Christmas is a time that has been set aside to celebrate the birth of Jesus, but so often the meaning of Christmas is lost in the hustle and bustle.
God gave the ultimate gift of His son Jesus, so that we could have everlasting life with Him, and be called son’s and daughters of God (John 3:16-18, 1 John 3:1). This gift was given out of the heart of the Fathers great love for us, and it is too precious of a gift to keep to ourselves!
This year, instead of making Christmas all about the decorations, the treats, and the gifts (although, all of those things are ok in their proper place), let’s shift our focus onto sharing Jesus with others, by showing them God’s kind of love.
Jesus said that all men would know that we are His disciples by the love we show to one another. (John 13:35) If we truly want to make Jesus the reason for the season, let’s give the gift of God’s great love to others this Christmas!
Here are some fun ways you and your family can celebrate Jesus, and spread God’s love to those around you:
1. Make Jesus the focus of your Christmas celebration with your family. Before opening gifts, take time to pray together, and read the account of Jesus’ birth (Matthew 1:18-25, Matthew 2:1-12, and Luke 2:1-20).
2. Give the gift of joy to those around you by getting a group together to sing Christmas carols! Some of the best places to visit are nursing homes, hospitals, and even your own neighborhood!
3. Make a birthday cake for Jesus, and sing to Him! This is fun especially if you have little ones, and it puts the focus on Jesus’ birth, and celebrating Him, rather than the gifts and toys.
4. Give the gift of time by volunteering at your local food bank, shelter, or salvation army.
5. Find ways to bless families in your community. Whether you give the gift of toys, gas or grocery cards, or even make a warm meal for someone, a simple act of generosity can show the love of God in a powerful and tangible way!
6. Visit, send a card, write a letter, or call someone who may be lonely or experiencing grief during the holiday season. It may not seem like much to you, but this one simple act of kindness may be the brightest moment in that persons darkest hour.
7. Donate a portion of the funds that would typically go to buying Christmas cards (or gifts) to a charity. Someone I know introduced me to this idea a few years ago, and it has blessed my heart ever since!
8. Pay for someones meal, coffee, or groceries. You never know how this random act of kindness may make their whole day, and it will most likely leave a lasting impression of God’s love.
9. Go through your closet (or kids closet) and donate clothes, boots, shoes, and coats to local organizations or shelters.
10. Invite someone who may be lonely to one of your Christmas celebrations. Sure, it may be breaking tradition a bit by having someone new join, but I am convinced that there is no greater way to show God’s love than to bring them into a house full of love when people need it most!
I hope this filled you with some great ideas to show God’s love that you can incorporate this Christmas, and maybe even make some of them your new Christmas traditions! When we turn our focus to others, and care for them in simple ways, we are essentially giving them the ultimate gift- God’s love!
On a final note about giving, I want to take a moment to thank each one of you for your generosity! If you support Dashing Dish, you have been a part of giving this past year in a HUGE way! Last year, we started an extension of Dashing Dish, called Dashing Delivery. God put it on our hearts to put the ‘Dashing’ into Dashing Dish by delivering groceries and grocery gift cards to those in need. Thanks to you guys, we have been able to give over $6,000 in groceries and grocery gift cards to families in need in one years time! Every month, we pray and ask the Lord where to give, and He is more than faithful to connect us with families. We also donate to our churches food pantry on a monthly basis, who not only feeds the hungry, but shares Jesus with them! I am sharing this with you today, because if you have supported Dashing Dish you are also a part of this ministry. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for all of your support, and for helping us spread the love of God in a tangible way!
The Fruit of Self Control
The holidays are officially upon us, which means a time for gathering with family and friends, and a time for feasts and treats! This wonderful time of year can also be a time of temptation to overspend, overeat, and over indulge. This may seem harmless in many ways, until January comes, and the reality of bills and weight gain sets in.
If this sounds familiar, I have good news…It doesn’t have to be that way this year, or ever again for that matter! If you have received Christ as your savior, then the Spirit of God lives inside of you. When he came to live in your heart, He came bearing gifts…a “fruit basket”, if you will! The fruits that the Spirit of God brought with Him are love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). That means that each one of us is able to have self-control in any situation if we choose to be led by the spirit.
