TRAINING FOR LIFE
Read: 1 Timothy 4:1-11
Exercise yourself towards godliness. - 1 Timothy 4:7
When Dean Karnazes completed the 26.2-mile New York Mara-
thon in November 2006, it marked the end of an almost impossible
feat of endurance. Karnazes had run 50 marathons in 50 states in
50 days. This exceptional athlete's ultra-endurance feats
include: running 350 continuous miles, mountain biking for 24
hours - straight, and swimming across San Francisco Bay. That
level of fitness requires relentless, dedicated training.
Spiritual fitness, Paul told Timothy, also takes much more
than a relaxed approach to live a God-honoring life. In a culture
marked by false teaching, along with extreme forms of self
indulgence and self-denial, Paul wrote: "Exercise [train]
yourself toward godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little,
but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the
life that now is and of that which is to come" (1 Tim.4:7-8).
Our bodies and our minds are to be dedicated to God and
prepared for His service (Rom.12:1-2). The goal is not spiritual
muscle-flexing but godliness - a life that is pleasing to the
Lord. Vigorous study of the Word, focused prayer, and bodily
discipline are all pan of the process.
How well we train greatly affects how well we run our race
of life. - David McCasland
Just as the body grows in strength With exercise each day, Our
spirit grows in godliness By living life God's way. - D. De Haan
GODLY EXERCISE IS THE KEY TO GODLY CHARACTER.
Read: Jeremiah 5:20-29
[God has] placed the sand as the bound of the sea. - Jeremiah
Not a year goes by without a natural disaster causing chaos
somewhere in the world. Floods, hurricanes, and tsunamis destroy
lives, homes, and livelihoods.
No one would argue that the seas have a "right" to violate
their established boundaries and crash across the coastline. In
fact, people agree that disaster occurs whenever the sea breaches
the shoreline. God Himself has "placed the sand as the bound of
the sea" (Jer.5:22).
God also established boundaries for human behavior. Yet not
a day goes by without countless violations of His
commands, resulting in disastrous physical and spiritual
consequences. Amazingly, we often argue that we have the "right"
to violate these boundaries.
In the days of the prophet Jeremiah, God's people had
stepped out of bounds, using deceit to become rich and refusing
to defend the needy (5:27-28). The result was disaster. God said,
"Your sins have withheld good from you" (v.25).
Within creation there is inherent order. Violating it has
inherent consequences. God in His kindness simply and lovingly
communicated to us the order of things so that we can avoid those
consequences. We are wise to know and to stay within His
prescribed boundaries. - Julie Ackerman Link
Lord, keep us on the narrow way, Where no corruption, woe, nor
evil can destroy, Where Your right hand defeats the worldly fray
To lead us into Your eternal joy. - Mollon
DISREGARDING GOD'S ORDER LEADS TO DISORDER!
Read: Philippians 1:19-26
For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. - Philippians
Sir Francis Bacon said, "I do not believe that any man fears
to be dead, but only the stroke of death:" Woody Allen said "I'm
not afraid to die. I just don't want to be there when it
It's not death that's so frightening. It's the dying that
scares us. As Paul faced imprisonment and the prospect of dying
in a jail cell, he shared his view about life and death: "To live
is Christ, and to die is gain" (Phil.1:21). What a perspective!
Death is our enemy (1 Cor.15:2528), but it does not possess
the finality that so many dread. There is something waiting for
believers beyond this life - something better.
Someone has said, "What the caterpillar thinks is the end of
life, the butterfly thinks is just the beginning." George
MacDonald wrote, "How strange this fear of death is! We are never
frightened at a sunset."
I love this paraphrase of Philippians 1:21, "To me, living
means opportunities for Christ, and dying - well, that's better
yet!" (TLB). During our physical life, we have opportunities to
serve Jesus. But one day, we will actually be in His presence.
Our fear will melt away when we see Him face to face.
That's the "better yet" the apostle Paul is talking about! -
Cindy Bas Kasper
Death? - Christ said not death; - He called it sleep;
A vast awaking, a new day breaking, A bright way taking, with
visions deep. - H. Frost
FOR THE CHRISTIAN, THE FEAR OF DEATH WILL GIVE WAY TO THE
FULLNESS OF LIFE.
OUR REFUGE AND STRENGTH
Read: Isaiah 31
Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember
the name of the Lord our God. - Psalm 20:7
In August 2004 Hurricane Charley brought fierce destruction
to areas of Florida. During the storm, 25-year-old Danny Williams
went outside to seek protection in one of his favorite places, a
shed under the protective branches of a banyan tree. But the tree
fell on the shed and killed Williams. Sometimes, the places we
look to for security can be the most dangerous.
The prophet Isaiah warned Judah's King Hezekiah of this
truth. Hezekiah was a good king, but he repeated the sin of his
father Ahaz by seeking security in an alliance with an alien
power (2 Kings 16:7; Isa.36:6). Instead, he should have been
encouraging his people to trust in the Lord.
