Cycling with God on my mind

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One of my hobbies is cycling. I have done it for almost 30 years now. I originally started it because I had Rheumatoid Arthritis in my knees, feet and ankles. I saw it as a way to strengthen my legs and get fit at the same time. Prior to getting RA I was a runner.

When I was younger it was normal for me to ride 40-60 kilometres per day. I would aim to 200-300 kilometres a week from Monday to Saturday and have Sunday off for rest and church. My goal was to average 30 kph pace for my rides.

These days I usually ride for time. Mostly I ride for 20-40 minutes and it is at a much slower pace than in used to be. Now in my mid 50s I am happy to cruise along at 15-20 kph. Funny how we mellow as we age!

Now I have three bikes that I rotate depending on how I am going and what time of the year it is. I have a racing bike for times when I want to go faster, a mountain bike for when I want to ride the trails, and a single speed city bike that I use as transport.

Depending on what gym sessions I am doing at the time I ride from 2-3 times a week. If I am doing three gym sessions a week I alternate gym and cycling 3 days each. If I am doing a 4 day split, I only ride 2 times a week.

Cycling for me is much more than fitness these days. It gets me out in to God’s creation and I often find myself praying and reflecting as I ride. I get fit physically and spiritually as I ride. It is nothing for me to ride off on a trail in town and pause to look at God’s creation or just sit and pray for a while.

I am hoping cycling is something I can do in to my old age. I would be great to still be riding well in to my 80s or 90s.

Being spiritually and physically fit

One of the things I was just pondering is how most Christians would like to be more active physically and spiritually. They would like to be “fitter” in both areas.

Most people I talk to on my journey would like to get a bit fitter and lose a few kilograms. For some not exercising is a time issue, for others it is due to illness or others it is just about motivation.

In many ways this is like being spiritually fit. Most Christians would like to read their Bible or pray more because they know that it will help them to be spiritually fit too.

One thing I have been blessed with is discipline. I am very disciplined in both fitness areas. I regularly read my Bible and pray and I also have a regular fitness program.

I started my current exercise fitness program in 1985 and my spiritual fitness program in 1989. They are both things that are set patterns in my life.

So what is my advice for people who have not set up disciplined patterns? What would I suggest for people who are doing no exercise and no Bible reading?

My best advice would be to start at five minutes of each per day. Walk for five minutes at a comfortable pace five or six days per week. Then each week add an extra minute until you get to 30 minutes.

The same goes for Bible reading and prayer. Read your Bible for two and a half minutes and then pray for two and a half minutes and add a minute each week until you hit the 30 minute mark in total.

You might think that five minutes of each is not much, but at first it is about establishing a habit of doing it and of developing the discipline. Before long you will be doing ten minutes of each and so on.

Establishing a healthy fitness routine will make a big difference for you both physically and spiritually. It is just about getting started and establishing a routine.

Lessons from Phillip in sharing our faith

In Acts 8:26-40 we read the story of Philip and the Ethiopian. We see that Ethiopian was returning home from visiting Jerusalem to worship.

From Philip we can learn several things about sharing our faith with others.

1. Philip was obedient to God’s prompting – He was ministering in Samaria and was prompted to travel down the south road or the desert road. He did as he was asked.

2. Philip remained open to the Holy Spirit while traveling – Philip was told to go and be near the chariot that the Ethiopian Eunuch was traveling in. He did.

3. Philip listened to what the man was reading – Philip found out where the man was at. He realised he was reading Isaiah and asked if he needed help.

4. Philip told the man about Jesus – He explained that the prophecy from Isaiah was about Jesus and began to tell him all about Jesus.

5. Philip assisted the Ethiopian to be baptised – Philip assisted him to make this important step for new believers.

6. Philip continued his work elsewhere – we see that the Spirit took Philip away and he continued preaching the Gospel in all the surrounding towns.

One thing I like about this story is that Philip responded to God’s promptings all the way through. He was obedient to what he was asked to do.

I also like that he assessed where the man was at personally and assisted him with his queries about the Book of Isaiah. He then pointed him to Jesus and the way of salvation.

Sometimes as Christians we just need to listen to the Spirit’s promptings and start where the other person is at.

No one can separate us from God’s love

Today for communion I want to look at a wonderful passage from Romans 8. In most Bibles it is titled, “Nothing can separate us from God’s love”.

As I read through the passage, I am overcome by God’s love for us all and how secure we are in His hands.

Romans 8:31-39

31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? 33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. 34 Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.
35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

In this passage we see three amazing things.

1. No-one can be against us

Verse 31 says, “If God is for us, who can ever be against us?”

What a great statement. God is on our side. He is for us. Nothing or no-one can be against us who comes close to His love, His power, His protection. He did not even spare His Son to make this possible. We are His and He is ours.

