The Habit of Having No Habits

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If these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful… —2 Peter 1:8

When we first begin to form a habit, we are fully aware of it. There are times when we are aware of becoming virtuous and godly, but this awareness should only be a stage we quickly pass through as we grow spiritually. If we stop at this stage, we will develop a sense of spiritual pride. The right thing to do with godly habits is to immerse them in the life of the Lord until they become such a spontaneous expression of our lives that we are no longer aware of them. Our spiritual life continually causes us to focus our attention inwardly for the determined purpose of self-examination, because each of us has some qualities we have not yet added to our lives.

Your god may be your little Christian habit— the habit of prayer or Bible reading at certain times of your day. Watch how your Father will upset your schedule if you begin to worship your habit instead of what the habit symbolizes. We say, “I can’t do that right now; this is my time alone with God.” No, this is your time alone with your habit. There is a quality that is still lacking in you. Identify your shortcoming and then look for opportunities to work into your life that missing quality.

Love means that there are no visible habits— that your habits are so immersed in the Lord that you practice them without realizing it. If you are consciously aware of your own holiness, you place limitations on yourself from doing certain things— things God is not restricting you from at all. This means there is a missing quality that needs to be added to your life. The only supernatural life is the life the Lord Jesus lived, and He was at home with God anywhere. Is there someplace where you are not at home with God? Then allow God to work through whatever that particular circumstance may be until you increase in Him, adding His qualities. Your life will then become the simple life of a child.

by Oswald Chambers

Conquering Loneliness

Psalms 25:15-22

I know the pain of loneliness. I was the only child of a single mother who had to work long hours to support us. My adult life has been marked by periods of emotional isolation as well. However, the Lord has never abandoned me to these feelings.

God desires that all people feel connected to Him and to each other. And in fact, we can be quickly comforted when we respond wisely to loneliness.

The first step is to enter into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. But simply believing He exists isn’t enough. The Lord created mankind for fellowship, which is why a relationship with Him gives people a sense of oneness. The love of Christ forces loneliness out of the lives of God’s children.

Second, we must admit that we’re lonely. Some Christians incorrectly think they shouldn’t be susceptible to normal human feelings. But nothing in the Bible says we won’t endure emotional isolation. Not only men like David and Paul but even the Lord Himself knew the ache of feeling deserted (Psalms 25:16; 2 Timothy 4:16; Matthew 26:40; Matthew 27:46).

Finally, we should develop godly friends. These are the Christian brothers and sisters who will laugh, cry, and empathize with us. Above all, believers need friends who will continually point them to God and pray over them.

We can’t deny feelings of loneliness, nor can we run from them. A person who seeks ways to escape such feelings only broadens the gap between the Lord and himself. There is just one way to close the chasm and conquer loneliness—by drawing near to the Lord.

Undeserved Suffering

“Why standest thou afar off, O LORD? why hidest thou thyself in times of trouble?” (Psalm 10:1)

This cry of the psalmist has been echoed times without number by those persecuted for their faith. “Yea, for thy sake are we killed all the day long; we are counted as sheep for the slaughter. Awake, why sleepest thou, O LORD? arise, cast us not off for ever. Wherefore hidest thou thy face, and forgettest our affliction and our oppression?” (Psalm 44:22-24). Consequently, one of the great mysteries of life is the suffering of the righteous. How can a God of love and power allow such undeserved suffering in His creation?

The fact is, however, that there is no such thing as undeserved suffering, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). The reason there is suffering in the world is that there is sin in the world. Even though one’s particular experience of suffering may or may not be directly related to his particular sin, all of us are sinners before God, and therefore deserving of nothing but suffering and judgment in the sight of a holy God.

It is not suffering which is undeserved, but God’s grace and mercy! “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us” (Titus 3:5). There has only been one person in all history whose suffering was undeserved, and He suffered for us, “the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18).

Our sufferings are not undeserved, but neither are they uncontrolled, for God “worketh all things after the counsel of his own will” (Ephesians 1:11). There are many good reasons why God permits a faithful Christian to suffer, but even if one cannot discern the particular reason at the time, he can at least “rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy” (1 Peter 4:13). HMM

Eloquence

And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. —1 Corinthians 2:1-2

There are few things in religious circles held in greater esteem than eloquence. Yet there are few things of less actual value or that bring with them greater temptation or more harm.

One qualification everyone expects a preacher to have is the ability to discourse fluently on almost any religious or moral subject. Yet such ability is at best a doubtful asset and unless brought to Christ for cleansing may easily turn out to be the greatest enemy the preacher faces here below. The man who finds that he is able to preach on a moment’s notice should accept his ability as an obstacle over which he must try to get victory before he is at his best for God and His kingdom.

Lord, keep us mindful of our need for humble reliance on the Holy Spirit to accomplish the awesome task to which You have called us. Amen.

Many Christians Still Taking the Broad Road

For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh…. 2 John 1:7

Deception has always been an effective weapon and is deadliest when used in the field of religion.

Our Lord warned against this when He said, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” These words have been turned into a proverb known around the world, and still we continue to be taken in by the wolves.

There was a time, even in the twentieth century, when a Christian knew, or at least could know, where he stood. The words of Christ were taken seriously. A man either was or was not a believer in New Testament doctrine. Clear, sharp categories existed. Black stood in sharp contrast to white; light was separated from darkness; it was possible to distinguish right from wrong, truth from error, a true believer from an unbeliever. Christians knew that they must forsake the world, and there was for the most part remarkable agreement about what was meant by the world. It was that simple.

The whole religious picture has changed. Without denying a single doctrine of the faith, multitudes of Christians have nevertheless forsaken the faith. Anyone who makes a claim to having “accepted Christ” is admitted at once into the goodly fellowship of the prophets and the glorious company of the apostles regardless of the worldliness of his life or the vagueness of his doctrinal beliefs. We can only insist that the way of the cross is still a narrow way!

How Do We Listen?

I will hear what God the LORD will speak… peace unto his people. PSALM 85:8

The living God has spoken to lost mankind in a variety of ways. The general response among us has been, “We did not hear His voice. We did not hear anything.”

John recorded in his gospel the reactions of an audience of people who heard God speak audibly. When Jesus talked of His coming death, asking God to glorify His name through it, “a voice [came] from heaven saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again” (John 12:28).

And what were the reactions of the bystanders? “The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to him” (John 12:29).

People prefer their own logic, their own powers of reason. Even when God speaks, they refuse to recognize His voice. They will not confess that God has spoken through Jesus Christ, the eternal Son. When He confronts them with their sin, they consult a psychiatrist and hope they can get their personalities “properly adjusted.”

But in a coming day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord of all!

Almighty God, I am so grateful that You sent Your Son, Jesus Christ, to live among us and to show us the way of eternal life. I pray that many seekers will bow before You today.