Do you long to take your relationship with the Lord Jesus to the next level? Are you ready to go from being a good Christian to a great one?
That's today. Stick around. Welcome to this Edition of Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. The mission of these daily programs is to intentionally disciple Christians through the Bible teaching of Chip Ingram.
I'm Dave Drouie, and we're nearing the end of our popular series, Good to Great in God's Eyes. For these last two programs, Chip focuses on the power of creating and keeping healthy habits. He'll describe how daily routines can produce a life of lasting impact with profound satisfaction.
And if you're looking for deeper insight into this topic, keep listening after this message to hear some really practical advice from Chip. With that, turn in your Bible to First Timothy chapter four for today's talk. Great Christians develop great habits.
I love it. Benjamin Franklin said, he gave an equation. Benjamin Franklin said, if you take all your good habits in your life, subtract them from all your bad habits, it equals your contribution to society.
It's an interesting thought, isn't it? All your good habits minus all your bad habits equal your contribution to society. A definition of a habit is a behavior that is done so often it becomes automatic or it's done without thinking.
A fellow here reading Ted Pollock is a expert in time management and behavioral psychology. And he says, deliberately training yourself into good habits requires stern self-discipline at first. But since those habits become second nature, the payoff is considerable. Good habits save effort, ease routine, increase efficiency and release power. See what you need to grasp, what I need to grasp is you are today the total of your good habits and your bad habits. And who you will become, the product of the kind of man, the kind of woman you're going to be five years, 10 years, 20 years from now, by and large, will be the habits. And the habits are the things you do without thinking.
I mean, God has made us this way. I mean, I didn't this morning go, okay now, brushing your teeth, this is a tough one. Let's see, I think I raised my lips and then I, remember when you first started doing it? Remember a five-year-old learning to tie a shoe? What if you had to think that hard every time?
See, habits are the ability to take complex actions, simplify them and over multiple repetitions, do them automatically or without thinking. When you first learn to drive, remember how your forearms would be all tight and how do you look at all these mirrors at the same time? Now you're on the cell phone, you have a cup of coffee, driving, switching lanes and discipline a kid in the backseat. I mean, all of us have had the experience where you arrive in your driveway, right? And you realize, I don't remember driving home.
That's scary, of course. But see, you habitually can do a number of things. But what I want you to know is you can habitually learn to be kind. You can habitually learn to think great thoughts. You can habitually learn to pursue great people. You can habitually learn to empower great people. You can habitually learn to take great risks. But you have to cultivate habits, cultivate a lifestyle where that can occur. If you think I'm kind of just returning to psychology now instead of scripture, open your Bible, if you will, to 1 Timothy chapter 4 and the Apostle Paul will talk about the power. He uses a different word, but the power of habits. 1 Timothy chapter 4 and notice, this is the older apostle talking to the young pastor and he wants the young pastor to be successful. So he talks in the first chapter about don't be afraid and God hasn't given us a spirit of timidity and he wants to reawaken his spiritual gift and he talks about leadership.
And then in chapter 4, verse 7, he says, have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness. The word discipline also is translated practice. Go into training.
It's a word that we get our English word gymnasium. Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness. For bodily discipline is of little profit, but godliness is of profitable for all things since it holds a promise not only for the present life, but also for the life to come. He says, Timothy, just like you see an athlete go into training and practice and develop the habit of running or lifting weights or getting stronger, you need to practice or develop the habits of becoming a godly person. Skip over to Hebrews, if you will. Hebrews chapter 5, picking it up at verse 11.
Very, very interesting concept. This is a group of people that are fading in their walk with the Lord. Persecution is coming and they're shrinking back from their commitment. And the writer here is talking about the supremacy of Christ over everything, and now he reproves them in chapter 5, beginning at verse 11. He says concerning him, we have much to say.
He's talked about Melchizedek and this high priestly order. And it's hard to explain it since you've become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have need for milk and not solid food. So basically, you ought to be teachers by now, you ought to be mature by now, you ought to be reproducing, empowering great people by now.
We can't talk to you like that. You're a spiritual baby. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food is for the mature who, because of practice, have their senses trained to discern good and evil.
