Matthew 7, Matthew 11:30, and Matthew 14:22
1. Set a timer for 5 minutes and list everything God has given you.
2. Spend time in prayer thanking God for His blessings.
3. Reflect on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Do you choose to go the narrow gate or the broad gate? Why do you choose to do the hard things?
4. Commit this month to God as an opportunity to listen, prepare, and believe.
What the hard ways and hard things are you facing right now?
On May 25, 1961 President John F. Kennedy requested over $7 billion dollars from congress to pursue a mission to the moon. He aimed to complete this mission within the decade of the 1960’s. Even though he was assassinated two years later his dream was accomplished on July 20, 1969. A year after his request, he inspired the country with a speech given at Rice University in Houston, TX.
In this speech, President Kennedy said, “We choose to go to the moon and do the other things not because they are easy but because they are hard.” Competitors choose to do hard things.
How has your commitment to fitness helped you understand the value of doing hard things?
Peter and John were true competitors for the Lord. They understood that following Jesus often includes “hard things.” After being instructed to stop sharing their faith in Jesus Christ they chose to trust God with a powerful statement in front of opposition:
“Whether it’s right in the sight of God for us to listen to you rather than to God, you decide; for we are unable to stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.”
Human beings tend to avoid challenges. We tend to look for the easy way out of adversity. In fact, we are even prone to think if things don’t go smoothly we must have chosen the wrong way. But, these men understood that following Jesus is the way that includes hard things.
When Peter and John were released they reunited with their friends and spent time in worship together. The most amazing part of this story is what they prayed for. “And now, Lord, consider their threats, and grant that Your servants may speak Your message with complete boldness.” They did not pray for safety or comfort. They prayed for boldness in the middle of adversity.
What about us? Do we seek the easy road or the hard way? Are we willing to follow Jesus when it includes hard things? This is the life of a competitor.
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”
Take a moment to reflect, journal, and pray.
- Identify which areas of life you have avoided challenges.
- Pray to God for boldness to confront these challenges.
- Set a specific goal this week that will force you to take the next step in confronting one of these challenges.
Today’s Faith Workout is adapted from a sermon one of our original founding team members, Jeff Schlenz, gave to his Church. It’s an endurance Faith Workout, so longer than usual, but worth it.
The Bible speaks to all of us because it is a message from God for all of us – it is as much for the simple man who has never seen an iPhone as it is for the programmer in Silicon Valley who is working on the next iPhone. It is for the desert nomad and the astronaut, the rice farmer and the executive, the father as well as his son. It is for the woman from the first century and for the woman of the next century, (should we still be around), because there is only one God and this is His one message to man.
We aren’t just reading a textbook or a novel; this is a book about God, and about you, and what’s going on between you and God. So hear the stories, grasp the details, but also ask – what does this have to do with me today.
Sometimes the answer is going to be immediately obvious – a very clear piece of instruction telling you “Do this” or “Don’t do that” or explaining something that you need to know. At other times it might be an example you ought to follow or avoid, or an illustration of the character of God. Sometimes it might just be a bunch of data that moves the storyline forward through history closer to the cross.
But always ask the question, what does this section of Scripture teach me about God and what does it teach me about me? Keep those kinds of questions in the back of your mind as you read your Bible and you’ll be amazed at how much this ancient book has to say to you.
With all of that in mind, let’s talk about Nehemiah, a man I think many of us will be able to relate to. He is a Jew, but he isn’t living in Israel, which we’ll explain in just a minute. Instead, he’s a servant to Artaxerxes, the king of the Persian Empire – if you want to think about it this way – Nehemiah is a GS employee in the federal government of his day. He’s living in the capital city, working in a government building, a long way away from the place he would call home. This is his story.
1. Nehemiah’s identity was as a Child of God.
1 The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah.
It came to pass in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year (of the reign of Artaxerxes – ca 445BC), as I was in Shushan the citadel,
2 that Hanani one of my brethren came with men from Judah;
and I asked them concerning the Jews who had escaped, who had survived the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem.
