Developing Holy Habits: A Journey to the Heart of God
As I sat in the quiet of the early morning, the only sounds I heard were the gentle hum of the refrigerator and the distant chirping of birds greeting the dawn. My steaming cup of coffee sat forgotten as I thumbed through the worn pages of my Bible. In these quiet moments, before the rush of the day, I felt closest to God. But it wasn’t always like this.
Years ago, my days looked much different. They started with a blaring alarm and trying to wrangle cranky children. Sometimes, quick prayers were thrown up as an afterthought—if at all. My spiritual life felt as neglected as my unread Bible collecting dust on the shelf. The sacred moments were possible, but I was too caught up in the whirlwind of life to notice them.
It took a season of burnout and a heart-to-heart with a wise friend to realize what I was missing. “You need to find your sacred moments,” she had said, her voice both gentle and insistent. “Carve out time for God, and you’ll find Him waiting for you.”
Taking her advice, I began considering morning habits to turn things around. I started waking up earlier, setting aside the first moments of my day to spend in silence and Scripture. It was awkward at first, I’ll admit. But as the days turned into weeks and the weeks into months, I found new comforting and invigorating habits.
One Small Change
In our fast-paced world, it’s easy to let the sacred moments slip through our fingers, like sand sifting through an open hand. Our days are filled with tasks and responsibilities. Then there’s the constant ping of digital notifications vying for our attention. Yet, amid this chaos, we can make a difference. We can develop holy habits. We can purify our lives of things that don’t need to be there so we can draw close to the heart of God.
What happens when we focus on what matters: time with God? As we carve out these sacred moments daily, we open our hearts to God’s presence, which can comfort, guide, and even change us.
We begin to see God at work in our quiet morning, speaking to us in the pages of Scripture. We feel God’s nearness even in the chaos of our busiest days. And as we do, we discover the peace and purpose of walking closely with Him.
My journey towards embracing holy habits began on one quiet, unassuming morning. The house was still, and my family hadn’t yet awakened to start the day’s hustle and bustle. I had set my alarm to get up before everyone else. And as I sipped my coffee, I felt a gentle nudge in my spirit. A gentle whisper invited me to open my Bible and spend time with God. It was one simple act, yet it marked the beginning of growing my faith and transforming my life.
Developing Holy Habits
Of course, this concept of developing holy habits isn’t new. It’s deeply rooted in God’s Word, and we can see it in those who walk closely with God. Think of Daniel’s unwavering commitment to prayer despite the threat of the lion’s den. Think of Jesus’ practice of withdrawing to lonely places to commune with the Father. The Bible has many examples of holy habits–habits that draw us nearer to God.
Developing holy habits requires being intentional.
It also takes discipline. But it’s far from a burdensome task. Instead, developing holy habits can be a joyful discovery of the sacred in the ordinary. It can be a way to weave moments of worship, prayer, and reflection into our everyday lives. Here are a few steps to begin this journey:
- Start Small: My journey began with a few minutes of Scripture reading each morning. Whatever holy habit you choose to develop, start small. The key is being consistent, whether it’s five minutes of prayer, reading a daily devotional, or simply sitting in silence before God.
- Make it Personal: Holy habits should reflect your unique connection with God. For me, writing has always been a way to process my thoughts and prayers. So, part of my daily time with God includes jotting down prayers and reflections in a journal. Find what connects you most deeply to God and make it a regular part of your routine.
- Create a Sacred Space: A designated space for your holy habits can enhance your focus and intentionality. My sacred space is a cozy corner in my living room, with a comfortable chair and a small table for my Bible and journal. This physical space serves as a tangible reminder of my commitment to meet with God.
- Be Flexible but Faithful: Life is unpredictable, and there will be days when your routine just doesn’t happen. On those days, give yourself grace. What matters is not the perfection of your practice; what really matters is the persistence of your pursuit of God.
