Faith Fitness

Do you like to exercise?  Enjoy running or jogging?  When I was young, my favorite exercise besides chasing a ball on a court or field was swimming.  I would work out for baseball and basketball constantly as a teenager – in the swimming pool.

We live in a time in history when fitness is taught, sought, and expected.  There is nothing new under the sun; the fads of physical fitness have come and gone before. (Ecclesiastes 1:9)  Planet Fitness, sports apparel companies, and “coaches” on social media have all benefited from this current trend.

The Bible does tell us to care for our bodies.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 instructs:  What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

Just as our physical bodies need exercise and proper nutrition, so does our spirit.  The faith we hold to needs exercised daily.  Faith needs to be motivated in the “little things” and stretched in the “big things.”

You have heard it said: “Practice makes perfect.”  Not true.  Practice can only make “better.”  No one is perfect in this life on earth.

Athletes train to get in the game.  They practice, sweat, work and prepare to perform as best as they possibly can.  They invest time, money, and mental energy as they get ready for the game.

Paul challenged Timothy on this in 1 Timothy 4:8, For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.

I like sports, but practicing with a baseball, basketball, or golf ball is not nearly as important as practicing faith!  How can I have faith that is fit?

Faith fitness is worth the effort.  Here is what you need to know to be more “faith fit.”

Each Step is a Step of Faith.  We Walk By Faith.  When teaching how we are merely traveling through this life, Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:7, (For we walk by faith, not by sight:).

Every Christian Lives a Life of Faith.  We Live By Faith.  Galatian 2:20, I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I ______; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the ______ which I now ______ in the flesh I ______ by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Playwriter Jean Racine (1639-1699) asked a practical question “Can a faith that does nothing be called sincere?”  Real faith really does impact the everyday life for the believer in Jesus.

Examination of Self Requires Faith.  Athletes set benchmarks.  They put goals in front of them.  They asses the level they are currently at with speed, BMI, strength, longevity, etc.  Note the following assessments a person exercising faith will look at:

  • Am I saved? 2 Corinthians 13:5, Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the ___________; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?
  • Am I more like Jesus? Galatians 4:19, My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be __________ in you…
  • Is there any Bible discipline in my life?  1 Corinthians 9:27, But I keep under my body, and bring it into _________________: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

Are there any practices that I should include in my “Faith Fitness Training Plan?  Yes, there are!  We can find several ways to practice faith in Psalm 37:1-9.

Psalm 37 is a “Wisdom Psalm” of David.  In the form of a Hebrew alphabet acrostic poem, David shares how FAITH is the key to getting back into the game of life!  Powerful words such as trust, commit, rest, and delight are included in this faith fitness plan.

Before the faith fitness plan, however, we need to know there are several enemies of physical fitness.  Laziness, tiredness, dehydration, overheating, and lactic acid building up in the muscles are all enemies of physical exercise.  What about our faith fitness?  There are enemies of faith fitness too – and they can be detrimental.  These enemies can sideline you and get you out of the game – fast!

  • Don’t Overheat. 1,7.

“Fret” is the Hebrew term “charah,” which means “to glow or grow warm.”  -Strongs

Overheating is the internalizing of things that make you angry.  It could be the seeming advantage another person has.  It could be the idea that “I have to work harder than the other.”  Overheating is fueled by comparing my life to the life of others.

  • Don’t Get Overly-Excited. 1

I can struggle with this.  I anticipate before a basketball game or golf match.  Like a good athlete, I envision how I want to shoot the ball or swing the club.  Then when it does not happen the way I like due to injury or loss of ability (i.e. getting old),  I can be disappointed.

“Envy” is the Hebrew term “qana’” meaning “zealous, i.e. (in a bad sense) jealous or envious.”   –Strongs

Evangelist friend John Goetsch recently tweeted: “If you can stay cool in hot places, sweet in sour places, and small in big places, God can use you.”

When we lesson r expectations in self and in others, we will be less disappointed in life.  In the spirit of passion and enthusiasm, we can spend all our energy too early and have nothing left to finish the game of life.

Life is not a sprint – it is a marathon.  Some of my favorite verses in all the Bible teach this.  Hebrews 12:1-2.

  • Don’t Go Overboard. 8

“From Anger” is the word “aph,” having to do with “the nose or nostril” and “from the rapid breathing in passion” and “ire or anger.”

You have heard the advice of breathing calmly and cooling down following intense anger.  “Go cool off for a little while.”  That is what this is talking about.  “Stay Calm and Carry On!”  Anger is an enemy of faith fitness.  In the moments we allow anger to control us, our faith in God is not in control.  The feelings of physical shortness of breath and lack of oxygen in the muscles are similar to the problems caused by not calming down and focusing on the will of God.

Interestingly enough, “wrath” is the term “chemah” and means “heat, anger, and poison.”  It is a term associated with “bottles.”  Like a pop bottle shook up, it could explode.  When we hold in wrath and anger, we may get to the point of exploding all over someone.  That is against faith fitness!  Like the buildup of lactic acid in the muscles, once it kicks in – your body becomes too tired to win.

How foolish anger can be!  I once played baseball with a promising athlete who was a major league prospect.  He was perhaps the most capable baseball pitcher I have ever played with.  His arm rocketed the ball from his hand like a loaded spring.  This teammate, after a disastrous inning in which someone hit a home run off his 93 mph fastball, came to the dugout and in anger smashed his hand by punching the concrete block wall.

