Monthly Archives: April 2012

The Lord is My Portion

“I say to myself, ‘The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him.'” Lamentations 3:24

I remember watching a Beth Moore video and her saying that she’s sure in heaven they only serve fried chicken and not this boneless, skinless stuff we eat here on earth. I laughed at the comment, but recently I thought ‘I doubt there’s any food in heaven.’

Do you shudder at the thought of no food in heaven like I did? The minute I thought it, I was appalled.

But, then I thought about it more. We won’t have these physical bodies that require food for sustenance. So, why should there be food in heaven? For our pleasure and enjoyment? This is where I came to the conclusion that I doubt food is even wanted in heaven. After all, we will be face-to-face with our God! His holiness will surround us; we will know no greater joy than being in His presence. I don’t think we’ll even give thought to the lowly things of this earth at that moment. The Lord will be our portion.

Of course, I don’t claim to have any idea what heaven is truly like (never been there!). But, the fact at how annoyed I first became at the fleeting thought that food won’t be part of my eternal experience made me realize once again how addicted I am to it and the albeit brief enjoyment I get out of eating.

I’ll share a story with my readers that I’ve never shared before – a visual reminder to me of how much of a grip food has had on me and why I need God to set me free.

The story begins with our church doing different challenges so that we could better relate to those who are truly poor in the world. One of the challenges was to eat nothing but rice & beans for an entire week. I thought this challenge sounded a little too easy, so I thought I should make it nothing but one 8 oz. serving of rice & beans each day, similar to what the pastor had said was typical of those living in the poor country we were discussing.

I remember being surprised that the first day wasn’t that difficult. I told myself when I was hungry during the day that I’d be eating well that night. Rice & beans sounded delicious and I was thankful for them when dinner time arrived. The next day I was really hungry. I felt weak by dinner time, but I made it. On the third day, I was half dizzy by dinner time and I spilled my rice & beans when I was getting into the refrigerator. Picture it in your mind with me. I was starving (not really; after all, I was still overweight!). And the only thing I was allowing myself to eat was now on the floor, spilled out of the container that had held it by falling from the top shelf.

So, I did what anyone else would do (so I told myself) – the FIVE SECOND RULE! I reasoned with myself that I am a neat freak and typically keep my floors nice and clean. I literally got down on my hands and knees and as I was cleaning up the rice & beans, I began to eat them cold right off the floor. Sounds disgusting, no? At that moment, I felt the gentle presence of God reminding me that I was bowing down to food, right before my very fridge. I stopped right then and there and saw myself for where I truly was at in life. I was literally on my knees, doing something I knew to be wrong, simply because my desire for food had gotten the best of me. I felt like I had reached an all-time low. (And I’ll be honest in saying that I haven’t eaten rice & beans since then!)

When something simple like the pleasure of food holds us captive, how can we be set free? The answer, I’m learning, is to let God be our portion. In my current Bible study, author Dee Brestin recommends running to the Psalms when we’re hungry to be filled up. While at first I thought that sounded strange, it has actually helped when I’ve done it. I think asking God to be our portion before filling our bellies is a way to be set free from this type of bondage.

So, as you go through this week, ask God to be your portion. While He will be in heaven, can He be here on earth as well? Can we take more pleasure in our time with Him than our time spent with food? Can we wait on Him?

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for being our delight. Thank You for teaching us and leading us in a better way, one filled with discipline and self-control. God, we admit that we are weak. We have sinned in this area by making something other than you of extreme importance in our lives. Please free us and help us keep You alone as our portion in life. We wait for You to change us and fill us. Keep us in line with Your Holy Spirit. We praise You and thank You. Please make us healthy and thin for Your glory. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!

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Wait a Minute!

“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:14

We live in a day and age of instant gratification. If we have a craving, we feel the need to instantly satisfy it. But, I’m starting to learn (and this one is tough for me!) that God asks us to wait – maybe not forever – but for Him and His perfect timing.

The other night, I was craving something sweet, and we happened to have Rice Krispy treats in our house. Having one sounded AMAZING! It was on my mind and I was having a severe hankering. My husband suggested that we wait to eat the treat until the boys went to bed, for they had already brushed their teeth and just needed tucking in. He put the treat next to my night stand, and we went in with our boys to read them their stories, say prayers, refill their waters (and all that goes into our long goodnight process). When my husband suggested we wait, I was appalled at the idea at first. I wanted one NOW! But, I knew he was right, so I figured it couldn’t hurt to wait a little bit. But, I was genuinely amazed that I didn’t even want it when we finally got back to our room. In fact, it was laying on my night stand the next morning when I woke up because I didn’t eat it.

I’m seeing this pattern over and over again. I think I have to have something right now – a severe craving has a hold on me. But, if I tell myself to wait an hour, the strong urgency passes and I can think more rationally about it. Zig Ziglar notes “The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what you want most for what you want right now.” Can anyone else relate to this? I strongly desire to be thin, and yet I’ve traded that goal time and time again for tempting food. This can be true even of our finances and other areas of life – can we be disciplined for God’s glory?

