02 Jul Blessed Habits Bring About Blessed Fruits
A successful life is definitely not brought about by a one-time success. Similarly, a failed life is also not caused by a one-time failure. If we see a pianist playing a beautiful piece of music, the pianist must have a habit of practicing the piano daily; or a chef who cooked a delicious meal, it is related to his habit of cooking daily. If we see a blessed person, he must have some habits that would definitely cause him to be blessed. Example: Daniel had firm faith such that he did not waver before those who wanted to harm him, that came from how he habitually conversed deeply in the truth with God three times daily <Dan 6:10>. Many people are always attracted by the external success or certain advantages of others, but they do not have a deep understanding of the secret of their success. In particular, people love to take shortcuts, especially in this fast-paced society – such as: revising their studies in the shortest time to take a major exam, graduating quickly, earning money quickly, dating quickly and getting married, complete reading the Bible quickly, etc. But we have to ask people if they are establishing blessed habits in all these. For example: Is a student only learning to cope with exams or has he established a habit of loving to learn? A person quickly finishes reading the Bible, but has he established a habit of reading the Bible daily and having a deep relationship with God? In fact, things that have not become habits are by no means part of our lives. There must be a habit, whether it is our prayers, attending meetings, serving, or the details of daily living. When we are used to thinking like this and are used to doing this, then it is very easy for us to get into the momentum and easily focus on what we have to do. But if we do not let these practices become a habit, we always find it difficult, feel incompetent and exhaust a lot of time and energy to complete a task. If we have allowed these practices to become a habit, we will find that the things we do will create a “need” in our hearts. In particular, in our faith living, what God has given us is not ritual but a need. A person who is used to communicating with God will find that prayer is not a ritual, but a need. This is because he has already gained spiritual power through habitual prayers. Some believers who are in a habit of attending meetings often feel that they are missing something if they miss a meeting. This is because they have practically received comfort and blessings through interaction with the saints. Therefore, blessed practices should be done consistently until they become a habit and to the extent that we develop a real need for God’s grace. Even if you do not see the results for the time being, you have to put in prayers, so that you will carry it through firmly to the end. When some people hear of the need to establish a good habit, they feel very restless and that this is nothing new or refreshing. That is also because they have long been gratifying their weak nature. Some people do not have good habits but they are always yearning for miracles to happen. In fact, miracles happen when we habitually do something. People like or trust us not because we give them positive feelings once or twice, but because of some good factors in our nature, such as: consideration for people, doing things responsibly, giving people a sense of security, etc. This is the nature that we want to build through our habits and is revealed to others in a realistic manner.
Establishing a blessed habit is a spiritual war.
Of course, when it comes to habits, due to our sinful nature, it is easier for us to get into bad habits than good ones, such as browsing on our mobile phones, not doing homework, being lazy and greedy, etc. After believing in the Lord and becoming blessed, it is always difficult to establish blessed habits but the habit of succumbing to the flesh is natural. Therefore, we must understand that establishing a blessed habit is a spiritual war. Even psychology tells us that as long as we can repeat a practice for 21 days, we can establish a habit, but we must know that the enemy we face is a spiritual one, it is the evil spirit, the flesh and the world which are in conflict with the Holy Spirit. If we do not know how to act by the Holy Spirit, but only rely on certain methods, even the best habits can easily be lost. In particular, we live in an era when spiritual bondage is becoming more and more common. Everyone is bound by some “addictions” such as gambling, watching dramas, browsing on the mobile phone, watching pornography, etc. If we want to be healed from such spiritual bondages, true healing is also related to us establishing blessed habits by relying on the Lord. In particular, when we study the word of God, we need to habitually and repeatedly confirm, and get into a blessed habit of doing so and not engage the Christian faith in a light manner.
The most important habit is to always see God in doing everything
The most serious human problem is to have no God in their eyes
Ever since man sinned and fell into a carnal state, he turned from the state of being most able to see God naturally (as easily as breathing) to a fallen state in which he cannot see the spiritual God. He only has eyes for his own needs, people, the world (environment), thus all these things which he sees become his idols. Among the non-believers, <2 Pe 2:14> very clearly states that some have eyes full of adultery, never stop sinning; seducing the unstable; they are experts in greed—an accursed brood! Indeed, those in the world who do not believe in the Lord are experts in greed, because they live to gain. But even those with the concept of God may also turn to the situations and circumstances and can be shocked by the giants (problems) of the world. The problem with Saul was not that he did not know the existence of God, but once he looked at the height of Goliath and heard him shout, his heart welled up with fear, his spiritual eyes were dimmed, and he could not see God. But why did Saul not see God? It was because he was already used to seeing human bravery and strength, such that he depended on these. This is like many believers nowadays who constantly look at the advantages, intelligence, talents, etc of people. Thus, they will easily be shaken by looking at those people of the world who have these qualities. Actually, in the midst of these, God’s help and protection never left, but because men are not used to seeing these, they cannot get to use God’s power and wisdom.
