Friday, May 18, 2012
Deuteronomy 30:19-20 “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants my live; “that you may love the LORD your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.”
Have you ever thought about how many scriptures are in God's word that refer to eating or how God intends for us to live our lives where eating is concerned? These two verses of scripture show us that God gives us the choices that make for either life or death, blessing or cursing to come into our lives. He loves us so much that He has given us a free will to choose our own destiny. But He really wants us to choose life and blessing! Notice, also, that the choices we make actually have an effect on those who follow after us. Our children will either experience life or death, blessing or cursing based on our choices. Most children will continue to eat exactly like they have in their growing up years. So if they have been fed high calorie, sugary carbohydrates throughout their growing up years then they will continue that style of eating in their adult years as well. God has designed a plan for our lives to bless us with good health, long life and even our children can benefit from it. Consider this scripture:
Proverbs 23:1-3 When you sit down to eat with a ruler, Consider carefully what is before you; And put a knife to your throat If you are a man given to appetite. Do not desire his delicacies, For they are deceptive food.
How difficult is it when we are at a family gathering or out with friends to eat what we know is healthy and right for our bodies? In this portion of scripture the Lord uses some pretty strong words to emphasize the importance of making good choices when eating. He says to “put a knife to your throat if you are a man given to appetite”. That's a pretty drastic measure! But aren't you really putting a knife to your throat if you don't watch what you eat? Isn't unhealthy eating really a process of cutting your life short? God created food to fuel our bodies so they would be able to function well, not to satisfy our taste buds! When we choose the delicacies that have empty calories, loaded with sugar and insulin raising carbohydrates aren't we just seeking to gratify our fleshly desires for comfort and satisfaction? Have our meals become more of a recreational and social event than a time to fuel our bodies for the work they have to do?
God has said that if we will make the right choices we will experience life and blessings. When we choose calorie laden delicacies we are making the choice to gratify our flesh for the moment which ultimately leads to an early death! If given the right fuel our bodies will live a long, healthy life.
Psalm 91:14-16 “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him, And show him My salvation.
This scripture in Psalm 91 is referring to the man who dwells in the secret place of the Most High. It is the person who has chosen God above all else. He has made the Lord His life! Look at the promise of verse 16 for the person who chooses to live according to God's ways and not his own:
“With long life will I satisfy him, And show him My salvation”.
Do you want to live a long life? That's God's desire for you. The key is in choosing to live it God's way and not your own. With good choices in your eating habits you are on your way to fulfilling the plan of God for your life. Why not take the high road and experience the blessings of God throughout the journey?
Father, I thank You for placing life and death within my grasp. I thank You for giving me the choice to make for my own destiny. And I thank You that the plan You would like to see fulfilled in my life is for life and blessing! Thank You for showing me Your good plan to take to bring those blessings into my life. I pray for my Spark Friends today that You will show them the importance of making good food choices and how it can benefit their lives. Give each of us strength to say “no” to unhealthy choices and the ability to know how to incorporate healthy foods into our daily lives. Thank You for making it possible for us to win in our weight loss journeys and lifestyle changes. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Thursday, May 17, 2012
Stuff just happens.....!
Have you ever noticed that you don't usually have to work to gain weight? How about your house; isn't it strange that it just gets dirty without any work?
We often say “I don't know how I got this fat; it just seems like I woke up one day and couldn't get into my clothes any longer!” Or, how could my house get this dirty with just two people living here?
We wonder why and how could all this have happened! Well, we say, stuff just happens!
Wrong! It happens because we have let down our guard; become lax in doing what is right. How many times have you watched an Olympic gymnast and wished you could do the feats that she is doing? She didn't just wake up one day and notice that she was able to do all those gymnastic feats! What she doesn't show you is how many hours out of every day she has practiced to make that final prize competition. The concert pianist may have some musical talent but he doesn't get to the concert level without hours and hours of practicing; perfecting his skill.
So it is with being fit and healthy! It takes work! Good health does not just happen. It takes studying what is right for your body and applying what you learn. My mother always said, “practice makes perfect”.
