The greatest disciplines

It’s hard to believe, but the month of July is already winding down and the end of summer is on the horizon.  Summer at ABC has been quite the sprint.  From our Summer Kick-off Party to our Beach Camp, to Vacation Bible School and Freedom Over Austin, our summer has been filled with exciting events and impactful ministries.  Combining the church calendar with family vacations and the resurgence of tourism, I think it’s fair to say this summer has been quite the whirlwind for all.  From my perspective, every week has had something different going on, and while it has indeed been exciting, I’m also ready to reestablish some routines in my life.

Whenever I think of routines, I often think of athletes.  Of course, right now all eyes are turning toward Tokyo to watch the world’s greatest athletes compete for gold.  These finely-tuned Olympians are always so fascinating to study.  Viewers get to know them for just a few short days as they have their shining moment on the biggest stage.  However, we must not forget that there were countless unseen moments that got them to that stage.  Virtually every American is familiar with the name, Michael Phelps.  Phelps is of course one of the most famous Olympians of all time, earning 28 Olympic medals and the label as the most dominant swimmer of all time.  But if you have studied Phelps, you know that a lot of work happened behind the scenes to make those achievements possible.  He daily consumed over 10,000 calories to fuel his body with the exact nutrients it needed to compete at the highest level.  For years, he trained every day of the week, and did two-a-days three times a week.  Phelps would swim 80,000 meters weekly in practice and spent the rest of his time taking ice baths, stretching, working with his trainer, getting massages, and getting lots of rest.  In fact, he even slept in an altitude chamber to help his body get adjusted to wherever he was competing.

As you can see, Phelps didn’t win gold simply because he was the fastest.  Phelps was a champion because he sacrificially committed himself to the necessary disciplines to get him there.  It’s interesting how God’s Word frequently uses athletic metaphors.  This is because physical principles so often shed light on the spiritual realm as well.  Paul explains, “Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:7b-8 ESV).  Paul acknowledges that physical disciplines are important.  There indeed is value in eating right and exercising, however, it is even more important to train your body for godliness.  Like physical training, spiritual training is rooted in a steadfast commitment every day.  It is sacrificially saying “no” to the things of this world, and instead saying “yes” to the things of God.  It is pursing God’s will for your life and training your heart and mind to walk in righteousness.  Paul explains that just like athletes, we too train for a purpose: “Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable” (1 Corinthians 9:25).

Our prize is far greater than anything in this world (Cf. 1 Corinthians 2:9).  Because of that, we too should establish routines and disciplines into our lives.  We must wake up and pray to our Father, through the Son, by the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.  We must renew our minds in Him and yield ourselves to His will everyday (Romans 12:1-2).  We must read His Word to hear from Him but also to be filled up by Him so we can face the day’s challenges (2 Timothy 3:16-17).  We must make church a priority and not neglect meeting together (Hebrews 10:24-25).   My question for you this week is, “What does your spiritual routine look like?”  If you’re like me, summer has been anything but routine, but the good news is you can start fresh today.  If you need some help building those kinds of disciplines into your life, I encourage you to check out our latest Podcast series, “The New Normal.”  Matt Gillum and I have been focusing on various spiritual disciplines in hopes of helping you develop those routines into your life so you can become a champion for Jesus Christ.  You can find that content here:  Apple Podcast Channel or  Spotify Podcast Channel .

Run your race well this week, and I look forward to worshipping with you this Sunday as we wrap up our Wisdom Works study.

Last Sunday’s Sermon: Wisdom Works – “Wise Words”

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