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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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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Do you see the Lord as Holy Glorious?

June 10, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

And they were calling to one another:
    “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;
     the whole earth is full of his glory.”
(Isaiah 6:3 (NIV))

There are two basic premises outlined in this passage. Two very true details that we need to fully embrace. How we embrace them determines our whole outlook and understanding of God the Father, Jesus His Son, and the Holy Spirit.

First and foremost, the LORD is holy. I am not certain if the word “holy” is repeated three times because of a subliminal reference to the Trinity, or whether it is repeated simply as a matter of driving the concept home. It may even be both. No matter why it is repeated, we must never forget that the LORD is holy. If we treat God in any way less than holy, we have sinned. We have taken the Creator of all things and redefined Him within our comfort zone. We do not praise Him if we make Him less than He is.

Ouch!

I hate to say this, but human nature finds us doing just that. We have a tendency of not understanding just how magnificent that He is. We tend to define God and our relationship to Him by our own thought processes and our own relationships. God is holy.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
      declares the LORD.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.
(Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV))

We cannot comprehend God. We must simply trust Him and accept that He is holy.

The second premise that is presented is the fact the the whole earth is full of His glory.

Everywhere that you look, you see wondrous things that God has created. Can man imagine a rainbow into existence? Can humanity divide the waters above from the waters below? Can anybody create a continent and clothe it in the vast splendor that we see?

God’s glory is manifested through His creation. Not only is He holy, but everything that He creates is glorious.

I hope that you fully caught what I just said. Everything that God creates is glorious. God created you and I. It is simple deductive reasoning that allows us to draw the conclusion that we are intended to be glorious. Even though we have fallen from grace through our sin, we are intended to be glorious. Even though we may not always follow God’s call, we are intended to be glorious.

God sent His glory into the world so that we could gain salvation and grace. Jesus, the son of God and the son of man, came into this world so that we could be washed clean and reunited with God in all of His glory.

Holy. Glory.

How do you see God in relationship to these two simple words? Do you see the Lord as Holy Glorious?

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

September 20, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The wages of the righteous is life, but the earnings of the wicked are sin and death.
(Proverbs 10:16 (NIV))

Do you feel that you are paid what you are worth?

If you are truly honest with your answer, it wouldn’t surprise me to hear everyone say that they are underpaid and overworked. I think it is safe to say that even those who work for themselves think this. It is rare to find someone who turns down more money for their work.

Now, let’s look at our lives through the eyes of God.

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

Based on this and our understanding of what God calls wickedness, what have we earned? What wages have our sins brought us?

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

I love this passage! It starts off badly, but God . . .

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))

God does not want us to receive what we have rightfully earned. He has a plan of redemptive grace that allows us to trade what we should receive for that which we cannot earn on our own. All that we need to do to “earn” this grace is believe that Jesus is His one and only Son and accept Him as our personal Lord and Savior. Through God’s plan, we trade our wickedness for His righteousness. We trade sin and death for eternal life.

What are you earning?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is your spirit able to make that claim?

September 19, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.
(1 John 4:2-3 (NIV))

Too many people simply cannot believe that the Gospel is so simple. They feel that they must do something in order to receive anything from God, let alone salvation. They feel that unless they do something great for God, then they are not worthy to receive anything from God. Because of this misconception, many people find it impossible to believe that God would reach out to save them. They feel that God could not love them because of all the bad things that they have done, and that there is nothing great enough that they could do to reach God on their own!

Thankfully, this is not how this works!

It does require that we take a serious look at ourselves. In that introspective, we must recognize our need for salvation.

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

Even though we are all sinners, God has a plan to redeem us.

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))

Do you believe?

Can you believe that God would devise a plan so simple and all that we have to do is acknowledge that Jesus has come in the flesh from God as your personal Lord and Savior?

Is your spirit able to make that claim?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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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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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.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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So, guess what! Praise and fear just don’t mix!

July 30, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

In God, whose word I praise, in the Lord, whose word I praise— in God I trust and am not afraid. What can man do to me?
(Psalms 56:10-11 (NIV))

Do we accept the fact that we are all sinners?

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

Do we accept the gift of grace freely given out of the great love that God has for us?

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 we love to praise the Lord? Do we believe that there is no one higher than our God?

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
(Romans 8:31 (NIV))

If we believe these things, then why do we still cower in fear when the fallen, sinful world sends something our way? Why do we fail to recognize the power that is in the very hands of the one in whom we say we believe? In other words, we should have nothing to fear! When we come to this realization, then it becomes so much easier to praise, and when it becomes so easy to praise, we place more and more of our trust in the Lord.

So, guess what! Praise and fear just don’t mix!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What will your inheritance be?

July 18, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
(Ephesians 5:5 (NIV))

If you are human and you are completely honest with yourself, this passage should make you stop and reflect on your life. If you didn’t take a look at your life with respect to these traits then you are either lying to yourself, you are in complete denial or you are not fully aware of what these human traits truly are. Basically, you are placing too much faith in your ability to live a Godly, perfect life even when we are told that all of us are sinners.

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

Contrary to what you or society may say about what God calls sin, your opinion doesn’t count. There is only one law giver. There is only one judge. There is only one definition that matters. We cannot change that no matter what we may desire to do. What God has defined as sin is still a sin today!

If we sit in a pew for an hour on Sunday and then live as the world dictates the remaining days and hours of the week, are we truly following Jesus? If we tithe on money that was made through immoral or impure ways, is our tithe honored when we present it? Are we truly followers of Christ, or are we simply going through the motions?

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))

It all comes down to what is in your heart, and the human heart is not to be trusted.

The heart is deceitful above all things
and beyond cure.
Who can understand it?
(Jeremiah 17:9 (NIV))

The next time that you feel that your motives and your heart are pure, remember that you are only human and are not capable of this on your own. We must all learn to stay focused on Jesus and repent whenever we fall short of that one task. If we are steadfast in our faith, then we can claim our inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God!

What will your inheritance be?

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