Are you still serving your idols?

September 30, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Even while these people were worshiping the Lord, they were serving their idols. To this day their children and grandchildren continue to do as their ancestors did.
(2 Kings 17:41 (NIV))

Have you ever looked up the definition of the word “idol”?

I would venture to say that a majority of people know what the word means, but sometimes seeing it written out before you makes you realize just what a word does mean and the full implications of that word. In this particular case, idol means an object or representation of extreme devotion or worship whether a person or a false god. One of the definitions for the word shows that it can also mean a pretender or impostor. With these definitions staring you in the face, why would anyone place a pretender, a false god, an impostor above the one true God?

Do you focus on your job? Do you focus on your house and you cars? Do you focus on the trips that you take? Do you focus on your possessions? Are you glued to your phone even when you are with other people?

Does your life revolve around anything besides the Lord?

Basically, anything that we elevate above our relationship with the Lord is a false god. It is an idol. It is a pretender! Take a serious look at your life. There is an old saying that says where you spend your money tells you what you choose to worship.

Are you still serving your idols?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you still weary and faint?

August 28, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.
(Jeremiah 31:25 (NIV))

Is the world beating you down to the point that you are just drained, weary and faint?

I realize that this question is probably too close to the truth for many of us today. I fully understand just how someone could feel this way. It seems as if each day brings something new and different to the forefront for us to be concerned about. These words were written long before Jesus came into the world. These words were written long before the nation of Israel was scattered. They were written long before Israel was brought back into their land. This whole passage in Jeremiah describes the promises that the Lord has made. It also describes promises fulfilled, for we see these things right before our eyes as God unfolds them for Israel.

Do you think that what is happening in the world has caught God off guard? Do you think that He had no idea what this year would bring? If you answered “Yes” to these questions, you need to take another look at your definition of God. If you answered “Yes” to these questions, you need to stop worshipping the little god that you have put in a box and start worshipping the true God who is Creator and Lord of all.

I realize that the promise God made was to Israel, but if we place our faith and trust in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, then that promise is also for us. In fact, every promise that God has ever made is extended to those who believe in Jesus.

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.
(2 Corinthians 1:20 (NIV))

If the Lord has said that He will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint, then we should claim this promise as our own. We should proclaim it to the world so that others may know that they, too, can be refreshed and satisfied simply by professing a faith in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior.

Are you still weary and faint?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What desires rule over you?

July 17, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.
(Galatians 5:17 (NIV))

Whatever you want!

Do you desire to do whatever you want? Is that your definition of freedom? Based on this passage, does that desire come from the flesh or from the Spirit? Don’t rush to a quick answer, for your quick answer will probably be heavily influenced by your own desires. Think about that for a moment. Since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, our flesh is sinful. Everything that we do according to our flesh is sinful and we are fully aware of the wages of sin.

For the wages of sin is death,
(Romans 6:23a (NIV))

We are given a gift that allows us to receive salvation, to receive grace.

but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 6:23b (NIV))

When we accept that gift, we receive the Holy Spirit to guide us in what we should do. The Holy Spirit will guide us contrary to our sinful nature. It is up to us to accept that guidance. Have you ever done something and instantly knew that it shouldn’t have been done? Have you ever wanted to do something, but a still, small voice wouldn’t let you? We choose to listen to the Holy Spirit. We choose to accept His guidance. Sadly, sometimes the flesh wins out and we do things that we instantly regret. Other times we listen to the Holy Spirit and obey. Have you noticed in your life the types of circumstances that you follow the flesh and the types of circumstances that you follow the Holy Spirit? Give God praise for the faith to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, and pray for the ability to stand firm in the face of those circumstances that lead to actions that you regret. Ask the Lord to give you wisdom to allow you to overcome the desires of the flesh!

What desires rule over you?

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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God’s love is not how the world loves!

February 13, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
(1 Corinthians 13:6-7 (NIV))

Does this sound like the world’s current definition of love?