Proverbs 6:6-11 Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, Which, having no captain, Overseer or ruler, Provides her supplies in the summer, And gathers her food in the harvest. How long will you slumber, O sluggard? When will you rise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to sleep—So shall your poverty come on you like a prowler, And your need like an armed man.
Have you ever watched an ant? They are always scurrying around. You seldom see an ant stay still for very long. They are always busy. Sometimes one ant will carry food twice the size of it's body. And often they gather together to carry a large food item to their home. They prepare for the winter all through the summer months. The Bible says the ant shames the sluggard's passivity, lack of initiative, habit of procrastination and lack of discipline. These are all things that we say, “just happen”. We often laugh about it and make light of the fact that we aren't doing what we should to see success in our own lives. Why? Because it takes purposeful work to bring the successful results that we desire.
We like the word “free”, but is anything in life really free? We like Spark People and we say it's a “free” website, but it cost someone something! It cost one man his money to set it up and keep it working. We say that salvation is a free gift; and it is to the recipient. But it cost Jesus His life. It cost the Father His only begotten Son. So, nothing is really free! Weight Watchers boasts that veggies and fruits are “free”, but they've had to increase the point value of other items to offset the “free” stuff. There is always a price to pay for freedom! If you want a healthy lifestyle you will have to make some purposeful choices to achieve it.
So, what are you doing today to live intentionally healthy? What plan do you have to succeed in your weight loss program? Are you becoming wise through learning what is necessary for a healthy lifestyle? How about practicing what you are learning? I became much more aware of how much exercise I needed to be getting for my weight loss program when my husband bought me a Fitbit. It now tells me when I am in my “goal zone” which means that I am on course for the amount of weight that I want to lose each week. But I don't always get enough exercise to offset the amount of calories I'm eating that will put me into the deficit I need to lose the weight. Why? I choose to eat too many calories!
My inability to lose weight is no one's fault but my own. It didn't just happen that I became overweight. I stopped intentionally planning and executing that plan for success. I was like the sluggard—a little lazy!
Dave Ramsey talks in his Financial Peace University course about it taking gazelle intensity to become debt free and stay that way. He uses the portion of scripture just above this one for his analogy, beginning in verse 1 and focusing on verse 5.
Proverbs 6:5 Deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, And like a bird from the hand of the fowler.
Both the hunter and the fowler are waiting to overtake the gazelle, but a gazelle can run up to 40 mph and uses a bounding leap called “stotting” or “pronking” that enables it to quickly avoid the predator's grasp.
The predator is looking for you today. His name is Satan and Jesus referred to him in John 10:10 as the thief.
“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they have it more abundantly.”
It's clear from this verse of scripture that the predator, Satan, has a plan for your life. It is to steal, kill and destroy. When we do not intentionally plan and work towards having a healthy lifestyle what we are really doing is working with the devil's plan to steal, kill and destroy our lives. Stuff doesn't just happen! Jesus said He came to give us life and that more abundantly. God's will for you is a life that is flourishing with His goodness!
Father, please forgive me for not doing the things necessary for good physical health. I pray that You will forgive me and cleanse me from this unrighteousness. Thank You for causing me to see that I need to live more intentionally in order to achieve good health and fitness. Thank You for showing me the way to reach the goals that I have for a healthy lifestyle. I pray for my Spark friends today that may be struggling with their weight loss programs. Father, please help them to learn what it takes for their own physical bodies to come into good health. Give them the courage, Father, to do what is right for healthy living. Help them overcome the temptations that are set before them and make the right food choices to achieve their desired results. Father, give them strength to not grow weary in well doing but to understand if they continue on in right living they will reap a harvest of heath and wellness! Thank You, Lord, for enabling us to succeed. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Proverbs 24:27 Prepare your outside work, Make it fit for yourself in the field; And afterward build your house.
