Monthly Archives: June 2012

Indulge Now, Miss Out Later

Have you ever found parts of the Bible to be a little boring? I hope lightning doesn’t strike our house tonight (just kidding!) but I’ll admit that I find myself sighing when I come to a place in the Bible like Numbers where a census of the Israelites is being taken and I’m reading how many thousands of each clan were enumerated, etc.

Well, this morning I saw that I had come to such a chapter, so I quickly prayed before I read – something like “Lord, please speak to me through Your Word today – not that I deserve it but because You are faithful and Your Word does not return void. You deserve to be known.” And God was/is faithful! All day I’ve thought about these two chapters that  I read this morning, and I think the lesson I received is worth sharing!

My reading this morning was Numbers 25-26, which begins “While Israel was staying in Shittim, the men began to INDULGE in sexual immorality with Moabite women, who invited them to the sacrifices to their gods. The people ate and bowed down before these gods. So Israel joined in worshiping the Baal of Peor. And the Lord’s anger burned against them” (Numbers 25:1-3). In fact, the Lord was so angry that He ordered everyone who had indulged themselves and worshiped another god be put to death (Numbers 25:4), and He sent a plague that killed 24,000 people (Numbers 25:9).

When the plague ended, the Lord told Moses to take another census of the Israelite community (Numbers 26:1-2). I remembered that the book of Numbers started out with a census, so I quickly flipped back and forth between the first chapter and chapter 26 to see what changes had occurred. Some tribes had lost significant numbers – for example, the descendants of Simeon had dropped by 37,100 and the descendants of Ephraim (son of Joseph) had lost 32,960 members. On the other hand, many tribes had gained numbers during this time. The tribe of Joseph’s other son Manasseh had gained 20,500 people; and in second place, the tribe of Asher had gained 11,900 folks. From the first census to the second, the number of Israelites had decreased by 1,820 people total.

As the Lord continued to speak to Moses in Numbers 26, He told him that the Promised Land was to be allotted to the Israelites as an inheritance based on the number of names in their clan (Numbers 26:53). And this is where the significance of this passage really hit me, so I hope you’re still with me at this point! Remember that when the people sinned by overindulging, God was so angry that He facilitated the death of many of them (only stopping because of the zeal of the priest Phinehas, who killed a couple blatantly rebelling). Those deaths affected the numbers of the clans (so is it possible to infer that some tribes were indulging more than others based on how the number shook out?). The entire community was then affected because their inheritance was based on the numbers of each tribe that were left.

I’ve thought all day about the consequences of indulging ourselves. Many times in the Bible I see where sexual immorality and food (sacrificed to idols) seem to go hand-in-hand (For example, 1 Corinthians 6:13 “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food”—but God will destroy them both. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.” Other passages include Acts 15:29, Revelations 2:14 and Revelations 2:20). Indulging in sexual immorality or overeating are both instances of gratifying our desire for something pleasurable rather than what is actually good for it. Neither sex nor food is wrong when it’s done God’s way, but when we indulge ourselves and worship things other than God, we run into trouble! And significant trouble!

Some people died as a consequence from indulging – but even worse, not only did they not reach the Promised Land that God had intended for them, they hurt their family in receiving their inheritance! The effect of their sin rippled into the entire community, changing the portion of God’s gift that their clan would receive.

Does our sin today affect others around us to this extent? Unfortunately, I think it does even more than we realize. When we indulge in gratifying ourselves rather than being “zealous for [God’s] honor” (Numbers 25:11) we need to think about the ramifications. This has been a huge struggle for me these last few days! I tend to want to eat when I’m feeling stressed and indulge in what I know is bad for me when I think it will make me feel better. But, after reading today’s passage, I want to take a moment to think about it instead and choose to be more zealous for God’s honor than my own pleasure. Please pray that I can stay focused! And I’ll pray for you, too!

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your faithfulness! Thank You for Your Word and that it does not return void. God, I don’t think any single Word is ‘extra’ in the Bible. I know that there is significance in all passages – please help us learn what You want us to know about You. May we be zealous for Your honor! May we seek You first and let everything else fall into place. Father God, we confess that there are times we’ve indulged in pleasures rather than living for Your glory alone. Please forgive us! Please cover our sins with the blood of Jesus. May we start fresh thinking before we indulge about how important it is that we worship You alone. May we glorify You in all we say, do and even eat. May our lives be a reflection of Your holiness. Please help us be healthy and thin for Your glory. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!

Counting the Cost

“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’” Luke 14:28-30

Before beginning this journey of trying to lose weight yet again, I had a heart to heart with God. I was in a Bible study and heard this reminder that we have to weigh the cost of following Jesus and decide if it’s worth it. Are we all in? But, as the speaker continued, I was personally wrestling over the idea of starting a major life change. Was I willing to do whatever God asked me to do in order to be healthier and thin?

