Do you choose true freedom?

April 23, 2019

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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))

Freedom! Such a gift. We are set free from the bondage of sin and death. This is not a freedom to do whatever we choose. We are free of the consequences of sin. It does not mean that we are free to sin. By accepting Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior, we are forgiven and are granted freedom from our sin. It does not mean that we are free to go and sin again. As Jesus told the woman and the Pharisees:

The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

“No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
(John 8:3-11)

She was granted freedom, but this freedom did not give here permission to continue in her life of sin.

Do you look at your freedom as permission to continue or do you look at it as a warning to change your life? Do you choose true freedom?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What are we guilty of doing in our churches?

April 16, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

When Jesus entered the temple courts, he began to drive out those who were selling. “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be a house of prayer’; but you have made it ‘a den of robbers.'”
(Luke 19:45-46 (NIV))

We, as the Body of Christ, have a tendency to gloss over the events between Palm Sunday and the Upper Room, but it is crucial to remember one important event in relation to the temple during this time. Jesus made it a point to criticize the established practices of the day. He made it a point to let Jerusalem and all of Israel know that what they were doing in the temple was not acceptable in the eyes of God. They had turned the concepts of prayer, repentance and sacrifice into a business.

I want you to think about this for a moment. Most people who came to the temple came a long way so it was not easy for them to bring animals to sacrifice. As a result, someone started the practice of having animals and other offerings for sale within the outer courtyard. I am sure that these people thought that they were providing a service to their fellow Israelites who had come a long way, but it appears that they were more concerned about helping themselves get rich by charging high prices for their goods. It appears that they were so much more concerned about profit than honesty and righteousness. Jesus saw their hearts and reacted accordingly.

I want you to stop and consider some of the things that we allow to take place within the boundaries of our churches!

As we move from Palm Sunday into Good Friday and then Resurrection Sunday, it is my desire that everyone who professes a faith in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior would take a serious look at their actions and their motives for these actions. It is my prayer that each of us would reflect on what faith in Jesus and church has become. I want you to ask yourself a few simple questions.

Is this what Jesus had in mind when He went to the cross?

Do my actions and my motives glorify Jesus or do my actions and my motives glorify me?

In essence, we need to make sure that we treat the Lord’s house with the same zeal we know that Jesus had for the temple. Are we doing things that would make Jesus chase us out?

What are we guilty of doing in our churches?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you desire to be focused on Jesus?

April 4, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
(1 Corinthians 2:2 (NIV))

What is it that you find yourself focusing on? What is it that commands all of your attention? What is is that you treasure more than anything else in all of creation?

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
(Matthew 6:21 (NIV))

Are you willing to admit what has your focus, what has your attention and what has your heart?

This is a very tough question and one that I am sure many of us have wanted to avoid at some point in our lives. Be completely honest with yourself. Can you openly admit in front of family and friends the one thing that is your treasure? Can you admit to what is the one thing that has your focus? I can’t answer those questions for anyone except myself. No one can answer for you and you definitely can’t answer for anyone else.

If you primary focus is not a relationship with Jesus, what does that say about your life and your salvation? You claim to know who Jesus is, but does He know you?

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
(Matthew 7:21-23 (NIV))

As a professing believer in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, He should be the primary authority and focus in your life.

Do you desire to be focused on Jesus?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is the message of the cross foolishness or power?

April 3, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
(1 Corinthians 1:18 (NIV))

Ever since it happened, the crucifixion and the resurrection have been points of contention in the minds of millions, if not billions, of people. It is either looked upon as the most amazing gift and the most amazingly simple way for God to restore a lost creation to Himself, or it is looked upon as a childishly simple lie and a fairy tale. Ironically, both camps recognize the simplicity involved. Those who profess a faith in Jesus and what He accomplished on the cross understand the Gospel, or good news, in such a way that they realize God made it simple to receive salvation. All that you have to do is repent and ask Jesus to be your personal Lord and Savior. Those who look upon the cross as foolishness cling to the old saying, “If it looks too good to be true, it is!” They also often think that it doesn’t make sense that one man could save me by dying on a cross. What they fail to recognize is that one man was not just any man. He was the Son of Man. He was fully man and He was fully Lord.

