Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Spiritual Fitness – 10 Weeks to a New You Lesson Two


We are beginning week two of our ten week spiritual fitness class and as I told you last week, this course will get you in the best spiritual shape you have ever been in and is designed to begin a lifestyle that will last a lifetime. These spiritual exercises will stretch and strengthen you beyond your current capacity and will make you able to successfully handle every situation in life.

At the end of these ten weeks, providing you keep up with the spiritual exercises you will be sharper, more confident and a spiritual force to be reckoned with. Other exercise programs don’t always afford you the benefit of seeing immediate results. However, this program begins paying dividends instantly. The first moment you start stretching you will increase your potential and begin moving closer to your strongest day.

Speaking of stretching, I trust you have been doing the three daily exercises we discussed in week one. Remember what they are? If not either log onto to view, or stop by the info desk and order your copy of week one … you’ll be glad you did!

So, let’s open up the Book of Life together once again and add this week’s exercises to our program. Turn in your Bibles to Genesis.

We continue this week following the life of Joseph, the son of Jacob. Joseph is our role model and we are using his life story as an example as we transform ourselves from that proverbial 98 pound spiritual weakling into a world class champion of faith. Today we will pick up on his story in the book of:

Genesis 37 NKJV

Verses 12 through 18 tell us that Joseph’s ten older brothers were away from home feeding and tending to their father’s sheep in the Valley of Hebron. Joseph was at home when his father, Jacob, asked him to go and check on his brothers and bring back a report of how they were managing the sheep.

When Joseph was still a ways off the brothers saw him and conspired together to kill him. We pick up the story in verse 19.

19 Then they said to one another, "Look, this dreamer is coming!”
20 "Come therefore, let us now kill him and cast him into some pit; and we shall say, ‘Some wild beast has devoured him.’ We shall see what will become of his dreams!"
21 But Reuben heard it, and he delivered him out of their hands, and said, "Let us not kill him."
22 And Reuben said to them, "Shed no blood, but cast him into this pit which is in the wilderness, and do not lay a hand on him" —that he might deliver him out of their hands, and bring him back to his father.

When these brothers wanted to kill Joseph and rob him of his destiny and put an end to his dreams, Reuben, the eldest brother, spoke up on his behalf and delivered him to keep his dream alive. All of this went on behind the scenes without Joseph knowing.

This speaks to us confirming the strength, protection and defense that others can add to our life, even when we are unaware. Without someone else in the background standing up for Joseph he would have perished. Our first element of personal strength for week two centers on:

1. Relationship
* Relationship means to be connected or allied by kindred, marriage, kindness or cause.

It’s not what you know, but who you know that counts.

If who you know, not what you know gets you into heaven, then who you know will also be a key to open every other door in life. What you know is only important after who you know gives you a chance to show what you know. Without opportunity, what you know means nothing and your potential will never be realized.

It is a firm principle of life that before you can stand on your own, you stand on someone else’s strength first. Some other person carried you nine months before you could even breathe on your own. This is a basic principle of life, strength and success … sad to say … some otherwise healthy people with great potential choose to be carried all of their life rather than exercise themselves and gain greater personal strength.

It is true that the enemy may be speaking to men behind the scenes about destroying your dreams, but God is speaking to men behind the scenes to protect your dreams.

God has a plan for your life, but so does the devil. Learn the difference and remember: Relationships matter … who you know makes a difference … two are better than one … a threefold cord is not easily broken … no person makes it on their own.

There are many players in the game of life and your life, your dreams, your strength and your success may depend on others more than you imagine. Don’t cut others short … don’t write them off … be kind … you may need someone to speak up behind the scenes on your behalf in a time to come.

The second element of spiritual fitness we are going to add to our lives in week two is a personal strength called:

2. Presentation
* Your life is a commercial about you. You are writing the story that others will one day tell about you. If your life ended today, what would your epitaph sound like? It would probably depend somewhat on how you have presented yourself to others thus far … unless you knew someone who loved you beyond your presentation … maybe mom could write it!

