Devotional Thoughts for Today
Thus says the LORD concerning this people: “They have loved to wander thus; they have not restrained their feet; therefore the LORD does not accept them; now he will remember their iniquity and punish their sins.”
In a 2015 Ted Talk called “A Simple Way to Break a Bad Habit,” psychiatrist Judson Brewer talks about the relationship between mindfulness and habit. Research shows that a habit is formed when a specific behavior makes us feel good and so our brains remember it. A habit, such as snacking or smoking, is reinforced when our brains realize we are feeling bad, so we use the behavior to feel good again. Think about the way we flip open our laptops as soon as we get home or eat junk food when we’re stressed. It isn’t surprising that research supports that we aren’t very mindful or aware of what we do, better yet, why we do them.
In today’s passage, God describes the people of Israel. Firstly, He says that they “have loved to wander…” Rather than worshipping God alone, the Israelites always ended up adopting other Canaanite gods and falling into idolatry. Perhaps the Israelites wanted the best of both worlds and reap the “blessings” of following two gods. Or maybe they genuinely thought God wouldn’t deliver them from current hardships, so they felt no choice but to turn to alternatives. Regardless, we see that their natural inclination was not to remain in God, but to wander for self-satisfaction and happiness.
Secondly, the Israelites “have not restrained their feet…” In other words, the Israelites, knowing their inclinations, did not set up restrictions to prevent themselves from wandering again. This pertains to wisdom and maturity. If we know we fall into the temptation of “X” sin, why do we not take practical and faithful measures to prevent us from falling the second, third, or fourth time? Just as research showed that we easily form mindless habits, a humble look into our past shows how we can mindlessly fall into the same patterns of sin. For example, if we know we are prone to be exclusive in friendships, are there any ways we have started being exclusive in community? Today, let’s humbly assess the patterns in our life and see how we can make them more God-centered.
Prayer: You are a good Father because You not only encourage us when we mature in faith, but You also discipline us when we sin against You. Today, we recognize that You do not ignore disobedience. Help us to remember that to love You is to obey You, so fill us with your Holy Spirit to do so. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Ezekiel 27
Lunch Break Study
Read Galatians 4:1-7: I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, 2 but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. 3 In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. 4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.
Questions to Consider
- In this passage, what happens when we receive adoption as sons of God?
- Sometimes we try to be better Christians merely by sinning less and doing more good things. However, the foundation of our identity is not in what we do but who we are—that is, we are already sons and daughters of God. How does that change our perspective on what it means to grow spiritually?
- We receive the Holy Spirit into our hearts and experience true and mature sonship to God. We no longer experience the distance that a child heir or slave would feel to the father of a household. Instead, our new hearts cry out “Abba! Father!” in our relationships to God.
- Personal reflection.
One area of our lives that we can be mindless with is our speech. James 3 talks about how our tongue can worship God but also stain or discourage the body of God. Are there any ways we talk to others (or talk about others) that have been compromising? Instead, let’s turn it around and use every opportunity to bless and build up others with our words.