Have you been strengthened?

March 27, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
(Isaiah 41:10 (NIV))

The circumstances may have changed from when this was originally recorded but the message is still the same.

Has there ever been a generation of humanity that did not need the assurance that is spoken in these words? Israel had Babylon. Skipping ahead to more recent times, the whole world had World War I and World War II. We have had terrorists and now we have a worldwide pandemic brought about by an enemy so small that it can’t be seen. We are told to not even get close to each other out of fear of spreading this contagion. It’s as if the enemy is trying harder and harder to make all of creation fear the glory of God’s creation. Now, just as it was all throughout history, humanity has faced things in this world that bring fear, but just as we were told in Isaiah, we have nothing to fear!

God had chosen the nation of Israel to bring forth His greatest promise. The enemy did all that he could to prevent that. Israel faced slavery in Egypt. Israel faced captivity by Babylon. They faced occupation by Roman armies. Even through all of this, and much more, God’s greatest promise, a savior, was fulfilled in Jesus. All along the way, God raised up individuals whom He used to remind the people to keep their eyes on Him, not to be afraid and to be confident of His strength. We are no different today. God is still raising up individuals to remind us of His promises and to not be afraid no matter what the enemy may send our way.

Right now, the enemy is working overtime. He knows that his time is short. He is doing all that he can to set the stage for his unholy trinity of the false prophet, the antichrist and himself. If you have professed a faith in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, then you have nothing to fear from what the world or the enemy may send your way. Through Jesus, we have been promised salvation from an eternity in hell and promised an eternal home in heaven with God the Father.

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.
(2 Corinthians 1:20 (NIV))

If we can count on all of God’s promises being fulfilled, why should we fear anything that the world or the enemy may send our way? When we begin to grow fearful, we must remember that the Lord of all creation has told us do not fear! This single fact should be enough to give us strength!

Have you been strengthened?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Why are we drawn to return to our sin and slavery?

March 2, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
(Galatians 5:1 (NIV))

What is it about human nature that makes us return to something that we know we should leave behind? We have all been guilty of doing this very thing, and probably much more often than we care to admit. Apparently, human nature since the fall from grace has always had us doing what can only be called self destructive behavior. We know that we shouldn’t, but yet we do. This type of behavior has been pointed out many times, but probably the most accurate and disgusting is the following.

As a dog returns to its vomit,
so fools repeat their folly.
(Proverbs 26:11 (NIV))

As I stated previously, we all do it. Even the man who is credited with bringing the Gospel to the Gentiles fought this aspect in his own walk of faith. Paul was a very intelligent person, but yet he didn’t understand the self destructive nature that he fought against.

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
(Romans 7:15-20 (NIV))

This struggle that all of us face makes it clear why each of us are called to take up our cross daily. We are to deny that part of our human nature. We are to struggle with this sinful nature each and every time that it raises its ugly head in our lives. We are called to repent. Far too many people believe that this is a one-time occurrence, but it should be a daily attitude and activity. Do I even venture to say that, on some days, we may have to humble ourselves continually before the Lord and repent of our actions and our thoughts?

I know that we are a fallen creation, but I wish I had the magic answer as to why we return to our sin when we don’t want to. I wish I knew how to turn off that part of my life so that I never take my eyes off of Jesus. Just like Paul, I find myself doing the very things that I hate! I don’t know why! I long to do only what is good and righteous, yet on my own, this is not possible. I just know that we must be ready to fall on our knees whenever and wherever we may find yourself returning to our sin.

I want to leave you with one question that I hope you will take to heart.

Why are we drawn to return to our sin and slavery?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What do you do with your freedom?

August 2, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.
(Galatians 5:13 (NIV))

How do you define freedom?

You may find yourself among the group of people who look at freedom as a political right, as in being free to do whatever you desire. If this is the case, then you may be surprised to find that this definition is not the primary definition in many dictionaries. In many dictionaries, freedom is defined as personal liberty from bondage, slavery or confinement. No matter how you look at freedom, it is generally accepted to mean a state of being free, whether from confinement, bondage or in actions. It is the subtle nuances of the definitions that catch people off guard and have them making choices that are not the true definition of freedom.

In this country, we have many freedoms. We are free to choose how to live our lives. We are free to choose to do things that should probably be left undone. Yet, too many people make these choices simply because they think that they have a right to do so. Let’s put these types of choices in perspective. We have the freedom to go to the top of a tall building to enjoy the view. Some people take that freedom to extreme and jump! When a choice that someone makes under the guise of freedom harms themselves or others, is it really freedom? Would you want to be free in this manner, especially when you consider the consequences of the choices made in this type of freedom?

The freedom that Jesus came to offer is not this type of freedom!

We, as humanity, have been sentenced to a physical world where we simply cannot live without making mistakes. Those mistakes are called sin. No one is perfect.

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

Because of our sin, we have been tried, convicted and condemned.

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

The freedom that we have been given through Jesus is a washing clean of our sin and the consequences of that sin. Let’s look at it from a perspective not many of us will ever know, but hopefully one that will help us to understand. Imagine that you are convicted of murder and sentenced to death for your crime. You spend every day knowing that one day you will face the consequences of your actions and there is absolutely nothing that you can do. You desire to escape the consequences, yet you know that you deserve all that is coming.

With this image still fresh in your mind, the best way to describe true freedom is this.

Godly freedom is being given a pardon for the consequences of your actions and you are so thankful that you joyfully refrain from any similar actions. You also joyfully share the story of how you gained your freedom so that others may find theirs. Is this how you see freedom through Jesus?

What do you do with your freedom?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you thankful to praise and serve the Lord?

