This is true freedom!

July 2, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
(John 8:36 (NIV))

We are all familiar with this passage, but there is something that we probably need to clarify. Let’s start by asking one simple question.

What is your definition of freedom?

I told you it was a simple question. However, the answer is probably not so simple.

Do you go along with the definition that the world is trying to push on us at this point? According to this definition, freedom implies doing whatever you want, whenever you want, with whomever you want, regardless of what gets destroyed or who gets hurt. The old saying, “If it feels good, do it,” has nothing on this mindset. In fact, it pales in comparison to what is called freedom today. If you look up the word, freedom implies a liberation, being exempt from rules, and unrestricted. When theses concepts are taken with respect for others, you have balance and society. When you take these concepts to the extremes that we are seeing, you have debauchery, anarchy and riots. This type of freedom is self-centered, sinful and evil.

Is this your definition of freedom?

If you are reading this, I can safely assume that I know what your answer is.

Godly freedom is what we so desperately need. This freedom rescues us. It saves us from ourselves. It breaks the chains that bind us to our sinful nature.

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

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

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))

Do you understand why things are as they are in the world? They have been led astray by the enemy and have been taught to hate the light. In fact, they call good evil and evil good. Their minds have been polluted and controlled. The so-called freedom that they are expressing will only lead to one outcome according to the first part of Romans 6:23.

But, God…

Finishing reading the rest of Romans 6:23.

This is true freedom! This is true liberation! We are no longer bound to or by our sinful nature. We no longer must face death. We can spend eternity with the Lord!

This is true freedom!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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We must focus on being lovers of God!

June 5, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God-
(2 Timothy 3:1-4 (NIV))

I am sure that you have seen the jokes and the memes on social media about the type of year that 2020 has been so far. We hope and pray that things will get better, but I honestly think that what we are seeing is becoming the norm, especially when you read about what people will be like in the last days. In fact, when I first read this passage this evening, I did not have to struggle to think up very public examples of each one of these traits. I am certain that you can probably think of prime examples of each one of these traits as evidenced in our society as well.

Why have people become so blinded? Why have people become so self-centered and hate-filled? These traits go against every single one of God’s commandments. They also go against other traits that we are told we should strive to possess.

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))

Sadly, these traits are not what seems to be front and center in today’s world. Far too many in this world are being led astray by the enemy. They are being led down a path that comes in direct conflict with anything good – with anything from God! They are being led down a path of sin and evil.

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))

I am sure that we have all heard that as followers of Jesus, we live in the world, but we are not of the world. How are we, as the Body of Christ, to respond to people who are in open rebellion against God?

We are to share the Gospel! We are also told what to do if people will not listen.

If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.
(Matthew 10:14-15 (NIV))

We are to pray! We can’t soften hearts. Only God can. We must pray that those who rebel will repent and turn to the Lord. And, we must stand firm in our faith so that we are not led astray.

We must focus on being lovers of God!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you possess this type of humility?

May 29, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,
(Philippians 2:3 (NIV))

In the grand scheme of things, how big is your ego?

Are you someone who has to come out on top no matter what you do?

Do you live for the glory? Do you live to be number one? Are you the kind of person who always wants to know what is in it for you?

One last question! Are you shunned by other people because of your selfish ambition or vain conceit?

I realize that these are difficult questions to answer about yourself, but sometimes we need to take a long and serious look at ourselves and repent of what we find. If we find that we are so self-centered that when we think of others, we simply think of how they can help us, then we have a problem. As a believer in Jesus, this is not what we are called to do.

not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
(‭‭Philippians‬ ‭2:4 (NIV))

We are called to imitate Jesus!

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
      did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
      by taking the very nature of a servant,
      being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
      he humbled himself
      by becoming obedient to death—
            even death on a cross!
(‭‭Philippians‬ ‭2:5-8 (NIV))

Do you possess this type of humility?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What is the condition of your heart?

May 12, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
(Ezekiel 36:26 (NIV))

Have the last few weeks made you stop and take a long, hard look at your life?

Have you found that the things of this world that you once thought were important no longer hold that exalted place in your life? Have your priorities shifted to the point where you feel that you have had a change of heart?

