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Summary: Our spiritual health is so important because the condition of your soul determines the quality of life you will enjoy both here and now and in the next life – in eternity (Part 1 "How to Be An Elite Spiritual Athlete").

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INTRODUCTION

Watching the male gymnasts at the Athens Olympics last night from the comfort of my armchair!

When you become a sports spectator instead of a participant, all the wrong things start to happen to your body. Your weight, blood pressure, resting heart rate and cholesterol all go up. And your oxygen consumption, muscular flexibility, stamina and strength all go down. So it doesn’t take too much to work out that being a couch potato isn’t good for your physical health.

In a similar way being a spiritual spectator – a Christian couch potato - can seriously hinder our spiritual health.

But why is our spiritual health so important? (Listen, this is really vital for you to know...) Because the condition of your soul determines the quality of life you will enjoy both here and now and in the next life – in eternity.

The condition of our soul determines our quality of life. Not the condition of our body (Cancer? Eyesight? Aches and pains? - some of the most joyful and peaceful people I know have been dying of cancer!).

The Lord spells this principle out plainly in the Bible. He says, “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 4:8). (Not in the outline but write it down.)

The condition of your bank account doesn’t determine your quality of life. Jesus said, “a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions" (Luke 12:15)

It’s not our education, our job or the place we live that determines our quality of life. It’s the condition of your soul. That is the one and only thing that really determines your quality of life.

This is why it’s so important to have a soul that is in peak spiritual condition. It will determine the quality of your life now and forever – and that’s a long time!

So now the question is, how do you maintain a peak spiritual condition so that you can enjoy that quality of life that God has promised you?

Fortunately God wants you to know exactly what to do. And in Hebrews 12:1 he tells us .....(OUTLINE)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

(Hebrews 12:1)

Here the Lord says the first thing you should do if you want to maintain a peak spiritual condition, is to watch the winners.

1. WATCH THE WINNERS (12:1a)

Elite athletes study the technique of the winners. And we are encouraged to study the lives of the spiritually elite.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses

The writer is talking about the spiritual elite that are listed in the previous chapter. And this is what they teach us.

In every single case their lives teach us that, if we stick with him, God will give us this quality of life he has promised.

a. Abel (11:4)

We must compete according to the rules.

HEB 11:4 By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings.

Don’t be disqualified for not following God’s direction (Like the Aussie cyclists)

When we compete according to His guidelines, God is faithful and will see us through. He did it for Abel, he can do it for you. Yes, Cain murdered Abel – and if we look at that with worldly eyes it would seem a tragedy. But remember we’re talking about the soul - and Abel was “commended as righteous” – that means his soul was in peak condition. And his quality of life was not found in this world.

b. Enoch (11:5-6)

We must join the team

HEB 11:5 Enoch ..... was commended as one who pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please God.

Have you even joined the team? Without faith it is impossible to please God. Do you believe? Are you committed to following God.

When we commit to His way, we are maintaining our peak spiritual condition and God will give us this quality of life he has promised.

c. Noah (11:7)

We must dedicate our life long journey to the competition

HEB 11:7 By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family.

When we dedicate our life long journey to him we are maintaining our peak spiritual condition and God will give us this quality of life he has promised. He did it for Noah, he is willing to do it for you.

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