Joseph’s life was saved by Reuben however when Reuben was gone and the other nine brothers were left alone with Joseph trapped in that pit, they didn’t like him and … since Reuben was not there to stop them … they sold him into slavery to a group of traveling merchants. These merchants carried Joseph down into Egypt and put him on the auction block. Let’s look a couple of chapters further into this story to Genesis 39.

Genesis 39 NKJV
1 ¶ Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. And Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him down there.
2 The LORD was with Joseph, and he was a successful man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian.

What made Joseph a good buy on the auction block of his life? What made this intelligent and well educated man of means choose Joseph as his slave? It could have been the way Joseph presented himself, even in the dark hours of his soul.

Beware … there may be something bigger at stake than whatever is causing that frown on your face.

Joseph had an image in his mind of what he was going to and he did not let what he was going through cloud that image. Joseph was a man with a dream, a man with a destiny … he knew he was somebody going somewhere and he also had the good sense to understand God was going to use others to get him there.

Neither Reuben, his older brother, nor Jacob, his loving father, was with Joseph to protect or promote him right now. Joseph was going to have to make some new friends, impress some new people and for this he needed to make a good presentation of himself to others.

Genesis 39
3 And his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD made all he did to prosper in his hand.
4 So Joseph found favor in his sight, and served him. Then he made him overseer of his house, and all that he had he put under his authority.
5 So it was, from the time that he had made him overseer of his house and all that he had, that the LORD blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the LORD was on all that he had in the house and in the field.
6 Thus he left all that he had in Joseph’s hand, and he did not know what he had except for the bread which he ate. Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance.

Joseph looked good! He cared for his fitness and appearance …

After being sold into slavery, mistreated, rejected, and separated from his family and the good life he was used to, Joseph, nonetheless, presented himself well. He did not kick and scream, fuss or complain, argue or whine, make excuses or beg his freedom … rather Joseph strengthened himself and realized the power of presentation.

Joseph knew that his life, the way he looked, the way he spoke, the way he acted and even the way he reacted, were all opportunities to let others know what they could expect from him. So, he presented himself with destiny’s qualities in the light of his present situation.

He could not afford to act haughty or high minded but rather he needed to come off confident and cooperative, willing to serve.

We must consider our presence and our presentation. How valuable do we appear to others? Success avoids a lazy or a complaining person … work on yourself – exercise yourself – position yourself to be someone others value.

This brings us to our third element of spiritual fitness for week two:

3. Participation
* Participation is simply working together with God and others.

Genesis 39
3 And his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD made all he did to prosper in his hand.
4 So Joseph found favor in his sight, and served him.

God demands that we participate in our miracles and many miracles are made from the accumulation of life in its daily grind.

Joseph was not where he wanted to be in life but realized that he was where he was and if he was going to get anywhere from here it would take participating to the best of his ability right where he was.

Like Joseph, if we are going to get where we want to be in life we are going to have to:
     * Take what we have
     * Start where we are
     * Do the best we can

Many people refuse to participate responsibly, do their best or go the extra mile when they find themselves in surroundings which either they don’t like or feel they don’t deserve. When you find yourself in a difficult position which requires more strength to conquer … exercise yourself! Often we must be willing to exercise ourselves and achieve victory in the situation before we gain victory over the situation.

What am I saying … if you want to be spiritually fit you are going to have to exercise and pay close attention to the essentials. You will never become spiritually fit unless you are able to:

1. Make and maintain relationships
2. Present yourself as valuable to others
3. Participate in life by serving at your best where you are

Your assignment this week:
·        Work on your old relationships and take every God given opportunity to make new ones
·       Examine your presentation
·       Participate – blossom by serving where you are currently planted.

Without these spiritual strengths you may not be as promotable as God needs you to be when He calls. So let’s give God the greatest opportunities to make us all we can be for Him in this life.

1.         Dream – Meditate – Declare
2.         Relationships – Presentation – Participation

Don’t forget to encourage others to begin building their spiritual strength … it begins with a dream. What would a better day look like? What can you and God do about that?