10 Strength Training Exercises of Faith
Apr 10, 2016 03:33AM
By Bonnie Lyn Smith
“You’re getting stronger. I can see that about you. I can tell that you realize what isn’t in your control, and there is a peace about you.”
That was her assessment of me as I sat across from this professional who walked me through an emotionally difficult time.
Stronger? Really? You can see that?
See, the thing is: I feel stronger. I didn’t realize, however, that it was evident to anyone else.
But where does my strength come from?
Sure, the squats, lunges, and planks (one of my warrior princesses told me to add a “dead bug”) I do a few times a week are toning my physical body, but what about my spirit? How do I exercise that?
How did I build my spiritual muscles during a time when staying in bed, perseverating on what was out of my control, and escaping through other means were tempting alternatives?
Sometimes it was a minute-by-minute battle, but the choices were critical in determining if I ended up character-toned and feet planted more firmly in God’s amazing grace.
God’s Word offers me solutions and truth in every circumstance.
1. “Work out” according to His Word
Psalm 119: 28*
My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word!
Ever have a sorrow-filled soul-melting day? Do not pass “Go,” do not collect $200; go directly to His Word! It’s where the power is! It’s our written gym!
2. Know the Giver
He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
The Giver hands out the strength. His glory can be seen so readily when He makes the weak and faint suddenly rise up in His strength. We can keep coming back to “renew our strength.” We will not tire when we open our hands to receive from our great Giver.
3. Recognize the ready refuge of His Presence
To the choirmaster. Of the Sons of Korah. According to Alamoth. A Song. God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.
The LORD is the strength of his people; he is the saving refuge of his anointed.
The Psalmists tell us that God is not only our refuge and strength, but He is also very present. He is accessible, available, willing.
4. Exercise the muscle of the joy of the LORD
Then he said to them, "Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength."
Did you know we have a “joy of the Lord” muscle?
Well, when we “eat the fat” and “drink sweet wine,” in this reference, we are demonstrating trust and faith in the goodness of a God who demonstrates His strength on our behalf when we ask Him. Our contentment in Him gives us confidence for all occasions.
5. Invite Him to be your arm
O LORD, be gracious to us; we wait for you. Be our arm every morning, our salvation in the time of trouble.
Don’t we sometimes need to know a strong arm will be there to lift us up when we can’t lift ourselves? Asking God to be our arm signals to Him we are open to His working through our lives. We wait for His strength in trials to become ours. I think of this verse as sitting on my Father’s arm while He lifts it up and shows His might.
6. Tread on high places
GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer's; he makes me tread on my high places. To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments.
When we train with the best Trainer, our feet become like the deer’s, and we tread on high places. That sounds like victory to me!
7. Don’t settle for fewer than “all things”
I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
God’s personal gym has a 100 percent guarantee!
8. Seek the best personal trainer and make His strength your own
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.
God’s gym comes with the best equipment and gear! We must be faithful to put it on, and then we can stand firm.
9. Love strong
And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.
Our strength increases as we follow God, and in turn, our love grows; with every ounce of our being, we are to return it as love back to God. In keeping within His love, we are assured He will continue our endurance training. It starts with love because God is love.
10. Embrace weakness as the jumping-off point
2 Corinthians 12:9-10
But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
It is in our weakness that we first understand how much we need the strength of God. Weakness is the point from which we see His work in our lives if we allow the power of Christ to rest upon us.
BONUS: Partner with the Holy Spirit
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Christ in our hearts,
being rooted and grounded in love,
fullness of God…
…when we partner with the Holy Spirit, these are the rewards of our training.
I’m fully in. How about you?
*All references are ESV.
Author Bonnie Lyn Smith writes about parenting, marriage, mental health advocacy, special education, faith in the valleys of life, the healing cloak of Jesus, drawing healthy boundaries, relational healing, renewing our minds, walking with a Holy God, and much ado about grace. Join the conversation at Espressos of Faith.
Her book, Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day, offers anecdotes on all of these subjects and Scripture for each situation as well as Book Discussion Questions for deeper exploration.