Disciplined Training

Psalm 66

Focus 66:12, “You allowed men to ride over our heads; we passed through fire and water, but you brought us out into a wide open place.”

I grew up in the small town of Newaygo, Michigan. There wasn’t a whole lot to do at any point in the year, so when school was in, I played sports. Football was big in our town. We had a great football team when I was there. We made it to the state semi-finals but lost to the team that went on to eventually win the state title in our class.

At any level of sports, Championships are birthed before the season ever starts. Being a champion requires mental toughness, physical endurance and the best team work. Hell week is the worst. There is nothing like running until you are nauseous or those two-a-days where you collapse into your bed and can hardly get up the next morning- all to do it all over again for an entire week or two! But the tough work is what will bring the reward.

Spiritually, God wants His people to be Champions. He wants us to overcome the obstacles and challenges that would otherwise sink us. Jesus came to give us life and to give it to the fullest, but the thief comes to steal, kill and destroy. Winning spiritually requires disciplined training. The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 9:27, “Instead I subdue my body and make it my slave, so that after preaching to others I myself will not be disqualified.”

There are times when we can be intentional about our spiritual discipline, but there are also times when God brings us into severe training. We call this training, “trials.” This is what the writer describes when he writes that God, “allowed men to ride over our heads; we passed through fire and water.” God brings his people through tough situations so that they can be stronger and have greater endurance.

The purpose for trials and temptations are not for our misery. Rather, God wants us to be brought into a “wide open place.” This is a place of abundance and freedom. The fruit that grows in the life of a believer requires cultivating in order to fully ripen. Just as winning a Championship is relatively impossible without intense training and discipline, so also is the fruit of obedience and maturity impossible to obtain without trials. Faithfulness cannot be built without opportunity for habitual obedience. That means there must be trials so that our hearts can be proved strong.

If you are experiencing the trial of your life, be encouraged. You might wonder where in the world God is, but in due time you will see that he is closer than you have ever realized. He is there as a coach making you do the things you don’t want to do so that you can be the person that you have always wanted to be! He is there training you toward godliness that has “great gain.” He is bringing you to a wide open place where He can bring you an abundance of blessing!

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