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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Craig Groeschel » Craig Groeschel - Change Your Habits, Change Your Life

Craig Groeschel - Change Your Habits, Change Your Life

Craig Groeschel - Change Your Habits, Change Your Life
Craig Groeschel - Change Your Habits, Change Your Life
TOPICS: The Power to Change, Habits

I wanna start a little bit slower today and give you a moment to let this question sink in. How many of you have something specific in your life that you are hoping to change? Would you raise your hand if there's something specific you're hoping to change. Online, you can type it in the comment section. There's something I'm hoping to change. The good news is, we are in a message series that's called, The Power to Change. Releasing a new book with that very same title. If there's something that you're hoping to change, I want you to think about what that specific thing is. Because I'm guessing that some of you may be hoping to get out of debt or hoping to be better with your money. There might be some of you that are hoping to improve your marriage.

I hope that there are some that are hoping to improve their marriage. There may be some of you that are hoping to get in better physical shape, or you might be hoping to get more organized, or you may be hoping that there's not a mystery balloon flying over your house. I don't know what it might be, but you're probably hoping for something to change. And I wanna tell you that hope is good. Everybody say hope is good. Hope is good. Elbow your neighbor, tell them hope is good. You can type that in the comment section, hope is good. I I never want you to go through life without hope. Hope is good. But hope alone won't change your life. Habits will. I hope you have hope, but even more than just hope, I hope you have the right habits because hope alone won't change your life, habits will. And I'll try to illustrate this. I'll ask you another question.

I want you to think about this just for fun. What did you do last Wednesday morning? Think for a moment and can you remember what you did last Wednesday morning? How many of you remember what you did last Wednesday morning? Yeah, most of you did. The reason you remember is because, you did on Wednesday morning about the same thing you did on Tuesday morning, right? And probably something similar to what you did on Thursday morning. Some combination, I don't know what it is, but at some point in the morning, either your alarm went off when you got up, when your alarm went off, or your alarm went off when you hit snooze. You probably did the same thing on that day as you did before. And then you probably got up and maybe went to the bathroom first. That's what I do.

And then you probably did something like, maybe get on your phone and look at Instagram or maybe get on your phone and check your email. Or maybe the spiritual ones got on your phone and read the YouVersion Bible out because you're more spiritual than those that got on and looked at Instagram. But you probably did something similar and you might have taken a shower. If you didn't, I hope you took one the night before, or you better take one that night. Get in the habit of taking a shower. And then you probably went and had something to eat and you might have had something similar to eat that you did the day before. And then you probably got dressed at some point and you drove to work. And chances are, if you drove to the office, you probably drove exactly the same way that you did the day before.

And when you got there, if I ask you, do you remember driving there, you would probably say, no, I didn't even remember driving there because you drove there on autopilot, which is really scary when you think about it. But it illustrates the thought that most of what you normally do isn't the result of hope, but the result of habits. Hope alone won't change your life but habits will. In fact, there's a fascinating study that shows over 40% of the actions you do daily are not the result of decisions but the result of habits. So much of what we do every day isn't the result of us making a conscious decision. It's the result of daily habits. So if you wanna change your life, you want to change your habits. The title of today's message is "Holy Habits".

Father, we ask today that you would do a work in our lives because God, I know there are so many of us that are hoping to change something. And God, we thank you that we can put our hope in you. And we thank you that hope is good. But God, even more than hope, would you give us the power through your Holy Spirit to live the holy habits that would truly change our life. God, do a work in someone today that we could look back and say, on that day, God, we heard from you and you changed a habit, God and you changed our lives. We pray this in Jesus name. And everybody who has faith for that, please say amen. Amen. Amen.

