Asbury United Methodist Church
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September 26, 2017

OK…here’s the deal, if you like to exercise raise your hand! You can put your hand down now…if you raised it.

          Second question…if you like exercise better when it is over, please raise your hand! I thought so! Exercise is great…when it’s over.

          I have a little ritual that I try to do every day but only succeed maybe five to six times a week. Mostly it involves brisk walking for about three miles.

          To be honest though, the best part is the cool-down when I am almost done and heading for the barn! As always, that first step is the most difficult one and the others seem to get a little easier along the way.

          Finally, that last part is a downhill stretch and I am smiling! But…get this…I am never, never sorry for having exercised!   Crazy!

          Yes, I know! You look at me and think, “Just how much good is it doing him?”

          But, imagine how flabby I would be if I didn’t exercise at all! I heard a trainer say one time that when we exercise it is for six months from now because it takes that long to see any results.

          No wonder it’s tough to stick to it!  And, can you imagine how just great I will look six months from now?

          Have you ever considered that faith works the same way?   If we do not exercise our faith, it too becomes flabby.

          This morning I woke up with an old hymn playing in my head:

Learning to lean, learning to lean,

          I’m learning to lean on Jesus!

Finding more power than I’d ever dreamed,

          I’m learning to lean on Jesus!

He helps me with each task, if only I ask,

          I’m learning to lean on Jesus!

(Learning to Lean, John Stallings, 1976.)

          Here’s a pretty great version by the Evereadys:

          (“My grace is sufficient for you…”2 Corinthians 12:9.)

          Exercising faith is a learning process.   And, trust me we get more than our fair share of opportunities on any given day to exercise it.

          But, here’s the deal…with Christ there is always much more going on than meets the eye. With the Master, nothing is ever the end of the story!

          Remember that lame guy out by the Beautiful Gate of the Temple? For forty years he could not walk and was forced to beg for a living.

          Then one day he met Christ through Peter and John.   We are told he then began walking, jumping and praising God (Acts 3:6-10).

          Imagine the testimony this guy could offer to a Sunday School class! Again, with Christ nothing is ever the end of the story! There is always hope! 

          Check out what Peter has to say:

           “With this hope you can be happy even if you need to have sorrow and all kinds of tests for awhile. These tests have come to prove your faith and to show that it is good. Gold, which can be destroyed, is tested by fire. Your faith is worth much more than gold and it must be tested also. Then your faith will bring thanks and shining-greatness and honor to Jesus Christ when He comes again (1 Peter 1:6-7 NLT).”

          Finally, I am reminded of a video that I saw of astronaut Scott Kelly some time ago, right after he returned to earth from spending an entire year aboard the International Space Station. This poor guy couldn’t even stand!

          Imagine, a year with no gravity! One of NASA’s greater concerns about extended space travel is the atrophy that occurs within the human body when there is no gravity.

          And, Scott Kelly exercised on a stationary bicycle while in space! Even so, he was ill prepared to return to the ballgame of life here on earth.  It just was not the same!

          Evidently, people need gravity to stay strong. Evidently, we also need gravity (tension) to keep our faith taut and fit!

          That first step is always painful. But as we gather momentum, the next steps become easier and finally we’re at the apex and heading on a downhill march, racing for the barn.

          Has your faith been sorely tried? It is difficult to muster the effort to be thankful for the trials but old Peter hit the nail on the head. The end result is worth more than gold!



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