Habits are behaviors in our lives that have developed over time. We get them from repeating a behavior, and many times we we do them effortlessly. Habits can be good or bad, and we all have them. We usually know what habits we have, but some of them are in our blind spot and are very obvious to others. The great news for you and I is that if it can be learned, it can be unlearned. We don’t have to keep the habits we have, and we can create new habits in our lives over time.
As Christians, there are certain habits that we should avoid, and there are others that we need to adopt. It’s never easy to create or break ourselves of a habit. I believe that when we invite Jesus to be Lord of our life, He helps us to make those changes in our lives. Even though He lives in us, our flesh is still alive and wants us to do things its way instead. It’s a constant struggle for us to break old habits and to develop new godly ones, but it’s something each of us must work on and do.
Here are some Bible verses regarding habits.
1. For God sees everything you do and his eyes are wide open as he observes every single habit you have.
Proverbs 5:21 TPT
2. So get rid of every filthy habit and all wicked conduct. Submit to God and accept the word that he plants in your hearts, which is able to save you.
James 1:21 GNT
3. Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.”
I Corinthians 15:33 NKJV
4. Let us not give up the habit of meeting together, as some are doing. Instead, let us encourage one another all the more, since you see that the Day of the Lord is coming nearer.
Hebrews 10:25 GNT
5. Everyone sees it. God’s work is the talk of the town. Be glad, good people! Fly to GOD! Good-hearted people, make praise your habit.
Psalm 64:9-10 MSG
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One of the things I enjoy doing in my spare time is fishing. There’s something therapeutic about sitting on a boat and casting a line. Many times fish are under brush near shore. After we get the boat close enough, we drop an anchor in the water. When larger boats come cruising through, it creates large waves which can push our boat into the brush hanging over the water, or worse, it can run us into shallow water where there are stumps. While the waves may rock the boat and create some uneasiness, the anchor holds us in place and protects us from more damage.
In the same way, you and I have our hope in God. Life is full of uncertainties and our boat is often tossed about by the waves. There are times where we feel like the boat is going to flip over or that we will run aground. That’s why we need to trust in our anchor of hope. It is our lifeline that connects us to God. It is designed to hold us in place when all these things come through our lives and try to rock our faith. We must learn to trust it more than the waves because waves come and go, but our anchor is firm.
Hebrews 6:19 says, “We have this hope as an anchor for our lives. It is safe and sure, and goes through the curtain of the heavenly temple into the inner sanctuary” (GNT). Think about that image. Our anchor is a direct line to the very presence of God. When it is in use, it is unseen. It is not phased by what’s happening on the surface. When we trust in our anchor, we can have peace in the chaos and uncertainty of life. That hope grounds us in what is true and is eternal, and we will not be moved. If your boat is being rocked right now, grab ahold of that line that is connected to God’s presence and trust Him to hold you until the waters calm down.
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One of the greatest pet peeves of parents is when someone who doesn’t have kids tries to tell them how to parent. Usually their response is, “Come back and talk to me after you’ve had your own.” Why? Because how can a person without kids truly understand the struggles of raising a child? They haven’t had to sit up all night with a sick child. They haven’t been asked a hundred times for the same toy. They haven’t felt the embarrassment of their own flesh and blood throwing a holy fit in public. Without them going through those things, parents are less likely to take any advice from them.
One of the purposes of Jesus becoming flesh and blood, beyond dying on the cross, was so that He could understand the human condition. The almighty God took on our frailty so that He could better understand what it is like when we are sick. What it feels like to lose a family member. How hard it is to fight temptation when it comes our way. He went through the entire human experience so He could better empathize with us when we struggle and call out to Him in prayer. He’s not up there telling us to just deal with it. He understands what you and I are going through.
Hebrews 4:15 says, “This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin” (NLT). Think about that. He understands what you’re going through because He took the time to leave the role of creator to become the created. You and I can now go to Him with confidence in prayer asking for advice, seeking wisdom and looking for answers because He knows what you’re talking about. He’s experienced it and can now empathize with us. Whatever His answer is to our prayers, it’s based on His experiences and on what is best for our future.
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Throwback Thursday is a new feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.
One of the names of God that I love is Jehovah Shalom. I began to dig deeper into the word “Shalom” to see what all it means. I know it means “peace” and that it is often used as a greeting in Israel, but one of the other meanings for the word is “completeness” or “whole”. I found that very interesting. So I went back to Isaiah 9:6 where it says Jesus will be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father and the Prince of Peace. I switched to the Message version of the Bible and there it called Him the Prince of Wholeness.