There are many characteristics of a life that is self-centered and self-absorbed. Most of these are described by a reference to the heart. Hardhearted. Cold-hearted. Heart of stone. I am sure that you can probably think of others, but I think that you understand the concept. The more time that we spend focused on the world and what it can provide to us often leads us to become non-caring with respect to other people that we see. Let’s face facts. When we are focused on the world, it tells us go for all that we can get no matter the consequences.

Does this sound like the type of life that we were created for?

Sadly, when we live our lives in this manner, we also lose sight of God! Our hearts become hardened to anything that relates to our relationship with the Lord. We can even get to the false conclusion that we are good and that we do not need God, Jesus or the grace that is freely given through the cross.

This is definitely not the way that God created us to live!

I want to ask the same question once again. Have the last few weeks made you stop and take a long, hard look at your life? The world may see these last few weeks as an attempt to avoid a pandemic, but God had other plans. What has He shown you about yourself? Has He been trying to remove your heart of stone?

What is the condition of your heart?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is the truth in you?

November 12, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
(1 John 1:8 (NIV))

There is a line that too many people cross when they consider the human traits of confidence and ego. I definitely see this spectrum playing out in us with respect to this passage. If we are not careful, we can easily go from being confident in our salvation through Jesus to being unwisely egocentric and thinking that we do not sin because of our salvation.

Perhaps I need to rephrase this. Do you believe that because you have accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, you are not capable of committing another sin? Perhaps you believe that because you have accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior anything that you do is now okay in the eyes of God! This type of attitude is not God centered. In fact, it is very self-centered. We have been told what this type of attitude will bring us.

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 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 7:21-23 (NIV))

This sounds too much like boasting which is truly nothing more than our ego saying look at me! Boasting makes us the center of attention. Is this what the Body of Christ is called to do? Are we to make ourselves what salvation is all about? On the contrary! Everything that we do is to lead people to Jesus. How can we lead people to Jesus when we are telling them to look at us? Paul had the right attitude!

May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
(Galatians 6:14 (NIV))

Our boasting should always point to Jesus. Our boasting should lead to the truth of the One who can lead us to the Father.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
(John 14:6 (NIV))

Is the truth in you?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What do you truly want?

September 30, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
(Psalms 23:1 (NASB))

Have you ever given any serious thought to the meaning of this passage?

Most people read this and take it to mean that anything that we could possibly want in this physical world is ours. Let’s take a step back and take a look at the word “want.” Our society has shifted the meaning of this word to mean something that we desire. We say things like, “I want a new car” or “I want a bigger house,” but is this the type of want that the Lord provides for? With this type of attitude, too many people fail to get what they want and, as a result, they fall away from faith. They misunderstand this passage and think that is means that the Lord our God is nothing more that a genie who is there to grant our every wish, our every desire. When this doesn’t happen, they falsely assume that since this isn’t true, nothing is true.

If this is your vision of God, then it makes sense why our society has become so self-centered and self-entitled.

If we look at this passage from the perspective and understanding of when it was written, we get a much clearer picture. A shepherd has multiple sheep under his care. He provides for the needs of the whole flock. He will lead them to green pastures for food. He will care for the sick. He will search for the lost. The shepherd makes sure that all under his care are protected from attack. The sheep know his voice and they follow him. They know and they trust him to provide for their needs both collectively and individually.

Did you pick up on that?

The shepherd provides for the needs of his flock. He does not provide for the selfish desires. The shepherd knows what is best for each sheep. He makes sure that each need is provided for. With this in mind, is wanting a bigger house a need or a selfish desire? For some people, it truly may be a need, while for others, it is a selfish desire. The Lord sees each of our needs and knows how best to provide for us. When David wrote these words, he understood this concept. He understood that the Lord, as his shepherd, was guiding his steps and that all of his needs would be provided for. David realized that everything was on the Lord’s timeframe and not his.

Sadly, our society has lost this understanding. We seek instant gratification in all aspects of our lives. We falsely believe that we can guide our own lives. We desire anything and everything under the sun, and sin runs rampant because we are so focused on the proverbial me, myself and I. Slow down and spend time in the Lord’s presence and you will begin to grasp the understanding that David had. The focus is not about us and our selfish desires. It is about the Lord’s plans and what is best for us.

I believe that it is time for us to reexamine what we truly want! What do you truly want?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Whom do you have?

