Tuesday, April 13, 2010

"Celebrating Spiritual and Physical Fitness"

"Celebrating Spiritual and Physical Fitness"

“The invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead”(Romans 1:20).

The inspired word repeatedly compares faith to muscles (see In Heavenly Places page 104). Appropriate use of each has a vital impact on this life and the life to come. “More people die for want of exercise than through overfatigue; very many more rust out than wear out” (Ellen White, Counsels on Health page 173).

I have found this to be so true in my own experience. Almost every time I feel overly fatigued, it is linked to a lack of exercise. The clouded mind, the sluggish stomach, the droopy eyelids in the daytime, the feelings of being overwhelmed by the things that need to be done – all are directly linked, in my case, to a lack of vigorous exercise.

The two times in my life when I have felt and functioned best were when vigorous exercise was necessary to accomplish the tasks that had been assigned to me.Exercise is not only beneficial to the physical body, but it also affects our spiritual lives.  When the circulatory system gets sluggish from a lack of exercise or proper nutrition it  directly impacts the mind. “The life of the flesh is in the blood”( Lev 17:11). When a lack of exercise leaves my blood moving sluggishly, my mind will also work sluggishly. I will not be quick to discern   the wiles of the devil who seeks, in these last days, to deceive the very elect!

Good circulation improves the function of the brain where the battle between good and evil takes place. Our bodies are intended to be the dwelling place of the Most High, and while we take great pains to make sure the church is cleaned perfectly, ready for Sabbath, we must not neglect the physical temple that Christ longs to abide in.

Everywhere in nature we find object lessons of the goodness of God. He has revealed in the simplicity of nature the beauty of the gospel. In exercise we see a practical demonstration of righteousness by faith.
Muscles and faith are special gifts from the hand of our Creator. The power of choice – the power to use these gifts profitably – is also a gift from God. “Every human being, created in the image of God, is endowed with a power akin to that of the Creator -- individuality, power to think and to do” (Ellen White, Education page 17).

Faith is simply trusting that God‟s word has the power to accomplish that which it sets out to do. When we set our will to cooperate with His word, good works are the result.  The story of the paralytic (see chapter 27 in The Desire of Ages) is a perfect example of both spiritual and physical exercise. Here is a man who has not been able to use his limbs for many years. His case appears hopeless. God draws this man to Himself by sending someone to tell him that Jesus is able to heal. Friends bear him to the Savior. They remove the tiles from the roof – doing all that God has already placed in their power to do in removing all that prevents them from seeing Christ. Then, when the sick man is in the presence of his Redeemer, he hears the words he has longed for: “Son, thy sins be forgiven thee” (Mark 2:5). At once the man embraces those words as a fact. His faith grasps the words of Christ and at once he feels the peace of God fill his soul.

The Pharisees couldn‟t see the simplicity of what had just taken place so Christ tied the spiritual reality to a physical one, illustrating what had just happened in the man‟s heart. Jesus said to the “sick of palsy, Arise, and take up thy bed and go thy way into thine house” (Mark 2:10, 11). “What, take up his bed with his palsied arms! What, get upon his feet with his palsied limbs! What did he do? Why, he just did as he was bidden. He did what the Lord told him to. The power of the will was set to move his palsied limbs and
arms, and they responded, when they had not responded for a long time” (Ellen White, Faith and Works, page 68). His choice to obey – to get up – was an act of faith. Nerves and muscles were put to action, and that man‟s faith increased.

How do we exercise faith? By taking God at His word and living our lives in accordance with what He has said He will do in us. We must rest ourselves in His power by choosing to obey Him, recognizing that it is God who works in us “both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).

“God has made man free, and therefore every man is absolutely free to accept this salvation or to reject it, as he chooses. God does not want and will not have any unwilling service. And therefore it is that „by grace are ye saved through faith.‟ Faith is for us to exercise. Therefore it is written: "Choose you this day whom ye will serve." "Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely" (A. T. Jones, Adventist Review and Sabbath
Herald, April 24, 1894).

“You cannot have a thought without Christ. You cannot have an inclination to come to Him unless He sets in motion influences and impresses His Spirit upon the human mind.  And if there is a man on the face of the earth who has any inclination toward God, it is because of the many influences that are set to work to bear upon his mind and heart.  Those influences call for the allegiance to God and an appreciation of the great work that God has done for him. Then don't let us ever say that we can repent of ourselves, and then Christ will pardon. No, indeed. It is the favor of God that pardons. It is the favor of God that leads us by His power to repentance. Therefore, it is all of Jesus Christ, everything of Him, and you want to just give back glory to God. Why don't you respond…” (Ellen White, Faith and Works page 73.3).

Lisa Puffer

Sabbath School Today