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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Let’s continue to turn to God in righteousness!

January 20, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice;
when the wicked rule, the people groan.
(Proverbs 29:2 (NIV))

Ouch !!!

Have we been rejoicing or groaning?

Think about the implications of that simple question.

Have we lost track of the principles upon which we were founded? Have we grown so accustom to looking out for only ourselves, that we forget that what we do has an affect on others? Have we allowed wickedness to replace righteousness? Do we look upon sin as something that is wrong, or do we look upon sin as an alternative lifestyle? Do we see those around us as individuals whom God created, or do we simply see someone who is an obstacle in our way?

I could go on and on with these types of questions, but I hope you understand my point.

Woe to those who call evil good
    and good evil,
  who put darkness for light
    and light for darkness,
  who put bitter for sweet
    and sweet for bitter.
Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes
    and clever in their own sight.
Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine
    and champions at mixing drinks,
who acquit the guilty for a bribe,
    but deny justice to the innocent.
(Isaiah 5:20-23 (NIV))

Does any of this sound familiar? It does to me.

Fortunately, God allows us to turn away from our sin and return to Him.

“When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
(2 Chronicles 7:13-14 (NIV))

The heavens may not be shut so that there is no rain, but I think I see the telltale signs of a different type of locust. This locust devours just like the type referred to in this passage, and just like we are told, if we will humbly turn to God in prayer, and turn toward Him, He will heal our land.

I don’t know about you, but I am tired of groaning. Join me in prayer! Let’s continue to turn to God in righteousness!

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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God’s timing is perfect!

August 29, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.
(1 Peter 5:6 (NIV))

Are you tired of waiting on God?

Do you think that you could do a better job than God does with your life?

If you answered “Yes” to either or both of these questions, I need to point out something to you. Based on the first two words in 1 Peter 5:6, do your answers make you sound humble? On the contrary, they indicate the exact opposite. In fact, it could be said that these answers border on pride. In order of the questions, they convey that you feel that you are more important than anyone else, and that you feel that you are more important than God.

Are you guilty of telling the Lord that He is too slow? Would you be spiritually ready if He did everything you asked according to your timeline? Can you tell the end from the beginning as well as every single turn that must be made to get to that end? Think about that last question in context of a road trip as a passenger in a car. You only know that you are moving forward. Some roads along the way are smooth like an interstate highway and you long to stay on these pleasant roads. Unfortunately, not all destinations can be reached via interstate. Sometimes there is road construction or sometimes you need to travel on a road that is bumpy and unpleasant, but it gets you where you need to go. When you arrive at your destination, you recognize each stretch of road for what it contributed to your arrival.

Think of your life in this manner!

When we say that we are tired of waiting on God, or that we could do a better job than God, we are trying to smooth out the road and arrive based on our understanding and not on the understanding of He who sees the end from the beginning. In fact, God has a unique plan and purpose for each person’s life. Some may travel the bumpy roads longer than others, but don’t lose hope. We simply need to humble ourselves and surrender to the Lord and acknowledge that He is in control.

You may just be surprised to find that God’s timing is perfect!

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

July 29, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
(James 4:7-10 (NIV))

Life is a matter of choices. What you will eat. What you will wear. Where you will live. Will you get married? Will you have children? Will you seek fame?

Our choices make us who we are in this life.

We can turn our backs on God or we can acknowledge that He exists or we can fully embrace Him. We can live life as if we are the center of the universe and everything revolves around us, or we can realize that we are only a small part of creation.

We can choose to submit to God and resist the devil. We can choose to draw near to God. We can choose to walk through this life with humility or we can do anything and everything that we can to draw attention to what we can do.

Choices!

We all have made them, and dare I say that we have all made some bad ones in our lives. It is human nature. We cannot break that nature. We cannot change that nature.

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

Too many people use this to justify the bad choices that they make. They falsely think that we are destined to make bad choices, to sin, and therefore, they do nothing to strive to change. Yet, we can change. It is a simple choice that we must make. It is a choice to want to change.

He has showed you, O man, 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))

Humility – What a concept that we fail to grasp. It is the quality or state of being humble. Merriam-Webster defines humble as not proud or haughty; not arrogant or assertive. We are told to live our lives humbly. We are told to humble ourselves before God. In other words, we are to realize that we are the creation, that we are His children.

