Hebrews 12:1-2 (NKJV)
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
If we are to be bold witnesses for the Lord as the disciples were, we need to be able to run the race which has been set before us. If you look at the scripture verse above, I have highlighted the phrase, “let us lay aside every weight”. I have read this verse many times, but never paid attention to this phrase. I wish that losing weight was as simple as laying it aside, but since it is not easy we need to do some exercise. If we are to have Spiritual Renewal and Spiritual Fitness this month, we will have to get our minds and bodies in shape.
I am trying to exercise at least 3 times a week to stay physically fit. I have extreme neck and lower back problems and the only way to be pain free is to lift weights. Even though I dislike going to the gym, I always feel better after I go. When I struggle to get out the door, I remind myself that “I am crucified with Christ, it is no longer I that live but Christ lives in me”. I basically die to self every time I go. By body or my flesh says “stay home”, but I resist this urge and go to the gym anyway. I cannot run the race set before me, if I am lying in the bed with a backache. We all need to be physically in shape so we can be walking witnesses for the Lord. Many Americans are so out of shape physically that they cannot be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ. What if Jesus and the disciples had been so out of shape that they couldn’t have walked from town to town telling the good news? We cannot neglect our physical bodies. I heard a story that Charles Stanley told about Miss Bertha Smith, former missionary to China. This will be my paraphrase because I don’t remember the exact quote. She was in her 80’s when he picked her up at the airport. He asked her why she was walking so fast. Her response was basically that there were people who were lost and there was no time to lose. Do most of us feel this way about the lost? Are we in a hurry to win people to the Lord, because time on earth is short? If we were to be honest with ourselves, most of us are not in a hurry to witness. Many Christians avoid it at all costs, much less hurry to tell them about Jesus.
Not only should we have our bodies in good physical shape, but our spirits need to be in shape as well. Spiritual growth only occurs when we spend much time in prayer and Bible study. I just began a new book called 10 Steps to Spiritual Renewal by Dr. David Jeremiah. It is a Bible study on the book of Nehemiah. He says, “Spiritual renewal and maturity come only when we make God’s Word the priority” p 10. Just as we need exercise for physical strength, we need the Word of God for spiritual strength. There is no other way. Many people attend church every week, listen to a sermon and go to Sunday School only to return home and place their Bibles on a shelf. Then they wonder why they fall apart at the first crisis that occurs in their life. You will not be able to run the race, if you have not prepared beforehand. If you want strength for a crisis, then you need to have spent time in the Word of God and in prayer before the crisis hits. Otherwise, you will be weak.
Jeremiah 17:5-8 (NASB) 5 Thus says the LORD, “Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind And makes flesh his strength, And whose heart turns away from the LORD. 6 “For he will be like a bush in the desert And will not see when prosperity comes, But will live in stony wastes in the wilderness, A land of salt without inhabitant. 7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD And whose trust is the LORD. 8 “For he will be like a tree planted by the water, That extends its roots by a stream And will not fear when the heat comes; But its leaves will be green, And it will not be anxious in a year of drought Nor cease to yield fruit.
Don’t forget to pray, study a book of the Bible and exercise this month.
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Jeremiah, Dr. David. 10 steps to Spiritual Renewal. Turning Point for God. 2008.