Is this the meaning of Christmas to you?

December 6, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.
(John 10:14-15 (NIV))

Does this passage make sense to you with respect to the upcoming celebration of the birth of Jesus?

Think about the words that are recorded by John. Think about the amazing fact that Jesus knows who belongs to Him and they know it as well. Think about the amazing gift that was freely given to all who will simply accept. It was freely given through the laying down of His life.

We take it for granted that Jesus knows us, but have you ever stopped to think about how we have gotten to know Him? In all of the infinite wisdom that is our Lord, it was decided that the best way for people to actually get to know Him was for Him to become one of us. This removed any misgivings. This removed any false concepts and false teachings. This allowed for the creation to live with and get to know the Lord. Instead of books dictated to humanity, the Gospel accounts are recorded by people who knew Jesus when He walked among us. They were written by people just like you and I. They had doubts. They had fears. They had heartache and troubles, yet, they chose to record something out of the ordinary. They chose to record their first hand encounters with the Lord of all creation.

Pretty amazing!

I have one more thing that I want to point out, and it is contained in the words “and I lay down my life for the sheep.”

What is your definition of life? Does your definition include death? Think about that for a moment. In order for Jesus to lay down His life for us, He had to have a life like ours. The eternal nature had to be put on hold so that He could have a physical nature and ultimately suffer a physical death. Have you ever stopped to think about the process of going from eternal Lord to a mortal infant? Have you ever stopped to wonder just what the baby Jesus possessed as far as infinite wisdom?

Jesus came into this world to lay down His life as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. As I stated previously, He had to have a physical life that He could willingly give up. Could you imagine being in the splendor of heaven one moment and then the next you are being placed in a manger? You go from King of all kings to a helpless baby!

That is the message of Christmas! That is the redeeming love of 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))

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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It is time to celebrate the greatest joy!

December 23, 2015

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
(James 1:2-4 (NIV))

With Christmas just a few days away, the Body of Christ is embracing the joy of our Savior’s birth.

Have you ever stopped to think that we cannot truly experience joy if we have never experienced sorrow? Joy is an emotion that comes when we break free from something. We experience joy when we find someone and we know that we will not be alone. We experience joy when we persevere over a trial or tribulation. In essence, joy is the mountain top experience that we eagerly welcome after we have fought our way through the valleys in our lives.

With that concept outlined, think about the joy of Christmas again.

We are joyful because up until the birth of Jesus, humanity was a fallen and lost creation. We had no redeemer. We had no Savior. We, as a whole group, were facing the sorrow of sin and death and we had no way to escape the consequences of our sin.

There is joy in Christmas!

There is joy when we face trials.

There is joy because we have a risen Savior.

In just a few days, we will celebrate the physical birth of our Lord and Savior. I pray that you will embrace the joy of the celebration. I also pray that you will not forget that our joy came at a price that we did not have to pay.

God gave us great joy through the birth of a baby. It is time to praise God for His great gift!

Merry Christmas!

Copyright 1998 – 2015 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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I am reborn through the power of His birth!

December 11, 2015

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, `You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
(John 3:5-8 (NIV))

During this time of year when we celebrate the birth of Jesus, we have to stop and consider the things that Jesus spoke of in this passage and the true meaning of what He spoke of.

If you stop to think about the birth of Jesus, it is not the typical birth.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.
(John 1:1-2 (NIV))

Jesus existed before His physical birth. He has existed since the beginning and will exist for all eternity. Why did He go through the physical birth when He already existed? Why did He come to take a physical, human form? Why did He give up the heavenly to put on the frailty of humanity? Why did He do any of the things that He did?

Love!

“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. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men 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 his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”
(John 3:16-21 (NIV))

I find it amazing and I am deeply humbled by the fact that Jesus gave up everything so that He could offer us redemptive grace and salvation. He is eternal. We are dust. Yet, He loves us enough to have come to this world and live as one of us. He loves us enough to have suffered and died for the cleansing of all of our sins. He loves us enough to intercede for us with the Father.

I realize that what we know as Christmas is a joyous time for the reason we celebrate is joyous. I also find it to be a time of self reflection. Do I live up to the expectations of Jesus? Do I have the faith to do the things that He has done? I know that I fail daily. I also know that I can repent and rest assured that I am still loved and forgiven. I know this because of the promises that were fulfilled when Jesus was born into the physical world!

