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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Are you bold enough to proclaim the name of Jesus?

June 30, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Jesus is
“‘the stone you builders rejected,
      which has become the cornerstone.’
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
(Acts 4:11-12 (NIV))

Can you imagine the boldness that it took for Peter to proclaim these words to the Sanhedrin?

Can you imagine the shock that the members of the Sanhedrin felt when they heard these words? From their human perspective, I fully understand why they told Peter and John not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus. They were the authority and they did not want their authority to be replaced with the authority and power that Jesus gives!

I have two questions for each of us to consider.

Would we boldly proclaim Jesus under these type of conditions?

Would we resort to an unsuccessful attempt to stifle the power of Jesus?

The reason that I ask these two questions is based on the current events and trends in this world. If we are pulled in front of a governing body and given an ultimatum to not speak or teach in the name of Jesus, would we stand firm or would we surrender? What if we are told we will be killed if we don’t stop speaking and teaching in the name of Jesus?

If the tide turns further away from good and toward evil, will we be able to stand firm or will we give in to the point where we find ourselves telling others to not speak or teach in the name of Jesus?

How strong is your faith?

How firmly will you stand? Will you deny Jesus?

But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.
(Matthew 10:33 (NKJV))

Are you bold enough to proclaim the name of Jesus?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you gotten a taste of the Lord’s goodness?

June 29, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Taste and see that the Lord is good;
(Psalms 34:8a (NIV))

Have you ever asked yourself why this passage uses the word taste?

Think about the process of tasting and eating and drinking. We slowly put something into our physical body via our mouth to see if we will like it and if it will be good for us. In essence, we are taking something that is foreign to our bodies and putting it inside of us. It becomes a part of us! We become intimately familiar with what we are tasting.

Ever since the fall from grace, God’s goodness has been foreign to our spiritual being. Due to our sinful nature, we are not sure what to do with what is good and pure. We sample, or taste, just as we do with physical food and drink to see if it is good. We taste of the Lord and find that His love and mercy is sweet and very good for our lives. We ingest bits of His Word and find that it is very palatable and we soon find ourselves wanting more. Just like physical food that tastes good, we find ourselves feeding on the Word of God and we find that it becomes integral to our lives. The more we taste, the more we want.

David wrote much about the goodness of the Lord. He understood it. He longed for it. He never wanted it to end.

Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
(Psalms 23:6 (NIV))

David had gotten a taste of the goodness of the Lord. As a result, he followed the Lord all the days of His life.

Have you gotten a taste of the Lord’s goodness?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What are the things that you willfully do?

June 24, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression.
(Psalms 19:13 (NIV))

Perhaps we should rephrase this first part to something a little more obvious and upfront.

Keep your servant from deliberate and intentional sins!

In other words, David was asking the Lord to keep him from doing the wrong thing when he knew the right thing to do. Perhaps we should pray what David asked so that we are kept from deliberately planning to sin!

I am going to ask a very blunt question, but I think that you can probably anticipate what it is going to be.

Do you deliberately and intentionally sin? Do you find yourself clinging to an old sinful nature that you simply don’t want to let go of? Do you love the sin more than you love Jesus? Are you willing to give up God’s grace for a momentary sinful pleasure? Please don’t misunderstand me. We are all human and we are all sinners. None of us are perfect. What we desire is often opposite of what we actually do. This is not something new to humanity, but it is something that we must overcome. Even Paul faced this in his life.

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))

I realize that this passage does not directly say that Paul deliberately and intentionally sinned, but we have to consider that Paul wrote that he had the desire to do what is good but could not carry it out. We probably also have the desire to do what is good, but what do we do with that desire? Paul knew what to do.

Human nature is sinful no matter how much we want to do what is right in the eyes of the Lord. Thankfully, we have been given grace and mercy through Jesus. When we find ourselves guilty of sin, willfully or otherwise, there are two things that we can willfully do. We can accept Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, and we can repent of our sin!

What are the things that you willfully do?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are we thoroughly equipped to be God’s servants?

June 23, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
(2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV))

Most believers are familiar with this passage, but most read it as I have presented it here. We have a tendency to take it as a stand-alone passage and forget the context that it was originally written. It is true that as a stand-alone passage, it does speak truth, for anything from God’s Word is God-breathed and useful in all righteousness, but there is more to this passage than this. These words about all scripture close 2 Timothy 3 after it is opened with these words about the last days.

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
(2 Timothy 3:1-5 (NIV))

We, as the Body of Christ, have taken these two passages and have made them unrelated. We look at the warning about the last days but fail to realize that the closing words from 2 Timothy 3 are instructions for us when we see the things of the last days unfolding right before our eyes. The words written by Paul to Timothy are instructions to continue in the faith. We are to stand firm in the face of adversity. We are to stand firm when we see people are becoming lovers of themselves. We are to stand firm in our faith when we see the world turning into lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. We are to stand firm by firmly rooting ourselves in the scriptures, and not just our favorite passages.

