22 Oct 2018

Spiritual Disciplines

The job of a coach is to make men do what they don't want to do in order to achieve what they've always wanted to be. - Tom Landry

unsplash-logo Ben White

Return on Investment

“The job of a coach is to make men do what they don’t want to do in order to achieve what they’ve always wanted to be.” - Tom Landry

Usually, we get increased value from things in which we invest. We can get varying returns depending on what we invest in, like the stock market and realize positive or negative returns. But the majority of the time you can expect a positive return on investment. Conversely, we get virtually no value or enjoyment out of things we do not invest in. We actually realize a loss from missed opportunities.

I was thinking back to a few years ago when my wife and I were very into a TV series. We religiously watched this show. We would get excited for the day it was on. We would make absolutely sure we carved out time in our schedule so we wouldn’t miss a single episode. The show was important to us, and we were intentional in doing (sowing) things to make sure we could watch (reap) it every week.

Ironically, now I don’t think I could tell you much about that show. I don’t remember a full episode or really many of the details other than a couple of small facts about a fictional rude doctor that encouraged negative behavior, but that’s about all.

Galatians 6:7, 8 (ESV) tells us, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit with from the Spirit reap eternal life.”

More Meat

A common thread of requests among us church-goers is for deeper teaching. We want more ‘meat’.

Ironically, there is an all-you-can-eat-buffet of God’s Word available to us that is open 24 hours a day 7 days per week. All of the implements needed to fully consume, enjoy and digest the meal are provided. We even have an open line of communication directly to the Chef and are invited, actually encouraged, to discuss the meal (prayer) - give thanks and ask questions about it, reflect and meditate on it, takes some to-go, write reviews (journal) and come back as often as we would like.

By the way, the meal is free to us, though if you enjoyed it fully and you would like to do so, you are welcome to leave a tip. 10% is recommended, but if your heart desires and you are fully satisfied, feel free to leave more.

Sadly, we usually drive by seeing the blinking sign we are in a hurry to get somewhere and don’t make time to stop. And, remember last time the food was cold and didn’t fill us up because we were in a hurry then to and just grabbed a to-go container and nibbled on a couple small bites quickly while we were distracted. Besides, there is a McDonald’s on the way and it is faster. It is all packaged up in a nice little quick container that is virtually spoon-fed to us.

When we are ready and make the time, God invites us to sit at the table with Him and enjoy a delicious meal that will perfectly fill us up.

Psalm 34:8 (ESV) invites us, “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!”

Amazingly, He waits patiently keeping the meal warm-and-ready for us until we decide to come and join Him. Making the time to enjoy a delicious hot meal is a much better investment.

Perfect Return on Investment

Just like enjoying a proper hot, delicious meal vs. fast food you receive a much better return on investment with better choices in your spiritual life, as well. Spending intentional time with God is always valuable. Even in the times when I may be hurried, or not have the correct attitude, he corrects me and I still get value. However, the most fruitful and valuable times I spend with God are when I am authentically excited to enjoy his Word and talk to him through prayer. When I remember, as Whitney illustrates in Spiritual Disciplines, “The Lord Jesus stands ready to meet with you privately for as long as you want, willing - even eager - to meet with you every day!” It is unfortunate how ridiculously often I take this for granted. I don’t have to wait for the one time per year someone else can approach God on my behalf. He, the God and King of the universe, gives me direct access to Himself whenever I want.

The only excuse I have for not getting more ‘meat’ - not knowing my Lord and Savior more deeply and intentionally - is my laziness and apathy. Or, maybe it is my lack of belief. I’ve often heard people say things, and I’ve said similar things myself, like, “I know I should get up 10 minutes earlier and read the Bible, but that 10 minutes of sleep feels so good.

I wonder instead of feeling like we had to lose 10 minutes of sleep to read some book, if instead, we realized Jesus was patiently waiting in the living room for us to get the sleep out-of-our-eyes so He could enjoy a few minutes with us before we started our day, if that would change our approach? Our day? Our lives?

My sons don’t know it but I wake them up about 30 minutes before they really need to be up so we can have cuddle time. I get to sit and hold them and love on them before they go out in the world. I get to hear, “I love you, my Daddy.” And, I get to arm them with the knowledge their Daddy loves them and is proud of them, as well.

Spending time with God, especially in the morning, equips us and arms us for the spiritual battles we will face throughout the day. We have an opportunity to cover ourselves with the Armor of God listed in Ephesians 6:11-18. Then God sends us out into the world but graciously does not send us on our own. We get to communicate with Him throughout the day. I love the picture Whitney uses in Spiritual Disciplines on prayer, "prayers is a walkie-talkie for warfare, not a domestic intercom for increased conveniences."

The God of Creation and everything in it, who died for me, who desires to spend time with me, makes Himself available to me any time I want, to help me grow and help me through life is waiting for me to come and spend time with Him. The only investment I have to make is showing up and He promises a perfect return on that investment. How amazing is that!?

I pray I approach God with a proper heart and receive the promise in Joshua 1:8 (ESV), “‘This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”