Let me today try to show you the power of one habit. What can one holy habit do to change your life? We're gonna look in Daniel 6, and I wanna give you the context behind the story. In 587 BC King Nebuchadnezzar, when I say him, you can say boo. He was a bad guy. King Nebuchadnezzar. Boo. He was a bad guy. And the Babylonians attacked the people of Jerusalem, burned their temple, completely destroyed everything they could to humiliate the people of God. Took many of of them captive. And to tell you just how evil King Nebuchadnezzar was, when he took the prisoners into Babylon, he actually made them strip down naked and sat on his big ship just watching them come by, just to humiliate them. That's how evil this guy was. And he took some of the best of the best of the best of the people captive to basically indoctrinate them with the Babylonian ways in orders to perhaps make them leaders in the future.

And there was one young kid named Daniel who stood out. And amongst others, the King started to try to manipulate this guy and train him in the ways of the Babylonian culture. And so, you would probably look on and say, Daniel had no chance at all. He was a prisoner under the control of an all powerful king. He really had no chance. Then one day the king had some really weird dreams. And all of his spiritual interpreters couldn't figure out what the dreams meant. And Daniel heard about this, and God gave Daniel wisdom in the ability to interpret these dreams and that's what Daniel did. He said, "King, this is what your dreams mean". And the king was so blown away by the power of God through Daniel that the king bowed down and presented an offering and said, Daniel, surely your God is the one true God.

That raises the question, how did God do something so big through Daniel? And the answer is, God often does big things through small habits. God often does really big things as a result of really small habits. Let me give you the backstory in case you don't know. Daniel had found favor with the king, and the king wanted to promote Daniel. And so the king's key leaders got jealous like, we can't let Daniel get promoted, so we gotta get him canceled. We gotta find out some flaw in his character. We gotta find out some weakness so we can point it out to the king so we can discredit this guy before the king. The problem is when they looked at Daniel's life, they couldn't find any flaws in his character. In fact, Daniel 6:5 says this, "Finally the men said, we'll never find any basis for charges against this man, Daniel, unless it has something to do with the law of his God".

So these kind of evil leaders told king Nebuchadnezzar that here's what you you need to do. You need to make a law that in the next 30 days, if any person prays to anyone except for you, you throw them in the lion's den. That's how great you are, king. You are worthy of honor. If anyone prays to anybody but you, we throw them in the lion's den. And the king's like, "Okay, that sounds pretty good. So if anyone praises anyone but me, they'll throw them in the lion's den". We're about to see how one habit made Daniel the man of God that he was. Let's see if you can find it when we read the text. Watch for it and see if you can see the power of this one Habit.

Scripture says in Daniel 6:10, "Now, when Daniel learned about the decree that had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem". Watch for it, "Three times a day, he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he done before. Three times a day he knelt down and gave thanks to his God, just as he'd done before". If you don't know, the next part of the story, it's pretty powerful. The guys went to the king and said, "Daniel's been praying. He broke the law". And the king was really upset because he liked Daniel. He's like, "I don't wanna do this, I don't wanna do this". But the king felt pressure because the law. And so, he put Daniel in the lion's den. And the king was up all night long going, "Oh, I hope he is okay. I hope he is okay. I hope he is okay". And they sealed the place with a big stone.

And the next morning the king came in there, said, "Daniel, Daniel, Daniel, has the God that you serve been able to rescue you"? And Daniel after staying the night in a lion's den, when an angel of the Lord set the mouths of the lions said, "Yes, my God has rescued me". And it raises the question, how did Daniel set himself apart? How did he have the faith to stare down lions? And the answer is, Daniel prayed just as he'd done before. One small holy habit. What did this one habit of seeking God, not just once but three times a day in prayer do for Daniel? I can't answer specifically, but I can kind of assume that it built his faith in God, that it strengthened his spiritual intimacy with God, that he learned to hear the voice of God and be prompted by God's direction.

I believe that three times a day gave him the confidence to say no to spiritual temptation. And it gave him the spiritual strength to stand firm when others would fall. One powerful holy habit, changed the spiritual trajectory of Daniel's life. And that's why I would say to you, never underestimate you how God can start something big through one small habit. Never underestimate what God can do in your marriage, in your faith, in your health, in your friendships, in your ministry impact through one small specific God honoring holy habit. Let's review where we've been the last few weeks because we're building principle upon principle upon principle upon principle.

