“It is the activities we do daily that determine our lives.” Charles Duhigg
“All our life, so far as it has definite form, is but a mass of habits.” William James.
“Dailiness, routine, sameness frees the heart to traffic in more important matters.” Joan Chittister.
“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” Annie Dillard.
A research article published at Duke University in 2006 found that more than 40% of the actions that people perform every day are out of habit and not because the person makes a decision about it.
Modern man’s unrealistic expectation of immediate results in terms of weight loss, fitness, prosperity, success and fame is totally unrealistic. Life is not a YouTube video or an Instagram Reel. The reality is, that it takes a sustained, daily routine to achieve success in these areas of our lives.
We may believe that only the pursuit of truth would lead to a meaningful life. Therefore, we prefer doctrines over life, facts over zest for life, and information over change. In our relentless pursuit of doing everything right, we have done everything wrong. Change is an experience. This is something that happens to a person who changes the trajectory and quality of life from a certain point. More and more people struggle with over-thinking and analysis which leads to doing nothing.
As like the movies we watch, we want so much to “fast-forward” or “delete” our lives, or, as like video games, start over, without daily adjusting or changing anything in our lives. In video games, “three lives” are granted, but in reality, you only get one! You cannot cut out or omit parts. Every decision, every activity, is has a consequence.
For 40 years the people picked up manna daily and survived in a desert (Ex. 16: 4). This physical act taught them many character and spiritual lessons.
“Give us this day our daily bread” (Matt. 6:11).
We take up our cross daily (Luke 9:23).
The Lord’s mercy is new every morning (Lam. 3:23).
The Incarnation in Perspective
The incarnation of Jesus anchors our lives in the knowledge that His 30 years of ordinary, vocational, out-of-the-spotlight life is not less important. It was this education and learning process that shaped His public life and words. The Son of God had spent nearly 30 years doing the daily work of the common man. Thus, daily work is no less important than temple service and preaching. Everyone has their place. Jesus performed many miracles, but there were no extraordinary miracles every day and no resurrection of the dead every day. Miracles and signs are important, but what is essential, however, is the daily routine life that paved the way for these miracles!
The incarnation of God helps us to rethink the myth that we need more. When God became flesh, every human life was declared holy. The fact that God became man and spent most of His life in obscurity as a carpenter in a small town, Nazareth, proofs that our ordinary lives matters too. Through incarnation we have learned that every life is worthy and has meaning; every ordinary life matters. The mystery of incarnation helps us to remember that ordinary life is worth living, otherwise, God would have chosen another life, another town and perhaps a more “relevant” time.
Our daily existence has meaning and value. Nothing is considered wasteful or trivial. “Do not despise the day of small beginnings.” (Zech. 4:10).
Jesus’ Daily Routines
“So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read.” (Luke 4:16). So Jesus attended the weekly meetings. “…as His custom was”: one does not ask oneself daily whether you should go to work, and whether you should brush your teeth. These are just good habits. If we do not teach our children church attendance as a healthy, good habit, they will learn a different habit.
“In that hour Jesus said to the multitudes, “Have you come out, as against a robber, with swords and clubs to take Me? I sat daily with you, teaching in the temple, and you did not seize Me.” (Matt. 26:55; Luke 19:47). Worship Services on a Sunday (the first day of the week) became more popular due to people’s hunger and daily need and desire to come together. High value is contributed to the regularity of spiritual meetings. In the lives of children today, sports, TV and recreation are given higher priority than spiritual meetings. We are told you are the church, not the building or gathering. Those who no longer attend church also no longer win souls, do not pray for the sick, and do not counsel and minister to others in need. It is interesting that the richer people become, the need for the gathering of believers is diminished. Any diet and exercise program involves a daily routine. A new routine breaks the old, unhealthy lifestyle habits.
