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Busyness, Spirituality, and Vision

Mark Finley

Description

One of the great challenges to a meaningful spiritual life is busyness. It is a challenge that medical/dental students and professionals face on a daily basis. During this session we will explore practical principles of the deeper spiritual life in a hectic world. We will also discuss three of the greatest time consumers and how to turn “dead time” into positively refreshing spiritual moments. The goal of this exercise is to grow together in our understanding of what it means to live a godly life in a fast paced 21st century world and how to accomplish it. We will discuss how to keep your vision clear in the context of a hectic medical/dental practice. 

Presenter

Mark Finley

Assistant to President for Evangelism at the General Conference

Recorded

  • October 29, 2016
    4:00 PM

Series

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If you noticed in your bulletin, your program, our topic is busyness, spirituality, and vision. Is it possible not simply to survive spiritually in a busy schedule but is it possible to thrive in a busy schedule? And I'll focus this specifically toward our students but it certainly will apply to every healthcare professional. We’re going to look at five basic aspects of busyness. We're going to look at the problem of busyness. Now if anybody's busy. That's a freshman, sophomore students who are in medical school. Some, one of the medical students told me that “when we were in college it was like drinking from a faucet but when we entered medical schools, it’s like drinking from a fire hydrant” and somebody else said that's not true at all - “It's like standing under a waterfall and letting the information pass by you.” So, medical students are incredibly busy and that busyness in your student life only prepares you for your practice where it gets busier and so we're going to talk about the problem of busyness. We're going to look at some Biblical examples of busyness. We're going to look at the effect of busyness on your physical, mental and spiritual life; then we will take a look at revitalizing your spiritual life at a time of busyness and; then we'll look at some time consumers and how to deal with them.

 

So, let's pray. I'll try to save some time at the end of the presentation for you to ask some questions.

 

So, let's pray. Father in heaven, thank you that in the midst of a busy lives you're still small voice still speaks to our hearts. Thank you that in the midst of hectic schedules, we can pause long enough to hear your voice and have you speak to our hearts. Grant to us in this session some practical principles that will enable us day by day and moment by moment to be closer to you in Christ's name. Amen.

 

Not long ago, a respected church administrator was talking to another one of his administrator colleague. And as they were discussing their work, the subject of busyness - hectic schedules came up and one administrator looked at the other church administrator and he said, “You know I have to be honest with you, I am so busy that I don't have time to study the Bible very much and I don't have time to pray.” The other administrator was quite surprised about that and he said, “Are you suggesting to me that as a church leader your life has become so hectic that you are no longer having much of a devotional life?” And the administrator just smiled and he say, “You know, prayer and Bible study is not my thing; that's my wife's thing. Work is my thing.”

 

A pastor was conducting a workers' meeting for pastors and at the end of the workers' meeting- pastors meeting, one of the pastors came up to him and he said this, “Nobody knows this, but I'm exhausted. I'm burned out. I'm fatigued and I feel I can no longer function in my ministry. I'm out of gas and running on fumes. Is there any way that you can help me?”

 

Now, the idea of being consumed by our work. The idea of being overwhelmed by busyness this is not unique to ministerial workers. The Harris Interactive Poll took an online survey for Career Builder between February 11th and March 6th 2013 and that poll was taken among 500 United States health care workers and more than 240 health care employers. And they discovered this that heavy patient loads smaller staff higher stress levels are causing burnout among at least sixty percent of America's health care workers and so when you look at that heavy patient loads. What's that called? It's called busyness.

 

Health care professionals are battling burnout. An article called “Battling Burnout and Health Care and Health Care Professionals are High Risk” by Megan Malugani says this, “The odds are high that burnout will strike every health care professional at some point in their career.”

 

So, when you took take a look at busyness – busyness, hectic schedules lead us, not only to burnout, but they lead us to have very thin, very superficial spiritual lives. Chuck Swindoll wrote a book called “Intimacy with God” and in that book, he makes this insightful comment, “noise and words and frenzied hectic schedules dull our senses. They close our ears to His still small voice and may make us numb to His touch.” I was interested in that observation. Hectic schedules make us numb to the touch of God and hectic schedules and busyness fail, enable us to have our spiritual sense is dulled.

 

Somebody said, “Superficiality is the curse of our age.”The doctrine of instant satisfaction is a primary spiritual problem. Our greatest need is not for more intelligent people or for more gifted people but for more deep people. I would like to suggest to you that superficiality is the curse of our age; that busyness often crowds out that still small voice; and that individuals that have a deep spiritual experience that really know God; that really have connected with Him in prayer that really have had his word transformed their lives are very few. And the world will never be changed by a superficial Christian experience. Your medical practice will never have the impact on your patients, if your experience with God is superficial. A superficial experience with God when one merely goes through the motions of spirituality simply has very little impact on others.