I realize that there are many possible shades between these two ends of the spectrum, but in essence most can be included. Even those who profess that there is no God fall into the foolishness category. Many of those who profess this think that any and all concepts of a god, let alone the one true God, are all signs of an uneducated mind. They fail to see the evidence that is right in front of them. In all of their so-called wisdom, they fail to see the obvious.

Do you recall your life before you came to faith in Jesus?

Think about your attitude towards those who professed a faith in Jesus. If you are like most people, you probably bought into the stereotypical characterization of believers that the world wants you to believe. You probably had a tendency to look at all believers with a very jaded perspective. Now that you profess a faith in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, that characterization has hopefully been long gone. Looking honestly back at these periods in your life, which one was the foolish period?

The cross divides many aspects of this world. It divides time – B.C. and A.D. It divides families. It divides societies. Nothing in all of human history has been the source of so much division. It all comes down to a simple matter of perspective.

Is the message of the cross foolishness or power?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Believing is seeing!

March 25, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.”
(John 4:48 (NIV))

Are you a visual person? Do you learn only when you see it before your own eyes?

Where is the faith in this?

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
(Hebrews 11:1 (NIV))

There are just some things that you must accept without seeing. Faith in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior is one of those things. We do not have the good fortune of having been alive when He walked the earth. We will never see the miracles that He performed. Perhaps that is a good thing, for those who actually saw them wanted more before many of them would believe.

Where does that leave us?

We must be certain in our hope that Jesus is who He says He is. We must be certain of what we do not see. We will be blessed if we can go beyond our physical limitations and start to believe even if we do not see. We must remember what Jesus told Thomas.

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
(John 20:29 (NIV))

This world teaches us that we must see it in order to believe it. That is true of anything of this world. Faith in Jesus is not of this world. We must be sure of the hope that Jesus brings even though we may not see it.

Are you sure of your faith? Do you need to see to believe?

Believing is seeing!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you have faith in your beliefs?

March 18, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
(Hebrews 11:6 (NIV))

Do you have enough faith to believe?

Do you have enough belief to have faith?

Belief comes in many levels. You can believe that God exists. Belief can stop there. You can believe that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. Belief can stop there. You can believe that He loves us. Belief can stop there. You can believe that He wants to redeem us. Again, belief can stop there. You can believe that He sent His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross to save us from our sins.

Belief can stop there!

What else is there?

There is the belief that Jesus arose on the third day. There is the belief that Jesus now sits at the right hand of God, the Father.

There is the belief that Jesus is your personal Lord and Savior.

There is the faith to proclaim this belief with every once that is you. There is the faith to call upon the name of Jesus in any situation. There is the faith that He will redeem you in spite of your sins.

I don’t know if you saw this, but belief leads to faith. I honestly do not think that it is possible to have faith without believing the truths behind that faith. Belief and faith go hand in hand, but, think about this concept for a moment. Can belief exist without faith? You can believe that God is good, but if you don’t have the faith to live up to that belief, what do you have? Can faith exist without belief? You can have faith that God is good, and then every action that you take will reflect that.

I honestly think that you can believe without having faith. Just take a look at all of the people who say that they believe in God, yet, never act it out. They don’t have the faith to take a stand for what the profess to believe in.

Do you believe?

Do you have faith in your beliefs?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you strong in the Lord?

February 14, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
(Ephesians 6:10-18 (NIV))

No soldier in history has ever won a battle by not being prepared to face the enemy. We are in a battle. We either choose to accept God’s Son, Jesus Christ, as our personal Lord and Savior, or we reject Him. By rejecting Him, we have allowed the enemy to have victory.

Even if we accept the gift that God has given us, we must be prepared to face the attacks of the enemy. A good soldier will ready his weapons and his body for combat.

We are in spiritual combat. How do we prepare ourselves for this combat? By embracing the sword that is the Word of God. The more that we read and study, the more that we will be prepared to determine what is from God and what is from the enemy.

Soldiers have instructions on how to maintain and use their physical weapons. We also have instructions on how to use our spiritual weapons. Read the Bible and meditate on the meanings that the words have even today, for God is the same yesterday, today and forever.

Are you strong in the Lord?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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