Making Jesus My Life Coach
Series “Life Coach” Part 1; Spiritual Fitness
What is it about New Year’s Eve that causes so much excitement? I think it’s something about new beginnings. We all have this craving for a fresh start. We all love the thought of being able to put all of our failures and mistakes and missed opportunities of the last year behind us for good. You see every one of us in this room today have been given a great gift from God. He has given us a New Year and God wants you and me to make the most of it.
I want you to listen to some KEY verses as I begin this new series.
1 Thessalonians 5:23-24; (The Message) “May God himself, the God who makes everything holy and whole, make you holy and whole, put you together—spirit, soul, and body—and keep you fit for the coming of our Master, Jesus Christ. The One who called you is completely dependable. If he said it, he'll do it!”
· We learn from this passage that God is interested in your TOTAL fitness and wellness: body, soul and spirit.
1 Timothy 4:7-8 (Living Bible); “Spend your time and energy in the exercise of keeping spiritually fit. Bodily exercise is all right, but spiritual exercise is much more important and is a tonic for all you do. So exercise yourself spiritually, and practice being a better Christian because that will help you not only now in this life, but in the next life too.”
· We learn from this passage that physical exercise is important but spiritual exercise is more important because it is the “tonic” for everything and ETERNITY depends upon it.
Listen to another familiar passage: In John 10:10 Jesus said, “I have come in order that you might have life – life in all its fullness.”
· We learn from this passage that God wants you to enjoy life. God wants you to live life to the fullest. He wants you to really LIVE not just EXIST in the coming year. He wants you to be the you that He made you to be.
I want to help you get off to a good start so I am beginning a new series this morning I am calling Life Coach. I know that life coaching is really the in thing in the business world right now. A lot of business executives hire life coaches to help them develop life plans so that they can best leverage their gifts and talents and resources to make a difference in the world.
Have you ever watched a celebrity who bragged on how much weight they lost, etc and then discover that they have a personal life coach? How cool would that be? Since we are not celebrities and cannot afford a personal Life Coach, we must do it the old fashioned way….the hard way through discipline, right?
What I want to do in this series is point you to the ultimate life coach. It’s not me. I’m a life student. I’m a life long learner. In fact, the more I learn about life the more I realize I have a lot more to learn. But, I want to point you to the original life coach, Jesus Christ, because He’s the only one who can help you revolutionize your resolutions this year to bring about real change. We all make these New Year resolutions to diet, eat a little healthier, get fit, maybe read through the Bible this year, stop smoking or break a bad habit. Then after a couple of days or a couple of hours we just fall off the table.
ILL/JOKE: It reminds me of the guy whose wife bought him a membership for a week to the local health club that came with some private fitness lessons. He writes this. I called and made reservations with someone named Tonya who is a 26 year old fitness instructor and athletic clothing model. My wife seemed very pleased with how enthusiastic I was to get started. DAY ONE: They suggest I keep this exercise diary to chart my progress this week. I started this morning at 6am. It was tough to get out of bed, but worth it when I arrived at the health club and Tonya was waiting for me. She’s something of a goddess, blond hair and a white dazzling smile. She showed me the machines and took my pulse after five minutes on the treadmill. She seemed a little alarmed it was so high, but I think standing next to her added ten points. Tonya was very encouraging as I did my sit ups, though my gut was already aching a little from holding it in the whole time I was talking to her. You guys know what I’m talking about. DAY TWO: It took a whole pot of coffee to get me out the door, but I made it. Tonya had me lie on my back and push this heavy iron bar into the air. Then she put weights on it. My legs were a little wobbly on the treadmill, but I made it the full mile. Her smile made it all worth while. DAY THREE: The only way I can brush my teeth is by laying the toothbrush on the counter and moving my mouth back and forth. Tonya was a little impatient today and said my screaming was bothering the other club members. DAY FOUR: Tonya was waiting for me with her vampire teeth and full snarl. I can’t help it if I was a half hour late. It took me that long to tie my shoes. DAY FIVE: I hate Tonya. More than any human being has ever hated another human being in the history of the world I hate Tonya. If there was any part of my body not in extreme pain I’d hit her with it. DAY SIX: I got Tonya’s message on my answering machine wondering where I am. I lack the strength to even use the TV remote so I watched 11 straight hours of the weather channel. DAY SEVEN: That’s the week. Thank God it’s over. Maybe next time my wife will buy me something more fun like root canal surgery.
