Habits for Spiritual Growth - Part 2

Habits for Spiritual Growth
Part 2
Pastor Stephen "Red" Shumate
October 2nd, 2016
Image courtesy of Rawich at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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Habits for Spiritual Growth - Part 2

Today,  we are going to look at 3 habits that we can start today, that will help us grow spiritually. There are many more habits that we need as we grow, but these are the three main habits that no Christian should live without.  They are an absolute must have in a Christian’s life.  And yet, many Christians only have only 1 (maybe 2) of these habits in their lives, because they view the others as “Next Level” Christian type habits, but this is not the case.  These truly are base line level habits that all Christians should have!

And these three habits are:
Praying, Reading Scripture and Serving God and One Another.  

We aren’t going to spend a lot of time on each one of these today, because as we go through talking about how to get our habits started, we will continue to talk about each one of these and how they apply to each one of the steps we need to take to make our habits stick.  But we will take a moment to establish them as healthy habits.

1. 3 Habits to grow spiritually 
Each one of these habits is going to help us connect with God in one of the three ways we are commanded to love Him: With all of our hearts, mind and soul.

a. Heart – Pray
The habit of praying is going to help us love God with our hearts…

Ephesians 6:18
“Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert in this with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints.”

Matthew 26:41
"Stay awake and pray, so that you won’t enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Philippians 4:6
"Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God."

I Thessalonians 5:16-18
"Rejoice always!
17 Pray constantly.
18 Give thanks in everything,
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus."

Colossians 4:2
"Devote yourselves to prayer; stay alert in it with thanksgiving."

Honestly, the list of scriptures that tells us to pray goes on and on…and the list of verses that tell us the result of prayer on our life goes on and on as well…Needless to say, Prayer is one of those habits that is an absolute must for Christians.

b. Mind – Read

The second habit that we need to pick up, is reading and studying scriptures…And in this way, we are going to love and connect with God with our minds.

2 Timothy 3:16-17
"All Scripture is inspired by God[a] and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work."

Psalm 119:105
"Your word is a lamp for my feet
and a light on my path"

Matthew 4:4
"But He answered, 'It is written:
Man must not live on bread alone
but on every word that comes
from the mouth of God.'"

Hebrews 4:12
"For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the ideas and thoughts of the heart."

2 Timothy 2:15
"Study to shew thyself approved unto God,"

Again, the list of verses go on…and again, the list of scriptures telling us what will happen when we read scripture goes on and on.  But there is no doubt, that studying scriptures by reading them, learning them, and hiding them in our hearts…is a habit that is an absolute must for Christians.

c. Soul – Serve 

The third habit that we need to have is to serve…serve both God and each other.

Galatians 5:13
"For you were called to be free, brothers; only don’t use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love."

Romans 12:1
"Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship."

Matthew 23:11-12
"The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted."

I Peter 4:10
"Based on the gift each one has received, use it to serve others, as good managers of the varied grace of God."

Galatians 6:2
"Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ."

Again, the list of scriptures goes on and on…And again…the habit of serving one another and serving God is an absolute must for the Christian.

So, these are the three habits that we want to get started in our lives in order to grow spiritually and they are truly a must for all Christians.

But now we want to start talking about
How we get these habits started…

Well, it’s not going to be easy.  It never is…
Have you ever tried to start a new habit and was unsuccessful?  Sure, we all have…maybe we have tried starting to diet and exercise, but after a few weeks, we have given up on them.  Or maybe we have started to do all three of the habits we are talking about today, but after a while, you petered out on them.

Regardless, today we are going to begin talking about how to get started in these habits and make them stick.  And the truth is, the method we are using here, can be applied to any habit, not just spiritual habits, although the method is spiritually based.

So what is the method?  Really and truthfully, it’s not so much a method as it is 4 stages that we go through when successfully starting a new habit, or changing our lives.  And those 4 stages are Belief, Commitment, Change, and Continuing.

These are the 4 stages we go through, when we become a Christian…or at least we should be going through them. And it all starts with the stage of Belief. 

Belief
Belief that Jesus is the Way: John 14:6- Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. 

Belief that we are sinners: Romans 3:23For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

and Belief that if we Believe in Jesus that we will be saved from our sin and from this sinful world: John 3:16For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever, believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

But just believing these things is not enough…right?  James 2:20 tells us faith without works is dead.  So this belief must result in action.  Once this belief moves from our head to our hearts, that is to say, once we really really believe those things, then Commitment to follow Jesus.

Commitment
And the commitment stage is when we are saved.  This is when we truly believe IN Jesus.  When our belief is so strong it leads us to commit our lives to Jesus.  As scripture says, this is when we confess Jesus is Lord, or we confess that Jesus is our master…and we begin to follow Him.


Change
Our actions in this commitment stage then leads to our third stage which is change.  Once we commit to following Him, then we begin to experience change.  This change is in our hearts is the good work that is talked about in Philippians 1:6

Philippians 1:6
"I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."

And what are we changing into?  When we truly commit our lives to Jesus, He begins the process of restoration.  Restoring us to how we were originally created to be

2 Corinthians 3:18
"We all, with unveiled faces, are looking as in a mirror at[a] the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory"

And of course once we are changed…We don’t go back to living the way we were living, but instead we continue following Jesus.  We continue to live in that change.  And we do our best to not go back to our old selfish and sinful ways.  And this is our 4th stage, continue or lifestyle.

Continue/Lifestyle

I Timothy 6:11
But you, man of God, run from these things,
and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith,
love, endurance, and gentleness.

So we want to continue to live in on in our changed life and continue following Jesus and then He will continue to do His good works in us…And this is what Christianity is all about…a belief that leads to a changed life.

So those are the 4 stages of Christianity but they are also the 4 stages of change that we will use to get our habits started and then make sure they stick.  And here is the really cool thing…if we take this Biblical principle of 4 stages of change and we apply it to the rest of our lives, it works there too.

Take for instance…getting healthy. If we want to get healthy, we go through the same 4 stages. 

First there is belief.  We believe that we are unhealthy, that diet and exercise ARE healthy, and we believe that if we diet and exercise then we will be healthier.

This leads to a commitment to diet and exercise.   And just like our faith is dead without works, so is our belief in a diet if we don’t start dieting and exercising.  It is not enough to just believe.  Getting healthy requires us to actually start dieting and exercising, not just believing that they work.  We can’t go around saying…yeah, I believe that diet and exercise work, therefore I’m getting healthy…no…faith without works is dead…faith in diet and exercise without the workout and diet is dead.

So we commit to dieting and exercising…and when we do, what do we experience?  Change…that is right, our body starts to change.  We begin to lose weight or we don’t get tired as easily and we become healthier.

And of course, once we have lost the 25 lbs or the 35 lbs, and once we have gotten used to eating right and our blood pressure is normal, and our energy level is where it should be…do we go back to our old diet and our old way of living?  No way…if we did then we end up back where we started.  So, we instead we continue (our last stage) in our diet and exercise so that we can maintain the state of health that we want.

So these 4 stages are present in dieting…  In fact these 4 stages are present in any type of change we want in our lives…it takes belief that leads to a commitment to action, that action will lead to change and once we achieve the desired change, we don’t go back but instead we continue doing what is right.

There is much more to each one of these stages, and next week, we will begin examining them a little closer.

What Change do you need in your life?



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