What have you been set free for?

September 26, 2018

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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))

How many people do you know that have claimed to have surrendered their lives to Jesus only to return to the sin that they wanted to break free from?

Is it just me, or did everyone take a big pause and let out a big sigh as you took a quick, but serious look at your life?

Since we are human, it wouldn’t surprise me if everyone who claims Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior has moments in their lives where we find ourselves picking up things that we wish we could learn to leave alone.

We have the freedom to do anything that we desire.

We have the freedom to rebel. We have the freedom to be greedy. We have the freedom to lust. We have the freedom to covet, and we also have the freedom to repent of all of these sins and anything else that comes between us and our freedom in Christ! Freedom does not simply mean that we can do whatever we choose. Merriam-Webster has one definition that I love. Freedom means the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action. In other words, we, as the Body of Christ, are not bound by our sinful nature. We do not have to sin. We do not have to live a life engulfed in sin. We do not have to face an eternity that is the dire consequences of sin.

Jesus came to set us free from the power of sin and death!

With our freedom, we can face each day knowing that we have a Savior who has paid the ultimate price for our redemption. With our freedom, we can face each day knowing that we can never repay that debt. With our freedom, we can also face each day with a desire to share this great freedom, this great gift of grace, with all that we see. We can use our freedom to lead others to the same freedom that we profess.

What have you been set free for?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you a doer of the Word?

July 31, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it–he will be blessed in what he does.

If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
(James 1:19-27 (NIV))

Perhaps the best way to say what these words say is simply the phrase “Be doers of the Word.”

We cannot honestly expect to “give lip service” to God and then go about our business ignoring Him! When you take wedding vows, do you expect to be able to say “I Do,” and then go about your life as if you were still single? When you accept a job from someone, can you do what you please and not show up when you agreed to? What is different with our promise to God and our acceptance of His only son, Jesus Christ, as our personal Lord and Savior? Is it because we do not see them that we “give lip service” and do not do what we should be doing?

Honesty and integrity of faith are what God seeks in us. When we accept Jesus, we also accept the rules of the gift of grace. Some people claim the gift, but deny the rules. God wishes for us to be faithful to Him, and to keep all other “gods” in there places. Anything can become a “god” if we place it above anything else. If money is so important that you would cheat to get more, then money has become your “god.”

Be doers of the Word. Remember, actions always speak louder than words. Do not let other “gods” keep you from God.

Are you a doer of the Word?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you truly free from sin and death?

July 27, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin– because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.
(Romans 6:4-7 (NIV))

What a glorious statement! We, as believers, are free from sin!

This does not mean that we do not sin. We are still human. What this means is that we are free from the punishment of sin. We have accepted Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior. He has paid the price for our sin. It has been washed away from us by His crucifixion. Through His resurrection, we have been granted the right to be born again, to be looked upon by God as righteous and spotless in His sight.

We will still sin. We are in the world. The world is controlled by Satan, the father of all lies and sin. But, we will not be condemned to suffer the consequences of sin, for we have a risen Savior in Jesus Christ! This does not mean that we can choose to sin all that we want. It means that when we do slip up, we can ask for forgiveness.

We can ask for and be shown grace and mercy in spite of our sins. This is the ultimate freedom!

Are you truly free from sin and death?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What do you do with your freedom?

July 3, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.
(1 Peter 2:16-1 (NIV))

July 4th is the day that we as a nation celebrate our freedom, but exactly what does that mean?

Too many people claim that they are free to do whatever they want. People even claim that it is their right to do whatever they want.

Where do we draw the line? When do personal freedoms cross over into the realm of evil and selfish indulgence?

I honestly believe that our founding fathers would be appalled at how we have allowed our society to be twisted into something that is more concerned about protecting the rights of people who wish to live outside of the law that in protecting the public. I honestly believe that they would be appalled at how we have allowed a vocal group of people to rewrite history and vehemently object to any mention of God in government or public life. I honestly believe that they would strongly object to our big government, huge debt, and the courts rewriting laws because they don’t like them.

I know that most of our founding fathers were willing to give all that they had, even their lives, for the common good. They did not see their roles as a full-time career or as a right that they had earned. They saw their roles as an honor and a responsibility that they must bear. They new the difference between servanthood and personal gain.

When do personal freedoms cross into the area of evil?

Personally, I believe that this happens when we lose site of other people. It is true that we are free, but that does not mean that we are free to sin, and that does not mean that we are free to do things that cause harm to others. With freedom comes responsibility. This applies to us as a nation and to the Body of Christ. We are free to choose, but we must weigh our choices.

God gave us free will. He also gave us a list of Ten Commandments that are supposed to guide us in our lives. When we turn from these commandments, we turn from God. We may have exercised our freedom, but in the end, our choices that we make in this “freedom” often lead to consequences beyond our comprehension.

Once again, I will state that with freedom comes responsibility – a responsibility to God, to our neighbors, to our families and to ourselves. We must not claim that we have the right, but pray that what we do is right.

