The Light of Jesus!

December 20, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
(Matthew 5:16 (NIV))

Have you ever stopped to think about this verse?

In just a few days, we will be celebrating Christmas, the day that we have set aside to commemorate the day that God sent the Light of the World into the world. From the day of His birth, Jesus did not hide His light. He let it shine so that any and all who would recognize it could find the salvation and grace that they had been seeking.

What is Jesus had hidden His light?

Would we know of His teachings? Would we know of His healings? Would we know of His miracles that defied natural law? Would we know of the crucifixion and the resurrection? Would we know of the fulfillment of God’s promises?

If Jesus had hidden the Light that God had given Him, we would be no better off than before He came to this world.

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))

Did you catch that simple truth?

Jesus let His light shine. We are to do what Jesus did. According to scripture, it is even possible that we may do greater things than He did. It is possible that our light may shine brightly to many people. It is possible that we may reach more people with our light than the number of people that Jesus reached when He walked this earth.

I know that this may sound egotistical, but that is not the intent. Jesus came to this earth some two thousand years ago. How many people could he have actually reached during His time on this earth? Now consider the works of Billy Graham. How many people has he been able to impact for Jesus? I am sure that it is far greater than the number that Jesus reached during His three years of ministry and teaching. In other words, he did greater things than Jesus.

The key to this is simple. We can do great things, and maybe even greater things than Jesus, if we make Jesus our focus. We must not draw attention to ourselves, but we must always point to the one who gives life. We can impact a great number of people for Jesus. We can do this by simply letting our light shine.

Just make sure that the light that shines is the Light of Jesus!

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Bad fruit

November 29, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
(Matthew 7:15-20 (NIV))

Think about this the next time that you hear of something that is just too good to be true, or is just a little off of what God’s Word says that it should be. Most of the time, lies are obvious, but deception is a trick of the enemy. When things sound almost right with respect to God’s word, they are totally wrong.

It should be easy for believers to realize that the “fruit” does not match the source. We should be able to easily distinguish that the things the enemy tells us are too good to be true, especially when they contradict everything that we should know to be true according to God’s Word.

Why do people fall for the deceptions of the enemy?

Are we, as a fallen, sinful race, too far removed from the truth to even recognize it?

The words in Matthew are amazing and sadly amusing if you stop to actually understand what is being said. We have enough common sense to not look for grapes on an apple tree, yet, we easily fall prey to the small lies of the enemy in hopes that the promises are true.

Test everything against God’s Word. If something is supposed to bear goodness, but it lies to do so, does it really follow God’s Word? If you are promised that it is only a small digression and no one will know about it, can it be the correct fit?

We have been told what the things of God will bear.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
(Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV))

Think of this passage when validating the truth about something. Does it produce according to the fruit of the Spirit?

Are you on watch for bad fruit?

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Focus and priorities

October 7, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
(Luke 12:15 (NIV))

Ask any teenager what they want out of life, and it is an extremely good chance that they will say to make a lot of money. The bad thing about this is that this is a learned response. They have learned it from their parents. They have learned it from the media. They have learned it from each other.

Wanting money and possessions is not bad in itself. The continuation of this passage shows that God is not against someone accumulating wealth. What He is against is doing it for the wrong reasons and making decisions without going to Him in prayer to see if it is within His Will. Luke 12:15-21 tells us that the rich man’s sin was planning without going to God, for he planned for something that was not needed.

And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, `What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’
“Then he said, `This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” ‘
“But God said to him, `You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’
“This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.”
(Luke 12:16-21(NIV))

Perhaps our society is too focused on the wealth without focusing on the responsibility that goes with it. We have a responsibility to God, to other people and, lastly, to ourselves. When we focus on ourselves first, our desire for wealth becomes greed. When we focus on others first, our desire for wealth becomes a desire to be able to help others. This goes back to our “learned” responses. If we learn to place God and others first, then greed is not a problem. If we learn to place ourselves first, then we become greedy. It is a matter of training.

Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.
(Proverbs 22:6(NIV))

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Everything grows

October 5, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
(James 3:3-6 (NIV))

Isn’t it amazing how something so small can grow so big.

Think about that for a moment.

A small spark can bring a raging fire. A single word misspoken can bring about anger and rage that can last a lifetime and infect any and all that it comes in contact with.

Likewise, something good can start small and grow. A single smile can spread quickly and brighten the day for many people. Just a little bit of faith, and God can grow it tremendously into something that is so great that miracles can happen.

It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds of the air can perch in its shade.
(Mark 4:31 -32 (NIV))

We have a choice to make. We have many small choices to make. It is these very choices that seem small and insignificant when we make them, yet they grow and shape our lives in ways that we could never imagine. Make those choices wisely. There is no such thing as a small decision or a small conversation, for what can transpire during and afterwards can change your life.

Focus on things of God.

Sow good seeds wherever you may go. Do not plant small seeds of discontent. Plant your faith so that it grows and provides shelter and comfort to any and all whom come your way.

There is a saying that even the mightiest oak started out as a little acorn. Everything grows. Make sure that what grows from your life is something that is pleasing to God.

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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And of which I have become a servant

October 4, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation– if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.
(Colossians 1:21-23 (NIV))

Think about those last words – “and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.”

What does that mean to you? Just what is your definition of a servant?

Do you have the attitude that is so prevalent in the church these days that basically asks what can Jesus do for me? To me, this is not servanthood. It is a selfish attitude that ignores the very heart of the Gospel. It turns the Gospel upside down. It forgets one simple truth.

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

We are not worthy of being selfish. What have we ever done that merits thinking that God would ever do anything for a sinner such as us?

It is true that Jesus came to serve, but His service was to die for our sins. He did not remain a servant. He will return much different that when He left.

On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:
(Revelation 19:16 (NIV))

In the order of things that Revelation 19:16 speaks of, who will be worthy of having servants? Who will owe their eternal salvation to whom?

How is your servanthood to the one who bought you with His blood?

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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To serve or to be served?

September 27, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave– just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
(Matthew 20:24-28 (NIV))

Once again, Jesus broke the mold. He went against what human nature tells us is the way to think. He spoke against the biggest part of a person, their ego. It is our ego that makes us want to be the master, for we think that we are better than anybody else and that we deserve to be served. Human nature tells us that the great people of this world are those who are served.

Take a look at the people who have been written up in history as the great ones of their time. Consider the people who have done evil. What attitude did they have? They wanted to be served.

Consider those who have left a positive mark in history. They are the people who have served other people. People like Mother Teresa, Winston Churchill, and many others throughout history. They will be remembered for the selfless acts where they gave freely of themselves for the benefit of others.

Jesus was our role model for this behavior. If we are to imitate Jesus so that the world sees Him through us, are we doing what we should? Are we serving others, or are we expecting to be served?

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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To what end do you labor?

September 22, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.
(Colossians 1:28-29 (NIV))

I read this, and then I read it again. I read it one more time before it actually hit home.

Paul’s sole task after his Damascus road experience was teaching and admonishing, or urging, people to follow Jesus. Everything else that he did was secondary.

He did not live to work as so many of us do today.

He did not work to live. He had no vineyards to tend, or fields to plow. He had no business to run. He only labored to provide for his needs.

Paul’s mission in life was proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That was his passion. That was what consumed his time.

It is said that if you look at a person’s calendar and checkbook that you can clearly see what that person’s priorities are. I venture to say that Paul spent very little time and money on things that did not forward God’s Kingdom.

I know that not all of us are called to be another Paul, yet, I often wonder if we are falling short on what we are called to be. I enjoy my time within God’s Word. I am happy to see that God is using this to touch people’s lives, yet, I often wonder what I would be like, what we all would be like, if only we could labor as Paul.

What would our lives be like if we could double our labor for the Gospel? What would be the impact on family, friends, coworkers and even strangers? What would that do for the harvest?

He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.
(Luke 10:2 (NIV))

To what end do you labor?

