Strengthen Thyself :: by Grant Phillips

My wife and I recently started going to the gym to hopefully rearrange the geography of our bodies.

I don’t know about your hometown, but where we live, people are out walking and/or running nearly every day, even when the weather is on the nasty side. I’ve always admired those folks. Even very early in the morning, there they are, walking or running up and down the streets and sidewalks. That takes desire and willpower, something that isn’t always long-lasting with most of us.

Six years ago a gym was opened in our town. The franchise has been very successful. I’ve never seen the parking lot empty except at night or Sunday mornings (since they open at 1:00 P.M. on Sundays). Here again, I’ve always admired people who have the fortitude to consistently go on a regular basis and not quit.

We’ve noticed that more than just a few are really serious about “sculpting” their bodies for the best look. Some of the guys have arms bigger than my legs, and I wouldn’t want to cross some of the women either. Most of the women though seem to be more into the treadmills. Just watching some of the young ladies on the treadmills especially can be tiring in itself. I asked my wife, “How can they just go on and on like that?” She reminded me that they are a few years younger than we are; well actually, I think she said several years younger than we are, especially me, since I’m older than my sweet little Mrs.

I can vaguely recall those days when running and pumping iron was not a life or death situation. It was fun. Now it’s work, but work we must.

Anyway, isn’t it something to think about when we consider what we put ourselves through to keep (or get) our bodies in shape? Whether we’re young athletes or worn down old geezers now labeled under geriatrics, we just huff and puff away.

Spring is finally here! I’m so thankful; I’m even looking forward to mowing! To help get myself in better shape, I decided to leave the riding mower where it is and push-mow the entire lawn. I did it, but only by the grace of God! I don’t understand why my neighbor across the street can push-mow all his lawn and he looks like he’s ready for more. Me? I was ready for the ambulance, but I didn’t have the strength to call them. He’s only about thirty years younger, so I just don’t get it. (You know I’m being facetious don’t you?)

Strengthening our bodies is a good thing, and more of us should do so. It would keep us healthier.

Our minds are something else we need to constantly strengthen. Working crossword puzzles and memorizing are two great ways to strengthen our minds.

It takes a lot of work to keep the body and mind active and alert. We spend much time, money, and effort working on our bodies. We willingly accept the aches and pains it brings because we know it takes that to improve. We tough it out and stay on course to reach our goals, but how much of the same do we apply to our inner being?

Most Christians will not hesitate to spend the necessary time, money and effort to improve themselves physically. Many will do so via sports activities, and that is another great method of accomplishing our goals for physical improvement, but what about our spiritual health?

The psalmist says in Psalms 119:28, “My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word.”

Let’s face it. Most Christians are spiritually weak, and none are without need of improvement. I have seen a myriad of ways Christians will attempt to improve their spiritual strength. We have all been guilty of trying numerous gimmicks to “get closer to God.”

I am of the opinion that there is only one tried-and-true way of strengthening our relationship with our Heavenly Father. I remember a pastor years ago who used the example of breathing; i.e. inhaling and exhaling. We inhale (breathe in) the Word of God and we exhale (breathe out) in prayer back to Him. The following two verses show that.

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

“Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

It is very important when we study the Word of God that we do so respectfully and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We rightly divide, or correctly handle, that precious Word.

Most Christians rarely open their Bibles, let alone read what is in them. Believe me, you can tell. Some classify reading a verse a day as study. That is a wonderful thing to do, but if you only read it then close the Book, that isn’t studying it. We should read it as we would a text book when preparing for a test in school and also read it as a love letter we have been anxiously waiting to receive.

There are many different methods of studying God’s Word, and it isn’t my intent to address that at this time. I’ll just say this. Let us address the Bible as we address the treadmill and weights we use to strengthen our body, except in this case, we seek to strengthen our spirit to know Christ more and His message to us personally.

Prayer is the other necessity involved to strengthen our spirit. The Scripture says to do so “without ceasing.” How do we do that?

Of course we have a quiet time or times set aside to pray, but we can also pray throughout the day as we go through life. When I’m shopping with my wife, we often talk about this or that as we’re walking, driving, shopping, etc. We can do the same with our Father in Heaven. His Spirit is within us if we are His child. We can talk to Him just as my wife and I talk to each other while shopping. I can feel her hand while I hold it and see her face as we walk side by side. Even though I can’t physically feel my Father’s hand or physically see His face, He is just as much there with me as my wife.

I’ve noticed people sometimes in restaurants who are together, but you wouldn’t know it by their conversation. There is no conversation. They don’t talk. They rarely look at each other. They plop down, eat and leave. You know what I’m thinking don’t you? They must be miserable! Well, a lot of Christians are miserable, because that is how they are with God. There is no strength in the relationship because it is one-sided. The Lord is ready to communicate, but we just sit there like a knot on a log. No wonder some are so weak.

Someone may say, “I just don’t understand the Bible. I want to be strong in the Word. What do I do?”

Look, we will never know what is in the letter until we read it. Read it! Some haven’t even opened the envelope yet! Read the Word. Our Guide (the Holy Spirit) is waiting. He will guide you, but you have to read it and keep reading it. He will open it up to you a piece at a time.

Someone may say, “My prayer life is so weak. What do I do?” Pray! That’s my best answer. Just do it.

Strengthening our self in God’s Word and in prayer involves reading and talking. Read the Word. Talk (pray) to God.

If you really want to get to know someone what do you do? You listen to them, and you talk with them. That’s it!

Read what He is saying to you, and talk to Him about it. As you continue, you will find yourself being strengthened spiritually.


Grant Phillips