Christmas is the celebration of the sign!

December 24, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
(Isaiah 7:14 (NIV))

Immanuel. God with us!

Contrary to what the retailers try to tell us, Christmas isn’t about gifts. Contrary to what movies try to tell us, Christmas isn’t about Santa, the Grinch, or any of those feel good stories. Christmas is about one thing and one thing only.

The birth of the promised Messiah! The birth of God’s Son! The birth of Jesus!

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 they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
(John 3:16-18 (NIV))

This was and still is the greatest gift that has ever been given. Through Adam, we were lost in sin with no way out. Through Jesus, we can be redeemed. We can be made righteous in God’s eyes.

All of heaven rejoiced at His birth. The angels proclaimed the Good News and glorified God for giving us His Son.

Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, 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 heaven,
      and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
(Luke 2:11-14 (NIV))

The angels announced the sign at His birth! They did not announce a sale. They did not announce that Santa is coming to town. They announced the birth of the Messiah, the fulfillment of the sign foretold in Isaiah.

Christmas is the celebration of the sign!

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you joined Simeon in praising God?

December 23, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God,
(Luke 2:25-28 (NIV))

Simeon’s faith was strong. He desired nothing more than to see the Lord’s Messiah. When the time was right, he was obedient to the leading of the Holy Spirit and his sole desire was granted to him. He waited a lifetime to see the Messiah. He did not sway from his desires. He did not sway in his faith that he would see the Messiah. He stood firm on the promises of God.

Do you long to see Jesus?

Do you have the patience and the faith that Simeon possessed?

Think about that. Simeon was an old man. He had waited his whole life to see the Messiah, and he probably only spent just a few minutes in His presence. Would that be enough for you? To Simeon, that was enough. He knew that everything else that the Lord had promised would come to pass because of the fulfillment of the promised Messiah whom he had held in his arms. Because of the fulfillment of God’s promise to Simeon in those few minutes, Simeon was faithfully and boldly able to proclaim the following.

“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
      you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
      which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
      and the glory of your people Israel.”
(Luke 2:29-32 (NIV))

Have you joined Simeon in praising God?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do you recognize the spotless lamb?

December 21, 2021

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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.
(Luke 2:8 (NIV))

We all know the story. Angels appear to the shepherds, but is there more to this than angels appearing to whom we think of as the lowest rungs on the ladder of society?

I have read articles and I have seen video accounts that speculate that these shepherds had a special flock to attend to. There is historical evidence that indicates that the flocks for the temple sacrifices were the animals that these shepherds were watching over. If that is the case, then they were watching over the very animals that would be offered as atoning sacrifices for the sins of Israel. I have not had an opportunity to validate this next statement, but think of the implications if this is true. I recently read that when a spotless lamb was born, it was wrapped in cloth and placed in a manger to separate it out from the rest of the flock. It was set aside to be the sin offering for the people of Israel. If that is true, then these shepherds knew the meaning of what the angel told them. They knew that the child was the perfect, spotless lamb of God!

Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
(Luke 2:11-12 (NIV))

Is it any wonder why the shepherds left their flocks? Is it any wonder why they instinctively knew what was transpiring?

We are separated by over two thousand years since these events took place, but it seems that we are also separated by much more than that. The things that we read have so much more behind them than just a set of circumstances, a set of events that unfold as we read the words. If we truly knew and understood the Jewish society, the Hebraic Laws, the traditions and the geography of the area, we would have so much more understanding. Our eyes would be opened and our faith would soar!

The shepherds knew!

They left their jobs where they looked after the sheep that would be used as a method to temporarily atone for sins to go see the perfect lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world.

Do you recognize the spotless lamb?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Don’t trust in any other name!

April 8, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it.
(Matthew 24:23 (NIV))

I saw something just a few days ago that made me stop in my tracks. Since then, I have seen many more things that confirm what I saw.

You may want to sit down for this!

Many of the rabbis in Israel, including whom I have been told is one of the top rabbis, are saying that their Messiah is here. I have seen videos coming out of Israel of a man whom they are proclaiming is their Messiah. He was praying at the Western Wall and a very large crowd of men were gathered around him. Everyone was trying to touch him. He even sat down and the rabbis were kissing his hand as they passed him in procession! I’ve done some research and some of my findings indicate that this man may be half Jewish and half Muslim. They are even calling him the son of David. And, he is thirty years old!

I honestly don’t know what to think of these events!

As the Body of Christ, we must remember what Jesus told us in Matthew. We must remember the writings that tell us that the next time that Jesus returns He will come as a conquering hero. He will split the Mount of Olives as He descends!