 

Let's look at some Biblical examples of busyness and superficiality then we're going to look at some solutions. I invite you to take your Bibles, if you have them and turn to Revelation the second chapter. That iPhone that you're looking at is focused on the text. It's not a text in Revelation chapter two as you look at the text that comes from heaven not the text that comes from your best friend.

 

Revelation the second chapter, we're looking there at verse 2 and onward. And here in Revelation chapter 2, the Bible talks about the church at Ephesus. In the church of Ephesus was/is an amazing church. In fact, one of the favorite places that I travel today is Ephesus. The archaeological site of Ephesus is one of the best preserved in the ancient world. Ephesus was a city of about 150,000 people, the way you tell the populations of ancient cities as you look at the stadium in that ancient city, the stadium in emphasis would seat 15 to 20 thousand, you multiply the number of people that the stadium could sit by ten and that gives you the approximate population of the Ancient City. So, Ephesus had about 150 to 200 thousand people living in it. It was no backwater city. The large mansions on the hillside had actually heated floors. The tiled floors were heated with hot water. They had hot water pipes running through the walls. They were magnificent homes. Some of those homes were well over ten thousand square feet, some approach twenty thousand square feet. They were mansion-like homes, palatial estates, that the educated elite and the wealthy lived in. The Celsus Library was there at Ephesus. It had some fifteen thousand volumes in it. It was just an amazing library. And when you look at Revelation chapter 2, it describes the church of Ephesus. The word Ephesus means “desirable.”Revelation 2:1 – “And the angel of the Church of Ephesus write”. To the angel church of Ephesus write. Verse 2 – “I know your works, your labor.” Now, the word for labor there in verse 2 in the Greek language is that “you are laboring to the point of exhaustion.”“I know your works, your labor, to the point of exhaustion, your patience, and that you cannot bear those that are evil and you've tested those who say they are apostles and are not and have found them liars.” What was the church of Ephesus like? It worked to the point of exhaustion - hour after hour every day. No problem with it's a labor. No problem with its works. In addition to that, it was a church that of orthodoxy - it maintained theological truth. But the truth of the matter is that the Bible goes on describing that church.

 

It says verse 4 of Revelation 2. “Nevertheless, I have this against you because you left your first love.” John Stott puts it this way, “they're flushed of excess ecstasy had passed, their love for Christ had cooled. They once were in love with Christ but they had fallen out of love. Duty overshadows devotion. What they did for Christ surpass who they were for Christ. Doing became more important than being. And any time in your life that busyness overwhelms you, any time in your life when your hectic schedule strangles your devotional life, any time in your life when doing becomes more important than being, when your accomplishments become more important than who you are for God, you're on the slippery slope of the church of Ephesus. They were defenders of the faith but they lost sight of whom they were defending. They preserved an orthodoxy at the expense of knowing Christ. Their work for Christ became more important than their relationship with Christ.

 

So how do you turn busying us from that strangling hold on your life? How do you turn around a hectic schedule? We should pause though and look at two examples of busyness in the Bible - And one in the Old Testament and one in the New Testament. See their impact.

 

You'll find an interesting Bible passage in 1 Kings chapter 20:40. First Kings chapter 20:40. The prophet is telling the story to a king and he uses a parable to tell that story. The king was told by God to take Benhadad and to hold him captive. But the king actually let him go and you read in 1 Kings chapter 20 verse 40. “While your servant was busy here and there he was gone. And the king of Israel said to him. Show your judgment be you yourself have decided.” That's an interesting text. The prisoner was given to be held captive. But the servant became so busy here and there that the very task he was given, he failed to accomplish.

 

The point is this - busyness causes you to lose something valuable. If you become so busy in your medical profession with a frantic hectic, hectic schedule. You can do something fallible. You can lose a valuable experience with Jesus. You can lose the very purpose that you went into medicine at the beginning. Busyness may cause you to lose something valuable. Busyness may cause you to miss the very assignment you were called to do. You were called to minister- to cry for Christ- called to minister to the whole person - called to share physical, mental spiritual process of healing with the person that you are treating.

 

Busyness may cause you, in fact, not only to lose something valuable but business may cause you to confuse your priorities and forget life's true purpose. There is something about a hectic schedule, something about busyness that robs us from our purpose in life.

 

Now there is a good example of busyness in the New Testament by Jesus’ parents. You know the story well. Jesus was 12 years old. His parents took him to the Passover feast and as they were there. After the Passover was over, Jesus’ parents began to make their way home. And it was hour after hour - they were busy. Busy with the task of preparing meals. Yes, busy with visiting with friends and on the way home they discovered that Christ was not with them and they were absolutely shocked. If you're a parent and you've ever been with a child in a crowd and that child has been lost in the crowd. You know exactly the fear, the anxiety that Mary and Joseph had when this twelve year old boy was lost.