The greatest blessing of men is to build up the nature of habitually seeing God
David’s blessedness was not just due to his ability to overcome the lion and the bear, but that he was able to see the rescue and help of the Lord in the process. David said, “The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.” <1 Sam 17:37> Here, we know that David has not only mastered the skills of striking lions and bears, but more importantly, he has the eyes of habitually seeing God’s rescue and help.
In cultivating blessed habits, it is most important to nurture the eyes which can always see God’s help.
Indeed, we often only value a person’s victory at critical moments, or his skills and strategies of winning, but we rarely sense how he can see the help of God. In fact, regardless of our difficulties, God’s rescue and help is present. Who likes to see this and is used to seeing this reality? If David merely said, “I have the skills to overcome lion and bear”, then there would certainly be enemies who were greater than the lion and the bear. But if David said, “I always see the rescue and help of the Lord”, then no matter how great the enemy may be, he could not win David. Thus, we have to ask ourselves whether we always see God’s rescue and help? Humans are weak. If we cannot see the God who helps us in our difficulties, we will surely retreat when we face challenge after challenge. Therefore, in cultivating blessed habits, it is most important to nurture the eyes which can always see God’s help. This is what should happen when we pray on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. Many believers may only be praying, reading the Bible, attending church, serving, etc ritually, but some people constantly test, approve, seek and regularly find God’s help. This good spiritual habit will enable him to be more than conqueror in all things.
In order to see God regularly, we must repeatedly learn and confirm God’s word
<Ep 6:13-17> tells us to put on the full armour of God, so that regardless of what kind of flaming arrows or attacks the enemy has, we have defence and attack measures. The practical meaning of a believer putting on the full armour is to fully learn and confirm God’s word, such that we possess the spiritual secret to know how to habitually think and live. In this way, when we face whichever challenges in our lives (examples: busyness, not smooth-sailing, negative situations or people’s words, etc), we always can pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests (see and seek God’s help). Thus, when we equip in God’s word, we not just learn knowledge only. But we centre our learning on wanting to be able to see God in all things, and set Him before our eyes. Those who learn God’s word in this way will realise that the word in their heart will have more and more active effect. Their vitality is higher and their spiritual eyes are sharper, such that they can see God’s works, unlike merely having a form of lifeless knowledge.
There is close relationship between a person having blessed habits in his living and his ultimate victory.
Get into habitual prayer and church living
<Lk 22:39>: Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him.
<Dan 6:10>: Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.
<Heb 10:25> says, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Indeed, without habitual prayer and church living, it is very hard for our hearts and minds to be guarded. Some people asked, “How to pray with delight?”, or some people say, “Since there is no heart to pray or attend meetings, why still do it?”
In Christ, we are one with the Lord, it is absolutely not sustained by our mood or feelings, but it is based upon the Lord’s covenant.
Actually, there are some basic things in faith which certainly cannot be done according to one’s mood, but it is when we keep on doing, the feeling will come to our hearts. We surely will not say that if there is no delight in speaking to our spouse, then we do not talk; nor will we not go home just because our mood is bad. If we have no mood, we cannot control that; but we can continue to do what we should do and ask the Lord for grace. And the Lord’s grace which can save our souls will certainly also be able to change our hearts. This is like it is not love which brings us marriage, but it is marriage which preserves the entire love, such that even if love fades sometimes, you will not be separated because of this. Our relationship with the Lord is just like marriage. In Christ, we are one with the Lord, it is absolutely not sustained by our mood or feelings, but it is based upon the Lord’s covenant. Because of this, the moment we working people reach our offices, we must immediately get into fixed-time prayers. Those who are schooling should wake up early to pray. We must insert fixed-time prayers into our rhythm of life. Let us also not attend church meetings based on our feelings. The Bible instructs us to always encourage one another. For some things in faith, the more you give in to feelings, the more you lack the strength to do. Some believers always cannot go on because of failures. In fact, we do not need to be afraid of failures. If it is the truth, we should keep obeying to the end, till it becomes a habit.