Can you relate to that? Why is it so hard for us to change? What is it about those bad habits? What is it about those good habits that are hard to develop? Why is it so hard for us to change? I think it’s because we try so hard to change. The life to the fullest that Christ talks about is not a changed life, it’s more than a changed life; it’s an exchanged life. When I make Christ my life coach, then He
EXCHANGES some things in my life. In an exchanged life you exchange the negative for the positive. The Christian life is more than a changed life. The Christian life is the exchanged life. If you ever grasp this dynamic principle then you will be on your way in discovering the spiritually charged life.
Here is why CHANGE DOESN’T WORK. When we try to change, we inevitably focus on the negative. But, in the exchanged life, you focus on the positive. See the simple difference? For instance, in the exchanged life, when I make Christ my ultimate life coach, one of the things I exchange is my false thinking, all my false beliefs, all my wrong thought patterns for His transforming truth. That’s so important because if I’m going to change the way I act I have to change the way I think. If I’m going to change my behavior I must first change my beliefs because behind every wrong behavior is a wrong belief.
For example, WHY do we overeat? There are a lot of reasons but here is a simple one. (1) When we overeat it’s because we think, or believe, that it will make us happy. I believe it’s going to meet some deep emotional need. I believe if I eat all this it’s going to make me feel good, but that’s a false belief because w hen I overeat, I feel miserable.
(2) Another example of this principle is this. When I am resentful, when someone hurts me, rather than forgiving them, I believe it’ll make me feel better to hold onto that grudge and not forgive them. But, resentment makes me feel awful so that’s a false belief. It’s useless to try to change your behavior until first you change your false beliefs.
This is why trying to change by simply making New Year’s resolutions doesn’t work. FIRST, you must change the way you think because you can never change the way you act until first you change the way you think.
That is why it is so important to Christ my ultimate life coach. Why? Because when you involve Jesus, He takes you beyond change and into EXCHANGE. I exchange my false thinking for His transforming truth.
Look at Romans 12:2. “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect His will really is.”
Step #1: Exchange Lies for the Truth
Look again at that phrase change the way you think. To change the way you act you have to change the way you think. It’s our false beliefs that keep us from changing. It’s our wrong thought patterns that prevent us from change. That act as mental barriers that prevent us from making the changes to become the person God wants us to be that we’ve always dreamed that we could be. So, it all starts with the way you think.
ILLUSTRATION: In 1954 no human being had ever run under a four minute mile. There were articles that actually appeared in medical journals that said it was physiologically impossible for a human being to ever run under a four minute mile. Because of the skeletal structure of the body, the muscle mass, there was no way that a human being would ever be able to break the four minute mile. Well, apparently a young medical student named Roger Banister didn’t buy into that because in 1954 he ran the mile in 3:59. He broke that barrier. Now the interesting thing is, before 1954 no one had ever run the mile in less than four minutes. But between 1954 and 1957, 16 people broke the four minute mile barrier.
Today, as you know, all world class runners break the four minute mile. They discovered when Roger Banister broke the four minute mile that it wasn’t a physical barrier at all, it was a mental barrier. When Roger Banister broke the mile it changed the way people thought which changed the way they ran.
You see, our false thinking, our false beliefs keep us from changing. God wants us to look beyond the humans barriers and to the divine possibilities. When Christ is my life coach, I look at His Word and it’s a mirror that reflects back to me and shows me the lies that I’m believing because I look into His truth. So, if you put God’s Word into your mind He begins to change you. All psychologists tell you this, that you have to change the way you think before you change the way you act. A lot of them say that you need to listen to all of these subliminal messages before you go to bed. You need to listen to all these things like I’m great, I’m great, I can do it and all that kind of stuff. I guess that works a little bit, but what you really need more than just positive thinking is you need positive truth. When you begin to put God’s Word in your heart and mind it reveals the lies that you believe and your mind is transformed which transforms your actions and you see beyond the barriers to the possibilities.
ILLUSTRATION: It reminds me of an elderly man whose first day in a retirement home. When he walked in the door he noticed that a woman across the way was just staring at him. This elderly woman just couldn’t take her eyes off of him. He didn’t think much of it at first, but later that night at dinner she just kept staring at him. Later that night when they played bingo she just kept staring at him. Finally he couldn’t take it any longer and he walked over to her and he said, “Madam, I’ve just got to ask you. Why are you staring at me. It’s bothering me. What’s the deal?” She said, “Oh, I’m so sorry, it’s just that you look just like my third husband.” He felt kind of bad after that and he said, “Oh, I’m so sorry. How many husbands have you had?” This elderly woman replied, “Two.”