 

They made their way back into Jerusalem found Jesus teaching in the temple and Ellen White comments on that in the book, “Desire of Ages” page 83. She says, “By one day's neglect, they lost the Savior but it costs them three days of anxious search to find him. So, with us by idle talk, evil speaking, or the neglect of prayer, we, may be in one day, lose the Savior's presence and it may take many days of sorrowful search to find Him and regain the peace that we've lost.”

 

When the busyness of life overwhelms us, three things begin to happen. What's the effect of business? We begin to lose focus: the events of the present seem to overwhelm us. So, when we become so busy, three things happen.

 

We lose focus. We lose purpose. We see the immediacy of the situation, but we fail to see the larger picture. We fail to recognize the purpose of why God put us there.

 

Secondly, when we become too busy we become physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted. We say things and do things we later regret - that is the process of business. We, our nerves are on edge. They’re frazzled when we become too busy. We often say things that we wish we wouldn't have said it later. We speak out in ways that are not normal or typical for us.

 

When we're too busy, we lose focus. When we're too busy, we become physically, mentally exhausted. When we're too busy, we act in ways that we wish we wouldn't when we're too busy. We tend to neglect prayer and Bible study and our devotional life suffers when we're too busy we tend to rush through life with little prayer and little Bible study.

 

I like the way the “Ministry of Healing” puts a page 58. “We must individually hear Him [Jesus] speaking to our heart. When every other voice is hushed, and in quietness we wait before Him, the silence of the soul makes more distinct the voice of God.” Continuing to read – “Amidst the hurrying throng, and the strain of life's intense activities [that's busyness], he who is thus refreshed will be surrounded with an atmosphere of light and peace.”

 

So here's the question that I want to address with you very practically. In a life of busyness, when you have a hectic schedule, when it seems you cannot cram one more thing into that busy schedule, how can you really knew or revitalize your spiritual life? What if this last month your prayer life has been weak? What if this last month, you spent many seconds in prayer and little time in Bible study? How can you renew a Bible study life? How can you renew it spiritual life in a busy schedule?

 

I'm going to outline seven practical steps you can take to make your prayer life more meaningful; to make your devotional life more rich - very simple practical steps. Things that I've found in my own life to be incredibly meaningful in a busy hectic schedule - flying all over the world, preaching again and again and again to keep spiritual life revitalized and renewed.

 

The first is this. Ellen White makes an interesting statement in “Steps to Christ” page 70 and it was about probably six months ago, maybe nine months ago now that as I was reading “Steps to Christ” through and I've read that book many, many times. This particular statement hits me and I said I'm going to put this into practice in my life and it's a very simple statement – “consecrate yourself to God each morning” and I read this statement to you. “Consecrate yourself to God each morning; make this your very first work. Let your prayer be, “Take me, O Lord, as wholly Thine. I lay all my plans at your feet. Use me (today) in your service. Abide with me, and let all my work be wrought in You… I surrender all your plans to Him, to be carried out or given up as His providence shall indicate.”

 

About nine months ago, I read that passage and it just struck me. Again, consecrate yourself to God first thing every morning and I said to myself, “Although I have my devotional life, before I get out of bed in the morning, before my feet hit the floor. In addition to my regular devotional life, I'm going to follow this counsel.” I'm going to consecrate myself to God in my first waking moment. So, when I wake up in the morning, before I get out of bed. I lie on my bed and my Bible is right by my bed in the first thing I do is I repeat that prayer. “Lord, I consecrate myself to you this morning. Lord, before I get out of this bed I surrender to you all my plans for this day to be given up or surrendered or followed through as your providence sees best.” So I repeat that prayer almost every single morning of my life. Consecrate yourself to God every morning. After I have done that I reach over in take my Bible and every morning I’ll have a different book of the Bible that I'm reading and we’ll talk about that Bible reading plan later - might be Philippians and might be Ephesians but I will spend fifteen or twenty minutes before I get out of bed. Why do I do this? Before I get out of bed, although I will have my own devotional life later, on a longer period, I have found this that if the first thoughts I have in the morning are for Jesus, if the first thoughts I have in the morning in my waking moments, if those first thoughts are consecrating my life to God, I set a direction for my life. I set a trail for my life that guides me all through the day.

 

Seven simple principles to renew/revitalize your spiritual life

 

Principle number one - consciously consecrate yourself to God every single morning before you get out of bed. I have a friend who told me this story. He said, “You know what I do to remind myself to pray every morning?” I said, “No.” He said, “I hide my shoes under my bed.” I said, “What?” He said, “I hide my shoes under my bed that I'm going to wear the next day.” I said, “Why do you do that?” He said, “Because to find them, I have to get down on my knees and once I get down on my knees looking under my bed, if I forgot to pray say “God, I'm not going anywhere until I get up off my knees.”

