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Devotional Monday March 23, 2020

Trinity Church exists to love God / love others / serve the community

Many people have suddenly found that they have some extra time on their hands.  During this time, you may turn to movies that you haven’t seen in awhile to pass some of that time.  One of the series that has come to my mind recently is the Rocky series.  You may have seen them, and you may not, but I have always enjoyed the series.  If you are unfamiliar with the premise of the Rocky movies, they are about a down on his luck boxer who comes from the rough side of Philadelphia.  Through hard work and grit, he gains a shot at the title and goes up against the incumbent champ, Apollo Creed.  These movies are a great amalgam of 80’s culture and music.

One of the staples of the Rocky movies is the training montage.  At some point in every movie, he begins to get ready for the main event bout.  They show Rocky and his opponent (depending on which movie you are watching) training for the big fight.  The thing about every one of these movies is that the opponent is in state-of-the-art facilities, while Rocky is making do with whatever he has at his disposal.  From using slabs of frozen meat as punching bags, to running through the streets of Philly culminating with the classic scene of him running up the steps of the art museum that are now lovingly dubbed “the Rocky steps,” the whole thing takes about 5 minutes of air time or however long the inspirational musical number lasts that is played over the entire scene.  Then he is ready for the fight.

As Christians, we are in training as well.  Our entire life on this planet is training in righteousness, and not all of it is pleasant.  Just like Rocky had to train vigorously for his title match, we are in training for the works that God has prepared beforehand for us to do.  He is constantly preparing us for what he has planned for our lives.  The thing is many of us don’t like to train.  We are all about the results! We are ready to be ready!  We want our training to be a 5 minute inspirational montage that shows us reading the Bible, on our knees in prayer, worshipping in a church service with our arms stretched to the heavens, helping someone in need and giving each other that big cheesy movie smile, all while an amazing worship song plays over the clips.  Then we want to be ready.

But life and our walk with the Lord isn’t a movie.  There is no training montage in your life.  You are called to sweat it out, to work it out, and to surrender your will to God because He is the ultimate trainer in righteousness preparing us to serve Him.  Just like physical training, it is difficult, it can be painful, and it can be grueling.  But, in the same way Rocky was able to take his boxing match to the limit, the results are overwhelming and noticeable in your walk with the Lord.  Psalm 56 talks about this struggle and how it is not in vain but that the Lord uses it.

You have kept count of my tossings, put my tears in your bottle, Are they not in your book? 

            Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call.  This I know, that God is for me.

            In God, whose word I praise, in the Lord, whose word I praise, in God I trust;

            I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?” Psalm 56:8-11

If you feel like your circumstances at the present time are too difficult, too painful, too uncertain, change your perspective.  Remember that God is training and preparing you for whatever it is that He has for you.  And He can be trusted.  We see in that Psalm that God is there with us in the midst of our struggle and our sorrow! He is to be praised and trusted!  We are being given an opportunity during the next few weeks to allow God to train us! If you are like me, you realize that you haven’t been training the way you should, so take hold of this opportunity!  You probably wish that all this could just be shortened into a 5-minute musical montage and you can skip to the end results.  Remember the words of the author of Hebrews “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” Heb. 12:11

So, praise the Lord in this storm! Allow Him to use this time to train you in your walk with Him.  Trust that He is in control and do not be afraid!

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