God’s Kind of Self Control
Now, before I say anything else on this topic, I do want to clarify a few important things relating to this topic of self-control that could easily be taken out of context. First of all, I will say that I know from personal experience that for some people ‘self-control’ can be taken to dangerous levels when it gets over into a ‘controlling’ mindset.
If you have found that this is the case with you, be sure that you are aware that you are following the Spirit of God inside of you, and not just trying to ‘control’ things on your own. This can and will always lead to failure and can even be dangerous because God never intended us to depend on our own strength. Following the Spirit of God will produce ‘self control’ in a balanced way and it will never be based out of fear or obsession. Remember, god calls us to be balanced (1 Peter 5:8), which means we can enjoy all things in moderation, which means enjoying a cookie at times!
Not by Might but By the Spirit of God
Now that we got those two very important points established, you may be saying to yourself, “I just don’t have self-control in the area of eating and exercise, especially around the holidays. Every time I try to resist the Christmas cookies, it is only a matter of time before I end up eating the entire batch!” Or, in the area of exercise, you may be thinking to yourself, “I hate exercising. The moment that I begin an exercise program I do good for a couple days, and then fall off the wagon completely! There is no use in even starting!”
This, my friends, is where self-control comes in! Think about it…no one can make you eat something, or force you to sit on the couch instead of exercising! Only YOU have the ability to make the choice to be led by your ‘flesh’ or the ‘spirit’. When you make the choice to be led by the Spirit of God, the fruits of the spirit will then be produced naturally. It won’t be long that the fruit of self-control will be so abundant in your life that you won’t even have a problem saying no to that second or third cookie or yes to being active!
The great thing is, He is the one who strengthens us to walk in the Spirit! Ephesians 3:16 says “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being.” This is just one of the many promises that the lord will strengthen us by His Spirit when we depend on His power, rather than our own might.
Why Use Self Control?
Not only do we have the ability, but God’s word instructs us to use self-control! 1 Peter 13 says, “Think clearly and exercise self-control.”Proverbs 25:28 tells us that, “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.” The Word even talks specifically about using self control in relation to food. Proverbs 25:16 says, “Do you like honey? Don’t eat too much, or it will make you sick!” It sounds to me that God wants us to use this gift that He has given us for our own peace and protection.
In addition, If we want to fulfill the purpose that God has for us here on this earth, we need to be in good health! In order to run the race God has set before us with full strength and vigor, we need to use wisdom on how we treat our bodies. This includes getting enough rest, eating a balanced diet, and getting regular exercise.
How do We Draw out the Fruit of Self Control?
Now, all this being said, how do we actually apply all of this? It comes down to making the choice to submit to God and be led by the Spirit of God that is in us every single day. (Romans 12:1) And believe me, it is a daily choice! Another way to do this is to build ourselves up in the spirit so that we do not easily give into the desires of our flesh. This can be done by praying, fasting, and studying and meditating on the Word of God (Romans 12:2). When we do this, the fruit of self-control will naturally be produced. We never have to ‘make’ the fruit appear or muster it up in our own strength, it will just grow as we grow in the Lord. The more we are led by the Spirit, the more that fruit will be produced…It’s that simple!
So in order to be led by the Spirit, we must first of all believe that He is inside of us and that He is leading and guiding us into all truth (John 16:13). By putting our trust in what God says about us in His word, making the choice to listen to that still small voice inside of us, and choosing to lean on His strength, we will walk by the Spirit. It can take some time to learn to walk by the Spirit if you are accustomed to giving your flesh whatever it asks for. Some practical tips on strengthening your ‘spiritual muscles’ are praying, spending time in the Word, and fasting- which is one of the most powerful forms of denying the flesh.
Now please hear me when I say it may not be easy to apply all of this, especially at first. The Bible tells us that, “Discipline is never pleasant at the time, but that in time it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it”(Hebrews 12:11). However, once you have made the choice to consistently be led by the Spirit, the fruit of self-control will be so abundant in your life that you will find that it is easy to resist eating that whole plate of Christmas cookies that was at one time screaming your name!
