First Love FITNESS, Week Five – His Grace is Enough

Posted on Oct 20, 2014 in Faith, Food and Fitness | 69 comments

IMG_2021As I’ve listened to my class members share their physical and spiritual struggles, I’ve noticed a common thread. Personal challenges may look different, i.e. getting out of bed in the morning to have quiet time with God, or setting foot in a gym to work out, or not giving in to the temptation to eat a cookie, but at the root of all these trials really seems to be the same issue: self-discipline. We can know in our mind and desire in our heart what we want to do, but we still have trouble implementing our good intentions in our flesh.

I don’t think our difficulty with self-discipline surprises Jesus. In the Garden of Gethsemane, when Jesus was “overwhelmed with sorrow,” He asked three of His closest friends to stay awake and keep watch for Him but they repeatedly fell asleep (Mark 14:34). Peter, James and John couldn’t do the one thing Jesus asked of them, when He needed them most. To His sleeping friends Jesus said, “The spirit is willing, but the body is weak” (Mark 14:38).

Centuries later, His words still define our struggle with self-discipline.

And God knows our weaknesses go beyond what we’re willing to admit. He knows we sometimes keep our issues in a deep, dark place called shame. Someone reading this may be struggling with pornography or alcohol or anger, or not having an affair; for this person, self-discipline can seem more than difficult. It can seem impossible.

But do you believe that “nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37)?

In First Love FITNESS, Week Five, I asked the ladies to write down what they struggle with most. If they wanted to share it with the class, great; if not–if they believed it too humiliating–they didn’t need to. I told them I didn’t care how big and bad their issue was, or if it was recent or something they’d been struggling with their whole life. I just wanted them to be honest with themselves and write it down. Nobody was going to look at it, and I reminded them God already knew AND LOVED THEM ANYWAY. “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

I then asked someone to read aloud 2 Corinthians 12:7-9, words from the Apostle Paul:  “…there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.  Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.  But he (Jesus) said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’”

I asked the class if anybody had written down something too big for Jesus to handle? Something for which His grace wouldn’t be enough?

They all answered “no,” but just to back up my point with Scripture, we jointly looked up the following:

Jeremiah 32:27… “I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?”

Mark 9:21-23… “Jesus asked the boy’s father, ‘How long has he been like this?’ ‘From childhood,’ he answered. ‘It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.’ ‘If you can?’ said Jesus. ‘Everything is possible for him who believes.’”

(Can you imagine Jesus’ looking you in the eye and repeating, “If you can?” to something you’ve just requested?)

Philippians 4:19… “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”

(Not “some” — “all.”)

1 Corinthians 10:13… “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”

(That’s a promise.)

Finally, Psalm 121:1-2… “I lift my eyes to the hills–where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”

I think it’s good to bring our weaknesses into the light and realize THEY ARE ALL ABOUT US! This shouldn’t come as a surprise to any of us because we are weak in and of ourselves. Fortunately for us, First Love FITNESS is not about us; it’s about Jesus. And the more we recognize and confess our weaknesses, the more we’ll be able to recognize and call on God’s strength and power to help us.

Which leads me to Week Five’s Memory Verse: Psalm 18:1… “I love you, O Lord, my strength.”

During a time of deep hurt in my life, when I was in desperate need of self-discipline to “rid myself of the bad and fill myself with the good” (FLF, Week Three), my counselor encouraged me to buy a picture of Jesus. She thought being able to look at Him would make Him more real to me. It did. Being able to “see” Jesus while I’m talking to Him and investing in my relationship with Him has been such a blessing and really made a difference in my life. (My heartfelt thanks to the late Richard Hook for his captivating depiction of Jesus, above.)

Whether you choose to buy a picture of Jesus or not, I believe that getting to know Him, falling in love with Him, and focusing on Him in our weakness is the answer to any and every struggle with self-discipline. The more we give Him opportunity, the more He can prove to us His grace really is enough.

Week Five’s workout circuit included decline push-ups, kettle bell squats, pelvic tilts with a 10-lb. plate resting on our tummy, walking lunges with overhead dumbbell presses, medicine ball twists with a partner, and throwing a medicine ball up against a wall and squatting while catching.

This week’s “Good News” reading schedule is as follows: Day One – Mark 15 & 16; Day Two – Luke 1; Day Three – Luke 2; Day Four – Luke 3; Day Five – Luke 4; Day Six – Luke 5; Day Seven – Luke 6.

As always, don’t hesitate to write if you have a question or comment. I’d love to hear from you!

May we all get to the point in our faith journey where we, like Paul, are able to say, “Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

God bless you!

4 Comments

  1. Thank you, Laurie (Mama Geisz), for this nugget of encouragement. I surely needed this today. Blessings 2U & the family…
    Love in Him,
    your friends from AZ!

    • Awww, Jodi, so good to hear from you! Thank you for your encouragement:) Hope to see you in Arizona sometime this winter! Love and hugs back, Laurie

  2. What a wonderful lesson, Laurie. Thank you for sharing it with those of us not in the class this time. And I love the photo! I’ll always remember when I ran into you on a plane and you had it under your arm!

    • Haha! I actually shared that with my class, Nancy–I’ll always remember that, too:) Thank YOU for your continual encouragement and prayers.

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