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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Do you strive to practice strict self-control?

February 20, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

All athletes practice strict self-control. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.
(1 Corinthians 9:25 (NLT))

Some translations say that the athletes go into strict training. To me, this translation hits a little closer to home. We may not have any idea of what strict training may be, but we can all understand the idea of strict self-control.

Think about that concept for a moment.

What do you think of when self-control is mentioned?

Is it the will power to not eat the last donut in the box, or is it much more?

Personally, self-control and personal responsibility go hand in hand. Let’s face the truth. Our society no longer believes in personal responsibility. People claim that they were born that way, or they were raised in a bad home, or . . .

I think that you get the picture. Our society, and each of us as a member of the Body of Christ, must be willing to practice self-control. We must be willing to accept the responsibility of our actions. We must strive to live our lives as Jesus taught us.

Using the athlete example, a life in faith is not a sprint that starts and is over quickly. A life in faith is a lifelong journey, a marathon, in which we must be prepared to face any obstacles that the world throws our way. In order to do this, we must practice self-control. We must be willing to accept personal responsibility. If you are willing to accept personal responsibility, then you are capable of learning from your mistakes and focusing once again on the prize that is set before us.

Imagine this scenario.

You are standing in front of Jesus and He is judging your life. You have never accepted His grace and mercy as your own. Every aspect of your life condemns you. Your only response, “It wasn’t my fault. I wasn’t ready!”

I can only imagine the response from Jesus.

Strive for the prize that is won only through Jesus. Don’t allow the things of this world to sway your self-control.

Do you strive to practice strict self-control?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do we love each other enough to fulfill the law?

February 18, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

The commandments, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not covet,’ and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
(Romans 13:9-10 (NIV))

I hate to say this, but there are people who populate the pews of many churches throughout this world who harm other believers on a regular basis. What does that say about the way that we have faithfully taught what Jesus has commanded us to teach? It is easy to blame the people who harm others, but it is not so easy to take upon yourself the responsibility for their actions.

Should we bear the burden of the responsibility of the actions of other members of the Body of Christ?

I think that we are taught that we do!

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
(John 13:34-35 (NIV))

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.
(Romans 12:10 (NIV))

You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
(Galatians 5:13-15 (NIV))

If members of the Body have not been taught how to stop doing harm, then the Body has not properly fed them the Word of God. They have not been nourished to the point where they know what is Godly and righteous. They have not been allowed to mature in their faith.

Suppose parents have a child and this child starts to eat solid food. As soon as the child starts to eat, the parents do not turn this child loose and tell him to prepare his own meals. The child must be taught what to eat, what is good for them, and what is bad. All of this must happen before the child can be entrusted to prepare his own meals.

Perhaps the church is guilty of being this neglectful parent. We expect people to intuitively know what God wants them to do, what they are to read and study, and how they are supposed to live. We have not taught them how to not be harmful to others. We have not taught them how to love one another.

What have you taught your “children” in the faith? Do we love each other enough to fulfill the law?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Can you endure?

February 17, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

“For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow . . .for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.”
(James 1:3-4 (NLT))

What are you ready for?

Is your faith as strong as it should be? I cannot answer that question for anybody but myself. I can honestly say that I like to think that my faith is strong, yet, I doubt what my actions would be if I were to face certain situations. If someone were to hold a gun to my head and tell me to deny Jesus or die, I pray that I would have the faith to do what I know that I should.

Think about what I just stated.

If our faith were not tested and our endurance not given a chance to grow, I know exactly how I would react if I would be placed in the situation I described earlier. It is a learning process. When we are in school, we do not take college calculus in kindergarten. We start off with lessons that we can grasp fully and then we move on to another, bigger lesson. Our spiritual maturity follows a similar path. If, as a new believer, we are faced with major situations, we will fail. It is by God’s grace that we can be redeemed when we do fail, but we will fail. Each test of our faith gets us closer to what God desires for us, but we must embrace the faith lessons that we are being taught.

There will come a day very soon when each believer will face a test so big that we MUST fully rely on our faith to see us through. We must allow our Godly character to be developed now so that when we do face this test, we will know exactly how to respond. We must be ready to face the enemy head on and confidently denounce and rebuke his plans no matter what the consequences may be to us. We must embrace our faith and head fully into the power of Jesus’ name.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
(Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV))

Can you endure?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you accept the proof?

February 7, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.
(Acts 17:31 (NIV))

Far too many people simply think of Jesus as the baby in the manger. They see the sweet innocence and gladly embrace a child. Some even fully embrace that He was sent by God.

Some see more than this.

Some see a teacher. Some see a prophet. Some see a martyr. Some see even more than this.

I fully embrace the description that the Bible gives to Jesus. This is a combination of Old Testament prophecy that is mirrored in New Testament fulfillment. I see Jesus as all of these things and more. He was a sweet and innocent babe. He was a teacher. He was a prophet. He was a martyr in that He came to die for our sins. But, there is more.

He is God’s only begotten Son. He is the son of man. He is both fully God and fully human. Jesus came to teach us. He came to show us God’s plan for salvation. He came to die so that plan of salvation could be realized. He died and was buried. On the third day, He arose again to being hope and fulfill the promises that had been made. He ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of God the Father, and He will return to judge the world.

There, I said it. Too many people simply do not want to admit that God’s plan also includes a day of judgment. They don’t want to admit that there will be consequences for their actions.

Think about that for a moment, though.

Who would you rather be judged by – a perfect Creator in God, or God who became human so that He could fully understand our temptations? In order for God to set a day of judgment, He had to have appointed someone to act as judge. He had to appoint someone to act as a mediator between Himself and sinful man. He had to come into this world to live as we live and to set an example for each of us. He had to face the same temptations that we face. He had to overcome them and offer Himself as a replacement for our punishment.

Judgment is something that we all dread. It is something that we would rather not think about. It is something that we will face if we do not turn to the One whom God sent.

The first time that Jesus came into this world, He came to offer salvation. He came to show us how to avoid judgment. We can accept this offer or we can face judgment.

Do you accept the proof?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you seeing miracles in your life?

January 13, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.
(Matthew 13:58 (NIV))

Do you constantly see things happening in the lives of other people and wish that something similar would happen in your life?

Let me ask you a question and I want you to truly stop and think about your answer. Don’t simply just read through this without stopping to look at your life in respect to this question.

How is your faith?

We all like to think that we possess a strong faith, but do your actions reflect your self assessment? Do you read your Bible on a daily basis? Do you spend time in prayer on a daily basis? Do you spend time fasting from aspects of this world so that you can focus on Jesus? Do you seek after God’s heart so that you can know Him better? Do you seek to do His will in your life in all things? Do you seek the Lord and ask for things that burden your heart? Each of us desire things in this life. We must be careful how we act upon those desires. We can do a vast number of things, ranging from something wrong to nothing at all to seeking God’s desires for us. The Lord knows this.

You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
(James 4:2-3 (NIV))

Seeing miracles in your life is part of this spectrum of desires, our actions, and, consequentially God’s reaction to all of this. It comes down to faith. If we go through life not expecting to see miracles, guess what! You won’t. If you go through life with a faith that says we serve a God who can and will do great things, you will see God move in ways that you never expect!

Are you seeing miracles in your life?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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