Sunday, September 7th, 2014
Practice Makes Perfect (Part 8)
The Emptiness To Avoid
When a defiling evil spirit is expelled from someone, it drifts along through the desert looking for an oasis, some unsuspecting soul it can bedevil. When it doesn't find anyone, it says, 'I'll go back to my old haunt.' On return it finds the person spotlessly clean, but vacant. It then runs out and rounds up seven other spirits more evil than itself and they all move in, whooping it up. That person ends up far worse off than if he'd never gotten cleaned up in the first place.
That's what this generation is like: You may think you have cleaned out the junk from your lives and gotten ready for God, but you weren't hospitable to my kingdom message, and now all the devils are moving back in.
Matthew 12:43-45 (The Message) *
Beyond every bad habit is a hole begging to be filled. Because a bad habit is like a sticker bush in the middle of a yard. At first, it seems harmless. But as it grows, so do its thorns. You cut it off, but the root persists, and it grows back bigger.
Then you get serious. You take a shovel and dig it up, but you neglect to replant the area. Pretty soon, weeds move in and a remnant of the old bush rises from the dead. Your yard becomes a jungle: a pain to you and an eyesore to your neighbors.
Actors, models and talent for Christ: a Christian in name but not practice, becomes that yard: a mess of weeds preventing God's purpose.
Consider a weight loss success story: a person sticks to a diet and loses the pounds. However, the practice of eating right was never established, so the lost weight is regained, plus more. 'And the final condition of that person is worse than the first' (Matthew 12:45).
Consider a Christian success story: a person surrenders to Christ and loses his sin. However, the practice of living right was never established, so the lost sin is regained, plus more. 'And the final condition of that person is worse than the first' (Matthew 12:45).
By the grace of God, you lost your old self: 'Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new' (2 Corinthians 5:17). But you can't stop there.
Each and every day, you must come to His Filling Station: 'Give us this day our daily Bread' (Matthew 6:11), because Jesus is 'The Bread of Life' (John 6:35). He is 'The Fountain of living waters' (Jeremiah 17:13). Only 'He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things' (Psalm 107:9).
If you don't continue to seek God and practice righteousness, you will become a barren yard. Your emptiness will be filled one way or another: 'The backslider in heart will be filled with his own ways, but a good man will be satisfied from above' (Proverbs 14:14).
To Be Continued...
* NIV Translation of Matthew 12:42-45:
'When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, 'I will return to the house I left.' When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.'
P.S. To read the other devotions in this series, please see the Practice Makes Perfect series.