Why are we drawn to return to our sin and slavery?

March 2, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
(Galatians 5:1 (NIV))

What is it about human nature that makes us return to something that we know we should leave behind? We have all been guilty of doing this very thing, and probably much more often than we care to admit. Apparently, human nature since the fall from grace has always had us doing what can only be called self destructive behavior. We know that we shouldn’t, but yet we do. This type of behavior has been pointed out many times, but probably the most accurate and disgusting is the following.

As a dog returns to its vomit,
so fools repeat their folly.
(Proverbs 26:11 (NIV))

As I stated previously, we all do it. Even the man who is credited with bringing the Gospel to the Gentiles fought this aspect in his own walk of faith. Paul was a very intelligent person, but yet he didn’t understand the self destructive nature that he fought against.

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
(Romans 7:15-20 (NIV))

This struggle that all of us face makes it clear why each of us are called to take up our cross daily. We are to deny that part of our human nature. We are to struggle with this sinful nature each and every time that it raises its ugly head in our lives. We are called to repent. Far too many people believe that this is a one-time occurrence, but it should be a daily attitude and activity. Do I even venture to say that, on some days, we may have to humble ourselves continually before the Lord and repent of our actions and our thoughts?

I know that we are a fallen creation, but I wish I had the magic answer as to why we return to our sin when we don’t want to. I wish I knew how to turn off that part of my life so that I never take my eyes off of Jesus. Just like Paul, I find myself doing the very things that I hate! I don’t know why! I long to do only what is good and righteous, yet on my own, this is not possible. I just know that we must be ready to fall on our knees whenever and wherever we may find yourself returning to our sin.

I want to leave you with one question that I hope you will take to heart.

Why are we drawn to return to our sin and slavery?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Will you let down the nets?

February 25, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”
(Luke 5:5 (NIV))

How many times have you worked and waited for God to do something in your life or through your life? It probably seemed like He would never do what you have had faith that He would do. Think how Simon (Peter) felt. Here was this rabbi who knew nothing about fishing. He had grown up as a carpenter, yet He was telling the fisherman what to do. Knowing how Peter often overreacted, I find it very interesting that he did what he did.

Peter did just as he had been told, even though he was tired. He was probably very irritable from working all night with no results, and he was probably harboring arrogant and sinful thoughts about the man who told him to let down his nets.

Think about this situation. We, too, are often like this. We are at our breaking point and do not see any purpose in continuing with what we are doing. We simply wish to give up. When we are faced with this type of situation and mentality, we must remember Simon Peter. Mentally, he was saying that this will never work. Intellectually, he was thinking that a carpenter doesn’t know anything about fishing. Spiritually, he was willing to give it one more try.

The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.
(Matthew 26:41b (NIV))

Simon Peter overcame his physical weakness and trusted in what his spirit was telling him. He was able to make that leap of faith that allowed Jesus to call him as one of His disciples. He was able to make that leap of faith when every other sign pointed in the other direction. Because of his willingness to say “But because you say so, I will let down the nets,” Jesus used him to reach through history and to touch millions of lives with the Gospel.

Is your spirit willing to obey that one more time when reason says you shouldn’t? Will you let down the nets?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you come to your senses?

October 30, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!’
(Luke 15:17 (NIV))

We all know the story of the prodigal son. We look at it to symbolize the willingness of a loving heavenly Father to welcome us back with open arms. If that is how you understand the prodigal son, then you are correct, for that is exactly how God is, but . . .

It requires a decision on our part first!

It requires us to come to our senses and leave the life that left us in the sinful state that we find ourselves. It requires us to repent.

Repentance implies regret. It implies a sadness over previous actions, a resolution to change as you move forward and a humility to realize that you cannot change on your own. In essence, it means that you have decided to change directions. To most people, the concept of a complete U-turn comes to mind. This represents a complete change of heart and change of mind. When you earnestly repent, you have a realization that you have been wrong and that you wish to return to what is right. Some people would call this an ah-ha moment. I love the way that this passage describes this moment.

He came to his senses!

It is said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results. What is it about human nature that makes us think that we can do it our way and that our way is going to be better than God’s way? We continually walk away from God and expect our lives to be these pictures of perfection in which everything goes our way all of the time. We have been blinded by the lies of the enemy. We have bought into the picture of insanity that the enemy has painted. I want to tell you that the outcome will always be the same. The details may change, but the end result is a life of sin and loneliness far from the loving arms of the Father.

It is important that we come to our senses, leave our sin, and return to the Father. He is waiting!

Have you come to your senses?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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How good are you at seeing the unseen?

September 9, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
(2 Corinthians 4:18 (NIV))

Human nature likes the easy way out!

If something is directly in front of us, do most of us go searching for something better?

If we can see, do most of us make a choice to gamble on the uncertainty of the unseen? This concept has been put to the test many times. Popular television game shows use this concept to get contestants to agonize over a decision to keep what they have or go after what is behind the door. Human nature likes a gamble, yet, at the same time human nature likes certainty. We always make decisions based on what we think will be best for us, whether immediately or long term.