What do you do with your freedom?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Have you allowed yourself to be cleansed?

July 3, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.
(Psalms 51:1-2 (NIV))

Everyone desires mercy, but not everyone wants to be cleansed of the reason that they desire mercy!

Think about that in relationship to your own life. We all have something that we know that we shouldn’t do, but we do it anyway. We ask for forgiveness when someone brings it up, but do we truly desire to have this characteristic removed from our lives? Do we truly desire to be cleansed of what we continually ask for mercy for?

For some people, these traits are simply things that annoy those we love. We do them over and over again until someone says something and then we apologize by uttering a “Forgive me! I’m sorry!” For others, these traits are something much worse. They are so ingrained into our sinful nature that we do things that we know aren’t right by any stretch of the imagination. We know that our sins are forgiven and that we have been washed clean by the Blood of the Lamb, but we fail to do the one thing that will give us true freedom. We fail to do the one thing that the Lord desires for us to do.

We fail to surrender!

We fail to let go of our sins. We cling tightly to them even though we claim that we have left them at the foot of the cross. It’s just like old things that we have collected. We know that we should get rid of them, so we pack them up and take them away to be discarded. Far too many of us change our minds along the way. Why do we bring them back into our lives once we have gone through the motions? I often think that we are afraid of what our lives would be without these things. The fear of change keeps us from breaking free. Are we afraid of truly leaving our sins at the foot of the cross? Do we truly repent if we pick them back up? Jesus understood that we may desire to do what is right, but we face obstacles within ourselves. Jesus understands the human condition! He has walked where we walk.

“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
(Matthew 26:41 (NIV))

If you read Psalm 51 as a response to the words recorded in Matthew, they can and should be taken as a prayer that every believer presents to God when they are confronted with the sinful nature of the flesh. We should all desire to be cleansed. In order to be cleansed, we have to submit. We have to seek it. We have to allow God to cleanse us.

Have you allowed yourself to be cleansed?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What is winning this conflict in your life?

June 25, 2018

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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))

What is your definition of freedom?

If you accept society’s understanding of that word, freedom means the ability to choose to do whatever you may wish to do and to say whatever you may wish to say. This is the freedom that focuses on the flesh and leads someone to choose sin.

Is this the way that someone who has been set free from bondage defines freedom?

This freedom implies no more chains. It implies that there will be no more consequences of the bondage. It implies an overwhelming joy that comes only when such a heavy burden has been removed. This is the type of freedom that comes when you focus on things of the Spirit. This is the freedom that allows someone to overcome the consequences of sin.

To far too many people, they see no difference in these definitions of freedom, but there is a significant and costly difference!

They are at opposite ends of the spectrum. There is no way that you can have both. When we choose the flesh, we deny the Spirit. When we choose the Spirit, we deny the flesh. Our life, and our eternity, are determined by which we choose and, consequently, which we deny. I have seen this illustrated as each person having two distinct paths that they can follow, or two distinct creatures within them – one good and one evil. The one that wins the conflict is the one that is fed.

What is winning this conflict in your life?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Honor!

May 28, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

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 12:25-26 (NIV))

Think back on the history of this country.

Have we ever had a time when a king or a dictator forced anyone to fight and die?

Have we ever had a time when we turned tail and ran from the responsibilities that we have been given?

We owe our country to our faith in God and to the brave men and women who were willing to sacrifice everything for the principles that our country is founded upon.

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

Think about that verse.

Our nation was founded by people who were seeking something. Some came seeking adventure. Some came seeking opportunity. But, many were seeking freedom to worship God as they saw fit. It was this freedom that became an integral part of our nation’s mindset. We were founded by people who saw something that they didn’t agree with and were willing to do something about it.

Some spoke out about the things that they saw. Others rallied people behind them. Many gave their lives to battle the very things that they saw as oppressive. We have never been a country to shy away from doing what is right. We have been driven by a desire to see God’s love, grace and mercy prevail. It is true that some people may not have known Jesus as their Lord and Savior, yet they had an inner feeling about right and wrong. It was part of our culture and our society. They answered the call many times even before they knew there was a call.

They gave it all. They were willing to lay down their lives so that others could know the freedoms that God had granted us. They followed the example of Jesus when He went to the cross. It was something that would end in their death, yet they faced it with dignity and pride. They did not run from their responsibility.

They faced the enemy with honor. They did not shy away from the task at hand because it would mean their death. They were living out the words of Jesus.

I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
(John 14:12 (NIV))

They gave their lives in much the same way that Jesus gave His. They knew that without their sacrifice, countless lives would be lost.

Memorial Day is upon us. It is a day that we are supposed to remember the sacrifices. It is a day to say thank you. It is a day to ask ourselves if we are capable of stepping up and defending what we hold to be true. There may come a day when we will be called upon to proclaim our faith and suffer the consequences. It is my prayer that we may all love God more than we love our own lives.

Honor and praise to God and to those who answer His call.

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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