The Spiritual Workout

Introduction: To this point, we have been learning about the basics of prayer; how to pray, when to pray, where to pray and the wonderful things that happen when we pray. Today, I want to step back and bit and look at prayer as a part of our spiritual growth.  So let’s talk about exercise. Stay with me. This will come back around the bend shortly.

  • The US Dept. of Health and Human Services has studied physical activity in America and found the following:
    • Only one in three children are physically active every day.
    • Less than 5% of adults participate in 30 minutes of physical activity each day;2 only one in three adults receive the recommended amount of physical activity each week.
    • Only 35–44% of adults 75 years or older are physically active, and 28-34% of adults ages 65-74 are physically active.
    • Children now spend more than seven and a half hours a day in front of a screen (e.g., TV, video games, computer).
    • In 2013, research found adults in the following states to be least likely to report exercising 3 or more days a week for at least 30 minutes: Delaware (46.5%), West Virginia (47.1%) and Alabama (47.5%). [Once again, Alabama is ranked #1]
  • It’s easy to accumulate statistics on physical attributes but what about spiritual attributes?
  • QUESTION: If we took a survey today about our spiritual health, what questions might we ask?
    • How many times a week do you pray?
    • How many times a week do you study the Bible?
    • When was the last time you did benevolent work in the name of God?
    • How many times a week do you speak to someone about the good news of Jesus Christ?
    • When was the last time you planned, participated or conducted a Bible study with a non-Christian?
  • There are more questions we could ask, and there are more things we could do based on our talents and abilities, but if we answered zero times on these, what spiritual condition would we be in?
    • If we are honest with ourselves, we might all conclude that we need to be doing more to strengthen our spiritual bodies.
    • So what can we do about it? [NEXT SLIDE]
      • Step 1: Pray about it. (James 1:5-8) If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
        • We must pray without doubt
        • We must have the right attitude about what we are praying for.
        • Just like NT Christianity, what is in our heart is evident to God before we take that first step.
        • We can’t assume we will receive what we ask for. 
      • Step 2: Believe you can do it because God does. 
        • Remember who is on your side. (Romans 8:31) What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
        • Believe in the power of you and God together. (Philippians 4:13) I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
        • Be steadfast in your pursuit of this goal. (Philippians 3:14) I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
        • Don’t try to do it by yourself. (Matthew 19:26) But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
      • Step 3: Set goals. 
        • Motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar put it this way:
          • “The basketball team was in the locker room getting ready for the big game. The coach was getting them all excited about winning. The team captains were leading chants until the team was in a frenzy. They could have taken on the world as they heard the band play, the fans roar and cheerleaders cheering. The coach gathered them like a pack of wild stallions ready to trample anything in their path. Then the coach released them on the unsuspecting crowd and the opposing team. Their monstrous enthusiasm quickly died when they ran out on the basketball court and noticed, someone had forgotten to lower the basketball goals for the game.  You see that team had all the enthusiasm in the world, but they didn’t have goals. We are the same way, without goals — meaning a clear path to our destination — like that basketball team, we will have nothing to shoot for.”
        • There are two types of goals. Give-up goals and go-up goals.
          • A give-up goal is something you want to give up, get rid of or lose (like weight).
            • Tell everyone one these goals. You will find it builds accountability with people you work with and come in contact with on a regular basis.
          • A go-up goal is something you are trying to improve about yourself. (ex. I want to read the Bible in one year.) Only share these goals with people who will support you. Haters and dream killers will only discourage you. You know who they are. 
  • So now that we have prayed, understood that God is with us on this journey and set our goals, we must begin our spiritual workout.
    • We are made with a soul or spirit. (John 4:24) God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.
    • Our spirit needs discipline in same manner as our physical bodies need guidance and discipline from those in authority. (Hebrews 12:9) Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live?
    • Unlike our physical bodies, our spirit can become stronger as we get older. (2 Corinthians 4:16) So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 
    • QUESTION: What does a spiritual workout look like?
      • Kids Sing is a great example. 
      • We must grow inwardly through prayer (talk to God) and Bible study (God talks to us).  (Philippians 4:6) Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (2 Timothy 2:15) Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
      • We must grow outwardly by teaching the lost and works. (Mark 16:15) And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.
        • QUESTION: What are some other ways we can grow outwardly?
      • We must grow upwardly through faith in God’s plan for us. (Proverbs 3:5-6) Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
        • Song: None of Self and All of Thee
        • QUESTION: How do we let go of our earthly fears and worldly stress to “give it to God?

Today’s Takeaways

  • Our spiritual bodies need a workout to be nourished and to grow.
  • We must grow inwardly through pray and study.
  • We must grow outwardly through Christian acts and fulfilling the great commission.
  • We must grow upwardly through faith in God’s will for us.

 

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