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 sharing the true Jesus with others?

January 27, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.
(Luke 19:10 (NIV))

What have you been taught about Jesus? In particular, what have you been taught about the reason that He came into this world?

Did He come to be a social justice warrior? Did He come to advocate for the poor? Did He come to spread peace and love, or did He come to call a lost and sinful humanity to repentance?

I realize that Jesus did many things when He walked this earth, and many of those things can be classified as falling into these categories that I listed, but they were all ways to reach the lost. Did Jesus teach on being just and fair in our dealings with each other? I can point out many situations where He did just that. He pointed out our sinful nature in these matters and asked us to seek God and follow His commands. Not following God’s commands is a sin. Jesus was telling us to repent and follow Him. Did Jesus teach on helping the poor? If you look back at Old Testament laws, that was already in place. A landowner was not supposed to harvest all the way to the corners of his fields. This was to be left for the poor. In other words, love your neighbor as yourself. Not doing so is a sin. Jesus was calling us to repent of our sin. When asked what the greatest commandments are, He responded that you are to love God and love your neighbor as yourself. The example that He gave involved a Samaritan man. In the culture of the day, Jewish people hated the Samaritans. In other words, Jesus was telling us to repent of our sin of hatred.

What is your definition of being lost? According to God, being lost is being a sinner.

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

And being a sinner has drastic consequences!

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

Jesus walked among us telling us to live according to what God had planned. He called us to repent of our shortcomings, our sins, and to turn to God in all things. He used every situation that He was in as a teachable moment to drive this home. Repent in your dealings with others. Repent of your treatment of the poor. It is possible to do these things yet still miss out on the only reason that Jesus came. All of these can be labeled as works of the flesh if we do not have a repentant heart and a desire to follow Jesus in all that we do. A repentant heart is a result of the most important aspect of why Jesus came. Jesus calls us to love God and to love your neighbor as yourself. When we do this, our desires change. Our actions are no longer selfish in nature. We see ourselves and others as God sees them.

We are called to also seek and save the lost by sharing Jesus with them.

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. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
(Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV))

Sadly, I believe that we, as the church, have missed the mark. We share Jesus only when we are comfortable, and we don’t emphasize where Jesus tells us to teach people to obey everything that He has commanded. We sugar coat it, and as a result, we see people developing incorrect images of Jesus. I know that this hasn’t been a saying in several years, but we must pay attention to “What Would Jesus Do?” According to the words recorded in Luke, Jesus clearly said that He came to seek and save the lost!

Are you sharing the true Jesus with others?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Where do your actions lead you?

November 19, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life,
but violence overwhelms the mouth of the wicked.
Hatred stirs up dissension,
but love covers over all wrongs.
Wisdom is found on the lips of the discerning,
but a rod is for the back of him who lacks judgment.
Wise men store up knowledge,
but the mouth of a fool invites ruin.
The wealth of the rich is their fortified city,
but poverty is the ruin of the poor.
The wages of the righteous bring them life,
but the income of the wicked brings them punishment.
He who heeds discipline shows the way to life,
but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.
(Proverbs 10:11-17 (NIV))

Too bad that nonbelievers do not take these words to heart! Nothing could be plainer than the truth these words speak of.

Today, too many people go about doing whatever “feels good” to them without any thought to the consequences of their actions. If you have ever studied Physics, there is a physical law that states for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. If these people would only realize that what is true in the physical world is also true in the spiritual world. Every time that they do a wicked act or do something that lacks spiritual judgment, then they are storing up equal and opposite actions that will be brought upon themselves. They store up rotten fruits as their reward for their actions. Believers store up abundant fruit that does not rot.

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

Where do your actions lead you?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you ask God first?

November 15, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Then Saul said, “Let’s chase the Philistines all night and destroy every last one of them.” His men replied, “We’ll do whatever you think is best.” But the priest said, “Let’s ask God first.”
(1 Samuel 14:36 (NLT))

What do you think is best?

