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.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What do you ask of God?

June 28, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
(James 1:5 (NIV))

Too many people take this passage and paraphrase it to read something like, “ask God and it will be given to you.” They literally make it sound like God is in the business of being a genie who simply grants wishes. Upon a closer read of this passage, it becomes clear that God is generous with giving wisdom if you ask for it. We must, however, understand what wisdom is.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.
(Psalms 111:10 (NIV))

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
(Proverbs 9:10 (NIV))

If the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, do you truly desire to be given wisdom?

Most people associate the word fear with a strong emotion caused by an awareness of danger. Do you look upon the Lord as a source of danger? There is another definition that should be applied to the word fear when it is used in conjunction with fearing God. This definition means a profound reverence or sense of awe. Some ever say that it can simply mean a healthy and sincere respect.

Think about the definition of fear with respect to God. I already asked if you look upon the Lord as a source of danger. I want you to ask yourself, and give yourself an honest answer. Do you hold God in reverence? Are you in awe of His majesty and power? Do you respect the Lord enough to desire to not betray Him or to sin against Him? If you are able to truthfully answer these questions in a way that places the Lord God above all else, then you are on your way to possessing the greatest wisdom that you can ever possess. The next time that you begin to feel like God is a genie, remember that what He wants to give you is Godly wisdom.

What do you ask of God?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Why do we try to tell God what to do?

April 5, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?
(Romans 11:34 (NIV))

What is it about human nature that makes us want to give advice to anyone and everyone? Why do we think that the world would be so much better off if everyone would simply listen to us? Is it ego, pride, or arrogance that makes us feel that we have all of the answers, or is it a combination of all of these traits and many more? What is so interesting and sad at the same time is the fact that we even do this with God. This is the equivalent of a loaf of bread arguing with the baker who made it. Our perspective, our understanding is nothing in comparison to that of the Lord.

“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))

Who has known the mind of the Lord?

I find that question so laughable since we, as humanity, don’t spend enough time drawing close to the Lord. Through His Word, He has given us insight into His heart and mind, but very few of us spend enough time diving headfirst into this treasure to truly know God. We read something and take it out of context and soon twist it to mean what we think that it should mean. We then point a proverbial finger at the Lord and accuse Him of not doing what we think He should do based on our twisted understanding.

Let’s be honest with ourselves, each other and with the Lord. There is absolutely nothing that we can do or say that will be above and beyond what God has thought. To be perfectly honest, I believe that the following passage, even though it refers to our righteousness, can be applied to our wisdom and understanding.

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
(Isaiah 64:6 (NIV))

Again, I wonder what it is about human nature that makes us want to give advice when we truly don’t understand anything. Why are we so arrogant that we feel that our understanding is far above what it truly is?

Why do we try to tell God what to do?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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There is no other name by which we can be saved!

February 7, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
(John 6:68 (NIV))

Have you ever heard someone say that they will try something and if it doesn’t work out, that they will try something else?

Perhaps you have said something like this yourself.

I will be honest with you. There are some things where this is a valid approach. In fact, colleges have this concept down with classes like intro to psychology, intro to geology, and all of the other introductory classes. These are designed to give you a little information about the subject to see if you are interested in exploring in greater detail and depth. They are designed to give you a sampling of what that particular field of study has to offer.

If you have ever taken any classes like these, you probably remember the ones that interested you. Did you go on to learn in greater detail and depth? Was it the class, the material or perhaps it was the teacher who got you interested?

All of these classes are a good way to find out what interests you, but at some point you must make a decision and decide to follow a certain path. For Simon Peter, and the rest of the disciples, they had chosen to follow Jesus. They made this choice not because they would make a lot of money if they did, but because of the truths that they had heard. They had committed to the teachings of Jesus because He fulfilled all of the teachings that they had heard before. He fulfilled God’s Word!

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
(John 14:6 (NIV))

They realized, as I pray that you do, that Jesus was much more than just a man. They realized that all of God’s plans for their redemption and salvation was to be found in no other place, in no other man. It is for this reason that Simon Peter said that he had no other place to turn but to Jesus. Have you made that realization?

There is no other name by which we can be saved!

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you have room for Jesus?

December 22, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
(Luke 2:6-7 (NIV))

I have read this passage countless times and tonight something hit me that has never hit me before!

Do you realize that Jesus first encountered being turned away at His birth. Due to circumstances in his life, the innkeeper didn’t make room for Jesus. He didn’t try to allow Jesus in. He simply turned Him away. If he made excuses like everyone else makes excuses, the innkeeper probably said things like, “If it had been any other night,” or “I couldn’t be bothered. What would everyone else think?”

Have you heard these type of excuses from people who can’t be bothered with Jesus?

Have you ever made any excuses like these?

If you are like me, before I came to my senses and made room for Jesus, I said these and countless more. What is it about human nature that simply wants to ignore, reject or turn away the most precious gift that God could ever give? Why do we feel that our lives are just too complicated and we simply don’t have the room to allow Him in? Why do we feel that the busy lives that we live are too full, yet, we constantly take on more and more?

There is one thing that is missing from the innkeeper’s story. We do not read of him being rejected and condemned for not allowing Jesus in. We do not hear of the innkeeper being cast away by the Lord for not welcoming Him in. Thankfully, no matter how many times that we refuse to make room for Jesus, He still gives us another opportunity to receive His grace and mercy. But there will be a time for all of us when it will be too late!

Just don’t wait until it’s too late.

Do you have room for Jesus?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What is it that you seek first?

December 18, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

So do not worry, saying, `What shall we eat?’ or `What shall we drink?’ or `What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
(Matthew 6:31-33 (NIV))

What is it that you seek first?

With Christmas almost here, many people turn ino materialistic animals. They think that they have to give the perfect gift. They think that they have to have the latest gadget because it will make their life complete. They think that they have to give more expensive gifts because they are being judged by their gift.

I pray that people will come to the realization that it is not about bigger and better gifts. It is not about finding the perfect clothes to wear. It is not about preparing the perfect meal or making sure that the supply of drinks does not run out. It is simply a matter of priorities.

I pray that people will come to the realization that all that they truly need is found in a manger and at the foot of the cross!

Focus on Jesus and seek His righteousness as your priority. When you find yourself aligning your life along God’s plan and His grace, then everything else will slowly come into focus. What better time to realign your priorities than at the time of year that we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior. Birth represents a new beginning. The birth of Jesus gives each of us that opportunity for a new beginning – a beginning without the baggage of the failed priorities of the world.

Again, I ask the simple question. What is it that you seek first?

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