(Originally posted 4-20-17)
I’m not an exercise buff. Not even close. It’s been weeks, even months since I last worked out. I used to be better about it and I’d go to the gym on a regular basis. I had the Y membership and made myself get up and get in before heading to work. I’d enjoy doing the elliptical workout and various weight machines. Sometimes I’d even get on the treadmill and pound out a couple miles. I’d just put in my headphones and get at it!
But alas life gets busy and things just never seem to slow down. It’s nothing I’m proud of. I can list off the excuses fairly easily: husband and father of 4, balancing a calling in music ministry along with being busy several nights of the week with church, school, or family commitments…free time is just not a commodity I have much of these days.
Yet as I read that back, I think “You know, maybe it’s just not important enough to me. Maybe if I made exercise a bigger priority, I’d see some benefits and incentives to keep me going.”
Perhaps longevity/longer life expectancy
All great reasons to get out and “do something” even if it’s just 30 minutes at a time, a few days a week. I can handle that right? (Hold me accountable here guys!)
Truthfully, we have the means to exercise our spiritual lives in the same way we do our physical ones. It looks different as the methods are different. But it is still a practice of daily surrender and adherence to a plan…one which is spiritually based and Christ-centered.
For the training of the body has a limited benefit, but godliness is beneficial in every way, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. 1 Timothy 4:8
Just as there are physical benefits of exercise, I believe there are spiritual benefits of persevering in prayer and Bible study with the Lord. Here are 3 benefits I believe God gives us as by-products (blessings) of living in daily devotion to Him.
1. Spiritual exercise trains our lives to avoid sin
By keeping the words of God and the promises of God close, we have the ability to call to mind truth which will guard us during times of temptation. Psalm 119:11 states, "I have treasured Your word in my heart so that I may not sin against You." Remember memorizing Bible verses as kids in Sunday school? Those verses come back in times when we need assurance or just the ability to stay pure. It’s amazing how the Holy Spirit works because He knows the moments and the verses we need at the right time. For myself, this is motivation to start memorizing those verses again!
2. Spiritual exercise gives us the ability to discern God’s will
We all wrestle from time to time with the question “What’s God’s will for my life?” If you polled most ministers, they would probably say this is the number one question people ask when they walk through their office door. We all want to know the answer to this question so we can focus our lives and be about the plans God has for us. But let’s take a step back. Has God not revealed Himself to us already through His Word? Is there not a clear guidepost laid out for us that is time-tested and true?
When we stay plugged into God through Scripture and prayer, I believe His will becomes clear for us and we start questioning Him less and trusting Him more. Spiritual depth and maturity comes as we trade doubt for assurance and step out in faith where God is calling us further.
3. Being spiritually fit helps us weather life’s storms
I cannot begin to understand the pain of losing a loved one through some sort of horrendous situation (suicide, murder, some kind freak accident). But I have seen many Christians walk through a precarious road with a faith I envy (I say envy in a way that I desire their faith, not that I am jealous). In those times when our trust in the Lord could be shattered, God’s Word reveals truth in a very real way that helps walk us through the valley. In the midst of the sorrowful book of Lamentations (written by the weeping prophet Jeremiah), there are these words of hope and strength:
Yet I call this to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord’s faithful love
we do not perish,
for His mercies never end.
They are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness!
I say: The Lord is my portion,
therefore I will put my hope in Him.
The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,
to the person who seeks Him.
It is good to wait quietly
for deliverance from the Lord. Lamentations 3:21-26
My trust is that the God you and I serve is a God who pours out new mercies every morning and is truly good despite what we face each day. I choose to believe that despite any pain in this life, His plan is to unfold a place of glory and rest which one day awaits all who have trusted in Him.
Perhaps this word is just a reminder for you today and serves to confirm what you already know and have to come to believe as you’ve chosen to be “spiritually fit.” Perhaps for others, this convicts and challenges you to start reading a daily Bible plan and to set aside time for prayer. My hope is that for all of us, we are not settling for what was good enough yesterday but that today we would desire to train our hearts and minds in the renewal and transformation of God’s truth.
Being spiritually fit: it’s just as important as getting out for that run!
I’d love to hear from you! Be blessed and have a great day.