Copyright 1998 – 2015 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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God is definitely doing something!

December 19, 2014

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
(2 Peter 3:9 (NIV))

I just read something that sent shivers all over my body. I am not sure just how to tell you about what I just read. It is not a bad thing, but rather a very good thing.

According to Revelation, we know that the temple will be rebuilt and that it will be ready and functioning during the end times. I have found an organization that is preparing for the temple to be rebuilt. I have also read that the perfect and spotless red heifer needed for sacrifice has been found. Tonight, I read that the pure oil used in the temple has been made for the first time in 2000 years. This oil is used to light the Temple Menorah. In addition to this, it is reported that there will be a processional of priests who will present the oil and then dedicate a new stone alter. It is my understanding that all of the Temple instruments have been made and are ready. Now, they are going to dedicate the stone alter just three days before the day that we celebrate the birth of Jesus.

God is definitely doing something!

The Body of Christ needs to be alert and be true to our first love! We need to focus on Jesus! We need to share the Light of Jesus with a dark and dying world before it is too late.

We are seeing things come to pass that I am just now beginning to fully grasp what they could mean. These things all point to one conclusion – that the life that we know will probably be turned upside down very soon. With all that is going on in the world and the plans for the alter stone, I believe that God will work His Will in such a way that those who are not prepared will be wondering what happened.

I do not believe in scaring people and trying to set dates. What I do believe in is Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior. No matter what the future may hold, cling to Jesus. Cling to the promises that have been fulfilled through His first coming. Cling to the promises yet to be fulfilled in His Second Coming.

This Christmas, I pray that you embrace the power of the promises fulfilled in Jesus. It is not about the presents. It is not about the songs. It is not about family time. It is about celebrating the birth of our Savior and His power over sin and death!

When was the last time that you had shivers after seeing what God is unfolding in the world?

Copyright 1998 – 2014 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Celebrate Jesus!

December 26, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
(Luke 2:8-14 (NIV))

What an honor it must have been to be the first to hear the good news! The shepherds must have been terrified by the presence of the angels, after all, angels were not, and are still not an every day occurance.

Luckily for us, God’s plan does not discriminate against us for not being there. In fact, it is probably with mixed blessings that we are embraced as part of God’s Kingdom. We do not have the first hand experience of having seen the angels, the star, or Jesus’ life. Sometimes, I wonder if I would have believed if I lived at the time of Jesus!

On the other hand, we have the faith of millions of people who have gone before us. We have the New Testament, the hundreds of years of prophesy study that proves Jesus is King of kings, the Messiah. It may be easier for someone today to come to faith than it was in Jesus’ day. Yet, through all of this “historical proof”, I sometimes feel empty. I think it is the desire of every believer to be able to go back in time and be a witness to the miracles and hear the teachings of Jesus first-hand.

Today, we celebrated the birth of Jesus and look back in awe to the miracles. At the same time, we should look around us in awe of what God is doing today and look to the not-to-distant future and know what God is going to do. Today we celebrate the First Coming. Some tomorrow we will celebrate the Second Coming.

Merry Christmas

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Merry Christmas!

December 25, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
(Luke 2:1-20 (NIV))

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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God does not do things as we expect

December 11, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” –which means, “God with us.”

When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.
(Matthew 1:18-25 (NIV))

Could you imagine the confusion that Joseph must have felt? He wanted to do what was right according to Jewish society, and at the same time, he wanted to do what was right in the eyes of God. At the beginning, he must have thought that the two desires where one and the same. He thought that he knew what was right in the eyes of God, after all, Israel was God’s chosen people.

I can imagine how Joseph felt when the angel of the Lord appeared to him and told him to do the opposite of what he thought was correct in the eyes of God and society. Confused and, yet, obedient, he obeyed what God had told him to do instead of what society said to do. Because of this obedience, we have been granted two wonderful gifts: 1) the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ, and 2) the knowledge that God does not do things as society expects.

The next time you hear someone say, “That’s not the way we used to do it,” stop and think how Joseph felt and remember that God does not do things as we expect.

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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