Bad Habits

Let’s talk about bad habits. I have picked up some old bad habits since the quarantine that I am eager to get rid of. Sometimes when stressful events occur, we default to the flesh and revert to that “old” man that we used to be. I had high expectations for this time away from my normal, busy life, but instead of the good things I wanted to accomplish, bad things began to manifest. As Paul said in Romans 7:14-20,

“So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. 15 I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. 16 But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. 17 So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.

18 And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. 19 I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. 20 But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.”(Romans 7:14-20)

I think we are all subject to feeling this way at one point or another. The good things I know are right, that I want to do, I don’t do them. The bad things that I hate, those I do. I love God and I want to please Him and be obedient, but my flesh wars with my spirit. Sometimes the flesh wins a battle and sometimes the spirit. Thankfully, I know the spirit will win the war! He continues to proclaim,

21”I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. 22 I love God’s law with all my heart. 23 But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. 24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? 25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.” (Romans 7:21-25)

No one wants to admit they are a slave to anything. The negative connotations of slavery, being owned by someone (something) else and having no power or authority over your own person, makes people defensive. Yet, we continue to make ourselves slaves by the choices that we make. Sometimes we can make better choices and sometimes we cannot. However, praise be to God that our bad choices do not dictate the outcome of our lives. That alone belongs to God.

 1 So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. 2 And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. (Romans 8:1-2)

This does not excuse our bad behavior and choices. We will have to answer to God. He gives us the freedom to choose the right thing, but He also gives us grace when we choose the wrong thing. He desires that we make the good, right choice and tells us that we are not alone.

But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.) (Romans 8:9)

12 Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. 13 For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. (Romans 8:12-14)

When we accepted Jesus as our Savior, He accepted us as well, warts and all. He knew our nature because he had lived as we have lived. He understood our temptations and cravings, yet He made provision for forgiveness. He has given us all we need to be victorious overcomers. Don’t give up!

15 So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” (Romans 8:15)

7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7)

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Real Love

Luke and Grandma

Luke crossed his arms and kicked the wall in the corner where he was standing.

“Luke Jenkins, you better not be kicking my walls!” Luke stuck his head further in the corner.

“I hate you!” He screamed. He was so mad. He couldn’t believe his grandma had put him in the corner. All because he wanted to finish his game. It wasn’t fair!

“Well, that’s too bad, because I love you too much to allow you to behave badly and be disrespectful.”  Luke jumped. He hadn’t heard Grandma come up behind him. 

“You want to talk about what happened?” Luke turned his head back into the corner. “No.”  Grandma got the rocking chair and sat down behind Luke. Soon she was humming and fanning herself. She wasn’t speaking; just rocking, fanning, and humming. Finally, Luke couldn’t take it anymore. “It’s not fair. I don’t deserve to be in the corner.” He said. Grandma just kept rocking, fanning, and humming, the soothing sound calming Luke. As he listened, he recognized the tune. What A Friend We Have In Jesus. It was one of Grandma’s favorite hymns. Luke started thinking about what had happened. Grandma had asked him several times to put away his tablet, but he didn’t want to. He just wanted to finish his game. She finally took it from his hands and turned it off. He had exploded at her and tried to take the game back. As he stood there, he was glad his face was in the corner. He was so ashamed of his behavior. Tears started to pool in his eyes. “Grandma?” Luke whispered shakily. “I’m sorry.” 

Grandma just kept rocking and fanning. “What are you sorry for?” She asked. 

Luke felt shame wash over his face. “I’m sorry I was disrespectful to you. And, and, I’m sorry that I yelled at you. I don’t hate you Grandma.” Luke turned and reached for Grandma’s open arms. He fell into her lap and cried on her shoulder as she rocked him and whispered “Shh, I know,” over and over. Finally, when he had stopped crying, she sat him up and asked, “Are you ready to learn now?”

Luke wiped his eyes. “Yes ma’am.”

“Good.” Grandma said. She looked into Luke’s eyes. “Luke, do you love me?

Luke felt sad. “Yes, Grandma. I love you.”

Grandma looked deep into his eyes. “Are you sure? Do you know what love is, Luke?”

Luke was puzzled. “I think so.” He said. Grandma lifted Luke off her lap, rose from the rocking chair, and held out her hand to Luke. “Let’s go make sure.” She said. Grandma led them to the kitchen table where her Bible was laid open. “You sit right there in my seat.” Luke sat before the Bible as Grandma sat to his left. “Flip over to First Corinthians chapter thirteen. Start reading out loud at verse four.” Luke found the scripture verses and began to read. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

Grandma looked at Luke and asked, “Luke, did you act like you loved me?” Luke looked back at the verses again. He finally understood what Grandma was saying. If he loved her, like what the Bible said love was, he wouldn’t have acted the way he did. “No, ma’am. I’m sorry. I guess I didn’t really know what love was. I thought it was letting me have anything I wanted.” Grandma nodded. “The messages we get from the world tell us that, but the Bible tells us the truth. Now, I’m not the only one you needed to apologize to. You also need to talk to Jesus. Ask him to help you love like He loves.” Luke nodded. “Yes ma’am. Will you pray with me?” Grandma opened her arms for a hug. “Of course, child.”  

Follow Up Verse

“We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19

F. I. T. – Follow It Through

Do you love others like the Bible says we are to love? Are you listening to the world or are you listening to Jesus? Pray and ask God to help you love like He loves.

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