With an upcoming new year, everyone is thinking about the year past, what has gone wrong, what has gone right, and resolutions are being made for the new year. Some people don’t set much in store for New Year’s Resolutions, some obsess over it, and some view it as a refreshing opportunity to get a new start. New beginnings are exciting, terrifying, encouraging and intimidating. They are an opportunity to test personal resolve and faith in God.
This past year has been one of the most challenging years of my life. As I look back over it, I see many things I truly wish I had done differently, and other things that I cannot believe the Lord grew me through. There are many areas I’ve fallen in over and over again, yet at the same time there are areas that the Lord has given me almost complete (if not fully complete) victory in. There were many tears, fears and frustrations, but there have also been unmeasurable moments of joy, peace and excitement. God is SO good!
I know the past few weeks in particular I’ve been struggling with my daily walk with the Lord. Daily readings were a struggle, prayers seemed empty and Bible memorization was… non-existent. I was still trusting God, praying, and fighting through what I FELT to cling to what I KNEW was true of God and my relationship with Him. God always has a plan ready, and can use the smallest thing, a tiny word or a couple of innocent questions to electrify you and shock everything back into place. If anyone else had read them, it wouldn’t have made a difference, but when the God who knows every need of your heart places them in front of you, it is like a healing balm that smooths over the dull ache and gives healing and health to reach up and grasp with a new zeal that mercy and grace that is new every morning.
One of the things the Lord has blessed me with this year was the ability to get into martial arts. It’s something I always wanted to do, and I can see how immensely it is helping me physically. The past couple days I was thinking about how most New Year’s Resolutions circle around exercising, dieting and deal with bodily health. As I’ve personally been working through the physical challenges of martial arts, I find I have to work hard, train through and practice continually what I’m learning in order to progress. The more I practice and train in these areas, the more excited and confident I am about what I am doing.
The same is true of my relationship with the Lord. As I was focusing on the changes I was wanting to make in my relationship with the Lord this year, it was all of the normal “Reading, praying, memorizing” changes. But then something clicked. I looked up the word “exercise” in my concordance and found it.
“But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” ~1 Timothy 4:7-8
Then ensued a pretty lengthy study, but the main points are what I’d like to share.
-“Bodily exercise profiteth little,” meaning it profits only the physical aspects of my life. This does not mean that I should not exercise, but that it only profits me in one area.
–“Godliness is profitable to ALL things.” It reaches out and touches and influences EVERY area of my life, both in my life today and in my life that is to come.
–Exercising godliness helps me to be more spiritually “awake.” (If you read the whole of chapter 4, or even the whole book of 1 Timothy, you can see this theme weaving throughout.) When I think of someone spiritually active, I can read 1 Timothy 4:12 into their life.
“…an example of the believers in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”
There is this saying, “if you want it bad enough, you will go through anything bad to get it.” I think many times the reason I do not become more spiritually active in my life is because I do not determine in my heart and mind ahead of time that this is what I truly want. When I read a verse like this, deep down in my heart I know that this is the way I want to be above all else. When I decided to do martial arts, I determined to make the most I could of it with the time I had. My relationship with God is even more so. As I was thinking about this the past couple days I was almost bewildered at where to start. Well, thankfully God’s word gives me everything I need that “pertains to life and godliness,” so I kept reading, and wouldn’t you know it? I found the answer! 😉
“Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine…. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.” ~1 Timothy 4:13,15
There it is right there, a whole list:
-Exhortation (teaching and preaching)
GIVE THYSELF WHOLLY TO THEM
At church last night, Bro. Ben broke down a day and narrowed it down to how much “extra” time we have left in a day. Even on a day where I’m working a full day’s work, I still have 5 ½ “extra” hours left. Just think of what would happen if I spent even half of that time exercising in godliness?
Just for a second I wanted to touch at the flip side. The more “awake” I am in fleshly things, I am more “groggy” spiritually. I know different people have their fleshly weaknesses… for some it’s tv and movies, for others it’s video games, or social media, or books, or friends… anything. I know when I allow myself more time in the things that are not exercising in godliness, I’m a lot less likely to do my godliness exercises. Kind of like eating a huge meal of junk food at lunch and not feeling like exercising that evening. Then the next morning looking at those donuts sitting there on the table, and thinking you’ll exercise extra later to make up for it, and before you know it, it’s been a week (or month!) since you’ve exercised at all. The same thing goes for the fleshly things in life. They are a distraction from exercising in godliness.
At the end of every year for the past few years the Lord has given me a word that burned in my mind throughout the whole year. This past year the word was “change,” and boy! Was that the truth! The past few weeks I’ve had the words “hard work” in my mind. It’s kind of funny, because at first thought, hard work is not something particularly pleasant, but I am growing more and more excited about what God will do in my life in this next year. My “New Year’s Resolution” is to exercise myself in godliness and making it a personal goal for this year. I know it’s going to be a lot of hard work, and even a struggle at times, but I also know God is my strength to hold that resolve and it will be through His power alone that it will come to pass.
What is your New Year’s Resolution? Is there something I can pray for you for this up-coming year?