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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Are you willing to suffer for your faith?

October 30, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.
(2 Timothy 1:12 (NIV))

When Paul wrote these words to Timothy, it is understood that he wrote them from prison in Rome. Even in the midst of being in prison, he had the strength of faith to reach out to assure Timothy and others that he stood firm in his faith. Paul knew beyond any doubt that his belief in Jesus was true. All you have to do is remember his Damascus Road experience to understand Paul’s strength of faith.

Even though Paul was strong in his faith, there is one statement in this passage that made me stop and reflect on my own attitude. It made me think about human nature and how any of us would react if we were put in prison. Most would feel ridicule, regret and shame. Now, how would you feel if you were thrown in prison for doing what you know is right? Does that sound like it is highly improbable? Take a look at Paul. Take a look at certain countries around the world where professing a faith in Jesus is either a prison sentence or a death sentence. Do you believe that this type of thing could not possibly happen to you?

We don’t know what is in store for us in the future.

We do know who holds our future!

The world may throw things at us that are unexpected. The enemy definitely will attack us with things that are unexpected. Professing a faith in Jesus is not a guaranteed life without hardships.

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))

Paul may not have recorded the words that Jesus spoke, but he definitely believed them and lived by them. Relying on your faith in Jesus is not something that we should ever be ashamed of. A true faith means that we are convinced that Jesus is with us even in the midst of suffering. A true faith recognizes this and is willing to deny the world even when it means suffering.

Please don’t misunderstand what I am saying. I am not implying that we must suffer to prove our faith. What I am saying is that there may come a day when we are called to reject Jesus or suffer. If this day ever comes, I pray that all who currently call upon the name of Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior will stand firm in their faith.

Are you willing to suffer for your faith?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is your faith built on substance and confidence?

October 26, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
(Hebrews 11:1 (NKJV))

Have you ever truly stopped to reflect on faith and what it means? Many people confuse faith with hope. If you imagine yourself going on a journey with faith as your destination, you would travel through hope long before you ever get to faith. Hope basically can be summarized as an optimistic attitude. Faith can be described as a confidence or a trust that something will happen. The two are related, but they are not the same. When you consider that the Bible uses the word “hope” to define faith, it quickly becomes obvious which is greater.

Faith is so much more than hope. Faith is substantial. Faith is what gives us strength to stand firm and strong when the storms of this world dash our hopes against the rocks. Faith is what gives us strength to guide us when the world throws us into a dry and barren place. Faith is what gives us strength to keep us focused on the prize when the enemy sends anything and everything at us to try and distract us. Faith is the peace that passes all understanding if we only allow it to firmly take root in our lives!

Faith is substance!

I love the way that the New International Version (NIV) translates Hebrews 11:1.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
(Hebrews 11:1 (NIV))

Faith is confidence!

With that in mind, let’s look at hope and faith with two simple questions.

Do you have hope that you are saved?

Do you have faith that you are saved?

Do your answers show that you are hopeful in your salvation or do your answers show that you are confident in your salvation?

Is your faith built on substance and confidence?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you thankful for the peace of Christ?

October 12, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.
(Colossians 3:15 (NIV))

Do you feel that you are a member of Christ’s one body?

Think about that concept for a moment and then truthfully answer the following questions.

Have you ever caused unrest or anger among other believers?

Have you ever held a grudge against someone in the Body of Christ for what had taken place in the past?

Have you refused to forgive someone who is a member of the Body of Christ?

I am not sure how you define peace, but if you have answered yes to any of these, it does not sound like the peace of Christ! Too many people define peace as the absence of conflict. If you stop to think about the complete range of emotions and events that just come short of conflict, we have opened ourselves up to a vast array of sinful behavior that is in no way related to the peace of Christ. In fact, we are told exactly how this will be treated.

We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.
(1 John 3:14-15 (NIV))

How do we allow the peace of Christ to rule in our hearts?

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
(Matthew 22:37-40 (NIV))

In essence, we are to love each member of the Body of Christ as if they were us for we are all members of the one body.

Does the peace of Christ rule in your heart?

Are you thankful for the peace of Christ?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you possess peace, quietness and confidence?

October 9, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The fruit of that righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever.
(Isaiah 32:17 (NIV))

This passage is taken from a book that talks about the coming righteousness and how the ways of the world will be turned upside down.

No longer will the fool be called noble
nor the scoundrel be highly respected.
(Isaiah 32:5 (NIV))

It also talks about the desert becoming fertile. In other words, righteousness will bring wisdom and blessing to an area that was lacking. It is recognized that Isaiah often spoke of the coming of the Messiah and how the world would be once He returns. If you read this passage from a personal level, it has so many wonderful implications!

Think about this when answering these questions.

Have you accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior?

Have you fully embraced the righteousness that is yours through the grace and mercy freely given through Jesus?

Have you been given an inner peace that passes all understanding? Has the Holy Spirit given you a guietness in your soul? Do you have confidence in your salvation?

Isaiah’s words are much deeper than many people will admit. God’s Word is much deeper than many people will admit. The more that we draw near to God, the deeper the understanding that we are given. That understanding will bring righteousness and that righteousness will bring fruit into your lives. Take a look at your own life.

Do you possess peace, quietness and confidence?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you overcome evil or does it overcome you?

September 5, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
(Romans 12:17-21 (NIV))

How often do we want to take vengeance into our own hands? That is the human thing to do. We must rise above human urges and do what God wishes for us to do. These urges for vengeance and hatred are a direct result of the Fall when Adam and Eve allowed Satan to become ruler of the earth. This attitude is not from God, for God has said that vengeance is His. Jesus even gave us instructions about how to treat those who are evil so that we may let Jesus shine through us.

“You have heard that it was said, `Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

“You have heard that it was said, `Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
(Matthew 5:38-48)

Do you overcome evil or does it overcome you?

Copyright 1998 – 2017 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What season and time is it?

September 1, 2017

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
(Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NIV))

What time do you think that it is?

We are told there are many different times that God has planned for.

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
(Ecclesiastes 3:2-8 (NIV))

I realize that some of these are not very pleasant. I realize that we experience all of them to some extent in our individual lives. Collectively, we seem to experience them as well. With all that is going on in the world right now, it seems as though we experience many of these on a daily basis. I have often wondered if there was any particular reason for the order of these events in these verses. I have also wondered how I am expected to react in each of these pairings of events. Each element in each pairing is the polar opposite from the other element in the pairing. Is God telling us that we will experience every possible situation in our lives and this is how He explained it by giving us many extremes of the same thing?

Life is precious!

Sadly, due to the fall from grace, we will experience life’s extremes. We will see things that will give us unimaginable joy and the very next minute, we will see things that bring us unimaginable pain.

I love the outlook that a friend has about life. He says that “I have never had a bad day. I have had some bad things happen on a good day, but I have never had a bad day!” If you believe that life is precious, then I pray that you see the wisdom in these words the next time that you face some of life’s extremes.

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