And let's go back to week number one. If you weren't here, we learned a really important principle that real and lasting change isn't behavior modification. What is it? Real and lasting change is spiritual transformation. It's spiritual. For spiritual change to take place, it has to be spiritual. So in the first week we started with, do you remember? We started with our spiritual why? This is why we want to make the change, not just that we wanna be in better shape, but we wanna honor God with our body or not just that we want to be better with our money, but that we wanna honor God by being wise stewards of the resources God trust to us. We don't just have a worldly why, but we have a spiritual why that leads to spiritual transformation. And the second week we talked about identity. You may remember. Why do we do what we do?

And the reason we do what we do is this, you do what you do because of what you think of you. And so if you want to change what you do, you need to change what you think of you. You aren't what you think of you. You are who God says you are. And so you have not just your spiritual why, but you also have your spiritual who. This is why I want to change is spiritual and it's God honoring, but I'm not just changing on my own. I have the identity of God transforming me to be like Christ that's empowering me to do the will of God, not just my spiritual why, but I also have a spiritual who. Today we're gonna talk about your spiritual what. And these would be the habits that lead us to the outcome that's most pleasing to God. And the question we're gonna raise today, each week there's a question, the question today is this, based on identity, based on who you want to become, what's one habit you need to start based on who you want to become?

I wanna be a loving and engaged mom. I wanna be a spiritual example to my kids. I wanna be a godly witness to the people at work. I wanna be someone who manages resources for the glory of God. Based on who you want to become, what's one habit that you need to start? And it is not bad If it's small. You might be better off making it small. What do you wanna do? You don't have to say, I wanna run a triathlon by Friday, or I wanna pay off my house by next month. Start small. It might be that you want to be more disciplined. And so what one habit do you need to start? You might say, I'm not gonna hit this snooze button. Or you might want to be a person who's intimate with God. And so your one small habit might be Bible before Facebook, Bible before Facebook. For some of you that would be a miracle.

And let me tell you, all things are possible with God. It might be for you. You wanna leave a spiritual legacy. So your one small habit is that you wanna pray with your kids every night before they go to bed. What is it? Let me just show you how this can play out based on who you wanna become. What one habit do you need to start? You might wanna be, maybe you're a leader at your work and you wanna be someone that genuinely cares about people. So your habit might be this, I'm gonna write one note of appreciation every day or send one text of appreciation every day. Or you might say, I wanna be organized. God is a God of order and I want to honor Him with a more orderly life.

So for you, you might say, I wanna make my bed first thing each morning. You're telling yourself I'm organized in what I do. Or you might want to be a godly example to your teenager. So for you, what you might do is say, we're gonna read a Bible plan together every day. We're just gonna pick this one out and then we're gonna kind of, text each other about it and and make comments. We're gonna read a Bible plan together every day. You might say, I wanna be a person who is healthier and I wanna honor God with the temple of my the Holy Spirit. So very simply, for you it might be just this, I wanna eliminate soft drinks. Again, this may be up there with Bible before Facebook, but remember, you have the power of the risen Christ living inside of you. You are not a victim, you are an overcomer.

You can overcome diet Dr. Pepper or Diet Coke or Mountain Dew or Coke with cherry, you know, and whatever it is you can just, I wanna eliminate soft drinks. Or you might say, I wanna be closer to God. What one habit do you need to create? Your habit might be this, we're going to worship together and attend every week at church. We're gonna worship together every, some of you do that right now. For those of you that want a Bible verse on habit, I'll give you a Bible verse on the habit of attending church together. Scripture says this in Hebrews 10:25, Let us not neglect coming to the house of God to worship Him together, to hear His Word together, to fellowship together, to strengthen and encourage one another together. "Let us not neglect meeting together as some have made the habit," after COVID hit and we started only watch online, "but let us encourage one another all the more as you see the day approaching".