The pastor of our former church had emailed me a video that he was going to show the youth group (since my hubby & I used to serve in this ministry) and I thought it was cute but also a good way to drive home the point.

Can we wait for what God has for us? Knowing our loving Savior, what He has planned for us will be better than what our flesh instantly desires if we can “be strong, take heart and wait for the Lord!” Ephesians 2:3 reminds us that before we were saved, we “gratif[ied] the cravings of our sinful nature” but by God’s grace and Christ’s death & resurrection, this is no longer the way we are to walk.

So, this is my challenge for this week (and trust me when I say that I’m challenging myself as much as any of my readers). When we crave something that we know doesn’t fit with the healthier lifestyle we’re trying to obtain, can we simply wait? We know we won’t say no to certain foods forever, but can we say “I’m going to pass this time” or “I’m going to wait an hour or two and see if I still really desire it.” Give the Lord time to impress upon you His will and see if we can hold out for the long-term satisfaction rather than the short-term gratification.

If you’re in, share a comment! Let’s hold each other accountable and up in prayer!

Dear Heavenly Father, we thank You for Your righteousness. We thank You for the gift of salvation. At one time, we all lived like everyone else – gratifying the desires of our sinful nature. Now that we are alive with Christ, will you help us live out the walk of faith? Will you help us be strong? Will you help us take heart? Will you help us wait on you? When those strong cravings come, will you remind us, Holy Spirit, that You have something better for us if we can just hang tight and wait for it? Thank You for being for us! Thank You that You have won the victory! Thank You for calling us as Your children! Help us glorify You in all we say and do. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!

How Does God See Us?

“In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” ~Romans 8:37

Have you ever felt discouraged? Maybe you’ve given into temptation and wrestle with the feelings of never being able to change. Or possibly present circumstances that you have no control over aren’t going your way. There are times that we just feel ‘down’ and unsure of how to move forward. I think that while we don’t see it at the time, these are critical moments in our journey.

So, what’s one way to continue putting one foot in front of the other (so to speak) to get us back on track rather than completely falling off the wagon? We need to remember God’s view of us.

Isaiah 1:18 reminds us that while our sins were like scarlet, the blood of Jesus has made them white as snow. Sometimes we get caught up in the past, remembering all that we’ve done wrong. This morning my reading lead me to 2 Corinthians 7:10: “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” Having remorse for slipping up yet again brings us to a point of telling God that we’re sorry and asking for forgiveness. Since we believe in Christ, we know that He has paid the penalty for our sins on the cross (just as we celebrate today, on Good Friday!). But the next part of that verse says that it leaves “no regret.” We must learn to move forward in this forgiveness. If we keep dwelling on it, it’s worldly sorrow and a trick of the enemy to stop our forward momentum.

So, the next time you’re feeling like you have stopped dead in your tracks, you throw back to the enemy exactly who he’s dealing with, according to God’s Word. Taken from my mom’s devotional Bible, Elisa Morgan (1996) writes:

Who does God say I am?

  • I am made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27)
  • I am a child of God (John 1:12)
  • I am a temple – a dwelling place – of God. His Spirit and His life live in me (1 Corinthians 3:16)
  • I am a saint (Ephesians 1:18)
  • I am righteous and holy (Ephesians 4:24)
  • I am chosen and appointed by Christ to bear fruit (John 15:16)
  • I am God’s workmanship – His handiwork – born anew in Christ to do good works (Ephesians 2:10)
  • I am chosen of God, holy and dearly loved (Colossians 3:12)
  • I will resemble Christ when He returns (1 John 3:1-2)
  • I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14)
  • I am God’s treasured possession (Deuteronomy 14:2)

Can you add to this list? Think through your Biblical knowledge and try.

I thought of my study of Ephesians, how we’re adopted as sons so we have an inheritance (1:5), chosen and predestined according to God’s pleasure (1:11), sealed with the Holy Spirit (1:13), and so on.  But, as I was mentally going through all that the Bible says about who we are in Christ, I thought of Romans 8:37 that tells us “in all things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” The very next verse tells us that NOTHING can separate us from the love of God.

No sin we commit, no circumstance we face, nothing can change the fact that we are God’s chosen children. I think about how much I love my kids. If they ever screw up (and of course they have already, they’re just little kiddos!), I am pleased when they tell me that they were wrong, agree not to do it again, and then leave the situation encouraged to do better. I wouldn’t want them to wallow in it and not realize just how much I love them. I want them to grow from their experiences. How much more God loves us and wants even better for us! He loved us so much that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and was raised again so that we could live eternally with Him!

God doesn’t want you to be stuck in circumstances. If you’ve given into temptation, confess, repent and begin to live life with no more regrets. When you see temptation again, remember who you are in Christ. You are more than a conqueror! You are a holy child of God. You were created to be set apart, holy & righteous. You can live an abundant life because Christ died for you. Keep on moving! 🙂

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for loving us, even when we didn’t deserve it. Thank You for seeing us separate from our sin. Thank You for sending the final answer and authority over sin. Thank You for Your willingness to pay the ultimate price for our sins so that we can be free and keep walking in this journey You’ve called us to. Please help us know who we are in you. Help us recognize that the enemy is dealing with God’s holy, loved and chosen child. Help us grasp that that means. Remind us of who we are in You the next time we feel like we just can’t go on. Thank You, Father God, for giving us the ability to live an abundant life. Please make us healthy & thin for Your glory. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!

