VIDEO The Trial of Faith

If you have faith as small as a mustard seed…nothing will be impossible for you. —Matthew 17:20

We have the idea that God rewards us for our faith, and it may be so in the initial stages. But we do not earn anything through faith— faith brings us into the right relationship with God and gives Him His opportunity to work. Yet God frequently has to knock the bottom out of your experience as His saint to get you in direct contact with Himself. God wants you to understand that it is a life of faith, not a life of emotional enjoyment of His blessings. The beginning of your life of faith was very narrow and intense, centered around a small amount of experience that had as much emotion as faith in it, and it was full of light and sweetness. Then God withdrew His conscious blessings to teach you to “walk by faith” (2 Corinthians 5:7). And you are worth much more to Him now than you were in your days of conscious delight with your thrilling testimony.

Faith by its very nature must be tested and tried. And the real trial of faith is not that we find it difficult to trust God, but that God’s character must be proven as trustworthy in our own minds. Faith being worked out into reality must experience times of unbroken isolation. Never confuse the trial of faith with the ordinary discipline of life, because a great deal of what we call the trial of faith is the inevitable result of being alive. Faith, as the Bible teaches it, is faith in God coming against everything that contradicts Him— a faith that says, “I will remain true to God’s character whatever He may do.” The highest and the greatest expression of faith in the whole Bible is— “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” (Job 13:15).


Beware of isolation; beware of the idea that you have to develop a holy life alone. It is impossible to develop a holy life alone; you will develop into an oddity and a peculiarism, into something utterly unlike what God wants you to be. The only way to develop spiritually is to go into the society of God’s own children, and you will soon find how God alters your set. God does not contradict our social instincts; He alters them.  Biblical Psychology, 189 L

Faith That Prevails, Matthew 17:14-20 – Pastor Chuck Smith – Topical Bible Study

Redeeming the Season

He made the moon to mark the seasons. Psalm 104:19

Leisa wanted a way to redeem the season. So many of the autumn decorations she saw seemed to celebrate death, sometimes in gruesome and macabre ways.

Determined to counter the darkness in some small way, Leisa began to write things she was grateful for with a permanent marker on a large pumpkin. “Sunshine” was the first item. Soon visitors were adding to her list. Some entries were whimsical: “doodling,” for instance. Others were practical: “a warm house”; “a working car.” Still others were poignant, like the name of a departed loved one. A chain of gratitude began to wind its way around the pumpkin.

Psalm 104 offers a litany of praise to God for things we easily overlook. “[God] makes springs pour water into the ravines,” sang the poet (v. 10). “He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for people to cultivate” (v. 14). Even the night is seen as good and fitting. “You bring darkness, it becomes night, and all the beasts of the forest prowl” (v. 20). But then, “The sun rises . . . . People go out to their work, to their labor until evening” (vv. 22–23). For all these things, the psalmist concluded, “I will sing praise to my God as long as I live” (v. 33).

In a world that doesn’t know how to deal with death, even the smallest offering of praise to our Creator can become a shining contrast of hope.

By:  Tim Gustafson

Reflect & Pray

How do you and your friends deal with the idea of death? What are some ways you might make the world curious about the hope you have in Jesus?

Thank You, Father, for the multiple good things You’ve placed on this earth. Make my life a grateful offering of praise to You

Sunday Reflection: Expanding Your Family

When we encounter someone from a broken family, we should respond with compassion, not judgment.

To get the most out of this devotion, set aside time to read the Scripture referenced throughout.

Family can be complicated—we can’t choose the one we’re born into or control how it evolves. So though we hope for the best, not everyone can depend on family for support, and those without it are left vulnerable.

Some believers might be tempted to shame or judge broken families, but our job is not to determine whether a person deserves our compassion—only God is judge (James 4:12). Instead, we are simply to be compassionate and remain humble about our own circumstances. If God’s love is truly in our heart, we can—like the Good Samaritan—move beyond judgments and draw near to fully understand someone’s story (Luke 10:33). Then the love will follow (1 John 4:7).

God’s Word is full of commands to care for widows and orphans because He believes everyone belongs. Let’s watch for people going through life alone—and offer them the love and support of a family.

Think about it

  •  Do you know someone who’s without loved ones or who suffers from loneliness? Consider offering an invitation to join you in a family activity this week—dinner at home, movie night, a walk through the park, or even a trip to the store. 

Children of the Day

“Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.” (1 Thessalonians 5:5)

It may be significant that most of the days during the year that have been considered to have some special meaning are observed as “Days”—for example, Independence Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day, etc. Those observed mainly at night, such as Halloween and New Year’s Eve, tend to emphasize frivolity or even sinfulness. Christmas Eve may be an exception, but this celebration (December 25) rarely notes the real reason for Christ’s incarnation.

