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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We must treat others as Jesus would?

May 27, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit–fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other.
(John 15:14-17 (NIV))

Think about this passage. What does it mean to you to have the Son of God call you friend?

I can’t think of anything that has a more important meaning to my life, for a friend will do anything to help. A true friend does everything out of love with no regard for what they get in return. This is exactly what Jesus did when He went to the cross. He paid the ultimate price out of love with no regard to what He had to face. It is true that He faced fear before His physical death, yet He did not stray from His task. He knew that those who would call Him friend depended upon Him to save them.

Do you think that a master would do something like this for a servant? A servant is there to serve the master. The master usually cares little about the life of the servant. There is no love involved in this type of a relationship.

Do you see Jesus as a friend? Do you see others as Jesus sees them?

He desires everyone to come to Him. If this is true, then we must be the friends that Jesus is. We must show the same love to others that He has shown to us.

We must treat others as Jesus would?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you following the Lord?

May 20, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

The whole Israelite community set out from the Desert of Sin, traveling from place to place as the Lord commanded.
(Exodus 17:1a (NIV))

I hope that I am not the only one who finds the intricacies within God’s Word to be fascinating. I love the little things like the way God uses and reinforces meanings. He paints word pictures in order for us to understand Him better. One example is how Jesus is the Bread of Life and that He was born in Bethlehem, the place of bread.

Consider this passage from Exodus.

The Desert of Sin is another great example. Sinning is missing the mark. It is falling short of what God expects. It often leaves us barren and desolate. If you look up the word desert in a dictionary, it will probably be defined as a barren and desolate place. When we are trapped, when we are lost in sin, we are not capable of finding our way out of our desert. We cannot save ourselves. We need the Lord to guide us. What is described in this passage from Exodus is a perfect picture of how humanity is lost in a desert of sin and the only way out is to trust and follow the Lord. This is true collectively as well as individually.

Have you taken the steps to trust the Lord to lead you out of your desert? Have you turned your eyes upon Jesus and repented of the sins that left you barren and desolate? Have you recognized the meaning of the word picture that God has shown us? Without Jesus, each of us are left stranded and dying in the desert. With Jesus, we are lead to safety and righteousness.

Have you left your Desert of Sin?

Are you following the Lord?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is the Lord your strength and salvation?

May 11, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

O LORD, be gracious to us;
we long for you.
Be our strength every morning,
our salvation in time of distress.
(Isaiah 33:2 (NIV))

In a world that is overrun with sin, we need a place to turn to when the world seems to be more than we can handle. We must rest in God’s presence every single day of our lives. We must start our day with God, turn to Him all throughout the day, and end our day with God.

Life is good, but life with God is great! He is our champion, our salvation and our comfort. We need no one else when we have God, and the only way to reconcile ourselves to God is through His Son, Jesus Christ! We cannot do it on our own. We are as filthy rags in comparison to what we should be. God sent salvation when we could not save ourselves. All it takes is professing that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior!

Do you have someplace to turn when the world gets too much to take?

Is the Lord your strength and salvation?

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

May 4, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Before them fire devours,
behind them a flame blazes.
Before them the land is like the garden of Eden,
behind them, a desert waste–
nothing escapes them.
(Joel 2:3 (NIV))

I believe that we are in a transitional place, a place of growth and maturity. Each of us may be in a situation that has us literally between a rock and a hard place. We may find ourselves in the midst of so much fire and waste that we do not see any potential end. When we, as believers, find ourselves in this place in our lives, we must remember that God uses these times in our lives to refine us like silver.

This third I will bring into the fire;
I will refine them like silver
and test them like gold.
They will call on my name
and I will answer them;
I will say, `They are my people,’
and they will say, `The LORD is our God.’ ”
(Zechariah 13:9 (NIV))

It is in these times that one of two things may happen. We will either turn from God in our anger or turn toward God in our faith. It is God’s desire to purify us in our faith. He longs for us to mature into the image of Jesus.

I had a conversation not too long ago with someone who questioned whether being in the wilderness was a good thing or a bad thing. Take a look at Jesus after He was baptized. He went into the wilderness for 40 days. He did not do anything bad, yet He had to face the temptation before He could truly minister to those whom He came to seek and to save.

When we find ourselves in the desert or the wilderness, it is all a matter of our outlook, our perspective on the situation. We can either look at the situation and not see beyond our circumstances or we can see the “Light” of Jesus at the end of our journey. If we focus on the “Light,” then we should be able to stand firm in our desert and continually pray for righteousness.

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

Where are you?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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This is what the gift of the cross means!

April 10, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

“. . . he was wounded and crushed for our sins. He was beaten that we might have peace. He was whipped and we were healed!”
(Isaiah 53:5 (NLT))

Nothing comes without a price!

Have you truly stopped to reflect on the great price that Jesus willingly paid in order to save us from our sins? Have you thought about how you would attempt to pay the price for yourself? It is impossible for us to pay the price for our own sins. We are guilty of far too many to even stop to think about. Multiply that by the number of people who have or will ever live and you begin to see the magnitude of the weight of the sins of the world. It is a burden that no man can bear.

