Do you face trials with joy?

November 7, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
(James 1:2-3 (NIV))

From a human perspective, why would we consider facing trials something to be joyful about?

Trials make us uncomfortable!

Trials make us shed the comfort and safety of the known. They push the envelope and make us extend our boundaries. Trails make us get off of the couch and take action. Trials make us go beyond the known and step gingerly into the unknown.

In all honesty, trials actually make us grow and mature!

I realize that this may sound unconventional, but it is true. The trials that we face can have a very big impact on our lives if we allow them to mature us and to mature our faith. If you don’t face trials, your life will be one in which you feel that you are entitled to everything. If you don’t face trials, you will never know the pleasure of relying on something called faith. If you don’t face trials, how can we draw closer to God, after all, human nature seeks a place to turn to when things don’t go as we want them to go? If you think about this, facing trials with joy goes very well with the following passage.

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))

I don’t know about you, but I find great joy in knowing that Jesus has overcome the world. Armed with this little tidbit of wisdom, I try to make myself be joyful no matter what may come my way. I don’t always succeed right away, but eventually I come to my senses and begin to see and understand the joy through the trials and the troubles. After all, the cause of all of my trials and troubles has been overcome by Jesus!

Do you face trials with joy?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Jesus is our constant . . .

November 10, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

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

We as a nation have just been through an agonizing ordeal where it seems as if everything has been turned upside down. Some people are happy with the results, while others are devastated by the results. If you ask me, the whole drama is highly blown out of proportion. There will always be the range of people from those who love to those who hate. Ironically, this is not limited just to the political arena. Everything in life is that way. If you don’t believe me, why are there 31 flavors at one ice cream chain? Not everyone likes the same thing. We, as humans, also go through changes in ideas, likes and tastes as we live life. We mature and grow and what used to be our favorite of the 31 flavors is now something that we can no longer stand.

Do you want a constant in your life? Do you want to cling to something that is steadfast and never changes even when we are constantly changing?

When we go through constant change, often in search of something better or different, we need a constant. We need Jesus!

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How do you express your love?

September 21, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.
(Isaiah 1:16-17 (NIV))

I want you to think back upon your childhood. Who was it that you looked up to? Who was it that you wanted to grow up to be like?

Chances are that the person you wanted to be like possessed characteristics that could have been reflected in the words of Isaiah. They were an inspiration to be around. It is probably safe to say that most people also enjoyed their company. They stood for what they knew to be right. They lived their lives not for themselves, but for the people that they came into contact with.

Think about those people in your life who have filled this position. What made them do what they did?

Now, take a look at your life. Have you come to embody the characteristics that these other people possessed? Do you strive to fulfill the words of Isaiah 1:16-17. Even though this was hundreds of years before Jesus came, the characteristics are the very ones that Jesus embodied. Hundreds of years before Jesus came to live out these words, God was giving us a glimpse of how He wants us to live. In our society, it is becoming rare for someone to place others first. Placing others first is a sign of love. This love is the highest form of love, for it is an intentional act. It places the welfare of someone else above the welfare of the giver.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
(John 13:34-35 (NIV))

How do you express your love?

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Understanding is the key to everything!

July 27, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? The sower sows the word. And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown; when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word which is sown in them. And these in like manner are the ones sown upon rocky ground, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy; and they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. And others are the ones sown among thorns; they are those who hear the word, but the cares of the world, and the delight in riches, and the desire for other things, enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. But those that were sown upon the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.
(Mark 4:13-20 (RSV))

Understanding is the key to everything!

Perhaps it is even the equivalent of where the seed falls.

Our understanding of God’s Word is crucial to how we react to it, how it impacts our lives, and more importantly, how we use it to impact the lives of those around us.

If our hearts are fertile soil for the seed of God’s Word, then our lives will bear fruit and we will be a part of the harvest. If our hearts are like rocky ground, we will listen to God’s Word, but fall away when things get rough. We will not be able to rely on our deep roots of faith, for these roots will have been shut out by the rocks in our lives.

