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Posts Tagged ‘2 Peter 1:3’

personal-trainer-t-shirt1

 

Many people these days hire personal trainers to help them achieve their fitness goals. The benefits they site include:

  • Motivation and encouragement
  • A personalized routine, designed to produce maximum benefit for the time and effort invested
  • Injury prevention
  • Up-to-date information on health, nutrition, and fitness

Actually I have a Personal Trainer (you do, too) but for a far more important aspect of life than physical fitness. God is at work to “enlarge my heart.”

 

Pressing-toward-the-goal 

 

“I shall run the way of your commandments,

for you will enlarge my heart.”

Psalm 119:32, HCSB

 

In other words, God is working in me (Philippians 1:6) and with me (Psalm 23:4a) to develop my faith and mold my character into his likeness.

I do need his help to “run the way of [his] commandments,” just as the psalmist wrote eons ago (quoted above). Too often I’m side tracked onto self-chosen paths.

But how does God enlarge my heart to run his way?

First he initiates a change of heart.

 

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And one day he will complete the process. We will be like Jesus (1 John 3:2). Can you imagine? One day we’ll finally become the holy and perfect people we’ve always wanted to be!

In between initiation and final transformation, we run:

The Christian life involves effort on our part, much as physical fitness requires effort. Just hiring a personal trainer won’t get us healthy and strong; we must take responsibility to follow the trainer’s instructions.

Similarly, while being responsible to exercise diligence and discipline in order to become spiritually mature, we also depend completely on what God supplies.

 

“We must work out what God has worked in.”

–John MacArthur

 

And what has God worked in? Everything we need for life and godliness:

 

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Yes, even our faith comes from him (Hebrews 12:2).

Now perhaps you’re one of those who have experienced the euphoria of being in “the zone,” during your workout. Once your heart rate is up, the blood is pumping, and your muscles are executing every move with precision, you experience a surge of energy and great pleasure in the activity.

I have never experienced that zone. My daily workouts involve uncomfortable huffing and puffing, aching muscles that beg me to “Stop with the push-ups already!” and downright boredom. (After decades of jumping jacks, they’re getting a bit old.)

 

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But it’s the results we’re after, isn’t it, including better heart health.

The function of our spiritual hearts is also improved by the application of exercise in the form of difficulties, hurt, illness, discouragement, and more.

Wait a minute! How does hardship improve spiritual heart health?

God uses such circumstances to produce such results as fully developed maturity.

 

“When troubles of any kind come your way,

consider it an opportunity for great joy.

For you know that when your faith is tested,

your endurance has a chance to grow.

So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed,

you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”

James 1:2-4, NLT

 

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I may never experience the euphoria of the zone during physical exercise, but James’ assurance here promises a zone of joy as I allow God to enlarge my heart and choose to persevere through the challenges of life his way.

Talk about perfect results!

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Heavenly Father, I praise you for working into my life everything I need in order to become “perfect, complete, and needing nothing.” With your gracious provision, may I pursue the way of your commandments, and experience your euphoric joy!

 

(Art & photo credits:  www.tampabayathletics.com; http://www.successandfailure.net; http://www.flickr.com; http://www.knowing-jesus.com; http://www.321delish.com; http://www.pinterest.com.)

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Game-Logo-Fatty-iOS-Android

  “Hi there, Fatty!” he called out. AGAIN. For several weeks this had been his standard greeting.

My husband’s boss evidently thought Fatty was a cute nickname for a very pregnant Mama—me. On the outside I smiled; on the inside I seethed:

This man is the most insensitive lout I have ever known. How can he think such a comment is appropriate? I am sick and tired of his teasing. Add to that his lack of tact, the lies he’s told us, his sneakiness behind the scenes and just general annoyance, it’s a wonder I don’t hit him in the head!

I wish my negativity had ended there. That little tirade is bad enough. But all too often during that trying period years ago, my thoughts went round and round in a cesspool of bitterness and anger.

Then our Bible study group began a study of First John. Chapter two, verses nine through eleven shouted off the page:

“Anyone who claims to be in the light

but hates his brother

is still in the darkness.

Whoever loves his brother

lives in the light

and there is nothing in him

to make him stumble.

But whoever hates his brother

is in the darkness

and walks around in the darkness;

he does not know where he is going

because the darkness has blinded him.”

(1 John 2:9-11)

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 Guilt washed over me.

Oh, Lord, help me to love Jim*. I don’t want to live in this dark cesspool anymore. I know it’s wrong, but every time he says or does something irritating, my mind and spirit get all churned up again. You’ve probably noticed I’ve even been daydreaming about telling him off. How can I ever learn to love a man like Jim?

Part of my problem was a profound misunderstanding of what love is. I thought it was warm and fuzzy feelings toward another person. And try as I might, or as much as I prayed, no tender affection welled up inside me for Jim. It wasn’t until years later I learned:

love-is-action

Love is not a feeling; it’s an action.

When another Bible teacher brought these facts to my attention, I immediately thought of Jim. Had I treated Jim in loving ways, even though there were no warm and fuzzy feelings in sight? For the most part, yes. I was able to smile, be civil,  even wrap my arm around his back when he gave me a hug. I never did tell him off.

Over the years Steve and I have dealt with more challenging folks. No surprise there. Planet Earth is still our home.   I wish I could say their annoyances have rarely wormed their way under my skin, and I kept myself out of the cesspool of negativity. Alas, no.

But the good work God began in me when Jim came into our lives, he has been carrying out ever since (Philippians 1:6). God has taught me, and continues to teach that:

  1. I cannot control the actions of another; it is my reactions I need to control.   I must set aside anger, resentment, and rehashing.   I need to forgive, whether the other person asks for it or not.

 Forgiveness isn’t about letting the other person off the hook.

It’s about keeping the hooks of bitterness from getting into you.

–Unknown

  1. Sometimes, forgiveness is an act of the will, not an act of the heart. When we find ourselves circling the edge of the cesspool, we can make a willful turnabout to focus on God instead.

The key to forgiving others

is to quit focusing on what others have done to you

and start focusing on what God has done for you.

–Unknown

  1. To foster a forgiving heart: pray for the offender.

“I do not believe you can hate a man

for whom you habitually pray.

–Charles Spurgeon

 And just how do we pray for people like Jim?

  • Pray for understanding. There may be psychological or spiritual problems at the root of a person’s offenses. The person may be oblivious to the harm he is causing.
  • Ask for God’s blessing upon this difficult person.
  • Pray for opportunities that allow us to show him God’s love. And,
  • Remember what God has done for us. I, for one, have offended God numerous times. Yet he has never stopped demonstrating his love for me. How small of me to focus on Jim’s shortcomings and faults, while ignoring my own.

Forgiveness is not easy. It stretches to the limit our capacity to love. But by the power of the Holy Spirit, we can take the necessary steps that will lead us there, because:

 2-peter_1819

“His divine power has given us

everything we need for a godly life…”

(2 Peter 1:3)

…including love and forgiveness.

*(The name has been changed.)

 

(Photo & art credits:  www.invisioncommunity.co.uk; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.reaganramm.com; http://www.schenphoto.wordpress.com)                

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