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Saturday, December 17, 2016

Spiritual Training (1 Timothy 4:7-8)

"Train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things."

Should I want to train to run a marathon, I can google "training for a marathon" and find numerous sites offering plans to assist me in attaining my goal. Such sites offer training information for both experienced runners and beginners, health and nutrition, races and race strategies, injuries and injury prevention, and running equipment such as shoes, watches, heart-rate monitors, and so on.

While non-runners are sleeping in, watching TV or surfing the Internet, marathon runners are out running. They eat differently than non-runners and they invest in shoes and dress created with runners in mind. They run in the rain. They run when it is cold and when it is hot. They run alone and they run in groups. Most of all . . . they RUN!

Godliness, like marathon running, doesn't just happen; its pursuit is intentional and costly. Godly people are disciplined people who guard:
  • Their heart's affections -they are emotionally detached from worldly things (their validation doesn't come from what they own)
  • Their mind's attention - they are mentally focused on things of the Spirit (their imagination doesn't require constant entertainment)
  • Their physical indulgences - they are physically resistant to addictive behaviors (their appetites don't run undisciplined)
They spend time reading, studying and memorizing the Word while others surf the Internet and waste their time watching stuff on TV that has no redemptive value. They invest in others through evangelism and discipleship. Their spiritual training and discipline grants God access to their lives and creates an environment in which God is pleased to work. The following describes the difference between those under strict training and those who are not.

Others May, You Cannot (Published by the Faith, Prayer, and Tract League)

If God has called you to be really like Jesus he will draw you into a life of crucifixion and humility. God's call will put such demands of obedience on you that you will not be able to follow other people, or measure yourself by other Christians. At times, He will let other people do things which He will not let you do.

Other Christians who seem very religious will push themselves, pull wires, and work schemes to carry out their plans. You cannot, and if you attempt it, you will meet with failure and rebuke from the Lord.

Others may boast of themselves, of their work, or their successes, but the Holy Spirit will not allow you to do any such thing, and if you begin it, He will lead you to despise yourself and all your good works.

Others may be allowed to succeed in making money, or may have a legacy left to them, but it is likely God will keep you poor. God wants you to have something far better than gold, namely, a helpless dependence upon Him, that He may demonstrate His faithful love for you in supplying your needs day by day.

God may let others be honored and put forward, and keep you hidden in obscurity in order to produce some fragrant fruit for his coming glory which can only be produced in the shade. He may let others be great, but keep you small. He may let others do a work for Him and get the credit for it now. The reward for your work is held in the hands of Jesus, and you will not see it until He comes.

The Holy Spirit will put a strict watch over you with a jealous love. He will rebuke you for the little words and feelings or for wasting your time. So make up your mind that God is an infinite Sovereign, and has a right to do as He pleases with His own. He does not owe you an explanation of these mysteries. But if you give yourself to be His child, He will wrap you up in a jealous love, and give you the precious blessings for those who belong, heart and soul to Him.

Settle it forever, then, that you are to deal directly with the Holy Spirit. It is His option to tie your tongue, or chain your hand, or close your eyes in ways that He does not seem to use with others. And when you are so possessed by the living God that your heart delights over this peculiar, personal, private, jealous guardianship and management of the the Holy Spirit over your life, you will have found the vestibule of Heaven.

Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading:

I Timothy 3:1-6:21
  • Why is the ministry desirable to some and why is the desire to be in the ministry not enough to qualify someone for being in the ministry?
  • What characteristics place leaders in danger of falling into the devil's trap?
  • Why are wives of ministry candidates also considered in the evaluation process?
  • Why does the Lord place such a high standard for church leaders?
  • What characterizes false teachers?
  • Why does Paul establish ministry parameters within the church?
  • List the temptations that accompany affluence.
  • What characteristic should define those who are godly?
  • How are those who are wealthy to view and use their resources?
Turning truth into prayer:
Voice your desire to the Lord for more discipline and intentionality in your pursuit of godliness.