Progress Not Perfection
Having said all of this, it is important to note that we are all on a journey, and none of us are perfect. We will all have moments where we do not walk perfectly in self-control. So, what do we do if we do slip up and eat more than we should have, or one too many cookies? Do we have to go around guilty and depressed? Absolutely not! After all, the Bible tells us that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). Therefore, when we do “miss the mark” so to speak, we simply repent before the Lord and keep running our race with our eyes fixed on Jesus, rather than our past mistakes.
It is also important to note that our failures do not change the way that God sees us. The Word tells us that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us”(Romans 5:8). It is important to remember that God’s love for each one of us is unconditional and unchanging. He knows each of us individually and loves us with a love that has no beginning and no end, simply because He IS Love.
So, the message for today is that if you have found yourself trying to ‘work up’ self-control in the past only to find that you always seem to ‘give in’, just know that the Holy Spirit is ready and willing to lead and guide you in all areas of your life! All you have to do is make the choice to walk with Him and follow His leading! As you make the choice to be led by the Spirit, His fruit will grow and mature inside of you, and you will find that self-control will come without any effort! Remember, the Holy Spirit who is inside us has everything we need to live a victorious life. All we have to do is make the choice daily to believe this and choose to submit to His leading!
Prayer: Lord, I ask that you would help me to see my body as your dwelling place. Strengthen me to be disciplined and well balanced in order to properly take care of my body. Help me to make healthy choices and to be wise enough to know when I am no longer operating in the fruit of self control. Help me to be motivated to exercise and to get enough sleep and rest so I can have the energy needed to run my race with strength and endurance! In Jesus’ Name, Amen!
For more devotionals like this, be sure to check out my new devotional book: Devotions for a Healthier You!
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.~Proverbs 22:6
If your family is anything like ours, busy is the word that seems to describe your schedule most of the time. Something I’ve really taken to the Lord lately is my concern over busyness pushing out time for my kids to enjoy time with the Lord. My heart’s desire is that my kids will learn early to love their time with the Lord, to desire it and to prioritize it. Of course, I have to model that for them, but I really needed the Lord to show me ways for THEM to spend time with Him amidst their busy schedules. He’s been so faithful, I hope some of the ideas God’s given me bless your family too.
Homework – my son attends public school so he don’t have bible time, but he does have homework! He is required to read for 40 minutes per week. So, the Lord showed me to make his reading time his Bible time. First thing in the morning at breakfast, he reads to us for 10 minutes from his bible or a daily devotion. He is meeting his homework requirements, improving his reading skills, hiding God’s work in his heart first thing in the morning, and it’s been an unexpected blessing to me too! I get something out of HIS time with the Lord every day!
Technology – Admittedly, I am not a huge technology person. I timidly tip-toed into the Apple store when I could no longer deny that I may in fact be the sole surviving flip-phone owner. However, I do love that technology makes the Word of God so accessible! Blessed are those who HEAR the Word and obey it. My kids love to listen to the Word before bed, it’s a great way for them to wind down and to cover their minds and hearts before they fall asleep. My daughter is only four, so she does best with a Bible Stick (BibleStick KIDZ Bible is available at www.faithcomesbyhearing.com), an amazing little tool that’s simple to use, and she LOVES it. My son uses an Ipod so I can download so many amazing options for him to enjoy. Some of our favorites are:
Ultimately, my prayer is that my kids will seek out God’s word because they LOVE it, because they desire it and because it truly is alive and real in their lives. I am so thankful for God’s creativity and faithfulness to provide fun ways for our kids to be led into all truth as they hide His word in their hearts. I hope your family is as blessed by this as we have been. xo Sarah
There are varying opinions about how to handle Halloween, but there’s one thing we can all agree on –there will be candy! Lots and lots of candy!
