Summary: 1. Worshipping God publicly and privately 2. Grow in knowledge of God 3. Fellowship with others 4. Share our faith with others 5. Use our gifts

“Five Things You Must Do to Be a Healthy Christian”

March 9, 2008

Everybody seems to be on a health kick these days. Turn on just about any channel on TV and you will find someone selling something to make you healthy. It may be a juicer or Bow flex or pill – but everyone wants you to be healthy.

Last week my four year old grandson, Nate, spent a couple of days with us. He’s always a lot of fun and good for lively conversation. One of them we had was over germs. He wanted to know how small they were and I told him they were so teeny tiny that we couldn’t see them. But there were good germs as well as bad germs in your body. I told him when the bad germs get stronger than the good germs – you get sick. I told him when you take vitamins it’s like you give the good germs guns and then they can kill the bad germs better. That’s why I take my vitamins every day – and why your mom wants you to take them, too. So I guess ‘I’ was even encouraging good health. I don’t think I made him too paranoid with my little illustration.

Good health IS important. I want to “live long and prosper” as Spock used to say on Star Trek. I want to have a good quality of a healthy life. I want to be a blessing to as many people as I can before the Lord takes me home. I want to share spiritual things with my family and with you. So – I take my vitamins. I exercise every day. I try to avoid stress. I try to eat right. I watch my weight. I take a day off every week to rest up. Paul told Timothy,

”Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:7-8

Physical exercise, as the old King James version puts it, IS of some value. Too many pastors and preachers and gifted layman had their ministry cut short because they didn’t take care of themselves. They allowed themselves to become unhealthy – and so they became unproductive. It is just good stewardship of your health to take care of the physical body.

But – even more important is to take care of yourself spiritually. I believe there are five things you must do to be a healthy Christian. Most of us do one or two things pretty well – but it takes all five. It like eating right but not exercising. Or like eating and exercising – but not resting enough. To be healthy you need to do it all – and to be healthy spiritually you need to do all five of these things.

The first thing you need to do to be healthy is to worship God. Worship is two-fold - public and private. The bible is very clear about public worship.

"Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” Exodus 20:8-11

Our bodies are created to need a rest every week – but more than that – our Spirits are created to need worship every week. Someone said, “Seven days without prayer – makes one weak!” Well, a week without a day of rest will make you weak – spiritually and physically. But it is not so much about regulations and rules and stuff. It is about relationship. God wants you to spend some quality time with Him every week in a group setting. Jesus said the greatest command was to love God with all our hearts and souls and might. If we do that – everything else will fall into place. The tendency of our fallen nature, tho, is to slack off. The enemy of our souls will always try to hinder us from doing what God wants us to do. That’s why the Bible says to the early Christians,

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

Hebrews 10:24-25

We need to spur each other to do good things. A spur has a little bite to it sometimes. Sometimes getting spurred is a little painful. I like the word encouraging better. Let’s encourage each other – don’t give up meeting together. Satan will always try to hinder you from going to church and worshipping God. He does not want you bowing before God. He will use pastors, Sunday school teachers, other members, cold rooms, hot rooms, dirty bathrooms – whatever he can. Don’t fall for it. To be healthy spiritually you need to worship with others every week.

You also need your private times alone with God, as Jesus and each of the disciples exampled. I’m not going to take the time to give you all the Scriptures on personal devotions – because there are so many. But I will say that your relationship with God and your spiritual strength is like the manna the Children of Israel ate. It was good for one day. Our relationship with Jesus and our spiritual strength is good for one day. Every day we need to receive new strength and help. Jesus taught us to pray every day. He said, “Give us each day our daily bread.” He wasn’t just talking about physical food. He was talking about spiritual nourishment as well.

