“REGULAR CHECKUPS” By Pastor YAU
Proverbs 4:20-27, Psalm 139:23-24
1) Reluctant for checkups: Given a choice, most of us would not voluntarily visit our doctors for a regular physical checkup. We incline to assume that everything is okay and there is no need to bother our doctors about it. The same attitude happens to our spiritual checkups. Many of us either assume we are spiritual okay or a little afraid of going through the process of spiritual exams because a close look on our inside may prompt us to some needed changes such as a bad habit or attitude. And any change is hard to do.
2) Checkups are important: No one would argue that regular checkups are important, be it physical or spiritual. A couple of weeks before I began writing this message on October 3, it was on news that during a regular checkup, a socialite found out that she had breast cancer and the early discovery had saved her life. People who are reluctant on checkups are playing with their lives. Those who are reluctant on spiritual checkups are taking a risk of serious spiritual problems and possible prune-off by God because of being unfruitful. (John 15:2)
WHY SPIRITUAL CHECKUPS?
1) Spiritual health is important: Many of us are very much aware that physical health is important. We will try hard to do right, live right, eat right, exercise right and many other rights just to make sure we are healthy. According to a report by The New England Journal of Medicine, if a man at 45 starts to exercise regularly the rest of his life, he will only live 10 months longer than another man also at 45 but remains a coach potato. This is why Paul tried to encourage the early Christians to pay more attention on spiritual health than physical health when he said, “For physical training is of little value but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” (1 Tim. 4:8)
2) Spiritual health and God: In answering to the comments of the Samaritan woman on where to worship God, Jesus pointed out that “God is spirit, and His worshippers must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24) It is in the spirit we are connected with God. It is also in the spirit God indwells in each one of us. Our spirit is the temple where God occupies and function. The condition of our spiritual health has a direct impact on the extend God functions in us. God cannot function fully in directing our lives, energizing us fully to bear more fruits or helping us to focus on right perspective if our spiritual health is weaken or hindered by worldly thoughts.
3) Spiritual health and fruit bearing: We all know that only healthy trees will bear fruits and the healthier the tree the more fruits it may bear. Same is applied to our spiritual health. All aspects of our spiritual fruit bearing, as suggested in Galatians 5:22-23, are related to our spiritual health condition. After listing the nine important fruits spiritually healthy Christians must strive to bear, Paul laid down the ground rules for spiritual health. He said, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus must have crucified their sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”(-25) Our spiritual health condition determines the level of our fruit bearing for Christ.
4) Spiritual health and Christian dynamics: Everyone knows that the dynamics of life is closely related to health condition. It is true with spiritual health condition. Many Christians seldom, if ever, experience joy, love, patience, forgiving, positive attitude, power to endure, being kind and gentle, full of hope, fervency in service, just to list a few, all because they are not spiritually healthy. They are being weighted down by worldly worries, carnal desires, bad attitudes, material pursuits and unchristian life purposes. These people are fruitless at best and burdens to others at worst. They constantly live in struggles, being unhappy, disgruntled, critical and powerless. They are stumbling blocks for others to seek Christ.
THE CHECKLIST: (Proverbs -27)
1) Your ears: “My son, pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words.” () Do we have the good ear to listen to the word of God from the Bible at the worship service, in the Bible study group or at our personal quiet time? What are the primary things that are going into your ears each day? Do your ears get clogged with worldly things that you can’t hear God anymore?
2) Your eyes: Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. Do not let them out of your sight.” (4:25, 21) What are your eyes looking at most of the time? What direction are your eyes fixing on? What is the focus of your life? What material do you read and what TV program do you watch? Are they clean and good for your eyes? How far can you see your future may be?
3) Your heart: “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of your life.” () Who is the master of your heart? What are the things that fill up most of your heart? What is the most important of your heart’s desires? Is your heart right with God? Can you find God there most of the times? Do you have room for Him?
4) Your tongue: “Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talks far away from your lips.” () How do you use your tongue and mouth? What are most of the things come out of your mouth? Do your words build others up or tear them down? Do you give praises to God and encouragement to people with your lips?
5) Your feet: “Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your feet from evil.” (-27) What kind of path are you traveling on? And where will it lead you to? Are you on slippery road or on the path God has chosen for you? Are your feet strong to continue your journey on the purpose of God in your life?
6) Your knees: “When Paul had said this, he knelt down with all of them and prayed.” (Acts ) Many people have problems with their knees. Either their knees are too weak to carry their weight or too stiff to bend in prayer. Christians are encouraged to exercise on our knees in constant prayers. Be on your knees early in the morning will open the skies of the day for your life.
7) Your hands: “Make it your habit to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands.” (1 Thess. 4:11) God has given us two hands but one mouth. He wants us to work more than to talk. We all have our duties at home, in school, at work and in church. Do your fair share of work no matter where you are to be useful and productive. Make your hands strong and useful.
SOME USEFUL EXERCISE: Ways to improve spiritual health.
1) Praise and worship: Worship service is never meant to be a ritual but a spiritual uplifting experience for God’s people to draw closer to Him. When Christians get together in God’s house of worship, sing praises, offering thanksgiving, encouraged by reading and listening to His word are all spiritual uplifting exercise which draws us closer to God and to each other. Most Christians slip to a downward condition begins with the neglect of worship. Cutting worship is the beginning of a spiritual starvation.
2) Study and pray: A consistent habit of Bible study and time of prayer is necessary to supply the nutrition needed for a healthy spiritual growth. As food and water are needed for physical growth, we need to maintain a regular and ample supply of spiritual food for spiritual growth. Join a Bible study group at lease once a week and have daily quiet time for meditation and prayer to get to know God better each day and draw strength from Him for your daily needs to live victorious life.
3) Serve and give: Giving and service to God, to His church, people and the community are effective ways to expand our horizon and purpose of life. The power and meaning of a life is not from what we can get but what we can give. It is through giving, we become channels of blessing to others. All great people are stingy to themselves but generous to God and people. It is through giving we model the life of Jesus in our daily life.
4) Fellowship and care: No growing Christians are isolated people. They are all participating, interacting, congregating, meeting and sharing with one another in God’s church and at home. (Acts ) No lone-ranger Christians are healthy or productive Christians. God made us social beings in community and His church. We must get involved with God’s people in fellowship and learn to care for others in order to grow our spiritual capacity of love. We also need to share what we have to meet the needs of the saints. It is through sharing and caring we measure our spiritual health condition.
1) It is for your own good: Checking your spiritual health condition is for your won good. When you know what is good and what is not good enough in you, you have a clear picture to improve your condition. You may need to change your habits, attitudes and priority but you will grow stronger and healthier and be more productive and useful.
2) It is more lasting: Remember that report from the medical journal? What is the big deal when all the time and hard work you have put in just extend your life for less than a year? Pursue something that will last much longer and benefit lot more people: your spiritual health. It is through your spiritual endeavor you make your life lot more profitable and meaningful both on earth and in heaven.
3) Never too late to start: In a health club, a trainer tried to make a beginner trainee who has a 65-inch waistline feel good to begin her training program. She told her, “It is never too late to begin.” If you never have a spiritual checkup before, you certainly can start a new one today. Enter in faith with the Lord Jesus as your Savior you can begin the training program today.