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Fitness for the Soul

Prior to the Coronavirus outbreak in 2020, there were 41,370 fitness centers in the United States. Depending upon where you live, most of these local gyms are in walking distance or less than 10 miles from where your reside. Whether you prefer exercise bicycles, treadmills or lifting weights, if you want to get in shape prices often range from $10-20 per month. If you need a friend to hold you accountable, most facilities often a special rate for guests. If you can’t afford this, there are always local parks with fitness trails with detailed instructions to follow for you to remain fit.

For physical training is of some value (useful for a little), but godliness (spiritual training) is useful and of value in everything and in every way, for it holds promise for the present life and also for the life which is to come, 1 Timothy 4:8.

In his first letter to a teenager pastor, the apostle Paul wanted Timothy to not get caught up in physical fitness. While exercise is needed to stay in shape, fitness for your soul is much more important in the long run. Paul ends his first letter to Timothy with an illustration of what spiritual fitness resembles, 1 Timothy 6:11. The pursuit of happiness is an honorable quest, but fitness for the soul begins by pursuing righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Along the way, fight the good fight as you strive to emulate Jesus.

Therefore then, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who have borne testimony to the Truth], let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us, Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection]. He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God, Hebrews 12:1-2.

The author of Hebrews adds a different dimension to fitness for the soul in the passage above. As you work out physically and spiritually, remember the advice passed on to you by former coaches, mentors and teachers. If parts of your life begin to spin out of control, unload everything that is tripping you up or weighing you down. As you do this, keep your eyes focused on the cross since when runners get tired, the first thing that occurs is that heads slouch, forcing eyes to stare at the ground. If you keep your eyes fixed on the finish line, God will give you the vision to maintain fitness for your soul.

by Jay Mankus

Not Immune

When the next mind boggling event occurs in America, I’m not afraid to question God, searching for answers to stabbings, shootings and tragedy in public places.  Sometimes I feel like God has removed his presence, moving on to another nation, where hearts are open to truth.  Yet, as soon as trials enter my own life, the Holy Spirit has reminded me this week that Jesus was not immune from heartache.

According to John 11:14, God reveals to Jesus that his friend Lazarus has died.  As He makes his way to the tomb, Jesus is met with a distraught sister, blaming him for her brother’s death, John 11:21.  A second family member has similar feelings, bringing Jesus to tears, John 11:32-35.  While using God’s healing power to raise Lazarus from the dead, John 11:38-44, Jesus’ grief continued.  One of his disciples betrayed him, another publicly denied knowing Jesus and finally the Jews convinced the public leaders to have him crucified.

Unlike the Curse of the Bambino for Boston Red Sox fans, the events of original sin can not be reversed, Genesis 3:16-24.  Perhaps, this may explain Hebrews 12:4, putting life into its proper perspective.  With the circumstances in life continuing to decay, no one is immune from pain.  Therefore, as you fight the good fight, 1 Timothy 6:12, hang in there, encourage the depressed around you and place your trust in the Lord, Proverbs 3:5-6.  Share how you have been helped or reached out to lend a loving hand.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

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