I remember hearing this song and being encouraged – enjoy it and remember who YOU are!

The Beauty of Grace Is That It Makes Life Not Fair

We recently went to a church event that had various kiddo activities after an Easter egg hunt. Both boys got in line for the ring toss station. My 5-year-old missed the first toss, but hooked the ring perfectly on the second try. The volunteer operating the station congratulated him and gave him the prize basket so he could pick his favorite color for a top that spins around. My boys love these! He beamed, and my 3-year-old looked excitedly at the prize, grinning from ear-to-ear. He was next in line and stood at the spot he was told to and took his first toss, which was too far to the right. We encouraged him to try again, and this time his toss was too hard and veered left. We suggested a gentler toss with his third and final ring. He obeyed our instructions, only to have the last one not quite reach the goal. But, he had given it his best effort. He stood in front of the woman at the station, eagerly awaiting his prize for trying. But, she didn’t even so much as give him a smile. She simply said ‘NEXT’ and held onto those tops like they were her own personal money. As the realization that he wasn’t being offered a top because he wasn’t good enough to get one, his eager expression turned to a sad downcast look as he quietly walked away without saying a word. It made me feel downright awful.

That night after the kids were in bed, I thought about the morning and how I could have saved my little buddy from feeling like a failure. My husband reminded me that we’d rather have him experience disappointments with simple things like a prize than things that really matter. After all, that’s part of life. And while I know his words are absolutely true, I was still angry. This was supposed to be a fun church event, and it made my 3-year-old feel bad! I wanted to go back and scream at the lady, “At least Jesus doesn’t demand perfection from us but freely gave His gift of grace and salvation!!!”

As those words sunk into my very being, I calmed down and thought about the profoundness of this statement. We really do NOTHING perfectly and can’t earn this gift of grace.  For if we could be perfect and free from sin on our own, we wouldn’t need the cross and His gift. But, we can’t. As Romans 3 reminds us, there’s not even one among us who hasn’t sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

I again thought about my struggle of glorifying God with my body. There are times I think I can “earn” it by eating less or working out. But, I can’t be free from the sin without God’s grace. For if I wouldn’t be so caught up in sin, I wouldn’t look like this in the first place. Instead, I must remember that I’m only free from what has ensnared me most of my life by the blood of Jesus on the cross. It is HIS gift that I’m free, not what I am on my own apart from God. As Paul writes: And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace” Romans 11:6.

I can choose to walk in the freedom I’m given because I can remind myself daily that I am no longer a slave to the sin. I don’t have to overeat to be content. I can say no, not because of who I am but because of the price that’s been paid. I can walk in freedom not because I earned it but because I have been given the gift of grace. Jesus paid for my sin so I don’t have to feel guilty about it anymore. I can truly do a 180 degree turn and say no more and believe that it’s true because I’m counting on God’s grace rather than my good deeds to save me.

Going back to my story from earlier, it would be like “big brother” Jesus stepping in and taking his turn after my 3-year-old. He would hit the goal with perfection and then give up his prize to my son who didn’t earn it. A gift with no strings attached. Only, the gift is far better than a top that spins and cost far more than the effort of landing the ring toss… it cost His life and yet He was still willing to save a sinner like me.

As I thought of this last night, I wanted to shout like those did so long ago with their palm branches in John 12:13 “HOSANNA! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” Hosanna means “God saves!” He’s saving me daily. [If you’re not saved and are ready to find out how, please send me a message. It’s the best decision you’ll ever make!]

If you need to lose weight and are caught up in a life that you feel is unworthy, don’t give up hope. If we could save ourselves by our own efforts, we wouldn’t look or feel this way in the first place. Instead, we have to remember that we are saved by God’s grace, His gift, in His timing. He will save us and has already freed us from the power of sin with His death and resurrection. We can count on that freedom even when we’re feeling trapped. We don’t get what we deserve (death from sin), we get what we don’t deserve (freedom, salvation, the victory prize!). The beauty of grace is that it makes life not fair…

Dear Heavenly Father, we thank You for revealing Yourself to us through Your Word. God, most of all, we thank You for Your grace. God, we don’t deserve to look thin and healthy. We’ve created habits of over-indulging and laying around and most days feel trapped into this lifestyle forever. But, Your Word tells us that we aren’t slave to our sin. We are freed by the power of the blood. We are saved! We get the prize even though we couldn’t earn it. Thank You for Your willingness to fulfill the plan for our lives that includes our salvation. Please help us walk in victory, as winners of the prize that we didn’t earn. We acknowledge that we live by Your grace and Your gift alone. If we become healthy and thin, may we glorify You every step of the way. Hosanna! Thank You for saving us! Bless You, oh King of Israel! Thank You! You are worthy of our time, worship and honor. We are most humbled at the thought of all You’ve done for us. Help us live according to Your Word today and forever. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!