Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Joy-strength training

I have been seeing a personal trainer for over a month now. Every time I go see him he pushes me a little harder. Each time I go I get a little bit stronger. He challenges me and I like it! I am 39 and I am in the best physical shape of my life.

Three things the trainer keeps emphasizing are exercise, proper diet, and proper rest or recovery time. In order to grow in strength I have to give attention to these things.

God says that Joy is our strength. We need a lot of it to get through life. Life has a lot of pain and sorrow for us along the way (not to mention a powerful enemy), and God’s antidote to discouragement and depression is His Joy in us. Millions deal with depression every day. They go to doctors, see psychiatrists and take pills. Some truly need medication but many could be cured by a prescription of pure Joy.

In the Bible there is a story of a group of people who are experiencing a great deal of discouragement. They needed to build a wall around the city in a very short time to protect themselves from dangerous enemies. The task was daunting and the obstacles were numerous. At a certain point in the project Nehemiah gave the people these instructions... "Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength." Neh. 8:10

Why did he essentially tell them to have a party? If you read the surrounding context he basically gathers them for a worship celebration. They hear His word, celebrate His presence, and enjoy the company of others who love Him (not to mention some great food and drink). Nehemiah knew the secret to renewing their hearts and building morale was found in these three things: God’s word-God’s presence-God people.

You and I need those same three things for our hearts to be filled with Joy.

Psalms 16:11 tells us "In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. "
Jeremiah said, "Your words were found, and I ate them, And Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart;"
Jesus tells us to love each other "That My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full." John 15:11

It is my professional opinion (as a spiritual personal trainer) that if these things are neglected, weakness will result. Life will kick you in the teeth and you may not be able to handle it. We will face many battles in life. We must be strong or we will find ourselves being overpowered by our enemy. Many live under a cloud of depression that could be lifted if only they would take these "joy-strength" training issues more seriously.

How is your Joy strength? Do you have enough to be the overcomer that God intends for you to be? Do you have a steady diet of God’s word? Are you resting in His presence? Are you regularly gathering with other people who love God and partying? (Weekend worship celebrations & life groups)

If you listen to your trainer he can really help you. If you ignore his instructions you are just spinning your wheels. I hope you will hear my words of encouragement today. If I sometimes push a little harder or speak challenging words, it is because I want you to grow strong. I want your heart to be filled with the Joy of the Lord.

A final word: Be strong with the Lord's mighty power. Eph. 6:10

Building Joy Strength,

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