October 30, 2016
Matt Pendolino – Exercising The Spirit
Matt Pendolino – Exercising The Spirit
Do you struggle to live your life the way God wants you to?
Do you get stuck in the same hurts, habits and hang up that seem to hold you back from experiencing all God wants from you?
Yeah, me too, or at least …I did. It wasn’t until I decided to turn it all over to God, give him my struggles, give him my hurts and bad habits, that I was finally able to break through and start doing his will for me. And I’m going to share with you how he did it for me.
I relate well to the story pastor has shared about our walk with Christ
My “Creation” started in 2001 when I was born into the Spirit, my second birth, I learned , I “Saw the light” and began to understand Gods will for me, I was Hungry for it….. But I never Lived it , Big difference between seeing Gods will for you and surrendering to it, only when you surrender to it do you fully comprehend how God works through you. If you are waiting to “hear from God” you may need to take a deeper look in your spiritual mirror, because I assure you He is waiting to hear from you.
I knew God wanted more form me, but I could not see a way to get there
. Because I wasn’t giving into Gods will , I struggled by trying to hold onto my old ways even though I knew the ways of God, I wanted to live both ways….and that lead to my Fall.
Sure I read the bible, I prayed, even went to different churches, but I never surrendered my will to his…when I did, that is when things really started to change in my life.
My Fall came 13 years later after a life of struggle trying to do things my way, everything I built, I lost….left with a choice to suffer or to surrender. My Surrender lead to my Redemption, God began to work in me, to guide me…..and I began to listen.
I began to feel his will for me in my heart, I started doing his works and his will…. that was the beginning of my …Restoration…..this is where I am now.
But staying here is no guarantee, I will still be tempted by my old ways, tempted by sin, and if I give into those temptations…..I will Fall again, so how do I stay here, how do I stay strong enough to continue this road of restoration, this life long journey…I must keep my spirit strong, I must Exercise my Spirit and Only with GOD can I do this. I cannot do it on my own
There is a prayer that is used in AA and other recovery groups called the serenity prayer, it goes like this:
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next.
Do you see it, the key here? If I surrender to his will. Nothing I am about to share with you can be acoomplished on your own, only though God and his grace can we even begin to consider growing
Step 1 – Understanding we are beings of Flesh, Soul & Spirit
Just as we learn God is a trinity – Father – Son – Holy Spirit , man too is a trinity. We are beings of flesh, the body, this is our vessel:
1 Cor 6:19 …..Or do you not know that that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify your body in God
The definition of Soul:
- an entity which is regarded as being the immortal or spiritual part of a person and which, having no physical or material reality, is credited with the functions of thinking, willing, and choosing
- the moral or emotional nature of a human being
The Spirit strengthens both the body and the soul, it is the power of God living in us that sustains us. And it is THE ONLY WAY we can achieve real peace, feel real love
In a lot of ways the Spirit parallels the body, if we do not exercise the body, it becomes weak, flabby, heavy, not as functional as it should be…it can break. The spirit is the same, if we ignore it, do not practice the steps of keeping it strong we will not reap the gifts of the spirit. It will become flabby and heavy…..If we exercise it , it becomes light, and a light spirit soars, it floats….Term “High Spirits”
The biggest difference though is this, without a strong spirit, the body and soul fail. The strong spirit can sustain the body and the soul, but a strong body cannot sustain the spirit.
A broken bone will heal, 4-6 weeks….but a broken spirit will cost you everything you have.
How many of us hear the stories of professional musicians, or actors or rich professionals who loose everything, drug overdoses, suicide, reckless habits. They have everything they can acquire of the world, have killer bodies, perfect faces….but their spirits are dead, so no matter how much they have, they are never truly happy.
