Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Spiritually Fit for Service....

January is the month many folks try to get fit. They go on healthy diets, start an exercise routine and determine to loose those extra pounds they put on over the holidays. Some think fitness involves the spiritual man, looking to the new age gurus for answers. They fail to seek the guidance found in the Bible, instead seeking the advice of holistic advisors who teach their followers to think about their bodies as a home for spiritual unity… “The paradigm of duality is no longer working for our planet.  More and more of us are coming to the realization that we are indeed all One and that there is no separation.  The "parts" we see are literally a figment of our imagination.  Now is the time to embrace and begin practicing this concept of Oneness.  What is it that you would like to change? ….. ” These new age peddlers focus on things such as, “fitness training and weight loss, pilates, core work outs, therapeutic massage, rising star healing systems, prema birthing, quantum touch, spiritual counseling, energy clearing for the home, spiritual fitness workshops and so much more…” but they forget about God! Spiritual fitness for a new decade is more than just exercising the physical body and looking within for answers to life’s stresses. For the Christian believer it is allowing the spiritual core to be transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Unity by the Holy Spirit
John 17 gives us the wonderful prayer of Jesus in the garden, before he went to Calvary. There Jesus prayed that His followers would be one, as He and the Father were one. That unifying power never linked us to this carnal sinful earth with all it’s problems. We were designed to be like Christ, who was in perfect union with the Father. That union came by the power of the Spirit. But few really are intimate with the power of the Spirit of God. They fail to live and walk daily in the Spirit. Instead, they fall into the intellectual trap of trying to do the best they can with what they have in themselves...and when they fail to conquer their problems, they blame God. Yet in reality, they never really came to trust God enough to give Him their problems in the first place. Walking in the power of the Spirit begins with yielding ourselves to Him, letting Him take the lead. Our independent spirits fight at that idea. We want to try to do it all by ourselves. Some gravitate to the world’s ideas of ’making it’ and think perhaps they are right and we need to change and focus on who we are. Christ asks us instead to focus on who He is!

You are What You Eat!
We all know that if we eat nothing but junk food, our bodies will suffer incredibly. Back in 2004 Morgan Stanley produced the award winning film “Supersize Me” proving the dangers of eating junk food for a month. ( ) Take some time to see it if you have not already. We are clearly affected by all the media hype around us and it is affecting not only how we eat, but how we think. We tend to go with the flow. We become lazy, taking the easy way instead of working. We are truly sheep, but we are often following the wrong shepherd, mostly because we are not listening to the voice of the Good Shepherd. “And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” John 10:4,5 So how do we listen to His voice? First of all, we must get to really know Him. Most people who attend church regularly know the voice of their pastor. If they hear him speaking in a store to someone, they recognize his voice, even if they cannot see him. Yet many do not know God well enough to know His voice. He is continually speaking to His children, asking for their love and obedience, yet we wander off like stray sheep. Getting to know His voice means spending time with Him, reading the Bible, praying and listening. God’s voice will never contradict His Word, and so you can recognize it by it’s unity with the Word of God. For example, God will never ask you to tell a lie. His Word teaches us that lying is a sin. How much time you spend dining in the Word of God will determine your intimacy with God and your spiritual health.
How is your spiritual diet? What are you daily feeding your soul with? Everyday, you take time to eat. Some have three or more meals a day. They just won’t miss that opportunity to eat. It is satisfying and comforting. Yet spiritually, most Americans are starving to death. We have all seen photos of third–world children suffering from malnutrition with bloated stomachs or skeletons with skin stretched over them. Yet we don’t think of ourselves that way. Although some 70%+ say they believe in God, this nation is one that is Biblically illiterate. At one time, the Bible was used in public education as a text book. Today, it is a forbidden entity. Those who decided to strip America of its faith in God and of all religion, have succeeded in creating a generation without Biblical knowledge, values and wisdom. As a result, many are starving spiritually. Added to the problem is the lack of church support in the education of children. Sunday Schools have become ‘old-fashioned’, replaced with ‘superchurch’ featuring fun and games, puppets and magic tricks, crafts and music. Yet most kids never learn basic Bible truths or experience the presence of God in a church service. Few know what the 10 commandments are. We must be cautious that we are not feeding our kids ‘spiritual junk food’! Parents, what are you feeding your kids at home? Don’t leave it up to the church. Once a week meals are not enough for spiritual health. Take every opportunity to teach your children as they go through life, with lessons to match each days experiences. Is there a problem with anger...teach them what the Bible says about anger. If you as a parent do not know, look it up (Prov. 15:1)! If it’s a problem with sexuality, read the Book (Romans 1)! Obedience? Look at the Old Testament lessons for Israel. Love? Read Romans 13:9. Do you want spiritual health? "You don't get wormy apples off a healthy tree, nor good apples off a diseased tree. The health of the apple tells the health of the tree. You must begin with your own life-giving lives. It's who you are, not what you say and do, that counts. Your true being brims over into true words and deeds. (Luke 6:43TMB) Health comes from within and you are what you eat. How healthy is your tree? This last year, I watched a good friend dramatically loose weight after gastric bypass surgery. She suffered intense pain in her knees from being over weight. Health problems were on the increase. She risked heart problems, diabetes and arthritis. A wrong diet and a lack of dietary discipline over a period of many years had done a lot of damage. Now, after being forced to eat healthy choices she has lost half her body weight. But it was at a price. It demanded a new way of life. Spiritually we are no different. If we are spiritually obese or malnourished, we must experience a new way of life. It takes yielding all that we are into the hands of the Master surgeon who will strip us of what we no longer need. By the Spirit’s power Our spiritual dietician) we will learn new truths to lead us into healthy spiritual living. New ways of spiritually thinking and living must become a part of our lives. God wants the body of Christ to be lean and mean… ready to face the enemy of our souls with spiritual power and confidence.
When I look at the world around us today, I fear for the church. It is no longer lean and healthy. It is overindulged, complacent and malnourished. What should be an army of soldiers, is, for the most part, sick. It demands a lifestyle that does not prepare it for battle, and the battle is coming. Spiritual fitness demands spiritual health. I am often reminded of Eli the high priest in the Bible who two sons Hophni and Phinehas, who were to take over as high priests one day. But Eli had failed to teach his sons well. They abused their positions, living to please themselves. Eli had gotten fat and sloppy, and the attitudes had passed on to the next generation. The price was death. Eli fell over dead, his sons died in battle, and his grandson Ichabod was born without a father...Ichabod meaning “the glory is departed.” Each of the three generations paid a price.
It’s too easy to point fingers at others and see all their faults. It takes honesty to look within and see what God sees. Ask yourself these questions: Am I spiritually fit for battle? Am I spiritually strong? How do I face spiritual opposition? If I were to face a spiritual battle tomorrow, would I be ready? What can I do now to alter my spiritual life style? How does the next generation look at me? What kind of example am I to them? What do I value most in life? Am I ready for eternity?
My friend who had surgery now is returning to health, has new energy, less pain, will not have diabetes, and heart problems are much less likely with her new exercise routine. A new lifestyle has dramatically changed her health and stamina. If only the church would discover its need for spiritual health and change. What kinds of change would it make?
You've been raised on the Message of the faith and have followed sound teaching. Now pass on this counsel to the followers of Jesus there, and you'll be a good servant of Jesus. Stay clear of silly stories that get dressed up as religion. Exercise daily in God—no spiritual flabbiness, please! Workouts in the gymnasium are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both today and forever. You can count on this. Take it to heart. (1 Tim 4:6-9 TMB)
J. Johnson

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