She was looking at the possibilities. God wants you and I to look at the possibilities this year. We’ve got to throw out that old mind set that believes I cannot change and I accept a new mind set of the exchanged life. Then we will be able to look beyond the barriers to the possibilities. I do that by getting into God’s truth.
Step #2: Exchange Your Guessing for God’s Guidance
Listen to Proverbs 3:5-6. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”
There is a second thing that I must exchange when I make Christ my ultimate life coach. I change my guessing, that is, my stumbling through life, my trying to make decisions in my own wisdom, my own knowledge, my own logic, I exchange my guessing for His guidance.
This is crucial because great coaches are great teachers. You hear about the great coaches in basketball or football or baseball and they always say they are great teachers of the game.
Jesus Christ is the ultimate life coach because He’s the greatest teacher of all time. He wants to teach what path you should follow in life. Some of you are facing some major decisions this New Year that you know about and some decisions you do not know about. You need a life coach that will help you make the right choice. He doesn’t want to confuse or frustrate you but help prevent you from making a mess out of your life. He wants to guide you.
I love the promise of Proverbs 3. If you face a major decision right now or next month, God promises you here that if you make Jesus Christ your life coach, if you put Him first in your life and acknowledge Him, and if your deepest desire is to please Him, then He will guide your steps. He won’t let you make a wrong decision. He says if you really want to please me, then I will guide you. I don’t want you to go down the wrong path. I don’t want you to fall into all these problems and pain because you made a wrong choice. God wants to be your guide. He wants to be your life coach.
Step #3: Exchange Your Willpower for His Divine Power
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Probably the greatest exchange of all is that when I make Christ my life coach I get to exchange my willpower which, by the way, doesn’t work with His Divine power, which does work. Not only does Christ want to be my guide to show me what to do, but He always wants to give me the power to do it.
There is a big difference between pop psychology (self-help gurus) and Christianity. There are a lot of good self help books out there and they tell you what to do they just don’t give you the power to do it. Willpower alone doesn’t work. My willpower works for a while and then my willpower runs out, but God’s power does work. I want to tell you the greatest spiritual principle I’ve ever learned as a believer. It’s not my willpower, but it’s His divine power that produces change. It seems that I have to relearn that dynamic truth almost each and every day. I have to relearn it each and every day because every day I turn to my weak willpower and I fail. I must stop and acknowledge: It’s not my willpower; it’s Your divine power.
To Love: Lord, give me the strength. God I can’t love people the way they need and deserve to be loved. Love them through me right now. I’m tired. I don’t
feel like loving. Love through me. My human love has run out. God give me the strength to do this right now because I don’t feel like doing this but I know it’s the right thing to do. Do this through me.
To Dream: God give me the power to dream big, to believe what You want because I’m fearful right now so just do this through me. Every day I come to the place where my willpower runs out. Every day I try my willpower and it doesn’t work and then I fall on my face and I say God, I need Your power.
You see there is no way you can change with willpower alone. It doesn’t work. We’ve all tried it.
Willpower works for awhile, but God’s power works for eternity so I really am excited about this series because I know for many of you it’s going to be a huge breakthrough. You are going to break some habits you never dreamed you could break over the next few weeks. You’re going to make some changes you never dreamed you could make because you are going to switch from your willpower to His power. It’s all about the exchanged life. Everything we are talking about in this series comes back to this exchanged life.
That’s why this series is different from any other plan you’ve ever tried to get your life in control, from any other plan you’ve ever tried to get your life together because you can’t get control of your life, but you can get your life under control – under Christ’s control in His power. It’s not about a changed life, it’s about an exchanged life.
Now, our theme verse for the whole series is 1 Thessalonians 5:23. “May God himself, the God who makes everything holy and whole, make you holy and whole, put you together – spirit, soul, and body – and keep you fit for the coming of our Master, Jesus Christ.”
Do you see that word “whole”? God cares about the whole person. Christ, the ultimate life coach, cares about every area of your life. The way we appropriate this exchanged life is we’ve got to make it personal in our lives.
· When I first make Christ my life coach; that’s called salvation. When I say God, I want You to be the boss of my life, I receive Your forgiveness in my life, that’s called salvation. It happens at one point in time in our life.
· But, as a believer, each and every day I have to receive the exchanged life He’s already given to me. It’s mine. It’s available to me, but I have to appropriate it in my life by making it personal each and every day. That’s called discipleship; learning to walk in the way of Jesus.
