How is your spiritual exercise program? How seriously do you take the words of Paul the apostle, who said, "Bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things" (1 Timothy 4:8)?

Going off the example of Paul after his dramatic conversion in the book of Acts, there are four big spiritual exercises that you ought to engage in. Why? Because God's plan and purpose for you isn't just to save you. He wants to do a work in you and then do a work through you, making you a profitable tool in His hands.

The first of these spiritual exercises is prayer. After his conversion in Acts 9, we see Paul—Saul of Tarsus—on his knees praying (see v. 11). Now, Saul had prayed before—he was a religious man—but I think this was different. This wasn't something that was recited or memorized; I believe it was from the depths of his heart.

The second spiritual exercise is partnering with other believers (see vv. 17-19). Notice Saul went from private prayer time to making a connection with other people in the church. Your strength as a Christian is directly proportional to these two things: devotions and connections. Devotions is spending daily time with the Lord in prayer and reading the Bible. But after devotions comes meaningful connections with other believers, where everybody uses their gifts to build each other up.

The third spiritual exercise Saul engaged in was preaching (see vv. 20-22). Verse 20 tells us he began doing this immediately. Why? Because what happened to him was so real and transforming that he had to tell others (see 1 Corinthians 9:16). This is God's plan for us: He wants us to, with the strength and instruction we receive from Him privately and from other believers corporately, share the gospel publicly. So Saul got on his feet preaching.

The fourth spiritual exercise is a result of the third: Saul had to go on the run (see vv. 23-26). The persecutor became the persecuted. But that's the natural progression: engaging in prayer, partnering with other believers, and preaching the Word publicly will make you a target inevitably. But take heart, because "He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world" (1 John 4:4). The power of God will sustain you in every one of these spiritual practices.

And the grace that brought you new life is the same grace that will continually change and transform you into God's vessel. The salvation of a soul is the miracle of a moment, but the making of a man or a woman of God is the task of a lifetime. So take a moment to evaluate your spiritual exercise program, and decide today to be transformed by private time with the Lord and meaningful connections with other believers, so that you can passionately share Jesus with a lost world, even when it means persecution.

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