“Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions, they become your habits; watch your habits, they become your character, watch your character, it becomes your destiny.”
This morning we want to declare that God is still on His throne and bringing victory to His people in 2021, and we are truly thankful for this. Today our topic is about habits, the good and the bad.
First, I will share a little bit of my testimony. At times a young person might look at an older person and think that older person was probably never young, but we, older folks, were once your age before. I was also 12 years old, 14 years old, sixteen years old, and the devil challenged and tempted my spirit just like he does yours. I had to learn as a young person how to resist the devil and tell him to get thee behind me, Satan. I had to practice fighting the devil until it became a habit.
A habit is an acquired behavior that one regularly follows until it becomes involuntary. We all have habits. Some habits are good to have, like getting up and out of bed early every day, and some are bad habits that we need to avoid. Habits do not just happen overnight. Habits are acquired slowly, layer by layer, by practicing a behavior over and over again. For example, I learned to play the piano as a young person, but the first time I sat down at the piano, my brain did not know how to make my fingers do what they needed to do. I had to train myself to make my left hand go up and down the keyboard and then teach my right hand to go up and down on the other side simultaneously. Finally, playing the piano became a habit. So, yes, today I can play the piano by habit, but I learned by practicing the steps over and over again.
Remember, habits can be good or bad. We will start by looking at habits that each young person should learn early in life and practice every day until they become automatic every day. The first habit we should acquire is reading our Bibles every day.
“15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
We need to study the word of God to show ourselves approved to God. Maybe this is a silly question to you, but does God know the word of God? Of course, He does! God is His word and so much more. So for us to know and understand God, we need to study His word. Reading the word of God should be a daily habit in our lives. Another habit for us to acquire is the habit of daily prayer.
“17 Pray without ceasing.”
Here the Apostle Paul taught the Thessalonians that prayer should continue without ceasing. We need to practice prayer in the same way. Prayer is our lifeline to God and should become a habit that we do every day. Avoiding gossip is another habit God’s people should practice. We should all practice the habit of walking away from conversations that involve negatively talking about others. Unfortunately, for some people talking about others too quickly becomes a bad habit. Let’s look at what the Bible teaches us about gossip.
“13 A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter.”
God does not want us to be a talebearer. A talebearer is a person that hears something negative about someone else and feels immediately compelled to share it with another. As humans, we are naturally curious about others. It’s ok to share someone’s good news, but sometimes people take it too far. We need to keep some things to ourselves, especially if it is not our information to share. Our love for others will help us conceal matters or avoid spreading gossip about others.
The habit of working hard is essential for a young person to acquire.
“23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;”
God wants His young people to do their best at everything they do, and everything means precisely that – everything. Everything may include your work in school or your place of employment or even sweeping out the church. God is saying that everything we do, do it as if you are doing it for Him. Having this mindset will change the way you feel about the task at hand. Doing our best for God in everything is a habit that we need to learn and practice.
Another habit all young people should acquire is being kind to everyone. Sometimes young people can get caught up in a group trying to impress their friends and then do unkind things. Being unkind to each other or bullying one another should not happen among young people that claim God’s love. God calls His young people to be kind to each other.
“24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:”
This verse teaches us how we need to think about each other. We should practice provoking each other unto love and good works.
We talked about reading our bibles, praying every day, avoiding gossip, working hard, and being kind to each other. These are some good habits God wants His young people to acquire. But not all habits are good, and some bad habits, if started, will have a terrible impact on a young person, possibly for the rest of their lives. The devil bribes young people to cultivate these habits in hopes of leading the young person down a path of sin and destruction. The devil will always make these habits look good on the surface. He entices young people by saying, “if you do this, you can be cool and accepted by your friends.”
I remember the first time the devil tempted me this way. I was in secondary school, and a fellow student tried to tempt me to smoke cigarettes. He was a popular guy, and the other students thought he was cool. The devil tempted me, saying, “if you smoke, you can be cool and popular just like this guy.” Because of God’s grace, I could say no to the devil and resist the temptation. Thank God He gives us power over the enemy! The devil will tempt us all to do something that could lead us down the wrong path if we give in.
Here in the United States, most young people start smoking at 15 years old. By the time they want to quit, the young person who started smoking is addicted to cigarettes, and stopping is extremely difficult. The challenge I have for you is to stand against the devil and say no. The devil does not stop with just cigarettes. He wants to move a young person toward other drugs that are also addicting and much more dangerous. The devil always begins with a temptation. “If you do this, you will be popular, and people will respect you.” The bribe with the temptation is always a lie.
Smoking cigarettes is a bad habit the devil tempted me with, but the devil did not stop there. Soon after that temptation, another student offered me marijuana. Temptation like this is nothing new. The devil has been tempting young people to take the path of drugs for a long time. The devil knows that if he can get you to start when you are young, he can destroy your mind. The devil’s goal is to destroy your mind so you cannot think clearly enough to reach God.
I remember a young lady I knew in High School. She was one of the most popular students in the entire school. This young lady had everything going for her, she was pretty, smart, at the top of the class, and everyone at school liked her. Five years after I graduated, I was 24 years old at the time, and I found out she had died of a drug overdose when she was just 23 years old. Her life had been going well, but then one day, she chose to try something that was not good for her. This choice took her down a path with the promise of feeling good and being accepted. Instead, her life was cut tragically short. Anything the devil tempts you with, remember, the end thereof is death. The devil never starts his temptation by telling you this is bad for you. He begins by telling you that you will feel good. But the devil is a liar, and his goal is to destroy when he tempts with drugs. He wants to destroy you, your body, friendships, family, and eventually your mind.
I was at work the other day when our building security guard reported seeing a young man out front who looked to be about in his twenties. The young man was poking around at some equipment. The guard approached the young man to ask what he was doing, and the young man responded by saying, “I am unscrewing the parts so that the evil could come out of the equipment.” This young man was out of his mind because of drugs. Sadly this is yet another example of the devil destroying a young person’s mind.
The Bible does not specifically mention LSD, heroin, or ecstasy, but the Bible does instruct us to do everything in the spirit of God. So, if you say to me, the Bible doesn’t talk about drugs, I say it does. There is one drug that has been around century after century – alcohol. Alcohol has destroyed many lives and continues to destroy lives today. Did you know that God prohibits His people from being drunk?
“18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;”
Paul is exhorting us not to get drunk with wine but to let the spirit of God fill us. If we do anything that confuses our thoughts or causes God’s spirit to leave us, that action is not of God. Stay away from substances that confuse your thoughts, making you more vulnerable to sin. All drugs can confuse people’s minds. If you are on these drugs, the spirit of God cannot be within you. Most people try to put drugs in two categories — drugs or alcohol. But these are the same with the ability to confuse one’s thoughts and allow one to behave in a way that is not Godly. Other people say a little bit does not hurt, but it is more important to know what the Bible says on this topic.
“20 Be not among winebibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh:
21 For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags.”
Someone given to drugs will be found poor in poverty, meaning they will have nothing in the end. However, this is not what the devil tells the young people when he tempts them. He does not want to say to you in the end; you will be in rags, broke, without friends or family. Instead, the devil wants you to think you will be the life of the party.
God can give you the power to say no to the spirit of the devil today. God has more power than all the power of the enemy.
“13 There hath no temptation taken you, but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”
The devil will tempt you to try things, not of God, but if you give your heart to God, He will give you the strength to say no to all temptations. The benefit is you will still have your family, you will be in your right mind, and in the end, you will be in the right spirit and connected to God. Reject all the things the enemy tempts with and stay with the good things of God.