To those of you online, we love you. And some of you that's your best and only option. To others of you, you could join us. And I just want you to know we're here. We'll be here next week. We love you, we miss you. It's so much better with you. We're here and we can't wait to hug you. "Let's not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing". Based on who you want to become, what's one habit you need to start? Then what we're gonna do is talk very simply and very practically, how do we create a new habit? And in my book we go into more detail. There's four points here. I'm running on time, so you're only gonna get two today, but I'll give you two to get you started today.

How are we gonna create a new habit? The first thing I wanna encourage you to do, if there's something that you want to do is make it obvious. Make it obvious. Anyone and everyone that teaches on habits will talk about their own version of the habit cycle. And some have three, some have four. There's different words. The way I like to teach it is this, that it always starts with a cue. There's some cue, something you see. Once you see it, it creates a desire or a craving followed by a response or an action. And then you get the reward. The dopamine hit, the sugar buzz, the kiss on the left, whatever it is, you know. There's a cue, there's a craving, there's a response and there's a reward. The cue is key in the habit cycle. I don't know how it would hit you. Amy can tell you this.

For years there was a cue that anytime we would drive by Krispy Kreme Donuts and if the red light was on, which means hot donuts inside, my car would drive off the road, I would go in there. They used to give you a free one. We have six kids and two of us, that'd be eight free donuts. Then I'd buy a dozen just to make myself feel better after the eight one. And there the cue said, ding, ding, ding, drive in. And there's a cue, there's a craving, there's the action and then there's the reward. I'll show you a picture of my dog, Sadie. Isn't that a good looking dog? Sadie died this year, which makes me incredibly sad. But Sadie had so many cues, so many cues. When she was a puppy, if you came over to our house, she'd jump on you. And so I'd get the leash out, I'd put it on her and I would take her into her little outdoor pen.

And we did that so many times that once she wasn't a puppy, all I had to do was get the leash and guess what she'd do? She'd just run straight to the pen and just sit in the pen. We have this long driveway and the highlight of my week and the highlight of her week was when it was garbage night, the night before the garbage came out. And I'd just go to the garbage can, put my hands on it, and Sadie would dash down the driveway to scare her off any raccoons or wild deer or anything in our area. And she'd run down the driveway, because when it comes to your habits, your cues determine what you do. If you wanna change what you do, what do you do? You change your cues.

If you wanna change what you do, change your cues. Make it obvious. Very, very simply like if you wanna take vitamins in the morning and your vitamins are all up in the cabinet, take them out, put them by your toothbrush. And so when you go to brush your teeth, see your vitamins and take them. Put them out the night before. Make it obvious. If you want to read your Bible every day to start your day, don't leave your Bible in the drawer. Put your Bible by your cereal bowl or whatever you do. Put a reminder on your phone. If you get up every day at such and such time, 15 minutes later, put a reminder on your phone to do your YouVersion Bible reading plan. Just make it obvious. Start there.

The second thing you wanna do is you wanna make it easy, make it obvious and make it easy. I'll show you a couple of books that I've enjoyed and tell you some of the big principles I learned from them. The first one is "Getting Things Done" by David Allen. It's an older book about productivity. Very helpful. And he created what he called the two minute rule. And he teaches essentially, if you can do something in two minutes, do it now. Clear it off your plate. Then James Clear took the principle a step further in his brilliant book, "Atomic Habits". And he said that the key to starting any habit is to actually make it a habit that takes you two minutes or less. Make it obvious and make it easy. For example, let's say you wanna create the habit of journaling. Make it easy. Instead of writing four pages, your goal is to write one sentence. You're lowering the threshold. If you just write one sentence a day, you'll get in the habit. And I promise you, if you write one, you might write two. But if you don't write one, you won't write two.