There's our word. Because of practice, have their senses trained. Over a period of time, people who are mature have gone into a habitual practice so that their lives are righteous, their senses have been trained in such a way that they know good from evil. See, this sounds crazy, but you have habits you're totally unaware of. And major changes in your life, one of the things you need to do is you need to begin to question your habits. Some of you eat a snack before you go to bed. Some of you watch a certain TV program every week. Most of you get up in a certain way, either grab a cup of coffee, eat a certain breakfast, have some sort of a juice drink. Some people take vitamins on a regular basis. Some people, I mean, you have habit after habit after habit after habit after habit. You do it without thinking.
They're your best friends and your worst enemies. And if you want to be transformed, if you want to change, you've got to look. I still remember when I saw the habit, I unconsciously, maybe my parents did it, you know, but I remember growing up the majority of my early adult life, somehow always watching the eleven o'clock news and then going to bed. Somehow I felt like the world wasn't okay until Chip Ingram watched the eleven o'clock news and then eleven thirty went to bed. Well, you know, even if you only need six and a half or seven hours sleep, if you go to bed at eleven thirty, you know, you can't get up until, you know, six thirty or seven. And I remember thinking, you know, one day, what is the eleven o'clock news?
I mean, I can read the headlines tomorrow and anything that's really important, I could scan. And I realized that, you know, often I was getting a little tired by ten or ten thirty. And I remember deciding that was not a profitable habit.
The names change, but just different people were killing different people and different crises were up. Right. And so I decided to break that habit. And I remember another habit we had is after dinner, we would just watch a little TV. I decided to not watch the eleven o'clock news. And I decided as an experiment for six weeks when my kids were young to not watch any TV on school nights. For two or three days, it was bedlam in my house.
Everybody was on each other. The fourth day, we're playing games. The next week, they're playing the guitar.
The next week, we're working out outside. And then pretty soon, we've had a great family time and it's nine, nine fifteen, I go to bed. Well, you go to bed at nine fifteen, guess what, four thirty or five, you're ready to roll. I gained two and a half hours in my day every week and it began to change everything that I did.
Some people said, you know, you seem to juggle a lot of balls and I guess I do. But part of it is for the last twenty two to twenty four years, God gave me back about two and a half hours more a day because I changed one habit. All my kids are musicians because we changed one habit. All my children love to read books because we changed one habit. Do you get it? So let's develop great habits. Here we go.
How do you do it? Six habits that cultivate grace. Would you jot Titus two, eleven and twelve? There's a danger here. So let me tell you a big danger. I'm going to give you very practical habits that you cultivate. And when you cultivate them, if you cultivate these, you will end up getting all nine practices as a part of your everyday life. But if you're not careful, you'll think it's about trying hard and working hard. And I'm going to do this habit.
And then when I do it, then I'm going to be holy and unconsciously, I'm going to earn and work my way toward God. That's bad. That's wrong.
And it never works. Titus two, eleven says it is the grace of God that brought us or led us to salvation that teaches us to say no to worldliness and all ungodliness and yes, to upright righteous living. It's the grace of God. We think grace is over here and effort is over here.
Wrong. Grace is over here and merit is over here. The antithesis of grace is not, you don't try.
It's that you don't gain brownie points. You see, it takes great effort. The grace of God is both the desire and the ability to be righteous, to follow him and do what's right. And so you notice I said six habits that cultivate grace. This isn't six habits to be a Christian self-help expert. Six habits so that you experience God, realize your dependency and like these habits or think of them as a big white PVC pipe that connects into your heart and that PVC pipe goes all the way to heaven and you cultivate these habits so God can give you unmerited grace and favor and pour grace into your heart and into your mind so by his power and his grace, you become more and more like Christ.
So get that down. With that then, let's go to habit number one. Habit number one, put God first. Put God first. Develop the habit of giving God the very first portion and the best part of your day. So the principle of priority says, but seek first his kingdom command and his righteousness and all these things shall be added to you. Matthew 6 33.
And I want to give you a visual for each one. What I would say to you, habit number one, now good Christians can meet with God anytime they want. They meet with him now and then, often in the morning.