Here’s the hardest truth….all bodies, no matter how strong, how rich, how beautiful will eventually die. But a strong spirit will never die and if your focus here on Earth is to have a strong body and a weak spirit, then when that body does eventually die, your spirit will not be light enough to “rise” into the heavens, rather it will sink into “hell”
When you work out your body, loose a lot of weight, then see someone you have not seen in a while, they will say ” You look great…have you lost weight….been working out” They see it in how you look, thinner, stronger…ect. The spirit is the same. When you exercise it, work it, build it up, people will see the difference, they will say “there’s something different about you”
It won’t be as clear to them as seeing a physical change, but they will notice a different person, especially those closest to you.
There are similarities between exercising the body and exercising the spirit:
- You need to make it a routine – not just something you do “once in a while” it has to be a concentrated effort to “go to the gym” or “put on those running shoes” no matter what the weather, no matte what kind of day your having…..NO excuses
- It is much easier to do with a partner, even more so in the spirit. Working the body is a better experience with a partner, when you exercise the spirit it is almost a necessity. Having an accountability partner helps you see things you may not see when you look into that “Spiritual mirror” to see where you need improving.
“Sinning less is a result of you being aware of your sins”
When you work the body, you can stand in front of a mirror and see where you are strong, and see where you still need work. With the Spirit, it is not always as clear, we see our weakness only through our failures. With a good spiritual accountability partner, you have someone who can help you see your own weakness before it becomes destructive.
The differences in working the body and the spirit:
- It does not cost anything, no membership required
- You can do it day or night, in your car, on your couch….I’m doing it right now!!!
- You don’t get sweaty and stinky, and you do not feel tired and exhausted when you are done, you feel energized and alive
- The Best – it does not take months to see results, you begin to see the results immediately, and once you see the change, you want more and soon it becomes an effortless part of every day
II – The “tools” to exercise the Spirit
What do we use? For the body we use weights, we run we swim, eat right, take vitamins….what do we use for the spirit?
Answer in the bible. To exercise the spirit we use the fruits of the spirit, and what is the greatest of all the fruits of the spirit????
Mark 12: 28-31
when one of the scribes ask Jesus”which commandment is the most important of them all?” Jesus answered “The most important is ‘hear o’ Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall Love the Lord God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’ There is no other commandment greater than these.
There are 97 bible verses on love
in the NIV it is mentioned 551 times…..in 66 books
III – What is love, how is it defined?
New Living Testament version – many different translations , I feel this is the most practical for the purpose of applying it to everyday life
1 Cor 13: 4-7
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
TO apply this to our lives and use it to “exercise the spirit” we replace the word “Love” with “I will”
- I will be patient and Kind
- I will not be Jealous or boastful or proud or Rude
- I will not demand my own way
- I will not be irritable or keep record of being wronged
- I will not rejoice in injustice, but rejoice when truth prevails.
- I will never give up, never loose faith & always be hopeful
- I shall endure through every circumstance
- I will Live Love!!!
When we break it down like this and see it as a step-by-step process, we can see how it parallels a physical work out. Each “Step” needs to be accomplished in order to accomplish the next step, and the steps get harder as we go.
Keep one thing clearly in mind….this is how GOD LOVES. We cannot achieve any of this on our own, all we can do is give it to God and let him make the change in us
Step 1 – I will be patient and kind
The warm up “stretching the spiritual muscles”. It’s not terribly hard, but it requires an focused effort and if we do not do it, all the other steps will be that much harder
Seems pretty easy right….how many of us commute? Traffic. What about kids, small kids or worse….teenagers? Let’s face it , once we loose patience…kindness pretty much goes out the window.
But if we apply it to each and every situation every single day….make ourselves aware of it, it becomes easier.
Patience used in the New Testament describes Patience with People, not patience with circumstance. It describes a man who is slow to anger and it is used of God himself in his relationship with man. In our dealing with man, no matter how cruel or unkind, we must exercise the same patience as God exercise with us!!!
If you begin to apply this simple concept to your life, suddenly you have less stress, you are not as anxious or angry over the little things, You carry around less weight, and your spirit is lighter for it. And a lighter spirit soars high, and high spirits lead to a happy day.
