Are you standing firm in the freedom that Christ has given?

July 4, 2022

Image

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 freedom to you?

If you are a follower of Jesus, then freedom means something different from how the world defines it. It has such a deeper meaning and carries with it a longer lasting impact than what the world calls freedom. Worldly freedom can be gone in an instant, but the freedom that Jesus came to offer lasts an eternity. Worldly freedom is good, for with it comes the freedom to worship as you please. Worldly freedom also has its drawbacks, for worldly freedom allows us to do things that the world sees as appropriate even if they are not right in the eyes of God. Freedom through the atoning blood of Jesus washes away all the sins of the world. We are made right in the eyes of God. When we are made right in the eyes of God, we should long to strive toward the perfection that we are being called to. We are not to use this freedom as an excuse to return to our sins.

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))

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))

I love freedom! I also love knowing that there are boundaries to this freedom. Those boundaries protect us. They nurture us and they guide us into righteousness in the eyes of God. Thankfully, we have the Holy Spirit to guide us if we will only listen. Does a person who is freed from prison immediately turn around and asked to be placed back in prison? Why should we, who are freed from the prison, from the bondage of sin and death, immediately return to sin?

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
(2 Corinthians 3:17 (NIV))

We must stand firm. We must keep our eyes focused on Jesus. We must cling to the freedom that was given to us by Jesus.

Are you standing firm in the freedom that Christ has given?

Copyright 1998 – 2022 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
Support Daily Living Ministries
Subscribe to daily email delivery
Visit us on facebook


Have you truly turned to Jesus?

September 27, 2021

Image

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
(Matthew 11:28 (NIV))

I don’t know a single person who professes a faith in Jesus that does not know and love this passage. In fact, we rely on the truth of these words when the world gets us down. We love the fact that we can turn to Jesus and He will not forsake us, but most people stop there. They don’t connect the proverbial dots with what is written in the next two sentences.

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
(Matthew 11:29-30 (NIV))

The rest that we seek is not a transitory rest. It is not a pit stop where we get recharged and then go do our own thing. We are to take His yoke and learn from it. I started to say that we are to take His yoke as a way of life, but in all honesty, we are to take His yoke as the way of life!

I have read in the past that a rabbi’s teachings were called a yoke. The Pharisees and the Sadducees created a heavy burden, a heavy yoke, for their followers to carry. They were burdened with legalism and teachings that were of man’s traditions instead of God’s Word. Jesus never placed this type of burden, this type of yoke, on those who follow Him. He simply calls us to repent and acknowledge Him as your personal Lord and Savior. Instead of a vast number of man’s traditions, He calls us to love the Lord your God with all your heart and to love your neighbor as yourself. If we are able to do this, everything else falls into place.

In essence, when you look at Matthew 11:28-30 in context, we are invited to come to Jesus and abandon man’s religious traditions, accept the grace and mercy that is freely given at the cross, and follow His teachings that call us to love God and each other. We don’t have to worry about sacrifices, for He has paid the price as the perfect Lamb of God!

I realize that Isaiah lived hundreds of years before Matthew recorded these words, but I see a direct relationship, a direct result of taking the yoke of Jesus as our own.

But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles. They shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
(Isaiah 40:31 (NIV))

We will find rest. We will have the joy of carrying the burden that Jesus spoke of. We will rejoice in the Lord. We will renew our strength, for our strength will be found in Him. We will learn to soar above the sins of this world because He has overcome this world, and we will walk through this world knowing that our strength comes from Jesus!

Have you truly turned to Jesus?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
Support Daily Living Ministries
Subscribe to daily email delivery
Visit us on facebook


Have you taken His yoke?

December 2, 2020

Image

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
(Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV))

When was the last time that you truly felt rested?

Was it when you got away to your favorite vacation spot and did only what you wanted to do? Was it a rest that lasted beyond the few days away from the hectic pace of everyday life? Chances are very good that even this rest left you empty and soon feeling weary once again.

The rest that Jesus speaks of is far more than simply doing nothing. The rest that Jesus speaks of leaves you refreshed deep within your spirit. It leaves you with a peace. Even in the midst of this hectic life that society says we have to live, we can find rest. We can find a perfect rest. Jesus will refresh us and restore us. He will exchange our burdens for His grace, mercy and peace.

When I first read this passage many years ago, I felt perplexed. My understanding of a yoke was a heavy piece of farm equipment used to keep oxen in line to pull a plow. How could this be restful? Later, I learned that when Jesus spoke these words, a rabbi’s interpretation of the scriptures was called his yoke. When you studied under a particular rabbi, you took his yoke upon yourself. All of the rabbi’s yokes placed a strong emphasis on the Law and keeping God’s Laws. Jesus’ yoke was different. He came to give us the intent or the heart of the Laws, and not the letter of the laws. He freed us from the heavy burden of the Law. He offered us grace and mercy.

Jesus gives us rest in more ways than one. It is true that He walks with us and guides us and gives us peace when we face tough times. He also gives us joy in our lives because He has lifted the heavy yoke of the Law. He bore that burden for us. We do not need to.

