It is not possible to earn what the Lord freely gives!

March 3, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.
(Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV))

Far too many people scoff at the idea that salvation is free to anyone who will simply accept it. I honestly believe that they think the old saying “You get what you pay for” is true in all circumstances, especially since it is true in any possible scenario in this sinful, fallen world. They have this false idea that anything of value has a price that they must pay. They reason that since it cost them absolutely nothing, then it is too good to be true.

What they fail to realize is that the price was paid by someone else and then the results of this payment are freely given as a gift.

Think about the concept of a gift for a moment. When it is your birthday, and someone gives you a gift, do they ask for money to pay for the gift? Of course not! The gift giver paid the price and freely gives the gift to the recipient. If you follow the “You get what you pay for” idea, even the most expensive, the most fabulous gift is worthless. When we look at the physical gifts of this world, we know that they are not worthless, Why do we look at the greatest gift of all, grace through the atoning blood of Jesus, as worthless? This gift is far more valuable than anything this world has to offer.

To those who feel guilty for receiving something without giving something in return, I understand.

To those who feel guilty for receiving something that they have not earned, I understand.

Both of these characteristics are really desirable traits in a person, but in this situation, they do not have any merit. There is nothing that we can pay that is of comparable value. We cannot pay for it after we accept and we cannot pay for it as a condition of acceptance. We must simply come to the realization that God’s grace is free.

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.
(John 3:16-18 (NIV))

How much does it cost you to say “I believe”? How much does it cost you to say “Thank you, Lord” for the greatest gift ever? Each one of us needs to accept this gift before it is too late.

It is not possible to earn what the Lord freely gives!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Why are we drawn to return to our sin and slavery?

March 2, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
(Galatians 5:1 (NIV))

What is it about human nature that makes us return to something that we know we should leave behind? We have all been guilty of doing this very thing, and probably much more often than we care to admit. Apparently, human nature since the fall from grace has always had us doing what can only be called self destructive behavior. We know that we shouldn’t, but yet we do. This type of behavior has been pointed out many times, but probably the most accurate and disgusting is the following.

As a dog returns to its vomit,
so fools repeat their folly.
(Proverbs 26:11 (NIV))

As I stated previously, we all do it. Even the man who is credited with bringing the Gospel to the Gentiles fought this aspect in his own walk of faith. Paul was a very intelligent person, but yet he didn’t understand the self destructive nature that he fought against.

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
(Romans 7:15-20 (NIV))

This struggle that all of us face makes it clear why each of us are called to take up our cross daily. We are to deny that part of our human nature. We are to struggle with this sinful nature each and every time that it raises its ugly head in our lives. We are called to repent. Far too many people believe that this is a one-time occurrence, but it should be a daily attitude and activity. Do I even venture to say that, on some days, we may have to humble ourselves continually before the Lord and repent of our actions and our thoughts?

I know that we are a fallen creation, but I wish I had the magic answer as to why we return to our sin when we don’t want to. I wish I knew how to turn off that part of my life so that I never take my eyes off of Jesus. Just like Paul, I find myself doing the very things that I hate! I don’t know why! I long to do only what is good and righteous, yet on my own, this is not possible. I just know that we must be ready to fall on our knees whenever and wherever we may find yourself returning to our sin.

I want to leave you with one question that I hope you will take to heart.

Why are we drawn to return to our sin and slavery?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you ready and able to stand?

February 19, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
(Ephesians 6:12-13 (NIV))

This is so hard to remember when we are faced with trials and tribulations from all sides. Sometimes it even feels that all that we do is thwarted by an unseen enemy who hates what we love.

Wait a minute!

That sounds just like Satan and he does hate what we love.

And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down–that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.
(Revelation 12:7-9 (NIV))

Because of his rebellion against God, he and his fallen angels have been cast out of heaven. They hate God and desire nothing more than to usurp God’s authority. That is what happened when Adam and Eve allowed Satan to become the prince of this world. Our ancestors legally gave the authority that God gave them to Satan. Satan and his followers work in the shadows to deceive and destroy all that is God’s creation and all who call upon the name of the Lord. Just like we cannot see God, we cannot see Satan, but we feel the effects of his wrath against those who love God.

