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Revelations 7:9-17 Work Those Spiritual Muscles April 16, 2016

Posted by Ventura Dreamer in Blogroll.
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I don’t pretend to understand much of the Bible’s Book of the Revelation to John, but these verses, thanks to Handel’s Messiah, are very familiar. Even though that section of the piece is not the easiest, I always enjoy singing:

Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.

This morning a different part stood out to me in a section of verse 14 where there is a reference to “they who have come out of the great ordeal . . .”

I wondered about what was meant as the”great ordeal”, whether the writer was trying to rally the troops and referring to the martyrs and others who, in that century were enduring persecution and torture for spreading the new Christian faith, or anyone – then and now – who is simply living life with all its ups and downs.

I prefer the latter interpretation, especially after reading the devotional reading in my Upper Room Disciplines book. Besides commenting on diversity and how open to everyone God is (heaven – whatever that is – is open to everyone; no one but God gets to decide who is or isn’t welcome), Roy M. Carlisle, this week’s writer states, life, particularly spiritual life, is difficult.

We will struggle, experience dark times, and suffer, but if we have exercised the muscle of faith we will join that throng before the throne to say, “Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

I like the concept of a spiritual muscle. Since the beginning of last month, I have become more intentional about my physical being. I took on a challenge which involved a dietary change (including a daily protein shake and eliminating fast food from my daily diet) and a daily dance workout. I had to get up earlier in order to fit the exercise in and ran out of time for my morning devotional/meditation routine. By the end of the second week, the dance routines had become too stressful on my knees and ankles, I wasn’t getting enough sleep, and I stopped doing them. But the new way of eating had won me over and I went back to my old wake-up time, spending more time prepping my meals to take to work. I missed my morning devotions, however!

Eventually, I found new ways to exercise (I haven’t given up my first love, zumba, but my work schedule doesn’t allow it often enough.) Dance workouts that are less intense are available and can be done after work, a quick morning walk is great if there’s time, and food prep can be done in batches or prepped at work. I finally was able to feed my spiritual need again! New routines take time to assimilate.

Last week, I started a new challenge – a 7-day “detox” aimed at eliminating salt, refined sugars and other toxins by eating “cleaner”. No dairy products, alcohol, processed foods, or red meat – while drinking a gallon of water every day. This isn’t a diet for losing weight, but to cleanse naturally. It also addressed the mental part of us through relaxation, Zen, yoga, and walking. Light exercise while cleaning out the physical body.

It has been six weeks since I started my new physical routine. As we Methodists like to say, I’m still on that lifetime journey toward perfection! This past week has solidified the need for balance – physical, mental, social, and spiritual. Work the body’s muscles: take care of that “temple of the Holy Spirit” that has been given you; work that muscle known as your brain; stretch yourself out to help others and love all you meet; stretch your muscle of faith.

I realize I have rambled far longer than my usual posts here, but it has helped me process the process. I’m reminded of the sprinters who write “Hebrews 12:1” on their shoes, let us run with perseverance/endurance the race marked out for us . . .
I’ll finish with this short prayer at the end of Mr. Carlisle’s meditation.

Jesus, help us run the race and fight the good fight and do it for as long as we live. Amen.

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