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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God’s love is not how the world loves!

February 13, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
(1 Corinthians 13:6-7 (NIV))

Does this sound like the world’s current definition of love?

Society has taken the concept of love and twisted it so far from how God defines love. According to God’s plan, love is sacrificial, but there are some overlooked aspects.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
(John 3:16-21 (NIV))

We, as the intended recipients of God’s love, must be willing to walk away from our sin. We must be willing to embrace the truth, the only truth, that is God’s Word. Once we do, we are called to love as God loves, but that doesn’t mean that we condone the sin and the evil in people. I realize that this is often overused, but there is an old saying that, “We are to love the sinner and hate the sin.” Think about that in relation to the following example.

You are a parent who has a child that is involved in things that could get them in trouble with the law. Which of the following options shows true love? Do you overlook these actions because you say that you love them and you don’t want to interfere with their life, or do you try to make them change their life so that they don’t face any consequences from their activities? The first option actually shows that you don’t care enough to take action to prevent something bad. It may appear that you love them in the present, but you don’t love them enough to take action so that they will have a better tomorrow. Love sometimes has to be tough! As a parent, you have to stand in the gap and fight for the well being of your family so that they have a life that is not a result of bad decisions.

Put this into perspective by changing the scenario with respect to eternity. This time the child is rebelling and is lost. Do you overlook these actions or do you pray for them, do you try to reach them, do you love them enough to stand in the gap interceding for them? This time, the consequences have a much different and longer result. If we truly love this child, we will do anything and everything to bring them into a right relationship with the Lord.

My next thought was to ask you how do you think God feels, but I have already told you how He feels. He loves the world so much that He had a plan to redeem the world. That plan was not an easy thing to bring about. It cost the physical life of His only begotten Son, Jesus. Jesus came to defeat evil and sin. He came to protect us from the consequences of sin. God’s love perseveres and because of His great love, we have the glorious hope that we can trust in His Word. All that He asks is that you believe and turn away from the darkness of the evil that is in this world.

The world says that if you love someone, you accept them and don’t try to change them no matter the consequences. God loves us as we are, then calls us to repent so that we don’t face the consequences.

God’s love is not how the world loves!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you willing to suffer for Jesus?

October 21, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
(Romans 8:18 (NIV))

Suffering!

It means different things to different people. To some, it means that they have to take the limo instead of the helicopter. To others, it means that they are out on the street with no food for their family. To the Body of Christ, suffering is watching the world revel in the sin while we look on and pray for the world to turn to Jesus.

Suffering is a difficult thing to do, yet, each of us have different things that we are willing to bear with respect to suffering. To me, the biggest thing that I suffer over is the escalating decline of the value of faith in society. I am not saying that faith is declining. Rather, I am saying that it appears to me that sin of all types is increasing. It reminds me of a parable that Jesus told.

    Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.
    “The owner’s servants came to him and said, `Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’
    ” `An enemy did this,’ he replied.
    “The servants asked him, `Do you want us to go and pull them up?’
    ” `No,’ he answered, `because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’ “
(Matthew 13:24-30 (NIV))

There is suffering due to the enemy having sowed bad seeds among God’s creation. We will face suffering until that glorious day that Jesus returns. The sufferings that we must face are worth the struggle. They are worth the pain. They are worth the aggravation, for we have the promise that we will see salvation. We will see redemption.

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
(Colossians 1:13-14 (NIV))

Are you willing to face the consequences of your sins?

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 6:23 (NIV))

I hate suffering, yet I would rather suffer because I have professed a faith in Jesus than to turn my back on God’s grace and face suffering in eternity. I know that we live in a society that expects to have both now and later, but in God’s kingdom, it does not work that way. We cannot simply pull out a credit card and swipe it and expect to have it easy now and easy later when the bill comes due. Our way of doing things doesn’t work.

We have a hope that can see us through all suffering. His name is Jesus. We can suffer now and cling to the hope that we have in Jesus, or we can abandon all hope and suffer eternal separation from God.

Nothing worth having is easy. I pray that I am willing to suffer for Christ.

Are you willing to suffer for Jesus?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Whom will you choose to serve?

May 15, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.
(Joshua 24:15 (NIV))

We are faced with choices every single day of our lives, but there is one choice that we are all called to make that will have ramifications for all eternity!

That choice is about whom we will serve.

I can hear the thoughts now after people read the previous statement. “I’m a free person. I don’t server anyone but myself!” I hope that you realize that a statement like this is an instant indication that you are not serving whom you truly should be serving. We have a choice. We can either choose to serve the Lord or we can choose not to serve the Lord. Anything less than a conscious decision to serve the Lord is literally a decision to not serve the Lord. Think about that with respect to what many people actually choose to serve.