 

There is something about that early waking time when you first wake up in the morning, before you do anything else to consecrate yourself to God that morning. If you will do that you will find a rich endowment of spiritual grace. If you will do that as a student, you will find that your day will have more focus and more purpose. You will find an endowment of spiritual grace. You will find a fellowship with God. You will find that things that once troubled you don't trouble you as much anymore. You will find that you will be a big picture person and not a small picture person.

 

Secondly – Often our prayer life can become rather dull, rather incipit. Often prayer life can become something which our minds wander, has your mind ever wandered in prayer? Are there any honest people here? Has your mind ever not wandered in prayer? You are praying and you think “oh Lord” and then you mind begins to wander. You know what? What was that Professor saying about that anatomy and physiology? You know, you begin wandering, “how am I going to pay for this all?” Your mind begins to wander in all these problems that you're facing.

 

Here is something that's going to help you with your prayer life. I've had people say to me. “Well, you know, just consider prayer to be like talking to God.” Can I be totally transparent honest with you? There is a problem with that. Now I tell you why there's a problem with that. Yes, prayer is a conversation with God. But there's two problems. Number one, how would you like to have a conversation with somebody that you never saw? If there was an empty chair here and I was simply talking to that empty chair and that empty chair never talked back to me. And that was a one-way conversation that would be a difficult conversation wouldn't it? So, one of the major problems with having any depth in our prayer life is this. One of the major problems with that is this, in prayer we're talking to a God that we do not see. Secondly, we're talking to a God who verbally doesn't talk back to us. If people think they're constantly hearing voices in prayer. What do we call that in medical term? Well, I won't go there. So the question becomes “how can you have a meaningful prayer life with a God that you do not see and a God who doesn't verbally talk to you? The answer to that is that God does speak to us through His Word. And the answer to that dilemma is this. Take your Bible and begin to read it aloud on your knees. And allow the Bible to become subject matter where God is speaking to you. And speak back to God the things that He puts in your heart as you read Scripture. It will really vitalize your prayer life.

 

There's a wonderful little statement in the book “Our High Calling” page 130. It says this, “Learn to pray aloud where only God can hear you.” “Learn to pray aloud.” And I love this statement that comes from the pen of inspiration Ellen White “Review and Herald”, March 4, 1884. It says this, “Take the Bible, and on your knees, plead with God to enlighten your mind.” And I said to myself what would happen in my own devotional life if I could simply follow that counsel, if I simply took the Bible and opened it? So, for many years I have been doing that.

 

For example I've prayed through the Psalms. One of my prayer projects, my own private personal life, was to pray through the Psalms and I prayed through every Psalm - from Psalm 1 to the end of the Book of Psalms. And so let's suppose I'm praying through the Psalms, I would simply open the Bible and get on my knees and begin to read. I read out loud. Now this is not the only form of devotional life, but if you will follow this, it will enrich your prayer life.

 

It's not how long you pray. I had somebody asked me once. How long do you pray? And I said, “Long enough to know that I'm in touch with God.” It's not whether you pray for an hour or half an hour. That's not the point. The point is “have you come in contact with God when you pray?” Do you know that God has warmed your heart? Do you know you've been in the presence of God when you prayed?

 

In a life of busyness, if you will pause to know God, you will find that God will give you wisdom in that busyness and some of the things that really troubled you when were nervous, anxiety and you were being your energy was being sapped by anxiety and worry, you will notice that many of those things on trouble you as much anymore.

 

Here's the second principle, use the Bible as subject matter for prayer. How do you do that? Take the book of Psalms for example. Let's suppose my Bible is open to Psalms I'm reading – “Blessed is the man that walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful.” So on my knees, I read that out loud and say, “Lord I want to be that person today. It says blessed, happy, joyful is the person who doesn't walk in the counsel of the ungodly, Lord, today, help me to be able to sift through all the voices that I hear and help me to be able to under have a godly wisdom.” I might read further – “but his delight is in the law the Lord.” “Lord, help me delight in your ways today and every decision I make, help me ask if this decision is pleasing to you. Help me to delight in your ways. Lord, speak to me through your Word today.” I might be reading. It says, “He'll be like a tree planted by the rivers of the water that brings forth fruit in his season; whose leaf does not wither and whatever he does will prosper.” “Lord, I want to be that godly man today that only walks in your counsel and Lord, I know if I do that you're going to prosper everything I do. You're going to prosper my studies. You're going to prosper my work. Lord I can trust you to work through me to provide for me wisdom to give me strength to give me energy. Lord I knew.”

 

Principle no. 1 - consecrate yourself to God every morning.

