Summary: The church too often has reduced following Jesus and growing in your faith to doing: pray, worship, get in a Bible study, give, serve and witness. But to follow Jesus is as much about being in a relationship with Jesus, as it is about doing the things of
Making Space for God
1 Timothy 4:7 (Phillips Translation)
To say that our nation is caught up in a fitness craze is an understatement and this time of year New Year’s Resolutions abound with losing weight and lifestyle changes. How many of you have made New Year’s resolutions to lose weight or begin working out? Physical fitness has become a billion dollar business in the United States and continues to grow. At any given time you can find the latest “infomercial” on television featuring the latest fitness product on the market. I especially like the creative names of the fitness equipment. For example: “The Thigh Master”, “The Abdominizer” and “The Gut-Be-Gone.” Most of the fitness products also come with a training video … but wait! There’s more! If you order now we’ll send you free our latest training videos on: “Abs of Steel” and “Buns of Steel”. And for our first 50 orders we’ll also include “The Elvis Presley Guide to Nutrition; the Later Years”. Whether it’s “Sweatin’ to the Oldies” with Richard Simmons or Billy Joe Jim-Bob’s “Country Line Aerobics”, they all promise the same thing: If you’ll follow their training plan, you can be physically fit in a matter of days or weeks.
But what about your spiritual fitness? How many of you made New Year’s resolutions to get spiritually fit this year? First Timothy 4:7-8 says: ”Train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness (that is, soul training) has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” I like how the Phillips translation states it: “Take the time and the trouble to keep yourself spiritually fit.” 1 Timothy 4:7 In other words, it’s good to be physically fit, and it’s even better to be spiritually fit. Funny, but I haven’t seen too many “infomercials” on spiritual fitness. If they were, they’d be called: · “Prayers of Steel” · “Sermons of Brimstone.” What does it mean to be “Spiritually Fit”? And how do you get there? Over the next four weeks we’re going to be talking about specific ways you can get spiritually fit through soul training.
God uses soul training or spiritual disciplines to help transform us. Richard Foster in his book, “Celebration of Discipline”, writes, “The spiritual disciplines place us before God so he can transform us.” Of all the catalysts to grow spiritually, this is the one that you have the most control over. That is why Paul writing to Timothy says: “Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.” 1Timothy 4:7 (NASV) and why we are told to "work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you." Phil. 2:12-13 It’s also why Peter says, “Be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’" 1 Peter 1:15-16 (NASV) God wants us to work at becoming like Him. God is holy and if we are His children we are to be like Him. When we become more holy, we become more God-like. That is what it means to strive for godliness. That is what it means to become a disciple of Jesus. We are to become more like Jesus and our Father in heaven.
The church too often has reduced following Jesus and growing in your faith to doing: pray, worship, get in a Bible study, give, serve and witness. But to follow Jesus is as much about being in a relationship with Jesus, as it is about doing the things of Jesus. And that relationship with Jesus must be the most important thing in your life. Those closest to you influence you. They influence your actions, your attitudes and your behavior, who you are and who you are becoming. Is Jesus the most important person in your life? Does Jesus exert more influence in your life than anyone or anything else in your life?
The problem is time. Most of us are overworked and overcomitted and as a result, worn out and stressed! We have 168 hrs in the week and spend 56 hrs for sleep, 14 hrs for getting ready for work, 40-60 hrs for work, 21 hrs for eating - shopping, commuting, kids activities, yard work, etc. and somewhere we’re supposed to squeeze in worship, spiritual growth time and time for serving. No wonder, we need rest. When people try to do something new in their lives, they usually try to just add it on, making a small adjustment here and there. What we really do is just pile one thing on top of another and that creates very little margin or downtime.
One way we try to make up for being overburdened is with speed. We think if we just hurry up then we can get everything done! I see it every day on the hiway, people driving like a bat out of hell. That’s what we do. We try to increase our pace. We try to push more into a short amount of time. Hence, we get into accidents. We get irritable. We get angry at each other. Why? Because one of the incorrect ways to deal with being overworked and overcomitted is by going faster to do more. The fact is you can’t do it. It will eventually kill you! Hence the slogan: Speed Kills!