Habits: Learning

Today, we celebrate Pentecost Sunday!

John 14:23-26

23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

Today, we remember the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all believers on the day of Pentecost that came just as Jesus had promised.  The Holy Spirit dwelling within us teaches us and reminds us of what His word says.  It’s an incredible reality that the infinite God who simply spoke and created everything wants to dwell with us.  The very Presence of God living within us through the Holy Spirit.  God personally guiding and directing us; teaching us each step of the way.  That is, of course, so long as we’re willing to recognize and listen to His voice and follow His lead.

This morning, we continue our message series entitled, “Habits.”   Through this message series, we’re learning about how to do small things consistently, which ultimately leads to an abundant life of integrity.

Small habits lead to big change!

We’ve been encouraged to develop Godly habits in our lives and learned how God intentionally made us as creatures of habit to set us up for success.  As we develop these habits, we will live lives of Godly integrity. 

Last week, we were encouraged to develop the habit of wisdom; not just gaining knowledge, but also how to most effectively apply it and put it into action.

This morning, we’re being challenged to develop the habit of learning.  The Holy Spirit is our Advocate and the greatest teacher that we could ever have.  His role is to teach, our role is to learn.  His role is to guide, our role is to follow.  His role is to speak, our role is to listen.  His role is to empower, our role is to obey.

Last week, we learned about how being a disciple of Jesus is more than just chasing after Him for His awesome benefits.  To be a disciple, and not just another person in the crowd, is to develop a relationship with Him.  We become His disciple by following Him and developing the same habits as He did leading to a life of integrity.

A huge part of being a disciple and making disciples is the process of learning.  In fact, last week’s message about wisdom is really all about learning.

Proverbs 9:9

Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still;

    teach the righteous and they will add to their learning.

Of course, we learn from the life of Jesus, from the guidance of the Holy Spirit, from God’s written word, and from our past experiences.  However, there is another great source of learning that we can draw from for wisdom that leads to integrity: each other!

God has given us each other to learn from one another’s successes and mistakes.  If left on our own, we’ll eventually veer off course and be lead away from Jesus and, so often, without even realizing it.  Together, however, we can help keep each other heading the right direction and spur each other on to live our lives to their full potential.

Proverbs 11:14 (AMP)

Where there is no

[wise, intelligent]

guidance, the people fall [and go off course like a ship without a helm],

But in the abundance of [wise and godly] counselors there is victory.

In a world where knowledge about anything is available in an instant, we don’t often take advantage of God’s plan for us to lean on the wisdom and counsel of each other.  I can admit myself that reaching out for help is usually my last resort and often to my own downfall.

I often miss out because of this.  When diving into projects that are new to me, I often make stupid mistakes and learn the hard and expensive way; from my mistakes.  Most of all, though, I miss out on building relationships and enjoying time spent together with others.

As individuals alone, we stray off course.  Together, learning from one another, there is victory!

Learning from one another isn’t necessarily sitting down and doing a class together, not that there is anything wrong with that.  Teachable moments when we learn the most valuable lessons often happen while we’re simply living life. 

For example, while in seminary, I found that although I paid more money for class time and book knowledge, I valued far more the time spent outside of class.  It was after class when my classmates and professors were just talking about life that I learned the practical application of that book knowledge.  It was then that my faith grew more than while reading a book.

In those times, we questioned things together and looked at things from many different perspectives that I would have never considered on my own.  Living life together helped us to walk out what God’s word taught through mutual encouragement, correction, and shared experiences.  That is what the church is supposed to look like; us living life together, learning from one another, and growing in our faith together.

We should never stop learning in life and we should intentionally seek to learn and be teachable all of the time.  Everywhere that we go, there are lessons all around us to be learned.  Wisdom is available in abundance if we simply develop the habit of learning and remain teachable.  As the Bible says:

Proverbs 1:20-21

20 Out in the open wisdom calls aloud,

    she raises her voice in the public square;

21 on top of the wall she cries out,

    at the city gate she makes her speech

When Jesus was just twelve years old, He stayed behind in Jerusalem while His family travelled back home.

Luke 2:46-47

46 After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers.

A few decades before Jesus began His public ministry, He was a student just like every other twelve year old.  Except unlike stereotypical twelve-year-old boys,  He was like a sponge when it came to learning.  It’s amazing to think that the living word of God needed to learn anything.  However, Jesus learned just as we do. 

In fact, He spent quite a bit of time alone learning from God the Father and following His lead.  In this way, He lived just like us in the flesh, filled with the Spirit, empowered by the direction of the Father and abilities of the Spirit.  Of course, unlike us, He was not born into sin and, though tempted like us, never chose to sin, either.

Like Jesus, the best teachers are usually also the best learners.  The best teachers are teachable.  They learn from their surroundings and use their surroundings to teach.  Jesus taught using parables and the apostles creatively shared the gospel using cultural contexts familiar in the places they travelled.

The best teachers are always seeking to gain a deeper understanding.  By understanding those around us, not only do we learn from them, but we’re also better equipped to teach them.  Jesus reached the lost by spending lots of time with them.  Sure, people accused Him of being a sinner as well, but that didn’t matter to Him.  He knew who He was and His purpose in life. 

Jesus came to seek and save the lost; to make disciples.  Then, He chose to fill us with the Holy Spirit and to give us that same task.  Over and over again in both the Old and New Testament, the Bible teaches that one of the very first things that the infilling of the Holy Spirit gives us is, you guessed it, understanding!

God gave us an amazing tool to learn and to gain understanding; the ability to question.  This ability offends the religious spirit that has overtaken much of the church.  However, from the very beginning when the church was established by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on God’s people at Pentecost, questioning was an integral part of our faith.

Jesus’ disciples asked Him many questions and He never criticized them for it.  Rather, He would answer them as any good teacher would.  In fact, He once explained the need for us to develop the habit of learning in this way:

Matthew 13:10-17

10 The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?”

11 He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. 12 Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables:

“Though seeing, they do not see;

    though hearing, they do not hear or understand.

14 In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:

“‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding;

    you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.

15 For this people’s heart has become calloused;

    they hardly hear with their ears,

    and they have closed their eyes.

Otherwise they might see with their eyes,

    hear with their ears,

    understand with their hearts

and turn, and I would heal them.’

16 But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. 17 For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.

We do not want to become a people like this.  We don’t want to be a people who come to church every week, read our Bibles every day, hang out with other believers and ever seeing and hearing, but never understanding.  We don’t want to have hardened hearts that sense nothing while the Holy Spirit moves all around us.  We don’t want to miss out!

Rather, we want to be a teachable people who hear and also understand, who see and also perceive; a teachable people with compassionate hearts easily moved by the Spirit and not hardened and calloused toward Him.  We want to develop the habit of learning.

What happened when the Holy Spirit was first poured out at Pentecost?  Questions were asked!  It’s not wrong to question God if our intent of questioning is to learn and understand what God is doing.  In fact, this questioning lead to the salvation of thousands!  In an instant, the church grew by over 2,500%!

Acts 2:1-12

1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? 9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”

Peter then preached a fairly brash and pointed message, but over 3,000 people responded to it and put their faith in Jesus that day!

Ask questions, get counsel from Godly people, hang out with other believers, and intentionally pay attention to what is happening around you and what God is speaking through it.  Wisdom constantly cries out aloud in the streets, let’s start listening to the voice of Jesus through it and learn from it.  Ask Jesus and He will baptize and fill you with Holy Spirit!

Then, we will grow and mature and be able to also  better teach others.  This is all part of the process of being a disciple of Jesus and making other disciples as well.

Let’s develop the habit of learning.