Remember : this does not just apply to how you act outwardly, but how you think inwardly as well. For impure thoughts can ultimately lead to sinful actions.
Kindness – many great leaders and followers of Christianity we not kind. Phillip the second of Spain was a very religious man, yet founded the Spanish Inquisition which lead to the slaughter of thousands of souls.
Even with our children we are critical, more so than to strangers. There is in so many good people an attitude or criticism and that conflicts with kindness.
Step 2 : I will not be jealous or boastful or proud or rude
Really….all four…we go from 2 things in step one to 4 things in step 2…into the work out now.
But right here we begin to see how each step leads into the next. Let’s face it, if we lost patience and were un-kind…it’s a pretty good bet that Rude came into play somewhere in that process. On the flip, if we show patience and kindness, there will be little reason for being rude, though it still can happen.
Jealous : “envy”
There are two kind of jealousy – One that covets the possessions of others, and the other, much worse , grudges the very fact that others should have what you do not not.
In human terms we see it most in Love/relationships. The solution..want not. Realize the difference between what you want…and what you need. God will always provide what you need and if you trust in that, you will have less temptation to want what others have.
Jealousy leads to hurt, and hurt weights you down, makes the spirit heavy, won’t let it soar…cut it loose.
DO not brag about your good deeds, do not boast about that which you have given. Closeness with God happens through good deeds. Bragging about them only creates a haze over the love of the act.
We also like to brag about our victories, or our teams victories. And while it feels good, and maybe we think “earned” and it could be fun for a little while, it makes your spirit “Flabby” and if not yours, then someone elses for sure!!!
True love will always be far more impressed with it’s own unworthiness than it’s own merit. Love is kept humble, the real lover can never get over the wonder that he is loved.
Proud : “Puffed Up”
One translation uses the term “inflated in its own importance”
The really great man never thinks of his own importance.
Sure, we like to be proud of our kids, and we should be, but we have to be careful not to let it translate into “Boastful”, not to make others think our kids are better than theirs.
Rude : “gracelessly”
There is a kind of Christianity which takes delight in being blunt and almost brutal.
When my father was a child he was in an orphanage lead by nuns, the stories he would tell, their cruel nature, and all it did was push him away from Christ, exposed the hypocrisy or religion. Humble yourself and it will be much easier not to be rude.
A lot to remember right, a lot of parts to the steps. But they are crucial because these are the things we have to deal with every single day in life. And if we do not make effort to ask God to help us acheive these steps, then the next steps, the hard ones will be nearly impossible for us.
Step 3 : “I will not demand my own way”
Hardest with children , we want to do right by them, but we have to make sure we are teaching them Gods will and not our own.
Crucial in a good relationship, not your own desire, but the best interest of the union as a whole.
There are two kinds of people in the world today:
Those who are always thinking of what life owes them (the self entitled) and those who never forget what they owe to life (the humbled). It would be the key to almost all of the problems of our world today if people would think less of their rights and more of their duties. Ask God to help you stay focused on that, to help you stay humble
Exercise tip: Demanding your own way does not always mean demanding things of others. It can be much more damaging to your spirit demanding too much of yourself.
Step 4 : I will not be irritable or keep record of being wronged.
Wow, let’s just slam two really hard things into one step shall we. This is kind of like the physical demand of jogging underwater.
Parents, yeah you get it, deep breath. But this reflects again how each step works towards the next. It’s a good bet that if we’ve lost our patience and gotten rude then you can be pretty sure that irritable will follow.
What happens when you are irritable? It sticks with you all day doesn’t it, it weights you down, dampens your spirit, others see it and avoid you, this defeats the goal of love.
“flies into a temper” “Angry outburst”
“when we loose our tempers, we loose everything. Yet the man who can master his temper can be the master of anything”
Avoid those who know how to “push your buttons”
This is the step I am currently struggling with because they tie into each other so strongly, it is when you are being wronged, that you are most subject to loosing your cool.
