The moment of Michael Phelps’ 19th Olympic victory proved as impressive as his swimming career, which started at age 11 and blossomed at age 6 when he found the water. In the Olympics, he passed up the last super athlete, a Russian woman, who won gymnastic medals throughout her career. It makes you wonder how does a person at the ripe young age of 15 break world records. And how did they get there athletically. There are three basic things that make any athlete, spiritual or physical, able to take titles from the hands of their competitors. He, Michael Phelps first needed to show his own interest. After that, he needed some resources.
A child of God is also an athlete of the spirit. In order to contend they need to utilize to the fullest 3 main resources.
Michael Phelps first needed his family to give him swim lessons. Then he needed a coach. The spiritual athlete also needs training and instruction. The Word of God is riddled with keys, figures of speech and practical applications that the athlete needs to learn. They start with the 5 Basics for Growth and work up from there. Studying the word alone will not give the athlete the edge. He needs individual training. God can provide this personally later, but at first the believer may not know how to hear God’s voice. What then? Training from someone getting the fruit/results in their life from walking with God. What is the fruit? How do you spot it?
There are 2 verses on that;
“But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, [and] easy to be intreated (easy to hear and receive), full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.” James 3:17
What is the good fruit?
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23
This is a person who is already winning the spiritual contest. And the above verses is how you tell. In summary of the training; God trains us up and gives us what we need to do His work in the physical realm.
“By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left.” 2 Cor. 6:7
God gave us His Manual, the Word. I assure you that in Michael Phelps training career his coach assigned reading to him. Reading about attitude, commitment, his sport, the dynamics of physics in the water etc. You as well need to read the manual. This manual, the Bible, is especially important because it is the truth. Truth makes us free. How free do we want to walk in our athletic performance? Fencing is still played in the Olympics as it was back when Paul wrote Ephesians. Look at this wonderful reference.
“And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Ephesians 6:17
The third and final resource given to a spiritual athlete is;
“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to [give] the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels (God’s gift of holy spirit), that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. 2 Cor. 4:6-7
Power is in Michael Phelps’ world, physical muscle. The guy has raw power in the water. He bursts forward with his leg kicks, he dives deep and thrusts out from the edge of the pool with every cell in him perfectly aligned for the task of swimming. What about our inner man? Our spiritual body?
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.” Ephesians 6:10
Our power comes from God. All He asks is that we believe His power will be there when we need it. Can you exercise you believing muscles? ABSOLUTELY!
“Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith (believing), and doubt not, ye shall not only do this [which is done] to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done. And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.” Matthew 21:21-22
“And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:” 1 John 5:4
How do we build confidence? The same way Michael Phelps did. Practice.
What do you need? Believe God to supply all your need! Talk about practice! This is where the rubber hits the road. Either you have your need met or you don’t. If you don’t, then keep practicing with all of the above mentioned resources. Get the training, go to the Word, and build your believing in God’s Power. These are the resources for success for the spiritual athlete.
God Bless You Today!
**A side note: I’d like to comment on the Michael Phelps’ misjudgment in his personal life in 2009. (Pictures of drug use) I do not condone drug use. I trust that he does not use them regularly, and that the photos caught him in a brief lapse in judgement. That being said, I must ask you this. Was David still nicknamed “a man after God’s own heart” after his epic fail? Yes, because we serve a God who forgives, forgets and loves us even when we screw up. Condemnation is what I don’t condone, not the achieving of personal, spiritual and physical goals. Michael Phelps is not under my scrutiny, nor my judgement. His performance in the water is unlike any athlete in the history of the world. This being said, even the greats, mess up sometimes. That is were the kindness and mercy of God come in. And aren’t we thankful for that? I know I am.
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