Nehemiah was a stranger in a foreign land. That said, he had this comfortable position in the government. He lived in the palace. He ate good food and wore nice clothes. You know, life wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t bad either.
And I think we could all understand if Nehemiah started to focus a little on himself, on his position, on his career, on getting promoted. We could understand if he got caught up in all the gossip, and rumors, and intrigue. In short, if he lost sight of what was going on outside the capital and the court.
There are plenty of people who just get caught up in the system – they move from position to position, from appointment to think-tank and back depending on who is in power at the time, they retire from a military position and move straight into a civilian position doing the same job. I’m not saying any of that is inherently wrong, all I’m saying is, it creates a temptation to live in this little world of our organization, or our profession, or our cause, and lose sight of what’s going on elsewhere.
But Nehemiah didn’t succumb to that temptation, he never lost sight of his roots so to speak. You see, it wasn’t just that he cared about people outside the capital; he also recognized that his primary identity was with those people outside the capital. He wasn’t a local. In spite of his position in the government, he recognized he was still a stranger in a strange land. He was a Jew and his heart was with the Jews.
Can I encourage you today that if you are a Christian, you are also a stranger in a strange land? This is not your home. No matter how comfortable you are here, no matter how far you have advanced here, no matter what position or rank or title you have achieved, this is not your primary identity.
God has given you a place and a title among the governments and organizations of men whether they be local, state, national or international, but there will be times when you will need to consciously remind yourself that you are a citizen of Heaven before you are a citizen of any country on earth.
And yet, by the same token, if you feel like you lack any real role or position or influence – remember that your status as a child of God is far more significant than anything you could ever attain on earth. There is both a Psalm (84:10) and a modern worship song based on that Psalm, that speak of the value of simply being a doorkeeper in the house of the Lord: “better is one day in [God’s] courts than a thousand elsewhere.”
So stay focused on the kingdom of God and your place in it even as you serve in the kingdoms of men. Don’t let the things of this earth keep you from what God may want to do. Nehemiah is about to receive news that will change everything – his position in the government is about to take a massive back seat to his position in God’s kingdom because although things are going great in the citadel where he’s serving the king, the same thing isn’t true back in Jerusalem, that city he still cares about.
2. Nehemiah had the Heart of God.
3 And they said to me, “The survivors who are left from the captivity in the province are there in great distress and reproach. The wall of Jerusalem is also broken down, and its gates are burned with fire.”
4 So it was, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned for many days; I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven.
That news hits Nehemiah like a ton of bricks. Now remember, there was no CNN, no Twitter, no Facebook, no SnapChat – there was no way to get instant news updates on what was going on a thousand miles away. But these men have just returned, they saw it with their own eyes. Jerusalem, the holy city, is still in a sad state.
It’s been 140 years and nothing has really been improved and with the walls broken down, it’s like the city is a house with all the doors and windows busted out. There’s no safety, no security, no sense of “home.”
God gripped his heart and burdened him for the city. He wept, he mourned, he fasted, and he prayed. Let me ask, has God ever given you that kind of a burden for a person, a people, a place, or a project?
I believe that He wants to. He wants us to have His heart. He wants us to be moved by the things that move Him. And that’s what’s happening here. Nehemiah is weeping over Jerusalem just like the prophets who foretold the fall of the city if it didn’t repent and turn to God long ago before it was captured. And like Jesus would a few centuries later. God has a heart for the city of Jerusalem, and it’s being reflected in Nehemiah. And because of that connection, that similarity of concern between God and Nehemiah, God is going to use this man to do something great in that city.
Brothers and sisters, this same God is after your heart this morning as well. I believe that He wants to show you things that will make you sit down and weep, and mourn, and fast and pray. God wants to show you people and places and projects where there is a desperate need for Him. He wants to equip you to meet those needs, not in your own strength, but in His. And God wants to use you to do something about those needs.