My mind raced, “How had I missed that?” I’m not sure how I’ve read that a hundred times and have heard the word shalom over and over and never saw that He is the Prince of Wholeness. We all need peace in our lives so much that we focus on that part of “shalom”, but rarely go deeper into its meaning. We don’t look beyond the surface, but we need to. We need to dig deeper to find something like this because we all need it.
I’ve had my life shattered and broken. When I look back at that period in my life, I see myself laying on a foundation in the pouring rain. There is debris of what was my life laying all around. There is nothing that is salvageable. That is there is nothing I can salvage. But here, in this scripture, I see a God who can take the broken pieces of my life and make me whole again. I see a Prince who is not content with leaving me broken and unprotected. He wants me to be whole.
He wants you to be whole too. When you’re broken like that, you think that all is lost. You feel that no one cares and the world is dark all around you. You can’t see the future because you can’t imagine a future you’d want to be in. There is no light of hope to guide you. You take each breath as it comes. Each second of the clock ticks in slow motion, and survival is your only instinct. You aren’t worried about tomorrow because you’re focused on surviving today. Yes, even in that moment of your life, He is the Prince of Wholeness.
God is able to take you from that broken place in your life to a place of Wholeness. Completeness. Rebuilding. Becoming stronger and better. He is the God of creation and He can create a new beginning for you. It’s not something that happens over night. A masterpiece is not painted in a day. A mansion is not built over night. Your life is more complex and worth more to Him than anything else in all of creation. You may struggle with feelings of unworthiness or worthlessness, but you are worthy and you are priceless. You are worth rebuilding to Him. You are worth being made whole. Don’t give up. Invite the Prince of Wholeness to come in today and to complete the work which He began in you.
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Have you ever made a dumb decision in life? If you’re human, you have. The next question is, did you take ownership of it or did you blame someone else? Be honest. A lot of the time, we blame others for our own mistakes. I think that’s part of our human nature. When you think of the Garden of Eden, God asked Adam if he ate the fruit. His reply was, “The woman you gave me made me do it.” He shifted the blame back onto God and onto Eve. He refused to own up to his mistake and they were kicked out of the garden.
It’s one thing to blame some else, but many times we blame God for our mistakes. When we excuse our mistakes by saying, “That’s just the way I am,” what we are saying is, “I only did it because God made me this way.” Proverbs 19:3 says, “People ruin their lives by their own foolishness and then are angry at the Lord” (NLT). We can’t be angry at God for our own decisions. As long as we shift the blame and our anger, we will continue to live lives that are short of successful.
A true sign of spiritual maturity is being able to admit that we are where we are in life as a result of the decisions we have made ourselves. It’s about taking ownership of our mistakes. When we shift the blame, we aren’t truly repentant for our wrongs. If you find yourself angry at God or others because of things that are going on in your life, trace your situation back. You’ll find that it’s a result of your past decisions. Take ownership, ask God for wisdom in your future decisions and start moving forward. You’ll find that you’ll be happier in life and you’ll have better relationships with God and others.
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Several years ago I attended a conference for ministers. One of the speakers was Jon Acuff, and he spoke on critic’s math. The way critics math works is 1 insult + 1,000 complements = 1 insult. We can be praised by everyone for our work, but if one person didn’t like it, we allow that one negative comment to erase all the positive feedback we’ve received. It can be like we never even heard the compliments because our mind spends all its time focusing on the one negative comment rather than our feedback as a whole. Critic’s math is a dangerous thing for us to fall into.
An example is in the Book of Esther. Haman was the King’s prime minister. He had been put in such a high position, that the king declared everyone should bow to him as he passed by. Everyone bowed down except one. Mordecai refused. In the fifth chapter, Esther had prepared a banquet for he and the king. When he left, everyone bowed except Mordecai. In verses 12-13, he told his wife and friends, “What is more, Queen Esther gave a banquet for no one but the king and me, and we are invited back tomorrow. But none of this means a thing to me as long as I see that Jew Mordecai sitting at the entrance of the palace” (GNT). He allowed critic’s math to cloud his thinking, and it ultimately cost him everything.
You and I need to accept that we can’t please everyone, and that pleasing people is not our goal. Pleasing God is. Ecclesiastes 7:10 warns, “Don’t pay attention to everything people say.” When you receive negative feedback, take it constructively, but don’t give it so much weight that it distracts you from what God has called you to. What He has to say is far more important than what any person has to say. Keep focusing on what God wants to do in your life and through you, and don’t let one person’s negativity keep you from reaching your potential or from finishing your race.
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