What's Holding You Back?

5 Steps to Your Best Year Yet

"You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from following the truth?"  Galatians 5:7

In today's verse, Paul is commenting on the spiritual condition of the Christians who lived in Galatia.  They had been steadfast in their love for Christ by following the truth, but somewhere along their journey, they got off track.  They stopped doing the things that had previously kept them running well.

The Galatians loved Jesus, and yet they got held up from following the truth. How do we avoid doing the same thing?

Let's talk about running.

If you are new to running or exercise in general, the following five steps can help you start running well physically and spiritually in the New Year.

1. Set long-range goals.  For example, plan to participate in a 5k or half marathon at the end of the year. Sign up and mark the race date on your calendar.  For your spiritual life choose a discipline that you'd like to develop into a habit.  Maybe you want to read the Bible daily or journal or pray for a half an hour every day. Write down your goals.

2. Start gradually.  Don't try to run 10 miles right out of the gate.  In fact, it may be better to start walking before running.  Start a couch to 5k or couch to half marathon training program. Do the same thing spiritually.  Don't try to read a whole book of the Bible in one sitting or pray for two hours at one time if you've never done that before. "In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God's promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness,"  2 Peter 1:5-6  (NLT)

3. If you experience excessive pain that impairs your running ability then stop and walk instead, so you don't seriously injure yourself.  Spiritually if you are struggling to complete your daily devotional time or you're getting frustrated, then stop and modify.  Give yourself grace. You will burn yourself out and get discouraged if you continue to do too much at one time before you are ready.  (Matthew 11:28-30)

4. Don't drink or eat very much before a run because you could get cramps.  Spiritually don't focus on feeding your selfish, fleshly desires.  Beware of getting caught up in vain worldly pursuits.  (Titus 2:12-13) These can diminish your desire to spiritually train and seek God.

5. Run with a buddy. Running with others increases your stamina by pushing you to run faster.  It also helps you stay committed.  Having someone to study, pray and be accountable with can help you stay committed to your spiritual growth plan.  "Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good." Hebrews 10:24 (NLT) “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help.  But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.”  Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (NLT)

Digging Deeper

1.Reflect on the previous year and share anything that has kept you from running well.

2.Share what your long-range spiritual goals are for this next year. 

3.Who are some godly people you can enlist for encouragement, support, and accountability this next year?

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