Celebrate Jesus!

December 23, 2019

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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 occurrence.

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 firsthand.

We celebrate 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. We celebrate the First Coming. Some tomorrow we will celebrate the Second Coming.

Merry Christmas!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What scripture is being fulfilled today?

September 2, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
(Luke 4:18-21 (NIV))

For hundreds of years, the nation of Israel literally waited for the fulfillment of the prophecy foretold in these words. Yet, as it unfolded right before them, most did not recognize what they had been waiting for. They did not recognize it for they had become so wrapped up in their interpretation of how it would happen, that they did not see God’s interpretation as it unfolded.

If we had been alive at this time, would we have recognized the fulfillment of this prophecy or would we have been like the majority of people? Perhaps even more important is our perception and understanding of what is to come in our life time. We have the luxury of being able to look back through history and see the events as they unfolded. We can recognize the events in hind sight, but how will we be in recognizing the events that are unfolding right before our very eyes?

Jesus will return. He will come for His church when the time is right.

Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, `I am the Christ, ‘ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.
(Matthew 24:4-8 (NIV))

What scripture is being fulfilled today? What do we look for that is our interpretation of these events? We must focus on God’s Word so that we truly understand God’s interpretation and not our own.

I know that I don’t want to be one who watches things unfold and I miss out on what God is doing because I have my own interpretation. I want to know God’s plans and His heart so that I may see things through His eyes.

God is setting the world’s stage for some amazing events. I don’t want to misunderstand any of them. What scripture is being fulfilled today?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Has your faith stayed strong?

June 6, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off–for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
(Acts 2:36-47 (NIV))

The early church did not have the ability to look back into history and see what Jesus had done. They didn’t need it! Many of the people who came to be believers in this time had seen Jesus perform the miracles and had heard Him teach. They had seen Him crucified and had seen Him resurrected. Those who did not see all these things happen, knew of them. They also had the eye-witness accounts of the disciples who had been with Jesus during all of this. No matter how they knew of Jesus, they knew that He is Lord and Savior of all Creation. They fervently praised God and prayed for what they knew comes from these actions.

Have the centuries dulled our intensity? Have they caused us to be less than our brothers and sisters from the early church? We have more evidence today that all of these things happened. Historical records besides the New Testament verify many of the accounts of Jesus’ life. Have we grown complacent in our faith? Take a serious look at your life and priorities. Can you say that you devote yourself to Jesus’ teachings and fellowship with other believers?

Has your faith stayed strong?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are we gathering in Jesus’ name?

May 14, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
(Acts 2:46-47 (NIV))

We must not forsake fellowship with other believers. God intended for this fellowship to strengthen us, encourage us, and enable us to reach others for Jesus. It is tremendous how the early church grew even under the persecution that they faced for their beliefs. This growth was made possible by the fellowship and strengthening that comes from sharing and encouraging others in the faith.

The church was not intended to be buildings as so many today think of it. The church is the Body of Believers, no matter where we may be gathered. The early church gathered in homes and grew strong in the faith. Today’s church meets in buildings once or twice a week and many see it as a duty, not as a time for fellowship with other believers and with Jesus.

“Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”
(Matthew 18:19-20)

Are we gathering in Jesus’ name or are we just gathering to be seen by man?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Have you forgiven as you wish to be forgiven?

March 6, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Then the master called the servant in. `You wicked servant,’ he said, `I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
(Matthew 18:32-34 (NIV))

This is a recurring theme in the Bible. We are forgiven and shown mercy if we can forgive and show mercy to others.

Forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
(Matthew 6:12(NIV))

These are characteristics of God that we are to learn and put into practice. It is the same characteristics that brought Jesus to this earth to die for us.

If Jesus came to this earth to be God’s payment for our debts, if we accept this payment, then we must also be prepared to extend this payment to others. We have been shown unmerited favor and grace. We cannot keep this to ourselves. We cannot hold others to the same laws that we have been granted forgiveness from. If we are not willing to forgive, then how can we truly be forgiven. When we are forgiven, we have a joy that we wish to share with the world. It is a burden that has been lifted.

Does anyone owe you an unpaid debt?

Have you forgiven as you wish to be forgiven?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you thankful today?

November 23, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
his love endures forever.
(1 Chronicles 16:34 (NIV))

Now that our national holiday to be thankful is over, we must remember the real reason that we have to be thankful. All that we have is from a single source. Nothing that we have has been of our own doing. All good things come from God. He freely gives them to those who call upon His name in honesty and sincerity.

For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
the LORD bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold
from those whose walk is blameless.
(Psalms 84:11 (NIV))

Think back just a few days and remember what you said that you were thankful for. Are those things still in your life? Chances are that they have not been removed. What are you most thankful for? Is it your family? Is it your friends?

Is it your salvation?