It is for good reason that darkness has become a term referring not only to absence of daylight but also to absence of moral light. Many biblical references make this connection. Note just a sampling.

“The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light” (Romans 13:12).

“For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love” (1 Thessalonians 5:7-8).

“And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them…But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light” (Ephesians 5:11, 13).

All who have trusted in Christ have been “delivered” by our heavenly Father “from the power of darkness” (Colossians 1:13). It would be utterly irresponsible, therefore, for us ever to shame our Father by behaving like the children of darkness. “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8). HMM


Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion. It cannot he shaken; it remains forever. Jerusalem—the mountains surround her. And the Lord surrounds His people, both now and forever. The scepter of the wicked will not remain over the land allotted to the righteous, so that the righteous will not apply their hands to injustice (Psalm 125 vv. 1-3).

This is a beautiful hymn about the inner security of believers—both in the time of David and for today.

The nation Israel was in grave danger of being dominated by foreign powers, but the Lord promises his people that he will not allow this scepter of wickedness to remain over them as long as they place their trust in him (v. 3). A New Testament quotation comes to mind: “God is faithful and He will not allow you be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape, so that you are able to bear it” (1 Cor. 10:13).

If Israel will just trust in the Lord, they will be blessed with a deep sense of inner security and unshakability. They will be like Mount Zion, which is solid and immovable. They will be like a mountain rooted deeply in the bedrock of the earth. The Lord’s protective care will encircle them at all times like the mountains surrounding Jerusalem. He will be for them an impregnable wall of defense.

My sense of security cannot be based on quality in human relationships or the relative stability of life’s circumstances. It must rest squarely on the Lord himself who is immutable and unchanging. He is my mountain! I must believe that, apart from the irrationality of my feelings. Then I will be secure—regardless of how I feel!

Personal Prayer

I thank you, Lord, that my security is like Mount Zion, unshakable and deeply embedded in your attributes.

Getting What We Give

Don’t answer a fool according to his foolishness or you’ll be like him yourself.—Proverbs 26:4

Karl Menninger says: “I know from clinical experience that in some women, the degree of discomfort both in pregnancy and parturition (childbirth) has been directly proportional to the intensity of their resentment at having to live through this phase of the female role.”

Sometimes resentments and grudges can be unconscious. As one doctor put it: “It is very difficult to get people to see that illness is the price they pay for their unconscious resentments toward the very things they protest they love.” A woman of sixty-five gave her heart to Christ and said: “I’ve lived with a stone in my heart ever since my mother said she hated me for stopping her from going to another man. Now this stone has gone. I’m free—for the first time in almost half a century.”

A man gave a golf ball the name of someone he disliked and struck it, but the ball went into the rough. Isn’t that instructive? If you bear a grudge against anyone, you can neither see straight nor drive straight. The fact is this—you cannot hurt another person without hurting yourself. As the Chinese put it: “He who spits against the wind spits in his own face.” We become the product of the qualities we give out. If we give out evil in return for good, then we become evil; we become the thing we give out. But if we give out good for evil, we become good. So mark this and mark it well—you cannot maintain spiritual freshness while you are bearing a grudge.


Heavenly Father, I see that I cannot be an echo of the treatment people give to me. I must echo You and treat people as You treat them. But I cannot do this except by Your grace. I receive that grace now. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Further Study

Rm 12:1-17; Lv 19:18; Pr 20:22

What are we not to do?

What are we not to say?

Judge Not!

Matthew 7:1-5

How often we are blind to our own faults while we are keenly aware of the faults of others. The “beam” in our own eye blinds us to our own failings. The critical people of Christ’s day, so full of faults themselves, called Jesus “a gluttonous man and a wine bibber” (Matthew 11:19 KJV). What pain is caused by poisonous whispering. It is the besetting sin of many religious people and one of the crudest sins in the world.

Gossip can be dynamite. Gossip is the uttered judgment upon another and, when unkind, is malignant, growing slanderous tissues which destroy members of “the body of Christ.”

No human being can presume to judge another, because when we do we put ourselves in God’s place. To judge another is to assume superiority. We all need to beware of the superior person who wants to tell us something about ourselves “for our own good.” Robert Louis Stevenson reminds us: “There is so much good in the worst of us, And so much bad in the best of us; That it ill becomes any of us, To talk about the rest of us!”

Abraham Lincoln gave a fine word on this idea: “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for the widow and the orphan, to do all that may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace for ourselves and all mankind.”