I’ll be honest. At that moment, I was up front with God and told Him that I wasn’t sure I could do it. I looked at the cost to build the tower, and I wasn’t sure on my own I had what it took. Could I give up eating out? Could I give up the sweets I craved? Could I start working out again when I had no energy? Would I start this blog as a public display of my commitment? Was I ready to humble myself so that God could be lifted high? Was I willing to exchange the pleasure I found in eating for whatever life God had for me? Was I willing to do whatever God asked?

At the moment, I simply said “God, please make me ready. Bring me to a point that the cost of this life is more than the cost of that life. I want to be your servant! Please don’t give up on me.” I started slowly, telling myself that even if I laid the foundation and got ridiculed for not being able to finish, it wasn’t all about me, really. If someone was blessed in the process, if God was exalted during the phases, then that was sufficient. So, I started writing again and made it public this time.

Then, I felt God calling me to “fast” (or abstain) from fast food for one month. I didn’t realize how much we relied on the convenience and taste of it until it wasn’t an option. I did have friends all meet for a play date at a fast food chain and I had to say no. It wasn’t easy! But, it wasn’t all that difficult either. The cost was worth it.

I was attending a Bible study and felt convicted that I started the morning eating all the sweets that these dear ladies bring in for breakfast (we all take turns). The first morning I didn’t take a plate and saw all my friends (who are thin and lovely, of course) eating, I almost cried. But, I made it through unscathed. Each week got easier. I didn’t even care by the final ones.

When we were able to get a trial gym membership by donation to a ministry, it was a gift from God. The working out has been enjoyable rather than difficult.

Now as I’m looking at my eating patterns and realizing there is more to give up, I look back at where I’ve come from and realized that the first commitment was what I needed. I prayed and asked God to help me, and He has been beyond faithful (as God always is!). He asks for a willing heart, and when we submit to His plans, there is such an overwhelming grace along the way. It hasn’t been one huge step but small steps, and I know He’s been holding my hand and guiding me.

Trust me, if God can change my life and help me lose weight – a gal who has been overweight a vast majority of her life – He can change anyone! Submit to Him, count the cost of following Him, and realize that it’s worth it. For even though it may seem difficult to make a huge shift in perspective, God will lead you step by step if you trust Him!

Dear Heavenly Father, first I must say thank You! Thank You for walking with us, leading us and even having grace and patience for us when we’re not sure that we have what it takes. Help us really count the cost and realize that following You is worth everything we give up and then some! Give us the strength to build after laying the foundation. May we become healthy and thin for Your glory, rather than an object of ridicule. May we live our lives to honor You. Help those who are on this journey with me. May they realize how You are carrying them each day. Praise You, God! In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!

Weighed and Found Wanting

“Tekel: You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.” Daniel 5:27

Daniel Chapter 5 starts with the heading “The Writing on the Wall.” We use this expression today to mean something is obvious, and the irony makes me smile. (If someone struggles with their eating, isn’t it a bit obvious, unfortunately?)

Anyway, if you’re unfamiliar with Daniel 5, I included a link above so you could read it in context. In a nutshell, an ungodly Babylonian king was holding a feast and, in his drunken state, ordered that goblets taken from God’s holy temple in Jerusalem be brought in for him, along with his wives and concubines, to drink out of. Then they praised various gods other than the Lord.

In her study of Daniel, Beth Moore pointed out that these goblets had been sanctified and consecrated as holy to the Lord for use in His temple and then stolen by Babylon. Up until this point, they had just been in storage, but this arrogant king decided to use God’s holy vessels to toast an unholy object, a created god.

Next, we see in this chapter that a hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall “Mene, Mene, Tekel, Parsan.” The king was terrified and no one could interpret the inscription, except for Daniel, a devout follower of God who had been given wisdom (as noted in Daniel 2:21). Daniel foretold the king’s death and the takeover of his kingdom.

In the Bible study of Daniel, we learned that using our holy vessels for unholy purposes ends in destruction and displeases God. Our bodies are meant to be holy vessels, consecrated to the Lord. Therefore, we need to be purposeful about what we celebrate or worship with them.

I’ll admit that there are times that I’ve put more emphasis on what I’m planning on eating that day than I’ve put on honoring God with my body. I’ve had to repent and ask for God’s grace in redirecting my thoughts and ways.

I love how God puts little reminders in His Bible that He hears you and your prayers. The verse “Tekel: Weighed on the Scales and Found Wanting” literally jumped off the page at me like it was in highlighting. God knows our struggle; He sees when we step on that scale in the morning; and He knows that we have been found wanting… He is our refuge and our strength. May we use our holy vessels for holy purposes today!

Dear God, we have been weighed on the scale and found wanting. We confess that we have used our holy vessels to “toast” unholy things and we’re sorry. We ask for your forgiveness and your help in using our vessels for your glory, that we may be consecrated and set apart for you. Help us today in this struggle to lose weight. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!