You see, today I can choose to continue in my false thinking or I can choose to receive His truth that transforms me. I can choose to continue my guessing and make decisions the best way I know how or I can follow His guidance. I can choose to try out my willpower or I can receive His power. It’s available to me, but every day I have to make it personal. I’m going to give you four steps to make it personal that can forever change your life. It’s really an introduction to the whole series.
Will you RENEW your commitment to MAKE CHRIST Your PERSONAL SPIRITUAL COACH today?
You can go to the gym for hours and get physically fit and still fill empty on the inside. That’s because you are more than just a physical being. You are a spiritual creation and the spiritual side of your life is the most important part of your life. I mean, your muscles can be growing physically, but if your spirit is experiencing atrophy you’ll never be fulfilled.
Look at this next verse. “Spend your time and energy in the exercise of keeping spiritually fit. Bodily exercise is all right, but spiritual exercise is much more important and is a tonic for all you do. So exercise yourself spiritually, and practice being a better Christian because that will help you not only now in this life, but in the next life too.”
Paul affirmed that physical fitness is a good thing for the present, but spiritual fitness has eternal benefits. The most important resolution you and I can make this January in 2008 is to become spiritually fit. It really just comes down to developing some habits in our lives. Most people live their life by doing whatever they feel like doing and that’s a bad way to live life because that will cause a lot of pain in your life. If I just do whatever I feel like doing it’s going to lead to a lot of problems and pain. But successful people develop habits and they do the things that are best for them. They do the right things when they feel like it and when they don’t feel like it. They develop some habits. So, I’m going to briefly give you some spiritual habits to develop this year and in each area I’m going to give you some habits and then we are going to unveil something that we’ve been working on for a year, something that we are so excited about that will give you some practical tools to do these things this year.
First, you must develop the habit of a daily quiet time. The habit of spending five, ten, 15 every day with God before you go off into your day to talk to Him about what’s coming up, to read His Word, to write down what you are learning. That has been the most life changing habit I’ve ever developed. This is the place and space where God speaks to you and you grow closer to Him.
Second, there must be the habit of weekly worship. It’s important to say I’m going to be at church every weekend whether I feel like it or not. On the days I feel like it I’ll be here and on the days I don’t feel like it I’ll be here. It’s a habit of worship and that’s when you are blessed the most because if you neglect the spiritual side of your life and then you wonder what’s wrong with my relationships, what’s wrong with my finances, what’s wrong with this area of my life, why don’t I feel worn out. Because you are a spiritual creation and if you neglect worship, you’re neglecting the most important part of your life. Then you need a small group. The habit of meeting together with a small group is so important. If you are not in a small group, you ought to sign up for one today. Sign up and get in a small group with people who aren’t Bible scholars, they are just like you going through the same life stages, normal people. You’ll develop great friendships. You need people around you. We are going to get this real specific in a moment, but let’s move onto the next one.
You MUST MAKE JESUS CHRIST YOUR PERSONAL TRAINER in EVERY area of your life: spiritually, physically, emotionally, in all relationships and financially. A lot of believers refuse to focus on physical fitness. They focus on the spiritual side of life because the spiritual is the most important. I agree to a point. God says it’s all holy to Him. The point of this whole message is to focus on the spiritual part of life but He cares about every area of your life.
Look at 1 Corinthians 6:19. “Don’t you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and who was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourselves but to God.”
Most Christians have absolutely no idea how important their bodies are to God. In the Old Testament, God’s presence resided in the tabernacle, in the tent that they would move from place to place in the wilderness. Then when they built the temple God’s presence resided in the temple in the Holy of Holies. When Christ died and rose again, God relocated to a new residence. His home is now in our hearts. If you are believer, Christ lives inside of you through His Spirit. He literally lives inside of you to give you strength and power and love and all the things that you need. He lives inside of you through His Spirit. The reason we are to take care of our bodies is because they are not our bodies. They belong to Him. Our body is the temple of God now, God’s house. Too many times we trash the temple. That’s why we need to get serious about physical fitness.
I believe that God has a great plan for your life this year. I know some of you are going through some really difficult problems and pain, but I know this. For every problem face, God has a promise. Some of you today are feeling like a failure because you’ve tried all kinds of things to change your life, but God doesn’t look at you as a failure. God looks at your future and He says this to you today. Your future is as bright as my promises. I believe your future is as bright as the promises of God. God is the God of the New Year.
He’s the God of the second chance.
SOURCE: I give credit to Pastor Kerry Shook, Pastor of Fellowship of the Woodlands, (www.fotw.org) for the idea and some material for this sermon and the series entitled Life Coach.