2. No-one can condemn us

Verses 33-34 – 33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. 34 Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honour at God’s right hand, pleading for us.

God has given us right standing with Him because our faith in Christ. Christ’s death of the cross paid the price for our sin. And now Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us. Jesus is also seated in heaven pleading for us. He is on our side. He is in our corner. If God says we are right with Him, no-one in all creation can argue against us.

3. No-one can separate us from God

Verse 35 asks the question, “Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love?” Verse 38 answers the question, “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love.”

Calamity, troubles, strife, angels, demons, fears, worries, not even the powers of hell. Nothing in all creation can separate us. We are His and He is ours. We are safely held in the palm of His hands.

Today as we take communion and remember what Christ has done for us. Let us remember these three wonderful truths from Romans 8 – no-one can be against us, no-one can condemn us, and no-one separate us from God’s love.

Let us pray.

Why do we need the Holy Spirit?

The Holy Spirit is one of the most misunderstood subjects in the Bible. Many people have this thought that the Holy Spirit is a force or a ghost type of mystical presence. However, the Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit is the third person of the trinity and often refers to Him as He. So like the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit is a person and has personality, a will and emotions.

The Holy Spirit can be especially confusing for the new believer. When speaking to a new Christian it is not uncommon for them to ask, “Why do I need the Holy Spirit when I already believe in Jesus?” We can answer this question by looking at the Bible and seeing a number of important roles that Holy Spirit plays in the life of the Christian. In this article I want to look at five of the major ones that are helpful for the new Christian to learn.

1. We need the Holy Spirit because Jesus promised to send another one like Him

In John chapters 15 and 16 we see that Jesus told the disciples that after He returned to the Father He would send another Counsellor (John 15:26, John 16:5-7). When Jesus said that He would send ‘another counsellor’, the word ‘another’ here means ‘another of the same kind’. Jesus was saying that all that He had been to them the Spirit would continue to be once he had returned to the Father. I believe it is important for us as Christians to understand this role of the Holy Spirit. While we trust Jesus for our salvation, it is the Holy Spirit who is our ever present help, comfort and counsellor today in the same way Jesus was to the disciples two thousand years ago.

2. We need the Holy Spirit because He teaches us and illuminates Scripture

The Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit teaches us and reveals the truth of Scripture (John 14:26, 1 Corinthians 2:10-14). This teaching and revealing work of the Holy Spirit is often described as Illumination. Illumination does not concern the impartation of new knowledge, but a clarification of the text as it stands revealed and inspired by God. I believe that it is especially important for the new Christian to understand this teaching and illumination role of the Holy Spirit because the Bible makes it clear to understand the “deep things of God” we need the wisdom, teaching and illumination of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:6-16).

3. We need the Holy Spirit because He assures us we belong to God

The Bible tells us that as soon as we put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ we are sealed by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13). A seal is a symbol of a finished transaction, of ownership and of security. Because we are sealed by the Holy Spirit, we can be assured of our salvation. In Romans 8:16 we see that the Holy Spirit also testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children and Ephesians 4:30 assures us that we are sealed until the day of redemption. Understanding that we are sealed by the Holy Spirit and assured of our salvation is very important for the new Christian, as they are often prone to doubts and uncertainty about the decision they have made.

4. We need the Holy Spirit because He makes us more Christ-like

The Bible tells us that as Christians we are being transformed into likeness of Christ by the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18). When a person becomes born again, he is sanctified or set apart for God. This happens only once, but sanctification is also a daily process for the rest of one’s life. To achieve this work the Holy Spirit indwells the believer (Romans 8:11) and works in their life to produce the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). I believe as Christians it important to realise that as we submit every area of our lives to the indwelling Holy Spirit, we allow Him to work in us to progressively reflect the character of Christ. This is what God intended for humankind when He originally created us.

5. We need the Holy Spirit because He equips us for service

The Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit equips us for service with gifts and empowers us to be Christ’s witnesses (1 Corinthians 12:4-11, Acts 1:8). The Holy Spirit equips us to serve God by imparting His gifts, directing our ministry and anointing us with His power. For the new Christian it is vital to understand that while we have been called to serve God and be Christ’s witnesses, we have not been called to do this alone. We have been equipped by the Holy Spirit with gifts to undertake God’s work and we are empowered with the Holy Spirit’s power to be Christ’s witnesses.

Conclusion

In this article I have listed five things that answer the question, “Why do I need the Holy Spirit when I already believe in Jesus?” These include we need the Holy Spirit because Jesus promised He would come, that we need Him to illuminate and help us to understand Scripture, to make us more Christ-like through the sanctification process and that the Holy Spirit equips us for service.  I also looked at how that Holy Spirit assures us we belong to God because He is God’s seal of ownership on us.