Father God, You are my Creator. You know the very troubles my soul endures, tribulations of my mind and body. You tell me I am Yours and I believe You. I know You and love You. Thank You for holding me in the cleft of Your Rock. Thank You for soothing my trembling ways, my anxiousness, and my weariness with the world. Hold me closely, Lord, as I do not want to be pulled into the torrent. I want to be with You as a rock holds its own in the midst of a raging river. Eventually, the waters will become still and the rock will be able to lie there quietly. May I sacrifice myself quietly to You, wholeheartedly to You. May I be close always, Sweet Lord. Amen.
How often did God walk in His garden? I can just imagine the beauty of that garden. And as gardeners love the fragrance and color of flowers, the variety of vegetables growing, the rich dirt crumbling between the gardening fingers, strolling through the garden becomes a favorite thing to do. Surely God wandered through it often. Surely! (At least I can imagine!)
In the same way, a habit develops by taking that first step … that first step to hold God’s Word in my heart … that first step to read His Word daily … that first step to spend time with the Lord daily. As one habit grows into the second and third steps, so, too, do additional habits form. One step at a time.
What if I take one step and then two and then three? Suddenly I am walking with the God of my life in His garden of beauty, with Him, holding His hand. He shows me a new flower, a new piece of His work, a new fruit growing that can be mine if only I would make this walk a habit with Him. Godly habits are not about doing something over and over again until they become entrenched in my way of life just out of the doing. Godly habits are made in the Presence of God from the delight of being with Him, from the joy of being held closely, from the seriousness of obedience. Yes, a godly habit may be made by doing something again and again, but it only becomes real, godly real, when in close relationship with God, while doing something to please the Father, and walking obediently in His Ways, with Him.
If you obey the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you today, by loving the LORD your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. Deuteronomy 30:16
photo: “Baby’s First Steps” by Flight Shot/Andy Nguyen
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? “I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.” Jeremiah 17:7-10
From Charles H. Spurgeon’s little book, “Daily Help”, January 14th:
The great King, immortal, invisible, the Divine person, called the Holy Ghost, the Holy Spirit: it is he that quickens the soul, or else it would lie dead forever; it is he that makes it tender, or else it would never feel; it is he that imparts efficacy to the Word preached, or else it could never reach further than the ear; it is he who breaks the heart, it is he who makes it whole.
There dwells upon this earth a mysterious Being, whose office is to renew the fallen and restore the wandering. We cannot see Him, or hear Him, yet He dwells in some of us as Lord of our nature. His chosen residence is a broken heart and a contrite spirit.
The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. Psalm 34:18
… by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:5b-6
Practice, train, repetition, rehearsal, prepare, run through, perfect … words that all point to making an effort towards a goal. We want to do things for ourselves, for our families and loved ones, for our community. We usually also want to do them well. In order for that, practice is called for and needed, in most cases.
Last week, I addressed my own difficulty with making something a habit. I, far too often, break the habit and feel a failure. Yet, I am learning that habits are truly of the LORD. He is my habit and when I call upon Him, kneel before Him, lay my needs or my burdens before Him, He picks each and every one up. As I become closer to Him, I grow in relationship with Him. He becomes the habit I need and those habits I want to achieve are done by and with Him. I don’t HAVE to do them by myself. I have Him to lean upon, to count on.
I practice Jesus. I love Jesus moment-by-moment. I walk beside Him and love Him from my inside-out. He is my habit. I hope in the living God. I toil and strive toward being a godly woman. If, at times, it seems to be only head knowledge, it just may be. Yet, my heart is set on the LORD and will follow my head to gain the knowledge that is needed for growing in the LORD, for gaining that new habit.
I am reminded of a silly song from “Annie, Get Your Gun”, ARTIST/Lyrics: Irving Berlin
TITLE: Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better
I can do any thing better than you
No you can’t, Yes I can, No you can’t, Yes I can”
No you can’t, Yes I can, yes I can
Arguing is not the point. I do not argue with my LORD. At least I don’t mean to argue with Him.
As I walk beside Him, I learn that His strength upholds me and guides me into the practices He desires for me. His might gives me boldness. He is my enabler. He focuses me. He teaches me what is important to Him for my life. I can do anything, though not in my strength, but in the Spirit.
Then he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts. Zechariah 4:6
I must be willing to walk in the Spirit, to live in the Spirit, and to die in the Spirit for I have been crucified with Christ.
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20
I am alive! He lives! He lives in me.
Oh, LORD, form Your habits in me as I walk with You. I want Your will for my life. Guide me to practice that which concerns You today. I want to please You and Only You, LORD. I am in love with You so dearly. Amen.
In thinking about habits, my mind pictured a nun wearing one. Being a word person as many of us are, I looked up the word “habit”, wanting to know how this word became the name of her clothing. The word “habit” originally meant dress or attire. It later took on the connotation of a physical or mental constitution or state. Author, Elizabeth Kuhns’ defines, in her book The Habit: A History of the Clothing of Catholic Nuns, the term “habit” as referring to “the ensemble of clothing and accessories that make up religious dress. It can also mean specifically the robe-like tunic or dress that is the main garment worn over the body.”
A habit is worn. A habit addresses who we are or what we are by doing something habitually. It is worn constantly, ceaselessly. A habit is done frequently, recurrently, perpetually.
I think of the verses in Ephesians telling me to be renewed and wear the likeness of Christ. But that is not the way you learned Christ!–assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:20-24
And the words in Colossians 3:1-3: Put On the New Self
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
As I go down into the water with a special robe, I am made new, removing all of my old clothing. I come to the water’s surface with a sopping wet robe and have received the clothing of Christ in my new birth. I remove the wet robe. I am made brand new and have the new habit of Christ in my life. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Galatians 3:27
To begin this new year … wanting to perfect a new habit means to me, today, that I begin anew. I have received Christ. He makes all things new. Since memorizing Scripture is a big desire for 2011, I could say that I want to “get in the habit of memorizing God’s Word”. Yet, I know how my desire to start new with something often goes. I start just fine. But after a short while, I skip a day, then two, then three and more. Finally, I am not doing this “habit” at all and feeling guilty. I do not want guilt. I want to memorize Scripture. I walk with Jesus and ask for His mind to memorize the words for me. He is the Word and knows the words in His Book. He can place them in my mind as He places Himself in me. He is my habit. He is the clothing I wear. It is through trust, prayer, and relationship with the Word that I will have the Word inscribed upon my heart…and only in these ways as I surely cannot do this on my own. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:16
I lay my body down in His Living Waters and am renewed. I come up above the surface with Him, with His clothing on. I am dressed in Christ and not nakedly guilty. I live a habit because Christ lives in me. Does this make sense? It is beginning to for me. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. Philippians 1:21
LORD Jesus, will You be the only habit I need? With You, all things are possible. I can memorize Your Word. I can read Your Word each day. I can pray ceaselessly. I can be obedient to Your call. I can care for Mom in the way You would have me care for and love her. I can give living water and love to the least of these. I can accomplish what concerns me today, what concerns You today! With You as my habit … But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”(Matthew 19:26) Amen and Amen.