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Silence & Solitude

Have you ever noticed that your life is run almost entirely by habits? They can be good habits. Bad habits. Inconsequential habits. Habits that you began intentionally. Habits that just sorta happened over time. We all have all kinds of habits… And the majority of what we do every day is done out of habit!

I noticed this the other day when I was driving to Red Deer. As I was driving along, I realized that I wasn’t thinking about driving at all, but there I was – driving 110 km an hour down the QE2. There were cars in front of me, cars beside me, cars behind me – but my mind wasn’t thinking about any of that stuff. There was not a single conscious thought that went into my driving, but yet, my hands automatically turned the steering wheel so that my vehicle stayed within the white lines at all time. My foot automatically adjusted ever-so-slightly as necessary to make sure that I stayed at an appropriate speed. Everything was done automatically. The motions of driving had become a habit.

Of course, it wasn’t always that way. I can remember when I first started to learn to drive, I had to be completely focused and very deliberate in my driving. I had to consciously think – slow down, speed up, don’t forget to signal, watch out for that other guy…. Everything had to be done very intentionally – and it was very easy to forget to do certain things like signalling or shoulder checking. But the more I did it, the more automatic driving became. It became a habit. Today, I no longer think about putting on my seatbelt or signalling when I turn or even shoulder checking – that’s all automatic. It’s a habit now.

And most of what we do in life, we’ve done so often that its now just a habit. Getting dressed in the morning, brushing our teeth, tying our shoes, riding our bike, driving our car, reading a book – these are all things that – at one time we struggled with. It was a lot of work to learn to tie your shoe or ride a bike. It took focus and determination – but now you don’t even think about it. Those things have just become everyday habits.

And you’ve probably had a similar experience when it comes to spiritual disciplines. Over the past three months, we’ve being talking about spiritual disciplines or the Healthy Habits of Christians who want to grow deeper in their relationship with God.

And like all habits, it’s a process to develop these spiritual disciplines to the point where they just become automatic – where they’re just a natural part of your life.

And I don’t know where you are in the process of developing these habits. Maybe for some of you, these are all brand new things. Maybe you’ve never fasted before. Maybe reading your Bible on a daily basis is just not something you’ve ever done. And maybe you’re trying to get into the habit, but it’s a struggle. It’s not easy. We’ll let me encourage you to stick with it. Some of these habits are tough to develop, but they are sooo worth it!

I mean, can you imagine if you never developed the habit of tying your own shoes? Or feeding yourself? As a toddler, it can be frustration to try to work that fork and spoon – to try to stab those little peas or successfully get that spoonful of jello to your mouth. Honestly, it would sure be a lot easier to just let mom or dad feed you!

But aren’t you glad today that you learned to feed yourself? It would be pretty awkward for me as a 37 year old to depend on my mom to feed me every time I got hungry.

Well, the same thing is true spiritually speaking. These habits that we’ve been talking about – prayer, reading our Bibles, fasting, worship – these are all things that maturing Christians do in order to “grow up” so to speak.

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Listen

Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve talked about all the blessings that God has poured out on us. And we’ve learned that God hasn’t just blessed us so that we can live a fun and fantastic life, but rather, God has blessed us so that we can be a blessing to others.

God wants us to pass along our blessings. He wants us to bless the socks off the people around us.

So we’ve been trying to learn – just exactly how do we do that? How do we bless our community?

To help us remember our lessons, we’ve been using the acronym BLESS. The B – as we learned last Sunday – stands for “Begin with prayer.” And it’s a pretty simple prayer – It goes like this “Here I am. Send me.”

And I’m curious to know… Did anyone take me up on my one-week challenge – where you begin each day with that prayer – volunteering to be used by God. Did anyone begin their days by asking God to setup some divine appointments for you that day?… And did God send people to cross your path so that you could bless them?

He did for me. It was actually pretty exciting to know that God set up a divine appointment for me to be a blessing to someone else. It was great. It was fun. I’m excited for God to do it again! And it all began with that little prayer “Here I am. Send me.”

Now today, we’re moving on to the L in our acronym BLESS – which stands for “Listen”. If we are going to be a blessing to the people around us – we have to learn to listen. And this morning, I’m going to show you how Jesus did that, how his disciples did that, and then finally, how you can do that too.

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