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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Has the Lord established your plans?

September 27, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.
(Proverbs 16:3 (NIV))

Why is it so difficult to turn your life over to someone else, even if that someone is the Creator of all things?

When each of us are just a single individual in the vastness of human history, why do we think that we are any different from anyone else? Why do we think that we can achieve what we want when others have not been able to do this? Why do we strive to be greater than our neighbors? Why do we strive to be greater than our friends? Why do we try to establish plans for ourselves without truly understanding who God is and who we are in His creation?

Human nature makes us look at life as if it is ours to do with as we please. We think that we can go here and there without any ramifications. We think that we are free to make decisions and then expect everything to turn out just as we planned. Have any of us truly ever asked God to tell us His reason, His purpose for creating us? Would you be surprised to find that you are racing down a path that you were never intended to travel?

God did create us to have free will. We do have the option of doing with our lives as we please, but how does that make you feel? Do you still have an emptiness inside? Do you feel as if your life has no purpose?

Be still, and know that I am God
(Psalm 46:10a (NIV))

We all need to spend time in God’s presence. As we get to know God, He will give us insight into ourselves. He will give us insight into His plans for us. As we get to know God, we will find that we want to align our lives, we will want to commit whatever we do to the Lord. He will then establish His plans for our lives.

Has the Lord established your plans?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What has the Spirit enabled you to do?

September 13, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
(Acts 2:4 (NIV))

How many times have you witnessed what the Holy Spirit was doing only to wish that it would be done to or through you?

I know! Human ego gets in the way far too often. We see how God is moving in and through the lives of others. We focus on the others so much that we fail to see what is being done in our own lives. What do other people see happening in your life when they look at you? Do they see the things that you have grown blind to? Do they wish that they had the gifts of the Spirit that you have been blessed with?

Why do we have such a difficult time recognizing our gifts and abilities? Why do we envy and desire the gifts and abilities that have been given to others? Why do we desire what we don’t have and ignore what we do have even when what we do have is far greater than what we don’t have? I honestly believe that it is a combination of ego, greed and envy. We like to think that we are capable of anything that anyone else can do and that we can do it better!

God did not make us to all be the same. He gave us each unique gifts.

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?
(1 Corinthians 12:27-30 (NIV))

We are all unique creations. We have all been enabled to do things that no one else can do.

What has the Spirit enabled you to do?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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There is no better traveling companion than the Lord!

August 31, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.
(Deuteronomy 31:8 (NIV))

Who is by your side in this journey that we call life?

Who has your back?

Most of us have very few people that we can actually say would never forsake us, who will never leave us. In all honesty, there will come a time when those few will not be able to go where you may have to go. They may try, but some things are just beyond human capabilities. Where does that leave you and I when we have reached the limits of human strength and friendship?

We have the Lord!

In all honesty, He should be our first choice, He should be with us always.

I’ll let you in on a little secret. He is with us always. It is we who fail to see that He is with us.

We place anything and everything as a priority and by doing this, we fail to see that the one who created us is always with us. As the passage says, He goes before us. He is with us. He will not forsake or abandon us. With this in mind, I want to ask one question of you.

Who is traveling with you on this journey that is your life?

There is no better traveling companion than the Lord!

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How do you consider yourself?

August 21, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
(Philippians 2:5-7 (NIV))

Do you ever feel that you are special, that you are of greater value than other people? Do you feel this way about other members of the Body of Christ? Do you find yourself thinking that because someone is not on a certain church committee that you are of more importance than they are? Do you find yourself thinking that because you give more that you are more important than anyone else?

What does that say about your understanding of the Gospel? What does that say about you?

It is human nature to brag and to gloat, but that is not a Christlike nature. We are to overcome the world and do as Jesus taught us. If anyone has a right to brag and to gloat and to be prideful, it would be Jesus. Did he brag about being the Son of God? Did He gloat about being the Word made flesh? Did He ever respond with an attitude of arrogance and pride by claiming to be the Son of God? Jesus, who had every right if anyone ever had a right, was humble and willingly took on the nature of a servant. Why do we, the creation, feel that we have to elevate ourselves and try to make ourselves something that we are not, something that we could never be? Why do we feel that we have to feel superior to everyone else when we are far from righteous.

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
(Isaiah 64:6 (NIV))

Most days I hate being human!

I know that I need to explain this statement. I will start by saying that I love life for it is a wonderful gift. I love family, friends and people in general. It is the fallen, sinful nature of being human that I hate. I see things in the world that I know break God’s heart. I see things in my life that I know break God’s heart.

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.
(Romans 7:15 (NIV))

When we see ourselves as more important than someone else, do you think that it breaks God’s heart?

How do you consider yourself?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What do you recognize within you?

August 7, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.
(Psalms 51:3 (NIV))

Do the things that you do make you lie awake at night? Do you regret the things that you do? Do you find yourself doing the things that you don’t want to do and not doing the things that you desire to do?

You are not alone. Sadly, it is part of the human condition. Even Paul, the man who is credited with spreading the Gospel to the Gentiles, faced this in his life.

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.
(Romans 7:15 (NIV))

The fact that it bothers you is a good sign. The fact that you regret your actions is a good sign. The fact that you are aware of your transgressions is a very telling trait of someone who longs to leave those actions behind and move forward following Jesus. Recognizing that you are a sinner in need of Jesus is critical, however, recognizing that you will still be tempted is also critical to your maturity in faith. We are made righteous in the eyes of God when we accept Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, but our flesh is still sinful. We must learn to overcome the very nature that we were born under. This is a maturation process that takes time.

David recognized his sinful nature. Paul recognized his sinful nature. What do you recognize within you?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Be very careful not to lose your focus!

July 28, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!
(1 Corinthians 10:12 (NIV))

How secure are you in your faith? How confident are you that you can resist temptation? Are you capable of standing firm in the face of the sin that used to hold you captive?

When answering these questions, it is essential that you don’t forget that you are human and have inherited a sinful, fallen nature. It is a nature that is hard to overcome on your own. Even if you have professed a faith in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, it is still possible to fall back into the very sins that you seek forgiveness for. It takes discipline. It takes focus. It takes the grace and mercy that was freely given through Jesus!

No one is perfect. We may desire to walk in the confidence that we will always do what Jesus calls us to do, but we are only capable of claiming our righteousness because Jesus is righteous. Without Jesus, we are nothing.

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
(Isaiah 64:6 (NIV))

Walking with Jesus takes effort. It is not easy.

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
(Matthew 7:13-14 (NIV))

The wide gate and the broad road are easier to travel than the narrow road and the small gate. Think of the difference between an interstate highway and a narrow and winding country road. Which is easier to travel on? Which gets you there faster? Which has the twists and turns that build your driving skills? Which holds surprise blessings along the way? If you are traveling the narrow road, you must maintain your focus or you can find yourself in danger of running off of the road. An interstate highway leads you rapidly to where you think you want to go, but is it truly the best way to go? It takes you on a journey that bypasses all of the great things that you would encounter if you focused on traveling the narrow road.

I realize that I took a small detour with the driving comparison. This is a prime example of just how easy it is to fall for a diversion. It shows us just how easy it is to lose our focus.

Be very careful not to lose your focus!

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