It is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace. Heb. 13:9
While bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. 1 Timothy 4:8
Dear heavenly Father, the health clubs and fitness centers are packed with post-holiday traffic. Once again many people, like me, are ready to leave the sugar/butter/carbohydrate binge of the past six weeks for the purge of exercise and sweat. That’s not a bad thing, for stewardship of our bodies and health does have value, and it does bring you glory. I just need to learn to eat healthier and exercise all year long.
The same is true in my spiritual life. Spiritual formation based on a “cruise then binge” rhythm has never served well for me. Getting lazy then fired up, may be normal, but I’ve used that excuse too many times. I know my heart needs to be strengthened by your grace every day of the year. Just like the physical heart you’ve given me, my spiritual heart muscles will atrophy if I don’t take care of them.
So, as this new year begins, I thank you for the “means of grace”—the good gifts you’ve given us to help us grow in the grace and the knowledge of Jesus. Indeed, you’ve given me everything I need for a life of godliness and growth, so I can’t really whine or complain about anything, and there’s no monthly fee to pay!
Thank you for the Bible—you written Word, through which you reveal yourself and feed us with the riches of the gospel. Thank you for prayer, meditation, and corporate worship, by which you meet and fellowship with us. Thank you for the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper—these tangible expressions of your covenant love and grace. Thank you for the local church—the community and environment in which you’ve placed us for growth and service.
Father, you won’t love me more, or less, based on my use of these good gifts this year. I won’t put a bigger smile on your face if I’m really disciplined, but I will get to know you better—and what more could I want in life than that?
I want to be far more concerned about a flabby, graceless heart this year, than bigger love handles. Because of your great love for me, don’t let me get used to being spiritually lazy or content with what I already know about you. May I choose gospel sanity over personal vanity, all the time, all year long. So very Amen I pray, in Jesus’ loving and faithful name.