Have these characteristics been produced in your life?

June 13, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.
(Romans 5:3-4 (NIV))

Seeking maturity in Christ is an admirable desire, but most people fail to recognize that following Jesus will not be an easy thing to accomplish in this sinful, fallen world. The simple fact that you profess a faith in Jesus marks you as a target in the eyes of the enemy and in the eyes of the world.

If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.
(John 15:19 (NIV))

If professing a faith in Jesus instantly means that the world hates you, then it is important to understand that there will be suffering because of your faith in Jesus and at the hands of the world.

Are you ready?

Are you facing suffering in this world? Perhaps you embrace the things of this world and, as a result, the world embraces you in return. Is this what we, as the Body of Christ, are called to do? We are called to be in the world, but not of it. What we embrace is Jesus. It is impossible to embrace the grace and mercy that is given through Jesus and still cling to the sinful, fallen nature of this world. Accepting Jesus means turning your back on the world. Accepting Jesus means declaring war on sin and the enemy. If you declare war, you can’t expect to sit on the sidelines and only observe! You are called to be a faithful soldier of Christ.

You have chosen a side!

Is a soldier who is going into battle the same soldier who comes out of that battle? There will be sufferings. There will be things that are experienced when facing the enemy that will develop perseverance, character and hope. It is crucial to never forget that the battle has already been won, even though we have to face things that will cause suffering. Keep your eyes focused on Jesus and strive to develop these characteristics.

Have these characteristics been produced in your life?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What kind of harvest is being produced in you?

May 7, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
(Hebrews 12:11 (NIV))

Discipline is a tough thing to undergo. I don’t know anyone who is willing to admit that they actually like being disciplined. It is human nature to do what we want to do regardless of the consequences. Without discipline, we resort to our fleshly sinful nature.

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
(Galatians 5:19-21 (NIV))

Just for the sake of example, is there anyone in your life who exhibits any of these characteristics without any signs of remorse or regret? Are they easy to be around? Are their actions pleasant? Are they always causing trouble? The old saying that you reap what you sow is definitely true. Anyone who sows any of the characteristics of the acts of the flesh will produce a harvest equal to the sinful nature that they exhibit.

What do you consider to be characteristics of righteousness?

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
(Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV))

Based on these two sets of characteristics, the ones that come naturally lead to sin. The ones that lead to righteousness require discipline, both self discipline and correction from God. Do you find yourself under discipline?

What kind of harvest is being produced in you?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 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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How do you balance?

December 4, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
 ©

And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, `What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’

“Then he said, `This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” ‘

“But God said to him, `You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

“This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.”

Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest
(Luke 12:16-26 (NIV))

How do you balance being a good steward with doing what Jesus calls you to do?

That has always been a tough question for me. I have always wanted to take care of my family and provide for them. I wanted to have that proverbial nest egg for when life throws you that unexpected curve ball.

The rich man didn’t seem to have the answer. He built bigger barns to store what he had produced. We don’t know if this man was generous or if he hoarded what he had. We do know that he did not pray and ask God what he should do. Like the rich man, I have been guilty of doing just that. Like the rich man, we all feel that we can handle our own affairs. We seek comfort and stability in our possessions when Jesus calls us to break down the walls that define our comfort zone.

It is human nature to want to make sure that we are taken care of. We want to feel that we are in control. Perhaps we need to learn a difficult lesson. Life is not about being in control. Life is about deciding who will be in control and placing your faith in that decision. More than this life depends on that decision. If God feeds the ravens, He will take care of us if we place our faith in Him. Perhaps that is where the line is drawn. When God blesses us, we have a tendency to keep it for ourselves. Does God bless us so that we can keep it all to ourselves?

What if we were more like Jabez?

Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, “I gave birth to him in pain.” Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.
(1 Chronicles 4:9-10 (NIV))

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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