Freedom does not mean that we are to continue to sin!

September 13, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves.
(1 Peter 2:16 (NIV))

Godly freedom is not how the world thinks of freedom. Too many people in this world think that true freedom is the ability to do whatever you want, whenever you want. There are consequences!

Imagine that you have done something that ends up with you being put in prison. You have committed an act that was contrary to the laws of the land. For several years you sit in your prison suffering the consequences of your actions. As fortune would have it, someone comes along and pardons you for your actions. You are released. You have been set free from the consequences of your actions.

What do you do?

Do you return to the very same behavior that put you in prison to begin with? Do you do this knowing that the outcome will be the reinstatement of your prison sentence, or do you make a commitment to follow a new path that leads to a much better place?

I’m sure that you understand that each of us are guilty! Each of us are bound by the sinful nature that we are born with and the sinful actions that we continually do.

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

By all legal accounts, we face an eternity separated from God in a place that is far worse than any earthly prison.

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))

We have been pardoned! We have been shown grace and mercy. We simply must make a choice to follow Jesus and repent of our sin just as Jesus told the woman caught in adultery.

Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
(John 8:11b (NIV))

We have been set free from the consequences of sin, but we must make a choice to leave our life of sin. We cannot willfully continue in our sin or we will not like the eternal consequences.

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 7:22-23 (NIV))

Freedom does not mean that we are to continue to sin!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you accepted your job as a minister?

August 21, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant–not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
(2 Corinthians 3:6 (NIV))

It has been said that the Old Testament and The Law are there to show us what we are supposed to do and how difficult it is to do it. If this is true, then the New Testament is there to show us that we have another way. The Law is there as the letter that we must follow perfectly and never falter or waiver from its course. The Spirit is given to us by the grace and mercy shown at the cross. The Spirit gives us redemption and salvation. It gives us freedom from the Law. This freedom does not mean that we are able to ignore the Law and do whatever we want. It means that we are given grace for we are not capable of being perfect even when we desire it with all of our hearts. It allows us to be human. It allows us to make mistakes and then learn from our mistakes.

The twist to all of this is that through the Spirit, we are all ministers one to another. In the Old Testament and under the Law, ministers had to be set apart from the rest of society. They had to be ceremonially pure. They had to be followers of the letter of the Law. If they did not follow the letter of the Law, they faced the possibility of death in the presence of God.

Today, we have grace and mercy as our mantle. We have salvation through the blood of Jesus. We have the Spirit. Through the Spirit, we are given life in the presence of God, were, before the Spirit, we only faced death. Speaking for myself, I do not long to follow the letter of the Law, for it is inflexible and unforgiving. I want forgiveness and mercy, for I know that I am not perfect and cannot ever achieve perfection on my own.

I need to repent and turn away from my sin!

I need grace!

I need to help others find that grace!

I, in all of my human shortcomings, am a minister of that grace. I have accepted my position.

Have you accepted your job as a minister?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you sure you know what is best for you?

August 5, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

This is what the Lord says – your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: ‘I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.’
(Isaiah 48:17 (NIV))

Do you honestly allow God to direct where you should go?

If you are like everyone else, chances are very good that you have probably gotten yourself into situations that have been less than ideal in your eyes. You tried to follow your own direction. How do you think these situations looked to those around you? How do you think they looked to God?

What have you got to lose? If you follow God’s direction, you will not find yourself in situations that will embarrass you because of stupid decisions. You won’t find yourself having to figure out which lies to tell so that you won’t get caught in the first set of lies you told.

Far too many people believe that the Bible is not relevant in today’s society. If you believe that truth is relative, then this is probably you. If you believe that there is no such thing as sin, then this is probably you. If you think that there is no one greater than you, then this is probably you. For the rest of us who know that truth is the same no matter what the circumstance, we know better. For those of us who know that sin is rampant in this world, we know better. For those of us who can’t imagine anyone being worse than we are, we know better.

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))

Filthy rags!

Can a filthy rag direct how to clean itself? Can a filthy rag lift itself out of the filth? Only God can cleanse us. Only God can direct us in the way that we should go. Reflect upon where you are going and repent. Allow God to direct your paths and He will draw you closer to Him.

Are you sure you know what is best for you?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is there anything that you are still trying to hide?

July 31, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
(1 John 1:9 (NIV))

What is it about human nature that makes us want to keep secrets?

We keep them from those we love. We keep them from our friends. We keep them from those we work with, and we keep them from those whom we call brothers and sisters in Christ. We may be able to fool others for a while, but our secrets are usually uncovered in one way or another.

What type of things do we feel that we need to keep secret from others?