- Invite Others to Join You: Sharing your journey with friends or family members can provide encouragement and accountability. Once a week, John and I meet with a small group of friends from church to discuss what we were taught and what we’re learning in our personal times with God. Spending time with other Christians has given us strength. It has also helped us to grow in our relationship with God. I also love spending time discussing God’s Word with my friend, Michelle, on the Daily Bible Podcast. You can find out more at DailyBiblePodcast.net. I’ve been more diligent about spending time with God when I know I’ll be talking to Michelle about what I’ve learned multiple times a week.
Holy Habits Change Everything
As I’ve integrated holy habits into my life, I’ve noticed a profound shift in my heart and mind. The constant noise of the world has dimmed. Instead, in its place is a deeper sense of peace. Also, as I’ve spent time with God, my purpose has emerged. My mornings with God have become the cornerstone of my day, a sacred time that shapes my actions, attitudes, and reactions to the world around me.
Developing holy habits is not about adding another task to our busy lives. Instead, it’s about creating space to encounter God, to listen to His voice, and to align our hearts with His. This journey doesn’t promise to be easy, but it leads to the very heart of God.
In this journey, I’ve discovered that the holy habits we cultivate do more than just change us. Holy habits transform the way we engage with the world. They become the lens through which we see our lives, relationships, and purpose. Developing holy habits shows us that every moment is an opportunity to encounter the divine and live out our calling as bearers of God’s image in a world desperate for His love and grace.
As you consider embarking on your own journey of developing holy habits, remember that it’s not about achieving spiritual perfection. Instead, it’s about drawing closer to the One who calls us beloved. It’s spending time with God, who invites us into a deeper relationship with Him. And the more time we spend with God, the better equipped we are to walk in His ways.
May your journey toward holy habits be marked by moments of profound encounter with Go, as you draw ever closer to His heart!
Weekly readings for the Daily Bible Podcast with Tricia and Michelle
In the heart of Leviticus, nestled between the regulations and rituals, lies a narrative that challenges us to reconsider our understanding of holiness and the presence of God among us. The journey from Exodus to Leviticus is not just a transition from one book to another; it’s a transition from a concept to a living reality, from God meeting His people on the mountain to dwelling among them in the Tabernacle.
The structure of the Tabernacle, with its distinct zones—the Holy of Holies, the inner court, and the outer court—mirrors the structured approach God desires in our relationship with Him. It’s a physical representation of how we are to approach God, with reverence and understanding of our place in His presence.
The narrative takes a dramatic turn with the story of Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, who offered unauthorized fire before the Lord and paid the ultimate price for their disobedience. This event is a stark reminder of the consequences of treating God’s holiness lightly. It’s important to respect the divine boundaries set by God, recognizing that His pure goodness becomes dangerous when we rebel against His commands.
The incident also highlights the importance of distinguishing between what is sacred and what is common. We live in a world vastly different from the open-air courtyards and the ornate tabernacle of ancient Israel. Yet, the call to holiness and the need to set apart what is sacred in our lives is still important.
In Leviticus 11, the dietary laws and the distinctions between clean and unclean animals seem distant from our contemporary concerns. However, these regulations are not just about food. They symbolize a deeper spiritual reality: call to be holy, as God is holy.
What does this mean for us today? The narrative of Leviticus invites us to reflect on the presence of God among us. It challenges us to consider how we create holy spaces in our lives to welcome God. Are we mindful of what we consider sacred? Do we approach God with the reverence He deserves? How do we embody the role of priests in our modern world, representing God before the people and the people before God?
The story of Aaron and his sons, the intricate details of the Tabernacle, and the laws of cleanliness all point to the same truth: God is holy, and He calls us to share in that holiness. This is not a call to ritual purity but to a life set apart. This is marked by a deep reverence for God and a commitment to live according to His divine will. God is indeed among us, guiding us, shaping us, and calling us to be a holy people for His glory.
As we delve into these ancient rituals, we can be inspired to live out the profound and timeless truths they contain, making space for God in every aspect of our lives.
