Three Questions to Ask Yourself at the End of Each Day

by Andy Wood on June 15, 2016

in Executing Your Plan, Five LV Laws, Insight, Life Currency, LV Cycle, Principle of Increase

businessman or writer, making notes in his diary notebook

Marvin and Dick were brothers and business partners.  Best friends too, if my suspicions were correct.  Well into their retirement when I first got to know them, I caught them both together one afternoon when Dick was in the hospital. There Marvin was perched in a chair beside his bed and they were visiting.

“Come on in,” Marvin said.  “We’re closing the books for the day.”

Turns out, through all their years in business together, every day at 5:00, the two would get together and evaluate the day’s business and plan for the next.  They called it “closing the books.”  This had become such a habit, when they entered their retirement years, they kept the practice going.

I’m pretty sure a cup of coffee was involved.  But regardless, day in, day out, every day at 5:00, these two men would meet together and “close the books.”  Even if one of them was in the hospital.

How about you?  Do you have a way to “close the books” on your day? Maybe you have a partner to compare notes with, maybe not.  But what if there was a way to “check the scoreboard” at the end of each day? What if there was a way to realign yourself to the things that matter most? If I could show you a way to check for mid-course correction or points of celebration and progress, would you be interested?

I have found three questions that can not only help establish attitudes and priorities for the coming day, but can also be great tools for my personal growth.  Sure, sometimes I learn by getting it wrong. Very wrong.  But sometimes I learn by getting it right.

By the way, I didn’t make these questions up. They come from a place in the Bible where the Lord very graciously gave us something of a study guide for His final exam.

Your Appointment

Talk about closing the books!  We all still have a final audit awaiting – a day when we have an appointment with the God of Heaven.  Paul says that “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10).

Payday someday, friends, and that can be good news or bad.

So what do you suppose He’s looking for?  What standard is God using to evaluate our lives? Obviously the first and most vital step is having a relationship with Jesus Christ through His grace and our faith.  But Paul was writing this as a believer, to believers. And still he speaks of a judgment to come.

What concerns me is that it’s possible to assume we have the right answers, but be asking the wrong questions.  Fortunately for us, this is nothing new, and the Lord has given us a study guide.

What He Isn’t Looking For

All of Psalm 50 is written in the context of our meeting with God. It is written to people who still were offering animal sacrifices for their sins in tabernacles and temples. And the Lord told them something pretty shocking.  I’m not hungry! And if I was, I wouldn’t tell you!  I’m not after your sheep and goats. And if that’s what you think I’m using to evaluate your lives, you’ve missed the point.

Translation: It’s possible to do all the things we think we’re supposed to do, but base it on asking the wrong questions – therefore we get the wrong answers.

Yikes!

But then He goes on to suggest what He is looking for:

“Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving
And pay your vows to the Most High;
Call upon Me in the day of trouble;
I shall rescue you, and you will honor Me” (Psalm 50:14-15)
.

That’s a little different from what you typically hear. But in this priceless set of little hints from heaven you can find a glimpse of what matters most to God.

So why not take that and practice a daily review? Like Marvin and Dick, why not have a meeting with yourself – or better still with a life partner to whom you can be accountable – and ask these three questions…

1. Did I have a thankful heart, and did I express it?

God’s first standard is gratitude.  This is important enough that in the closing verse of this psalm – the “parting shot” in a warning about judgment, He mentions gratitude again.

This is important to God.

This “sacrifice of thanksgiving” is costly. That’s why it’s called a sacrifice. If nothing else, it may cost you something in terms of your pride or that sense of control you want to have over your life.

It’s also contrary to your circumstances.  Thanksgiving becomes a sacrifice when you don’t have outward reasons for doing so.  It’s precisely during those times when you’re out of time and money and life hurts that God wants to know, Will you recognize in Me a reason to be grateful, even in days of pain?

Why is gratitude so important to God? Because it reflects an other-centered and God-centered heart. It’s not about what you and I have or lack, it’s about the faithfulness of a Great God who keeps covenant and shows His love for us. And He is pleased when He recognizes that kind of heart in me.

So, how about it? Did you spend your day griping and groaning or grateful?

2. Did I fulfill my commitments?

“Pay your vows to the Most High,” the psalmist said.

The sacrifice of a fool, scripture says, is in making a promise to God and not fulfilling that commitment.  Better that you not make a vow at all than to make a vow and not pay it.

So what commitments did you keep today? What did you make progress on?  What did you leave undone or actually violate?

We live in an age and culture where promises easily made are easily broken. And it’s easy to fall into the trap where we over-promise and under-deliver. Yet God seems to have this nagging way of holding us to the commitments we make.

Remember that time your baby was sick and you promised God if He would heal your child, you would raise that child in a godly home?  You may have forgotten that promise. He hasn’t.

Remember the time you told God and your spouse that “forsaking all others” you would cling only to her/him so long as you both shall live? You may have forgotten that promise. He hasn’t.

Remember the time you were financially desperate and asked God to provide for you and  you committed to give generously to His kingdom if He would only give you the money to do so? You may have forgotten that promise. He hasn’t

The point in all this is that your word means something. And old-fashioned ideas like faithfulness and integrity still shape lives for good – even profitable – decisions.

So how are those commitments – to God and to people – coming?

3. Did I call on God in my day of trouble?

This wasn’t raised as an “if” but a “when.”  When you encounter a day of trouble, call on Me, God says.  Same goes for when you encounter trouble in your day.

Troubles come in all sizes, from the little annoyances to the overwhelming loads of stress and grief. So just out of curiosity, at what point are they too small for you to pray about? To be honest my go-to reaction to a lot of annoyances is to, well, get annoyed, and try to fix it myself.

Or just complain.

At what point are your troubles too big for you to pray about? Are they ever so overwhelming that you retreat into some sort of emotional shell or escape through some drug or behavior of choice?

News flash!  Maybe the reason you have the trouble in the first place is to give you an opportunity to rediscover a God who gets in trouble with us… and walks us through it.

And yes, actually delivers is out of it.

But you have not because you ask not.  What did you do with your troubles today – the big ones and the little ones?

What did you do with the troubles of your larger community? The culture? The economy?  The grief and fear and anger and frustration that your nation or community or church may be facing?  Standing at the front of the line of the prayerless faithless are believers who know better, but spend more time politicking, grandstanding, or ranting than they do actually calling on God to change things.

 

So there you have it.  A simple way to close the books on your day and align yourself again with what matters most – an attitude of gratitude, a heart of faithfulness and integrity, and a faith that calls on God.

Try it. I think you’ll find that it’s protein for your soul.

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