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Money, fame, prestige and power

August 25, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
(Genesis 1:1 (NIV))

Take a long hard look at what it is that you have allowed to take the place of God.

Did money create the heavens and the earth? Was fame there in the beginning? Did prestige and power subjugate the emptiness and cause it to form the universe?

Only God was able to do all of these things!

God existed long before the heavens and the earth and long before money, fame, or prestige and power. All of these things are man-made creations that have come about out of the depravity that arose because of the fall from grace. None of these things are worthy of our worship. None of these things should become our god. None, of these things are righteous in the eyes of God.

You shall have no other gods before me.
(Exodus 20:3 (NIV))

Too many of us replace the one true God with our own personal gods. These gods can be anything that takes priority in our lives. When we find that this is happening, we must remember that none of these things were around in the beginning. None of them were around when God created the heavens and the earth. It was only God in His Triune glory, and He …

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

If He created “in the beginning,” then we must reevaluate our gods and repent. We must turn to the God of creation.

I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.
(Revelation 22:13 (NIV))

Can your “gods” of money, fame, or prestige and power make such a profession?

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you ready to go where Christ is not known?

August 18, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation. Rather, as it is written:
“Those who were not told about him will see,
and those who have not heard will understand.”
(Romans 15:20-21 (NIV))

Paul did just that. He spread the Gospel as far as he could travel. He did not keep it to himself, nor did he keep it only for his close friends and family. He didn’t even keep it only for those who looked and acted like him.

Paul willingly and eagerly took the Gospel of Jesus Christ to what was then the far reaches of his world.

We owe our very heritage and faith to his eagerness to make sure that those who had not heard would hear.

What if he had decided that blindness was his fate? What if he had decided to stay in Jerusalem? What if he gave up after the first time that he faced persecution? Would we be alive in the faith? Would we even be alive at all, for the events that God set into motion through Paul’s ministry have impacted lives throughout history. We have no idea what this world, what our own individual lives would look like if Paul did not go where he was sent.

Paul had a heart for God’s Word. He had a burning desire to see that God’s grace and mercy were shared with everyone.

Think about Paul the next time that you find yourself saying, “Someone needs to tell them about Jesus.” What if Paul said that?

Today’s society has such a wrong understanding of God’s grace and mercy. They have such a wrong image of Jesus. Because of these misconceptions, many people ridicule anything remotely associated with Christianity.

They have not been told the truth about Him.

They have not heard, so therefore they do not understand.

What if we all got out of our comfort zones and took it upon ourselves to help one person to understand? What if we relied on the Holy Spirit to help us to tell someone about Jesus? What if we all prayed for some of Paul’s enthusiasm for the Gospel to fall upon us?

The world would be a different place with each of us starting with one person who does not know the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Are you ready to step outside of your comfort zone?

Are you ready to go where Christ is not known?

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Commit to something completely

August 8, 2011

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.
(John 10:27-28 (NIV))

Many people cling to the last sentence of this verse, and rightly so. But, how many people do you know who cling to this sentence and ignore the first sentence? Claiming the name of Jesus as your personal Savior is only part of the complete process of salvation.

You must allow Jesus to be the Lord of your life, following Him in whatever He directs you. Many people who ignore the first sentence and all of its ramifications have not totally surrendered their lives to the authority that is Jesus. They see Jesus as somebody who they can call upon when they get themselves into trouble, someone who will bail them out of any of their mistakes. They see Jesus as some sort of personal insurance policy that they can call upon when things are not going their way. In the process, they completely ignore Jesus’ voice and what He is calling them to do.

Perhaps it is human nature to want to “Do it my way.” It takes a total surrender of your life to completely enjoy the full blessings that await you through Jesus Christ. Consider that the world rewards those who commit to something completely. This is especially true when you consider actors, musicians, etc. who must focus solely on what they do. If they are rewarded by a sinful world for their commitment, how much more will we be rewarded if we give everything we have to the One who created us and who saved us from our sin?

Copyright 1998 – 2011 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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