It is a matter of choices.

What choices do you want to make?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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And, oh what glory it is!

May 20, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

And I, because of what they have planned and done, am about to come and gather the people of all nations and languages, and they will come and see my glory.
(Isaiah 66:18 (NIV))

What should be important to you as a member of the Body of Christ?

Perhaps I should ask a different question. What is important to the Lord for you if you profess a faith in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior?

Prior to this verse, Isaiah 66 speaks of the things that people do in hopes of appeasing the Lord, but they fail to look at their own hearts and motives before doing these things. We are clearly told that the Lord looks at something besides our feeble attempts to please God.

“These are the ones I look on with favor:
     those who are humble and contrite in spirit,
     and who tremble at my word.
(Isaiah 66:2b (NIV))

The Lord longs for our hearts! He longs for humility. He longs for a righteous spirit within us. He does not desire sacrifices if our hearts are not His. He has so much that He wants to give to us if we first will give our hearts to Him. Sadly, too many people hold out. The Lord goes on to share all that He will do for those who love Him. He shares examples of what His love is like if we will only focus on following Him.

Unfortunately, there are far too many people who seem to be focused on the gifts instead of the giver. They are focused on the promises instead of the promise maker. Don’t get me wrong. The promises and the gifts are important, but do we have our priorities upside down? We should seek to know the Lord first and these gifts will be freely given. Instead, we seem to focus on what we will receive and completely miss out on the fact that the Lord is calling us to an intimacy with Him that is far more valuable than what we have a tendency to focus on.

Jesus came to bring salvation to anyone, nation, tribe or language, who would call upon His name, to any who would humble their heart and give it to Him. This is the only way that we can see the glory of the Lord! And, oh what glory it is!

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

May 9, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
(Romans 12:12 (NIV))

It is so easy to let this world get to you!

How many of us start the day less than enthusiastic and then it goes downhill from there? We face traffic, long days at work and then more traffic to get back home. We turn on the news and see things that bring us to tears. We watch as people profess that what the Bible calls sin is now acceptable and that believing in Jesus is wrong. In our despair, we simply shake our heads and ask why?

Are we missing something?

if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
(2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV))

Are we, as the Body of Christ, giving up or are we standing firm in our calling to be joyful and patient prayer warriors? We know that God’s plans are unfolding, but that does not mean that we simply sit back and watch as spectators who don’t have a stake in the outcome. We have professed a faith in Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, yet we act like we expect everything to be done for us. Too many of us fail to realize that we are at war and if we don’t wage war against the enemy, the enemy will gain ground in areas of our lives and in the lives of our families, friends and communities. We must remember that we are called!

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
(James 5:16 (NIV))

Does this describe you?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Will you find shelter in what you seek?

April 11, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the Lord’s anger.
(Zephaniah 2:3 (NIV))

Human nature is an interesting thing. We like to think that we are complex in our thoughts and actions, but in reality, we are simple in nature. We all have a need for shelter. We all have a need for food, and we all have a need for acceptance and love. Each of us have things that drive us; things that we seek in order to fill these basic needs. One of those needs is the need for love and acceptance. It is said that we all have a God-shaped hole that we are trying to fill in order to fulfill that need. All of our efforts in life are our attempts to fill that hole with something besides what it was intended to be filled with. Some of the things that we seek to fill that hole will lead to death and destruction. Some will lead to pain and misery. Some will lead to fame and fortune, but the most important thing that we can choose to fill that God-shaped hole with is God!

There is an old saying that he who lives by the sword, dies by the sword. In other words, whatever you choose to focus on in your life to try to fill that hole is what will eventually cause your downfall.

There is only one thing that you can seek that will overcome the results of filling that hole with the wrong thing!

Perhaps we should put a new twist on the old saying. Perhaps we should say he who lives by God’s Word, dies to the world and lives in righteousness!

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
(Matthew 7:13-14 (NIV))

In all honesty, we all seek something. Make sure that what you seek is not a quick fix that will lead to destruction.

Will you find shelter in what you seek?

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