Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Spiritual Fitness Lesson Four

Spiritual Fitness

        Lesson Four


Ok you know the routine …
* Imagine you at your best …
* In the best condition of life …
* Wiser, stronger, more spiritually fit than ever …
* You at your best for you, your family and your God …

What are you doing right now to get yourself from where you are to that best place in life?

Remember: A dream is not a plan!

* You have an image of you at your best
* You have considered some things you must do in order to move yourself closer to that image
* Now, open your mouth, take a chance, make a declaration of faith … tell somebody about it … if only talking to yourself or to the devil … tell somebody! Pull the trigger and start the race.

These stretching exercises are important to your faith and spiritual fitness. With those first three exercises in mind, let’s tackle the new exercises for this week. Turn to the book of Genesis.

Last week we concluded in Genesis 39 with the continuing review of Joseph’s life, that 98 pound weakling whom God turned into a real heavy weight champion of the whole known world. Both God and Joseph teach us that:

Success in life is more than a one step process.

God wants every Believer to do some spiritual exercises every day so that each one of us might grow stronger and last longer and not faint in the day of our greatest need.

We ended week three with:

Genesis 39:23 The keeper of the prison did not look into anything that was under Joseph’s authority, because the LORD was with him; and whatever he did, the LORD made it prosper.

At the age of seventeen Joseph caught a glimpse of destiny. He saw something in a dream that spoke to him and gave him a vision and hope for his future. No one else in his world imagined that what Joseph saw could actually come to pass. However, this dream Joseph had was but a seed of the destiny God planted in Joseph’s life and it was Joseph’s trust in God’s dream that kept him on track through many years of hardships and great difficulties.

By the time we get to the end of Genesis 39, Joseph is 27 or 28 years old and had been separated from his family for about 10 years. He was sold by his jealous brothers, falsely reported as having been vicious killed by wild animals, taken to a foreign country, sold into slavery, unjustly accused of attempted rape, and thrown into prison.

At every injustice served him, his accusers benefited. All Joseph had was a dream for his future and he would not let go of that dream. Now in prison Joseph continues adding to his life the virtues of a spiritually fit child of God … Joseph is growing spiritually strong.

We pick up this story in the very next verse:

Genesis 40
1 ¶ It came to pass after these things that the butler and the baker of the king of Egypt offended their lord, the king of Egypt.
2 And Pharaoh was angry with his two officers, the chief butler and the chief baker.
3 So he put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the prison, the place where Joseph was confined.
4 And the captain of the guard charged Joseph with them, and he served them; so they were in custody for a while.
5 ¶ Then the butler and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were confined in the prison, had a dream, both of them, each man’s dream in one night and each man’s dream with its own interpretation.
6 And Joseph came in to them in the morning and looked at them, and saw that they were sad.
7 So he asked Pharaoh’s officers who were with him in the custody of his lord’s house, saying, "Why do you look so sad today?"

As if Joseph did not have enough troubles of his own. In the eyes of the world Joseph ought to have been the one sitting around in the corner of his cell, perhaps curled up in a fetal position, crying about his plight and the unfairness of his situation, waiting for someone to bring him his daily ration of bread and water.

However, this is not the posture of a man who is exercising himself to spiritually fitness. Joseph wanted to be ready at any moment to embrace his dream. There was not time for self pity.

In order to become spiritually fit we need to exercise ourselves, regardless of our own problems, exercise ourselves in the virtues of:

1. Kindness

* If we help enough people get what they want, we will get what we want.
* Joseph was given the keys to his own prison, he was a trustee, but he could not set himself free … his freedom was going to come through someone else … someone to whom he was kind.
* Our greatest blessings in life may be waiting on us becoming a blessing to others.

Job 42:10 ¶ And the LORD restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.

* Pray for others, be kind to them … try to meet someone else’s need every day … and watch God deliver you in return.

A second virtue Joseph added to his exercise program was:

2. Candidness

The Chief Butler and the Chief Baker of Pharaoh were very sad to find themselves out of the palace and in prison. Each of them had a very vivid dream the same night and could not figure out what their dreams meant. When Joseph took the time and asked them to share their dreams with him they agreed.

* So many people in prison have dreams but don’t understand what they mean.

First the Chief Butler told his dream and Joseph was given the interpretation from God. Joseph promptly told him that he would be restored to his former position within three days.

Seeing that the interpretation given to the butler was a favorable one, the baker told Joseph his dream too. When the Spirit of God gave Joseph understanding of the dream it was not favorable. Joseph knew that in three days the baker would be hanged on a tree and that the birds would peck at and eat his flesh.

What could Joseph do? This was a horrible interpretation, a devastating message for anyone to hear. How could Joseph say such a thing? The only way … with care, but with candidness.

* Joseph answered in a responsibly honest manner.
* There is a difference between being responsibly honest and being irresponsibly honest.

This baker had a need and a right to know and even though it was difficult to hear, nonetheless it was best that he be told the truth.

* It is important for our spiritual fitness that we have and exercise the ability to be candid, not irresponsibly honest, unkind or uncaring, but when the situation calls for it … straightforward.

A few years ago I was in Canyon City, Colorado visiting with a new ministry acquaintance. Earlier that morning while in prayer I asked the Lord to help me become a good counselor to other pastors and leaders and to give me wisdom and grace to speak the truth to other people in love.

I heard in my spirit that I should be both willing and able to tell others to their face what I would tell my wife about them in private. That challenged me. So, after listening to this pastor across the breakfast table and feeling compassion for him, I took a deep breath and simply said, “Allow me to be candid with you. The very best counsel I can give you is to tell you face to face what I would tell my wife about you.”

With this I saw is eyes searching my facial expressions and gauging my body language for any signs of falseness or lack of sincerity. Finding none he asked me to please continue. I was candid and it ministered to him in a very profound way. From that time forth I have been able to draw on that experience when truth, although difficult, deserves to be shared. I get a lot of exercise on this one and it has become one of my most relied upon strengths.

Proverbs 27:5 Open rebuke is better than secret love.

Not only should we exercise ourselves by Kindness and Candidness but also we need to realize the power of:

3. Influence

Genesis 40
14 "But remember me when it is well with you, and please show kindness to me; make mention of me to Pharaoh, and get me out of this house.
21 Then Pharaoh restored the chief butler to his butlership again, and he placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand.
22 But he hanged the chief baker, as Joseph had interpreted to them.
23 Yet the chief butler did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.

Joseph asked … You have not because you ask not … ask and receive!

* Don’t think that because nothing happens immediately that nothing will happen.
* God knows how and when to awaken His Word and Will in a person’s life.
* You have more influence than you imagine … than you may ever see.

* Spend your spiritual capital
* You will no longer need your spiritual capital and influence in heaven
* Through influence one can lead from the middle of the pack

Galatians 6:9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

Assignment for this week:

1. Take time to be kind.

2. Be responsibly honest and speak the truth in love.

3. Contemplate your circle of influence. Do something to build and bless the kingdom of God by using your influence.

Your blessing and best in life might be waiting just on the other side of you blessing and helping someone else.