“Church has become more like going to the movies when it’s supposed to be more like going to the gym.” -Francis Chan
Working With God, Not He With Us
Jesus recognizes the movement and moment of grace that God gives for a given situation. He went to pray for Peter’s mother-in-law, but then the crowd grew and He served the people through the night. “Now He arose from the synagogue and entered Simon’s house. But Simon’s wife’s mother was sick with a high fever, and they made request of Him concerning her. So He stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. And immediately she arose and served them. When the sun was setting, all those who had any that were sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and He laid His hands on every one of them and healed them. And demons also came out of many, crying out and saying, “You are the Christ, the Son of God!” And He, rebuking them, did not allow them to speak, for they knew that He was the Christ. Now when it was day, He departed and went into a deserted place. And the crowd sought Him and came to Him, and tried to keep Him from leaving them; but He said to them, “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent.” And He was preaching in the synagogues of Galilee.” (Luke 4:38-44). This passage is a good example of how Jesus balanced purposed busyness with time for withdrawal.
Jesus’ Clear Prayer Routine
“…He went to the Mount of Olives, as He was accustomed, and His disciples also followed Him. When He came to the place, He said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” (Luke 22: 39-40).
“Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.” (Mark 1:35).
“So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed.” (Luke 5:16).
“Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles: ….And He came down with them and stood on a level place with a crowd of His disciples and a great multitude of people … and be healed of their diseases, as well as those who were tormented with unclean spirits. And they were healed. And the whole multitude sought to touch Him, for power went out from Him and healed them all.” (Luke 6: 12-19).
“Now it came to pass, …that He took Peter, John, and James and went up on the mountain to pray. As He prayed, the appearance of His face was altered, and His robe became white and glistening. …And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!….” (Luke 9: 28-36).
If the son of God, had a need for abundant time in prayer with God, how much more do we need to schedule regular periods of prayer and solitude.
The Early Church Followed Jesus’ Habits
“And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.” (Acts 2:42).
As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away. (Acts 13:2-3)
The apostles devoted themselves to “prayer and the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4)
For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. (Ephesians 1:15-16)
“Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
4 Most vital Good Habits (Acts 2:42):
• Bible School
• Sharing in everything
• House Church fellowship
“Modern church is visitor-centric, biblical church is committed-centric.” -Dale Partridge
Forsaking “Self” Daily
Our spiritual existence does not depend on the great things we accomplish. Spiritual heroic deeds are gifts from God’s hand, and cannot be manipulated by man. Resurrection is a divine work. We cannot raise ourselves from the dead. We can, however, daily crucify and deny ourselves in obedience to what the Lord asks of us. “Self” is our greatest enemy! That is why we choose as our reasonable religion to deny and disregard the requests of “ourselves” (Rom. 6:11; Rom. 12:1). We deny and declare that we do not know “ourselves”, just as Peter denied Jesus when he maintained that he did not know Him (Luke 22:61). So we forget about ourselves. Selflessness is not paying attention to “self” (Matt. 16:24). This selfless existence becomes our life. That’s how we choose to respond to negativity or hostility. We are no longer alive (Gal. 2:20).
Daily Focus On Jesus
This selfless love is only possible, and can only be found, in the continual revelation of God’s love (Eph. 3:17-19).
“Self” therefore becomes less and less in the face of His love. This implies that we focus daily on His righteousness (Matt. 6:33). As we admire Him, and He becomes more in our focus and consciousness, we forget about ourselves (John 3:30). Paul prays for the church: “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him” (Eph. 1:17). Getting to know Christ truly brings about selflessness.
When one spends more and more time with someone you like very much, that person rubs off on you. Thus we focus on Christ, His life, style, values, manner, attitude, thinking, habits, character and so we are filled with the knowledge (experiential knowledge) of who He is. It is this focus and closeness to Christ that transforms our lives. John explains that, just as a tree is grafted onto another core / root / trunk, we are grafted into Christ (John 15).
By using Communion regularly, this Jesus focus is strengthened. “Do this in remembrance of Me.” (1 Cor. 11:5). “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” (Heb. 12:1). Through the contemplation of Jesus’ death on the cross and the sacrificial work that He completely performed for us, we focus correctly (1 Cor. 2:2). As the people looked at the serpent and received healing, we look at Jesus (John 3:14).
By spending time in the Word every day, by waiting on the Lord in silent listening meditation, and by focusing on mindfulness, we direct our heart and soul to Him.
Daily Gathering of Believers
“And He was teaching daily in the temple. But the chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people sought to destroy Him.” (Luke 19:47).
“So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:46–47).