 

Principle no. 2 - to enrich and revitalize your prayer life, use the Bible as subject matter for prayer. Pray through the Psalms, pray through the epistles, read a few texts, let God speak to you through His Word. You will find your heart strangely warmed. You’ll sense often the presence of God by your side as you read His Word, He will be there with you.

 

Thirdly, as you read Scripture, there's a technique that I called seeing with a pencil or seeing with a pen. As you read scripture, you see with a pen. Your pen becomes your other eyes. So, as I'm reading the Bible in it might be for ten minutes, might be fifteen minutes, might be for twenty. I always have a pen in my hand. Sometimes I have a little notepad that I jot notes on, but most often not. My Bible becomes my notebook and so as I'm reading a text in Scripture. If you want your devotional life to be meaningful, you want have strength for the business and hecticness, always have a pen with you. I'm not a fancy pen in my Bible. I don't do something in blue and something in red and something in green and something in purple and have; it's too confusing for me. All I do is have a pen in my hand. I see a word and I circle that word. It keys me to another word. I see a text and I want to write another text in my margin. So, my Bible becomes a journal for me. If I were starting to do it over again. Somebody said to me, “You have an old Bible, are you going to trade it in?” And said, “Look my wife and I've been married for 50 years I'm certainly not trading her in, you know, we've been married for 50 years and we're keeping on go and for the next fifty. You know to the healthy hundred. Any wife that I have that jogs our first marathon at seventy years old and comes in third in her age groups and jogs her second marathon at 71, I can expect another fifty years with her. So, I'm thankful to God. But look, I don't trade my wife in after fifty years, you think I'm a trade my Bible and after twenty. I mean it's been with me for a while now. The only problem with this Bible is I have to memorize too much from it because the pages are ripped out and so when I'm preaching that text often isn't there. And if I haven't memorized it I'm in deep trouble. Take a pen when you read the Bible. Circle a passage or write a text in the margin of the passage. That's number three, see with a pencil.

 

Number 4. The first three principles of revitalizing your spiritual life. (1) Consecrate yourself to God every morning. Every time, before you get out of bed make that commitment to God. Secondly, use the Bible as the subject matter of prayer. The Bible is God's voice speaking to us, just as if we could hear it with our own ears. Let God speak to you for His Word. Come to the Bible with a sense of reverence. The Bible is not some historical document simply. The Bible is God's speaking to us and so every time I approach it, I approach it reverently - that this is the very Word of God to speak to my heart and renew my soul. Give me strength for that day. And thirdly, read the Bible with the pen. Don't treat it as some sacred document that you can't mark up. Read it, underline it, write notes in the margin. If you need to, get a wide margin Bible and write your notes there, they are able to touch your life and change your life.

 

Now there's a principle that I discovered some time ago called the VIM – V-I-M. It's the fourth principle and I'll illustrate it for you. The word vim is a word like vitality. It means energy. So I use VIM as a principle to read the Bible with. V is for a visualization; I is for identification and; M is for meditation.

 

So for example. Visualization - when I'm reading, particularly do this in the Gospels. It will change your life as you read the Gospels this way. Vim - more vitality, more energy, more strength as you read. Visualization - you ask yourself the question what do I see here? So you read a parable you read a miracle. What do I see here again? Identification is how did the Bible characters feel as they were going through this experience and how would I feel if I went through this experience with them. And the M is meditation. What does this mean to me? Visualization. What do I see in the text? What does it look like? Identification. What did they feel? Meditation has to do with what does that mean to me.

 

For example, I'm reading the story of Jesus in the boat with the disciples on the Sea of Galilee and as I'm reading that story - The boat is going through across the Sea of Galilee, the stars are twinkling in the sky like diamonds, the moon is shining on the lake. But the wind blows down those narrow Galilean gorges. Somebody throws a switch and the moon is turned off and when the stars are turned off in the darkness of night as the inky black, the wind blows and it howls, the waves are coming up over that boat, the disciples are in the boat and I'm reading the story and I imagine the story in my mind, I visualize the story, we see that boat, the rain is pounding down, the thunder is crashing, the lightning is flashing, the wind is coming upon the boat, the waves are filling the boat. I look into Peter's face and I see it wet and I look at the fear on his face. I look at the disciples and I see them shaking and cowering with fear. These are men of the sea but they've never been in a storm like this before. These are men who are used to the ocean, used to the Sea of Galilee, they fished on it since they've been boys but they've never been in the wind that is this fierce. They've never been in rain that is this hard. They've never been in a night that this dark and their boat is going down. First you visualize the storm. Then I say what would it be like if I were in that boat. What would it be like if I one of those disciples? What kind of fear would I have? What kind of anxiety would I have? And then I begin to meditate. What is the lesson that God has for me? My little boats going through medical school. And I feel like I'm going down. I feel like I'm going out, so much information is coming at me, I'm in the storm of my life. I’ve already invested a hundred twenty-five thousand my first two years and I still got to the seventy-five or one hundred to go but if I drop out now, how I'm going ever pay back that loan and I get all this conflict going on and I say Lord where the world are you in my boat, where in the world are you. And as I read that story. I see Jesus standing in the boat holding up his hand saying Peace be still and I hear Jesus speaking to my heart and he says I'm going to get you through the storm just hang in there. Don't jump both off the boat right now just hang in there just hang in there. Don't jump off the boat. And as a medical student I read that story and I visualize the storm and I sense the anxiety in the hearts of the disciples and I sense their worry and their fear and it mirrors my own worry. It mirrors my own fear. But as I read the story, I see that Jesus is aboard that boat and he's aboard my little boat and is going to get me through. And as I read that story, there's a new peace that plugs into my heart. And there's a new smile on my face and this new zip in my step and I walk to class that day and for some reason I understand that chemistry that I didn't understand before. I understand that anatomy that I didn't understand before.

