Four Powerful Prophets of Your Future
“The Habits That Hold You”
Luke 4:16 “He (Jesus) went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom.”
Acts 17:2 “As was his custom, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures,”
Last time we began a series on four powerful prophets of your future.
The first one was THE POWER OF FRIENDSHIPS.
We saw that who your friends are is a strong forecaster of where your life will be 5, 10, 20 years from now.
Now today I want to talk about the power of habits, what are THE HABITS THAT HOLD YOU.
• Definition: A habit is a regular practice, wired deep into our brains, that is hard to give up.
We all have habits of one kind or another.
We hear the phrase all the time, “I’m just a creature of habit!”
The fact is—this is true!
As human beings we are all creatures of habit—both good habits and bad ones.
Our habits matter very much to God because the habits we cultivate todays are powerful prophets of where life will take us in the future.
One person wrote, “People do not decide their futures, they decide their habits and their habits decide their futures.”
That is so true!
Habits are the seeds we sow today into the harvest of our tomorrows.
Just like friendships can be good or bad, there are good habits and there are bad habits.
There are habits that destroy our lives, and there are habits that enrich our lives.
Now, we see something very powerful in our text.
First, Jesus had a habit of going to church!
“…on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom.”
The word custom means that Jesus had a lifelong habit of going to the synagogue on the sabbath—he was accustomed to attending each and every time.
And then we note that the Apostle Paul had the very same habit!
“As was his custom, Paul went into the synagogue,”
The Jesus Paul followed and worshiped had chiseled the same habit into Paul—attending church regularly.
So this is a beautiful picture of what we could call a “holy habit.”
Holy habits, or habits that enrich your spiritual life, are exactly what the Holy Spirit wants to establish in our lives!
All through the Bible we find God’s greatest leaders and most fruitful believers cultivating holy habits.
For instance, it says in the Book of Daniel:
“Daniel always prayed to God three times every day. Three times every day, he bowed down on his knees to pray and praise God.”—Daniel 6:10 ERV
So Daniel had a powerful prayer habit.
So did Jesus!
It says, “But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.”—Lk 5:16
And we also find that the early church immediately established fruitful, spiritually enriching habits:
44 And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. 46 They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity— 47 all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people.”
So they habitually met together daily, worshipped each day, and regularly observed the Lord’s Supper…
The result of these habits was great joy and an explosion of praise!
Conversely, the book of Hebrews brings a rebuke to some Christians that had gotten into a bad habit:
“not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
And with that in mind, the flip side of a GOOD HABIT is something we’re all familiar with, that is a BAD HABIT.
Most everyone listening to me has battled with or is currently battling a bad habit.
Whether it’s smoking, drinking, drugs, overeating, using profanity,
procrastination (always being late),
not regularly attending church,
not regularly praying and spending time with God, over-spending resulting in burdensome debt,
and on the list goes.
Now, the fact is you didn’t mean to develop that habit.
None of us wake up one day and say, “I think today I’ll start a habit that is going to cause grief, regret, guilt, and destruction for years to come.”
No, no one does that!
If you could have seen down the road of time what that first puff of a cigarette was going to lead to,
or the havoc that first drink of alcohol was going to bring on your life…
Or what that first experiment with an illicit drug was going to do to your future,
Or how procrastinating was going to impact your job and career…
You’d have run in the other direction with all your might!
Now, in case you’re wondering, let me give you a few key indicators that you have a bad habit that needs to go:
• It is adversely affecting your physical, mental, or emotional health—In other words, it’s damaging you in some way or another.
• It’s threatening key relationships in your life—You’ve been told by those you love that if you don’t stop they can’t continue to be in relationship with you.
• It causes you to break the law—you’re taking a legal risk each and every time you feed that habit.
• It’s hindering you from becoming the person you really want to be, and that God has called you to be—In other words, your habit is hindering and stunting God’s work in you.
Now, the good news is HABITS can change!
God is in the business of delivering us from destructive habits, and giving us good ones to replace them!
So how can we break a bad habit:
I. Humble yourself before God in deep repentance and ask him for help.
“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time,”—1 Peter 5:6
The word exalt here means “to raise to dignity, honor, and happiness.”
Bad habits steal our dignity as human beings and sabotage our happiness.
But humbling ourselves before God in repentance and dependence on His strength leads to restored dignity and happiness!
“So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”—Heb. 4:16 NLT
To break a habit we need God’s grace!
Grace is when God leans down toward you to help, strengthen, counsel, guide, and support you.
David’s testimony was, “In my distress I prayed to the LORD, and the LORD answered me and set me free.”—Ps. 118:5
—So cast yourself and your habit onto the God of grace and mercy, admitting you can’t do it without him.
II. Do it now
Don’t give a bad habit another day to wreak havoc on your life.
Declare war on it today, now, this moment.
Make a clean, decisive break from it.
ILLUS: How quickly would you get a skunk out of your house?
If it walked through your living room would you say to your spouse, “We’re really gonna have to do something about that skunk one of these days!”
No, you would act IMMEDIATELY.
Do the same with that bad habit!
III. Pull it up by the roots
When Hezekiah was initiating his reforms, his goal was to break the horrible habit of idolatry off of the people.
His approach is found in 2 Chronicles 29:5 where he says:
“Listen to me, Levites! Consecrate yourselves now and consecrate the temple of the LORD, the God of your fathers. Remove all defilement from the sanctuary.”
Hezekiah is commanding that all the idols, including the places of idol worship, and whatever else was causing them to stumble, be removed—literally pulled up by the roots!
The Apostle Paul put it this way, “Make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.”—Ro. 13:14
IV. Replace the bad habit with a good one
To break a bad habit you must cultivate a good habit in its place.
Habit overcomes habit.
The Bible says, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”—Romans 12:21 NIV
Replace wrong with right!
The best way I know to do that is to get busy with the work of the Lord as often as you can.
Start serving others, get involved in volunteering somewhere in God’s house.
“So, my dear brothers, since future victory is sure, be strong and steady, always abounding in the Lord’s work,”—1 Cor. 15:58
“My dear brothers and sisters, stand your ground. And don’t hold back. Throw yourselves into the work of the Lord, confident that nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort.”