“But when some were hardened and did not believe, but spoke evil of the Way before the multitude, he departed from them and withdrew the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus.” (Acts 19:9).
“…not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Heb. 10:25).
Like the tides of the sea, there is a healthy balance between inward individual intimacy with the Lord, and fellowship with believers. The two movements, service to God and service to each other, are what the word “temple” (Naos) means. We see God’s face and feel His touch in each other. We are like herd animals – we cannot function without each other. On the contrary, like the parts of the body, we exist for the sake of the body (Rom. 12). These two movements is like breathing, inward and outward. When we abandon any one of these two movements, spiritual life seizes.
Daily Praise & Thanks
“Seven times a day I praise You, because of Your righteous judgments.” (Ps. 119:164). Another translation says: “I will praise you seven times a day because all your regulations are just”. One of my friends begins each day with Bible study, praise, and thanksgiving. It’s such a beautiful habit to start our mindset for the day right. We focus right because we focus on the eternal!
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thess. 5:16-18).
“And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs.” (Mark 16:20).
“Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.”.” (Acts 4: 29-30).
“God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?” (Heb. 2:4).
“For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power.” (1 Cor. 4:20).
“For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Cor. 2:16).
Dr. Brian Adams believes in “expecting daily miracles”. We should have a daily expectation that God will supernaturally work through us! This expectation is like a cornerstone habit. It directs us and keeps us intentional and sensitive to the Holy Spirit. We cannot cause miracles to happen, we are simply set on doing in faith as the Holy Spirit leads. God’s kingdom is spiritual. Through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, God has now come to dwell in us to demonstrate, His Kingdom to the World.
Jesus came to show us that daily work can also be holy. He was fully human, and yet He did not sin. We also glorify the Lord by providing quality work. “ Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matt. 5:16). “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.“ (1 Cor. 10:31). “ Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before unknown men.“ (Prov. 22:29).
We have to work to be able to give. “Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.” (Eph. 4:28).
We must work differently from the world. Our handiwork, and how we work with people, must speak of God’s Father-Heart and His values. When the queen of Sheba saw the dishes on the table – what was different? The way it is presented? Furthermore, she was impressed with how Solomon’s servants sat, how they maintained themselves, and their clothes. “the food on his table, the seating of his servants, the service of his waiters and their apparel, his cupbearers, and his entryway by which he went up to the house of the Lord, there was no more spirit in her.” (1 Kings 10: 5). I believe Solomon did not treat his servants like slaves, but with dignity, which made them feel proud to serve. In this way, our farms, warehouses and factories should also make the government gasp for breath at the way in which we empower people and develop human dignity.
God is not just a Giver at times. If we look at creation, God is still giving and in excess! When we understand that giving is better than receiving, then giving becomes a way of life. Serviceability is not slavery, it is a lifestyle of giving. Love, kindness, goodness, peace, helpfulness is to GIVE! Thus we find early in the testimony of the actions of the apostles and early believers, that they were daily giving (Acts 6:1). Volunteers, deacons, are also appointed to help and serve practically. Jesus came to serve the world by distributing healing, salvation, and deliverance (Phil. 2:1-5). Jesus was even willing to wash His disciples’ feet (John 13:5). Farmers serve the world by providing enough tasty and nutritious food. Businesses serve humanity by packaging, processing and making food accessible to everyone. The jurists and law enforcers serve mankind by enforcing law and order, thus ensuring our safety. Doctors keep us healthy. The government ensures that appropriate infrastructure and resources are made available so that we can thrive in our creative purpose.
Yes, we remember God rested on the seventh day. Hence the Sabbath. But Jesus shows us that with Him there was a healthy rhythm between rest and work. He is the permanent Sabbath rest (Matt. 12:1-8). Christ is the rest that every human being seeks. This rest happens when we make peace with God (Rom. 5: 1). To live in faith is to live in God’s rest. The rest of complete faith trust (Heb. 11: 1; 6). We walk by faith, not by what we see (2 Cor. 5: 7). Walking implies daily life. We, therefore, learn to live from rest and to rest. Our safe place is God’s rest. We no longer live, and that means our rest. We only move when we are led and pushed by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:14). We, therefore, move from rest to obedience, to which He raises us to a new life in Christ. Jesus sleeps in the midst of a storm (Mark 4:38). In the same way, in the midst of crises and times of calamity, we can rest in the Word. He will lead us differently in every situation.