August 8, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
(Psalms 73:25 (NIV))

What is more important to you, the people in your life or the things in your life?

Be careful how you answer!

One more question for you. Who is more important to you, the people in your life or the Lord?

I realize that these questions may seem ridiculous, but answered honestly, they will tell you more about yourself than you probably care to admit. If you value things over people, then where is your heart? Where is your love? Some may say that valuing the people in your life is important and should take precedence over the Lord, but let me ask you another question. Who are you going to turn to when everyone in your life has let you down? Who will you turn to when even your spouse, your children or your closest friend disappoints you or are taken from you? When this happens, many people turn to the Lord, but I want to propose that the time to turn to the Lord is long before anything like this happens. When you can truthfully claim that you love the Lord, then your complete perspective on life changes. When you look at things or people as a priority, this is, in most cases, a self-centered outlook on life even if you think that you place yourself low on your priorities list. You are looking at the things or the people to make you happy, to bring meaning to your life, and to make you whole.

Think about these simple facts. Things rust and decay. All people, no matter how good they are, will disappoint you eventually. We are all sinful by nature.

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

Only the Lord is unchanging.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
(Hebrews 13:8 (NIV))

With this simple truth, we should anchor our lives on a firm foundation that never changes. We should not look to things. We should not look to people. We should only look to the Lord! We only need to accept the grace and mercy freely given at the cross and claim the gift of grace for ourselves. When we honestly and truthfully make this claim, we have the Lord of all creation in our lives and nothing can surpass His majesty and glory!

Whom do you have?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you willing to step into Godly authority?

July 19, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations.
(Revelation 2:26 (NIV))

We should not seek power for the sake of power, however, Jesus has promised us that we would have authority.

Power that comes from the world is self-serving and is self-centered. It feeds a person’s ego and allows Satan to enter with lies about “no one will know, and you deserve it.”

The old saying that absolute power corrupts absolutely is true. No single person in all of history has been able to resist the temptation that comes with absolute authority. Notice that I said no single “person.” Jesus was fully man and fully God. Jesus resisted the temptation, and as a result, if we can follow Him and allow Jesus into our lives as our Lord and Savior, then we, too, can resist temptation. By resisting this temptation in our lives and focusing on Jesus, we are placing all authority for our lives in His hands. By surrendering our authority, we will be given authority through Jesus Christ.

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))

Most people don’t think of authority as one of the things that they will do. However, it is. Jesus was given the authority. His authority He gives to those who allow Him into their lives.

It is promised. If we do the Will of God through the authority given to Jesus, then we will be given authority in a similar manner. This authority is not to be looked upon as the world looks upon authority, for even God given authority still requires a willing submission to the Father who has granted the authority.

Do not boast about authority, but pray for guidance in your authority that God has given you?

The passage speaks about the Millennial Kingdom, but the same principles apply today. Focus on Godly authority to enforce whatever authority you may have, and you will be blessed as well as be a blessing. Are you willing to step into Godly authority?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What kind of heart do you have?

March 26, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
(Ezekiel 36:26 (NIV))

Do you think that what you put into your heart could turn your heart to stone?

Perhaps not literally, but it can definitely harden your heart!

It is possible for someone to fill their heart with such things that leaves them completely self-centered and devoid of any feelings, any sympathy, any empathy for anyone else or for things of the Lord. It is possible for someone to become so absorbed in things of the world and the so-called treasures that it has to offer that they become oblivious to the things of the Lord and the true treasures that He longs to give.

We need to be careful of the things that we allow into our hearts. The wrong things can lead us away from the Lord and harden our hearts. The right things can draw us closer to the Lord and restore the heart of flesh simply because we long to fill it with the things that are important to the Lord.

But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
(Matthew 6:20-21 (NIV))

Have you ever truly stopped to think what those treasures could be?

I honestly believe that we have been told things that we should treasure, things that we should strive to achieve that go hand in hand with our faith in Jesus.

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))

If we strive to possess these characteristics in our walk with Jesus, our priorities have already set what we treasure as things not of this world. Still, we are only human and the world can distract us. We need to stay steadfast in our desires to stay focused on Jesus. We must constantly seek to have a heart that is not hardened.

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

What kind of heart do you have?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 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.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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