Keeping Holy Habits
Pastor Oliver shares three holy habits that we should keep to help us draw closer to God.
Habits are formed when we repeat actions over time. When I wake in the mornings, I put the water kettle to boil. Then I grind my coffee beans, allowing the aroma of freshly ground coffee to fill the kitchen. What follows once the water is boiled, is to put the ground coffee in a V-60 filter and do a pour-over. Only then do I go to shower and brush my teeth, allowing the coffee to percolate while I freshen up. This has been my habit for the past several years. These actions done over time has ingrained themselves into practice, that I almost brew coffee "automatically" in mornings as part of my wake-up routine. We are also picking up patterns of behaviour in this Covid-19 season. Some of them are helpful and necessary, like wearing masks outside of our homes and washing our hands. Others may not be helpful, like sleeping in late on a Sunday morning and watching the service online in the afternoon or socially isolating ourselves from others in the church. My friends, I am concerned that we are picking up some habits that may not be helpful for our spiritual health. I urge all of us to keep and maintain our holy habits, especially in these unusual Covid-19 times.
Holy habits or spiritual disciplines or "means of grace" as called by previous generations of Christians are spiritual practices. They are means that God has revealed where He regularly pours out His grace. John Piper, in writing of the use of holy habits, tells us: "The essence of the Christian life is learning to fight for joy in a way that does not replace grace." We cannot earn God's grace or make it flow apart from His free gift. But we can position ourselves to go on getting should He keep giving. We can "fight to walk in the paths where he has promised his blessings." So, the practice of holy habits is to place ourselves in a position to receive God's grace for our lives.
such practices are not fancy or highfalutin. They are the stuff of everyday, basic Christianity—unimpressively mundane, but spectacularly potent by the Spirit. While there's no final and complete list of such spiritual disciplines, the long tally of helpful habits can be clustered into three big groups: hearing God's voice, having God's ear, and being with God's people. Or simply: word, prayer, and fellowship.
I encourage us, Grace Baptist Church, to continue to use these practices as we build holy habits, especially in these unusual times.
The first is the practice of the Word. Scripture is the Word of God we received that works on our hearts (1 Thess 2:4). The church is urged to speak Scripture to one another (Col 3:16). It is also by the Word that we are sanctified (Jn 17:17). We are to read the Word (Bible reading plans are available here). We are to hear the Word. To help myself to take in God's Word regularly, I've been using Dwell, an audio Bible app available on IOS and Android. We can study the Word. An excellent study Bible to accompany your study is the ESV Study Bible. Better yet, study the Bible in a community! You can study the Bible in a CG, in the Wednesday Bible Study, or in one of the Bible study small groups which meet regularly. You can also dwell and reflect on the Word—keeping a journal to record your thoughts can be helpful.
The second is the practice of prayer. Jesus himself urges His followers to pray (Lk 18:1). The church is told to be steadfast in prayer and thanksgiving (Col 4:2, Eph 6:18). We can pray individually and corporately as a church body. Personally, we can make it a habit to pray in our daily devotional times. Or we can take our travel time to pray for people we meet or people that God brings to mind. We can even text a short prayer to a friend as a way of encouraging one another as we pray for others. As a church body, we can come together for our monthly Elder-Led Prayer Meeting to pray. The next meeting is at the end of this month (31 Jul 2020).
The third is the practice of fellowship. Scripture urges us not to give up meeting together (Heb 10:24-25), for we as one body belongs to each other (Rom 12:5). Although we cannot gather physically yet as one church, we can join our hearts when we go online during our Sunday Services together. We can also meet as CG virtually over Zoom or Google Meet. We gather to not only study the Word but also to share thanksgiving and prayer request as we do life together. We speak Scripture to one another's lives, and we seek to help one another apply God's Word. Right now, we can meet up one-on-one, or up to groups of five (as we follow the Ministry of Health's Covid-19 regulations) to encourage one another. If we are concerned about our health, we can still call, text or invite our friends to have a virtual meeting!
And the purpose of keeping these holy habits? The goal is to cultivate our relationship with God and to grow in intimacy (Ps 73:28, Jas 4:8). And as we know God through Jesus Christ, we grow into Christlikeness (Rom 8:29). We can be confident that God, who began a good work in us at our salvation, will bring it to completion through His Spirit (Phil 1:6). Do not let our practice of these "means of grace" slip during this Covid-19 season. So my friends, do keep up with your holy habits!
1. Do join us for our monthly Elder-Led Prayer Meeting on 31 Jul, at 8pm. You can access the Zoom meeting via this URL: https://tinyurl.com/prayermeeting-jul.
2. The next Equip class on "How Do We Disciple One Another?" will take place on 8 Aug (Sat) from 330-530 pm. As God's people, we are called to make disciples. How do we come alongside and help one another to grow in Christ? Join us for Equip in August to learn more! You can access the Zoom meeting via this URL: https://tinyurl.com/equip-aug8.
3. Do join us for this Sunday’s Service at 9am, 26 Jul, as we livestream on YouTube. We will be looking at Luke 10:1-24 "Kingdom Warfare". Do invite your friends to join us. Please pray that the Holy Spirit will tutor our hearts as we receive God's Word.