Father God, I present myself humbly before your throne of grace, ever in awe of the love and mercy you continue to bestow on me, and I am grateful Father. I thank you Lord, for allowing a wretch like me to call on you when in need. I thank you Father, for being the God who you are, allowing your children to come to you as they are, and not who they pretend to be. I thank you for your loving kindness bestowed on an undeserving people. And I thank you Father for Jesus. I pray now Father, that your will be done in my life, and in the lives of your children. I pray a blessing on the reader and doer of your word. I pray a blessing on their family and friends. I pray a blessing on all that they say and touch. I pray that your Holy Spirit rain down on where they are, and that the atmosphere is set to receive your word in spirit and truth. I pray that all distractions are removed, and we cast down all imaginations that are not of you. In the name of Jesus we rebuke the enemy now, and in each time he makes himself present. We plead the blood of Jesus on all our circumstances, and we pray that we remain in the light, and shun the dark. And Father, we pray that you forgive us of our trespasses we may have committed. We honor you; we lift up your name. We give you the glory, and the praise, and we pray this in Jesus name, Amen!
As a former Martial Artist, it is not unusual to have a primary and secondary discipline, or have other sub disciplines you learned from. My primary discipline was Tae Kwon Do and my secondary was Shotokan Karate. Tae Kwon Do means the way of hand and feet, although in order (Tae-Kwon-Do) it means Kick-Punch- The art/way. The discipline does have many ways to strike with the hand, however Tae Kwon Do is known for its various ways of striking with the feet. Since Tae Kwon Do, was my only discipline at that time, my emphasis was on increasing my kicking techniques. This changed when I was in a tournament, and the opponent realized that my strength was in my kicking. He took away my legs, and I took a beating. When I looked back at my loss, I realized I lost because I was handicapped. Although I knew some hand strikes, it was in no comparison to his, hence the desire to learn more hand- to- hand combat moves. I enrolled in Victory Martial arts which taught Shotokan Karate. Karate means the art of empty hand, and I sought to master it.
The master knew I was coming in with an advanced belt, and wanted to place me appropriately. He tested my skills with his advanced fighters and realized my weakness immediately, and instructed me to not use my legs while my opponents were able to utilize all their limbs. I of course expressed my resentment, but he shared something that was profound and I utilize it even now. He stated that I was so used to using my legs, to the point I were dependant on them, even when it was not necessary. He wanted me to learn how to use my other limbs and would not take “I can’t” as an answer. He said “Practice becomes habit” As a fighter at that time, it was habitual for me to use my kicks, but it ended up working against me. As people, we have some practices that we’ve created that may have appeared helpful in the beginning, but now has become harmful. We’ve engaged in these practices for so long, it has now become habitual in our lives. We have to now create better practices and make those practices habitual.
One practice that can resonate with most of us is how we handle our finances. Many people are thousands of dollars in debt, have taken furniture on a rent to own basis, and have a credit card for every letter (hyperbole). The bible tells us that we are to owe no one anything, but love (Rom 8:13). Love is the only debt that will ever remain due. So why are so many people struggling? Is it because they never learned how to manage their money? Or is it due to continuously attempting to satisfy flesh? The Apostle Paul expressed that he has so much love and trust in God, that no matter what his current state was, he is content knowing God is in control and will help him provide for what he need (Phil 4:11-13).
Another practice we engage in, and this is targeted mainly to men, is that we must always feel we are in control. The problem already is “we”. Certain issues we faced, appeared to have been resolved by our hands and we feel that it can be done the same way all the time. We face a problem, whether it is regarding relationship, job related, etc and we continue to tell ourselves, we can handle it. Even when we so no evidence of it being handled, we still try to come up with a way to resolve it. It is like an addict who is trying to mimic that first high. It will never happen, yet they try just the same. The bible states “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” (Pr 3:5-6) Sometimes we men have to just step out of the way and let God do it for us.
The above examples are practices that may not have had an evil intent. What about people who engage in practices that are intentionally evil. You have those who simply love to gossip (Pr 20:19). Just to go a bit further on this, if when you are speaking to someone and you use words such as “Have you heard”, “Guess what”, “You wouldn’t believe this”, “Let me tell you something”, or “You’ve got to hear this”, you are a potential gossiper. You have the subtle ones that say “it has come to their attention”….well if it came to your attention, then keep it to yourself. You have those who enjoy instigating between two friends or between family members (Rom 16:17). What about that person whose every other or third word is a swear? (Col 4:6)
There are many practices that people have been engaged in so long that it has become second nature. Some I have listed, others I have not, but when we compare them to the word of God, how do we measure up? Are these practices encouraged by the word or are we instructed to refrain from them? All behaviors, practices, habits, etc starts with how we think. If we can practice a better way of thinking, we will have better habits. I submit to you what I am still practicing, and yet have become a habit, but each day I am drawing closer. It is:
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy--meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Phil 4:8-9) Would you join me? Amen.