In today’s fast-paced world, the ancient texts of Leviticus, particularly chapters 12 to 14, might seem distant and difficult to relate to. Yet, upon closer examination, these Scriptures unfold profound insights into the concepts of cleanliness and uncleanliness, extending far beyond mere physical purity to touch upon a deeper, spiritual holiness in connection with God’s perfection.
Leviticus 12 offers a fascinating look into the purification process for women after childbirth, underscoring the sanctity of life and the essential role of ritual cleanliness in returning to communal worship. It prescribes a period for the mother to remain in a state of purification, culminating in a sacrificial offering to the Lord, a beautiful gesture of gratitude and recognition of life’s sacredness.
In Leviticus 13, the text delves into examining and managing skin diseases and mildew, providing priests with detailed instructions for diagnosing and handling conditions considered ‘unclean.’ This chapter emphasizes the community’s responsibility in halting the spread of disease, highlighting the importance of safeguarding both health and ritual purity.
Leviticus 14 continues this theme by extending into the cleansing rituals for leprosy, covering not just individuals but also garments and houses. While these practices may seem antiquated at first glance, they offer pathways for those affected to be restored to cleanliness and reintegrated into the community. These rituals symbolize the potential for redemption and the reattainment of holiness through adherence to divine commands, shedding light on New Testament events where Jesus, after healing someone, instructs them to “Go show yourself to the priest.”
The distinction between cleanliness and holiness within these chapters is crucial. While objects or individuals can be clean without being holy, holiness embodies a more significant dimension, linking all aspects of our lives to the divine nature of God and humanity’s reverence towards Him. This relationship is vividly portrayed in the prophets, such as in Ezekiel 22:26, where the failure to distinguish between what is holy and what is not leads to dishonor and sin.
Thus, while the immediate relevance of these Levitical laws might not be apparent, their importance is undeniable. The vigilance against uncleanliness prescribed in God’s Law plays a vital role in daily life, merging moral and ritual requirements. This mindfulness fosters a community striving for cleanliness and wholesomeness, serving both a spiritual and practical purpose in maintaining health and preventing disease.
Today’s word, “Clean: morally uncontaminated; pure; innocent,” serves as a poignant reminder of the inner purity God calls us to. Paul’s advice in Philippians 4:8 resonates with the essence of these teachings, urging us to fix our thoughts on what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, and admirable—qualities that embody a life lived in alignment with God’s expectations.
So, do these chapters in Leviticus apply to us today? Absolutely. They challenge us to reflect on the nature of true cleanliness, not just outwardly but in the purity of our hearts and minds. Jesus’ words in Matthew 15:16-20 underscore this, as He points out that what defiles us comes from within, from our hearts, highlighting the importance of inner purity over external rituals.
This insight compels us to introspect and question our motives and the nature of our thoughts. Cultivating a spirit of purity, where our thoughts, actions, and words align with the values of love, kindness, and honesty, is the real challenge. With the Holy Spirit’s help, it’s about striving to let only what is noble, just, and pure take root within us.
In embracing the ancient teachings on cleanliness, coupled with Jesus’ profound clarification, we are reminded of the critical importance of both external practices for health and purity and, more importantly, of nurturing a heart that mirrors true cleanliness—morally uncontaminated, pure, and innocent. This journey towards true cleanliness is not just about adhering to ancient laws but about embodying the spirit of these teachings in our daily lives, ensuring that our hearts and actions reflect the divine purity God desires.
Leviticus might not be the first book you turn to for inspiration or guidance, but hidden within its ancient rituals and laws are timeless truths about living a life close to God. As we delve into Leviticus 14:33-57, 15, and 16, we uncover this: God cares deeply about every aspect of our lives, from our homes to our health. More than that, God provides ways for us to maintain a pure and holy relationship with Him.
A Clean Home and a Pure Heart
Imagine finding mold in your home and having a specific way to clean it, blessed by God Himself. That’s what we see in Leviticus 14. It’s not just about keeping our living spaces clean. It’s a metaphor for our lives. As Moses shared these laws, the listener would have understood that God was telling His people to keep an eye out for the ‘mold’ in their lives—sin that creeps in—and to deal with it promptly. Our external actions do reflect our internal state.
