For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.
I have a confession to make. After years of monitoring my diet and eating “good” food, I have completely fallen off the wagon over the last few weeks culminating in a “horrible” food binge this weekend. With each new year added to my age, I have tried to consciously monitor my intake to create a healthy body and solid metabolism. Hello, my name is Lori. I am addicting to carbohydrates and sugar. Sunday morning for the first time that I can remember – my husband and I were all alone. The two youngest were with friends so on our way home from church we decided to go out to lunch. Riding in the car, I began to read the menu of a new hip restaurant that we had wanted to try out. Our mouths were watering in the car. Every menu item was a dietary disaster but appealed to every fiber of our flesh. Within minutes, I was looking at a deep fried Monte Christo plated with mounds of sugary-cinnamony-salty sweet potato fries and a glass of syrupy sweet tea. I was quite sure that heaven was next. I ate until I could eat no more. I felt terrible. Physically ready to explode, emotionally beating myself up for indulging and spiritually for caring so much about food. Barely making it home, I fell into a two-hour food coma (or Sunday afternoon nap). Now it would not be so bad if the cravings stopped there but what I found was over the course of the last few weeks my carb/sugar intake has peaked. It started with a little candy during appreciation week at work. I had to try the Birthday Cake Oreos that I bought for the kids. My daughter came to visit and it was game on. This weekend was a holiday weekend. I have lots of excuses – good ones, too.
Cravings, desires and appetites drive our life. Tough call considering everything and anything we do is covered by the Blood of Jesus and wrapped up in His Grace. This makes it all the more difficult as there is no inherent danger. Or is there? My body needs carbohydrates for fuel along with protein and fat. Carbs and sugars are the same chemically speaking. By maintaining the right carbohydrate and sugar intakes, we are able to use them properly for food. Complex carbohydrates take the body time to break down and give us lasting energy including a feeling of fullness. These are naturally occurring in cereal, grain, legumes and starchy vegetables. Simple carbohydrates are more of a synthetic nature and do not have a source of protein, fiber or fat so the body burns them fast and quickly crave more sugar. Why all the talk about carbs and craving?
God is doing a good work in each us that began when we asked Jesus to be our Savior and Lord. He has a purpose and plan for our life that is a good one with a future and hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) The only thing that is required is that we seek the Lord with our whole heart. (Jeremiah 29:13) There are a great deal of folks who do not embark on this journey of a better life because they do not like change. Change is work. Change is sometimes hard. It is most always uncomfortable. But in order to have all the wonderful things that Christ died to give us – we must accept His Amazing Grace and use it to change for the better. I have to change my eating habits in order to regulate these new cravings for my old lifestyle of food or risk my body going back to its old condition and unhealthy habits. I must change my cravings.
2 Corinthians 3:17-18 (NLT)
For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.
My family blessed me with a Fitbit for my birthday this year. I love it. It helps me track my diet and exercise as an accountability partner of sorts. A friend won hers in a drawing and asked for my help in setting it up. As we discussed the little bit of technology, how it works and what it does I felt compelled to go ahead and warn her that when she tried to make bad food choices or had enough to eat that it would not lock her arm to the table. I also felt the need to share with her that it will not pull you out from in front of the television or Facebook to go outside and exercise either. She laughed and said, “Well then what good is it?”
Where the Spirit of the Lord is – there is freedom. When we come to Christ, He puts His Spirit inside of us as a guide and accountability partner kind of like my Fitbit. While the Holy Spirit has the power to change us from the inside out, He will never force us to change because we are set free. He will guide us to make better choices. He will work in us when we do to prosper us in the positive change. The Holy Spirit aligns us with God’s Heart, His Plans and Aspirations for our life. Too often, we have the Holy Spirit but do nothing with Him. We simply keep Him tucked in our heart but of no effect in my life. My friend is not using her Fitbit. It sits in the box not even opened. She does not understand how it works or how to use it. The Fitbit only works if we are willing to change and committed to the process of diet and exercise. Otherwise it becomes a source of condemnation like mine has been for three weeks reminding me of all the less than stellar choices I have been making so I stopped recording my progress. Now my pants are too tight, my stomach feels bad and it’s time for radical reformation. We treat the Holy Spirit the very same way when we want me time, our own way and to live in the moment rather than forever. Some will get back on track and others will continue wandering. My Fitbit is charging now. My Spirit is getting amped up in the Word to reflect the Glory of God and stop the cravings that are pulling me down.
