Monday, November 30, 2009

True Confessions: I give myself a "C"!

On Saturday, my family returned from an enjoyable week in Illinois. During that week, we celebrated my dad's 60th Birthday and Thanksgiving with my parents and extended family. We had such a great time!

However, in grading my eating habits last week, I have to give myself a "C". Whenever I've gone on trips in the past, I definitely would have given myself a "F" and wouldn't care a bit. On this trip, I did not eat as disciplined as I should, but I was more conscious of my choices overall. In the past, I would eat whatever, whenever, & however I wanted, let myself go all out, and excuse my overeating for the holidays. This time, I basically played what I would call the "Cancel out" game. Maybe these carrot sticks for snack will cancel out the third day of birthday cake for dessert. Maybe this yogurt for breakfast will cancel out the second helping of sweet potato casserole at dinner. I felt better about some of my choices but I still ended up eating a lot more than I'm used to.

Have you ever read the children's book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle? Well, for those of you who remember how the caterpillar's Saturday went, I also had a similar day while on my trip. Yes, I too had a stomachache that night. After taking some Pepto-Bismol, I laid in bed pondering the fact that I hadn't felt that way in over a year. I felt terrible! I certainly did not want to go back to my old habits. I hated that I allowed myself to end up in that condition. So, were all the efforts to change my eating habits over this past year in vain? No way! Were the 25 pounds that I've lost in vain? No way! God is still at work in me (Phil 2:13)! All believers will struggle with sin; even Apostle Paul did. Check out what he said in Romans 7:15-25 -

"For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!"

Thank you Jesus! It's all by His grace that we can continue on in righteousness. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). Even though God forgives us and is still at work in us, we do have a part to play. Several months ago I read Romans 13:14, and immediately posted it in my kitchen so I could see it on a daily basis. I would suggest everyone memorize this verse and meditate on it often, "But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires."
I'm planning to talk more specifically about ways to not make provision for the flesh in a later post.
By the way, like the hungry caterpillar, I ate a nice green salad the next day and felt much better :-).

Monday, November 16, 2009

Freedom Journal - Section 3

The third section of my journal is full of freedom verses. I constantly have to go back to the cross and be reminded of the freedom that I was granted because of the death & resurrection of my Savior, Jesus Christ. The focus verse that I memorized was John 8:36 - "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." I like how the puritan, Samuel Bolton, explains this verse in his book, The True Bounds of Christian Freedom.
"First, We have a benefit expressed--freedom: 'If the Son shall make you free'.
Second, We have the qualities of this freedom--it is a true and real freedom: 'free indeed'.
Thirdly, We have the subjects of this freedom--believers: 'If the Son shall make you free'.
Fourthly, We have the author of it--Christ: 'If the Son shall make you free'." (p. 18)

Therefore, as a believer of Jesus Christ, I am set free from the bonds of slavery to sin. Christ died for ALL my sins. He paid the penalty for ALL my sins - past, present, & future. His gift of grace towards me allows me to rest in Him and rejoice in the freedom that He has given me. This truth is so foundational in being set free from a sin pattern. Before a believer can be delivered from a habitual sin, you must believe the fact that Christ died for your sins and He has the power to give you victory over EVERY sin area in your life including gluttony. This is basically what Romans 6 is all about. For a whole month, I read that chapter every morning during my quiet time. I needed to be constantly reminded of those truths. You may want to do the same. Romans 8 & Galatians 5 are also good chapters to read pertaining to freedom in Christ. I want to end with a few of my favorite verses from those chapters. I hope they encourage you as well.

* But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. Romans 6:17-18

* There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:1-2

* For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Be EXTREME For Jesus!

It is ironic that the devil gives the world all of its extremists in every realm--entertainment, politics, society, education, anarchy, intrigue--you name it! Yet it is the same devil that frightens believers about the great danger of becoming "extreme."
~A.W. Tozer
(The Quotable Tozer II compiled by Harry Verploegh p.55)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Freedom Journal - Section 2

In a previous post, I wrote about the first section of my freedom journal which consisted of verses about Christ being my satisfaction, Christ being my provider of all good things, and Christ being my portion.

The second section of my journal has verses pertaining to God's sanctifying power at work in me. Here are four of those verses.

* God "began a good work in you [and] will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ" (Phil 1:6).

* God sanctifies me and He alone can keep me blameless until the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (I Thess 5:23, paraphrased)

* "...Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure" (Phil 2:12-13).

* Jesus prayed, "Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth" (John 17:17-19).

These verses really encourage me! When I meditate on them, I'm reminded that I'm not alone in this struggle. Christ is with me and working in me. That truth is so freeing to me! My part is to submit my will to His and allow Him to do His sanctifying work in me through His Word. I used to think that I could never be free from gluttony because I wasn't strong enough or I didn't have enough will power. I've learned that it's not about my strength, but Christ's. He will help me and he also "will not let [me] be tempted beyond [my] ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape" (1 Cor 10:13). Therefore, I can stand confident in Him by the strength He provides.

God's "divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire" (2 Peter 1:3-4).
Praise the Lord that we believers have all that we need to live a godly life and be free from gluttony!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Stay Close To The Shepherd!

The best way to keep the enemy out is to keep Christ in. The sheep need not be terrified by the wolf; they have but to stay close to the shepherd. It is not the praying sheep Satan fears but the presence of the Shepherd.
~A.W. Tozer
(The Quotable Tozer II compiled by Harry Verploegh p.55)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Freedom Journal - Section 1

My freedom journal, as I mentioned in a previous post, is simply a 2 ring notecard keeper with 4 color coded sections. Today I'll talk about the first section. In this section, I wrote 3 different types of verses. Here's a description -

1) Verses pertaining to Christ satisfying me; such as Psalm 90:14, Matthew 5:6, Psalm 103:2,5.

2) Verses pertaining to Christ being the provider of good things; such as Psalm 34:8-10, Psalm 84:11, 85:12, Psalm 31:19.

3) Verses pertaining to God's Word being my food and God being my portion; such as John 6:35, Job 23:12, Matthew 4:4, Psalm 16:5-6, Romans 14:17.
We are to "present our bodies as a living sacrifice holy and acceptable to God, which is our spiritual worship. We are not to be conformed to this world, but be transformed by a renewal of our mind, that by testing we may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect" (Romans 12:1-2). Basically, in order for an ex-glutton to be holy and acceptable to God, we must allow the Lord to transform our mind. It's like having a spiritual surgery on our minds; think of it as a brain transplant. God has to remove our old ways of thinking and responding to food and fill us with His truth. This is certainly not an easy process! It's painful and gruesome! You may even shed some tears (I have!); but if you press through; it's SO worth it or should I say, Christ is worth it! Only then, can we discern God's good, acceptable, and perfect will.

Therefore, I had to start my journal with the previously mentioned verses. I had to learn that food has never and will never give me lasting satisfaction. Only Christ can! On another note, if you've been a glutton as long as I was, you've most likely fell for the same lies as I have. The lies like - "I can't say no; it's too good!" or "If I don't eat it, I'll be missing out on something good!" For example, I'd feel like I was missing out on something good if I didn't...
1) Get a candy bar at the grocery store register.
2) Eat every food sample that was offered to me at Sam's or Costco.
3) Try every food that was available at a get together or church event.

So, I desperately needed to record and memorize verses about God giving me good things and being my portion. Now when I encounter one of these tempting situations, I strive to recall these verses. I certainly haven't been perfect in this area, but God's strength through His Word has empowered me to please Him more consistently.

"Let us thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things" (Psalm 107:8-9). Praise the Lord for His truth!