Proverbs 24:30-34 I went by the field of the lazy man, And by the vineyard of the man devoid of understanding; And there it was, all overgrown with thorns; Its surface was covered with nettles; Its stone wall was broken down. When I saw it, I considered it well; I looked on it and received instruction: A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to rest; So shall your poverty come like a prowler, And your need like an armed man.
I've been a little overwhelmed with all that I have going on in my life. So, as I was tread-milling this morning I was talking with the Lord about my dilemma and He brought to mind some scriptures about creating a plan for success. Success does not automatically happen; it takes planning and executing....work! But, praise the Lord, nothing is impossible with God! When we consult Him He will give us a plan that will work! Then we must do our part in working the plan.
So, looking into God's word for direction, I see in this Proverbs scripture that some things need to be done first and then you can proceed on to the others. He refers to the “lazy” man here and I do not want to be counted in that category. I plan to be a person of integrity, full of God's wisdom and ready to meet the challenges of the future. With that said, I will make some changes in my daily schedule so I can meet all of my obligations and take care of my own physical being as well. Sometimes you just need an attitude adjustment! You need to “tweak” your plan in order to get everything done. Thank You, Lord, for showing me how to correct the things in my life that have been hindering my progress.
I have always been a person who operated best on a schedule; up early in the morning with every minute of my free time scheduled. I knew what I was doing and exactly when it would be done. But my life totally changed when I found myself suddenly unemployed, newly married in a different environment and with so many hours of my day to fill but wondering what direction I was to take. I was used to my life being filled with a full-time job and church ministry involvements and I had every hour of every day scheduled. But you know, the seasons of life change and with each new season comes new adjustments. Now, my life has filled up again, but somewhere along the way I lost the structure needed to get it all done in the proper manner and time. I need to go back and pick up some of those time management skills that I had a few years ago!
A life with no planning, lived halfheartedly, almost to the point of being lazy will not accomplish the things that you need to do for success. You must create a plan and then work your plan. The lazy man above didn't take care of his vineyard. It was overgrown with thorns; the stone wall around it that kept out intruders was broken down; repairs needed to be made. And he was lying around “not taking care of business” as some would say! The writer of the Proverb said that “he looked on it and received instruction”. He looked at the condition of the lazy man's vineyard and it taught him some things. It taught him that when you manage your life halfheartedly with no plan or structure for success, sleep late and don't take of your property, or those things under your care, everything goes downhill; the end result is not good. In this case the lazy man's property was ruined and didn't produce like it should have with the end result being poverty! One of the keys to success is giving due diligence to what you have; taking care of your property, your life, and making sure that you prepare for the future. My weight increased because I became lax in watching my diet, not exercising as I once did and not staying on top of my life through proper food preparation and choices. I let down my guard and relaxed a little bit too much!
As I prayed about the obligations that I have and the need to improve my physical health, the Lord gave me some instructions to create a plan for success. One of the things He told me to do was to write my daily blogs the day before I want to post them. That will free my mornings to do my devotional, give me more time to get my walking and exercising done and my plan for the day started long before before noon! Then if I want to go somewhere with my husband I will be ready to walk out the door! He's fishing today without me because I didn't have everything done so I could feel comfortable in going with him.
He also had me review my teaching obligations that I do on a regular basis and plan ahead to meet deadlines early so I'm not stressing at the last minute. I'm so glad He understands me and doesn't condemn me for my shortcomings! Thank You, Lord, for helping me to get it all done!
The Lord also stressed the importance of goals. When I was under such a strict time frame to complete the courses that I needed for my Certificate in Christian Counseling, my instructor gave me a certain time frame in which every course needed to be completed in order to meet the deadline. I focused on those goals and was able to complete the courses two weeks early. I am still working on finishing my bachelor's degree but without the strict goals that I had before. I need to implement some new goals to finish in a reasonable time.
What about you? Have you found yourself overwhelmed by life? Maybe it could be that you're like me, just needing to make a few “tweaks” in your lifestyle!