No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
(Matthew 6:24 (NIV))

Being a servant is a conscious decision!

Have you made the right decision?

The wrong decision will result in a life of sin and self-centeredness. It may not result in an outright rejection of the Lord in your mind, but based on serving two masters, it will end up as the wrong decision for all of eternity. The right decision will result in blessings, grace and mercy beyond compare. It will result in a treasure far greater than anything that this world and the wrong master could ever provide, after all, all things of this world will tarnish, rust and decay. Only the treasure that is received from serving the Lord has eternal value!

Think about that in relationship to this saying that has been around for a long time.

Serve the Lord. The retirement plan is out of this world!

Whom will you choose to serve?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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What do you love?

March 14, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I hate and abhor falsehood
    but I love your law.
(Psalms 119:163 (NIV))

The world in which we live today has me hating what it has become more and more each day. I long for the righteousness of God’s wisdom as it should be applied in our world and not the corruption and evil that has become more and more prevalent. Still, even in the midst of all that has gone wrong in the world’s corruption of God laws, I can still see glimpses of God’s truth in how we conduct ourselves. I still see glimmers of light shining through the lives of the body of believers that we call the church. This is what we can expect. What is interesting is that I see glimmers of hope from people who don’t profess a faith, yet they still seek to do what is considered righteous in God’s eyes. If those who don’t know Jesus can do what God calls each of us to do through His Laws, then there is a spark within them that longs to be kindled into a flame that burns brightly. In order for this to happen, they need to associate the things that they do with God’s truth and why they do them. They need to learn God’s Laws. They need to fully embrace the concepts behind them and embrace the God who loves them.

They need to embrace the fact that Jesus is the embodiment of God’s Word!

How does this relate to hating falsehood and loving God’s laws?

We must be willing to pray. We must be willing to nurture. We must be willing to help others embrace the truth that is God. We must hate falsehood so much that we are willing to step out in faith and in love to show those who are lost in falsehood that there is another way that will not leave them empty and void. We must love God’s laws so much that we do not shirk from our responsibilities as messengers of God’s law and God’s grace. We must be willing to place our comfort as secondary to the needs of others. We must not love ourselves so much that we ignore others. God did not send His Son to only save you and I. He sent His Son, Jesus, to save any and all who would call upon His name. We must love God’s truth enough to share it.

What do you love?

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

January 23, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.
(2 Thessalonians 2:11-12 (NIV))

What do you believe in this sinful, fallen world?

Think about the powerful delusion that this passage speaks of and take a good, long look at our world, our country and our society in general. Do you see a vast number of people rebuking and raging against God’s Word and the ultimate truth that it contains? People curse the name of Jesus and anyone who professes a faith in Jesus. They flaunt their sin as if it were a direct challenge for God to do anything about it. They have gotten to the point where they believe their own lies. They have become blinded to the truth. For the sake of time and space, I am not even going to begin listing all of the things that I have seen, for they are far too numerous and heartbreaking to give any thought to.

By definition, the word “delusion” can be defined as a persistent false psychotic belief that is held contrary to the evidence available. People can have delusions of grandeur. They can have delusional thoughts about anything, but perhaps the saddest is the delusion where people say that there is no God! They fail to recognize the truth and find delight only in their sinful pleasures. Not only do they flaunt their sin, but they utterly hate anyone who recognizes their sin for what it is. They despise God’s truth!

They completely reject God’s gift of grace and mercy.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
(John 3:16 (NIV))

Sadly, they don’t believe. They turn to their own desires and believe only what their heart tells them.

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

If this is the powerful delusion, are you delusional?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Do you live up to the Lord’s requirements?

September 4, 2018

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
(Micah 6:8 (NIV))

When you show someone something, it is assumed that you want them to remember what you show them.

What do you think of when you think of things that you have been shown? Perhaps it was learning to ride a bicycle. Do you remember being taught how to drive a car? Do you remember the countless times that you were shown what it means to be a good and honest person? Perhaps the most important and the hardest lesson to have been shown is that we are all sinners.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
(Romans 3:23 (NIV))

That is something that far too many people fail to accept as a truth in their lives even when we are shown this several times a day!

The Lord has shown everyone exactly what we are to do. It is a lesson that He wants all to learn. It is a lesson that he has shown us through His one and only Son, Jesus!

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
(John 3:16-21 (NIV))

God requires that you believe in Jesus as His one and only Son. God requires that you hate the darkness and evil. God requires that you come into the truth and the light. God requires that you live by the truth and the light!

Do you live up to the Lord’s requirements?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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