You can deflect it with patience, and kindness and grace and when you do you will cool down inside. Master the previous steps and this one becomes much easier to do, fail them and you have no chance here.
Keep record of being wronged. family feuds can last for generations.
One of the great arts in life, is to learn what to forget
It is human nature to want to hold onto the wrongs, store them up, lets them stew inside of us….then what happens…we are more quick to loose our temper
Step failed!!!! Spirit bogged down, cannot soar, bring us down.
Step 5 : I will not rejoice at injustice, but rejoice when the truth wins out
This step is not so much about being cruel, if you are that way in nature you are already lost. It is more so about the malicious pleasure which comes to most of us when we hear something derogatory about someone else.
It is one of the queer traits of human nature that very often we prefer to hear the misfortune of others rather than of their good fortune.
Anyone watch the news???? How about rubber necking at an accident scene? What are we looking for, a good story of misfortune to share with everyone…”You won’t believe the wreck I saw!!!!”
For a lot of us, this is also about deceit, getting away with things because we were cleaver enough to use our tongue to “demand our own way” and get what we wanted. And that may feel good….for a little while….but in the end, it only dampens the spirit, holds you back. Because eventually you will get caught, put in your place, and the price you will pay will be a high one.
Finding something, a wallet, bracelet and keeping it rather than making the effort to get it back to the owner.
I found a phone…used the internet to get it back.
Truth prevailing…harder than it sounds because a lot of Christian truth can be hurtful to the ego. A hard truth over a soft lie. But you need it if you wish to really grow in the spirit. Accountability partner come in here. Helps to keep us from lieing to ourselves, avoiding the hard truths that are weighting us down.
It’s also about taking action when you see something wrong., stepping in to make sure unjust acts do not happen, and lastly it’s about sharing truth, speaking to those around you the truth.
In fact, I’m doing this step right now!!!! Ahhhhh feels good 🙂
Step 6 : I will never give up, never loose faith & Always be hopeful
If you’ve managed to master to any capacity the first 5 steps of this exercise then this step will come almost naturally. However if you are struggling with the rest then this reality can be devastating. If you get to a point in life where you “give up” or “Loose faith” and have “no hope” then a broken spirit quickly follows and a broken spirit will lead to death!!!!
This is the step we MUST master. No matter ho hard times seem, no matter what kind of “uphill battle” you face…don’t give up….don’t loose faith…and always look for that sliver of Hope, no matter how small it may be, because when you loose all hope, you truly loose everything. And these are the times when your “accountability partner” can become your lifeline.
This step really sums up the importance of the entire exercise because if you do all these other steps on a daily basis, and we will never master any of them, Only Jesus ever did that, but we can focus our thoughts on them daily, when we do that, then this step happens all by itself.
We have no desire to give up because at this point we are seeing the results of our efforts. We won’t loose faith because we come to understand that through faith we have been able to accomplish many of these steps and through all of that we will acquire a boundless hope knowing that God is in us and we are gaining entry to a better place when our body here on Earth does eventually fail us.
Never gives up = Can endure anything
“love conquers all” – It can bear any insult, any injury , any disappointment. It epitomizes the heart of Jesus himself.
Never loose faith = Completely trusting
We have to trust that God and every promise he makes applies to us. See the term “whosoever” in the bible…that means us .And we also have to apply this to man, in so much that we always have to believe the best about other people, no matter how hard that may seem.
Always be hopeful = Never loose hope
Jesus believed that no man is hopeless…and none of us are. Live love, and hope becomes abundant in us all.
Step 7 – I shall endure through every circumstance
Can I get an Amen!!!
This folks is the “cool down” part of the exercise, it’s not really part of the exercise at all, but more so the “end results” of doing it. If we apply this practice into our daily life, both in action and in thought, then I promise you, without fail, you will endure every circumstance that this word can throw at you.
And when we think of the qualities of Love as Paul has described them here, we can see them realized in Christ himself. And as Christians, isn’t it really our daily goal to be more like Christ?
Live Love my friends, and life will never get you down