Father, I thank You for always being there to help me make the necessary changes to my life. I know that You will give me the direction I need for successful living. Thank You for sharing with me what needs to change in order to get everything in my life done properly. Please help me to stay on schedule; to make my plan and then work it. I need Your help, Lord! I can't do this without You. I pray for my Spark Friends today that may be feeling the same way as me. Lord, please show them how to create their own plan for success and then how to work the plan to see that success manifested in their lives. Thank You for not leaving us to do this on our own, but for showing us Your way to get it all done! In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
2 Timothy 4:1-5 I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
Do you ever get discouraged and wonder if you are doing what you're supposed to be doing according to the plan of God for your life? This morning has been one of those mornings for me and as I was praying about whether or not I was reaching people with my blog or if I should discontinue it, the Lord immediately spoke this portion of scripture to my heart. When I heard the words: “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season”, I knew immediately what He was saying. Don't give up; don't quit spreading My word to those around you. Don't allow discouragement to cause you to give up!
To further confirm this charge when I looked at my emails I had a devotional where a lady was talking about recently being widowed after 61 years of marriage to her husband who had been a pastor in the ministry. She was talking about the many times he got up in the night to minister to someone who was hurting and then she quoted this scripture in Revelation 14:13 Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Write: 'Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.'” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.” At the end of her devotional she said this: “One day the truth of Revelation 14:13 will prove eternally true for you if you remain faithful: Your works will follow you, just as He has promised.”
Your works will follow you! What a reminder this was to me! We don't always see the effect that we have on people in the here and now, but one day when we reach Heaven the results of our labors will be evident. We will see the impact that we've made on our world when the fruit of our labors is revealed. In the meantime we must continue to do what God has called us to do: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season.....fulfill your ministry.
I like the way the Amplified Bible expands on verse 2:
Herald and preach the Word! Keep your sense of urgency [stand by, be at hand and ready], whether the opportunity seems to be favorable or unfavorable. [Whether it is convenient or inconvenient, whether it is welcome or unwelcome, you as preacher of the Word are to show people in what way their lives are wrong.] And convince them, rebuking and correcting, warning and urging and encouraging them, being unflagging and inexhaustible in patience and teaching.
Here Paul exhorts Timothy to keep on preaching the Word whether people seem to be receptive or not, whether what he says is welcomed or not, he is to continue to share the truth of God's word with people because they need to be rebuked and corrected when they are in the wrong, warned that their lives need to change, and encouraged and urged to continue on when they become tired and weary.
Hebrews 6:10-12: NLT For God is not unfair. He will not forget how hard you have worked for Him and how you have shown your love to Him by caring for other Christians, as you still do. Our great desire is that you will keep right on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true. Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent. Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God's promises because of their faith and patience.
God has a plan for each one of our lives. He has a calling for you and for me. When we become discouraged and thoughts of quitting come into our minds if we will pray and talk with Him about it He will give the encouragement that we need to continue on; to be refreshed and encouraged to stay strong and fulfill the calling that He has on our lives. If we don't give up but will continue to the end we will inherit His promises! I pray that I might not become spiritually dull and indifferent! I am thankful that He doesn't give up on me, but He understands that I am simply a human being with weaknesses and frailties that go along with humanity. He sees my needs and quickly responds to my cries for help! He's my greatest fan, who never fails to cheer me on!
Thank You Father, for Your unfailing love and faithfulness to me! You are My God and I praise You this morning. Thank You for so tenderly reminding me that it's not the time to quit; it's not the time to “retire” from what You have called me to do. Thank You for encouraging me to continue on that someday I might see the difference I've made in the lives of those around me. I pray that I might have a great harvest of souls following me into Heaven's gates some day. Father, I pray for my Spark Friends this morning who may have become discouraged in doing what You have called them to do. I pray that You will refresh them and encourage them just as You have done for me. I pray, Father, that they may sense the urgency of this time that we live in and be encouraged to continue spreading Your word and Your love, to those that You have placed around them. Thank You, Father, for Your faithfulness to each of us! May You receive all the glory from those whose lives are changed because of something that we have said or done to turn them to You. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Monday, May 14, 2012
As I was praying about what to say in my blog this morning this old song started running through my head: When peace like a river attendeth my way; When sorrows like sea billows roll. Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, It is well; It is well with my soul.
