#644. HABITS OF DEVOTION (9/9/22)
Summary: Developing good habits through daily practice is God's gift to help us to become the person that God wants us to be.
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:42-43)
‘Sow a thought, reap an action. Sow an action, reap a habit. Sow a habit, reap a character. Sow a character, reap a destiny.’ (John Stott)
‘Integrity is doing what you ought to even if it costs you.’ (Andy Stanley)
‘Direction not intention determines our destination.’ (Andy Stanley)
‘Self-control is the ability to do the important thing rather than the urgent thing.” (Timothy Keller)
This world needs us, His church, to be filled with love and zeal. Why is our light so dim so often? Why do we not ‘shine like stars in the universe’ (Philippians 2:15a). There, in Philippians, a major requirement given for us to shine in this dark work is that we ‘Hold onto the word of life’ (Phil. 2:15b). Loving truth is essential for our vitality. I love what R. C. Sproul wrote:
‘For the soul of a person to be inflamed with passion for the living God, that person’s mind must first be informed about the character and will of God. There can be nothing in the heart that is not first in the mind’
There are many ways of being devoted to truth, however, I want to focus on the simple practice of just reading it regularly. This is a lifestyle and habit which should mark every Christian. How can we form this habit?
Habits are a gift from God. These can be developed so as to create momentum towards what is good in our lives. Habits have 4 elements (taken from Atomic Habits by James Clear): Cue, Craving, Response and reward.
James Clear gives the example of our mobile phone: Cue - You phone buzzes with a notification. Craving - You want to know what the message is. Response - You grab your phone and read the text. Reward - You satisfy your craving to read the message. Grabbing your phone becomes associated with your phone buzzing.
i. Cue - Make want you want to be a habit obvious.
You could put a Bible in a place where you will be reminded to read it. Having a set time and place is also a powerful cue.
ii. Craving - Make it attractive.
In our case, remember the promises of God to those who love His word; You may also want to link reading it to something pleasurable like have it a cup of tea or sitting in a nice place.
iii. Response - Make it easy.
Make your reading goal achievable so you feel that you’ve succeeded rather than failed. Make it easy, as we’ve said, by putting the Bible in place that is easy to access.
iv. Reward - Make it satisfying.
Make Bible reading rewarding by recalling the good that it is doing for you. You may reward yourself by, say, looking at social media or watching something only after you’ve read your Bible. You could sing some of your favourite worship songs afterward. Notice and give thanks for the sense of satisfaction that comes from doing this most important thing.
God wants us to be devoted to His Word. He wants us to have a vision of bringing ourselves, one another and our community to Him and His word.
Our application for this week is a very simple one - have an open Bible in a prominent place in your home - maybe in front of the TV! - as an inspiration to read it as a lifestyle. By having it open to view and to convict us, we are making a statement of intent to be, as John Ortberg wrote (in The Life you Always wanted) a person of one book. He wrote:
‘Be a “Person of One Book”… If you were marooned on a desert island and could have only a single book with you, what would you choose?…The truth is that we are trapped — trapped in patterns of thought and behaviour that lead to death…So the followers of Christ have historically sought to be a people devoted to the Word. John Wesley said that a pivotal moment of his life came when he prayed to become a ‘homo unius libri, - a man of one book.’…The words that bombard us all day long from billboards and tabloids and talk shows pull us in a thousand directions. But the word God speaks to us from his Word can renew our minds. As he said to Augustine, so God says still: “Take it and read. Take it and read.” (Ortberg, John. The Life You've Always Wanted).
TOGETHER IN SEPTEMBER
During September 2022, at CCP, we are having 'Together' meetings instead of our usual Community Groups. You are very welcome to attend these gatherings.
Please come to the church building at 7:30 pm - refreshments and a meal will be available.