On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south.
(Zechariah 14:4 (NIV))

We must stay focused on Jesus and not be fooled by people proclaiming that the Messiah is here. He has already been here and was rejected. He was already here and was crucified, died and was buried. He arose on the third day. When He ascended into heaven, angels foretold of His return.

“Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
(Acts 1:11 (NIV))

Every day I see more and more that has me apprehensive and fearful for those who have not accepted Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior, for it appears that time is running out. At the same time, I am filled with joy at the prospect of the very soon return of Jesus to gather His church. As His church, we must stay focused on Jesus for He is the true Messiah. We must know what He has told us of the events of the times. We must know God’s Word so well that we will not be tricked into believing that their is another Messiah.

Jesus is

“‘the stone you builders rejected,
     which has become the cornerstone.’

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
(Acts 4:11-12 (NIV))

Don’t trust in any other name!

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What victory does your faith desire?

March 22, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.
(1 John 5:4 (NIV))

What type of faith do you possess?

Do you look upon the Bible as God’s Word as it relates to what He has done in the past as an example of how you should live your life in the present?

If you answered yes to this question, you are correct, but is it possible that you have overlooked the fact that the Bible unfolds God’s plans for humanity from creation to the fall, from perfection to sin, from hopelessness to redemption, from crucifixion to resurrection, from ascension to return, from belief to redemption, and from rejection to glorious return? God’s Word is so much more than stories to set examples for your lives. If you read the Bible and come away with an understanding that it is only for improving your life in this world, you are missing out on God’s plans for redeeming the fallen and defeating the enemy once and for all. It is true that He sent Jesus as an atoning sacrifice to redeem us from the consequences of sin and death, but He has also unfolded a plan to restore perfection to His creation once and for all!

Are you aware that about twenty percent of the Bible is prophecy?

We read the prophecies that point to Jesus and we often ask ourselves how those people could have been so blind to what was unfolding? How could they have not recognized that Jesus was the Messiah whom they longed for? We see in hindsight that Jesus fulfilled every single prophecy about His first coming. We can look back on that and feel that we have proof that it happened, yet, we fail to see the prophecies that God is unfolding right before our eyes! We have been told what to look for in the time of the end, but how many believers are paying attention to the events in this world? Are we becoming just like the generation that was told what to look for when Jesus came? Are we guilty of being just as blind to what God is unfolding today?

Do you possess a faith to look beyond your personal life and realize that God is still unfolding things according to His purpose right before your eyes?

As believers, we look to Jesus as a guarantee of salvation from an eternity in hell. But, do you look to Jesus as the King of kings and Lord of lords who is doing the will of the Father? Do you have the faith to realize that God’s plans are unfolding and rejoice as things unfold in anticipation of the final outcome? Do you long to be in His presence or do you long to return to the worldly normal?

What victory does your faith desire?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Who do you say that Jesus is?

July 23, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
(Matthew 16:15-16 (NIV))

What about you?

Have you truly given thought to the question that Jesus asked Peter? Have you proclaimed your answer? Where you confident in your proclamation?

If the time comes that proclaiming an answer like Peter’s answer means that you will be killed, will you still boldly proclaim that Jesus is the Son of the living God?

My heart is heavy. I pray for those who have not, nor will not, proclaim that Jesus is their Lord and Savior. I suppose that having a heart after God’s heart means that your heart breaks when you see people who simply refuse to repent. All they have to do is accept the grace and mercy that is theirs through Jesus. Even without the current state of the world, we are not promised tomorrow. Our worldly existence could end with the very next heartbeat. If that were to be the case, are you confident of your eternal destination?

It is simple. It is a gift from God. All that we have to do is accept that gift by believing that Jesus is that gift!

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 they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
(John 3:16-18 (NIV))

What about you?

Who do you say that Jesus is?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Everyone must answer this question for themselves!

January 6, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “God’s Messiah.”
(Luke 9:20 (NIV))

We should all be familiar with the events that transpired right before this particular passage. Jesus was asking the disciples who the crowds of people say that He is. He received numerous answers and then He did the unthinkable. He turned the question to them. He made it personal. He made them profess. He made them take a stand!

Isn’t that what we are supposed to do with Jesus? We are to either profess that He is Lord or we deny Him. To this day, and until He returns, the same question is asked of each of us. We may hear the things that the world is saying of Jesus. We may hear the things that our family and friends are saying of Jesus. We may give some type of acknowledgment to what they are saying, but that is different from saying something yourself. What you speak becomes your reality.