Society has taken the concept of love and twisted it so far from how God defines love. According to God’s plan, love is sacrificial, but there are some overlooked aspects.

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))

We, as the intended recipients of God’s love, must be willing to walk away from our sin. We must be willing to embrace the truth, the only truth, that is God’s Word. Once we do, we are called to love as God loves, but that doesn’t mean that we condone the sin and the evil in people. I realize that this is often overused, but there is an old saying that, “We are to love the sinner and hate the sin.” Think about that in relation to the following example.

You are a parent who has a child that is involved in things that could get them in trouble with the law. Which of the following options shows true love? Do you overlook these actions because you say that you love them and you don’t want to interfere with their life, or do you try to make them change their life so that they don’t face any consequences from their activities? The first option actually shows that you don’t care enough to take action to prevent something bad. It may appear that you love them in the present, but you don’t love them enough to take action so that they will have a better tomorrow. Love sometimes has to be tough! As a parent, you have to stand in the gap and fight for the well being of your family so that they have a life that is not a result of bad decisions.

Put this into perspective by changing the scenario with respect to eternity. This time the child is rebelling and is lost. Do you overlook these actions or do you pray for them, do you try to reach them, do you love them enough to stand in the gap interceding for them? This time, the consequences have a much different and longer result. If we truly love this child, we will do anything and everything to bring them into a right relationship with the Lord.

My next thought was to ask you how do you think God feels, but I have already told you how He feels. He loves the world so much that He had a plan to redeem the world. That plan was not an easy thing to bring about. It cost the physical life of His only begotten Son, Jesus. Jesus came to defeat evil and sin. He came to protect us from the consequences of sin. God’s love perseveres and because of His great love, we have the glorious hope that we can trust in His Word. All that He asks is that you believe and turn away from the darkness of the evil that is in this world.

The world says that if you love someone, you accept them and don’t try to change them no matter the consequences. God loves us as we are, then calls us to repent so that we don’t face the consequences.

God’s love is not how the world loves!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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If God was willing while we were enemies, just imagine . . .

February 6, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!
(Romans 5:10 (NIV))

How do you become an enemy of God?

I realize that this is an odd question, but it is relevant to our understanding of God, our severed and fallen relationship with Him, and our way to salvation through God’s love as expressed at the cross.

Basically, the fall from grace in the Garden of Eden is the starting point for each and every single person who has ever lived. All of humanity was doomed to a sinful nature because of our rebellion, our disobedience to what God told us that we could and could not do. One definition of the word “enemy” states it quite clearly as someone who is antagonistic to another. Another definition defines an enemy as a hostile force. When we rebelled against God, we became just that. We became an antagonistic and hostile creation. We became sinners. We became enemies of God!

Thankfully, God did not let it end there! He loves us in spite of ourselves. He devised a plan to redeem us. Condemnation is for enemies. Love is for sons and daughters. He devised a plan to make us sons and daughters instead of enemies.

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))

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
(Romans 5:8 (NIV))

I am so thankful that salvation is freely given, for there is nothing that we could do to earn it. All that we have to do is accept it! God reached out to us in our sinful condition in hope that we would accept His offer to become His sons and daughters. If God was willing while we were enemies, just imagine what He will do for us as sons and daughters!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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It is time we let the Lord define who He is!

September 3, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.

Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue ruler said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.”

The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?”
(Luke 13:10-16 (NIV))

Do you try to put limits on Jesus? Are you guilty of doing what the synagogue ruler did in this situation?

Instead of praising God for what He has done through Jesus, do you find yourself trying to put your own rules and regulations on what He is doing? Do you find yourself trying to put God into the confines of what you believe He should be instead of letting Him be who He is?

This is human nature. We try to define our limited understanding through things that we do understand. We are all guilty of it.