Do you rely on your judgment to determine what is the best thing to do in any situation? Do you rely on the judgment of other people?

No human judgment is perfect. No human reasoning can understand and comprehend all that there is to know and understand. We see things in a limited light.

Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
(1 Corinthians 13:12 (NIV))

If this is how we see and understand all that is around us, why do we place our trust in any other judgment but God’s? His judgment, just as His Word, is what we should be seeking. We should not place our trust in the knowledge and judgment of men, for man’s judgment is flawed.

Do you ask God first?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What scripture is being fulfilled today?

September 2, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
(Luke 4:18-21 (NIV))

For hundreds of years, the nation of Israel literally waited for the fulfillment of the prophecy foretold in these words. Yet, as it unfolded right before them, most did not recognize what they had been waiting for. They did not recognize it for they had become so wrapped up in their interpretation of how it would happen, that they did not see God’s interpretation as it unfolded.

If we had been alive at this time, would we have recognized the fulfillment of this prophecy or would we have been like the majority of people? Perhaps even more important is our perception and understanding of what is to come in our life time. We have the luxury of being able to look back through history and see the events as they unfolded. We can recognize the events in hind sight, but how will we be in recognizing the events that are unfolding right before our very eyes?

Jesus will return. He will come for His church when the time is right.

Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, `I am the Christ, ‘ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.
(Matthew 24:4-8 (NIV))

What scripture is being fulfilled today? What do we look for that is our interpretation of these events? We must focus on God’s Word so that we truly understand God’s interpretation and not our own.

I know that I don’t want to be one who watches things unfold and I miss out on what God is doing because I have my own interpretation. I want to know God’s plans and His heart so that I may see things through His eyes.

God is setting the world’s stage for some amazing events. I don’t want to misunderstand any of them. What scripture is being fulfilled today?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you looking to yourself instead of Jesus?

November 13, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.
(Revelation 3:17 (NIV))

Do you consider yourself a follower of Christ?

Do you like to be self-sufficient?

Are you the type of person who has to take care of everything yourself?

Do you feel that unless you do it, it isn’t done right?

Would you rather starve than ask for assistance?

Do you look around and think to yourself that you have your life in order and are prepared for anything that may happen?

Hopefully, everyone who reads this will answer the first question with a resounding “Yes!”

The other questions fall into an area where human ego and pride come into play far too often. To be honest with you, I am guilty of answering these questions with a “yes” more often than I care to admit. Everyone likes to be self-sufficient. Do you feel guilty asking for help? I understand.

For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”
(2 Thessalonians 3:10 (NIV))

Everyone has a certain way that you want things done. Everyone would love to have a nest egg to know that they are taken care of. We like to be able to predict our comfort and our future. But is this what God wants?

He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’
“Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”‘
“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’
(Luke 12:17-20 (NIV))

In case you did not realize this, Revelation 3:17 is about the church at Laodicea. This is the church that Jesus called lukewarm. He even said that He was about to spit them out of His mouth. They had accepted Jesus, yet they failed to leave the comfort of their physical lives. They thought that they had everything covered. They thought that they were self-sufficient. They thought that they didn’t need any assistance and that everything was in order. The sad part of this is that is was all based on their efforts and not on the strength of Jesus! If we take a look at the next sentence from Luke, we see exactly what will happen to those who fail to look to the Lord.

“This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”
(Luke 12:21 (NIV))

Don’t be caught up in your ability. Don’t be so arrogant that you rely on your feeble works. Look to the Lord and grow in your faith.

Are you looking to yourself instead of Jesus?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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We were given the better end of this deal!

May 12, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.
(2 Corinthians 8:9 (NIV))

No matter how you look at this, it doesn’t make sense from a worldly perspective!

