Hymns: 464 Nearer, Still Nearer  443 None but Christ Can Satisfy!
Bible Reading Mark 6:31-46.
A person is known by his or her habits. A criminal is often found out because of the patterns in his behaviour. When something goes wrong in a community, it will be said, "It's just like him."
With reference to a good person, when a good deed is done anonymously it is said, "It's just like her".
Jesus' habits come to the fore in this passage.  The Lord's true character can be determined by His habits. 
One of the tell-tale statements about Jesus' habits is the little phrase, "As he was wont."  These are attributed to Him two times regarding two different habits:
  1. The Lord had a habit to teach.
In Mark 6:34 we read,  "He began to teach them many things." 
"And he arose from thence, and cometh into the coasts of Judaea by the farther side of Jordan: and the people resort unto him again; and, as he was wont, he taught them again." Mar_10:1 
This tells us a lot about the Lord who was the way the truth and the life. At every opportunity, the Lord taught the people. The greatest need of the human heart is to be enlightened regarding the kingdom of God.
He also had a habit of teaching by the seaside  Mark 2:13, 4:1. This worked well for him for he was able to turn the boat into a pulpit and use the water to amplify his voice as well as keep the crowds back on the water's edge.
While mentioning his habit of teaching, we find that he also had a practice of teaching by parables (Mark 4:2). The Lord excelled in teaching spiritual things through earthly events, or objects such as the dove's pure behaviour, the seed's germination or the prodigal's return home. 
To the Lord, the sparrow was not just a the littlest of birds, but a visual lesson on God's care for the smallest of his creatures, and by simple logic, it became proof of God's care for His children, which are of greater value than a sparrow. 
The Lord saw the same evidence of God's handiwork in the physical realm as can be found in the heavenly. In the eyes of the Lord, the humility of a little child demonstrated the character required for fellowship with God. By his use of parables and object lessons, Jesus was the great teacher.
Oh, to have the mind of Christ. Let our lives become God's illustration books on the eternal world. The born-again believer possesses a dual citizenship living on earth but belonging to heaven and will constantly compare both worlds pointing out the parallels to others. The mark, therefore, of a believer's growth in grace and Christ-likeness is to see earthly things through heavenly eyes and desire to point out the heavenly truths within this earthly world. 
    2. The Lord had a habit to seek quiet places of respite
The Lord went to desert places   [Desert = wilderness, desolate, a place to be alone]
He exhorted the disciples to join him in a desert place to "rest a while" (Mark 6:31). 
  • This was after their many labours (v30).
  • This was after their bereavement of John the Baptist  (v29-30).
  • This was at a time when their hearts were agitated by the cares of this life (v30).
  • This was when they had no leisure time.
Should Christians be workaholics?  Many are. This can be our weakness. We are people of action and discipline. We are performance driven in this world. Yet, there comes a time when we need to slow down and rest to prepare for the next round of service.
The Lord went to the mount of Olives.  "And he came out, and went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed him" (Luke_22:39).
The mount of Olives was a park-like setting outside the walls of Jerusalem away from the multitude of critical eyes. At the late stages of the Lord's earthly ministry, Jerusalem offered no respite to criticism. The Lord's presence was perceived as a threat to the status quo, the religious establishment. He was considered a disturber of the peace. The mount of Olives was in close proximity to Jerusalem and offered solace for the Lord and the disciples.  
Balance in life is vital to healthy bodies and healthy souls. The string on the violin cannot be left tightened up all the times, or it will break. Church life should be our times of refreshment. See Romans 15:32 for Paul's prayer to be "refreshed" in the fellowship of the saints.  We need prayer times, fellowship times and praise times when we just worship the Lord together for the pure joy of worshipping the Lord.  These things should be our habit.
Here I feel constrained to insert the wise words of Dr. J.C.Ryle on the subject of rest for the labouring servant of God: "There are few unhappily in the church of Christ, who need these admonitions. There are but few in danger of overworking themselves, and injuring their own bodies and souls by excessive attention to others. The vast majority of professing Christians are indolent and slothful and do nothing for the world around them. There are few comparatively who need the bridle nearly so much as the spur.
Yet these few ought to lay to heart the lessons of this passage. They should be content with spending their daily income of strength, and should not draw recklessly on their principal. They should remember that to do a little, and do it well, is often the way to do most in the long run. Above all, they should never forget to watch their own hearts jealously and to make time for regular self-examination, and calm meditation. The prosperity of a man's ministry and public work is intimately bound up with the prosperity of his own soul. Occasional retirement is one of the most useful ordinances." J.C. Ryle in Expository Thoughts on the Gospels
  1. The Lord had a habit to show compassion (v34).
The Lord showed compassion toward the leper:  "And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean" (Mark 1:41).
The Lord showed compassion concerning legion out of whom the Lord cast devils: "Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee" (Mark 5:19).
The Lord showed compassion at the feeding of the 5000 and again when he fed the 4000: "I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat" (Mark 8:2).
We need to pray for this habit of showing compassion. We need to be conformed to Christ's heart of love so that intuitively we show compassion to the lost and needy souls of this world.  
  1. The Lord had a habit of dispelling fears. (v 50).
This was a consoling word to the disciples being tossed about on the waves of the sea. The Lord introduced Himself, and in doing so, spoke words of peace.  He went on to still the storm. This is just like the Lord. Such is His concern and such is His power to deliver us from the troubles of life. 
The Lord said to Jairus, "Be not afraid only believe" (Mark 5:36).  This is a suitable word for us at all times.
Everywhere the Lord ministered, He was driving away fears and speaking peace into hearts. 
Even after His resurrection and His ascension, He is still ministering peace to hearts. Hear John the apostle's testimony of Christ's power to console while maintaining a testimony for Christ on the Isle of Patmos, "And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, "Fear not; I am the first and the last" (Rev. 1:17).
This another of the Lord habits. We need to pray for this habit to be stamped upon us. The Lord can also make us vessels of peace to the troubled and tried souls of men and women in this world. 
We need to start good habits as disciples of Christ. We need habits by which we will be known as Christians. When compassion is given out when fears are driven away and when the truth is held forth, let fingers be pointing at us due to our Christlike habits making our light to shine for Christ.
[Prayer & Bible Study: January 31, 2018]