I have news for you – block walls win the battle with your body – every time.  He broke his hand in anger and obviously could not pitch for quite some time.  While he eventually came back to pitch in high school again, as far as I know, he never made it to baseball in the minors or majors.

How can I achieve a healthy fitness level in faith?  With Fear, Failure, and Falsehoods a real part of life, what faith practices should I have in my Christian life?

  • Trust Your Faith. 3

The Lord will give you everything you really need for daily living.  We must have faith.  We can dwell in the land.  We can enjoy the food and provision that the Lord makes available to us.  David continues this marvelous truth of God’s provision in Vs. 25.

Our faith is not in “faith itself.”  Our faith is not in our ability to work, earn a living, and make a life.  Our faith is in God.  Jesus taught His disciples and teaches us today in Mark 11:22, Have faith in God.

Faith – in the face of fear.  Faith to factor for failure. Faith to fight against falsehoods!

  • Treasure Your Faith. 4

“Delight” (`anag) means “to be soft or pliable.”  Not really what we often think of when we first hear the word delight.  It means to “be flexible.”

I was taught in ministry classes and by my evangelism mentor at Neighborhood Bible Time, Dr. Charles Homsher, to be “flexible in ministry.”  It is good for all the Christian life.

Have you noticed the most satisfied and joyful people are those who are flexible?

When we are flexible in life, delighting and enjoying all that God gives us, we will find that God gives us the desires of our hearts.  That is not to say that everything that your carnal mind and flesh desires will come to pass.  God gives us WHAT to desire, and He brings it to pass.  In other words, the priorities of our life on earth are changed to the priorities of God when we are being flexible and delighting in Him.

Of our own choosing, we would not ask for hardships, trouble, pain, and suffering.  But God includes these in the spectrum of our life.  Things we fear, moments of failure, and falsehoods in life are events and circumstances that every other follower of Jesus of all time has encountered.

My favorite radio preacher, Dr. Adrian Rogers, once said: “A faith that cannot be tested cannot be trusted.”  Good advice.  Our faith is tested every day.  When we allow God to re-prioritize the important things from the meaningless things in life, He gives us the desires of our hearts.

The “desires” David is talking about here are our prayers: “requests, desires, petitions.”  -Strongs

What is it that God has impressed upon you to pray for?  If your prayers are not delighting in God, then God will not answer that desire.  James 4:2-3 reveals, Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.  Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.

The “heart” David mentions is our intellect and will.  Only when we are flexible with our desires will God show Himself in our life.  God’s plan is something we should treasure with all our heart.

Our will must be bent to the will of God the Father.  When that happens, faith will carry you to places you never dreamed possible.  You will see the hand of God at work in amazing ways!  We are to “lean in” towards God!  James 4:8 coaches, Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you….

  • Train Your Faith. 5

“Commit” means to “roll a way or to run.”  I really like this term.  When we commit or “run the way to God,” we win.  He brings His will to pass in our lives.  Running down the path God sets before you will change your life for the better.

The Christian life is a series of decisions.  Each decision either takes you closer to the Lord and His plan or further away from God and His plan.  David says it so clearly in Vs. 23-24.  When we train our life to follow faithful steps, God will take us to the places He wants us to go.

Order your life after God.  Put daily spiritual routines into place.  Bible reading, prayer, witnessing, memorizing Scripture, and encouraging other saints in the weekly church services are all part of the “order” God desires in our lives.  Like any serious athlete who hopes to get in the game, he will schedule practice.  He will plan for workouts.  Organize your life in spiritual arenas.

Enjoy your life with God.  “Delighteth” in verse 23 is a totally different word from “Delight” in vs. 4.  It’s the term “chaphets,” and it means “to incline to; to bend; figuratively, to be pleased with, to have pleasure.”  The Christian life is fun, satisfying, and fulfilling!  We will have trouble, pain, and suffering, but we have the joy of the Lord in our life no matter the circumstances.

Put your hand in God’s hand.  Fear will occasionally paralyze us.  Failure will sometimes sideline us.  Falsehoods will find a way to slow us down.  But faith in Jesus is more powerful!  You are not alone – no matter the situation!  Even if we fall like verse 24 says, we should anticipate the Lord will lift us back up.

You can get back in the game of life.  You can get off the bench and service God again.  Stop sitting on the sidelines.  Be encouraged in Jesus.  Don’t just be on the “Christian team” – get in the game!   Run down the field.  Listen to the Coach.  Make a difference on the winning team.

No matter what circumstances you face – have Faith In God! Let Him pick you back up, dust you off, help you recover, and with His power, performing His will – get back in the game!

Take a moment to write down some daily practices that will help your faith be more fit…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published by Pastor Steve

Steve Harness and his beautiful wife, Natalie, are blessed with three children. They have served in ministry together for nearly 20 years and have been in Wilton, NY since 2009. Pastor Steve enjoys drinking Dunkin coffee and watching the New York Yankees baseball and Memphis Grizzlies basketball. Steve has a varied ministerial education, including a Bachelor of Bible from Pensacola Christian College, a Master of Ministry from Bethany Divinity Seminary, and a Ph.D. in Christian Counseling from Bethany. Currently, he is enrolled in the Master of Divinity (Christian Education) program at Mid America Baptist Theological Seminary. In addition to pastoring the Wilton Baptist Church, he is also the principal of the Wilton Baptist Academy in Wilton, NY. He serves on the board of the New York Association of Christian Schools. Both Steve and Natalie are thankful for each opportunity the Lord has given to them, and they desire to “serve the Lord with gladness” while seeing people saved and advancing in their walk with Jesus.

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