What comes to mind when you hear the words: Workouts? Gyms? Weights? Jogging?

Hard work, commitment, and time are necessary to grow and strengthen our physical bodies. Exercise has become very popular in America today. But it’s nothing new. In fact, my daughter is participating in a physique competition in May, which has involved workouts and dietary management.

When I was still in the Army I did work out a lot — six days a week for at least an hour a day: lifting weights, running — you name it. When I was discharged at the age of 26, I was in the best shape of my life and 185 pounds. And I’m only 4 pounds heavier today, Well, I admit it took some work and discipline to get back down from a weight I was 18 years ago — 220 pounds.

Things changed when I began my first job after leaving the Army. At first, I kept working out, but the workouts were a little shorter, took a little less time. I really didn’t want to get up at 5 a.m., so I cut back a little. As time went by, I cut it down to three days a week. After a little more time, I stopped lifting weights and just ran. Slowly, all the workouts and running stopped and those muscles I had worked on to get stronger slowly became weaker.

Most of us seem to work out how we are going to do things: Daily routines, our jobs, meals and extracurricular activities, which include our physical workouts. But most of us, in order to strengthen our spiritual muscles, don’t seem to give priority to working out a time in our busy schedules.

We all know the importance of physical exercise, but what about the exercises that keep us fit spiritually?

Our spiritual walk can be much like those workouts I did years ago. When we get into the word each day and spend time with the Lord, we are getting stronger in our knowledge of God and in our understanding of who we can be through His power workouts. Most of all we are strengthening our relationship with Christ. It is clear from Scripture that believers are responsible to work out their spiritual growth.

The thing is, we can get too busy at home or at work or with friends and our God workouts take a back seat. Maybe at some point we spent more time with Him, but life seemed to get in the way and now we say a quick prayer, and perhaps even read a quick devotional each day. After all, that would be enough, right?

However, when we fail to spend time with Christ, we get weaker. We lose our focus and that is when the world moves in. You see, the destroyer of life, Satan, has his eye on you and wants to see you fail. He somehow convinces us that there are more important things in life than spending time with the Lord. And he knows that when we give time to strengthening our spiritual relationship, he doesn’t stand a chance. So he gets in the way and preys on our weakness.

Paul made use of this familiar imagery in his letter to unbelievers. In Philippians 2:12-13 Paul encourages believers to exercise their spiritual growth with two simple and familiar words: “work out.”

But the workouts Paul refers to is a lot more strenuous than a short jog on a treadmill — and it makes a much greater impact in your life.

Are you doing a spiritual workout with the Lord every day? Are you continually strengthening your heart and mind by doing your spiritual walk with Him?

If not, it’s time to hit the spiritual gym and become strengthened in the word. So, are you ready for a workout with your personal trainer?

— Allen Stark is the author of “Balloons for Breakfast” and “Walkout.” He can be contacted at amsstark@msn.com

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