In His Steps Ministries

In His Steps Ministries

The following sermons are past messages by Pastor Rich.
The sermon notes may be used by others.

In His Steps Ministries
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ChristianExcercising Muscles

Exercising our Spiritual Muscles

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Galatians 5:1 says 
It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.

My message is titled “Exercising our Spiritual Muscles”. To walk in victory over oppression, bondages, sin, and bad habits, we must exercise our spiritual muscles on a regular basis.

I am going to show the correlation between physical exercise and spiritual exercise.

Let’s pray

Deliverance Possible
Listen to me very closely. It is possible for a person to be instantaneously delivered from drugs, pornography, bitterness, unforgiveness, irrational fear, worry, any other bondage, and even sickness. This deliverance can occur at the point a person receives Jesus Christ as their Lord & Savior. The reason is because Jesus died on the cross, rose from the grave and conquered the power of sin.
John 8:36 (NASB) 
"If therefore the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.”  There is freedom from every bad habit, which ultimately is sin.

Hindrances to Deliverance
However, the reality is most people do not experience immediate deliverance. It is because deliverance requires an absolute desire to be set free, willingness to do whatever it takes to be delivered, and faith to be believe you can be delivered. Here is the problem-most people have become so accustomed to their sin that it has become a friend-they don’t hate it. Or they believe the lie that they have to wrestle with it all their lives. Or they refuse to die to self. These are all signs of a person being spiritually immature. So we are going to talk on how we can grow spiritually so that we can walk in freedom from any bondage that may be in our life.

Exercise Correlation
So, lets take a look at the correlation between working out at a gym to exercise and exercising our spiritual muscles.

For the past 3 weeks I have been working out at the gym. Can you tell the difference? Don’t I look more muscular and buff? No? You mean in 3 weeks of working out my body is not drastically changed? Of course not! We all know it takes more than 3 weeks for there to be a physical change. We also know it takes more than working out more than once a week.

So tell me something? Why do we think that we can have amazing spiritual growth by going to church once a week and not do anything else spiritually during the week? We may go to some special revival meeting a couple weeks and we think we ‘have arrived’.

The first thing we need to do when exercising, is to make sure we have pure motives. Why am I going to the gym? So I can look like Arnold Swartzneggar? I will never look like Arnold believe it or not. I will look like Rich Dover who has been exercising. I work out because my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit and I want to be a good reflection of Jesus and be in good health.

Why do I exercise my spiritual muscles? So I can be like Pastor Bob? I will never be Pastor Bob. But I can be Rich Dover who is becoming a godly man reflecting the character of Jesus Christ. Let’s make sure we have pure motives when we exercise. James 4:6 says
But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, "God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the HUMBLE."

Price of Exercise
How many know it costs time, sacrifice, and energy to go the gym. It also costs time, sacrifice, and energy to grow spiritually to receive and keep your deliverance. Our fleshly desires need to die daily.
Col. 3:5  says
“Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.”
 The price we pay to grow spiritually is to die to sin. Based upon the consequences of sin, it seems to me a minor price to die to sin.

What happens now that I have a goal to exercise regularly? I get all excited about going to the gym to work out. The night before I get my gym clothes lined up. I go to sleep excited about how I am going to get up early so I can beat everyone else to the gym. Then it is morning and my body has tons of reasons of why I can’t make it to the gym. Some of you get your Bible and notebook ready for early morning devotions. But when the alarm goes off, you have several reasons why it is the wrong day to do it. Do you see the correlation?
Romans 6:12 says
Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts.
We should have control over our body. Actually we should allow the Holy Spirit to have control over our body.

So, what to do I do in the morning? I say “Body, you will do what I say. We are going to go to the gym whether you like it or not.” “Yes, it may be hard to get started, but I will do it anyways.” There are times that I must miss a morning work out, so I go in the evening. Sometimes all I have time for is 15 minutes of stretching at home. The key is I get my exercise every day. Are each of us getting our spiritual exercise each day not matter what?