 

And my devotions in the morning have given me a calmness and peace; and that calmness and peace enabled me to face my day with new courage, and new energy, and new strength. What is that the VIM principal? First, you try to visualize the story. What do I see here? Second, you would identify with the character in that story. When you read the story of the woman caught in adultery, what do you see? You see Pharisees throwing her at Jesus' feet. What do you hear? You hear them yelling in their taunts and their ridicule. What do you see? You see a woman shaking at the feet of Jesus. Half naked. What do you see when you look at that story? How would you feel if you were her- embarrassed, guilty, filled with shame? What relief would you have when Jesus said? “Peace, go and sin no more. Your sins are forgiven.” What joy would you have and you think about your own failures and your own guilt. And you meditate on that and see just as Jesus said, “go and sin no more.” My guilt is gone. The vim principle - you visualize, you identify, you meditate.

 

Now, fifty. Fifth principle to revitalize your spiritual life and that is - if every morning you get up and you have to say, “what am I going to do for my devotions this morning?” Your spiritual devotional life will be weak and your busyness will overwhelm you. If you have no plan of devotions; therefore, think through some that you want to be on. Is it reading “Desire of Ages” through. I am not concerned whether you read “Desire of Ages” for an hour every morning, an hour and a half or fifteen minutes. What I am concerned about is you get spiritual nutrition every morning because as you are fed by the Word of God as you read the Gospels as you read the Gospels.

 

Just last weekend, I was preaching in Europe and at the end of that presentation. I finished the presentation, I came down to sit down. A young woman bolted from the audience and came and sat next to me and took my arm and she said, “Pastor, we've got to talk. I've never had much interest in religion at all. I've never had much interest in faith at all, but something you said touched my heart. I want to know God. How can I know God? And we began to talk to her about faith. What it means to know God? I developed, I encouraged her to begin with the Gospel of John.

 

You see the four gospels approach Christian life from different perspectives. Matthew was written for a Jewish mind and so the Gospel of Matthew has the sermons of Christ recorded carefully to touch the Jewish mind. Mark deals with the humanity of Christ. Luke was a physician so he talks in parables and John talks of the divinity of Christ - the life changing power of Christ. I could start people in the Gospel of John. And if you don't have some specific reading plan, what I'd suggest is you just start reading the Gospel of John. Don't worry if you can read the whole thing in a month or two months, I'm not concerned. Just read a few verses at a time and let God speak to you. When you're through with John, take the “Desire of Ages” and just start reading it. But develop some “Read it, Bible Study Reading Plan”.

 

Now the sixth thing to revitalize your spiritual life and the study of the Bible is this. One of the things that has really helped me in my own devotional life. You notice I'm giving you different methods. We've talked about reading through the Bible on your knees, with the Book of Psalms. We talked about the VIM principle of visualizing what's going on in the Gospels, and identifying with the story and meditating upon the story. I want you to go out of here with today with this sense - that as I spend time in my devotional life, it will radically transform my attitudes toward busyness in medical school and busyness in practice. As I spend time with God, I will be renewed physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. And the spending time with God is not a waste of time; it is rather the very catalyst that enables me to spend my time wisely and keeps me focused in life.

 

The sixth thing I'd like to share with you about devotional life is this - One of the things that I love to do is take the epistles of Paul. Read one of the epistles through, summarize the theme of that epistle and then summarize the theme of every chapter.

 

Let me give you some examples. Philippians. If you look at Philippians, it is the epistle of joy. So I would read that through and say what word comes up more than anything else in this epistle – that’s joy, 27 times I think it is. The epistle of joy. Then you read the first chapter, joy and trials; that's Philippians 1. So, I summarized it. Read the first chapter and I say, how can I summarize this in a few words? Joy in trials. Then what about Philippians 2? Joy in humility. Philippians 3? Joy in surrender. Philippians 4? Joy in gratitude.

