Last week I shared how we must have resolve in order to meet the challenges facing us in today’s anti-Christian society. There are three fundamental resolutions that we must not only make but must also show the determination to keep throughout the year. The first resolution we studied was the need to eat healthier. It is now the second week of 2016 and my question to you is how is your appetite so far this year? Are you daily feasting on His word and living His truth out in everyday life? We must develop healthy spiritual appetites to be fruitful this year. Here is the second resolution we must keep in 2016.
I also believe that every Christian needs to exercise more. I read that Americans spent over $22 billion on gym memberships last year. Even though millions of Americans joined gyms with the goal of losing weight, it is estimated that 67% of people who hold gym memberships never use the gym. It is true that physical exercise is good as we need to take care of God’s temple. However, Scripture tells us that physical exercise is of little profit since our outward bodies are dying with each passing day (this is a reality that I am learning as I advance in years). Even though our physical bodies are decaying with age, our inner man should be growing and becoming stronger with each new year we are given here on earth.
It takes proper exercise to keep our spiritual lives healthy and strong. What are the exercises we need to do more of in 2016? The first one that comes to my mind is that we need to exercise our minds and read God’s Word more in 2016 than ever before. Every study that has been done over the past several years shows that today’s Christians in Western culture are more biblically illiterate than at any other time in history. Paul told the church in Rome that they should live transformed lives by renewing the mind.
When we don’t exercise our minds by reading God’s Word daily, we are not fit for battle and able to engage in the culture war that is raging all around us. We also find ourselves more prone to sin as we haven’t developed the spiritual strength to discern right from wrong. Paul explains this in Hebrews 5:14 when he writes, solid food is for the mature, who because of practice (exercise) have their senses trained to discern good and evil. I use a tool that has a list of several biblical principles that can guide my everyday decisions. The more I exercised my mind by using this tool, the more I was able to discern what was right and wrong when making decisions.
Last year I resolved to get into God’s Word more than I had the year before. With the help of different reading plans I found online, I was able to read through the Bible twice and the Psalms three times in 2015. I discovered that every time I read His Word God showed me deeper meaning to verses that I had memorized years ago.
Another exercise that is a must for a Christian who wants to do God’s will in 2016 is the exercise of prayer. As I have worked in education for the past 48 years, I have learned that teachers do certain things well. Good teachers are excellent planners. They spend hours on end preparing lessons that they hope will captivate their students. They decorate their rooms and come up with creative teaching methods. However, the words of David Platt in his book, Radical, haunt me. He wrote,
Yes, we work, we plan, we organize, we create but we do it while we fast, while we pray, and while we constantly confess our need for the provision of God.
As I read those words I had to ask myself the following questions.
- In comparison to all the time I put into planning and organizing my work, how much time did I spend in prayer for my work and for the people I was serving?
- How often did I fast and confess my need for God to provide direction as I sought to know and do His will?
Do you need to exercise more in 2016? As a teacher are you spending as much time in God’s Word as you do in your subject area books? How much time are you spending in prayer and fasting for your life, your family, your students and your church? Over the Christmas break I watched War Room with my wife and her parents. As I watched this movie again, my heart was grieved over my weak prayer life and I resolved to develop a stronger prayer strategy for 2016.
I believe that there are great opportunities ahead of us in 2016 to impact the hearts and minds of thousands of young people for Christ. However, we must be fit for the battle that lies ahead of us and, to be fit, we must exercise regularly. I must be resolved to exercise my mind by reading God’s Word daily and exercise my soul by spending more time crying out to the Lord in prayer. I trust you will join me in keeping this all important resolution.
Next week we will look at the third and final resolution that I believe is vital for our lives and ministries in 2016. Again, please share your thoughts about the need for Christians to exercise more in 2016 by leaving a comment below.