In order to recognize the truth, we must be firmly rooted in God’s truth. There are gems of godly wisdom and truth in every passage. Some truths are only recognizable when you understand the complete truth, for God’s Word is not just a collection of individual, unrelated nuggets. God’s Word is life!

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
(Genesis 1:1 (NIV))

From the first words in Genesis 1 to the last words in Revelation 22, there is an unfolding of God’s truth and in order to understand it, we must read and study it all.

He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.”
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.
(Revelation 22:20-21 (NIV))

It is said that all of scripture after the fall from grace details God’s plan to bring salvation and to restore His creation. How well do you know the story? How well do you know what the outcomes are for those involved in this story?

Are we thoroughly equipped to be God’s servants?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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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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We must focus on being lovers of God!

June 5, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God-
(2 Timothy 3:1-4 (NIV))

I am sure that you have seen the jokes and the memes on social media about the type of year that 2020 has been so far. We hope and pray that things will get better, but I honestly think that what we are seeing is becoming the norm, especially when you read about what people will be like in the last days. In fact, when I first read this passage this evening, I did not have to struggle to think up very public examples of each one of these traits. I am certain that you can probably think of prime examples of each one of these traits as evidenced in our society as well.

Why have people become so blinded? Why have people become so self-centered and hate-filled? These traits go against every single one of God’s commandments. They also go against other traits that we are told we should strive to possess.

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

Sadly, these traits are not what seems to be front and center in today’s world. Far too many in this world are being led astray by the enemy. They are being led down a path that comes in direct conflict with anything good – with anything from God! They are being led down a path of sin and evil.

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
(Galatians 5:19-21 (NIV))

I am sure that we have all heard that as followers of Jesus, we live in the world, but we are not of the world. How are we, as the Body of Christ, to respond to people who are in open rebellion against God?

We are to share the Gospel! We are also told what to do if people will not listen.

If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.
(Matthew 10:14-15 (NIV))

We are to pray! We can’t soften hearts. Only God can. We must pray that those who rebel will repent and turn to the Lord. And, we must stand firm in our faith so that we are not led astray.

We must focus on being lovers of God!

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

June 4, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

“Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. I tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the second or third watch of the night. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”
(Luke 12:35-40 (NIV))

We can not always be physically dressed and waiting for Jesus to return. We can be spiritually dressed, though. We can put on the full armor of God and be prepared to face whatever the enemy may send our way. We will also be prepared to receive Jesus when He returns, for we will know of His impending return and will wait to greet Him just as in the parables retold by Luke.

Jesus often spoke in symbolism. Being dressed and ready for service is a symbol of being spiritually prepared for service in the army of God. Are you spiritually dressed and ready to do what God would have you do?

If Jesus were to return for His church at this very moment, would He find you dressed and ready for service?

Are you truly ready?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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How well are we fulfilling these requirements?

June 3, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
      And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
      and to walk humbly with your God.
(Micah 6:8 (NIV))

This world has a habit of trying to destroy anything that remotely resembles justice, mercy and humility. This is especially true when it is focused on the Lord!

From the beginning in the Garden of Eden, and all throughout history, God has told us what is good. Every single time that the Lord has told us what is good, even if we start off doing good, we have failed miserably at everything. Ever since the fall from grace, it has become human nature. We are drawn to the exact opposite of what we are told is good. It has now gotten to the point where a large portion of the world’s population has resorted to calling good evil and evil good. Think about that in context to this response from Jesus.

As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone.
(Mark 10:17-18 (NIV))

If you take the concept of calling good evil, then the next logical step is that those who are making this claim are actually making a statement that they think God is evil!

How could anybody in their right mind ever say that?

Sadly, in this sinful, fallen world, too many people have rejected God. There seems to be an ever increasing number of people who prefer sin. This falls right in line with the parable about the wheat and the tares. Until the Lord brings in the harvest, we, as the Body of Christ, must strive to reach those who are lost in sin. We must continue to spread the Gospel no matter what we may face. If you stop to think about it, spreading the Gospel covers all requirements as set forth in Micah.

We are to act justly by sharing the truth of the Gospel with anyone and everyone. We cannot withhold such a great gift because of our preconceived ideas. That is a sin.

We are to love mercy by sharing the mercy that we have been given with those who need mercy.

We are to walk humbly with our God by placing His plans for the salvation of others above our own selfish desires.

How well are we fulfilling these requirements?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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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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