Have you learned to rest under Jesus’ yoke? The burden has been lifted. Accept His grace and mercy. Have you taken His yoke?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
Support Daily Living Ministries
Subscribe to daily email delivery
Visit us on facebook


Come to Jesus and find rest!

June 19, 2020

Image

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
(Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV))

All of us need rest in the physical world!

How many have thought about spiritual rest and the impact that it has on our physical existence? If we are truly at rest in the Lord, our physical world, no matter what we may face, will also be at rest. We will be at peace. If we focus on finding rest in the physical world first, we will never find true rest and our spiritual rest will also be nonexistent.

Think about your priorities.

God does not want us to be burdened and heavy laden. He wants us to have the peace that only He can provide. He has even given us a way to get that peace, because there is nothing that we can do to achieve it ourselves. Jesus is the peace that God has given us. He is our rest and our hope. He is our spiritual big brother who is looking out for us. We can have rest. It is a rest better than any we have ever known.

Come to Jesus and find rest!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
Subscribe to daily email delivery
Visit us on facebook


Do you feel as though you are having trouble?

April 28, 2020

Image

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
(John 16:33 (NIV))

Do the current issues in the world make you feel like you are having trouble?

Did you feel like you were facing troubles before all of this hit?

If you answered “Yes” to either or both questions, let me ask you one more question. Have you been focusing on the world or have you been focusing on Jesus?

There is an old saying that you will find what you look for. There is so much truth to this. If you are looking for wealth, then you will only see things that have a monetary value and you will miss the things that God blesses us with that are priceless. It is a matter of perspective. You see what you want to see. If you look at life through the perspective of the world, then all you will see are troubles. If you look at life through the perspective of being a follower of Jesus, then no matter what the world tries to make you see, you will see grace and mercy.

Don’t get me wrong. We are only human and we all will falter and see things through worldly eyes, but we don’t have to see things that way!

A friend has a saying that I think is fantastic. He says, “I have never had a bad day. I have had bad things happen on a good day, but I have never had a bad day!” I love how his attitude fulfills the very essence of John 16:33. He keeps his eyes on Jesus and by doing so, he reminds himself that Jesus is with him no matter what. I don’t know about you, but knowing that Jesus is with me makes all of my days good! Remind yourself that Jesus has overcome the world the next time that you feel you are facing troubles in this world.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
(Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV))

Do you feel as though you are having trouble?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
Subscribe to daily email delivery
Visit us on facebook


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

March 2, 2020

Image

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
Subscribe to daily email delivery
Visit us on facebook


What have you been set free for?

September 26, 2018

Image

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
Subscribe to daily email delivery
Visit us on facebook


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
Subscribe to daily email delivery
Visit us on facebook


Give your burdens to Jesus!

December 15, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
(Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV))

This world piles burden upon burden on us in our daily lives. Our jobs, our obligations, our financial needs, and sometimes even our families and our church become burdens. We must step back and focus on the words of Jesus.

Rest! Everyone desires it, but in this world, true rest cannot come. Rest only comes when one is at peace. Peace is a concept that the world wants but can not grant. True peace only comes from the source of all creation through His Son Jesus Christ. Trade burdens with Jesus and gain peace and rest.

The burden that Jesus bore has paid in full your burden of sin and death. Whatever you are carrying now, He carried to the cross almost two thousand years ago. Give Him your burdens and He will give you rest.

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
Subscribe to daily email delivery
Visit us on facebook


Have you found what Jesus was sharing?

September 2, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
(Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV))

When you hear the word “yoke” you probably think of the large, heavy piece of farm equipment that is put on oxen so that they can pull a plow. We when think of a yoke, we think of a physical burden. Sometimes following what church traditions and the Law say we need to do is looked upon as such a burden. With this attitude, it is easy to understand why people are fearful of church and following Jesus. They think that it is hard work and impossible to do. They do not realize or understand the yoke that Jesus offers is a different type of yoke.

It is difficult to follow the Law faithfully. No one can do it. That is a burden that no one can bear. However, Jesus has born that burden. As the Son of God, He came to this earth as a man and accomplished what no man could accomplish because of sin. He willingly took upon Himself the very burden that we could never carry. In return, He gave us His yoke.

To the people who originally heard these words, they knew that a rabbi’s interpretation of God’s Word was called his yoke. Some rabbi’s made it very difficult to follow God because of the very burdensome interpretations that they placed upon people. I am sure that we all know people who do that even today. Luckily, Jesus gives people a very light yoke unencumbered by the interpretations of man. Jesus, as rabbi, taught us that there is an alternative to the yoke of the Law. He gave us rest. Can you imagine the burden of trying to live perfect lives according to the Law? People were stressed. They were so caught up in trying to be perfect that they didn’t enjoy the life that God gave them. They knew that Satan used the Law against them.

Jesus changed this.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
(John 10:10 (NIV))

Does this sound like an easy burden?

Jesus did not come to this earth to burden us down. He came to free us from those burdens. Take His yoke upon you and learn. Find the rest that God desires for you.

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
Subscribe to daily email delivery
Visit us on facebook


%d bloggers like this: