Spiritual Fitness

March 27, 2014

Spiritual Fitness

1 Timothy 4:8
For physical training is of some value (useful for a little), but godliness (spiritual training) is useful and of value in everything and in every way, for it holds promise for the present life and also for the life which is to come.

We live in a time and a society that is very health and fitness conscious. It almost seems ironic, considering over half our population would fall in the obese or overweight category. Yet we are hearing about it all of the time. The truth is we want to eat and enjoy all that we want, but we still want to have buff and gorgeous bodies and looks. Somehow God didn’t seem to create them to go together very well. If we want physical fitness, then we know that it requires discipline and effort on our part. People and companies have made billions of dollars by selling pills and products that told us we could have the one without the other. If I set in front of my TV and watch a workout program that should somehow help me to get fit. If I eat a snickers candy bar and a diet coke, then I think I’m on a diet and am going to lose weight. If I watch a lot of sports, then somehow that makes me an athlete.
This scripture makes an analogy. There is nothing wrong with physical training and staying in shape. Like anything it can get out of balance. While physical training in a natural sense can be good, in the light of what is really meaningful in life it isn’t that high on the list. We are in the process of maturing and training up our spiritual man. As in the physical, to be spiritually fit requires an investment of time, of dedication, discipline and exercise. What kind of spiritual shape is our life in today? Are we armchair and couch-potato Christians? Do we warm a pew, say a few weak amens, listen to a sermon or a word and then continue on through life without it affecting any change in our behavior, or actions, or involvement? Are we lethargic, complacent, dull, and self-willed? What is the state of our spiritual fitness today? How would you honestly rate yourself on a scale of 1 to10? When I look at my physical man and see how indulgent I have become in so many areas of my life, I realize that the same mentality can very well carry over into my spiritual life. Are we a nation of out of shape and overindulgent Christians? Outwardly we are very blessed, but inwardly do we fit the profile of Revelations 3:17? “17For you say, I am rich; I have prospered and grown wealthy, and I am in need of nothing; and you do not realize and understand that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.” This is not written to condemn us, but it is a call to action for all of us. Many of you who are reading this are spiritually strong and fit, but others of us may be strong with our words, but weak in our actions.
The apostle Paul gives us another analogy in 1 Corinthians 9:25-27, “Now every athlete who goes into training conducts himself temperately and restricts himself in all things. They do it to win a wreath that will soon wither, but we [do it to receive a crown of eternal blessedness] that cannot wither.
26Therefore I do not run uncertainly (without definite aim). I do not box like one beating the air and striking without an adversary.
27But [like a boxer] I buffet my body [handle it roughly, discipline it by hardships] and subdue it, for fear that after proclaiming to others the Gospel and things pertaining to it, I myself should become unfit [not stand the test, be unapproved and rejected as a counterfeit].”
We all need to come to grips with the fact that God has a calling and a purpose in our lives. I am being convicted today that there needs to be both a physical and spiritual discipline in my life. I am not talking about legalism, but like Paul, I need to conduct my life with temperance, self-control and have myself in check, spirit, soul and body. God is calling us in this hour to prepare ourselves for a time of great spiritual battle and a time of His revealing. Most of us aren’t prepared for that with the mentality and habits that we harbor. God is calling us to spiritual fitness through such things as prayer, fasting, personal time with the Lord and walking out our faith in love and actions that reveal the character of who we are in Christ. We are a called out people, a separated people and a holy people. We are a people called after God’s own name and for His glory. We are being called to the gyms of spiritual fitness to be exercised in godliness and righteousness. We have an adversary who has been lulling us to sleep and into spiritual laziness. This is the day to discern our spiritual state and develop a mentality and lifestyle that is in harmony with God’s desire for our spiritual fitness. The overcomer is a person of spiritual strength and fortitude. Spiritual strength is developed in discipline, consistency, a right state of mind and a vision of what we are being strong for. We don’t want to find ourselves, after believing, coming up short and missing the mark of the high calling we have in Christ Jesus. Let us press on with all of our being into Him and be strong in the power of His might.

Blessings,
#Kent

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Lust

September 11, 2013

Lust

Psalms 81:12
So I gave them up unto their own hearts’ lust: [and] they walked in their own counsels.

Lust is an area where we all struggle. Many of us automatically associate lust with sexual lust and while that is one arena that it greatly works in, it is by no means that only one. Lust, is much the same as covetousness. It is the strong desire, passion and delight in a desirable thing or object. Typically, what do we have a strong passion and desire for? Usually it is for the things that we can’t have or that we ought not to have. This is what we commonly phrase, “lusting after the flesh”. It is our flesh that is at enmity with God or at war with Him. It is a battle that we fight in our souls, but finds expression through our flesh. Now, lust could have a good connotation, in that “I lust after the Spirit”, or have a strong passion and desire for God. Certainly this is the direction we would want our lust to take us, but more times than not it is taking us in another direction, the way of the flesh.
In our scripture today the context of what is being talked about is when God brought the children of Israel out of Egypt and was leading them through the wilderness. Lust was a condition of their hearts that led them away from God and the higher purposes that He had for them. It continues on after our theme verse to say in Psalms 81:13-16, “Oh that my people had hearkened unto me, [and] Israel had walked in my ways I should soon have subdued their enemies, and turned my hand against their adversaries. The haters of the LORD should have submitted themselves unto him: but their time should have endured for ever. He should have fed them also with the finest of the wheat: and with honey out of the rock should I have satisfied thee.” If we want to be fed with the finest wheat (the bread of Life) and the honey out of the rock (the truth and revelation of Christ), then we have to hearken unto the Spirit and not unto our flesh when the lust of our desires and want to’s conflict with the Spirit within us.
What is the first thing we want to do when our desires or lust conflict with our spirit? Typically we begin to reason, justify and compromise. Let’s put the old mind to work on it, he’ll come up with a way to make it all right. Isn’t that how we generally try and find peace with ourselves, by rationalizing something in our mind? Or we compartmentalize it and justify it by saying to ourselves, “this is okay in this area of our lives, but not okay over here.” We develop different standards depending on whether we are dealing with family, or business, or social engagements, or spiritual activities. The truth is, God has one standard that applies to every area of our lives. Daniel, in the Old Testament, didn’t cease to pray routinely, just because it wasn’t the politically correct thing to do. He was consistent in every area of his life. We must be no different.
What happens when we start shutting the voice and the conviction of the Holy Spirit out and continue on in the way our flesh wants to go? For one thing, we grow hard of hearing and hard of heart. We have a free will and God will let us go our own way, but the more we go our way the more estranged we become with Him and the less clearly we hear His Spirit’s leading and direction.
Temptation is merely the incitement of my passion, desire or lust for something. James, deals with this issue in a very straight forward way when he says in James 1:12 -16, ”
Blessed [is] the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. Do not err, my beloved brethren.” He lays out the progression of lust from beginning to end and then exhorts us, “don’t fall for it precious saints.”
Again, James deals with lust in James 4:1-5, “From whence [come] wars and fightings among you? [come they] not hence, [even] of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume [it] upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?” It is the lust of our hearts that entices us away from God to pursue our own passions that are in opposition to His will for us; thus we become His enemy rather than his friend. Our desires become our idol and God is saying, “Don’t you know how jealous I am over you?” God is envious and desirous of us, of our hearts, our affections and our faithfulness to Him. We become like the adulterer that forsakes his relationship to pursue another lover. We grieve the Holy Spirit in doing this.
The apostle John gives us this exhortation in 1 John 2:15-17, “Love not the world, neither the things [that are] in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
For all that [is] in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” Peter makes the remark that the corruption that is in the world is the result of lust and the whole reason that God has given us such wonderful and divine promises is to help us escape out of that snare and stronghold that is taking the world to judgement. He says in 1Peter 1:4, “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” God desires that our desire be first for Him. He loves us with a jealous love and desires that we are faithful. He wants to give us a divine nature that has escaped the corruption that lust brings to our hearts and lives. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free so that we would no longer be in bondage to our lust and former desires. We need the Holy Spirit’s power to help us break the strongholds of lust off of our lives. The more our eyes are fixed on Jesus, the more our hearts are set upon Him and the more we are walking after the Spirit, the easier it will become to overcome these areas in our lives. The Holy Spirit will help us, but He will not act against our will. Only we can submit our will to His.

Blessings,
kent

Integrity

May 2, 2013

Integrity

Job 2:3
And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that [there is] none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause.

This passage in Job exemplifies what a man of integrity is. This is a virtue and attribute that is lacking more and more in us as individuals and as a society at large. God saw something in Job’s integrity that He wanted to draw not only our attention too, but also the devil’s. Job was a man that even in the adversity and tremendous trial and testing didn’t waiver in his integrity. It was by those principles that he governed his life and not even the loss of all things could move him from the integrity of his heart. How does that contrast with so many of us today that are like the waves of the sea tossed to and fro, shifting our beliefs, doctrines, behaviors and convictions based on what is politically correct at the moment. We’re all for God until calamity strikes and then we turn bitter and resentful toward Him. If anybody had a right to be bitter and forsake God it was Job, yet the calamities that afflicted his life only solidified the uncompromising conviction of his heart. That conviction was basically, “God you are what I live for and who I die for, I didn’t bring anything into this world and I am not taking anything out, though You slay me yet will I love YOU.” What a testimony of surrender, commitment and integrity toward God Job maintained. Most of us would have folded like a house of cards.
Integrity is completeness. Completeness in the sense that God Himself is our fullness and completion as human beings, without Him we are wanderers in a strange land looking for purpose and reason for existence. Job knew what his was. Integrity is uprightness that comes from a consistent and faith filled relationship with our God. It is simplicity and innocence that acts and behaves the same whether others are observing it or not. It doesn’t act one way in the light and another way in the darkness; it is ever a light and a standard that holds consistent. We can only be perfect in our integrity to the extent the Lord is the Principal and the Sovereign of our lives.
David was considered a man of integrity. Now David wasn’t perfect and he made some major blunders, but it was said of him that he was a man after God’s own heart. Isn’t this where true integrity comes from, our heart towards God? It is only He that can establish us and keep us in that integrity, but He wants us all to have it and maintain it in our daily lives and walk. It is in our power and free will to desire and pursue the integrity of God’s righteousness. God will honor the desires of our heart when they are pure and sincere toward Him.
Integrity has been a slippery slope for many of us. As God is raising His standard in us, He is calling us to be men and women of integrity and uprightness. He wants us to not just have the shell of integrity, but like Job, it dwells in the innermost parts of our heart and being. It is in practice whether others see it or not, because God always sees our heart. It is uncompromising in it’s commitment to God’s standards of righteousness. Job 31:6, Job says, “Let me be weighed in an even balance, that God may know mine integrity.” Do we want to make that request?
Integrity is much akin to wisdom, it helps us to establish and hold our course in life. Proverbs 11:3 says, “The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them.”
Recently we talked about the legacy our lives will leave. Integrity is definitely a part of that legacy we want to leave. “The just [man] walketh in his integrity: his children [are] blessed after him. Proverbs 20:7).”
Integrity is exemplified in the nature of Christ that God is working in us as we submit ourselves to Him. Even as Job, let’s make it the standard and foundation in our lives.

Blessings,
kent

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