A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. (Proverbs 17:22)
Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything (James 1:4).
Unwavering commitment to preparation and training is a major determinant of how successful we will be in the marathon of life. Training is essential because it not only strengthens our physical capacity but also prepares us for possible obstacles and hindrances that we may encounter along the way.
Athletes cannot live any way they want and expect to be in peak condition on race day. They have to follow a tightly-disciplined regimen. It’s exactly the same in our spiritual lives. God has given us moral guidelines for living and certain spiritual disciplines that we need to maintain in order to win in life.
The simple disciplines of the faith are the ones that no Christian ever outgrows. They may appear boring and mundane to some, but they are actually the invisible force that is continually moving us forward in the purposes of God.
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment” (Matthew 22:37-38).
In the first great commandment, Jesus describes our spiritual core muscles as the heart, the soul and the mind. These three muscles enable us to love God wholly and completely. So how do we effectively exercise these spiritual core muscles?
Let me explain it this way: a body builder wouldn’t go to the gym week in and week out and only focus on building his biceps. He knows that without an exercise routine that develops his body as a whole, his other muscles would atrophy and eventually become useless.
Similarly, we have to focus on strengthening and growing all three muscles that make up our spiritual core – or we risk growing stagnant, complacent and lukewarm, which would hinder all God wants to do in and through us.
Being spiritually strong is no different from being physically strong. It means working our spiritual core muscles every day. Think about how much easier it will be to conquer the challenges in our lives if we are indeed spiritually fit.
A friend loves at all times … (Proverbs 17:17).
Sometimes we can’t stand up on our own, so God uses other people to help us rise, as well as to stabilize us until we can walk with Him into our future.
One of the people He used to help me overcome my past was my friend Holly. Holly is precisely the carefree, fun-loving, no-concept-of-personal-space kind of friend I needed to help pull me out of my reserved, distant, resistant shell.
I always felt so uncomfortable around her open and vivacious demeanor because it was the total opposite of my inhibited one. Yet it was exactly what I needed to help me stand up and start walking away from my past and into my future. I’m so thankful she didn’t give up on me!
If we are willing to embrace the discomfort and awkwardness of change, then we will start to see both God and ourselves differently. Often God uses other people in our lives to show us His love and to initiate the growth He desires.
“For no word from God will ever fail” (Luke 1:37).
The God we serve is big, strong and mighty. He made this world; He keeps it all together; and He has created each one of us to play a unique part in His redemption story. This big God is not aloof or distant, but ever-present, loving and compassionate. He has the ability to solve any problem, to heal any memory, to reconcile any relationship, to forgive any sin, to stretch any budget, to feed every mouth, to clothe every body, to free any captive, to break any habit and to cure any disease.
Nothing is irredeemable with God. He is able to work all things together for good. The truth is, there is simply nothing our God cannot do.
If you truly believe that God has the power to create and sustain the universe, then surely there is nothing in your life that is beyond His power to mend, heal or restore.