Devotional Thought

Totally Fit – Spiritually

“Take your pulse for 15 seconds,” the treadmill screen spelled out. The five-minute fitness test was finally over.

Jim felt great about what he had accomplished. He was doing better each week and was scoring higher than his coworkers.

Physical fitness is something we work at or accomplish by our efforts — like being able to finish the 5K run.

What about our spiritual fitness? What kind of shape will we be in when we stand before God and he sees our hearts and lives? Can we exercise ourselves into good spiritual shape by what we think or say or do?

Being better than our neighbor won’t get us into heaven. With God we can’t be merely pretty healthy. We need to be perfectly healthy.

The Bible demands, “Be perfect . . . as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). But how?

Jesus once told a story of two men who went to the temple to pray. One boasted that he was a good “spiritual” person. He listed many deeds which he thought put him in good shape with God.

The second man humbly admitted that his life was a mess according to God’s standards. He relied on God’s mercy and asked him to cancel his record of sins. This man was the one who passed the test of spiritual fitness. (Confer Luke 18:9-14).

Spiritual fitness isn’t something we accomplish by our efforts, no matter how hard we try. It’s a gift from God.

When we trust in Jesus, God counts none of our sins against us. “The blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

God’s guide to spiritual fitness is spelled out clearly in the Bible, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).

Join us each Sunday to learn more about God’s spiritual fitness plan!

Pastor R.

Devotional Thought

Totally Fit – Emotionally

He just finished his twelve-mile bike ride. His enthusiasm was high now that the inclement weather had finally passed. For two weeks his bike had remained in the shed.

But something wasn’t right. He discovered his problem when he took his pulse. His heart rate had gone from 120 to 140 beats/minute! Who would have guessed that the condition of the heart muscle could slip so quickly?

The condition of one’s heart makes a big difference. It is the seat of our emotions.

One day you come home and see your son’s bike laying in front of the garage. You pick it up and put it away. You kiss your wife. You hug your son. Everything is fine.

The next day, after you lose a client at work, you come home, and there is your son’s bike again. This time you yell at your wife for not making the kids pick up their things. You push your son towards the garage to pick up his “stupid” bike.

Have your wife and son changed since the day before? No. You have.

If only we could keep it together emotionally day after day. Keeping our hearts emotionally fit is even harder than keeping them physically fit. It’s more important, too.

How do we control our emotions? Aren’t they what control us?

In Psalm 73:26 we read: “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

God is the one who enables us to keep it together emotionally. If that seems too easy an answer, we need to learn that it cost God the life of his Son Jesus.

Heart muscles deteriorate without exercise. Time away from our God and his Word has the same effect. It can leave us emotional wrecks.

Take time to grow through worship. Hear God speak his Word.  It can make everyone emotionally fit.

Pastor R.

Devotional Thought

Jesus Has an Empty Grave

Jesus Christ didn’t live a long life. It was just 33 years before he ended up in a grave with a big, old stone covering the entrance. His grave site was guarded by soldiers saluting the Roman government. But his grave was a whole lot different than any other grave.

You see, an angel came down from heaven and rolled away that big, old stone. The grave of Jesus was empty! Oh, the grave clothes were still there, but Jesus was gone. He had risen from the dead.

The angel didn’t open Jesus’ grave to let him out. Jesus was already gone.

When the soldiers saw the angel, they were afraid and ran. Even their armed presence couldn’t keep Jesus in the grave.

Angels announced Jesus’ resurrection to women who had come to anoint his body. Later on Jesus’ disciples also learned he had risen, just as he promised.

Jesus rose from the dead on Easter Sunday morning. He is alive and well. He is also with us always.

The man who worked for John Deere believed in Jesus. So does his son. So do the people in our church. We are happy Jesus is alive. He conquered death for us. Someday we shall rise from the dead too.

“Because I live, you also will live” (John 14:19).  Jesus said that, and a whole lot more.  Be with us every Sunday to hear more of what he has to say!

Pastor R.

Devotional Thought

The Only Question

Someone has called it the only question that really matters. It is a question we might prefer to leave alone, but there are times we can’t avoid it. Sometimes it stares us in the face, demanding an answer.

The question? What about death? Is it friend or foe? Should I be afraid? Will I see my family again?

If religion has no answer for death, it really is not worth very much in the end. Fortunately, the answer isn’t so much a religion. The answer is a person.

It happened in Brazil. People were dying of a curable disease. They only had to travel an hour’s walk to a clinic to receive the treatment they needed. But they had to cross a river. This particular river terrified them. They believed it to be full of evil spirits.

A missionary begged them to cross. He tried to convince them not to be afraid. He dipped his hands into the river. He threw water on his face. The people only backed away. He even waded in, but no one followed until he dove in, swam underwater, and emerged on the other side. The people cheered. They followed. They lived.

Jesus healed the sick. People were skeptical. He called death a sleep (Mark 5:39). People laughed. Even when he woke a dead girl many doubted. At another time he called Lazarus out of a four-day grave (John 11:38-44), and still they were afraid.

Then Jesus died and emerged alive.

Do you see it? The only question is answered by the only One who really has the right — the Savior who dove willingly into the river of death on our behalf. “Because I live, you also will live” (John 14:19). That’s what Jesus said. An empty tomb is how he proved it.

Death is dead, so you and I can live.  The answer is Jesus, the source of love, joy, peace, and life.

Pastor R.

Devotional Thought

The ‘Myth’ of the Resurrection

“We’re sorry to report that there were no deaths in Watauga County during the last 24 hours.” That was what the announcer reported in “Obituary Column of the Air” on WATA in Boone, North Carolina.

How ironic! “We’re sorry to report that there were no deaths . . .” One would think that this would be a reason for celebration. Death had been cheated for at least one day for all the people in one county of our country.

That announcement leads one to wonder: What if there were some secret to cheating death — in every country of the world?

What if death could be made to be temporary?

What if life after death was not just a myth, not just a notion, but reality?

The truth is, death can be cheated. It has already happened. Here’s how a man named Peter described this death-defying event: “God . . . has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed . . . but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this” (Acts 3:13,15).

Jesus had died a cruel death on a cross. That was no myth. But what Peter described was also no myth. Jesus rose from the dead.

Jesus defied death. He defeated it. He destroyed the power that death had briefly held over him.

Jesus also tells us how we can defy death: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11:25,26).

Notice how Jesus allows for the reality (“even though he dies”). He also tells us how to live after death (“whoever believes in me will never die”).

Death is defeated and destroyed. This is not myth. This is the central message of the Easter season.

Life after death is no myth. The resurrection is a reality through Jesus.

Pastor R.