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.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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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.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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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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Is there freedom in your life?

April 30, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
(2 Corinthians 3:17 (NIV))

What do you think of when you think of God? Are you prone to apply human understanding and limit God as a result? Do you have a mental image of how you think God looks? Does your mental image apply human characteristics to God?

God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.
(John 4:24 (NIV))

No one knows what the Father looks like. His glory cannot be comprehended by human minds. All throughout human history, people have made a vain attempt at creating a likeness of God or what people have called gods. We are told not to worship idols. Nothing that we can imagine comes close to the majesty that is our Lord! He has no physical limitations. He has no spiritual limitations except that He cannot associate with sin.

We think that we have a good idea of what Jesus looked like. Even so, nobody is completely certain. God sent Jesus into this world at a time when people and events were not recorded for all to see. I would probably venture to say that it was never God’s intention to have a perfect likeness of Jesus be a part of His legacy. I can already imagine the human ego being exactly what it is if we knew that Jesus had a certain look or a certain ethnicity. We do know that He was Jewish, but we don’t know how dark His skin was. We don’t know what color eyes He had. All that we do know and all that we need to know is recorded in the Gospels. God wanted us to believe in Jesus on faith and not because we saw a video of Him performing any of His miracles.

Did God exist before creation?

Did Jesus exist before He came to earth?

Does God exist now?

Does Jesus exist now?

In case you are wondering where I am going with this, the answer is simple. God is Spirit – always has been and always will be.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
(John 1:1 (NIV))

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
(John 1:14 (NIV))

He stepped out of eternity and took on human form in order to bring us freedom! This does not mean that we are to worship the form. We are to worship the Lord in all of His majesty and not in the limitations of the form that He took. When you see the cross, what do you see? Do you see a man who was nailed to it or do you see the Spirit of God come to earth to set us free?

Is there freedom in your life?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is your belief clouded by doubt?

November 8, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.
(James 1:6 (NIV))

Why would anyone bother to ask for something if they didn’t believe that it could be attained?

Why would you ask and then vacillate, or waiver, about what you just asked for?

Think about this concept in the following contexts. From a man’s perspective, how would the following scenarios play out in relationship to the two questions above? Would you ask someone to marry you if you didn’t believe that it could happen? What if you asked someone to marry you and then immediately responded with something like, “Never mind! I didn’t mean it!”? Now, suppose that you then asked again and then changed your mind again.

The first scenario shows your lack of faith while the second scenario shows your lack of decisiveness. Both scenarios reflect negatively on you.

Think about this in terms of asking for something from God.

Why ask God for something if you don’t believe that He can or will do it? We have a tendency to place God in a box of our own design and by so doing, we limit Him to our understanding. If God spoke everything into existence, what makes you think that He is limited in His response to you?

Why ask God for something if you can’t decide what you want to ask Him? We are told that we should approach God with confidence.

In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.
(Ephesians 3:12 (NIV))

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.
(1 John 5:14 (NIV))

With this in mind, let’s take this one step further. When we approach God in confidence, we are told that this is the very definition of faith.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
(Hebrews 11:1 (NIV))

We must rest assuredly on the promises that we have been given. We must have faith that when we seek God’s will and when we ask for something in confidence according to His will, that it will be done. We must not be clouded in doubt?

Is your belief clouded by doubt?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Grace does not mean that you can continue sinning!

July 26, 2017

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))

What does freedom mean to you?

Many people believe that it means that they have the right to do whatever they want to do whenever they want to do it. This attitude is even prevalent in the church. Too many people who attend church falsely believe that since they are covered by grace, they can do anything that they want to do. Do you remember the woman who was caught in adultery? Do you remember what Jesus said to her?

“No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
(John 8:11 (NIV))

Does this sound anything like the false belief that people have about grace? Jesus did not tell the woman to embrace the sin. We are to turn away from our sinful nature, no matter what it may be.

Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
(1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (NIV))

Do you know the difference between the word “are” and the word “were?”

Paul addressed the members of the church in Corinth by saying that some of them had been these things. Nowhere does it sound like Paul was implying that we could still cling to our favorite sins while claiming freedom, grace and mercy through Jesus. We are to leave the old behind and hold fast to the truth that is before us. If we could cling to our sins and still have salvation, then why did Jesus have to come to the earth? Jesus offers us a way out of our sins and a way to receive the true freedom from sin.

Focus on following Jesus and the indulgences of the flesh will fade!

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you know true freedom?

July 4, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away. But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
(2 Corinthians 3:12-18 (NIV))

On this day of July 4th, the day that we as a nation celebrate our freedom, we must remember who really gives us our freedom. No matter what the political climate in the country where we may live, true freedom comes only from knowing Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior.

Look at the nation of Israel. They are the nation that God used to give us Jesus. Yet, despite this favorite nation status, to use a term from our society, most of the people living at the time did not accept Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. They were looking for a different type of freedom and this blinded them to the real freedom that was readily available to all who would accept it.

What is your view of true freedom?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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