We need to be able to bear fruit. In order to do so, we must have understanding. This understanding is not as the world calls understanding. The world sees understanding as education and acceptance of alternate “truths.”

Godly understanding is based on faith.

It requires faith to allow the seed of God’s Word to take root in our lives. It requires faith to allow it to mature and grow. It takes faith to allow it to bear fruit.

Faith is understanding. Understanding is faith.

Place your faith in Jesus as God’s Word made flesh.

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is your heart fertile soil?

June 8, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop–a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. He who has ears, let him hear.”
(Matthew 13:1-9 (NIV))

When Jesus spoke these words, people did not understand that He was speaking of the Kingdom of God and how it is planted in people’s hearts.

What was true then is still true now. Each heart is the planting field for the seed of the Word of God. If your heart is hardened, then it will not take root and grow. If it is easily turned, it will not be fertile soil for the Word to take root. It will be choked out by whatever the world offers it. If your heart is truly receptive, then the Word of God will take root and grow stronger and stronger.

Is your heart fertile soil?

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is Jesus your strong tower no matter what may come?

April 27, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

The name of the LORD is a strong tower;
the righteous run to it and are safe.
(Proverbs 18:10 (NIV))

No matter what the world may say or do, God is not dead. No matter how many people say that right is wrong and evil is right, God is not dead. No matter how many things are ridiculed as old fashioned and bigoted, God is not dead.

Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.

“The owner’s servants came to him and said, `Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’

” `An enemy did this,’ he replied.
“The servants asked him, `Do you want us to go and pull them up?’

” `No,’ he answered, `because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’ ”
(Matthew 13:23-30 (NIV))

We have been told that righteousness and evil will grow in the world. We have also been told that those who trust in the Lord shall be saved. The parable from Matthew 13 and the passage from Proverbs 18:10 tell us the very same thing. We are to turn to the Lord. He is our refuge. He is our shelter. He is our strength.

When was the last time that you willingly walked out into a violent storm? It is probably a safe assumption that instead of doing this, you took shelter in a warm and welcoming place of refuge. You spent the time watching the storm, knowing that you were safe from the bad things that the storm could bring. You found strength in the safety of your shelter.

Is Jesus your shelter in times of trouble? Is He your shelter only during these times, or do you take refuge in Him at all times? Just as a shelter is welcoming during a storm, it is also a bright and fulfilling place in other times. It is a safe harbor to call home. It is a place of familiarity and comfort. To most people, their home is such a place.

Is Jesus such a place? Is Jesus your home no matter what may come?

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Has the seed of salvation been planted?

March 24, 2016

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.
(John 12:23-26 (NIV))

The day is rapidly approaching when we celebrate the truth that Jesus spoke of. He willingly fell and died so that the seed of salvation could be planted. From that willing sacrifice, millions of people since then have reaped the fruits of that sacrifice as they multiply. Easter is the time that we celebrate that glorious gift of redemption and grace.

However, that seed does not stop there. Jesus planted the seed. Since that day, redemptive grace has sprouted from that seed. When a seed dies, it gives life to grow more seeds. When these seeds mature, they too will die to allow more seeds to grow. This cycle is how one can produce one hundred and one hundred can produce ten thousand. Each seed can bring forth other seeds to continue the work. Jesus planted the seed. Now it is our turn. By accepting the grace and mercy freely given at the cross, we become seeds. We have a small kernel of grace within us. We must allow that grace to produce.

I am not saying that we must physically die in order for that seed to produce. It is possible to die to self, to give up your desires, in order that God’s desires may be fulfilled. Just as Jesus obeyed God in order for His seed to produce, we must also be obedient so that our seed may produce.

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))

I believe that we have been given instructions to do as Jesus did and produce many seeds.

Have your seeds been scattered in good soil?

Copyright 1998 – 2016 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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