Habitual good life order
The effects of our prayers and church meetings must enter our living. From a person waking up in the morning to meet the Lord till he sleeps well at night in the Lord, that is an order. If there is no regular order in our daily living, over days and years, it will be reflected in the fruits of our living. Examples: Those who have no regular order in their diet and exercise will not be healthy, their mental mind will also not be well; those who study without regularity will not have good results; those who work without regular equipping will not acquire specialized skills. In family living, if we do not set aside time to regularly communicate with one another, we will not have intimate kinship with our family members. Those who serve the Lord without regular and habitual Bible-reading, prayers, meditation, shepherding, visitations, etc, cannot become an anointed servant. In particular, the one thing which we spent many hours doing each day is certainly valued by God. That is related to our lifetime following and serving of the Lord. This is like David tended sheep in his youth, which was related to his defeat of Goliath. Thus, as we are led by the Holy Spirit in our daily living, we must get into an order, and habitual things, so that we can be blessed before God.
Must notice that bad habits indeed steal away many of our blessings
If we observe our living carefully, we will discover some habits which steal away the fruits of our living. Sometimes, our sleep pattern is not so healthy, or we are always on our handphones, or we watch dramas excessively, or we are habitually late. Some people habitually grumble, whenever the situation is a bit more challenging then they grumble <Phil 2:14>. Some people say humans are limited, and when they cannot take certain challenges, they will naturally grumble; but in fact, that is also a kind of bad habit, which is controlling our nature. If all these various bad habits are left unresolved for a long time, our spirits and living will suffer much loss, and that will also prevent us from cultivating blessed habits. Examples: A student who always meddles with his handphone will certainly neglect his studies. Even if it is not affected, he will develop the habit of multi-tasking, which is unhealthy. Or, the habit of grumbling can also easily turn into slandering others, and hinder us from putting in our heart to do a certain thing, because we cannot let go in our heart. Many people only habitually leave their bad habits unchecked, but they did not realise that those bad habits are the bottlenecks preventing them from being blessed. They have not been repentant because of those bad habits nor do they rely on the Holy Spirit to put to death the bad habits. Honestly speaking, if a person already succumbed to certain bad habits in life and does not put them to death, nor is he willing to put them to death, then it shows that he can only be blessed to that particular level before God.
How to overcome bad habits?
In prayers, must always see Immanuel, so that can overcome self.
In fact, everyone has bad habits, but the unwillingness to change bad habits arises from our “self”, such as what we ourselves want to do, see, hear. Indeed, I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out <Ro 7:18>. This is the bottleneck faced by all fallen men. But only the power of the Holy Spirit can overcome this. Indeed, we must know the spiritual method given by God, that is like how David always set the Lord before his eyes, being led and helped by Him, and receiving the fullness of joy <Ps 16:8, 11>. Indeed, if we do not see God’s presence, help and guidance, as well as, Him satisfying our hearts, then no one can break free from the old nature which satisfies our “self”. Certainly, only the strength of the inner spirit can overcome our old habits.
Set fixed challenges for yourself
We live in a fallen and empty world, so the natural reaction of humans is to gratify our weak nature. Therefore, even when king David did not go out for battle, he very quickly developed the habit of sleeping till late afternoon, and subsequently committed the sin which displeased God. Hence, the danger of bad habits is really latent. Thus, there must be fixed challenges in a person’s every day and every week. To the pastors and preachers, we have the sermons we need to prepare every week, even if we go overseas for vacation, we still need to finish our work. The elderly among us also need to have their missions to be completed every day or every week, such as attending elderly gatherings, morning exercises, marketing, tidying the house, visitations, etc. These are the challenges we must set for ourselves. Parents must set challenges (exercise, revision, church, getting in touch with people, etc) for your children, otherwise they will quickly get obsessed with the phone. Of course, it can be more relaxing during the holidays, but in normal days, it is necessary for us to lay down rules for them. Over time, children who live in a regulated way will naturally be better than those who do not live under any order. We must know that for man to undertake all things, it is only 10% dependent on natural talents, but 90% dependent upon acquired training. No one can succeed solely by his own wits.
When living with family and brethren, try to refer to and choose habits that can benefit oneself.
In overcoming bad habits and cultivating good ones, the influence and help of believers play a very important role. If husband and wife live together, must try your best to be influenced by each other’s good habits; especially when our bad habits affected each other, we must reflect on it. Or, if both your bad habits affected the order of the children’s living, husband and wife must both reflect. Then, we live in one church, if we discover that those around us have certain good habits, must learn more from them. Of course, everyone’s situation is different, but if conditions permit, we try to make adjustments. For example: It is always good to sleep and wake up early; good to eat at regular times; good to do things orderly. We cannot always say our circumstances are unique. We should try to live as close as possible to the natural order, yet if the Holy Spirit has another guidance, we make appropriate adjustments again. However, we must never let ourselves remain in unhealthy habits because of our own convenience or stubbornness, if this goes on for long, it will bring us some losses.