Consider those who believe in evolution. They cling to something because they want a “scientific” explanation for how life came to be. They cling to what they consider to be logic because they do not want to accept the truth. Their only desire is to be able to clearly define everything based on their own understanding. They want to be able to have things so well classified that they can predict what will happen. They ignore faith for a false knowledge that they have defined. Their definition is not God’s definition. They want definitions that clearly state what can be expected only as long as it meets their version of what can be expected.

What about your definition of God? Would Jesus call you a hypocrite because you fail to see beyond your definition of what can be expected? It is time we let the Lord define who He is!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What do you do with your freedom?

August 2, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.
(Galatians 5:13 (NIV))

How do you define freedom?

You may find yourself among the group of people who look at freedom as a political right, as in being free to do whatever you desire. If this is the case, then you may be surprised to find that this definition is not the primary definition in many dictionaries. In many dictionaries, freedom is defined as personal liberty from bondage, slavery or confinement. No matter how you look at freedom, it is generally accepted to mean a state of being free, whether from confinement, bondage or in actions. It is the subtle nuances of the definitions that catch people off guard and have them making choices that are not the true definition of freedom.

In this country, we have many freedoms. We are free to choose how to live our lives. We are free to choose to do things that should probably be left undone. Yet, too many people make these choices simply because they think that they have a right to do so. Let’s put these types of choices in perspective. We have the freedom to go to the top of a tall building to enjoy the view. Some people take that freedom to extreme and jump! When a choice that someone makes under the guise of freedom harms themselves or others, is it really freedom? Would you want to be free in this manner, especially when you consider the consequences of the choices made in this type of freedom?

The freedom that Jesus came to offer is not this type of freedom!

We, as humanity, have been sentenced to a physical world where we simply cannot live without making mistakes. Those mistakes are called sin. No one is perfect.

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

Because of our sin, we have been tried, convicted and condemned.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 6:23 (NIV))

The freedom that we have been given through Jesus is a washing clean of our sin and the consequences of that sin. Let’s look at it from a perspective not many of us will ever know, but hopefully one that will help us to understand. Imagine that you are convicted of murder and sentenced to death for your crime. You spend every day knowing that one day you will face the consequences of your actions and there is absolutely nothing that you can do. You desire to escape the consequences, yet you know that you deserve all that is coming.

With this image still fresh in your mind, the best way to describe true freedom is this.

Godly freedom is being given a pardon for the consequences of your actions and you are so thankful that you joyfully refrain from any similar actions. You also joyfully share the story of how you gained your freedom so that others may find theirs. Is this how you see freedom through Jesus?

What do you do with your freedom?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Pray to be able to avoid the fool and his folly!

July 24, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Better to meet a bear robbed of her cubs than a fool bent on folly.
(Proverbs 17:12 (NIV))

I’m sure that everyone understands the nature of the relationship between a mother and her children. If the children are threatened, the maternal instincts kick into high gear to the point that anything within striking distance is fair game. Couple that instinct with the size of a bear and the size of the claws and you have a very fierce and dangerous presence to contend with.

Do you find it interesting that this passage states that a fool is more dangerous?

What is your definition of a fool? What is God’s definition of a fool?

The fool says in his heart,
    “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, their deeds are vile;
    there is no one who does good.
(Psalms 14:1 (NIV))

Are you beginning to see that a fool is more dangerous than a bear?

Most people know enough to stay away from a bear, especially a mother bear who is protecting her cubs. The very physical presence tells you to stay clear. All it takes is just one look at the bear to assess the situation, but we don’t know that someone is a fool just by looking at them. We can’t tell the dangers that may be present because we cannot see the heart nor the mind. The surface situation is not a good indicator of the danger when someone practices deception and folly, for the deceit is hidden within. The true impact of the folly may not be made known until the damage is done.

Most of us are wise enough to stay away from danger that is obvious. God warns us to be wary of the dangers that are not obvious. Pray for discernment. Pray for wisdom. Pray for God’s insight into the hearts and minds of those whom you encounter. Pray to be able to avoid the fool and his folly!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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