A second thing you have to do to stay healthy spiritually is to grow in knowledge. If you aren’t growing – you’re dying. If you aren’t pushing forward you’re falling backward. Paul told the young timothy,

“God our Savior… wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” 1 Timothy 2:4

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”

2 Timothy 2:15

Peter’s last instruction to Christians was:

“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 3:18

Our flesh is lazy. If we follow the flesh we will be lazy and live a life of ease. We will take the easy path – the easy way. And out minds will grow soft as well. David said,

“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.” Psalm 1:1-3

Do you want to prosper? Then meditate on God’s Word. Think about it – day and night. We need to read God’s word every day. Soak in it. Think about it. Read good books and magazines. Stay away from controversial junk. It will just confuse you and is worthless for anything good. Paul told the early church:

“Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. Their teaching will spread like gangrene.” 2 Timothy 2: 16-17

Don’t read the garbage about UFO’s and lost cities and New Age stuff. Stick to the meat. Stick to the truth of God’s Word. Work at memorizing Scriptures. Always have Scripture on your mirror or on your wall or some place you can see it and think about it all the time. The Great Command ends with,

“Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”

Deuteronomy 6:9

A Third thing we need to do to stay spiritually healthy is to fellowship with others. In my first church I had an old 95 year old man as a member. He had lost both legs and diabetes was slowing killing him. But old Bill Vince had a sharp mind and demonstrated it by quoting scriptures and poems often. He took this young preacher in and shared some of his knowledge from time to time. I will always remember his definition of fellowship. Being an old sailor I was expecting something profound – and I guess it was. But it was so simple, too. He said, “Pastor Andy, fellowship is two fellows in the same ship going the same way.”

That’s about the best definition I’ve ever heard. We can have lots of friends and neighbors and acquaintances – but we better be careful who we fellowship with. Don’t get in the wrong boat going nowhere. Or headed opposite of where you want to go.

In practical terms, that means spending time with other Christians of like belief. Go to Bible studies and pot lucks and work days and stuff where you can fellowship. Listen to the description of the early church:

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts”

Acts 2:42,46

We need each other. Sometimes we need encouraging and sometimes we need to encourage others. We were created to need others and to work with others. To be spiritually healthy we need fellowship.

A Fourth thing we need to do to stay healthy is to share the Good News with others. I was just reading about Sutter, who owned Sutter’s mill where gold in California was first discovered. Old Captain Sutter was not a miner. He was a businessman. He built Sutter’s fort, which is now in Sacrament, as well as the mill where the gold was found. When his hired hand, Jim Marshall, came barging into his home to tell him about the gold he discovered, he couldn’t believe it. They tried to keep it a secret, but word got out. Soon people were swarming to California by the thousands to hunt for gold.

Eternal life is so much more valuable than gold. Abundant life here on earth is much more important than gold or jewels. Jesus’ last words were “Go!” We are to go and make disciples. The founder of the Nazarene Church, said,

"We are debtors to every man to give him the gospel in the same measure in which we have received it."

To be a healthy Christian you have to be sharing your faith in some way.

Lastly, to be a healthy Christian you have to be using your gifts. The bible says,

“It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” Ephesians 4: 11-13

“Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” 1 Corinthians 12:7

Why don’t we use our gifts more? From teaching to cleaning the church- what hinders us most? Isn’t it selfishness? “We are too busy. It makes us uncomfortable. We aren’t equipped.” It’s all about us and our comfort. That’s our flesh. And it is a sign of our immaturity. Too be healthy we need to “use it – or we will lose it!”

Find something to do that you enjoy doing in the church – and do it! If you aren’t sure where to begin – just start somewhere. Check different things out. If you seek for the area you are gifted in – you will find it – and we will all be blessed. Did you notice that the gifts are given for the ‘common good”? Did you notice that to become mature – we need everyone to be using their gifts? This is one reason I object to home churches. No matter how gifted a person may be – they don’t have all the gifts and they and their family will be stunted spiritually in some way because of it.

I don’t want to be stunted spiritually. I don’t want to be immature spiritually. I don’t want to be unhealthy spiritually. I know I have areas in my life I need to grow – and I need you for that. Without you using your gifts – I can’t grow as I should. Let’s determine to grow spiritually together. To do that – we need to focus on these three areas.

1. Worshipping God publicly and privately

2. Grow in knowledge of God

3. Fellowship with others

4. Share our faith with others

5. Use our gifts