If not, they catch him at lunch. A little bit of time when they're a little tired and snoozing and fall asleep now and then with their prayers, but they are in the Bible and they're praying and they meet with God on a semi-regular basis. They're good Christians. Great Christians meet with God first. Great Christians meet with God first. David hungers and thirsts for the dawn.
When Abraham was going to offer Isaac, it says, and he arose early. You go through the scriptures. You study the life of great men and great women. You do psychological studies on when people are most consistent working out.
You do the thing that matters most first. And so what I'd say is buy an alarm clock. Buy an alarm clock without a snooze button. Okay?
It's mind over mattress. We're talking about a habit. All right? You need to win the very first battle of the day.
Buy an alarm clock without a snooze button. Put God first. What's it say? The promise is seek first his kingdom, his rule, his ownership over your life, his righteousness. I want to be like you. And what's the promise?
Everything else you need in your life, he'll take care of. I'd like to say that this has been an easy one for me. This was the most difficult habit in the world for me. Let me just describe my normal way of getting up all my early years. And then I became a Christian just before college. So I'm now in college about a year, year and a half. And the alarm goes off.
And I hit it. One, two, three, snooze. I've got an 8 o'clock class.
Now I see finally it is 755. So I jump out of bed, put on sweat pants. You can do this in college. Put on a baseball cap. That way you don't even have to comb your hair. Throw on a jacket. Run as fast as you can. Arrive at class only three to five minutes late. Sit in the back.
Feel bad for the girl you're sitting next to because you probably stink. Take a few notes. And that's how I started my day. And then later a bricklayer who was trained by the navigators met me and he began to teach me how to have a quiet time.
I'd never heard of a quiet time. And it was just 15 minutes. And I'd love to say it was great. I started to spend 15 minutes. I hit about twice a week at best. In fact, he would come on Tuesday morning and knock on my door. First six months I would pretend I didn't hear it about half the time.
Very, very slow learner. And then little by little by little I began to see put God first. And then I said, oh, you can meet with him any time. And, you know, I love God and I don't want to be legalistic.
And it wasn't about being legalistic. Because I just found when I didn't meet with him in the morning, I don't know about you, maybe you were better than me. I usually didn't meet with him very well the rest of the day either. And then I decided I really wanted to do that. And so first I put that alarm clock across the hall, you know, from my bed. And so when it rang, I had to get out of bed. And I found I could get out of bed, turn it off and go right back to bed.
It was amazing. Later I had a roommate who was disciplined, a big wrestler. He was a heavyweight wrestler. And I told him, you know, I'm so undisciplined, I need help, I need help. I just, Bob, would you help me?
He said, Chip, I'm going to help you, man. You really want up? Yeah. No matter what, yeah.
I mean, it's nighttime. You want to get up like before you go to bed. It's when the alarm goes off, it's hard. And so very next morning, and this guy helped me. And he said, Chip, it's Thomas.
I'm not, forget it. And he said, remember you asked me? Yep. And he goes down to the end of my bed and he grabs my ankle.
He's very big, about 6'3", who knows, 240, 250, built like a rock. Just picks me up. And I'm upside down. Bob, put me down, man.
What are you doing? You know, like this. He goes, you know, he said, you want to learn to get up? Yeah. You want to meet with God? Yeah.
Okay. And then he opens the door. And remember the community showers he used to have in colleges? He'd swing me in front of it. Man, I'm, man, I am so hot. If I was bigger, stronger and badder, I'd have taken him out.
I didn't do a thing. And he came down and threw me back in my bed. He said, now.
And so, well, you got to get up now. And I just want to tell you that my journey was very, very difficult and it took a long time. Easy habits take six to eight weeks to develop. Some people say three months and it becomes pretty automatic.
Some very difficult things can take months and even longer. And I'm not going to say to you that, you know, I then did that every morning, but it got to be four or five mornings a week. And a lot of times it was duty.
I just did it because it was right. And I'm not going to tell you that the words jumped off the page and the skies opened and I met with God and everything was wonderful. It's like a lot of breakfast.