So many people lack that peace; the undisturbed composure that is necessary to sway with the winds of adversity and not be broken. Peace elludes people so much in today's world. So many are scurrying around so disturbed by life, so torn up by the onslaught of pain and sorrow in their lives and yet God has provided peace for them but they will not turn to Him to receive it. He has given them the ability to overcome, but they will not use it. He has provided the way of escape for them, but they will not take it. I can imagine, this morning, how grieved the Father's heart must be when His children turn from Him and try to live life under their own power and ability. Many times I have experienced the peace of God that passes all understanding in my own heart as I endured the storms of life. God is waiting for people to turn to Him and receive His power and ability, His peace, to over come and live victoriously in the midst of the storms.
John 14:1 (AMP) Do not let your hearts be troubled (distressed, agitated). You believe in and adhere to and trust in and rely on God; believe in and adhere to and trust in and rely also on Me.
Jesus' words in John 14:1 give us a confidence that we can hold onto, a reliance upon Him just as we rely upon the Father. He went on further to say in John 14:27 that He was leaving us with a peace, His very own peace, that would never leave us; that was not subject to change as the world changes. But with the promise comes an admonishment; “Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. [Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.] He was saying, I have provided peace for you, but you have control over how you react to the things that happen in life. You must choose to keep your heart in peace, not allowing it to be agitated and disturbed. We must guard our hearts, friends, in order for peace to reign over the agitations of life.
When Jesus was getting ready to go to the cross He told his disciples that in this world they would have tribulations and trials and distress and frustration. It is a fact of life and as long as we live in a fallen world where the devil has freedom to wreck havoc in people's lives we will have opportunities to be troubled, fearful, intimidated and unsettled. We will have opportunity to be fearful about what is going on in our lives. But Jesus went on to say: “....but be of good cheer [take courage, be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]
Jesus has deprived the world of power to harm us! He has conquered it for us! What good news! We do not have to live under our circumstances! We can live as God created us; as more than conquerors through Him who loved us! Hallelujah! What a Savior!
Yesterday my Pastor preached his fourth sermon in a series entitled “Joy” and it was on having joy in the midst of the storm. At the end he asked me to pray for those in our congregation that were going through difficult times that they might have peace. God brought back so many memories of difficult times in my own life and how He had carried me through those times and given me His peace that passes all understanding. He will do the same for you this morning. He will enable you to rise above the storm; to soar like an eagle over it and conquer the terror that comes with it. He has given us this promise in Isaiah 54:17:
But no weapon that is formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue that shall rise against you in judgment you shall show to be in the wrong. This [peace, righteousness, security, triumph over opposition] is the heritage of the servants of the Lord [those in whom the ideal Servant of the Lord is reproduced]; this is the righteousness or the vindication which they obtain from Me [this is that which I impart to them as their justification], says the Lord.
Did you get that? There is no weapon that the world or any demon in hell can bring against you that can win over you because of who you are in Christ Jesus. He has imparted to you His peace, righteousness, security and triumph over opposition! God has made you, in Christ Jesus, as a winner! You do not have to live under your circumstances any longer. You can win in life!
Jesus is your peace. He has broken down the wall of separation between you and the Father and provided peace in the midst of the storms of life. Will you turn to Him and accept His provision or continue to try to do things on your own?
Father, this morning I thank You for the great peace You have provided for me. Thank You, Lord, for enabling me to walk above the circumstances, to win against the opposition and to live as an over comer in Christ Jesus. I pray for my Spark Friends today that they will run to You when trouble comes and not try to live in their own power and ability, but will totally rely on You. Father, show them Your great love for them. Bring it home to them! Cause them to see the provision that You have made for them and how they can conquer trials and tribulations by living through Your ability and power. Thank You, Father, for giving them the victory through Christ Jesus! In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
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