Think about that with respect to your life. Unless you are striving for something that satisfies a personal desire, most things that you do are the easy option. We take advantage of what we can see and plan. Even with this in mind, it is almost a certainty that the difficult things that a person chooses to do are so that they will have an easier life later. All that you have to do is look at your educational choices and then your career choices to see how this pans out for most of us.

What if we could be guaranteed that what is behind God’s door is so much better than what we can see in this world? The things of this world are in a sinful, fallen state. Do we want to trade sin for sin? What we are promised from God is so much better. We are promised to have our sins removed! We are promised to be able to spend eternity in His presence! Unlike the trickery and uncertainty of the television game shows, what is behind God’s door is so much better than what the world has to offer. The treasure that God promises is worth whatever we have to do in order to attain it!

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.
(Matthew 6:19-20 (NIV))

The treasures on earth are seen. The treasure of heaven are only seen through faith!

How good are you at seeing the unseen?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you able to proclaim the same?

September 4, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
(Psalms 91:2 (NIV))

Sadly, it is human nature to say things that aren’t exactly true. Every single one of us has stretched the truth at least one time in the last twenty-four hours. Human nature makes us do things that are less than accurate. This easily comes out in the things that we say, after all, words flow far too easily. We say things we don’t mean to say. We sound sarcastic when saying something with sincerity, and we can sound honest when we are telling an outright lie. We may not intend to do these things, but we all do them. We are all guilty.

whose tongue utters no slander,
    who does no wrong to a neighbor,
    and casts no slur on others;
(Psalms 15:3 (NIV))

We must learn to be diligent with our words. We must not allow our mouths to utter things that are not true. We must strive to speak of only what is good.

My tongue will proclaim your righteousness, your praises all day long.
(Psalms 35:28 (NIV))

Even Jesus redirected goodness to the Father! Everything that He did was done to bring glory to the Father.

“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone.
(Mark 10:18 (NIV))

Do your words bring glory to the Father? The psalmist claimed that he finds refuge in God. He claimed that God is his fortress. He claimed that he trusts in God. Since the Lord God sees the heart, I want these words to be my honest proclamation!

Are you able to proclaim the same?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Don’t follow your heart. Follow Jesus!

August 6, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.
(Proverbs 19:21 (NIV))

How many times have you been given advice to follow your heart? How many times have you given this advice? Is this really sound advice when you stop to consider how many times the Bible refers to the human heart as wicked and deceitful? Ever since the fall from grace, our hearts have been filled with selfish and sinful desires.

The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.
(Genesis 6:5 (NIV))

The heart is deceitful above all things
     and beyond cure.
     Who can understand it?
(Jeremiah 17:9 (NIV))

If you don’t think this is true, simply look at your own life. Are there things that you have done, or you think about doing, that would shock your family and your friends if they only knew what was in your heart? Do you look around at those whom you know and find yourself thinking that if they only knew the true you they wouldn’t want to be near you?

Human nature is so full of secrets and shortcomings that it is a wonder how any of us truly have any family or friends! We are so self-centered that even on our best days we still fail miserably at doing anything close to what the Lord calls us to do. We fail because we listen to our selfish and sinful hearts when we should be listening to the Lord.

Is your heart pure? What plans do you hide in your heart? What sinful desires do you hide in your heart? Life is a series of choices that we all must make. Every single day we are faced with a choice of who to follow. Do we follow our own sinful hearts or do we strive to follow Jesus?

It is easy to say this, but very difficult to walk it through. We must make an effort to follow Jesus and repent when we stray so that the Lord’s purpose prevails.

In other words, don’t follow your heart. Follow Jesus!

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Is there anything that you are still trying to hide?

July 31, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
(1 John 1:9 (NIV))

What is it about human nature that makes us want to keep secrets?

We keep them from those we love. We keep them from our friends. We keep them from those we work with, and we keep them from those whom we call brothers and sisters in Christ. We may be able to fool others for a while, but our secrets are usually uncovered in one way or another.

What type of things do we feel that we need to keep secret from others?

Most of our secrets are attempts to keep our shortcomings, our embarrassments and our sins from public scrutiny. We feel that we can continue to do things if we just act as if we aren’t doing them. Why do we think that we can act in this manner? Why do we feel that we can continue in our behaviors indefinitely? Too many people simply won’t admit that one day they will have to be held accountable for everything that they have ever done. They will have to stand, not in front of others, but in front of the Lord where they will be judged based on a standard that no one can attain on their own. If you have repented and placed your faith in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, you will be judged righteous. Still, we are only human. We are a sinful, fallen creation. We must repent of our sin and turn away from our nature continually. We must search our hearts, for the Lord knows our hearts. We must seek to uncover things that we attempt to keep hidden from ourselves. We must seek to replace what we desire to keep hidden with things that are of the Lord.

Think of the sinful, hidden things in your life and think about the old saying, “Garbage in. Garbage out!” It is time to replace the garbage of sin with the grace and mercy offered to us through the cross. Allow the Lord to cleanse the garbage and to purify our hearts. Ask the Lord to remove any hidden sin!

Is there anything that you are still trying to hide?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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