Health, Holiness, and Healing
Leviticus 15 might seem all about physical conditions, but going deeper, we also see it’s really about how our personal well-being affects our spiritual lives and those around us. We’re not just taking care of ourselves by following God’s guidance on cleanliness. We’re also respecting the community and God’s presence among us. It’s a reminder that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, and we’re called to treat them with care and respect.
The Day of Atonement: A Fresh Start
Leviticus 16, detailing the Day of Atonement, is about getting a clean slate. It’s beautiful how God provides a way for everyone—leaders and people alike—to be cleansed from their sins. This day was a profound reminder of the seriousness of sin and the incredible gift of forgiveness. It’s a day of humility, fasting, and reflection, leading to renewal and a restored relationship with God.
What This Means for Us
The rituals in Leviticus might seem distant and complicated, but they boil down to a few simple truths. God is holy and wants to live in a close relationship with us. Sin and impurity disrupt that relationship, but God doesn’t leave us without hope. He has provided a way for us to be cleansed and return to Him.
In today’s terms, it’s about looking at our lives and asking, “What needs to be cleaned up? What have I allowed to creep in that’s putting distance between me and God?” It’s about recognizing that God cares for us so deeply that He provides ways for us to return to Him, no matter how far we’ve strayed.
Embracing the Call to Holiness
The call to holiness is not about following a list of rules; it’s about living in a way that reflects God’s love and purity in every area of our lives. It’s about acknowledging our need for God’s cleansing power and embracing His forgiveness and grace daily.
As we reflect on the messages of Leviticus, let’s remember that God’s desire is for us to live lives marked by His presence. Let’s approach Him with humble hearts, willing to be cleansed and made new. Through Jesus, we have the ultimate sacrifice that makes atonement for us all, offering us a chance to live in the fullness of God’s love and holiness daily.
In the end, Leviticus is not just a book of ancient laws; it’s a guide to living a life that’s in tune with God’s heart—a life that’s clean, pure, and full of His presence. Let’s embrace that life today.
Leviticus 17, 18, and 19
As we journey through Leviticus 17, 18, and 19, we’re invited into a deeper understanding of how God instructs the Israelites—and, by extension, us—on living lives that are consecrated and distinct.
The Sacredness of Life and Worship
Leviticus 17 brings us face-to-face with the sacredness of blood, highlighting its role as the life force in God’s creation. The chapter demands centralizing worship in the Tabernacle and prohibits the consumption of blood, directives aimed not only at maintaining purity but also at setting the Israelites apart from neighboring peoples. This chapter also addresses idolatry, specifically the sacrifice to goat idols or demons—a clear “don’t do that” from God. In the New Testament (Hebrews 9:22), these themes point towards Christ’s ultimate sacrifice for our sins.
Maintaining Family Integrity and Community Sanctity
In Leviticus 18, God delineates boundaries around sexual morality. These laws were countercultural then, setting the Israelites apart from the practices of Egypt and Canaan, including incestuous relationships that were surprisingly common in other nations. The command, “Do not act like the people in Egypt…or like the people of Canaan,” serves as a stark warning, urging God’s people to uphold a different standard of holiness in their personal and community lives.
Holiness in Everyday Actions
Leviticus 19 extends the call to holiness to every aspect of life, echoing the Ten Commandments in greater detail. It begins with a powerful directive: “You must be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy.” This chapter is a beautiful blend of ethical, ritual, and social laws, emphasizing justice, love for neighbors, and the importance of the Sabbath—all underpinned by the repeated affirmation, “I am the Lord.”
The Heart of the Matter
God’s message through these chapters is clear: to be set apart. He calls His people to live differently, not by the absence of rules or mimicking the ways of others but by following Him. The prohibitions and commandments are not arbitrary; they protect against defilement and ensure the community’s purity and well-being.
The detailed commandments in Leviticus, while specific to the Israelites’ context, speak volumes about God’s desire for His people to live in a manner that reflects His holiness. Like a parent guiding a toddler, God’s instructions are clear and repetitive, covering potential “loopholes” to ensure understanding and compliance.
