Archives For Spiritual Disciplines

iStock_000000084365XSmallIf it’s true that it takes 21 days to create a new habit, then we are getting close to a critical point…that is if a new habit was formed on January 1.

Even if the new habit was formed earlier there will still be a critical point in the life of the habit.

That was the case for Daniel. About 400 years earlier King Solomon had suggested that if anyone was living in exile that they might pray facing Jerusalem. Daniel liked the idea and adopted the habit. So three times a day he opened his window and prayed toward Jerusalem.

So far so good…

Until a conspiracy was formed. Some of his colleagues simply wanted Daniel out of office. Who knows exactly why.

You’ll need to read the entire story in Daniel 6.

The point is Daniel had to decide if he was going to continue the habit. He could have prayed with the windows closed. But no doubt Daniel felt that to not pray as he always had would have been a betrayal against God.

How many of us consider our spiritual habits in a similar light?

Think about some of the basic habits we have:

  • read our Bibles
  • pray
  • attend church
  • give generously

You can add a few more perhaps. But how seriously do we take those habits? Yes, I realize that none of these bring instant gratification. Which can make it easier to let one slide.

But should we abandon those habits, would we consider it an act of betrayal towards God?

Daniel certainly did.

That’s why we read in Daniel 6:10, But when Daniel learned that the law had been signed, he went home and knelt down as usual in his upstairs room, with its windows open toward Jerusalem. He prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to his God. (NLT)

Your spiritual habits matter.

But those same habits which strengthen you in the tough times, also cause you to betray God if you choose to abandon them.

Are there any spiritual habits you need to reclaim?

iStock_FatherSonIt’s been over fifty years now since my grandmother told me Bible stories from the book of Daniel. After my grandfather passed away, she lived with us for a while in the lower level of our split-level house just outside of Tyson’s Corner, VA.

You have probably heard of “Daniel and the Lion’s Den.” Or the story of the three Hebrew guys who were put into a fiery furnace.

What you may be unfamiliar with is Daniel’s personal devotional life.

You can’t read the book of Daniel without noticing its impact on his life, and, ultimately, his influence on succeeding generations.

It not only impacted Jews in the second century who were being severely persecuted, but also my grandmother in the 20th century, and now me.

What was the secret to Daniel’s ultimate influence?

His personal devotional life. It is the KEY to his life and his influence. (Daniel 6:10; 9:20ff)

Now, Bible reading and prayer usually top the list of things discussed every New Year. You don’t know what the new year holds, and you want to have a good one.

But Daniel wasn’t focused on just the current year. He kept his mind and heart eternally focused.

As a teenager he was ripped from his home by a foreign army, the Babylonians. But that didn’t cause him to throw in the towel and try something new the next year. He stayed committed to prayer and the Scriptures even under threat of death.

As the book unfolds you notice his influence, his stability; and it is all influenced by his personal devotional life.

Sure, as we begin a New Year there are always headlines like “Have the Best Year Ever,” “Reach Your Goals in the New Year,” “15 Ways to …,” and “The Do’s and Don’t of Getting Leaner.”

And no doubt many of those are helpful.

But what about thinking beyond this year, or even beyond the next decade?

In a sense I am asking you to make a New Year’s Resolution, but not for this year.

A resolution is simply something you resolve to do.

When Joshua challenged the people to “Choose this day whom you will serve…” (Joshua 24:15), he didn’t say “…for this coming year, and see how it works out.” He challenged them to make a resolution that would give their lives purpose for generations to come.

Daniel himself purposed in his heart a course of action (Daniel 1:8), and it impacted his life along with countless others.

Daniel.

He influenced his coworkers.

He influenced his friends.

He influenced my grandmother.

He has influenced me.

That’s what I call Ultimate Influence.

And the KEY was his personal devotional life.

What will be the KEY in your life?