We should all be extremely thankful for our salvation, otherwise

“Let us eat and drink,
for tomorrow we die.”
(1 Corinthians 15:32b (NIV))

First and foremost, we should always be thankful for our salvation, for without our salvation, we would have nothing to be thankful for. Our salvation should bring out in each of us an attitude of gratitude for we have been given something that we could not earn! Carry this thankfulness into each day that you greet.

Are you thankful today?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you fully embraced the joy of the Lord?

May 23, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
(Acts 2:46-47 (NIV))

I don’t know about you, but this describes something that I would love to be involved in!

Is this how you want to experience church?

It is amazing just how the early church was able to grow. I think that there is a valuable lesson to be learned from the early church. They did not simply meet for an hour or so once a week. They were a community. They were invested in the lives of each other. They embraced newcomers. They worshipped together. They ate together. They truly enjoyed being around each other. They recognized the value of being around the body of believers. They were truly filled with the joy that only comes from the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Over the many years that have transpired since the early church, the church has grown. I am truly thankful for that growth, for without that growth, chances are extremely great that the current members of the Body of Christ would not have heard the Gospel. We must not lose sight of the joy that the early church had. They were focused on Jesus.

We must return to that focus. We must return to that joy! We must focus on Jesus.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
(Hebrews 12:1-2 (NIV))

Even though He suffered and died on the cross, He went through it all so that we could experience the joy of salvation. Now, we can experience the joy of His resurrection and redeeming grace. He is the only source of true joy in this world!

Have you fully embraced the joy of the Lord?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Has our society lost the ability to be humble?

June 29, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”
(1 Peter 5:5 (NIV))

If you look closely, there are some words in this passage that strike a nerve in most people. Can you spot them?

Did you say “submit” and “humble”?

What is it about our human nature that just doesn’t like the concept behind these two words? Why is submission so difficult and why is humility so hard to find anymore? Our society seems to thrive on thwarting these two desirable characteristics at any and every opportunity that presents itself. All that you have to do is pay any attention to the events that are transpiring in the world and you quickly see a total lack of these two characteristics, especially when it comes to a Biblically based perspective. It seems like the only thing that most people are willing to submit to are their own wicked thoughts and desires!

Contrary to what is the absolute truth, society has been convinced that the only truth is what is true for you. The concept that we all answer to an absolute truth does not exist in the minds of many people. They have been taught that if they think that it is true, then it is. If you have a vast number of individuals thinking that whatever they think or say is true, then they rapidly become arrogant. They no longer feel that they must be considerate and humble, after all, they are always right. They are perfect!

I think I can safely say that when you read that last paragraph, the description made you think of some of the recent events and groups that are in the news. In your reflections on these groups, does anything that they do even have any semblance of submission or humility? Does anything about these events and groups have a basis in what we would consider Biblical morals and values?

Has our society lost the ability to be humble?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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It only takes one person who has found favor with God!

February 26, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain.
(Genesis 6:5-6 (NIV))

This passage sets the stage for the story of Noah and the ark.

We know that humanity had turned to complete wickedness and that God grieved for the sins of His creation. He grieved so much, that He was ready to destroy the cause of His grief.

So the LORD said, “I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth–men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air–for I am grieved that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.
(Genesis 6:7-8 (NIV))

Noah found favor in the eyes of God!

For the sake of one man, God did not destroy all of creation. For the sake of one man, God saved humanity for a future.

How many times have you heard someone say, “I am only one person. What can I do?”

Perhaps you have said it yourself.

How many times has God worked through one person? Every single story that we have from the Old Testament and the New Testament all start with when God calls a single individual to follow Him. It does not take a committee. It does not take a unanimous vote by a church council. It simply takes a single individual who is willing to be still before God and to hear His voice. Noah was not approached by a church building committee. He was approached by God! It only requires a willingness on our part to hear and be receptive to what we hear. Perhaps this is why Noah found favor in the eyes of God. Noah was receptive to God!.

Would you find favor in the eyes of God?

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Would you react with humility or pride?

December 16, 2013

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me–
holy is his name.
(Luke 1:46-49 (NIV))

We have seen that Mary found favor in the eyes of God (Luke 1:30-33), but here we clearly see that her reaction was not typical of what you would expect from most people. Most people would dance around and shout out for all to hear that they had found favor. They would make it known. They would show anything except a humble spirit if they were told that they had found favor in the eyes of God.

How would you react?

Would you be like the world, or would you humble yourself and praise God for creating you?

Mary did everything exactly one hundred and eighty degrees opposite of what the world says that we should do. She realized that she was nothing without God and gave all praise to Him. She humbled herself to the point were she placed her whole life in His hands, after all, in that day and time, an unmarried, pregnant woman was legally subject to be stoned to death. She did not give any thought to her welfare, but praised God for His greatness.

Can you find the ability to praise God even if you are given circumstances that do not fit into what the world, or you, deem as appropriate? Would you accept God’s call? Would you boast about being called, or would you humble yourself and ask God to guide you? Think about what would have happened if Mary had acted differently.

Copyright 1998 – 2013 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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