Most of our secrets are attempts to keep our shortcomings, our embarrassments and our sins from public scrutiny. We feel that we can continue to do things if we just act as if we aren’t doing them. Why do we think that we can act in this manner? Why do we feel that we can continue in our behaviors indefinitely? Too many people simply won’t admit that one day they will have to be held accountable for everything that they have ever done. They will have to stand, not in front of others, but in front of the Lord where they will be judged based on a standard that no one can attain on their own. If you have repented and placed your faith in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, you will be judged righteous. Still, we are only human. We are a sinful, fallen creation. We must repent of our sin and turn away from our nature continually. We must search our hearts, for the Lord knows our hearts. We must seek to uncover things that we attempt to keep hidden from ourselves. We must seek to replace what we desire to keep hidden with things that are of the Lord.

Think of the sinful, hidden things in your life and think about the old saying, “Garbage in. Garbage out!” It is time to replace the garbage of sin with the grace and mercy offered to us through the cross. Allow the Lord to cleanse the garbage and to purify our hearts. Ask the Lord to remove any hidden sin!

Is there anything that you are still trying to hide?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you earnestly seek Godly discipline?

July 25, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent.
(Revelation 3:19 (NIV))

We are told that we will pass through the refiners fire to burn away all of the dross from our lives. Godly discipline is a preparation for that refinement. Without discipline, we do not know what we are doing wrong or what we are doing right.

Consider driving a car. You do not get into a car and press on the accelerator and expect to get to your destination without making constant adjustments in your direction with the steering wheel. The steering wheel is similar to Godly discipline. If you are focused on your goal and God is in control of your life, then He will steer you to where He wants you to go. You may hit the occasional pothole and stray close to the white line, or, sometimes, you may even cross the line or run off of the road. Even when this happens, God is directing you to where He is calling you to go just as a good driver does not allow the car to control where he goes. He controls the car. The driver knows where he is going to take the car and how he is going to get there. The car doesn’t have a clue as to what lies ahead.

Does that sound familiar? We are the cars. God is the driver. He knows where we are going and He will make disciplinary corrections in our course to arrive at the destination. The only difference is that we have a choice in whether we allow God to direct and discipline our lives. We make that decision when we ask Jesus to be our personal Lord and Savior. When we do this, we relinquish control of our lives to God.

Let’s take the car analogy one step further. The word “repent” means a turning away or a change of course. If we repent, then we are allowing God to discipline us and prepare us for what He desires for us.

Do you earnestly seek Godly discipline in your life, or do you wander aimlessly through this world?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Time to repent and turn toward the blessing!

July 5, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people he chose for his inheritance.
(Psalms 33:12 (NIV))

Our history is riddled with things that we should not be proud of, but is that a reason to not love our nation?

Think about that in terms of your families. Are they perfect? Do your children always do what you wish that they would do? Do you still love them even when they do something wrong?

Think about this in relationship to God’s love for us. Do we always do the right thing? Did that stop Him from sending Jesus to die for our sins so that we could have salvation?

Our nation is made up of people and not a single one of us is perfect.

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

We can’t expect something that is comprised of sinful people to be perfect. There is only one who is perfect! Only when we repent and turn to the Lord and keep His commands will we be blessed and guided by His hand. We have to choose to follow the Lord. We have to live our lives in a way that honors God. We have to decide individually and as a nation.

But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
(Joshua 24:15 (NIV))

Jesus came to set the captives free. He came to bring us true freedom – a freedom from the law of sin and death. That freedom is far greater than any worldly independence. We have the ability to have both. We have the ability to be free as individuals and as a nation. Both require one simple action on our part. We must individually accept Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior and we must, as a nation, turn to the Lord in repentance. Where are each of us personally in our acceptance? Where are we as a nation in our repentance?

Time to repent and turn toward the blessing!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Has your faith stayed strong?

June 6, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off–for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
(Acts 2:36-47 (NIV))

The early church did not have the ability to look back into history and see what Jesus had done. They didn’t need it! Many of the people who came to be believers in this time had seen Jesus perform the miracles and had heard Him teach. They had seen Him crucified and had seen Him resurrected. Those who did not see all these things happen, knew of them. They also had the eye-witness accounts of the disciples who had been with Jesus during all of this. No matter how they knew of Jesus, they knew that He is Lord and Savior of all Creation. They fervently praised God and prayed for what they knew comes from these actions.

Have the centuries dulled our intensity? Have they caused us to be less than our brothers and sisters from the early church? We have more evidence today that all of these things happened. Historical records besides the New Testament verify many of the accounts of Jesus’ life. Have we grown complacent in our faith? Take a serious look at your life and priorities. Can you say that you devote yourself to Jesus’ teachings and fellowship with other believers?

Has your faith stayed strong?

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