There is a lot of confusion and various extremes today about the 7th day of rest, the Sabbath. Some Christians observe the Jewish Sabbath, thereby seeking a deeper spirituality. Christ alone is our rest, and we must first find our rest in Him, at all times. (Matt. 6:33). But there is great value in putting away appliances, cell phones, and computers from sunset on a Friday to sunset on a Saturday, especially in today’s hectic life. To keep you from all work that has to do with income. Sleep, read, meditate, go for walks, play games with your children and pets, paint, compose, and be creative. REST! Our righteousness in Christ makes this time of rest more beautiful, because we do not keep the Sabbath to get better in God’s favor. In Christ we are 100% right before God. Enjoy the rest. Thrive and use the rest, to celebrate! Eat well together, the food already made earlier in the day. So that the women can also rest.
Recently, during my first Sabbath with a Jewish family, Dad explained why the meal begins with fresh bread, salt, and honey. According to him, even the poorest had to save, and prepare all week to celebrate Friday night and eat well! Have you ever enjoyed delicious fresh bread, with honey and salt? You feel as rich as a king! It is the heart of the Father, that His children will enjoy themselves wholeheartedly!
Investigate Scripture Daily
“These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.” (Acts 17:11). Jesus already knew the Scriptures as a young boy, so at the age of twelve He was able to reason with the Pharisees and scribes (Luke 2:41-52). This implies: He read, memorized and understood the OT writings hundreds of times. At twelve! Today we value secular schooling more than knowledge of God’s Word. “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Tim. 2:15).
The Time Is Now
“But when the multitudes knew it, they followed Him; and He received them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who had need of healing.” (Luke 9:11). By focusing on today, we unlock the NOW grace of God. God is an eternal Presence. His grace is for the now. We just have to determine what God wants to do now.
“For He says: “In an acceptable time I have heard you, and in the day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Cor. 6:2). Indeed – now is the right time; it is now the day of redemption. The secret of someone who makes the best of every day is to unlock and utilize God’s plan for every day. We hear and do! Therefore, Jesus waited for the moment from “this is not my time” (John 2:4) to “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” (Matt. 4:1). An important reason why we search the Scriptures is to obtain God’s timing. Something that the Pharisees completely missed (Matt. 16:3).
Carpe diem is a Latin aphorism that is commonly translated as “seize the day”. It comes from Book 1 of the work of the Roman poet Horace, Odes (23 BC). In Horace’s work it is part of a longer expression, “Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero”, which can be translated as “Seize the day, but do not rely too much on tomorrow (the future)”. According to the ode, the future is unknown and one should not count on future events, but rather do everything in your power today to make your future better. The expression is usually understood against Horace’s Epicurean background. The meaning of carpe diem as Horace used it does not mean we should ignore the future. Rather, it means that we must not only accept that everything will work out but that we must act today to make the future better.
“Remember that you are mortal, so seize the day.”
“Enjoy the moment.” (enjoy, seize, use, make use of)
Hebrew: The phrase ?ואם לא עכשיו, אימתי “And if not now, then when?” (Pirkei Avoth 1:14)
In the 1989 movie, Dead Poets Society, the English teacher John Keating, played by Robin Williams, said the following: “Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.” This sentence was later named the 95th Best Movie Quote by the American Film Institute. The television series, Community, later satirically dealt with the movie by the character of Professor Whitman, a comic and eccentric version of Williams’ character who used “Carpe diem” as a philosophy of life.
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matt. 6:34).
“So don’t be anxious about tomorrow. God will take care of your tomorrow too. Live one day at a time.” (Matt. 6:34, The Living Bible).
Holy In the Ordinary
In the everyday of our lives the holy in the ordinary must meet. Glory and destruction intersect. The saint meets the routine. The lifelong journey to heaven is often marked by ordinary days where we simply do our work and serve God as best we can.
“Manna” every day (Ex. 16: 4). “Give us this day our daily bread.” (Luke 11: 3).
The Indian philosopher, cultural reformer and spiritual leader Gandhi was right when he said: “There is more to life than increasing its speed.”
“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23; NIV).