When my son turned two I sought the Lord about how to handle Halloween in our home. At that point he was toddling around with tiny steps and there was a huge part of me that really wanted to put him in some crazy cute get-up and show him off to all the neighbors! I had such fond memories of fall evenings running with friends from house to house on that night. Then, rushing home with excitement to revel in the bounty I’d collected. It was a good, pure memory for me and one I desired for my own kids.
I really needed the Lords guidance though to help set a precedent with our kids for Halloween. I don’t believe there is any one “right” way for everyone, but what the Lord showed me has been a blessing and is still the way we approach Halloween six years later. The kids know that their costume choices have to follow the Philippians 4:8 rule (whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.) and be “silly” in nature – nothing scary or “dark”. And, we are very, very careful to “guard our gates” (an awesome article about this here, http://sarahbessey.com/guard-gates/). In other words, we are very careful about what our little eyes see. We intentionally choose to get candy from homes where the “light is on” both literally and figuratively.
I had great peace about how we would handle Halloween, but in the early years of seeking more balance in my health, Halloween posed another source of stress and anxiety for me. The candy, oh the endless, endless candy! I simply did not want all that temptation, nor did I really feel that my kids should be eating that much candy for seemingly months on end. So, again, I sought the Lord and as always He was faithful with an answer that has blessed me ever since. I want to share it with you in hopes that it helps bring more peace and balance to you this year!
The kids collect as much candy as they want to, after all the collection is half the fun. We all sit down together and sort, and ooh and ahh over the amount, then we ALL pick our three favorite pieces to enjoy right then and there. I participated in this right from the get-go. I want to model balance for my kids and let them see that it’s ok to enjoy something like small amounts of candy once in a while without it leading to disordered eating. Then, they are given the choice to trade in their candy or keep it. They can “trade” their candy for an experience (I did toys the first year, but quickly realized that wasn’t the best option). They hand over the remainder of the candy, and in trade I give them an IOU for a trip to the museum, or the zoo, or the movies, any healthy experience they choose.
So you may be thinking, ok great Sarah, but what if they choose the candy!? I know! Admittedly, I still wait for their answers with bated breath hoping it’s never the candy. If they choose the candy, they get to keep as many additional pieces as they are in years (four pieces for my four year old, eight for my eight year old, etc.). Can I be honest though? They never have! I think there is almost a tiny, albeit, denied part of them that almost feels relieved to have that much abundance controlled for them – I think it’s overwhelming even for kids!
As for the rest of the candy, I either offer it to my dry cleaner to hand out throughout the year, or friends, I simply toss it. It’s ok. I’ve let go of the guilt. I really think it’s ok to just let that one go – guilt be gone in Jesus name! I pray this blesses you and your family and may THE light of the world shine on you this fall season!
What are the Benefits of Studying the Word of God?
Over the past few years, I have received a lot of questions and emails from people who asking how to study the Bible. I want to begin by saying that the great thing about spending time in the Word is that we get to spend time with our Father, and He wants to speak to us through His Word even more than we want to hear from Him! He loves us more than we could ever imagine, and His love letter to each one of us is the Bible!
I wanted to start by saying, because I truly think that if we go into studying the Word of God with the mindset that it is something that we ‘should’ or ‘have’ to do, it sucks the life right out of it! Instead, if we approach the Word as time to be with our Father and fellowship with the creator of the universe, we will see this time as a treasure, rather than a religious duty.
Not only is time spent in the Word a time to receive the Lord’s great love for us, but it is also the road map to our lives, guiding us and leading us into all truth and showing us the way to go. It also builds us up in our faith, gives us direction, renews our minds, lovingly corrects us, gives us wisdom, and brings true peace, joy, and fulfillment… and the list goes on. An important thing to remember is that the Word of God has the answer to every situation we will ever face in this life, and it will nourish and satisfy us like nothing on this earth ever could!
How do we Study the Word?
