We realized that we had been foolish to think that we could do things on our own. We came to our senses and returned to the Father. Isn’t it nice to know that no matter how far we stray, it is only a single step back to the loving embrace of God. Isn’t it good to know that our sins have been forgiven through the atoning blood of Jesus. Through Jesus, we are offered grace, mercy and eternal salvation. All that we have to do is come to our senses and accept it by accepting Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior.

Have you come to your senses?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you walking with Jesus?

April 14, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.

He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”
They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?”

“What things?” he asked.
“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.”

He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.

When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.
(Luke 24:13-35 (NIV))

I hope and pray that you encountered the risen Lord Jesus during Easter. I also pray that you continue to walk with Him during all the days of your life. He is with us even when we do not recognize Him. With that in mind, how would you want Jesus to see you in your daily actions?

Are you walking with Jesus?

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

April 13, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.
(Matthew 28:6 (NIV))

Looking back at the last several weeks and what the whole world has endured, we need some good news!

There is no better news that we can receive than a heavenly announcement and acknowledgment that Jesus is alive!

When the angels announced that Jesus was not in the tomb, those who followed Jesus probably had been thinking prior to this announcement that their hopes had been shattered at the crucifixion. Can you imagine the joy that these words brought to them? They probably went from a feeling of despair and hopelessness to a feeling of jubilation and a peace that they did not understand.

What type of feelings have you experienced over the last several weeks? Be honest with yourself. Have you focused on the events of this world instead of focusing on God’s promises to those who love Him? If you have focused on God’s promises, I would venture to say that this Resurrection Sunday was probably a unique one as well as a blessed one. We may not have gathered in our church buildings to celebrate, but this reinforces the fact that buildings don’t make the church. People do!

Jesus came into the world to bring salvation to people, to individuals who would place their faith in Him. No matter how many people may be around you, in God’s plan, it doesn’t matter. He can call you in the middle of a large crowd or He can call you in the middle of a desert. If the world tries to keep His people from meeting together, then the Lord can meet with each one of us individually as He sees fit. This can only be done because we have placed our faith in His Son, Jesus, as our personal Lord and Savior. This only matters because of one very important piece of good news!

The grave could not hold Him!

The stone has been rolled away!

He defeated the power of sin and death!

There are many ways to express this absolute truth, but perhaps the one that is best is also the simplest.

Jesus is alive!

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