 

Then, you look at Ephesians. What’s Ephesians? Ephesians is the symphony of salvation and then you look at Ephesians 1. Ephesians 1 is Christ's riches are ours. Ephesians 2 – Christ’s grace is ours. Ephesians 3 – Christ’s power is ours. Ephesians 4 - through the Holy Spirit, the gifts of the Spirit are ours. Ephesians 5 - through the Holy Spirit, we are brought together and the fruits of the Spirit are ours. Ephesians 6 - through the Holy Spirit, we can stand in God's truth. So one of the things I like to do is summarize chapters in the Bible. If you want and enriched spiritual experience, take the epistles of Paul, read them through. You can read them easily. Summarize what's in those epistles and as you summarize what's in those epistle, summarize within a chapter. Remember we are seeing with a pencil. I'm always reading the Bible with a pen in my hand trying to summarize what's in the text.

 

The seventh thing that I would suggest is this: develop a small prayer and Bible study group that you meet with for one hour a week. Develop a small Bible study and prayer group that you meet with one hour a week. If you will do that as a student, it will make a major difference. If you have some a Friday night, the Sabbath afternoon, a small group of six or eight, four or five that you meet with, it will make a big, big difference.

 

So let's review those seven things and I want to give you three time busters and how to deal with them before we kind of bring it to a close. Here the seven items. How do you revitalize your spiritual life as a busy student or as a hectic medical professional?

 

No. 1 - You consecrate yourself to God every single morning. Before your feet hit the floor your prayers ascend to heaven. I do this while I'm lying in bed.

 

No. 2 - Use the Bible as subject matter for prayer. On your knees, your praying through scripture, reading it aloud.

 

No. 3 – You read the Bible with a pencil you. See with a pencil. You underline. You write things in the margin.

 

No. 4 - Used the VIM principle. You visualize the text, you identify with what’s going on in the text, and you meditate on the text.

 

No. 5 - You develop a reading plan. So you know where you're going when you get up in the morning of say what am I going to do this morning. Either reading the Gospels of John, you have some Bible reading plan.

 

No. 6 - You take small books of the Bible. You could read them thematically. You ask yourself the question - what is the theme here?

 

No. 7 - You develop a small Bible study group.

 

Now there are some things that are time consumers. Here they are. Three time consumers and what to do about them.

 

First is travel time. Travel time consumes you. My wife and I used to live right next to the General Conference of Seventh Day Adventists where we've been working since 2004, for the last twelve years, and it was great because I'd drive to work five minutes, ten minutes but we then moved thinking we were going to retire. You know that's an interesting thought. We thought we were but the General Conference president said, “You know, can you stay on as my assistant?” So we agreed to do that and so we live about an hour and fifteen minutes from the General Conference. Now the traffic on Route 66 is enormous and if and then we go on 495, the beltway around Washington and typically if there's no traffic it takes me an hour or an hour and five minutes to get to work. If I'm going. I don't go every day, but if I'm going, if the traffic is bad, it can take me an hour and a half to an hour and 45 five minutes and that used to frustrate me. I like to get things done. There's nothing worse for me than sitting in traffic and getting nothing done. And I would be sitting in traffic saying, “Lord, make that guy go this way. Make that guy go that way. Let me get through this.” The reason you're laughing is because you do it too. But you know, I'd be sitting there and you know, I would go up in the morning. I'd eat my breakfast, run off and try to get there on time and I wouldn't get to the general conference until 10 and I knew if I didn't begin to leave by 3:00, 3:30. If I left at 5 and take me two hours to get home and I said, “Lord, there has to be a better plan than this.”

 

Well, one thing I began to do is this. My wife and I would pack me a little breakfast the night before and I would have my nuts, my grapes, you know, and everything - things you could eat, finger foods. I haven't tried eating cereal yet. You know, balance, trying, on your lap, you know, going drive down the 66 with all those people whizzing around you. I haven't done that yet. But, so, then I get a towel, put across my lap and I know exactly how long it's going to take me to eat my breakfast in the car and I became a specialist in doing that. You know I get in my car, after my devotion, my prayer, you know, you consecrate yourself to God in the morning. Then I get in my car and I start driving. It's going to take me about twenty minutes and I'm going to be right at Exit 47. That's where all the traffic begins to back up. From that point on, I said, “you know what God, I could listen to the news or I could talk to Jesus.” Now I just pray that those traffic jams will be great because by the time I get to exit 47 all the traffic is backed up. And you know what I do? I don't listen to the radio going in at all anymore. Zero. Don't make phone calls driving into the office; coming back I do that. I say, “God this is going to be a time I'm going to pray out loud in this car and you have provided me the next hour to pray to you.” I've taken something that used to be so frustrating to me sitting in traffic and it's become one of the greatest blessings of my life. It gives me alone time. It gives me time to sit and pray. If you are commuting, the only recommendation that I would make is - if you are commuting in a car and you're praying, don't close your eyes. But you know, I drive now and that has become a wonderful time for me.