Now that I have laid a foundation for the benefits of spending time in the Word, the second thing I want to say about studying the Bible is that it is not a simple answer because the Word is Alive (Hebrews 4:12). It is different than any other book, because the Holy Spirit wrote it through people, and it is the Holy Spirit that brings each word on the page alive to each one of us as we study it. Therefore, the study of the Word and time spent with the Lord will look a little different for each person. It may look different each day and season of our lives because there may times/days when we really just need to spend time studying one passage or scripture for a period of time while asking the Lord to reveal it to us in a deeper way and bring it to life to us. There may be other times, however, when we read a whole chapter in one day and the Lord uses bits and pieces of it to speak different things to us. However, that being said, there are some truths that are constant and remain the same when it comes to believers reading the Word.
Here are the five things that should stay the same and apply to everyone in their time spent studying the Word:
1. Give God’s Word First Place. When we put God’s Word first place, everything in our lives will be built upon a firm foundation. John 8:31-32 tells us that if we abide in the Word, then we will be His disciples. We will know the truth and the truth will set us free. If we want to walk in the freedom that God has for us in every area of our life, we must make it our first priority to spend time with the Lord each day. If you feel that you don’t have time early in the morning, I would encourage you to try going to bed earlier so that you can set your alarm to wake up earlier! You can always study during your lunch break, at night, or any time throughout the day, but I personally have found that my whole day gets off to the right start when I make time to fellowship with Him first thing!
2. Go into Reading your Bible with Expectancy. When you spend time with the Lord, begin looking at it like getting to know your best friend. When you spend time with that person, they rub off on you a little more and soon you become like them. That is the way we should go into spending time with God. That takes away any tendency that someone might have to spend time with God out of ‘duty’ or obligation. When we expect to hear from Him, we are walking in faith that He will speak to us. This kind of attitude not only pleases Him (Hebrews 11:6), but it opens our hearts up to receive what He is speaking to us!
3. Pray Before you Read. Ask the Lord to bring the Word alive to you, to bring you revelation, and to give you eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart to receive what He is saying to you. I always ask the Holy Spirit to give me insight and understanding when reading the Word. The Holy Spirit was sent to us to teach us, counsel us, and remind us of the truths of God’s Word. He is also the one who inspired the people who wrote the Word, so He is the best teacher of all! (John 14:26)
4. Seek and You will Find. If you have a question, something you are going through, or just want to know the Lord more, know that when you seek, you will find, and that the Word has the answer to everything we have need of in this life. (Matthew 7:7)
5. Meditate and Pray the Word. I personally love journaling while studying the Word. When I write down scriptures, it allows me to think about each word and think about how it applies to my own life. I also love praying the Word, because I know that I am praying God’s perfect will when I am praying in alignment with what He said! I also love writing and praying scripture based prayers, because it increases my faith in His promises and it allows me to look back and reflect on His faithfulness!
Where Should I Start Reading?
As far as where to start reading or what Bible to read, I would say that it is important to read both the Old and New Testament equally. However, if it is your first time reading the Bible, I would suggest starting with the New Testament because this is where you will find your identity about who you are in Jesus. The New Testament is composed of The Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke John), which were written by the disciples, sharing their encounters with Jesus when He was on the earth.The Epistles – (Acts-Revelation) were written for the Christian church instructing us on how to live and carry out the ministry of Jesus today, while teaching us who we are in Christ. The New Testament is beneficial to us today because as Christians, we are saved by what Jesus did for us on the cross. For that reason, we are now under a new covenant with God, which means that we are no longer subject to the punishment of God and we don’t have to offer sacrifices for our sins. Jesus came as a sacrifice once and for all for all and carried our sins in His body so that we could be born again and have a personal relationship with God (1 Peter 2:24).
The Old Testament is also equally important because it is the foundation for the New Testament, teaching us about who God created us to be from the beginning. It also contains countless prophesies of things to come in the New Testament that could only be fully understood if you read the Old Testament. It has powerful life lessons that provide wisdom, insight, and understanding to our lives today.
What Version Should I Read?