Once I am at the gym, the first thing I do is stretch for a minute and then I jump on the treadmill. I make sure I walk/run for 1 mile. My goal was to start out at walking a 16 minute mile with the goal at some point to be consistently running a 12-minute mile. Currently I am at a 13-14 minute mile. How did I increase my speed? I pushed my body to do more. I have been willing to feel some pain. The pain is not bad pain. It is the pain of making my body do what it has not done for some time. I did not run from the pain. As a matter of fact I have learned to embrace the pain. In order to grow spiritually we need to be willing to embrace the pain of dying to the flesh. As long as we allow the flesh and emotions to control us, we will not grow spiritually. Do you want to a 12-minute mile (in other words be a man or woman of God)? Then it takes starting your day with prayer and reading the Word. It is ok to start out slow, but be willing, actually be more than willing, do more each day. I don’t know about you, but I need to do much more than I do.

Lies of the Enemy
Here is another factor. Because of having asthma I could never run without wheezing and triggering an asthma attack. When I moved to Alaska I could not walk more than a couple blocks without wheezing. Then God healed me. I can now run a 13-minute mile and exercise for another 45 minutes. What if I believed the lie that I was not healed and I cannot run? So what lies are you believing that stops you from growing spiritually and walking in your deliverance?
Romans 12:2 says
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

We need to renew our minds so that we believe what the Bible says about us and walk in victory. The Bible says, “No weapon formed against me will prosper” and “I can do all things through Christ Jesus.”

Romans 8:37-39 (KJV)
Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. [38] For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, [39] Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

2 Cor. 5:14-15 (NASB)
For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; [15] and He died for all, that they who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.

There is nothing stopping you from being a man or woman of God and being an ambassador for God.

Exercise Routine
After I run, I then start my exercise routine. There are 8 different weight and exercise machines I use. The purpose of this is so that I exercise all my muscle groups. Are you exercising all your spiritual muscle groups? Praise, worship, prayer, devotions, fellowship, accountability, intercession, witnessing? What would happen if I was overeating all day and all I did is overly exercise my biceps when I worked out? I would be a little guy with skinny legs, a huge pot belly and big huge muscular arms. I would look like a weirdo. Guess what? There are Christians that look like weirdoes. All they do is worship, worship, worship. The only words out of their mouth is hallelujah, praise the Lord, glory, glory, glory, praise Jesus, praise Jesus, praise Jesus. Or there are others that all they do is read the Bible and every Christian book that comes out about end times and demons and are never accountable to others. You walk up to them, and say, “did you see that big helicopter.” They say, “yeah they have satellite equipment to track Christians wherever they go”. You know the ‘conspiracy’ Christians. They spend all their time looking for another sign of the end times, but do nothing to share Jesus with others. Or to someone else you say, “Boy, I have a bad cough today”. They say “let’s cast that cough demon out right now”. You know, there is a demon under every rock and some believe in every person. There is nothing wrong with worship, studying about the end times or learning about casting out demons but doing only this is out of balance. God is tired of wacky Christians. In fact the wackos need to be delivered from their wackiness.

Exercise is Hard Work
Back to the gym. There are certain weight machines I like and there are ones that I hate doing. There is one that is hard on me physically. I try to find every excuse for not using it. After a couple of days the cable started making a noise. I thought “I probably should not use this machine. It will break on me.” So, you ask why don’t you talk to someone about it? My answer, because if I do, and they say it is ok, I would have no excuse to not use it. You know what I mean? Guess what, there was nothing wrong with the machine. I just had it on a wrong setting.  What is my point? There is something that many Christians hate. It is the concept of accountability. That is why some have complained about the concept of cell groups, cell pastors, and the Vision of this church. So what do they do? They complain about the “cable”-the cell pastor instead of being vulnerable with their lives and admitting their struggles. Listen to me. If you want deliverance from your sin, there must be accountability-stop finding excuses why you can’t be accountable. Stop pointing your finger at others instead of dealing with your own issues.

The same concept happens with non-Christians. They don’t want to be accountable to God. So what they do is find problems with Christians. They focus on the weirdo Christians instead of the balanced Christians. They find reasons why the Bible must not be true, so they can continue in their sin. Listen, if you are a non-Christian sitting in this service, there is a day you are going to be accountable to God. You can do that tonight, or you can do it on the day of judgment. You can be set free tonight from your sin or you can continue to walk in sin and experience the destructive power of rebelling against an Almighty God. Listen, God is on your side, but you must get on his side by confessing your sin and asking Jesus to be the Lord of your life.