 

One of my friends is Barry Black. Berry is the chaplain of the United States Senate as you know. Berry lives about 45 minutes from the Senate. And he told me some time ago, he said what he does is listen to the Bible as he goes in and he memorize his Bible texts as he travels.

 

So you take time consumers and you change those things from being time consumers to being special precious moments with Jesus. And so travel time - It's an opportunity to memorize scripture. It's an opportunity to praise God through music. It's an opportunity to time for reflection in prayer. The common tasks that we do, sometimes you work in your garage, you got to do housework, you've got to do those practical things like mowing the lawn you. You can take that hour when you're mowing the lawn. Listen to spiritual music or repeat Bible text. So look for the practical time consumer things.

 

Now one of the things that I do is every night wherever I am I try to take a bath. It's just something that shower up in the morning but at night I love to lay in a bath tub and just relax. Do you know how many books I have read in the bathtub? Now do you know how many books I've lost in the bathtub because I foresee but I drop them. So that that's another question. I mean I'm not going to go into my personal life in the bath tub. But I will say to you this - I read biographies in the bathtub. I read hymn stories in the bath tub. I have read so many books in the bath tub that you would not believe it. No, I haven't read many books in the shower yet but the bath tub is great.

 

Think about ways that you can turn your busyness into spiritual opportunities and you will be amazed at what God does for you.

 

I was giving a lecture not far from Southern Adventist University. It was a number of years ago and as I gave that lecture, a young woman came up to me after the lecture. She was a nursing student taking 18 hours a semester. Finals in her nursing. And she said to me, she said, “Pastor, can we talk?” I said, “Sure.” She said, “You know, before I came to Southern and she said it's no fault of Southern, it's my own fault. So before I came to Southern I had a real meaningful devotional life. But I take 18 hours a semester to get through my nursing. And I have to tell you, I'm so exhausted, I have no devotional life at all anymore and I'm feeling burned out. I'm feeling frazzled. Can you help me?” We sat down and I began to share some of the principles that I've shared with you. I talked to her about the six chapters in the Bible on the death of Christ. Isaiah 53, Psalm 22, Matthew 26 and 27 together, Mark 13, Luke 23, John 19 and 20. And I shared with her how to have a devotional life by meditating on the cross and we talked about it and we left. I called her once to follow up. I think it was four or five weeks later and she said, “Pastor, I'm having a great devotional life. It's not how much time I spend.” You have to get out of the idea that if you spend an hour with God, you're holier than if you spend half an hour with God. I'm not concerned about the time; I'm concerned about your contact with God. That's what I'm concerned about. And so I called her and she said, “Pastor, I’m really doing a lot better. I'm spending time with God every day. It's a meaningful experience with me and Christ.”

 

I was preaching at the Southern New England Camp Meeting, South Lancaster, Massachusetts that summer. And when I talked to her, it was in October. And after the sermon, a girl came down the aisle and I thought I knew that girl but I wasn't sure. And it was the sister of the girl that I had talked to about her devotional life and she asked me, “should you, have you heard what happened to my sister?” and I said, “No, I haven't.” And she said, “Well my sister died of a heart attack about four or five weeks after you talked to her. She came home for Thanksgiving to take a Thanksgiving break. And she had a heart arrhythmia when she was a child. And she was shopping with my father among the Christmas lights and she felt this stabbing pain, fell over, and died in my father's arms.” And then, she said, “I want to tell you something. When we went to her room, to clean out her things. I took her Bible in my hands and I opened her Bible and I read in the flyleaf. The date of your meeting in October and my sister said this, “I went into that meeting, a foolish virgin, having a form of Christian experience but God touched my heart in that meeting and I've begun reading these six chapters on the death of Christ. It is changed my life; I now know Jesus thank God.” And she said, “this is what my sister wrote.” And I thought to myself, one meeting can make a dramatic difference in somebody's life. I don't know where you are in your Christian experience. I don't know whether the studies that you've had just overwhelmed you or not. But I know this. However much you want to know Christ, He wants to know you more. However much you long to have relationship with Him, He longs to have a relationship with you more. And if you will pause in the busyness of your life; if you'll pause in the hectic, frenzied and medical classes that you're taking; if you pause, He will speak to your heart. He will enrich your life and give you strength and hope and courage and you'll make it through.

 

Let's pray, Father in heaven. Thank you so much that in the busyness of our life, you call us to know you. Thank you so much that we can take your word and listen to you speak to our hearts. Help us take something from today's presentation and hold on to it and seize it and grasp it so that it can make a difference in our lives. In Christ’s name. Amen.

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