I Corinthians 10:23 (NLT)
You say, “I am allowed to do anything” —but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is beneficial.
I am embarrassed to admit that I was actually wearing the fitness tracker when I was gorging on my battered and deep-fried lunch the other day. I was hoping that some siren might go off and a mechanical voice yell, “Step away from the heart attack, lady!” But it didn’t. I am also ashamed to admit that I could barely get out of the chair because of squat exercises I had done the day before, yet I had sabotaged these efforts burying them in bad food choices. Some of you will relate in this message, while others will simply judge me. Those people who desire changes in their own lifestyles but are too afraid to do anything about them. Let me encourage you today. Open your heart and mind to what the Lord is telling us today. It is a universal message to His Children that change is possible and begins in us. I am allowed to do anything that I want to. The Blood of Jesus covers my transgressions and His Grace allows me to keep enjoying His Goodness. God does not lie or change His Mind. (Numbers 23:19-20) This is very, very important. God decided to bless you before you were born. He cannot change His Mind because He is not human. He is God. He does not life. He is the Truth. So we are the ones who are subject to change. God never makes us. His Spirit is a gentleman. Stick with me on this one – going somewhere. Every good gift comes from God who pours out His Goodness just as promised. (James 1:16-18) It is all about positioning our life in His Goodness and making better choices about how we live. Not everything I do is beneficial, let me confess that on the same menu that I found all the horrible food choices was a healthy menu including wraps and veggies that I completely ignored. Life in moderation is fine. But if you want the best, you have to be the best. His Spirit is working in us to align our life with our goals for prosperity. If we want to prosper in God, we must live in alignment with His Will, Way and Word. To go our own way but expect to end up where He is would be ridiculous. To do the same thing over and over again expecting different results is called insanity. So, with that I challenge you (as I am) to evaluate everything in your life to see if it meets God’s Standard. If not, change your appetite, craving, habit to have the goodness provided to His Most Precious Possessions. There is no law that prohibited me from eating all the bad food that I have been consuming. I just want more out of life than heart disease and obesity. I must also decide that I want my soul to prosper. If I do, I must decide what is good and beneficial before doing them.
Galatians 5:16-17 (NLT)
So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.
Well, it’s time to brew some detox tea and get this party started. Out with the old and in with the new again. It is also time to let the Holy Spirit guide my life and the choices I am making. Some days I let my flesh take over again causing a ruckus inside of me. Like Paul, I try to do what is right but inevitably do something wrong. (Romans 7:21-23) Thank God for His Grace that abounds when we struggle in our battle against sin. (Romans 5:20) Daily I must taste and see that the Lord is good and continue to partake in His Goodness by learning to trust Him more. The more of my life I put in His Presence the more satisfied that I will be as my fleshing cravings are reduced and managed by His Spirit. (Psalm 34:8-10) I am going to blow it. I am going to “fall off the wagon” and occasionally “lose my way”. His Grace is sufficient for me. It is in my weakness that I fully accept His Strength. (2 Corinthians 12:9) Did you blow it this week, month or year? The Lord is with you. He did not leave you. He never changed His Mind about you. His Love for you is just as secure today as the first time you called on His Name. His Love did not stop when yours did. His Grace never runs out. His Mercy is new each morning. His Spirit is in you just time to acknowledge Him, feed Him and release Him to do His Work in your life. There is no need to feel guilty, ashamed or rejected just repent and come home! The very fact that you woke up this morning with breath in your body is enough to confirm that He’s not finished with us yet! Be encouraged today. You are not condemned. Let the Lord be your accountability partner and choose to change your appetite today. It takes time to change our habits so give yourself a break – just try. One day at a time – step by step – or for some breath by breath – you will get there! Just don’t give up!
Philippians 3:20-21 (NLT)
But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.