The world sees only the time a man falls; it takes little notice of the hundred times he may have conquered before he fell. Man who “looks on the outward appearance” cannot see the secret battle going on, the hidden struggle. We cannot know the causes of the faults we condemn. Many have secret sorrows that press upon them.

A man traveling in a railway car with another man nursing a crying baby said irascibly, “I wish to God you would take the whimpering child to its mother.” The man burst into tears and said, “I wish to God I could, sir, but she’s lying in a coffin in the luggage van.”

The Christian’s duty is to help men and women to rise out of their faults. Our attitude is like a boomerang; what we are to others rebounds again to ourselves. Said the quaint old Samuel Johnson, “Even the great God Himself does not presume to judge a man until he is dead.”

George B. Smith, Meditations for the Ordinary Man

VIDEO God Is Good!: His Guidance – Discerning God’s Will

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

Think of the progress humanity has made when it comes to guidance. We’ve graduated from navigating by terrestrial signposts to celestial signposts to rough-drawn maps to sophisticated maps to digital maps courtesy of GPS. Today, with devices that fit in one hand, we can get directions to anywhere we want to go—and a voice to tell us when to turn!

The ease with which we are guided today may make us resent the process of gaining guidance from God about life’s decisions. We want Him to direct our paths—and He will—but the means to that end involves trusting Him, leaning on Him instead of our own understanding, and acknowledging Him in all our ways. Those are not “click here for directions” instructions, but disciplines we develop over time. God’s guidance is a fruit of our intimacy and faithfulness to Him.

Because God is good, He gives us the gift of His guidance. If you need guidance today, continue to trust Him, lean on Him, and acknowledge Him in all your ways.

God’s promises of guidance are not given to save us the bother of thinking. John R. W. Stott

Discerning the Will of God, Proverbs 3:5-6 – Pastor Chuck Smith – Topical Bible Study

A New Calling

He has saved us and called us to a holy life. 2 Timothy 1:9

Teenage gang leader Casey and his followers broke into homes and cars, robbed convenience stores, and fought other gangs. Eventually, Casey was arrested and sentenced. In prison, he became a “shot caller,” someone who handed out homemade knives during riots.

Sometime later, he was placed in solitary confinement. While daydreaming in his cell, Casey experienced a “movie” of sorts replaying key events of his life—and of Jesus being led to and nailed to the cross and telling him, “I’m doing this for you.” Casey fell to the floor weeping and confessed his sins. Later, he shared his experience with a chaplain, who explained more about Jesus and gave him a Bible. “That was the start of my journey of faith,” Casey said. Eventually, he was released into the mainline prison population, where he was mistreated for his faith. But he felt at peace, because “[he] had found a new calling: telling other inmates about Jesus.”

In his letter to Timothy, the apostle Paul talks about the power of Christ to change lives: God calls us from lives of wrongdoing to follow and serve Jesus (2 Timothy 1:9). When we receive Him by faith, we desire to be a living witness of Christ’s love. The Holy Spirit enables us to do so, even when suffering, in our quest to share the good news (v. 8). Like Casey, let’s live out our new calling. 

By:  Alyson Kieda

Reflect & Pray

When have you shared the gospel with someone, and what was the result? Did it ever lead to suffering? What happened?

Dear God, thank You for offering me a new calling through Your Son. And thank You for giving me the Spirit to live inside me to guide and empower me to serve You.

Remembering God’s Goodness

Since the human tendency is to forget God’s past goodness, we should try to create ways to remember.

Joshua 3:14-17, Joshua 4:1-17

Have you ever heard a song that you hadn’t listened to in years? It’s amazing how well we can recall lyrics a long time later, and yet we so easily forget God’s goodness to us. Today’s verses offer a good example for us to follow. 

God brought the Israelites out of Egypt and safely through the Red Sea. Then He miraculously provided yet another dry path by stacking the Jordan’s waters in an enormous heap upstream. The people were about to enter Jericho, and by God’s power, they would overcome the city. How compassionate to encourage them with a tangible illustration of His strength before such a battle!

But God also knew how easily they had forgotten Him before. So in His love, He had a plan to help the Israelites remember the miracle at the river. He told them to create an altar of 12 stones, each representing a tribe of Israel that had safely passed through the waters. This way, they would have a tangible reminder of divine rescue. 

Today, we likewise need help recalling God’s involvement in our life. When He works in obvious ways, it’s easy to trust Him. But as time goes on, we tend to forget. 

How can you create reminders of God’s faithfulness? Whether it’s by means of a journal or a note in your phone, make sure to remember the Lord’s goodness to you