I absolutely guarantee you, there is someone or something or somewhere in need around you. And maybe God has allowed you to be the one to see it or hear about it because He wants to use you to do something. Just ask Him to open your eyes, and open your ears to hear the report. Be willing to let Him grab your attention and be willing to say yes to whatever He brings your way.
Take a moment to reflect and journal.
- What does this section of Scripture teach me about God and what does it teach me about me?
- Think about the place where you are. How does God want to use YOU to make a difference in the lives of people around you? Did He put you in your city, in your neighborhood, at your school or job or gym, to make a difference for Him at such a time as this?
- Spend some time praying over the answers to these questions. ““God help me see the world the way you see it. Help me feel the way You feel. Help me value the things You value. God, keep me from getting caught up with life here, and help me see how I can make an impact for you.”
Debbie is a 50 year young Christian, wife, mother of 3, CrossFit Level 2 Trainer, and owner of CrossFit Unstoppable in Jefferson City, MO. She is passionate about helping others and trying new things to reach every individual needing help whether it be on a personal level or via online. In her free time (which is rare) she likes to read, kayak and occasionally take some hikes…
What is the story behind Crossfit Unstoppable and why you started it?
In 2009, I decided that I was tired of being tired-I was an overweight and depressed PE Teacher/Coach and enough was enough! I joined an online fitness community where I developed long-lasting friendships as we followed each other’s fitness journeys.
One friend in particular had the same goals as I and in July 2010, she discovered a CrossFit gym in her hometown in Alabama. I had never heard of CrossFit before so I looked it up and I discovered that they were streaming the Games online. I was hooked and amazed at what these athletes could do. I started watching the mainsite and discovered there was a Kids program associated with CF, and as a PE teacher, I wanted to bring CrossFit to my classes.
Being from Central Missouri, we had no local CF gyms; the closest was in St. Louis (about 90 minutes away) and I had contemplated driving to one of the gyms and going through the fundamentals. Something held me back and the second week of August of 2010, I discovered that Columbia, MO had opened a CF gym. It was just 45 minutes away so I said, “Why not?” I set up my first CrossFit class on August 10, 2010 and haven’t looked back since!
My friend and I then had this wild notion in January of 2011 to go for our Level 1 Certifications. Mine was in March of 2011 and hers in April 2011. I then started coaching boot camp classes for the moms at my school and in the late summer of 2011, I toyed with the idea of opening a CrossFit gym in Jefferson City. Who knew that wanting to bring CrossFit Kids to my PE classes would turn into what I have done almost 7 years later.
My passion for helping people is why I started CrossFit Unstoppable. Like I said previously, I want to help anyone I can.
Yes, Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
This verse is also on the back of my main CFU shirt.
I lived in a dysfunctional home, but thank God I had my grandmother who would take me to church and Sunday school. I ended up living with her starting in 8th grade until I married. I believe with her solid faith, I was fortunate to have her as a role model.
I wasn’t as close to God as I wanted to be in my 20’s and 30’s, but something changed when my life was turned upside down with a close family member committing suicide. It woke me up a bit and I started to read more scripture and practiced being still so I could be guided in the right direction. I haven’t looked back since.
As stated before, it has been up and down, but in the last 15 years or so I have been closer to Him and I rely on His guidance. Without him I wouldn’t be typing this right now! Most likely I would still be teaching and coaching at the school instead of living my dream!
How has it impacted the way you view business?
I pray more now than I ever have.
I practice being still.
I post positive Christian messages on social media when a thought comes to me (really it’s Him nudging me to do so).
I try to live the right way and treat everyone the way I would want to be treated.
I believe everyone who is a member of CFU knows that I’m a Christian and I think that is a plus for many of my members. So I will continue to be the person that God intended for me to be.
Before FAITH RXD was even in existence, I followed Chip Pugh on his CrossFit Faith site, bought a shirt online, and would re-post his Faith WODs on my blog.