So you lower the threshold for success and you make it really, really easy. Let's say you wanna pray with your spouse, but it's really hard to pray with your spouse 'cause you're nervous, you're intimidated. So just lower the threshold and say, what we're gonna do is we're just gonna hold hands and we're gonna thank God for one thing. God, thank you for healthy kids. God, thank you that we have jobs, God, thank you that we have life, whatever. And you just thank God for one thing. And if you start there and you thank God for one thing, you might thank God for two things and three things. And the next thing you know you're learning to pray together. You might say, I want to start exercising, but you just don't exercise.

So start with a goal of saying, I'm just gonna do five pushups a day. If you do five, then you might do seven, then you might do sit ups, then you might do planks, then you might do lunges. The next thing you know you're doing back flips in your bedroom before bed. Let's go. You just start. Make it obvious, make it easy. And then James Clear, he expands on this idea in a principle that he calls Habit Stacking, which I like and we might even see in Daniel's habits. He says this, basically just stack your habits one after another. What you do is you say, I will do blank after I blank. I will do this thing after I do this thing. And you start stacking your holy habits which are a reflection of why you want to do something, becoming who you're supposed to be and creating the habits that take you in the direction to please God with your life. You start stacking, after I do this, then I do this.

For example, again, I can't prove this with Daniel, but I'm guessing if he prayed three times a day, when do you think he might have prayed? After I eat my fruit loops, I go to my prayer closet and pray. After I eat my grilled cheese sandwich, I go to my prayer closet and pray. After I eat my SpaghettiOs, I go to my prayer closet and pray. If he prayed three times a day, there's a decent chance that after he had a meal he would pray. Here's my routine. After I get up, I have oatmeal with 12 berries in it. It's boring. I am the king of boring. I wanna write a book called "Boring Your Way to Spiritual Success". Boring is a new sexy, you know. I wanna write that one day. I'm boring.

After that, I read my Bible. After that, I spend time in prayer. After that, I shower. After that, I get dressed. After that, I pray with Amy. After that, I drive to the office the same way. After that, I write down my priorities for the day. And after that, I attack the day. And I do that every day. These are some holy habits that help me become who God wants me to be. So for you it might be after I put my kids to bed, I do five pushups. And after I do five pushups, I journal one sentence. And after I journal one sentence, I hold my spouse's hand and we thank God for one thing. And after we thank God for one thing, I lean over and give her one kiss. And after I give her one kiss, God only knows where it goes from there. Sometimes we go to sleep and sometimes we don't. So, here's what we have. Wow. Somebody there's gonna start doing pushups tonight.

So, we have our spiritual who, we have our spiritual why, we have our spiritual what? And Paul said this, I love what he said. He said, "Physical training". We could even say physical habits, "Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come". One small habit at a time we can become more like Jesus. If you're hoping to change something, hope is good, but hope alone won't change your life. Habits will. Hope will get you started. But habits will keep you going. Based on who you wanna become, what one small habit do you need to start? You may say it's not that big of a deal. It's just one habit.

Zechariah 4:10 says this, "Do not despise these small beginnings. For the Lord rejoices to see the work begin". You have no idea how God might do something big through one small habit. And this is indescribably personal to me because Amy will tell you right now, there are so many things about my life today that are more God-honoring than years before. In the early years I wasn't disciplined at all. The only thing I was disciplined was to eat whatever I want and work out consistently. This is embarrassing, but in the early years I did not read God's Word for my own spiritual nourishment. I just read it to preach. It was the discipline. I got preach and it wasn't as personal. And I didn't pray with Amy in the early years. I worked too much all the time. And one by one, little by little, I started creating very small habits. One of the first ones was flossing.