By seeking help from Egypt Hezekiah showed that he had
failed to learn from history. Egypt had been anything but an ally
to Israel. Hezekiah had also forgotten Scripture. Amassing horses
for cavalry units was against the divine constitution for the
king (Deut.17:16). Ultimately, Hezekiah did seek help from the
Lord (Isa.37:1-6,1420). And God miraculously annihilated the
invading Assyrians (vv.36-38).
Judah made the mistake of valuing the strength of Egypt over
the living God. May our trust always be in the name of the Lord
our God (Ps.20:7). - Marvin Williams
Trust in God and you will know He can vanquish any foe; Simply
trust Him day by day, He will be your strength and stay. - D. De
NO LIFE IS MORE SECURE THAN A LIFE SURRENDERED TO GOD.
This is just one of the examples in Scripture that shows there is
no need for a nation to have a war machine army. If any nation
will fully turn to God, serve Him, put their faith and trust in
him, then all enemies He will destroy - Keith Hunt
THE GOOD LIFE
Read: Luke 12:13-21
Beware of covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the
abundance of the things he possesses. - Luke 12:15
Driving down the highway in Houston, I passed a billboard
with large letters that announced "THE GOOD LIFE!" I couldn't
wait to get closer to read the small print, which explained that
the "good life" was about buying a lakefront home, starting at
$300,000. Which made me wonder if some unhappy families might
live in those homes, with kids who never see their parents, or
couples who, though living on the lake, wish they weren't even
Luke 12 came to mind as I remembered the story of the man
who asked Jesus to tell his brother to divide the inheritance
with him. That was the wrong thing to ask Jesus! He replied with
a warning, "Beware of covetousness, for one's life does not
consist in the abundance of the things he possesses" (v.15). He
then went on to tell the story of an extremely rich man who, from
God's point of view, was a fool - not because he was successfully
wealthy but because he was not rich toward God.
The sooner we get over the illusion that more stuff means
more peace, happiness, and self-fulfilment, the better off we
will be. And then the more able we will be to find the longed-for
peace and happiness - the true "good life" - that only Jesus can
provide. - Joe Stowell
O Lord, help us to be content, Whatever we possess; Protect us
from the foolish lie That "more" brings happiness. - Sper
THE "GOOD LIFE" IS FOUND IN THE RICHES OF GOD.
Read: 1 Peter 2:9-17
The Lord takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the
humble with salvation. - Psalm 149:4
For some folks, the word holiness conjures up images of
stuffy prudes - people who are "good" in the worst sense of the
word, with sullen and morose faces. They are full of
self-righteousness and rigid duty, "on hold for the next fife,"
as a Washington Post writer put it.
Most people long for truth and goodness. Yet that desire can
be frustrated by what they see in some Christians, whom they
perceive as self-righteous and judgmental. To unbelievers, such
"virtue" is far less interesting than vice, with the result that
they cling to their vices even though they may hate them. Joy
Davidman, the wife of C.S.Lewis, said, "One sanctimonious
hypocrite makes a hundred unbelievers."
Would that the world saw the real thing - that extraordinary
quality of life of which Peter speaks - a life so winsome and
attractive it will draw others to the Savior (1 Peter 2:12). "If
only 10% of the world's population had [holiness]," C.S.Lewis
mused, "would not the whole world be converted and happy before
We can have it! As we yield our lives to God's Spirit
within, we can live lives of uncommon beauty before a watching
world. Israel's poet assures us, "The Lord ... will beautify the
humble" (Ps.149:4). - David Roper
Beautiful faces are those that seem With the very love of God to
beam; Beautiful forms are those that grace With gentle service
the lowliest place. - Anon.
LIVE SO THAT OTHERS WILL WANT TO KNOW JESUS.
LOSING A FRIEND
Read: Lamentations 3:19-29
Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, because His
compassion fail not. - Lamentations 3:22
When London's red double-decker Routemaster buses were
withdrawn from regular service in December 2005, many people felt
they had lost a friend. The Routemasters had provided reliable
service for 51 years, and they were popular with Londoners and
tourists alike because of their easy jump-on, jump-off rear
access. A few, of the old buses still nun on two Heritage tourist
routes, but in the rest of the sprawling city, they're gone.
Many changes in our lives represent loss, whether as small
as the cherished memory of a bus or as large as a destroyed
family home, a thwarted dream of success, or the death of a per-
son we've deeply loved. In every loss we long for a touch of
healing and hope. The book of Lamentations has been called "the
funeral of a city." In it, Jeremiah mourned the captivity of his
people and the destruction of Jerusalem. Yet in the midst of
sorrow, there is a celebration of God's faithfulness: "Through
the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions
fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.
'The Loath is my portion,' says my soul, 'therefore I hope in
When our hearts hurt because of loss, we can find hope in
our Lord, who never changes. - David McCasland
Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side; Bear patiently the
cross of grief or pain; Leave to thy God to order and provide; In
every change He faithful will remain. - von Schlegel
WHEN THE SUNSHINE OF GOD'S LOVE MEETS THE SHOWERS OF OUR SORROW,
THE RAINBOW OF PROMISE APPEARS.