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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Have you accepted this glorious gift?

July 1, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
(Romans 8:1 (NIV))

Before Jesus came to this world to live and teach, and then to die for our sins, everyone lived under condemnation. No one was worthy to approach the Throne of God as righteous and blameless.

No one in all of history could have earned salvation on their own!

God knew that this was an impossibility due to the sinful nature of man ever since Satan was allowed dominion over this world. Still, God had a plan for a redemptive gift.

“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. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men 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 his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”
(John 3:16-21 (NIV))

God gave us the ultimate gift! The gift is freedom from condemnation through Jesus Christ. All of our sins are forgiven once we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

Have you accepted this glorious gift?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Where does your heart direct you?

June 22, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.
(2 Thessalonians 3:5 (NIV))

In our lives, there are many paths that we can choose to follow. Some days, we make so many decisions that each minute potentially can change the outcome of our day, possibly our whole lives and even our eternity. If we broaden our perspective, we have the potential to impact the day of countless individuals that we encounter. If we follow God’s lead, we can potentially impact their eternal perspectives as well.

This is staggering!

Have you truly stopped to reflect on how our actions can have eternal consequences for not only ourselves, but for countless others as well?

Does this make you want to pray for your heart to be molded into a heart that seeks the Lords direction, love and perseverance?

Take a look at your life. Chances are good that each of us has had moments in our daily lives where we fail miserably at allowing the Lord to direct our hearts. If you are like me, you can probably vividly recall the worst moments when you moved completely opposite of what the Lord desired. Do you wish that you could have a do-over because of the pain that these moments caused?

It is not always easy to allow the Lord to direct our hearts, but it is what we, as members of the Body of Christ, must strive to do. We must pray that our hearts seek after the very heart of God! We must be willing to move in directions that go against our sinful human nature and see each other as God sees them. We must come to the realization what we are not the center of God’s universe. He placed us in His creation, but His creation is much greater than just you or just I. We must learn to see each other with the love that God sees each of us with. We must realize that the Lord is patiently calling to Himself all of those who are lost. We must love them as He loves them! We must be directed to show God’s love.

Where does your heart direct you?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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We should never grow tired of doing good!

June 18, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
(Galatians 6:7-10 (NIV))

The old saying “You are what you eat” has a lot of truth to it. But, in this case, it should say “You are what you feed on!” If you feed on the Word and things of the Spirit, you can’t help but reap things of the Spirit.

God wants us to do this in all ways, not just in our spiritual life, but also in our physical life within this world. We must be the light that shines for the world to see. This light must be allowed to shine on everyone at all times.

It is easy to do good to those who do good to us. Everyone is capable of doing this. We, as believers, must do good to everyone, whether they do good to us or not. We must show God’s grace and mercy to all that we encounter so that they may see God through us.

Jesus allowed that grace to be shown to us. We did not deserve it, yet, it was given to us freely. How can we, who did not deserve that grace and mercy, show nothing but grace and mercy to others who are as worthy as we are?

We should never grow tired of doing good!

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

May 25, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.
(John 12:23-26 (NIV))

This may seem off target for this verse since it speaks of Jesus telling His disciples that His time has come. However, the words that Jesus uses speak to all of us.

The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
(John 12:25 (NIV))

Memorial Day started back in the 1860s as a way to remember those who had given their lives in battle. Originally it was called Decoration Day since the way that people honored the fallen was to decorate their graves. Regardless of what it is called, we owe these men and women a debt of gratitude and honor for their sacrifice. Many people do not agree with war, but the truth is that these people stepped up to take the responsibility of righting something that they did not agree with and they were willing to give their lives for that calling.

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
(John 15:13 (NIV))

Most of us never knew these people throughout our history, yet we owe them so much. I can honestly say that it is a certainty that not all were believers in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior, still, I believe that they carried a spark of the Light that Jesus brought to this world. You cannot be exposed to the Light without having some of it take root.

Jesus laid down His life so that we could have life. These men and women did the same thing in their own ways.

We must never forget to honor those who have gone before us and stood for the truths that we, as the Body of Christ, hold fast to. They answered the call when an answer was needed. Would we be willing to answer a similar call today? Would we rely on the Light of Jesus to guide us in that answer?

Are you serving Jesus?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What will be your reward?

May 22, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.
(Revelation 22:12 (NIV))

What are the most obvious questions that present themselves after reading this?

If you are like me, the first thought that I had was will what I have done merit a reward?

I can hear the questions that arise from that question. Basically, they pivot around the truth of the fact that we can’t earn salvation by our deeds. Salvation is a gift of grace that is freely given to all who will receive. Is this where the reward comes in? Is Jesus differentiating between those who simply receive Him and those who receive Him and then bring others into the kingdom?

Think about that with respect to your life?

I hate to say this, but it is human nature to sit back and look around at the world and have the attitude that I have mine. I believe in Jesus!

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))

If you reflect on this, you realize that when you first accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, you are so thankful for what Jesus has done for you. As you mature, you begin to realize that what He has done for you He has freely done for everyone. All that they need to do is accept. It is at this stage in your faith that you begin to realize that you know people who could use a salvation relationship with Jesus.

Are you content with simply receiving yours?

Do you share the Gospel?

Each of us are called to do just that!

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.
(Matthew 28:19-20a (NIV))

I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of a greater reward than being a faithful servant and sharing the Gospel.

His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
(Matthew 25:21 (NIV))

What will be your reward?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Can you do these things?

May 8, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Rejoice always,
(1 Thessalonians 5:16 (NIV))

I am the first to admit that this is not always the easiest thing to do. God didn’t stop there!

pray continually,
(1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NIV))

Am I the only one who has trouble doing this even though I long to be able to say that I do pray continually?

give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
(1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV))

Third strike!

If this were a baseball game, I am sure that my batting average is far less than perfect.

Have you ever wondered why the easiest sounding instructions that God has given us are always the most difficult to carry through with? Sadly, because of our fallen, sinful human nature, it usually just gets worse from here. Thankfully, even when we are at our worst, God’s love for us is at His best.

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))

Do you believe?

I realize that this is another seemingly easy thing to answer, but God realized that He needed to make things simple for us. We will still mess up on the easy things, but we have a simple way to be restored and be embraced by God’s love. We must believe. We may not always be able to say that we are able to rejoice. We may not be able to pray continually, and we definitely will have problems giving thanks in all circumstances, but we can rest assured that our belief in Jesus as God’s one and only Son will redeem us.

Can you do these things?

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