Why do I floss? To the thrill of dental hygienists around the world, I started flossing because I hate to floss. And I thought if I do something I hate to do, it triggers me to say I'm disciplined, I'm disciplined, I am disciplined. Christ and me leads me to do the right things. He's stronger in me and the wrong desires in me. And then early on, Amy and I decided, even before we were pastors, we're gonna go to church every week. 'Cause we don't go to church because we're pastor, we go to church 'cause we're Christians. That's what we do. We are the people of God. And we decided to prioritize God in our finances. We had the habit of tithing, the habit of putting Him first in our financing. And then we took on the habit of a date night.

I bet you I've been more date nights than anybody around because I've been married more than longer than most people. And we don't miss date night. The marriage we have is a reflection of the habits we created, date night. And then we decided to pray together. And we don't pray long, but we pray together. And sometimes she prays long. But we pray together. And I've been reading through the Bible front to back for year over year, over year, over year, over year, over year over year because God's Word is living, active and I need it to fight off the temptation of the evil one and do the will of God. And I had my daily confessions. This is who I am in Christ. And I eliminated soft drinks at one time. And I started working out at another time and I started journaling one sentence and little by little, by little, by little by little.

Hope alone didn't change my life. Hope alone didn't make me more like Jesus. The holy habits did. And there's no one big habit that's helped us have the marriage that we have. There's no one big habit that's helped me be really close and intimate with God. But there's lots of little ones that have helped change me to become more like Jesus. And you could do the same. Real simple, based on who you wanna become. What one habit do you need to start? 'Cause physical training's good, but training for godliness is better. And you won't change because you hope to change. You'll change by creating the holy God honoring habits. And when you do and when you start, do not despise the day of small beginnings because God rejoices to see the work begin and never underestimate how God can start something big through one small habit.

So Father, do a work that only you can do.

As you pray today without looking around those who say, I want to honor God with a holy habit, would you lift up your hands right now? Just lift them up. Online, just type it in the comment section, I want to honor God with a holy habit. God based on who we want to become, God based on who you want us to become, show us what one habit we need to start. We'll talk about it in our life groups. We'll make it obvious and we'll make it easy.

And God, through your power, we believe you'll make it happen and you'll make us more like your Son, Jesus.

As you keep praying today, if you look at your life right now and you say, there's a lot of things that aren't very holy habits, you're not alone. Every single one of us have messed up. We're way short of God's standard. The Bible calls it sin. All of us is, not popular in culture today, but the Bible says all of us have sinned. All of us have missed the mark. And so a lot of times we feel, we feel guilty, we feel ashamed, we feel far from God. But God in His mercy at this moment, He's loving you, He's reaching out to you. And you're not experiencing this message by accident. It's not a coincidence. I believe the Holy Spirit wants to change who you are. Real change, real and lasting change. It's not behavior modification, it's spiritual transformation.

When you step away from your old life and you step into the grace of Jesus, you call on His name. He hears your prayer, He forgives your sins. Who is Jesus? He is the Son of God. He is perfect in every way. He died on the cross and God raised Him from the grave so that anyone in this includes you who calls on His name would be forgiven, would be changed. You're not just better, you're different. The old life is gone and the new life comes. Wherever you're watching from, those who say, "Yes, I need His forgiveness, yes, I need His grace", when you call on Jesus, He hears your prayer, He forgives your sins. You'll be made new wherever you are, you say, "I want His salvation. I call on His name. Today, I give my life to Jesus".

If that's your prayer, lift your hands high right now, all over the place, lift them up high, shoot them up in the air and say, yes, that's my prayer. Right back here and over there as well. Praise God for you. Oh yes, right up here as well. Praise God for you. Come on church. Oh, let's celebrate. We might baptize some more people today. Others today saying, yes, Jesus, I need you right over there as well. Online, just type it in the comment section. I'm surrendering my life to Jesus. Just type that, I'm surrendering my life to Jesus. Would you all pray wherever you are? Pray:

Heavenly Father, forgive my sins. Jesus, change me, save me, forgive me. Fill me with your Spirit, so I can become like you. My life is not my own. I give it all to you. Thank you for the new life. You have mine. In Jesus' name I pray.

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