March 8, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

O Lord, I am your servant; yes, I am your servant, the son of your handmaid, and you have freed me from my bonds! I will offer you a sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord. I will keep my promises to the Lord in the presence of all his people, in the house of the Lord, in the heart of Jerusalem. Praise the Lord!
(Psalms 116:16-19 (NLT))

How do you see yourself in relationship to God?

It is true that we are bought by the blood of Jesus and we have been saved from the laws of sin and death, but we owe God a big debt of gratitude for what He has done for us. We have been rescued from certain eternal death.

In many cultures, if someone rescues you or saves your life, it is said that your life is no longer yours. It is owed to the person who saved you. If we take that same philosophy with the salvation that we have been given, then the life that we live is also not our own. We owe it to God. We owe it not out of an attitude of slavery and bondage, but out of an attitude of hope and gratitude.

We have been given the greatest gift that we could ever conceivably receive. This gift literally saved our lives. As a result of that salvation, we should rejoice in the grace we have been given. We should seek ways to serve the One who saved us. We should be thankful and give Him praise for what He has done. We should desire to please Him in all that we do.

This type of servanthood is one performed out of love and gratitude!

Are you a joyful servant?

Do you seek to praise God for what He has done for you? Do you share that joy with others?

Are you thankful to praise and serve the Lord?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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We must pray for the enemy to be bound!

November 8, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.
(1 Timothy 2:1-2 (NIV))

It would be so nice to live in peace with all people!

Unfortunately, human history has a track record of exactly opposite of this desire. Once sin was introduced into the world, we have been at each other’s throats nonstop. Adam turned on Eve and placed the blame solely on her. Eve turned to the serpent and placed the blame on him. Cain turned on Abel and killed him because God accepted Abel’s offering and not his own. Ever since then, all of human history has been the never ending story of one group of people trying to control other groups of people. If you stop to think about this, it is actually the power of the enemy to influence one group of people to do harm to another group of people.

There is something about human nature that longs to be in control, to be in charge, to be able to enforce their will over the will of others. Satan knows this and uses this to his advantage. We have appointed people to be in positions of authority. Some people have gone so far as to kill others to end up in positions of authority. All throughout human history, we have had slavery. The conqueror enslaves the conquered. Sin is rampant!

Sinful human nature all too often prevails. People still become violent if they do not get their way!

With all of this history, Jesus came to break that trend and to offer us a new future. We don’t have to turn to anger and bitterness. We don’t have to control. We don’t have to get angry and wage war. We were not created to live in that manner. We were created to live in a loving fellowship with each other and with the Lord. We can live peaceful and quiet lives!

It starts with proclaiming that Jesus is your personal Lord and Savior. It matures through prayer and study. It continues to mature as we become more and more like Jesus.

Think about that last sentence!

When Jesus was facing crucifixion, what did He do?

He prayed!

He prayed for those who were entrusted to Him. When He was on the cross, He prayed for the Father to forgive those who crucified Him. He realized that the power behind the events of the world were not human, but were actually works of the enemy. When He prayed, and when we pray for those in authority, the enemy is bound! Only when the enemy has been bound can we live in peace!

We must pray for the enemy to be bound!

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What have you been set free for?

September 26, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
(Galatians 5:1 (NIV))

How many people do you know that have claimed to have surrendered their lives to Jesus only to return to the sin that they wanted to break free from?

Is it just me, or did everyone take a big pause and let out a big sigh as you took a quick, but serious look at your life?

Since we are human, it wouldn’t surprise me if everyone who claims Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior has moments in their lives where we find ourselves picking up things that we wish we could learn to leave alone.

We have the freedom to do anything that we desire.

We have the freedom to rebel. We have the freedom to be greedy. We have the freedom to lust. We have the freedom to covet, and we also have the freedom to repent of all of these sins and anything else that comes between us and our freedom in Christ! Freedom does not simply mean that we can do whatever we choose. Merriam-Webster has one definition that I love. Freedom means the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action. In other words, we, as the Body of Christ, are not bound by our sinful nature. We do not have to sin. We do not have to live a life engulfed in sin. We do not have to face an eternity that is the dire consequences of sin.

Jesus came to set us free from the power of sin and death!

With our freedom, we can face each day knowing that we have a Savior who has paid the ultimate price for our redemption. With our freedom, we can face each day knowing that we can never repay that debt. With our freedom, we can also face each day with a desire to share this great freedom, this great gift of grace, with all that we see. We can use our freedom to lead others to the same freedom that we profess.

What have you been set free for?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you yoked by the burden of slavery to sin?

April 3, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
(Galatians 5:1 (NIV))

If you are caught in a trap and will surely die, how do you react if someone rescues you?

Do you turn away from the trap and promise to never go back there again, or do you fight the one who rescues you and jump right back into the trap?

Human nature is a funny thing!

When the dangers are physical and immediate, we have a tendency to thank the one who rescues us. We have a tendency to embrace the rescue and turn away from the danger, but we seem to be blinded when the danger is not immediate. The danger may be just as real, but because it is not immediately life threatening, we think that we have time to address the issue before it takes its toll.

We also seem to be blinded when the danger is spiritual.

Many times it is a spiritual danger that temps us into the physical dangers. The enemy knows that if he can trick us into believing that the spiritual side of things are not important at the moment then he can subject us to the physical dangers. He knows all too well that the physical dangers can lead to death. He knows that if we have not accepted Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, then our physical death will also mean our spiritual death.

The enemy knows that sin leads to death!

Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?
(Romans 6:16 (NIV))

Are you yoked by the burden of slavery to sin?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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