As we reflect on these chapters, the call to “be careful to keep all of my decrees and regulations” is as relevant today as it was then. It’s about living in a way that acknowledges God’s presence among us, prompting us to act differently—carefully, thoughtfully, and with a deep respect for the sacredness of life and the holiness of God. It’s a call to examine our lives, to find ways to live out these principles in today’s world, and to embrace the distinctiveness of living in a close relationship with a holy God.
In today’s reading, we delve into the divine instructions given to Moses, focusing on the severe consequences of sin. A recurring theme that resonated deeply with me was the call to “be set apart.” God wanted His people to eliminate wickedness and embrace holiness to mirror His own purity.
Today’s reading started with the sin of child sacrifice to Molech, a deed punishable by stoning. Imagining oneself among the crowd witnessing such a punishment evokes a profound sense of the tragedy of sin and its consequences. This ancient justice system prescribed death for idolatry, blasphemy, murder, and adultery.
To cut off such evil was crucial. The Israelites stood on the brink of entering new lands, and God was laying the groundwork for their future. God’s warnings against evil practices are coupled with promises of a land “flowing with milk and honey.” Leviticus chapters 21 and 22 further detail the sanctity required of priests and the standards for offerings, highlighting the overarching theme of purity and dedication in service to the divine.
The concept of being “set apart,” illustrated God’s desire for His people and priests to reflect His holiness. This principle of separation, however, extends beyond the ancient texts to resonate within our own lives.
The concept of holiness, emphasized in Exodus with the high priest’s turban inscribed with “Holiness to the Lord,” reminds us of God’s unchanging nature and the call for His people to be holy in their actions. The insistence on separation is not merely for distinction but for cultivating a community that mirrors God’s presence among them.
We walk away from today’s reading with this: consequences serve a purpose. They remind us of the impact of our actions, not just on ourselves but on those around us. Consequences also help us understand our sins better so we may seek holiness in our lives. These lessons remind us to consider the weight of our choices and to reflect the holiness of God in our lives.
In the heart of the Old Testament, Leviticus 23 is a pivotal chapter that unveils the beauty and depth of God’s appointed festivals: the joyous celebrations of Passover, Unleavened Bread, the First Harvest, and the Festival of the Harvest.
The Sabbath and Festivals: A Time for Reflection and Rejoicing
The chapter opens with a reminder of the Sabbath—a day set apart each week for rest and worship, reinforcing the rhythm of work and rest essential for a balanced spiritual life. Following this, the narrative transitions into the details of the Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread, commemorating Israel’s deliverance from Egypt with practices observed for millennia.
Leviticus 23:22 and the Echoes of Ruth
A particularly striking verse, Leviticus 23:22, encapsulates the spirit of generosity and community care by instructing landowners to leave the edges of their fields unharvested for the poor and the foreigners. This timeless principle of compassion finds a memorable application in the book of Ruth, where Boaz exemplifies this commandment, providing for Ruth and Naomi in their time of need.
The Shofar’s Call: A Symbol of Divine Presence
The Festival of Trumpets, marked by the blowing of the shofar, serves as a powerful symbol of God’s sovereignty and a prophetic reminder of the day when the trumpet will sound at Jesus’ return. Along with the Day of Atonement and the Festival of Shelters, this festival maps out a journey of repentance, atonement, and rejoicing in God’s provision and protection.
Leviticus 24: The Sanctity of Light and Life
Moving into Leviticus 24, the focus shifts to maintaining the pure oil for the lamps and the holy bread—symbols of God’s continual presence and provision. The chapter also addresses the weighty matters of justice and reverence for the divine name, emphasizing the sacredness of life and the importance of community integrity.
Jubilee: A Proclamation of Freedom
Leviticus 25 introduces the concept of the Jubilee year—a time of restoration and freedom. Every 50th year, lands were to be returned to their original families, and slaves were freed, illustrating God’s desire for equity, freedom, and the restoration of relationships.