I personally like the NKJV and the NLT. However, it is important that it is a version that you can understand. The NIV, NKJV, NLT, Amplified, and The Message are all versions I have studied in the past. I would say that it also helps to have a dictionary to help you understand certain words and/or a concordance to study the Greek or Hebrew root words and their meanings. Some other additional study guides that I have found helpful in learning my foundation of who I am in Christ are, The Believers Journey by Chris Palmer and The Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer. I also wrote my devotional Devotions for a Healthier You in hopes to help women find their true fulfillment and identity in Christ based on what I have studied and learned over the years.
I hope this helps! This topic can go much deeper than one post can explain, but I hope this encourages you to explore and study the Word if you haven’t already started! I truly believe that God’s Word is the foundation for our lives, and it will be our rock- firm, steady, and never changing through all of life’s seasons…But most of all, it is God’s personal love letter to you! xo Katie
Proverbs 4:23 instructs us to guard our heart ABOVE ALL ELSE. There must be a reason that God put’s it as a top priority…which makes me think it’s important to pay attention.
As I began to think about my heart, and the ‘issues’ that affect it, I immediately thought about the ‘obvious’ things that would affect me. I know better than to watch certain movies and shows that demoralize women for example…but as I began to talk to the Lord about this issue, He showed me that it is often the ‘little’ and subtle things that come in and affect our hearts.
It may be different for everyone, but I know for me, I have to guard my heart against scrolling on social media pages (FB, instagram, etc.), which can lead to comparing and jealousy without even realizing it. I also try to filter through the music and lyrics I allow in my ears, for I have learned that it eventually goes into my heart. I also try to be aware of the magazines I flip through- I try to ask myself, does this bring forth thoughts that come from God’s identity and worth/value, or does it send me down a negative spiral making me feel like I need to do 5 more things before I feel ‘good’ about myself?
I know it may seem silly, but the Word of God says that we need to be alert, for the devil roams about like a lion, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8), which tells me that it is the little subtle things that pull us into a trap. Sure, we may fill our minds with the Word of God in the morning, but if we allow 100′s of other ‘messages’ to come in throughout the day, we will be left confused and unaware of who we truly are. If we take a look at the ‘issues’ in our lives, and if they have anything to do with a lack of self-worth, there may be a chance that we can trace them back to something we have put in our hearts.
Let’s be alert and aware of the things that we allow in our hearts, whether it be a show, a movie, a magazine, music, social media- you name it… If it is not promoting and esteeming who God says you are, I would challenge you to lay it down at His feet! I can say from my own experience, it may ‘seem’ hard at first, but nothing that He leads us to give away isn’t returned to us with something better (often it’s the simple gift of peace and joy!) I pray someone is encouraged and blessed by this today, and that we begin to guard our hearts as women against what this worlds says we should be, and that we come into a revelation of who God says we are, and Who’s we are~ His daughters! xo Katie
Did you know that exercise can be an act of worship? When you begin to look at exercise in that light, it will bless both your body and your soul like never before.
For some people, choosing regular exercise is not a problem, it comes naturally and they actually enjoy it. But for many, making exercise part of their ongoing, long-term lifestyle is a real challenge. More often than not, I hear from women that exercise is something they dread. I’d like to share some thoughts that may just change the way you look at your next workout.
I’m one of those that find enjoyment in exercise (I know, I know, don’t stop reading.) Regular exercise and group fitness instruction have been part of my life for the past decade. However, over the past two years, the Lord has really caused my heart and intentions toward exercise to change. Exercise used to be all about my body. It was totally motivated by physical results. I was guilty of “compartmentalizing” that area of my life. I’d forgotten that the Lord desires to be the focus of everything in my life, including exercise. My entire life can be an act of worship if I’ll allow the Lord to be a part of it!
Perhaps more than any other verse, the Lord has used Romans 12:2 to completely change my thoughts about food and exercise. I love the amplified version that says, “Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for YOU].”
The world has taught us that exercise is something we “should” do and generally focuses solely on our body. Really, exercise is something we GET to do and can be all about our spirit! Our experience changes completely when we renew our minds with a new attitude, and shift our thoughts about exercise! Remind yourself what a gift it is that your body is able to move like that! Thank God that your feet and legs, and arms are strong and functional. That you are blessed to live in a part of the world that makes moving easy and accessible! If you exercise at a gym, thank God that He’s providing the financial means to enjoy a place where you can improve your health and help your body to be its best. Enjoy the ability to breathe deeply. Thank Him for the endorphins that exercise provides to help elevate your mood!
