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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What do you think about?

July 2, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
(Philippians 4:8 (NIV))

There are so many things in this world that can compete for our thoughts.

If you are like me, you have had multiple things come to mind just at the reading of that last sentence. Are you embarrassed by any of them? Would you feel shame if anyone knew some of the thoughts that came to your mind? Would you be willing to share any of these thoughts with family or friends?

Just what did come to mind?

The human condition is so wrapped up in sin that it seems that all we can think about is something of a sinful nature. Even the best things that are of this world are wrapped in sin. All of creation is in a fallen and sinful state. Are you beginning to see a trend in this series of questions? Perhaps we should think of things that are not of this world! Perhaps we should think of things that are beyond our limited human understanding.

We should strive to focus on the things of God!

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.
(Isaiah 55:8 (NIV))

God is true! God is noble! God is right! God is pure! God is excellent and praiseworthy!

What do you think about?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What is found in your life?

June 1, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Where there is strife, there is pride, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.
(Proverbs 13:10 (NIV))

Sometimes, human nature will amaze me, but to be honest with you, most of the time it amuses me!

We all say and do things that get on each other’s nerves. We brag about what we can do, even when there are others around whom we know are much better than we could ever be. We always want to be right. We always want to be number one. We always want others to look to us as an expert in something, if not everything. I often wonder how humanity started to act like a peacock, always ruffling our feathers like we are saying, “Hey! Take a look at me. Don’t you think that I’m something special?”

It all comes down to ego. It all comes down to pride. We would rather create an argument than admit we aren’t right. We would rather live a life that has us and everyone else on edge instead of asking for advice and living in peace. In other words, what amuses me about human nature is that we like to say that we are capable of logical thinking, yet we very seldom ever act like it!

Perhaps this is also related to how humanity sees knowledge and wisdom. We seek after more and more knowledge, which fluffs up our egos, yet, we fail to seek after wisdom. Knowledge is nothing more than a collection of facts and details. Wisdom is an understanding of what is important and why it is important. I have seen people who are filled with knowledge who lack any sense of wisdom and I have seen wise people who could care less about what humanity calls knowledge.

There are all types of things that human nature brings into play in our lives. Some are prideful and self-centered. Some are God centered.

What is found in your life?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do you want a clean heart or a pure heart?

May 29, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
(Psalms 51:10 (NIV))

Most of us can quote this passage as it is translated in the American Standard Version, below.

Create in me a clean heart, O God;
And renew a right spirit within me.
(Psalms 51:10 (ASV))

To be honest with you, that translation is so ingrained in my mind, that it is what I see no matter what translation I may be reading. Today, I think I truthfully read the New International Version for the first time. There were subtle nuances that became obvious to me.

Consider the two words that are used to describe the heart. One uses the word “clean,” which implies that all dirt has been removed as in a clean cup. The other uses the word “pure,” which implies a deeper cleanliness or purity. Consider a bar of gold. It can be dirty or it can be clean. Do either of these states cause any difference in the value of the gold. If you consider the purity of the bar of gold, we have a completely different understanding. If the bar of gold was 95% pure, it wouldn’t be worth as much as if it were 100% pure.

With this in mind, do you want a clean heart or a pure heart?

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

May 28, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.
(John 12:25-26 (NIV))

Think back on the history of this country.

Have we ever had a time when a king or a dictator forced anyone to fight and die?

Have we ever had a time when we turned tail and ran from the responsibilities that we have been given?

We owe our country to our faith in God and to the brave men and women who were willing to sacrifice everything for the principles that our country is founded upon.

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
(John 15:13 (NIV))

Think about that verse.

Our nation was founded by people who were seeking something. Some came seeking adventure. Some came seeking opportunity. But, many were seeking freedom to worship God as they saw fit. It was this freedom that became an integral part of our nation’s mindset. We were founded by people who saw something that they didn’t agree with and were willing to do something about it.

Some spoke out about the things that they saw. Others rallied people behind them. Many gave their lives to battle the very things that they saw as oppressive. We have never been a country to shy away from doing what is right. We have been driven by a desire to see God’s love, grace and mercy prevail. It is true that some people may not have known Jesus as their Lord and Savior, yet they had an inner feeling about right and wrong. It was part of our culture and our society. They answered the call many times even before they knew there was a call.

They gave it all. They were willing to lay down their lives so that others could know the freedoms that God had granted us. They followed the example of Jesus when He went to the cross. It was something that would end in their death, yet they faced it with dignity and pride. They did not run from their responsibility.

They faced the enemy with honor. They did not shy away from the task at hand because it would mean their death. They were living out the words of Jesus.

I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
(John 14:12 (NIV))

They gave their lives in much the same way that Jesus gave His. They knew that without their sacrifice, countless lives would be lost.

Memorial Day is upon us. It is a day that we are supposed to remember the sacrifices. It is a day to say thank you. It is a day to ask ourselves if we are capable of stepping up and defending what we hold to be true. There may come a day when we will be called upon to proclaim our faith and suffer the consequences. It is my prayer that we may all love God more than we love our own lives.

Honor and praise to God and to those who answer His call.

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What things do you think about?

May 16, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
(Philippians 4:8 (NIV))

What are the things that you do when you think that no one will know?

What are the things that you think about when your mind begins to wander?

It is so easy to keep ourselves focused when we are busy. When we find ourselves slipping into those times when we are by ourselves, we find our thoughts and our actions begin to be less than what we truly should be thinking about. It is at these times that the things that we truly treasure come to the surface. Do you find that these things are true, noble, right and pure? Are they lovely and admirable? Are they excellent and praiseworthy? Do you find that what you think about would be embarrassing if others only knew?

We all know the old saying that you are what you eat. Are you aware that you are what you think about? Basically, whatever you put into your life will be returned out of your life. What do you think people who commit the following acts think about?

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
(Galatians 5:19-21 (NIV))

Let’s take that one step further and consider what you must think about to possess the following characteristics.

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

Time to truly be honest with yourself.

What things do you think about?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you able to lift these words up as your prayer?

May 10, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Create in me a clean heart, O God; And renew a right spirit within me.
(Psalms 51:10 (ASV))

I bet you are like me and found yourself singing this passage!

It is a passage that we all know. It was turned into a song that we all know. Even if we didn’t know it, it should be the desire of every person who professes a faith in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. It should be the desire of everyone who strives to follow God’s Word and obey His commands.

Is it your desire?

Think about that question. Do you want God to clean your heart or are you happy with the sin that darkens it? Do you want God to give you a right spirit, a spirit that seeks only Him, or are you happy chasing the things of the world?

I realize that there is a lot that could be said, but I have found that often the best results are achieved by what is not said. God will work inside of each of us when we take a passage and reflect on how it applies to our lives. His Word is alive! It gets to the very heart of our being and makes us take a serious look at our lives in relation to what He has intended. With this in mind, nothing could be a more self-searching contemplation and prayer than asking yourself if you desire for God to clean your heart and give you a spirit after His own!

Are you able to lift these words up as your prayer?

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