You have just gone to a revival retreat and devoted yourself to God. For the longest time you have felt a spiritual malaise that has caused stagnation and discontent within your life. As the pastor spoke, you felt the Spirit move. You went to the altar. You prayed and worshiped like you have never done before. But now, it is over. You have returned home, back to the ordinary mundanity of modern day life. It is back to the schedule, the daily grind, the familiarity of what you thought you had left behind before you and God divinely intertwined. You find yourself asking, “What now?” I have had this question creep up on me seemingly ad infinitum. How can we effectively live our newest changes and not just fall back into the same ruts that we used to dig in. Whether you are a new Christian or returning Christian, I believe that the steps toward establishing a life that is pleasing to the Lord are the same. In IChurch’s new young adult ministry called Nomad, we have been talking about eliminating bad habits and replacing them with new ones. This idea is what I am going to hone in on today. First, let us define some bad habits. Bad habits are what connect us to our past selves. If we want to live those changes we have felt, we must transform ourselves by throwing out the sinful parts of our lives and replacing them with holy parts. Sin and addiction are one in the same. We become addicted to certain types of sin. In Alcoholics Anonymous, they teach this very same
concept of throwing out bad habits and replacing them with good ones. So, what are some bad habits? Paul gives us a good place to start: “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God” Galatians 5:19-21. While these are the names of the sins that we partake in, what do they look like when put into action? Sexual immorality could pertain to anything from unfaithful marriages to homosexuality to a pornography addiction. Idolatry, likewise, is more common than one might think. I know I am often idolatrous of my computer. What do you spend your most time doing? There is a big chance that the thing you spend your most time with has become your idol. This one might come across as a shock: you can make the Bible your idol. This is not a good thing. By claiming the infallibility of the Bible, you are saying that a physical object contains power. It is not the Bible that contains the power, but the message within and how it is applied. Now that we have established a baseline for what bad habits look like, we can now define what a good habit is. Paul also gives us a good place to start in this aspect: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23). How can we make concepts like love and gentleness a habit? Sinful habits like pornography and browsing social media platforms are something physical. How can we replace physical with the spiritual? You cannot. You must instead find a way to make the spiritual into the physical. The optimal word in the fruits of the Spirit is fruit. The fruit is the tangible aspects of our good habits. So then, what might these fruits look like when put into practice? One way to establish a new habit is by getting involved at church. Not only will you minister to yourself by serving others, but merely being in a place where the Spirit always dwells helps to instill a better sense of God within you. Serving at a church presents you opportunities to build every single one of the fruits of the Spirit. But let us say that you already serve at church or cannot get there as often as you like. What is something you can do at home? One good habit to form would be to have a quiet time. Instead of immediately getting up and watching television, Netflix, or YouTube, try devoting your first hour to the Lord by reading scripture, praying, and meditating. Practicing good habits can also be as simple as cleaning your room, going to bed on time, doing work on time instead of leaving it till the last minute, spending time with family, loving on your dogs or other pets, going walking and taking notice of all the beautiful things that God has let flourish, volunteering for a charity, paying for someone else’s coffee or breakfast, random acts of kindness, and too many other habits to list here. If you have some good habits to list, I encourage you to list them and share them with others, so they can see them. Finally, how do we stick to these habits and build them? It might easy to do these things for a day or two, but a habit is formed over an extended period of time. I will leave you with this verse, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:1-2). You can transform your mind by renewing it daily. Be as a child and let yourself be commanded. Treat each day as its own contained unit that can be used to glorify Him.
March 20, 2019
March 20, 2019
March 11, 2019