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
(Romans 10:9 (NIV))

But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.
(Matthew 10:33 (NIV))

According to Romans 14:11, we know that every knee will bow and every tongue will confess, but when you speak it determines your eternity. Take a serious look at Jesus and ask yourself one question. Who do you say that He is? If you acknowledge Jesus as Messiah during this lifetime, you will bow out of thankfulness and humility. If you ignore this question or simply reject Jesus, then you will bow out of submission and shame.

Jesus is asking, “Who do you say I am?”

Can you answer with the same proclamation that Peter gave? Can you honestly claim that Jesus is God’s Messiah? It doesn’t matter what others say of Him. They don’t answer for you! Everyone must answer this question for themselves!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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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.
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Do people you know see Jesus in you?

July 17, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

And they took offense at him.
But Jesus said to them, “Only in his hometown and in his own house is a prophet without honor.”
And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.
(Matthew 13:57-58 (NIV))

Carefully consider the words written above. How true these words have proven to be throughout history. Jesus knew that He would not be embraced in His own hometown, for they did not see Him as the Messiah, but as the little boy that they watched grow up. In other words, familiarity brought about doubt.

Let’s consider another possible meaning of these words. When we ask Jesus into our hearts, He comes to live there. He is basically making our heart His home. If we do not honor Him as our Lord and Savior, Jesus is without honor in the very place that He longs to be in residence. He longs to reside in our hearts to guide us and to teach us. If we do not honor him once we accept Him, He will not be able to do what He longs to do. He will not be able to guide us and mature us into His image. He will have encountered a luke-warm heart – a heart that gives an invitation and then locks itself away once the invitation is accepted.

If we have asked Him into our heart, He will not truly be rejected. He will simply not be fully embraced. People can possess a faith in Jesus and yet not understand all that He desires to do. It is sad that these people do not fully receive what Jesus came to give.

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))

How can we have life in Jesus to the full if we do not allow Him to do what He can do? How can He do these things if we do not allow Him into our hearts completely?

I am certain that each and every single person reading this has been on a job interview. How many times have you left an interview wondering if the person conducting the interview even listened to anything that you were saying? You were invited to come in and meet with the person conducting the interview, but they could have been so engrossed in their own agenda that they never truly understand what is being offered in your experiences and capabilities.

Think about that for a moment.

Did the people of His hometown truly understand what was being offered? Do you think that Jesus was truly rejected by His hometown, or was He simply not fully embraced for who He truly is and what He came to give? If Jesus is not fully embraced as Lord and Savior, He will not force people to seek miracles? How can He force them to see miracles in what He brings? He will not do many miracles, for He does not work where faith is lacking. Just as the person who was conducting the interview did not get to see all that you had to offer, those who do not fully embrace Jesus as Lord and Savior will not see all the Jesus has to offer.

Is Jesus working miracles in your life? Is your faith strong enough to allow the miracles to happen? Is Jesus honored in your heart? Do others see the miracles that Jesus is performing through you? Do people you know see Jesus in you?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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How is your confidence and faith?

June 7, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
(Hebrews 4:16 (NIV))

Do you truly believe that their is mercy and grace at the cross, or do you only hope that what you have read and heard is true? Do you believe that you were lost in sin and the only way out of sin is through the atoning blood of Jesus?

Think about your answers to these questions while you think about God’s plan for our redemption in relationship to how human nature typically responds.

From a worldly point of view, who would have ever considered that the Son of God would be born in a manger? From a worldly point of view, who would have ever considered that the only begotten Son of God would never live in a palace and be worshipped while on this earth? To be honest with you, did you ever stop to reflect on why Jesus would leave heaven to come to earth? Or why He would willingly go to the cross to lay down His life? Why would He leave paradise to come to this world to live, suffer and die? These concepts lead each of us to answer one all important question.

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.”
(Mark 8:29 (NIV))

Who do you say that Jesus is?

If Jesus was only a man, then people are rightfully correct in saying that He was crazy for bringing down Roman authority upon himself. Then there is the question of the resurrection. How do you dismiss the countless eyewitnesses that saw Him alive after He was so publicly killed? What about the crucifixion? Some say that Jesus didn’t really die on the cross. But, you have to consider that the Romans had become proficient at killing. It has been said that crucifixion is one of, if not the most painful way to die. What about the spear in His side that pierced internal organs? Today we have the medical knowledge to save someone from these type of wounds, but this was not the case two thousand years ago. How could a mere man survive all of this to be seen only three days later in full strength and full health?

Personally, with all of that to consider, I have no doubts that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God. I also have no doubt about God’s great love for us.

Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
(Romans 8:34-35 (NIV))

I have read and studied God’s Word for a long time and nothing that I find in this world presents even a small shred of enough evidence to make my faith and my confidence falter.

How is your confidence and faith?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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