I don't always remember what I ate for breakfast, but it does a lot of good for my body. But I can tell you that over that period of time, it went from 15 to 30 minutes to an alarm and it went from duty. And then it went from duty to, you know what?
I'm going to be diligent and it's good. And then I just quit setting alarm. I said, Lord, wake me up whenever you want to wake me up. And the first hour, sometimes hour and a half or two of my day are the best, most glorious. I like meeting with God. It has been the most powerful habit that has shaped my life. And I will tell you, not out of self-discipline, it's like getting to go on a date with your wife or going to a great restaurant or doing something that you love to do. The habit has been meeting at least an hour or so with God, talking to him, listening to him, jotting a few things in my journal, reading through the Bible year after year, studying some things, hearing his voice, sharing my needs, opening up on my frustrations.
And I'm going to tell you, it has been fundamentally the most powerful change agent in my world. You know, it's during that time that I read great books. It's during that time that I pray great prayers. It's during that time that God brings great thoughts. It's during that time that he moves me to pursue great people. It's during that time that I'm actually pursuing great people right out of his word. Put God first, habit number one. Great Christians develop the habit of putting God first. Habit number two is take out the trash.
You ready? You got to do that periodically. You got to take out the trash. It's the principle of transformation. The first is the principle of priority. Romans 12 2 says, and do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Now look at that verse carefully. There's a negative command. Literally, Greek, stop being conformed to this world or molded. Stop allowing the world system, the world ideas, the world's images, and the world's values to mold you. Positive command. Start literally, it's in the passive tense, allowing God's word to renew and transform, metamorphosize, that's a member of the transfiguration, and Jesus and it says he was transfigured, that's the word. Allow, by the renewing of your mind, you to be transformed from the inside out. Is it a bad thing?
Why? So that you can be a person who tests or approves or experiences the will of God, and your actual lifestyle begins to demonstrate what God's will is, that which is good, acceptable, and perfect. We pastored in a tiny, tiny town in Texas. Great, great experience. And a guy came to church and he looked like, you know, boy, he'd been through it and shirt's all dirty and looks like he hadn't had a bath in about six or eight months and he needed some food after and I gave him some food and then next week he needed some food and he brought his wife and she looked in the same kind of situation. So he said, you know, we really need some money for our electricity and some other things and I had this little fund that I could help people with so I said, well, you know, let me come out and visit you.
And I said, Teresa, would you mind going with me? So we get in the car and we drive out into the country and we come to this place and actually, you know, it doesn't look too bad at all and there's a couple of horses out there and we pull in and there's about five or six dogs that bark all around us and then we go inside and, this is no exaggeration, but first the stench, I almost thought, I almost threw up. It just smelled so badly. And I thought, what could that be? And I looked and there was garbage on the floor, there was two open cans of cat food, there was something open that was spoiled. I counted 19 cats. I counted 19 cats just in the kitchen in this area.
All the shades are down at Stark and the real older lady sitting over in the corner and he's sitting in front of me and he goes, yeah, we need some money, you know. And I sat there and I thought, let me see, your horses are eating okay. You got at least five dogs that look fairly healthy.
These 19 cats are okay. What part of this don't you get, man? You need food and, you know, and this is God's money.
This isn't my money. I want to help you, but, and what I realized was when you live in trash, you get so accustomed to the trash, you think it's normal. The stench and the smell was nauseating, but if you hang around stench and smell long enough, you know what?
You think it smells normal. And many, many a Christian has their mind so filled with the junkyard of this world, their lives never change and they can't figure out why. Because what God calls trash, what God calls unholy, what God says is unrighteous, what God says will take you down a bad path and ruin relationships has become very acceptable in many, many Christians. And what we do is when we're trying to figure out, well, what's true and what's right and what we ought to do, God says it's very, very easy.
I'll tell you what, I put my spirit within you and if you don't quench it, and I've given you a conscience, and I'll tell you what, you just read through here and I'll give you a clear line. But what we tend to do is find who we think is a Christian that either we sort of respect or maybe is not doing quite so well, and well, they watch that or they read that or they do that and I guess it must be okay. And we like, we're like on this great journey of how do we dumb one another down? How do we dumb one another down?
