Do you have a purpose?

purpose_newsletter

Have you ever taken a look at the self-help aisle in the bookstore?  It is full of rows and rows of books on how to improve yourself in physical, spiritual and emotional ways.  The topics also include ways to find direction in your life and discover your purpose here on this earth.

For example, take Rick Warren’s book, “The Purpose Drive Life.”  Over 30 million copies were sold, so discovering our life purpose is something most people are passionate about.  We want our lives to matter; we want to make our mark in this world instead of just drifting through.

Did you know that even before you were born, God had a plan uniquely for you, a purpose in creating you?  Consider Jeremiah 1:5:

I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb.  Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.”

What God is telling us in these verses is that not only did he uniquely make you, He chose to make you.  He didn’t need you, He wanted you.  God, who spoke this universe into existence, not only wanted you, He had a purpose for creating you.  So when you ask the question, “What is my purpose in life, and what has God planned in advance for me to do?” the answer is surprisingly simple, and is the same for all Christians.

Simply put, our purpose is to glorify God.  God tells us in Isaiah 43:7 that we were created for His glory, and in 1 Corinthians 10:31 that everything we do, including eating and drinking, should be done for the glory of God.  He has given you gifts that are exclusive to you and has ways planned for you to use those gifts.

How we live out our purpose and use our gifts will look differently from one person to the next.  We shouldn’t compare our gifts to others, and we shouldn’t think are gifts are any better or lesser than another person’s.  Each gift, whether perceived by the secular world as great are small, are all equally important in God’s eyes.  In 1 Corinthians 12, we are encouraged to be content with and thankful for our uniqueness; we are all an important part of the body of Christ.

As with last week’s Reflections, you’re probably wondering what on earth this topic has to do with your physical health.  To answer that question, I’m going to ask you one:  If you do not do anything to improve your health, can it limit how you serve God?

There are many reasons why we should take care of our bodies, but at the top of the list should be that we will be fit to serve whenever and however God calls us.  In Romans 6:13 Paul tells us “ . . . use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God.”  He has great things planned for you.  You need to exercise and eat healthy so that when God calls you to a particular task you can respond with, “Here am I, send me.”

This past week, a friend of mine lost her 25-year-old daughter in a car accident.  If any good news can come from this, it is in the fact that her daughter was a child of God and instantly went from this world into her Father’s arms in heaven.  However, it has caused me to do a lot of introspective thinking.

  1. We are not promised tomorrow. If we live each day as if it were our last, and put 100 percent of our effort into living out our faith in our daily walk with Him, what kind of legacy could we leave behind that would make a difference for the cause of Christ?
  2. There are no such things as coincidences. Many people talk about destiny or fate as if we have no control over the future.  One thing we are responsible to God for is how we live our lives, and how we live our lives can be controlled, no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in.  No matter how good or bad things get, we can still love God and live for Him.  Largely, our future is the result of how we live today and the decisions we make today.
  3. If we invest our lives in Christ, no matter what the future holds, we will be secure.

Many of us, present company included, tend to not take our health as seriously as we should.  We procrastinate and say, “I’ll begin my journey to better health and start taking care of my physical body tomorrow.”  My friends, we are only here for a short time, like the steam rising from your coffee cup.  It rises, lengthens, and then in a second disappears into the air.  Don’t wait until tomorrow to begin taking care of yourself and living a healthy life.  One way to become motivated to take care of your body is to think about how you can really serve God and show His love to others if you are healthy and full of energy.

I want to also ask you to think about God’s purpose for your life and write down some short-term personal goals in areas where you need to grow.  For instance, spiritually, spend time each morning in conversation with God.  Begin your day with Him.  Personally, eat a nutritionally-balanced diet and exercise at least five days per week.  These are just examples, but write them down, talk them over with God and adjust as He leads.

Spend time with God and ask Him how you can best use your life as a way to give Him glory.  There is absolutely nothing that can beat the feeling of knowing you are fulfilling His purpose for you, and that He is smiling down on you!

