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July 25, 2018, 8:12 AM

Holy Habits

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

“As his custom was...” (Acts 17:2)

We are all creatures of habit. This is good, for habits save time and make work efficient. Imagine the time wasted if you had to debate and decide each morning which shoe to put on first. But habits are perilous, too, for on them depends character and destiny. The Apostle Paul was a creature of habit. In the Scriptures we are told, “As his custom was...” The habits of Paul disclosed in Acts 17:1-9 are habits vital to effective Christian living. Let’s briefly look at what that passage reveals about the nature of Paul’s routine.

First, his custom was churchgoing. “As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue” (17:2a). A similar statement is made about Jesus: “On the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom” (Luke 4:16). Both the Lord and one of His foremost disciples regarded faithful attendance at worship services to be an indispensable part of life. Sadly, I’ve heard professing Christians declare that they didn’t need the church. To them religion is purely a matter of private and individual relationship to God. That idea may be pagan, but it isn’t Christian. John Wesley insisted that the Bible knows nothing of solitary religion, and he was right. The church is a body, and no member can survive in isolation from the others. Amputate your thumb and your body will survive, but the thumb will die.

Second, his custom was Bible reading. We read “He reasoned with them from the Scriptures” (17:2b). One must be deeply acquainted with the Bible to effectively reason from it. Paul had lived in the pages of his Bible, pouring over them, inquiring into them, reflecting upon them. The Bible is not an end in itself. From the Scriptures Paul was “explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead” (17:3a). Scripture was created in the providence of God as a witness to His Christ, and especially to the meaning and power of His crucifixion and resurrection, the saving acts of God. Healthy Christians must be committed to the study of the Word.

Third, his custom was Witness-bearing. “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ” (Acts 17:3b). It was a habit of Paul to proclaim Jesus as Savior, sometimes through preaching and teaching in worship services, but just as often in the informal settings of job, home, and market – wherever life touched life. Those who do so will win others. We read in verse 4 that “some of the Jews were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of God-fearing Greeks and not a few prominent women.” There is no thrill like knowing God has used your witness to reach people for His kingdom. But witness-bearing has its risks. All will not believe, and some react in anger and hostility. Jealous Jews recruited a mob of “bad characters” (17:5) who threw the city into an uproar and tried to assault the Christians. Yet, we must risk hostility and rejection in order to win some for Christ.

What are your habits? If someone were to record your customs what might they observe about you?

Let us join in prayer: O God, sanctify my body and soul, my thoughts and my intentions, my words and actions, that whatsoever I shall think, or speak, or do, may be by me designed for the glory of your name, and by your blessing may it be effective in your work. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

You are Loved!

Pastor Jason Stevens

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