Most parents attempt to motivate their kids to act and behave right. I am around lots of parents with their kids in airports, stores, sporting events, school events, and church events. Most of the attempts at controlling their kids behavior is by scolding, threatening, yelling, and yelling louder, none of which does any good. When I get asked for advice from parents I counsel them to use reward and consequence that is clearly defined ahead of time, and consistently practiced. Reward for right behavior and consequence for wrong behavior, and make both the reward and consequence significant enough to truly motivate. Probably the easiest and most effective reward is money, and the consequence would be loss of money. Creative parents can think up all kinds of rewards and loss of rewards that would motivate their kids and end the anger, threatening, and yelling that takes place in so many families. The reason that I think this is a good thing for wise parents to do is because this is what God does to motivate us, He rewards good behavior and He has consequences for wrong behavior. In reading through the Bible the are hundreds of verses where God states clearly what the rewards and consequences are. One such verse is 1 Peter 3:10 “The one who desires life, to love and see good days, must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit.” The reason most Christians are not motivated by these statements in the Bible is because (1) they really do not believe God pays enough attention to them to know what they are doing, (2) they have a distorted, inaccurate view of God’s mercy and love so they think God will overlook and forgive anything they do, and (3) because they can’t see God they simply forget about Him, and forget that He is in charge. A simple definition of the “fear of the Lord” is “God sees everything we do, hears everything we speak, know everything we think, rewards good behavior and disciplines wrong behavior.” Galatians 6:7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.
One of the major problems for most followers of Jesus in the United States is that they love the world and the stuff that is in it.
1 John 2:15 Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
That is a very serious verse, but very few people take it seriously. The greatest and most important command in the Bible is to love the Lord with all of our heart. The greatest barrier to keeping that command is all the stuff we own and all the stuff we want to own. So how do we know if we are loving the world? An easy test is how you act when something you own that is a favorite is suddenly lost, broke, or stolen. If you love it there will be pain when it is suddenly gone. Last week when my really, really nice electric trolling motor that had a gps and auto pilot on it that cost $449.99 fell off my boat to the bottom of Detroit Reservoir the first words out of my mouth were “oh crap”. Then I thought, “Lord, I love You, not that motor”, and then I said out loud, “I didn’t like that motor anyway”. Stuff is nice, but you have to hold it lightly. I sold my 1949 Ford pickup that I had spent 8 years restoring from a rust bucket. It was a very nice pickup with a Flathead V8 that ran like a top. I sold it because I was consumed with fixing it and always reading about ways to make it better. I was spending more time reading the classic pickup catalogs, forums, and books then I did reading my Bible. It is so easy to drift away from the Lord, and it is so dangerous, and the consequences if not realized and reversed are eternal. The cool stuff in the world is not worth not hearing from Jesus when I enter His presence, “well done good and faithful servant”.
Whenever I have traveled across multiple time zones and stay where I’ve traveled for longer than a week, I have a very difficult time sleeping when I get back home . . . for at least another week. My physical body has gotten used to sleeping at a regular time and when I change that routine it takes a while to adjust to the change. The very same thing is true of my mental and spiritual disciplines. If I never develop a regular routine in doing them they will remain a difficult discipline that I often forget to do. But, if I read my Bible at basically the same time and place every day it doesn’t take very long before it becomes a routine and it will be difficult for me not to remember to do it. The same principle is true of prayer, reading good books, writing my blog, and reading my goals. It takes a little planning and discipline to establish a routine, but once established it makes life so much more successful. Another major benefit of establishing a routine is that it saves a ton of emotional energy. We each have a gas tank of emotional energy that pretty much gets used up each day. Our emotional energy is what fuels our will power and our self-control. If we run out of energy before the day is over we will have a tough time making right choices and not getting sucked into wrong behavior as we finish the day. One of the major users of our emotional energy is decision making, so the trick is to make a decision once and then stay with it; don’t re-make it over and over again. If we never establish a time when we read our Bible, (but we know we need to read it), we will be trying all day to fit it in, sometimes getting it done and other times not. If there are very many things like that in your life you have become a very inefficient user of your emotional energy resource. If you get most of the things that you do established repeatedly on a regular routine, you will have so much more energy left at the end of the day that you will regularly finish strong. Most of the time if someone blows their diet they will do it in the evening, or a man struggling to control looking at porn will slip in the evening as well. Take the time to assign each of your spiritual disciplines to a daily time and place, and then stick with it. In a month there will be a new self-control level reached that really helps in life as you press on towards maturity as a Christian.