Scripture:

Ephesians 2:10:  For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Prayer:

Father God, right now I take a minute to thank You for the unique way You created me.  Show me how I can best use my life to give You the glory and show your love to others.  Give me the strength to give every part of my life for You, both physically and spiritually.  In Your Son’s most precious name I pray, Amen.

Week 10: Going from “got to” to “get to”

get to exercise_newsletter

I enjoy exercising to Michelle Spadafora’s Faithful Workouts. Several times a week I get up early so I can start my day with one of her videos.  They’re not long (25 minutes) and most people, regardless of your physical level, can do the exercises.  She mixes up cardio and strength training for an overall, total body workout.  I especially like her core exercises that focus on strengthening the abdominal, back and hip muscles.

Michelle also points out that even if you’re exercising reluctantly, think of it as a praise and worship activity and thank God for being healthy enough to exercise.  She encourages viewers to think of others who have physical limitations preventing them from exercising, or even simply walking.  When you think of that person, compare your current physical health to theirs. Be thankful that God has blessed you enough that you have physical strength to exercise.  Thank Him even if you’re only able to sit on the couch and do leg lifts and bicep curls.

Simply put, we need to change our thinking about exercise from an attitude of moaning and groaning, “Do I really gotta?” Have an attitude of “Thank you, God; You have blessed me enough that I get to exercise!”

Maybe you’re at the point now where you’re in pretty good shape.  You don’t think about exercise that much because you don’t feel you need to.  If you’re in this category, you need to reconsider your attitude toward exercise and view it as preventative maintenance.  If you have ever heard the phrase “use it or lose it,” it applies especially to your body when it comes to fitness.

Exercise is a way to get your body strong and keep it that way. If and when you are faced with medical issues, the severity and recovery time will probably be less than someone who has not stayed in shape.  It will also help to give you a better quality of life as you age. Who doesn’t want to be able to keep up with their children and grandchildren?  You don’t want to become easily winded, tired or unable to go on a nature hike with them.

The miracle of everyday health is just as great as any miracle we’ve read about in the Bible.  Consider the parting of the Red Sea, making a way for the Israelites to cross.  Remember the twelve hours of mid-day sun so Joshua could battle the Amorites.  Consider the iron axe head miraculously floating in water.  The difference is these things only happened rarely, but we have the benefits of a healthy, functioning body every day.  Even in elementary school we learned what an incredible miracle our bodies are.  Because of this, we should be motivated to consistently exercise because we “get to” take care of and keep in shape the miracle that is our body.

Nutritious eating is only part of being physically healthy.  If you still have not committed to an exercise schedule, make one today.  Remember to start off simply, choose forms of exercise that you like and make it a routine part of your day.  If you are exercising regularly, increase the amount of your workout time by just a few minutes.  Up the intensity just a bit to get more out of your workout.

I don’t want to give you the impression that I don’t have these struggles just like you do.  My writing is based on my own experiences with struggles, successes and failures.  I am vulnerable to the very same issues.  I have days, sometimes a couple of weeks, where I look for justification to get out of exercising that day.  I make up all sorts of excuses to binge on something I’m craving.  I have learned that the first step down a negative path starts as a thought.  If I stop it immediately and ask God for a right spirit and attitude toward exercise and food, and really give Him the control of those thoughts, I’ll make the healthy choice.

Most of the time I succeed, sometimes I don’t.  Lately the devil has been using a lot of circumstances (working 10 – 12 hour days, my little bit of free time is crammed full of other obligations, house cleaning, yard work, no down time at all) to chip away at my resolve to live a Godly, healthy lifestyle.  He’s tried to wear me down and wear me out so I’ll feel justified in running through the drive through for some fast food or not sticking to my exercise schedule.

The only way I have been able to stay on course is to one, stop those thoughts before they take root and give them to God.  Two, change my thinking and attitude.  Three, remember how good I feel after exercise and eating right, and how pleased God is with my obedience.  I’ll regret eating junk or not exercising; I’ll never regret pushing to make the right choice!

Make it a goal to change your thinking about exercise.  The next time you begin to groan and complain because you “gotta” exercise, don’t take your health for granted, praise God for what He has given you and that you “get to” exercise!

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