There is constant warfare in the spiritual realm because of these events. What happens in the physical world is only a shadow of what happens in the spiritual realm.

We are at war!

Our enemy cannot be seen, but we can arm ourselves with God’s armor and we can overcome the enemy.

Are you prepared for the struggle? Are you focusing your battle tactics where they belong? Are you ready and able to stand?

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.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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There is no other like our God!

December 5, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
(Colossians 2:3 (NIV))

I don’t know about you, but I don’t know of anyone, no matter how smart they think that they are, who can claim to possess all wisdom and knowledge. In order for someone to know everything, they would have had to be in existence from the very beginning of time. They would also have to be able to see everything, both the physical as well as the spiritual. Humanity just doesn’t have that capacity.

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
(1 Corinthians 13:12 (NIV))

Only the Lord possesses all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Only the Lord has been since the beginning. Only the Lord is able to see and to know everything in both the physical and the spiritual.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
      neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
      so are my ways higher than your ways
      and my thoughts than your thoughts.
(Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV))

Why do we, as fallen humanity, seek advise and counsel from others who are no better off than we are? Why do we turn to other people who are limited in wisdom and understanding in order to seek out wisdom and understanding? We must turn only to the Lord!

There is none who can compare with the Lord! There is none who can provide wisdom, truth and knowledge. Only God is good! He is the Creator of all things. He knows our innermost thoughts and desires. He has numbered the hair on our heads. He created all things because He loves us!

Where do you turn for wisdom and knowledge? Why not go to the one true source? There is no other like our God!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you on watch for bad fruit?

October 10, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
(Matthew 7:15-20 (NIV))

Think about this the next time that you hear of something that is just too good to be true, or is just a little off of what God’s Word says that it should be. Most of the time, lies are obvious, but deception is a trick of the enemy. When things sound almost right with respect to God’s word, they are totally wrong.

It should be easy for believers to realize that the “fruit” does not match the source. We should be able to easily distinguish that the things the enemy tells us are too good to be true, especially when they contradict everything that we should know to be true according to God’s Word.

Why do people fall for the deceptions of the enemy?

Are we, as a fallen, sinful race, too far removed from the truth to even recognize it?

The words in Matthew are amazing and sadly amusing if you stop to actually understand what is being said. We have enough common sense to not look for grapes on an apple tree, yet, we easily fall prey to the small lies of the enemy in hopes that the promises are true.

Test everything against God’s Word. If something is supposed to bear goodness, but it lies to do so, does it really follow God’s Word? If you are promised that it is only a small digression and no one will know about it, can it be the correct fit?

We have been told what the things of God will bear.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
(Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV))

Think of this passage when validating the truth about something. Does it produce according to the fruit of the Spirit?

Are you on watch for bad fruit?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is there anything that you are still trying to hide?

July 31, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
(1 John 1:9 (NIV))

What is it about human nature that makes us want to keep secrets?

We keep them from those we love. We keep them from our friends. We keep them from those we work with, and we keep them from those whom we call brothers and sisters in Christ. We may be able to fool others for a while, but our secrets are usually uncovered in one way or another.

What type of things do we feel that we need to keep secret from others?

Most of our secrets are attempts to keep our shortcomings, our embarrassments and our sins from public scrutiny. We feel that we can continue to do things if we just act as if we aren’t doing them. Why do we think that we can act in this manner? Why do we feel that we can continue in our behaviors indefinitely? Too many people simply won’t admit that one day they will have to be held accountable for everything that they have ever done. They will have to stand, not in front of others, but in front of the Lord where they will be judged based on a standard that no one can attain on their own. If you have repented and placed your faith in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, you will be judged righteous. Still, we are only human. We are a sinful, fallen creation. We must repent of our sin and turn away from our nature continually. We must search our hearts, for the Lord knows our hearts. We must seek to uncover things that we attempt to keep hidden from ourselves. We must seek to replace what we desire to keep hidden with things that are of the Lord.

Think of the sinful, hidden things in your life and think about the old saying, “Garbage in. Garbage out!” It is time to replace the garbage of sin with the grace and mercy offered to us through the cross. Allow the Lord to cleanse the garbage and to purify our hearts. Ask the Lord to remove any hidden sin!

Is there anything that you are still trying to hide?

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