Running a race requires an all-out effort. It is draining both physically and mentally. Have you ever watched runners in a race able to increase their pace as they hear the cheers from the crowd? They seem to get extra energy and an emotional boost when those surrounding them go crazy and cheer them on. Fans in the stands have a powerful part in the performance on the track.
Hebrews 11 gives us somewhat of a hall of fame of The Faith. These people include: Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, the Judges, Daniel, David, Samuel and many others. Men as well as women are listed as examples of those who persevered in the faith. These all are described for us as a great cloud of witnesses. Heb. 12:1,2 challenges us: “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”. These verses describe the race before us, the witnesses around us, and the Savior who is with us.
Every one of us who know the Lord have a race to run. It is the race of the Christian life. In it we are challenged to not let anything weigh us down or hinder us from pursuing Christlikeness. We also have the encouragement of the crowd. The examples of those in the Bible are to be our source of inspiration. They were fallen creatures just as we but if they could continue on so can we. We are not only surrounded by the witnesses we are to keep our eyes on Jesus. He is our greatest source of strength to keep running this race. He was victorious in His race as He endured the cross, rose from the grave and sat down at God’s right hand.
Getting a little weary in your race? Listen to the cheers from the crowd and look to Jesus as He is your biggest fan.
Due to a heart attack a close relative of mine was placed on a restricted diet. He was supposed to reduce his total calories per day and limit his portions. He was told to cut out fat, salt, sugar and caffeine. It was hard for him to feel that this restricted diet was actually good for him when the bad stuff tasted oh so good. He followed it for a while but then want back to eating the way he wanted to.
As I was reading Colossians chapter 3 I came across another heart-healthy diet. This one was not prescribed by a cardiologist but by the Lord Himself. In verses 8 and 9 we are told that in order to have a healthy heart we must put off all these: “anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language, and lying”. These things are detrimental to our spiritual health and should be put on our “restricted intake” list. Further along in the passage we come across some exercises that will help our heart to grow stronger if we start doing them every day. In verses 12-16 we find exercises like: “showing tender mercy to people, being kind, along with the qualities of humility, meekness, longsuffering, forbearing one another, forgiving one another, and exhibiting love”. I realized that some of these spiritual exercises may be a little strenuous for some, but they are guaranteed to bring results, they will strengthen our heart.
Another part of this heart-healthy diet is mentioned in verse 15. We are told to let the peace of God rule in our hearts. We are to let His peace calm us, surround us, and control us. We should not allow our heart to be troubled, afraid, and preoccupied with the worries and stresses of life.
Perhaps you are having a little heart trouble. Maybe you are suffering from a cold heart, or a flabby heart or even a hard heart. God has just the diet for you. Why not listen to the Great Physician and go on His heart-healthy diet today?
Physical fitness does not just happen. It takes work. You and I need to put in some effort if we want to maintain a healthy body. Some people go to the gym and follow a prescribed regimen. Others jog or bike, or cross train to achieve their fitness goals. A good workout may take many forms but they all take concerted effort.
What goes into a good spiritual workout? The apostle Paul wrote to the Philippian believers and told them: “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13,14). When Paul told them to work out their own salvation he did not mean that they were to work for their salvation. Salvation is the free gift of God that comes to us when we believe in Jesus. But he did challenge them to work out what God has worked in us.
How do we do this biblical workout? The verses tell us that a good workout comes by a daily life of obedience. The Philippians were obeying the biblical principles that Paul had taught them even now while he was away from them. Obeying the Word is truly a workout, especially when our old fleshly nature screams in resistance to the changes we need to make. The second part of a good workout is an awareness of God’s presence. Phil. 2:12 tells us to work out our salvation with “fear and trembling”. That means we are constantly in tune with God’s awesome and real presence in our lives. The third ingredient of a good spiritual workout is a dependence on God’s sovereignty. We may think that spiritual maturity all depends on our efforts but Phil. 2:13 reminds us that it is God who works in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.
It pays to be in shape. But it does take work. Let’s follow the Lord’s regimen for a good spiritual workout.
Pastor Stultz has been writing this weekly devotional for many years. In 2009, he published a compilation of devotionals in book form, also called Moments of Meditation