There is one more example I want to share with you. When I go to the gym there is the TV playing and there is music I don’t like. If I am not careful I will be distracted into just watching the news on TV or be irritated by the music. If you want to walk in freedom from sin you must not get distracted by even what may seem to be a good thing to do or get distracted by things you may not like. You may not like the color of the sanctuary carpet-get over it. You may like watching TBN. Listen to me, TBN has some good programs, but there is also a bunch of craziness. And watching TBN all day does no good if you never share your faith with others. Some will say, but it is building my faith to witness. Here is my question to you, how many years has your faith been built, but have done nothing with it?

Remember, James says Faith without works is dead.

Here is another distraction that can happen at the gym. This distraction happened while I was working on this sermon. I went to the gym meditating on my sermon and I suddenly realized that there were more women than ever before at the gym. And many of them were good looking. Do you know how most dress when they are at the gym? So what am I going to do? Lust after them while exercising? Stop exercising and leave? Listen to me closely. Whenever you are making efforts to do what is best for your spiritual life, the devil is going to try to find a way to make you stumble. Sometimes the answer is you are not be where you at. You must flee. If I found myself lusting after the women, I would have quit exercising and run home to my beautiful wife. But you know what? I can exercise and not lust. You can be around evil and not sin. It time for Christians to stop using excuses for sinning. It is also time for Christians to start walking in wisdom and not willfully put themselves in compromising situations. It is time to walk in holiness.
1 Cor. 10:13 (NASB)
No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it.

There are so many other comparisons I have regarding exercising physically and exercising spiritually. The main point I want to make is you have a choice if you are going to exercise your spiritual muscles-if you are going to grow spiritually. It is time for Christians to stop being fat, lazy, wacky, and walking in bondage for years and years. It is time to take drastic steps to grow up. Time is short and we have a work to do.

As I finish my message, I have a question for you. Is there something you are in bondage to? Are you struggling with a sin that so easily entangles you? Are you tired of it? Are you sick and tired of it? Are you willing to do whatever it takes to be delivered? Listen to me. Are you willing to do whatever it takes to be delivered from it? I will say it one more time. Are you willing to do whatever it takes to be delivered from it? How about doing whatever it takes to stay delivered? Do you believe God can deliver you? Do you want to be delivered tonight and are you willing to start exercising your spiritual muscles?

Everyone stand up please.

If there is anyone here who is not a Christian-you have not confessed with your mouth and believed in your heart that Jesus is Lord, tonight is a great night to receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Listen to me. Being a good person is not good enough. One sin not covered by the blood of Jesus will send you to hell. Christianity is not about good works. It is about receiving Jesus as your Lord & Savior and then doing good works. Someone here may feel they are too evil, too dirty, too sinful to receive the forgiveness of God. Listen, Jesus died on the cross for your sins. You can be forgiven and it is not too late to start over.

Tonight every chain can be broken because the chains were actually broken a long time ago. It is time to receive what God has already accomplished for you. Is there anyone that is willing to be bold enough to walk to this cross right now to lay your burdens down? I don’t care how many times you may have down it in the past. Today is a New Beginning. It is a night to be set free. To receive the miracle of living a victorious life. If you will come to this altar, confess your sins, and cry out-listen to me CRY OUT for deliverance, you will be set free tonight. And then you will walk out of this building and exercise your spiritual muscles by spending time in prayer, reading the Bible, getting fellowship with other Christians, receive godly correction, being accountable to a cell pastor, not letting pride get in the way of your ongoing deliverance, and truly allowing Jesus to be the Lord of your life.

Do you have fear, a spirit of slumber, feel rejected, depression, mental illness, addiction, bondage to a bad habit, unforgiveness, I don’t care what it is come up and be set free. Drop those burdens and chains off here at the cross. And do not leave the cross until you are totally set free. Let’s pray.

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