Use it or Lose it – Spiritual Atrophy Introduce myself Smile – Talk slow.. Weather –Rain.. I’ve always liked storms.. Indian Heritage.. Creator.. Facebook Jesus controlled the storm.. and he still can.. Cherokee folktale: Once upon a time a young Indian boy received a beautiful drum as a gift. When his best friend saw it, he asked if he could play with it, but the boy felt torn. He didn’t want to share his new present, so he angrily told his friend, “No!” His friend ran away, and the boy sat down on a rock by a stream to contemplate his dilemma. He hated the fact that he had hurt his friend’s feelings, but the drum was too precious to share. In his quandary, he went to his grandfather for advice. The elder listened quietly and then replied. “I often feel as though there are two wolves fighting inside me. One is mean and greedy and full of arrogance and pride, but the other is peaceful and generous. All the time they are struggling, and you, my boy, have those same two wolves inside of you.” “Which one will win” asked the boy. The elder smiled and said, “The one you feed.” Today we are going to talk about the one you feed – About being prepared and ready and able to stand up against adversity and evil by feeding your Godly Spiritual Muscle. Smile – Talk slow.. 1 Philippians 3:12 – 4:8 Reaching Forward to God's Goal 12 Not that I have already reached [the goal] or am already fully mature, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus. 13 Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting 14 what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize 15 promised by God's heavenly call in Christ Jesus. Therefore, all who are mature should think this way. And if you think differently about anything, God will reveal this to you also. 16 In any case, we should live up to whatever [truth] we have attained. 17 Join in imitating me, brothers, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us. 18 For I have often told you, and now say again with tears, that many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction; their god is their stomach; their glory is in their shame. They are focused on earthly things, 20 but our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. 21 He
will transform the body of our humble condition into the likeness of His glorious body, by the power that enables Him to subject everything to Himself. 1 So then, in this way, my dearly loved brothers, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord, dear friends. //skipping forward to verse 4// 4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your graciousness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6 Don't worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses very thought, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things. 9 Do what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you. PRAY You may recall the term – “Use it or loose it” Paul here is encouraging us to stay on the path, to exercise Godly characteristics, so you will be able to stand up against Evil. Smile – Talk slow.. “Use it or lose it” also applies to other areas of life. The bestbuilt house, if it is unoccupied for too long, will begin to fall to pieces. A house was meant to be lived in. A vehicle that sits idle and is rarely driven tends to have more mechanical problems than one that receives regular use. Cars and trucks were made to be driven. Even the roads, if not driven upon cracks and is upheaved in a really short time. Experience: I used to drive a 3 star General to an abandoned airbase in California. “Use it or lose it” is true spiritually as well. We must use what God has given us. If we don’t, we run the real risk of losing our productivity as disciples. Our effectiveness in life is dependent on the proper use of God’s blessings. Neglecting what we’ve been given or squandering God’s provisions places us in dangerous territory. Use it or Lose it.. applied to our bodies can result in –Muscle Atrophy According to the University of Maryland Medical Center “Atrophy occurs from a lack of physical exercise. In most people, muscle atrophy is caused by not using the muscles enough. People with sedentary jobs, medical conditions that limit their movement, or decreased activity levels can lose muscle tone and develop atrophy.
Many of us, right now, are in some state of “Spiritual Atrophy”. Do you remember when you first said “Yes” to Christ? Do you remember when you first decided to truly accept the Gospel, “The Good News” as your own? You may recall the passion and joy of each new experience and learning. Isn’t that a wonderful experience! But so many of us, myself included at times, get complacent, we slowly get wooed into a back seat mentality or as a casual observer to Christ’s work all about us. We have been wooed away by the Devil and his schemes, we are becoming less and less like what Paul describes in these passages. I use the word “wooed” because that is what it frequently is. Evil most often doesn’t come about in our character in a sudden jolt, but instead manifests itself overtime. We slowly fall into the Devils snare. Pause Smile – Talk slow.. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (1 Pet 5:8). We live in a world with evil all around us. We have Satan and his hordes of demons constantly sending unclean thoughts into our heads, sending the wrong people into our life and using every other form of temptation to overcome us. Some here today may even feel they are beyond repair.. They are slaves to their sins.. Pause Have you ever been to a circus and seen a giant elephant led into the ring with a small rope around its ankle? Physically speaking, there is no way that small little rope can hold back that giant elephant! Here’s how it works. When trainers begin taming a baby elephant, they use a heavy chain to restrain him. He eventually realizes that he cannot break free from that powerful chain. Eventually he surrenders. He resolves in his mind that there is no possible way he can escape that chain. So he relinquishes forever the struggle to be free. His trainer then replace the chain with the small little rope. Some of you are sitting here right now feeling a little like that elephant. You don’t even have the will to fight, because some habit has broken your will. Once a habit has broken your will to fight, you feel a sense of hopelessness. Maybe you feel like you have lost the will to exercise your spiritual muscle because your will has been broken.
You have a severe case of spiritual atrophy.. But for Christians there is good news: Christ has defeated the enemy for you. He died on the cross and then rose from the grave, thus defeating death itself for you and I. He broke the rope for us…. Amen! Amen! Pause Well according to the University of Maryland medical center, “Muscular Atrophy can be reversed with vigorous exercise or better nutrition”. The same thing applies to Spiritual muscle. Start exercising now.. Start feeding your Spirit better nutrition. The apostle Paul wrote, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then and do not let yourselves be burdened again by the yoke of slavery.” Gal. 5:1 1Jn.1:9 “If we confess our sin, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Pause Smile – Talk slow.. In our scripture today, Paul is our trainer.. our coach. He telling how and what to exercise. He tell us what to “dwell on”: whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things. 9 Do what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you. John Wesley (during the 1700s) ~ "Do all the good you can, By all the means you can, In all the ways you can, In all the places you can, At all the times you can, To all the people you can, As long as ever you can." That is spiritual exercise. That is how you get back in the front seat and how you start becoming the Christ follower you were meant to be. Interesting thing about our brother Paul, Paul wrote these words to the Christians at the Greek City of Philippi. He wrote these words while in chains under house arrest. But he commanded his fellow Christians: 4 rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
Paul states, (II Cor. 4:16). “…though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day” We are to renew—replenish—God’s Spirit everyday. Galatians 5: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and selfcontrol. Against such things there is no law”. Philippians 4: “whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” That is why we read the Bible.. This book is your exercise plan.. make it your goal to diminish your spiritual atrophy and regain the passion you once had. In my own life, I have learned to recognize my weaknesses. Although I am far from perfect, I try to set myself up for success. I find ways to inject God’s word into my daily activates. I have about ten Bibles that are placed in areas that I know would have the best chances of being read or simply looked at. I surround myself with good people, who build me up in Christ. I look for excuses to exercise my Spiritual muscle. I too can experience Apathy, both physically and spiritually, but it gives me great comfort to know that I can lean on Him when I am weak. I can ask for His forgiveness for my failures and that causes me to appreciate His precious, precious gift of salvation more and more as I mature. – Sometimes when I realize I have a overcome some little sin, I give myself a little “spiritual highfive” (smile). Paul closed our scripture verse with these word: Do what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you. 9
Now I charge you to stand up against adversity and evil by feeding your Godly Spiritual Muscle.