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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Have you allowed yourself to be cleansed?

July 3, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.
(Psalms 51:1-2 (NIV))

Everyone desires mercy, but not everyone wants to be cleansed of the reason that they desire mercy!

Think about that in relationship to your own life. We all have something that we know that we shouldn’t do, but we do it anyway. We ask for forgiveness when someone brings it up, but do we truly desire to have this characteristic removed from our lives? Do we truly desire to be cleansed of what we continually ask for mercy for?

For some people, these traits are simply things that annoy those we love. We do them over and over again until someone says something and then we apologize by uttering a “Forgive me! I’m sorry!” For others, these traits are something much worse. They are so ingrained into our sinful nature that we do things that we know aren’t right by any stretch of the imagination. We know that our sins are forgiven and that we have been washed clean by the Blood of the Lamb, but we fail to do the one thing that will give us true freedom. We fail to do the one thing that the Lord desires for us to do.

We fail to surrender!

We fail to let go of our sins. We cling tightly to them even though we claim that we have left them at the foot of the cross. It’s just like old things that we have collected. We know that we should get rid of them, so we pack them up and take them away to be discarded. Far too many of us change our minds along the way. Why do we bring them back into our lives once we have gone through the motions? I often think that we are afraid of what our lives would be without these things. The fear of change keeps us from breaking free. Are we afraid of truly leaving our sins at the foot of the cross? Do we truly repent if we pick them back up? Jesus understood that we may desire to do what is right, but we face obstacles within ourselves. Jesus understands the human condition! He has walked where we walk.

“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
(Matthew 26:41 (NIV))

If you read Psalm 51 as a response to the words recorded in Matthew, they can and should be taken as a prayer that every believer presents to God when they are confronted with the sinful nature of the flesh. We should all desire to be cleansed. In order to be cleansed, we have to submit. We have to seek it. We have to allow God to cleanse us.

Have you allowed yourself to be cleansed?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How well do you know the everlasting God?

June 21, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.
(Isaiah 40:28 (NIV))

Everyone who has ever lived has had a definition of a smaller god that is who they would like to make God into.

Far too many people limit God because they lack the faith to understand, to believe that God is far greater than we can comprehend. They pray to Him, yet, they truly don’t believe that He can do anything to help them. They read the Bible and will make comments about how He no longer does miracles. They look at the world and blame God for all of the sin and take credit for anything good that happens to them.

Is this how you think that you know God? If it is, you need to spend more time with the Lord and in God’s Word! Nowhere is the Lord our God described as weak and insecure. Nowhere is He described as anything less than mighty and powerful. Nowhere is He described as anything less than the awesome Father that He is!

We all have things that we elevate to places of importance in our lives. I pray that we, as the Body of Christ, lower our individual gods of status, wealth and whatever else we elevate as important and replace them with the knowledge and understanding of the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth!

How well do you know the everlasting God?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you look to the Son?

June 18, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”
(John 6:35-40 (NIV))

These were powerful words for the Jews to hear some 2000 years ago. They are still powerful words for the world to hear today. Salvation is such a simple gift from God, yet today, as then, many people have studied themselves into a box in which they have applied their own meaning or someone else’s meaning to God’s plan.

The Jews had the Torah and the Pentateuch to point them to Jesus as the Messiah, yet, they had studied and applied their misguided logic to God’s Word to the point that they did not understand what was happening right in front of them. Today, we have the benefit of 2000 years of history to prove that Jesus was and is who He said. There is more historical evidence to validate the Resurrection than there is to validate that any of us live, yet people fail to see the Truth when it is right in front of them.

The Jews who heard these words did not believe them then.

They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, `I came down from heaven’?”
(John 6:42 (NIV))

Do you believe them now?

People have been blinded to the Truth ever since Jesus came to earth. We must pray that they have their eyes open before He comes the second time!

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you divisive or uniting in nature?

April 17, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
(John 17:20-23 (NIV))

Jesus, even though He was and is part of the Trinity of God, continually prayed to God the Father for His Will and for those He would leave behind.

The prayer that Jesus prayed here had both short term and long term aspects to it. He knew that those He left behind would need to be strengthened and that the world would need to be convinced that what they spoke of was true. He knew that they would need the strength of the Holy Spirit to present God to the world.

Today, we need the exact same thing. We must be united in Christ in order to let the world see Jesus as the Savior. If we fight amongst ourselves, then we are not doing justice to the world, for they will see this fighting and will want nothing to do with Jesus. We must unite in the Body of Christ, then the world will truly see something that could only have come from God.

Are you divisive or uniting in nature?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you been made a part of the family?

April 3, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.
(Hebrews 2:11 (NIV))

Did you fully grasp the meaning behind these words in this passage?

It is commonly stated that those who believe in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior are part of the family of God, but has this concept truly taken hold of your life? It is human nature to say things so much that we soon begin to miss the true meaning of the words and the concepts because we begin to take things for granted. Sadly, it is human nature to become so familiar with something, that the excitement starts to fade!

For those of you who are married, I wish to present an example of what I am talking about. When you first said the words “I love you” to your spouse, there was a very strong emotion that was tied to those words. As the years progressed, you may say the same words, but there is a familiarity that is there. The meaning behind the words has slightly shifted in the relationship. The relationship is strong, but the words no longer convey the same strong emotion. Does your heart still race at the sound of their voice? Do you long for the times that you will be together? Or, do you simply sit on the couch and quietly enjoy each other’s company? Are you comfortable in your relationship? Are you confident of your standing in that relationship?

When you fist accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, how was your excitement level? How is it now? Are you still overwhelmed to be called a child of God, or have you grown so accustom to that concept that you don’t get excited about it anymore? Do you fidget and stammer for words when you pray or is there a comfort zone that has developed, just like there is a comfort zone in a healthy earthly family? Do you feel that you can know the Lord so well that He does truly feel like a brother?

Have you been made a part of the family?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you find yourself groaning in your weakness?

March 14, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.
(Romans 8:26 (NIV))

Have you ever found yourself in a conversation and not know just how to say what you want to say? Perhaps you didn’t even know what to say, you just knew that you had a very strong opinion on the subject.

What do you find yourself doing in situations like this?

Do you through up your hands in frustration and let out an audible sigh? Do the people around you understand what you are attempting to express?

That is definitely a weakness of the human condition. We are often found without adequate words to express exactly what we want to express. When we simply can’t say what we want to say, we groan or sigh out of frustration. It’s too bad that we can’t be understood when we simply cannot verbalize what we feel.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was someone who could understand the groanings that we make when we can’t find the words to express ourselves?

I want you to consider something with respect to your relationship with God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
(Psalms 139:13 (NIV))

You are known intimately by the Lord. He understands you like no other. He understands the groanings of our spirit. He understands these groanings to be exactly what they are, for they are our desire to communicate concepts, emotions and desires that no earthly language is capable of communicating. We fail to be able to express our inner desires because we are a weak, sinful creation, but we still have the inherited memory of and a desire for a deeper communication with the Lord. Out of this weakness, our prayers are lifted up as groanings of the spirit.

Do you find yourself groaning in your weakness?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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