Exercising in Godliness

 

exercising-in-godlinessWith 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:

-Reading

-Exhortation (teaching and preaching)

-Doctrine (studying)

-Meditate (memorization)

And lastly,

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?

 

 

 

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Prayer in Growing

“As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellow-servant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ; Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit. For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God: Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:” ~Colossians 1:7-12

After reading this passage this morning, I realized I am guilty of something…

prayer-in-growingI tend to either only pray for people when they “need” it or pray for them more when they are going through hard times physically and spiritually. I just realized that Paul did so much more! When he heard of the Colossians love in the spirit, their faith in Christ Jesus and love for their brothers and sisters in Christ, he said they did “not cease to pray” for them.

It makes so much sense to pray for someone when they’re going through something tough, but when we start to see God growing and working in a life is when we need to pray for them just as much if not more! It is so important to pray for someone that is growing in their relationship with Christ because this is when the devil tries his hardest to discourage and get them down and because it is at this point that they have SO much potential for God’s kingdom work!

 

My goal for today is to think of someone that has encouraged me by their recent growth in Christ and pray for them! Will you do the same?

Focusing on the Dross

“Take away the dross from the silver, and there shall come forth a vessel for the finer.” ~Proverbs 25:4

It is so easy to get discouraged in my walk with the Lord because I tend to look at all the impurities that are still in me. The ways that I fall (yet again), yield to temptation or fail to be a witness or testimony when I focusing-on-the-drosshave the opportunity to do so. I get to the point where I feel like I am not growing in my relationship with the Lord and feel stuck.

God knows exactly how I feel though, and there are also times like this morning when I read a verse, and it jumps off the page and hits me square in the face.

Silver is beautiful, even impure silver is beautiful, and as the dross and imperfections are gradually worked out, it becomes even more beautiful and shines of its crafter’s loving touch and wise workmanship.

Focusing on the dross and impurities of my life while God is still working on me is like someone who has no idea of a craft criticizing a crafter long before His work is finished. There is a reason He commands us to “(forget) those things which are behind and (reach) forth unto those things which are before,” (Philippians 3:13). The longer I focus on the impurities and failings of my life, the harder I make it for myself to look forward to the finished work I know God will accomplish in my life.

If I were instead to look at the finished product God promises to make me through His word, I would then be able to see the beauty of today, even among its dross and impurities, and live a life of hope and joyful anticipation of the completed work to come.

“Just because I know something doesn’t mean I know it.”

There are so many times in life where someone may have known the answers, known what they should do or the way things ought to be, but couldn’t “get it” because they didn’t REALLY know. One can be told something over and over again, so they “know” it, but when God tells them, they know it. And when God starts working in and through that knowledge, they start to KNOW it!

a-single-roseSo many times sharing what is being learned helps one to process the information even better, so you’re helping by allowing them to share!

So just because someone may write an amazing blog post, article or thought, it doesn’t mean that they are fully spiritually mature or have fully learned that lesson and have it fully under control, just that the Lord is showing them, teaching them and growing them in that knowledge.

Measure of Faith

“For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” -Romans 12:3romans-12-3

Pride is a natural thing. I don’t have to put forth any effort to become immersed in pride of some form or another. It is so easy to esteem myself overmuch and become vain or arrogant in any of the areas of my life.

When I looked at what it meant to “think soberly,” I was interested to find that this form of thinking is an action, an exercising of the mind to be of sound mind and moderate in all things. It takes effort, a conscious decision to be of sound mind and settled in Christ.
Why does it matter so much that I not think highly of myself? Because there is absolutely no reason to! God has given the measure of faith to each and every one of us. (THE measure, meaning there is no difference in what He gives each and every one of us!)

It is like a piano teacher teaching the same lesson to ten children. What they do with the lesson will determine the outcome of their progress and knowledge in piano, but EVERY one of them was given the capability to increase in their knowledge and skill of the piano. The depth of increase may vary, but there can always be increase. God has given to every one of us the measure of faith, and it is what we do with it that determines the outcome of that faith in our lives.

We have no reason to boast, because everyone is capable of increase of knowledge and skill in faith, no matter where they currently are in their lives.

Conformed or Transformed?

romans-12-2“And be ye not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” – Romans 12:2

As a lizard becomes a part of the scenery around him, blending in color and texture, he becomes an insignificant and indiscernible part of the world he is in. As we conform to the world in actions and appearance, there is nothing that sets us apart from the world we are in.

But as a butterfly is transformed from a caterpillar to a beautiful winged creature, it is completely changed from the inside out, shining forth in the brilliance and splendor of its Creator, catching the eyes and attention of those who see it and the unexplainable beauty brought by the transformation. Even so will our lives stand forth declaring the change brought forth by our Father and Creator as we allow His Word and Holy Spirit to transform us into the beautiful, set apart creature He wills us to be.

With renewing our minds comes a complete renovation of who we are and were to who God leads us to be. The old, worldly and fleshly that constructs who we are is changed out for the new, righteous and godly, made possible only by the grace and through the power of God and His Word.

Do I want to be conformed, or transformed?

 

A Living Sacrifice

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” – Romans 12:1

A Living Sacrifice is not a special calling on certain people, but a fully rational and logical means by to worship God in our daily lives.living-sacrifice

Being a Living Sacrifice means two things.

1) It is alive while going through the smoke and flames of sacrifice, and

2) It is an ongoing process “ending” only when there is no longer life in the body.

There is great effort in sacrifice; pain, fear, and even struggling! But that is a part of what brings it to fully surrendering to the flames of sacrifice, making it pure and consecrated in God’s eyes.

A Living Sacrifice feels the pain of going through the fire, but is at that point most holy and acceptable to God.