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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Does your life validate your claim?

June 26, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.
(1 John 2:6 (NIV))

Everyone is familiar with the old saying, “Actions speak louder than words!” Basically, it is possible to say one thing but have your actions say something completely different. A good example of this is saying that you want to help the poor and then when you think that no one is looking, you yell at a homeless person to get a job. Actions like this prove that all too often, what you say and what you do contradict each other.

I would not want to be thought of in this way even if I didn’t profess a faith in Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior!

I have heard several accounts of when followers of Jesus were first called Christians. One account says that the word “Christian” was a derogatory name that meant little Christs. Others convey a meaning of simply being a follower of Christ. Still others believe that it simply meant that those who were called by that name were anointed. No matter what you believe is the true root of the word, the meanings behind them carry a much deeper context. Think about that and apply each of these meanings to your life.

Do you act like a little Christ? If Jesus is your Lord and Savior, He is also your brother. Do you emulate your brother?

Do you act like a follower of Christ? If Jesus is your role model, do you strive to be like Him?

Do you act like you are anointed? If you believe in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, then you have these words to define your status.

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
(John 14:12 (NIV))

No matter which way you look at the origin of the word “Christian,” it should be looked upon as a badge of honor. it should be looked upon as a designation that you strive to follow Jesus in all that you do – both in word and in deed. With this in mind, I want to ask the following.

Do you claim to be a Christian?

Does your life validate your claim?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Which law do you want to live under?

April 16, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.
(Romans 8:1-2 (NIV))

In our lives, we all have to answer to many different types of laws.

There are physical laws such as the law of gravity. I have yet to meet anyone who has tested these laws and lived. It is true that we have learned to bend these laws and apply them to our daily lives, but there is no way that you can ever truly know with complete certainty that when you bend these laws that your efforts will succeed. Referring back to the law of gravity, it is possible to jump out of an aircraft and rely on a parachute to open and allow you to ride the air currents to slow you down. This only works as long as the parachute does what it was designed to do. If it does not, then you suffer the consequences!

There are man made laws that quite often are based on what is hopefully a common sense application of physical laws, moral laws and spiritual laws. Murder is a prime example. With man made laws, they are open to creation and interpretation of those who are in authority. Human authority can change!

There are moral laws, which are quite often derived from spiritual laws. Once again, murder is a good example. Almost everyone knows that it is wrong to kill someone, yet, there are many times when people ignore or bend this law to suit their needs.

Most of us are able to claim that we have lived a “good” life and that we have not tempted physical laws. We try to avoid breaking man made laws, especially the ones that we consider to be a moral or spiritual no-no. However, there are other things that we need to consider with spiritual laws. We all miss the mark. We all sin.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
(Romans 3:23 (NIV))

In other words, we have all broken God’s laws. Because of what we have done, we are all condemned to death, but God has placed another law into play that we can rightfully use to claim freedom. Through the law of the Spirit who gives life, we can claim forgiveness. We can throw ourselves on the mercy of God and claim the blood of Jesus Christ. We can acknowledge that Jesus is our personal Lord and Savior.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 6:23 (NIV))

We have two choices as to what law applies to our lives. We can live under the law of sin and death, or we can find grace by living under the law of the Spirit who gives life.

Which law do you want to live under?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What is your reason for living?

January 12, 2018

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Let me live that I may praise you, and may your laws sustain me.
(Psalms 119:175 (NIV))

People want to live for many different reasons. Some want to see the world. Some want to fall in love and get married. Some want to start a business or write a book. Some want to see their children grow up. Some want to be rich while others want to be famous. Others simply want to leave their mark on the world by making people happy.

How about you?

What makes you want to get up each morning and live the day to the fullest?

What are you focused on that gives you a reason for living?

Have you ever said anything like what the psalmist wrote? Have you ever said that you want to live so that you can praise God?