Psalm 119: A Love Letter to God’s Law
Echoing the themes of Leviticus, Psalm 119 celebrates the joy and peace of adhering to God’s law. It’s a heartfelt declaration of love for God’s commandments and a testament to the transformative power of living according to divine statutes.
The Liberty Bell and the Message of Freedom
The inscription on the Liberty Bell, “Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land Unto All the Inhabitants thereof,” draws directly from Leviticus 25:10, symbolizing the universal longing for freedom and justice. This connection between Scripture and American history highlights the enduring influence of biblical principles on the quest for liberty and equality.
The Relevance of God’s Appointed Times Today
God’s appointed festivals outlined in Leviticus 23 are not mere historical footnotes but vibrant celebrations of God’s ongoing work. They remind us of the Lord’s faithfulness, the importance of community, and the eternal principles of justice and mercy that guide us. As we reflect on these appointed times, we’re invited to see the story of God’s redemption unfolding in our lives, marking our moments of celebration, reflection, and commitment to the path He has set before us.
In every festival, every command, and every appointed time, we find a facet of God’s character and a call to walk more closely with Him. Whether looking back to the foundations laid in Leviticus or forward to the fulfillment of God’s promises, these appointed times offer us a chance to pause, remember, and rejoice in the story of divine love that encompasses all of history, including our own.
Leviticus 25:24-55, Leviticus 26
In the heart of Leviticus 25, we read about land redemption and the sanctity of human freedom, as seen through God’s compassion. The Israelites were just recently slaves, and we see here that the land and its inhabitants are not mere assets but precious charges entrusted to us. These chapters have a deeper significance, especially concerning redemption and liberation.
The Jubilee: A Celebration of Freedom and Restoration
The promise of the Jubilee year stands out as a testament to God’s mercy and justice. It’s a divine provision that ensures no individual or family remains perpetually dispossessed or enslaved, highlighting the view that land and people are not mere commodities but precious entities entrusted to humanity by God.
Divine Ownership and the Dignity of Individuals
Leviticus 25:55 says “For the people of Israel belong to me. They are my servants, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.” This declaration emphasizes that the Israelites, recently liberated from slavery, are under divine protection, highlighting the intrinsic value of each individual in the eyes of their Creator.
Blessings for Obedience and the Reality of Divine Justice
In Chapter 26, we find a shift from regulations to the consequences of obedience versus disobedience. The blessings promised to Israel if they adhere to their covenant with God cover aspects like seasonal rains, abundant harvests, peace, security, and the divine promise of God’s presence among His people. These blessings are not mere rewards but the natural outcomes of living in close relationship with God.
However, the passage also starkly outlines the severe consequences of disobedience: fear, desolation, and divine wrath. Yet, even in this, there’s a message of hope: the possibility of repentance and restoration if the people confess their sins, showcasing God’s enduring commitment to His covenant and His people.
The Babylonian Exile: A Historical Fulfillment of Prophecy
The mention of the Babylonian exile serves as a historical anchor, demonstrating the real-world implications of Israel’s disobedience and God’s sovereignty in using nations like Babylon as instruments of judgment. Yet, the eventual return of the Jews to Jerusalem after 70 years of exile underlines the faithfulness of God to His promises and the importance of repentance and restoration.
The Dual Nature of God’s Covenant: Promise and Warning
God’s covenant with Israel is both a promise of blessing and a caution against the curse of disobedience. This shows God’s desire for a holy, set-apart people and His patience and willingness to forgive. Through the lens of the New Testament, we see the ultimate act of redemption as Christ takes upon Himself the curse of the law, offering salvation and freeing humanity from the bondage of sin.
The Enduring Relevance of Leviticus
In every aspect, from the jubilant celebration of the Jubilee to the solemn warnings of divine justice, Leviticus calls us to a deeper understanding of our relationship with God and one another. It’s a call to live according with God’s laws, to cherish the gift of freedom, and to embrace the promise of redemption that lies at the heart of the Christian faith.