Everyone has heard the term the art of the deal. The concept is to get the upper hand, to get the best out of any situation. Most of the time this is applied to business ventures, but it has ramifications in so many areas. It can even apply to the Body of Christ. Consider the last time that you saw a well known, nationally or internationally recognized preacher speaking at a small country church. It is human nature to not trade down. You don’t see someone trading everything they have and getting little or nothing in return.

Thankfully, Jesus turned that concept on its head. I am thankful that what is foolishness to man is wisdom to those who believe. I am so thankful that Jesus was willing to trade all that He had in order to come to earth as one of us so that He could offer to us what He had left behind.

Humanity definitely was on the winning end of this deal.

Jesus offered us an eternity with God and took our sin upon Himself in order to make that offer. From a worldly perspective, this definitely doesn’t make sense, but from God’s perspective, it was the only way that sinful humanity could be redeemed.

Have you accepted this deal? Have you embraced the riches that are freely given to all who will simply accept?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do we gather or do we sleep?

September 6, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Lazy hands make a man poor,
but diligent hands bring wealth.
He who gathers crops in summer is a wise son,
but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son.
(Proverbs 10:4-5 (NIV))

Whenever God speaks through His Word, it always seems to have both a near and a long term impact. When taken literally, this speaks of actual physical labor here on earth for our sustenance. Nothing could be more true.

Take a look at the same passage through “Kingdom Eyes” and it takes on a whole new meaning. When we consider that all who accept Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior are to be saved, that is grace. Just like the son who sleeps during the harvest is fed by his earthly father, God will “feed” His spiritual son. But that son will not receive a reward for his labors. Those “sons” who work the harvest of God’s Kingdom will be rewarded with positions of authority within Heaven.

The summer of gathering is upon us. Will we gather and prove to be a wise son, or will we “sleep” during the harvest of souls and be disgraceful?

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Where is your security placed?

July 21, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

The wealth of the rich is their fortified city, but poverty is the ruin of the poor.
(Proverbs 10:15 (NIV))

Just like anything, it is all a matter of perspective.

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
(1 Timothy 6:8 (NIV))

It is easy for the rich to start to believe that their wealth is what gives them security. They then start to find ways to acquire more wealth so that they can be even more secure.

To a poor person, they see that their lack of money as the root of all of their problems, so they start to scheme and devise ways to obtain money. Some even start to plan criminal acts in order to obtain money.

In both cases, security is falsely placed on something that can offer no security for wealth is fleeting.

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
(Matthew 6:19-21 (NIV))

Faith in God and a firm foundation in the saving grace of Jesus is where security truly lies. These will never fail you. Moth and rust cannot destroy them.

Where is your security placed?

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do we love God’s gifts more than we love God?

January 11, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:

These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, `I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.

Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.

To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
(Revelation 3:14-22 (NIV))

I know that I have spent a lot of time on this particular passage. I also know that it is something that we need to pay attention to, especially since many people believe that we are in the modern day version of this particular church.

I know that I have stressed that this church was known for bowing to the will of the people. I saw something today that puts an interesting, and very pertinent twist to this thought. I was reminded that the people of Laodicea were very wealthy. The city was at a very important spot for the trade routes and even the Christians were very affluent. They lacked for nothing except, possibly, fresh water.

Think about the concept of lacking nothing. Perhaps it should better be explained as not having a need for anything because they could do it themselves. Are we truly any different today in our thinking and in our capabilities? Have we gotten to the point where we love the blessings more than we love God? Could it be that we feel that we are self reliant, and as a result, we don’t need God?

Think about these questions and then think about the time directly after 9/11. People felt helpless, so they turned to God. It is human nature for us to feel complacent when everything is okay, and it is human nature for us to feel over confident when we think that we are in control. When this illusion is broken, we see a greater reliance upon God. Is our society today reliant upon God or are we cocky and arrogant. Do we think that we can take care of it ourselves?

Laodicea did many things wrong. It is my prayer that we, in our so-called modern lifestyle, do not repeat history and fall into the same traps as this church did. Repent and follow Jesus!

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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