Solid Disciplines Foster Strong Habits

Give Thanks! Sing Praises! Solid Disciplines Foster Strong Habits

My first few substitute teaching gigs in the fall always generate a bit of anxiety–butterflies over the unknown, anticipation of challenges, always the possibility of conflict. To my great surprise, on my first day of school, as I inserted my key into the car’s ignition, the words of Isaiah 12 rushed into my mind, and I was able to recite them aloud as I rolled down the driveway and turned right onto the pavement.

I will give thanks to you, O Lord,
for though you were angry with me,
your anger turned away that you might comfort me.
Behold God is my salvation.
I will trust and not be afraid, for the Lord God is my strength and my song,
And he has become my salvation..”

And on it went. All the way to the end…

Shout and sing for joy, O inhabitants of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”

My habit for the previous school year had been to recite Isaiah 12 on my way to school. Little did I know that the habit had become so ingrained in my mind that the simple act of putting the keys in the ignition would cause the whole chapter to come flooding back to mind.

When a Discipline Becomes a Habit

The discipline of memorization had initiated a habit for the new school year. Our habits are crucial because we fall back on them when we’re weak. When we’re not paying attention, they sneak up on us and take over.

For me, the habit of reciting Scripture in the morning on the way to work was undoubtedly stronger than the habit of worrying. Isaiah 12 is a short chapter, and it bears close examination because it calls the believer to some strong habits of holiness–habits I certainly need to foster!

Here it is. I’ve underlined other habits of holiness I believe Isaiah is calling us to–and maybe even taking for granted– in this call to worship:

You will say in that day:
‘I will give thanks to you, O Lord,
    for though you were angry with me,
your anger turned away,
    that you might comfort me.’

‘Behold, God is my salvation;
    I will trust, and will not be afraid;
for the Lord God is my strength and my song,
    and he has become my salvation.’

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. And you will say in that day:

Give thanks to the Lord,
    call upon his name,
make known his deeds among the peoples,
    proclaim that his name is exalted.

Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously;
    let this be made known in all the earth.
Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion,
    for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”

Isaiah 12

When I choose to be purposeful in my gratitude, when I engage my will and praise God, when I decide to proclaim his wonders and make known his goodness, I am building good habits. I am also receiving a gift that is offered to me through the Gospel.

When I choose to be purposeful in my gratitude, when I engage my will and praise God, when I decide to proclaim his wonders and make known his goodness, I am building good habits. I am also receiving a gift that comes to me through the Gospel.

Isaiah wrote about a salvation he did not yet see, and I, too, write about a deliverance that is incomplete.  In a world where young friends get cancer, where red tomatoes succumb to blight before harvest, and where my own harsh words cut the people I love, I pray for the coming of a kingdom where God’s will is done — perfectly.

The Expulsive Power of a Stronger Habit

In the meantime, Thomas Chalmers’s logic from The Expulsive Power of a New Affection applies to the formation of strong habits of holiness. He claimed that the believer can remove the snares and tangles of sin, not by legalism or self-help strategies, but rather “by setting forth another object, even God, as more worthy of [our hearts’] attachment.”

What if our love for God, our trust in God, our praise of God, and our thanks to God crowded out the worrying, the complaining, and the discontentment that occupy so much of our time and our brain space?

What harmful habits do you want to expel from your life?
What strong habits could crowd them out?

How can I pray for you in this?

What if our love for God, our trust in God, our praise of God, and our thanks to God crowded out the worrying, the complaining, and the discontentment that occupy so much of our time and our brain space?

A Book that Fosters Habits of Holiness in Your Family…

Stacey and Bekah Pardoe are a mother/daughter team offering a tween’s-eye-view alongside hard-won wisdom from the heart of a mom. They took on the project of writing Girl to Girl in the midst of their busy lives with the goal of helping mums and daughters grow closer to God and closer to each other.

Since the sixty devotionals are not dated, the pace is flexible. With deep roots in Scripture, space to journal, and discussion questions to stimulate deeper conversations, Girl to Girl is a tool for establishing habits of Scripture reading, prayer, and mother/daughter communication.

Stacey and Bekah tackled sensitive topics like identity, dealing with stress and big emotions, body image, boys, and what it means to live with integrity. They shared moments from their actual lives, little glimpses of a growing walk with God.

Mothers will be grateful to experience Stacey’s vulnerable sharing that sometimes grownups feel insecure or struggle with sin. Daughters may be surprised to learn that their generational differences actually make them a more effective team as they lean into their following life together.

And if you’re looking for a recommendation for the teen girls in your life, Melanie Redd created Live in Light, a collection of five-minute devotionals to help your girl tackle her teenage years with wisdom and comfort from the Bible.

Holding you in the Light,

Need help connecting with your teen or pre-teen daughter? Check out this devotional written by mother/daughter team Bekah and @StaceyPardoe. #GirltoGirl #BookRecommendations #Devotional

My New Year’s Gift to You!

My first post of 2023 was a collection of blessings to pray over your loved ones at the beginning of the new year. I’ve made them available in printable format for your convenience, so to access your copy, simply click on Download or on the Printer Icon in the image to the left.

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13 thoughts on “Give Thanks! Sing Praises! Solid Disciplines Foster Strong Habits”

  1. We might think forming habits or doing something out of habit is boring, but good habits can be so helpful. I love that you recite Isaiah 12 on the way to substitute teach. I may borrow that idea for some upcoming dental work. . . .

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  2. Thank you so much for sharing our words, dear friend. This is a gift beyond words. I’ve been devouring your blog lately! Thank you for the way you speak into all the corners of our hearts. You are truly such a light-carrier!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. thanks for this nudge toward cultivating and healthy habits that will nurture us, give us peace, and purpose when the going gets tough. may the Spirit prompt us and guide us into all truth along the way.

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    1. I am really appreciating my time spent in your writing home–it’s become a peaceful place of reflection. So often, we’re coming from the same starting place, and I benefit from the way you approach the topic.
      Blessed by you!

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  4. You’ve reminded me of an old quote from Erasmus: “A nail is driven out by another nail; habit is overcome by habit.” We can certainly drive out a few bad habits with the good habits you’ve highlighted here from Isaiah 12. Thank you, Michele!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This meets me right in the midst of a current struggle, Michele. I will be looking for ways that nurturing these four spiritual habits can replace the worry and confusion I’ve been feeling lately.

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  6. I’m thankful that Isaiah 12 is one of those chapters that has really stuck with me (I suppose it’s because I actually recite it every few weeks to keep it active!). Such beauty and strength there.

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