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 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 we still witnessing or are we simply waiting?

February 3, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
(Acts 1:7-8 (NIV))

Have we gotten tired of waiting? Have we given up being witnesses because we don’t see any evidence of His return? Do you tell yourself that witnessing is not your gift? Perhaps we have developed an attitude that we have done our part and it’s time for a rest. Have I left your excuse out of my list?

I don’t mean to sound harsh and degrading. I don’t want to sound like I am pointing fingers. I realize that we have all felt like this at some point or another. In fact, I have told myself that personal witnessing is not my gift more times than I care to admit. To be honest with you, I am not good at public speaking. I am not good at one on one, but, if you give me a keyboard and a verse, I believe that I have found my way of witnessing. With this simple truth about myself, I believe that if you look at humanity, you will quickly realize that God created each of us with unique gifts. Because each unsaved sinner is unique, each repentant sinner who has claimed salvation has a unique way of reaching someone else. It is a way that may be designed for reaching only one person. We must remember that each person is loved by God and the one that you are called to share the Gospel with may be the next person to share the Gospel with millions!

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up
(Ephesians 4:11-12 (NIV))

Just because our gift is not evangelism doesn’t mean that we can’t use our gifts to witness, to spread the Gospel!

It is true that we don’t know the hour or the date that the Father has set, but we all have an urgent task that we must not neglect. Whether it is by evangelism, writing, hospitality, generosity, music, or art, we all have a gift that we can use to witness to the amazing truth of the Gospel. Just because we don’t know the hour or the date doesn’t mean that we should stop using our gifts to reach the world. We are called to be faithful until He comes.

Are we being faithful with the gifts that He has given to us or have we grown complacent in our witness? Have we started using excuses like those I previously mentioned to convince ourselves that it is okay if we don’t witness? We need to take a serious look at what Jesus has called us to do and whether we are being faithful in that calling.

Are we still witnessing or are we simply waiting?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Are you diligently keeping watch?

January 22, 2020

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’
(Mark 13:37 (NIV))

Are you diligently watching and waiting for the Lord’s return?

These words from Mark are recorded as the last words in a brief story about a man leaving his servants in charge while he is gone. In this example, the man did not tell his servants when he would return. He simply told them to watch and be prepared.

Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch. Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping.
(Mark 13:33-36 (NIV))

If Jesus were to return for His church today, how would He find you? Would He catch you off guard or would you recognize that He is coming and would you be prepared to meet Him? Sadly, too many people who profess a faith in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior simply go about their daily lives with no thought to the question of “What if Jesus returned today?” It is the farthest thing from their minds, yet it should be the most important thing on their mind at all times.

Think about that in terms of a job. You are employed to do a certain task and when the boss is there, you perform the task as expected. But, when the boss is away for a day or two, do you perform your duties as you would if your boss were there?

Absence makes us lose sight of the importance of what we have been assigned to do! I’ll let you in on a little secret, though, with respect to the Lord. Unlike your boss, Jesus still knows your every thought and action. He knows who is diligently watching and waiting for Him.

We are to watch and wait for the Lord to return. Are you diligently keeping watch?

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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Do you long to see Jesus face to face?

November 13, 2019

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name.
(Zechariah 14:9 (NIV))

I pray that everyone who professes a faith in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior earnestly looks forward to this day! It is the culmination of everything that we profess that we believe in.

We profess that Jesus is Lord. We profess that He is King of kings and Lord of lords. We profess that one day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord. We profess that Jesus is the One. We profess that Jesus is the Son. We profess that Jesus is the only name by which we can be saved. We profess that Jesus was crucified, dead and buried. We profess that on the third day He arose from the grave. We profess that He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father. We profess that He will return.

In all these things that we profess, do we truly mean them? Is it our innermost desire to see these things come to pass? Will we be embraced or will we face disgrace?

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
(Matthew 7:21-23 (NIV))

Too many people simply give lip service to the things that we profess as members of the Body of Christ. Following Jesus is so much more than words. Following Jesus is a full-time commitment. We can say that we long for Jesus to return, but our thoughts, our heart and our actions can say something completely different.

Merriam-Webster defines longing as a strong desire or a craving. They also define craving as an intense desire. If you long for something, you have an intense desire for it to come to pass. Do you have an intense desire to see Jesus? Do you long for the day that Zechariah spoke of? Do you long to see Jesus face to face?

Copyright 1998 – 2019 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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