After reading this passage and thinking about it, why don’t we ever give this as a reason for living? We owe our very existence to God for He created us. We owe our very intellect to God for He created us to have wisdom and free will. We owe so much to God and most of us simply take everything that He has done for us for granted. We look at our lives and we think that what we have is of our own doing.

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))

If we are unclean and the best that we can do is like filthy rags, how can we be responsible for anything good in our lives? When we look in the mirror we should not think that we have it made. We should be thankful that we are capable of claiming Jesus as our Lord and Savior. For everything that God has done for us, including send His only begotten Son, Jesus, to die so that we could live, we should be eternally thankful. We should lift Him up in praise. We should acknowledge that He alone is our reason for living.

What is your reason for living?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Would you like to deny death its victory?

November 28, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?
(1 Corinthians 15:55 (NIV))

Have you ever faced something that you knew was an inevitability?

There is an old saying that only two things are certain – death and taxes, and I would probably be able to say that around April of each year they may appear to be the same thing. I think it is human nature to fear anything that requires us to give up something, especially when we know that we will never get it back. In death, we give up our life thinking that we will never get it back. With taxes, we give up our money knowing that it is long gone.

I love the perspective that Jesus gave us about taxes.

“Show me a denarius. Whose image and inscription are on it?”
“Caesar’s,” they replied.
He said to them, “Then give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
(Luke 20:24-25 (NIV))

Through these words, Jesus let us know that money is a man-made thing and in God’s grand scheme of things, it is not important. Jesus told us to give to man what man has created. In that same logic, we are to give to God what God has created! Am I off base with this concept, for God created life? God did not create death. Death came about as a result of what Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden. From that time to the present, death has become a part of life. Up until the time that God sent His only begotten Son, Jesus, to live and to die as an atoning sacrifice, humanity had no hope of anything beyond the grave. Satan appeared to have won, but God had a better plan. God’s plan made it possible to escape the ultimate consequences of a physical death brought about by sin. Through God’s plan of redemption and grace, we can spend eternity in God’s presence in paradise! All that we have to do is profess Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior.

Would you like to deny death its victory?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you willing to forgive?

October 10, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
(Matthew 6:14-15 (NIV))

Most people like to ignore this passage because it is difficult to admit that grace received is based on grace that is given. We like to think that it is okay to withhold forgiveness to those who have wronged us. We like to think that we are above what others are called to do. Let’s be honest! Everyone is self-centered. Everyone is prideful. It is human nature to think that we are better than everyone else, and since we are better, then we don’t have to forgive others.

What if God had that attitude in dealing with us?

It would not be a pretty picture. In fact, if you think about this stipulation that we are forgiven in the same manner that we forgive, you begin to see that God is trying to make us realize that we are all in need of forgiveness. We need to forgive each other for the things that they have done to us. No one is perfect and it is impossible to live life without having someone sin against you. It is also impossible to live life without sinning against someone else. No one is perfect. No one is able to claim righteousness on their own.

Jesus taught on this concept many times.

Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.
(Matthew 18:32-35 (NIV))

Are you beginning to understand God’s heart and forgiveness? What is freely given to others is freely given to us!

Are you willing to forgive?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How do you live your life?

September 29, 2017

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 (NIV))

We have been given a choice as to how we will live. God has given us free will, and we can use that free will to follow Him or to reject Him. Too many people have two sides to them. There is the one side that puts up a good image while in the presence of those that you want to impress, and then there is the side that rebels against all that is good. This reminds me of the warning to the church at Laodicea. They were neither cold nor hot. In essence, they couldn’t decide if they were following Jesus or not.

Just like the church at Laodicea, we all have the choice to follow Jesus or to follow the world. Don’t use the grace that you have been given to convince yourself that you are able to do whatever you want. Jesus came to bring grace and mercy, but that does not mean that you can continue to sin. We are called to repent, to turn from our sin, and to follow Jesus. That means that we must change the way that we live our lives so that they honor God.

How do you live your life?

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