And that's why when you read those many, many statistics by Barna and by Gallup, Christians especially in America, our morality, our honesty, our marriages, our fidelity, our time on internet porn sites is not really a nickels worth of difference than the average unbeliever. And you know why? Because unconsciously we're being conformed to this world and not transformed and I've just learned you have to develop the habit. And the habit is, you know, what am I viewing? What am I reading? What relationships I'm involved in? What people do I hang around? What books and romance novels and soap operas and prime time TV? What are the things that I'm putting in my mind?
What advertisements? Where do I go when I have free time? Where does my mind gravitate to? What thoughts that are impure am I allowing to live there and build a nest in my heart and my mind? You know, at some point in time you kind of get, you get away. What I usually have to do is I have to do a media fast.
The only way, because what happens is like the frog in the proverbial, you know, in the water and you heat up the stove gradually, that frog will stay right there and burn to death. And what I found is the world system is so seductive, I just have to stop and say for the next three days or seven days or ten days, I'm not going to listen to the radio. I'm not going to watch any TV. If there's a crisis, obviously I can turn it on and figure out what's going on. And what it does is like ten days later I'll watch a TV show and then I'll just say, my lands, I can't believe how that girl is dressed and look what they're trying to do. They're making me believe that if I drink that beer or have that thing that, you know, beautiful blondes are going to jump in the back of mine and I'm going to be... You know?
Lie, lie, lie, lie. And then you watch one of these reality shows and you just begin to see, what in the world am I putting in my mind? All change begins with your thinking. All change begins with your thinking.
And so people who are great Christians understand the principle of transformation and they periodically stop. I mean, it's not like you're not going to get trash in your life. We all do. And they take out the trash. And the question I'd ask for you, what trash is in your life? What thoughts?
What habits? What do you put in your mind? What do you mull over that if Jesus was inside your mind as he is and you were just having a conversation, you said, Lord, so what do you think about the stuff going in my mind? Which ones do you know without even thinking he'd say, I'm not real comfortable here? It doesn't mean he doesn't love you.
It doesn't mean he's down on you. What was the whole point of the passage? That you might prove that you could test, you could experience God's will, that which is good, acceptable and perfect. Number three, these habits. And by the way, when you take out the trash, what do you do?
You think great thoughts. Take out the trash, you pursue great people because you want to rub up against people who think in a way and who are going to mold you and transform you in different ways. Third is do your own dishes. Do your own dishes. The principle of responsibility. Take responsibility for yourself, your messes, your life, your future. Stop blaming other people and stop making excuses. It's a habit. Okay, I'm not telling you to relax.
I'm not down on you. People, we just learn. This happened. Well, it was my parents' fault. It was the educational system's fault. It was my kids' fault. It was the government's fault.
Well, I wanted to do that, but the light turned red. I really wanted and I wanted and God, I'm really sorry, but. And we have people who have developed the habit unconsciously with God and in every relationship to either blame something or someone else or make an excuse. When you blame someone else, you don't change and when you make an excuse, you don't change.
Just do your own dishes. You've been listening to part one of Chip's message, Develop Great Habits. He'll be right back with his application for this teaching from his series, Good to Great in God's Eyes. Are you tired of living the status quo Christian life? Are you looking to get a fresh infusion of faith and spiritual passion? Join Chip in this 10-part series as he shares 10 specific practices every great Christian has in common and how you can put these attitudes and routines into action. If you're ready for a genuine spiritual breakthrough, then don't miss a single message.
For more information about this series or our resources, go to livingontheedge.org, to Chip Ingram Map, or call us at 888-333-6003. Chip's back with me in studio now, and Chip, here at Living on the Edge, we believe small groups are absolutely vital. They have real power. I mean, they don't just change lives. They help all of us grow spiritually, too. But I'm sure there are some out there who are looking at all of our small group resources and aren't sure which one to choose or where to begin. What advice do you have for them?