At this time of year when Easter approaches, it is necessary to remember that Jesus was not simply a man.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.
Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.
(John 1:1-5 (NIV))

This does not sound like a simple man. Just as John said, Jesus was with God because He was God.

Only God could save us from our sins. Think about the pain and suffering that He endured in order to give you salvation.

Nothing comes without a price! Either you try to pay it yourself or you allow God to pay it for you.

This is what the gift of the cross means!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Have you made your move?

March 30, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Come near to God and he will come near to you.
(James 4:8a (NIV))

I am sure that you have heard that God is everywhere and that He will never leave you, so how do you understand and comprehend this passage? If He is everywhere, isn’t He already near us?

God is everywhere, but sadly, too few people realize that He will not force Himself on anyone. We have to turn to Him out of a choice that we make, especially since we, as humanity, chose to turn away from Him as a result of the fall from grace in the Garden of Eden. We thought that we had been given knowledge, but instead, we lost all hope. Until God sent His Son, Jesus, into the world to pay the penalty for sin and death, we only knew the wages of our sin even if we chose good. Thankfully, God had a plan that would bring an end to this.

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 they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
(John 3:16-21 (NIV))

Each of us must make a decision to come near to God. This is only accomplished by believing in Jesus as God’s one and only Son. Through the gift of grace freely given on the cross, the veil that separated God from humanity has been torn in two. God had set in motion a plan to bring us back to Him and the veil symbolized that completion of that plan. Jesus declared this culmination of God’s redemptive plan with His final words.

When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
(John 19:30 (NIV))

God used these events to unfold His perfect plan to draw each of us near to Him. God may use circumstances to get our attention, but He cannot make the decision for us. Our families and friends cannot make the decision for us. We have to be willing to put aside our pride and move closer to God. When we make that move, we will find that He is already closer than we could ever imagine.

Have you made your move?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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God’s love is not how the world loves!

February 13, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
(1 Corinthians 13:6-7 (NIV))

Does this sound like the world’s current definition of love?

Society has taken the concept of love and twisted it so far from how God defines love. According to God’s plan, love is sacrificial, but there are some overlooked aspects.

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 they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
(John 3:16-21 (NIV))

We, as the intended recipients of God’s love, must be willing to walk away from our sin. We must be willing to embrace the truth, the only truth, that is God’s Word. Once we do, we are called to love as God loves, but that doesn’t mean that we condone the sin and the evil in people. I realize that this is often overused, but there is an old saying that, “We are to love the sinner and hate the sin.” Think about that in relation to the following example.

You are a parent who has a child that is involved in things that could get them in trouble with the law. Which of the following options shows true love? Do you overlook these actions because you say that you love them and you don’t want to interfere with their life, or do you try to make them change their life so that they don’t face any consequences from their activities? The first option actually shows that you don’t care enough to take action to prevent something bad. It may appear that you love them in the present, but you don’t love them enough to take action so that they will have a better tomorrow. Love sometimes has to be tough! As a parent, you have to stand in the gap and fight for the well being of your family so that they have a life that is not a result of bad decisions.

Put this into perspective by changing the scenario with respect to eternity. This time the child is rebelling and is lost. Do you overlook these actions or do you pray for them, do you try to reach them, do you love them enough to stand in the gap interceding for them? This time, the consequences have a much different and longer result. If we truly love this child, we will do anything and everything to bring them into a right relationship with the Lord.

My next thought was to ask you how do you think God feels, but I have already told you how He feels. He loves the world so much that He had a plan to redeem the world. That plan was not an easy thing to bring about. It cost the physical life of His only begotten Son, Jesus. Jesus came to defeat evil and sin. He came to protect us from the consequences of sin. God’s love perseveres and because of His great love, we have the glorious hope that we can trust in His Word. All that He asks is that you believe and turn away from the darkness of the evil that is in this world.

The world says that if you love someone, you accept them and don’t try to change them no matter the consequences. God loves us as we are, then calls us to repent so that we don’t face the consequences.

God’s love is not how the world loves!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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If God was willing while we were enemies, just imagine . . .

February 6, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!
(Romans 5:10 (NIV))

How do you become an enemy of God?

I realize that this is an odd question, but it is relevant to our understanding of God, our severed and fallen relationship with Him, and our way to salvation through God’s love as expressed at the cross.

Basically, the fall from grace in the Garden of Eden is the starting point for each and every single person who has ever lived. All of humanity was doomed to a sinful nature because of our rebellion, our disobedience to what God told us that we could and could not do. One definition of the word “enemy” states it quite clearly as someone who is antagonistic to another. Another definition defines an enemy as a hostile force. When we rebelled against God, we became just that. We became an antagonistic and hostile creation. We became sinners. We became enemies of God!

Thankfully, God did not let it end there! He loves us in spite of ourselves. He devised a plan to redeem us. Condemnation is for enemies. Love is for sons and daughters. He devised a plan to make us sons and daughters instead of enemies.

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.
(John 3:16-17 (NIV))

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
(Romans 5:8 (NIV))

I am so thankful that salvation is freely given, for there is nothing that we could do to earn it. All that we have to do is accept it! God reached out to us in our sinful condition in hope that we would accept His offer to become His sons and daughters. If God was willing while we were enemies, just imagine what He will do for us as sons and daughters!

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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