Old Habits

Steve Arterburn

All of us have felt the tug of an old habit or former way of life.  And I’m sure you’ve known the frustration it creates as you long for the familiar, even though it may be destructive or may lead you outside God’s will.  At times, the challenge may seem too hard.  Your old life beckons, tempting you with familiar sources of comfort.

Did you know that many Jewish Christians of the first century thought about returning to the Jewish faith?  Some of Jesus’ teachings didn’t seem to line up with the teachings of the Jewish rabbis.  Was Jesus really the Messiah?  Did following him mean they had to give up their old, familiar forms of worship?  Would it be wrong to go back to their old beliefs and traditions?  Did it make sense to follow this new way when it led to harsh persecution?

The writer of the book of Hebrews addressed these concerns of the Jewish Christians.  In this book, they are encouraged to hold onto their faith, to encourage one another and to look forward to Jesus’ return.

What old habits are haunting you?  Addiction? Lust?  Anger?  Spiritual renewal requires that you seek God, surrender your life to Jesus Christ, and follow his ways.  From time to time, you will almost certainly feel a temptation to return to your former ways of life.  But God is more than able to help you overcome and empower you to grow.

Worship

Steve Arterburn

Worship is a way of life.  Worship isn’t simply what you do for God in church; it’s also who you are for God in the world.  

So how can you bring worship into you daily life?  Let’s consider some suggestions from another man’the apostle Paul. In chapter twelve of his letter to the Romans he gives us some good counsel.

First he says you need to allow God to transform your mind.  In this way, your allegiance is transferred from the world to God.

Second, he tells you to serve others with your gifts.  This displays God’s glory as your Creator.  You should rejoice in these gifts and use them to accomplish God’s purposes.

And third, Paul says you need to be a reflection of God’s love and grace.  The second great commandment is that you love others as yourself.  Paul provides numerous concrete examples of how you can obey this commandment.  These aren’t simply humanitarian gestures.  They are acts of worship, acts that please and honor God.  Let me leave you with a few ways Paul says you’re to worship God.

Love each other with genuine affection
Never be lazy in your work
Be glad for all God is planning for you
Be prayerful
When God’s children are in need, be the one who helps
Get into the habit of inviting guests for dinner, or if they need lodging, for the night
Don’t try to act important but enjoy the company of ordinary people

Confronting Wrong

Steve Arterburn

God has given us the responsibility to honestly confront those who do wrong. For most of us, confrontation is a difficult task. For a few, it’s much too easy. I hope you don’t delight in finding fault in others. If you do, stop and consider if you do this as a way of overlooking your own faults.

I think God wants us to help others see the truth. You can hold up a mirror to your good friends, and they hopefully will do the same for you.

Help others see their faults but do it with great humility. You’re not responsible for the behavior of others, but you are responsible to gently and tactfully point out areas of misbehavior that may cause them to stumble, fall, or lose their way.

Are you avoiding some tough conversations? If you have kids, are you confronting them’and when you do, are you doing it with gentleness and humility? Check yourself. Is your tone respectful? Is your word choice uplifting or condescending? God calls you to show courage by addressing wrong, but remember the goal is always to see the other person restored, not belittled. Help that person turn back to God.