Well, Dave, we all have special times in our life where there's either crisis or we know we need to improve our parenting, our marriage, or there's some emotional issues. And as people go through, there's plenty of small group resources like that. But what I think is missing is what historically has been called a catechism. A catechism is a well-ordered process of truth by which you go through it systematically and intentionally in order to become more and more like Jesus and to fulfill more and more what Jesus has called us to do. And so if you follow Jesus' life, his actual chronological life, the first thing is he defined what a disciple is. And so the very first study I encourage people to do is true spirituality, becoming a Romans 12 Christian. It'll let them know this is what it means to be a follower of Jesus. The second thing Jesus did is he took them through various experiences to reveal who God was like.
What is God really like? And so our second study is called The Real God. And in that we study the attributes of God and how to get them from your head into your heart. The third thing that Jesus did is he helped them understand how does life change really occur? How do you put it into practice?
We have a study from Ephesians chapter 4 called Transformed, The Miracle of Life Change. And then the fourth one I'll give you because I don't want to lay it all out is that when you take these kind of steps, all hell breaks loose. I don't mean that as a cuss word. What I mean is it's challenging. It's difficult. There's spiritual warfare. And that's our study from Ephesians chapter 6.
It's called The Invisible War, what every believer needs to know about Satan, demons, and spiritual warfare. So let me encourage you, unless there's a critical need, a high felt need, consider studying in order the catechism the way Jesus taught his disciples. Thanks Chip. Well, to learn more about the studies Chip mentioned or any of our other small group resources, go to livingontheedge.org or call us at 888-333-6003. And let me tell you, these materials are so easy to use. Chip provides the teaching, then you'll have time to discuss what you've heard with our helpful study guides. So if you're not in a small group yet or you aren't sure what to study next, let me encourage you to check us out. And for a limited time, all of our small group resources are discounted. Again, visit livingontheedge.org or call 888-333-6003.
App listeners, tap special offers. Chip, as we wrap up this program, I was wondering if you would take some time and review a couple of those important habits you talked about today. Flush them out for us, if you will. Explain how we can practically make them a part of our day-to-day lives. Well, I'd be glad to, Dave. Few things have impacted me more than cultivating and developing these habits. And the first one is literally carving out time with God first. And just so people know, this did not come easy for me.
I was challenged, I tried, I failed, I tried, I failed. And it's not about legalism, God loving us more if we make time for Him. But I will just tell you this, there is no way that you can experience God's power, have discernment, and make the kind of decisions that lead to being a follower of Jesus that is the kind of follower you want to be apart from meeting with God. And I personally believe by the example of Jesus and how busy life gets, you have to do that first.
And second is you do have to take out the trash. I mean, we're in a battle, we all are. And so you have to pause and say, you know, you know, what am I watching? What are my Netflix habits?
Where do I go to online? There's just certain things we all know. They're not moving me toward becoming more and more like Jesus.
They constantly are pulling me away. And just a quick story. This isn't like for young believers. I was doing a leadership group at our church. And I asked them, you know, about their story. And then I asked them, tell me about your time in God's Word. And these are leaders, okay, busy people.
Well, I get up real early, and I have a high tech job. And, you know, I've got these kids, and I've got that, I've got that. Out of the 10 leaders, only two of them spent any time in God's Word to speak of. And I got so discouraged, I went home and told my wife, I don't think I'm going to, I'm not going to do this group.
I mean, these guys are never going to go anywhere. And she encouraged me not to do that. And we probed and we probed and I went on a journey with them to say, if we do nothing else, men, you have these dreams about your family and your career and the kind of man you want to be.
And none of that will happen if you don't spend time with God and make that a regular part of your life. And that was a number of years ago. And I have to tell you, I'm glad I didn't quit because I can go around the table now. Every single one of them got into God's Word. Then they started taking out the trash, realigning their schedule, and it was hard.
We held each other accountable and none of them regret it. Believe me, it'll change your life. Interesting word, Chip. Thanks. In case you missed some of the points Chip just reviewed, they're pulled straight from his message notes, which is a tool available for every program. So let me encourage you to get this resource before you listen to us again. Chip's notes include his outline, all of the scripture references, and lots of fill-ins to help you remember what you're learning. They'll really help you get the most out of every program. Chip's message notes are a quick download at livingontheedge.org under the broadcasts tab. App listeners, just tap fill-in notes. Until next time, this is Dave Druey saying thanks for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge.
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