In 2012, I attended an Olympic Lifting Cert in Cookeville, TN. Well, to make a long story short, we were invited out to Rich’s ranch for a BBQ and devotion. There I was sitting in Rich’s living room while Dan Bailey cut up sweet potatoes and Rich flipped hamburgers. It was surreal…AND I got to hear the message from Chip.
I thought to myself as I headed back to my hotel, I want this for my gym. I remember wanting to go to one of the ISI’s in CO (FAITH RXD’s Iron Sharpens Iron Camp), but the dates didn’t work out right so a year later there was one in St. Louis (ISI9) and that was fabulous!
I then attended the IMPACT Conference in CO (FAITH RXD Leadership Conference) that fall and started the process of getting our gym affiliated with FAITH RXD. At first we just put on some Faith and Fitness workshops to kind of introduce it and everyone thought it was a good idea to bring the organization to our community.
Why did you decide to join Allied Affiliates?
I wanted to help out in a financial way in spreading the Word and also be on the map in the event someone was looking for a faith based gym to attend.
- I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
- Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own.
- Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.
- Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
- …but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
- I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
God wants us to be Strong and Healthy. I believe God has led me to this ministry to help those who need help with their physical health and their spiritual health.
Debbie and her box, CrossFit Unstoppable, have been avid supporters of our for many years. It is because of men and women like her that FAITH RXD is able to do what we do. Allied affiliates are CrossFit boxes that have partnered with FAITH RXD and support our mission. If you would like to learn more, please click the button below or email us email@example.com.
Unbroken commitment is a mark of a true competitor. We are familiar with this term in the fitness community. Performing a series of pullups in an unbroken fashion means we do not come off the pullup bar until the entire set is complete. How does a competitor for Christ live with unbroken commitment?
- What is the most difficult exercise for you to perform 10 repetitions unbroken?
- What does it take for a competitor to go unbroken when each repetition gets extremely difficult?
Abraham was a true competitor of the faith. His relationship with God is a great example of unbroken commitment. God challenged Abraham to sacrifice what was most valuable to him – his child. As we reflect on this story we can see at least three reasons why Abraham stayed unbroken in his commitment to God:
- Abraham listened with unbroken commitment. Abraham did not pick and choose when to listen to God’s voice. When God spoke he simply said, “Here I am.” (Genesis 22:1) Abraham listened to God faithfully because he kept his heart in a constant state of worship by reflecting on the faithfulness of God. (Genesis 12:7-8; 13:4,18; 21:33) Do we listen to God’s Word with the same unbroken commitment?
- Abraham prepared with unbroken commitment. When Abraham heard God’s instruction he immediately took steps of preparation. He got up early in the morning, took two of his servants, and prepared the wood for the offering. This unbroken commitment continued when he arrived at his destination. As Abraham ascended the mountain with his son he took the sacrificial knife as he prepared for the unthinkable. Does our preparation demonstrate an unbroken commitment to God?
- Abraham believed with unbroken commitment. When it was time for Abraham to ascend the mountain we see the heart behind his obedience as he spoke to his servants. He said, “The boy and I will go over there to worship; then we’ll come back to you.” (Genesis 22:5) This is the reason a competitor can remain in unbroken commitment to God. He believes God always keeps His promises.
We have opportunity every day to listen to the promises of God through Scripture. When we hear His instruction we can make preparations to obey God no matter what He tells us to do. And the reason we take these steps of obedience is because we believe He is always seeking our good. How can you know this? The apostle Paul reflected on this same thought.
“Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises. And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous. And when God counted him as righteous, it wasn’t just for Abraham’s benefit. It was recorded for our benefit, too, assuring us that God will also count us as righteous if we believe in him, the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised to life to make us right with God.” (Romans 4:20-25)
- Set a timer for 5 minutes and list everything God has given you.
- Spend time in prayer and praise thanking God for His blessings.
- Reflect on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. What similarities do you see in the story of Abraham?
- Commit this month to God as an opportunity to listen, prepare, and believe with unbroken commitment.