Shape Up Before You Ship Out

Below are notes to a sermon preached Sunday evening, September 15, 2002, at Gospel Light Baptist Church, Albany, Georgia. 


By Michael D. O’Neal              Pastor, Gospel Light Baptist Church              Albany, Georgia

Scripture Reading: 1 Timothy 4:1-8

Text: 1 Timothy 4:7

1 Timothy 4:7 But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.

Introduction: You have no doubt heard the expression used as a threat from a job supervisor to a worker, “You either shape up, or you’re going to have to ship out!”

Of course, we recognize the fact that one of these days EVERY Christian is going to “ship out” of this world, amen? We’re going to LEAVE this world!

What I want to do today is to encourage you to SHAPE UP “in the Lord” BEFORE you “ship out.”


2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?

James 1:22-24 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.

A. How do you look?



  • Stephen looked good to the saints – Acts 6:1-5

  • Stephen looked good to the sinners – Acts 6:15

  • Stephen looked good to the Savior – Acts 7:55-56

B. How do you lift?

C. How do you last?



  • Endurance is a measure of fitness

  • MOST people don’t last more than a year in a church.

  • Few last more than 3 years.


2 Peter 3:18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.

A. Ask those who are spiritually fit – 1 Corinthians 11:1

B. Avoid listening to backslidden, weak, anemic, spiritually-90-lb. weaklings – Proverbs 19:27

C. Associate yourself with those who are getting stronger – Proverbs 13:20

D. Acquaint yourself with God’s Book of spiritual health – Psalms 119:28


1 Timothy 4:7 But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.

A. Curls – pick up your Bible!

B. Crunches – pray!

C. Cardio – go soul-winning!

D. Closures – stop excessive talking

E. Climbing – take on new tasks


1 Peter 2:2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:

A. Be particular



  • Don’t eat just anything that is set before you. There is a lot of spiritual junk food in the world

  • Pray first!

  • Ask your pastor’s recommendation before you buy that book or tape, or travel to that conference!

B. Be purposeful



  • Eat for strength, not just taste

  • Eat to serve (work)


2 Timothy 2:3 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

A. Enjoy the pressure

B. Embrace the pain – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10



  • No pain, no gain

C. Expect the promise – Philippians 4:13

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