Then, worship!!! I ONLY listen to worship music during my workouts and just sing and praise Him, and pray. I ask Him to speak truth and revelation to me during that time, and PRAISE Him for time set apart for that! When you know that you’re going into a time of praise and worship, you will actually find that you look forward to your workout times because you know that you will walk away from it with a fuller spirit and a healthier body!!!
Finally, seek Gods direction for the best form of exercise for you. Trust Him to lead you into His perfect will, what is good and acceptable in His sight for YOU and your body. I recommend doing away with fitness magazines and to view fitness blogs with caution. The Word tells us that, “[God] is not a God of confusion and disorder but of peace and order.” Seeking trustworthy guidance on how to safely exercise is one thing, but I find that if I spend too much time reading about other people’s workouts and getting too much input from the world, my mind becomes overwhelmed and confused by all the opinions of people. In those moments, I call on Proverbs 3:5, “Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and MIND and do not rely on your own [or other people’s] insight or understanding.” I become purposeful to return my thoughts to the Lord and seek His direction and peace even in my workouts.
Prayer: Lord, we thank you that we are perfectly made by your mighty hands. We praise you that you know everything about us, right down to the ideal form of exercise for our own bodies. Help us Lord to surrender this area of our lives to you now. Help us to commit that time to praise and worship and to celebrate the body we are moving in right now, at this moment, not the body we wish we had, and not what the world tells us is good and acceptable. Lord, renew our attitudes so that we may give YOU glory in all we do including how and why we move the precious gift of the body you gave us! In Jesus name, amen!
This Dashing Devotional was written by Sarah Shaffer, the newest member of the Dashing Dish team! To learn more about who Sarah is, and what her heart is all about, Click Here!
Putting an End to Secret Eating
By Sarah Shaffer
Several years ago when the Lord really began opening my eyes to His truth to change my thoughts toward disordered eating habits, he used my kids to teach me a life-changing lesson. In our house we have a saying, “sneaking is the same as lying.” I teach my kids that if you have to sneak something, you need to pause and question, is what I’m about to choose permissible AND beneficial? If not, that choice could easily lead down a difficult path. You are free to choose, but you are not free from the consequences of that choice.
Even now, it makes me smile to think about how the Lord uses the lessons we strive to teach our kids in our own lives. One day, I caught my little girl hiding in her closet with a number of her older brother’s “off limits” toys. She’d made a very purposeful decision to sneak something she knew wasn’t in her best interest. Minutes later, literally just moments after talking with her about why her sneaking would result in a consequence, I found myself in the kitchen. Specifically, in the pantry – light on, door closed – elbow deep in a bag of chips, very intent on stuffing in as many as I could before I was discovered. BAM!!!! My hypocrisy hit me like a ton of bricks. The Lord used that perfectly timed experience with my daughter to reveal a life-changing lesson to me. How could I lead my children into truth when this was the example I was setting for them?
The Lord used that moment and two verses in particular to change my heart toward “sneak” eating. Psalm 25:21 says, “May integrity and honesty protect me, for I put my hope in you.” And, Psalm 32:1-2 declares, “Oh, what joy for those whose rebellion is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of sin, whose lives are lived in complete honesty!”
Just as I encourage my children to make blameless choices, choices that they can be proud of no matter who’s watching, the Lord desires the same for you and me. Not because He is watching, waiting for us to “mess up”, or doesn’t trust us, but because He desires that things go well for us. He wants us to make choices that lead to blessed, peaceful paths. That day, I committed that particular area of my disordered eating to Him and laid sneak eating at the foot of the cross.
If you struggle in this area, let me just encourage you that the Lord is faithful to his beloved children. If you hand this over to the Lord, He will make you free. He will lead you along the right path and show you which way to turn. My prayer for you today is this – Lord, you tell us that where your spirit is there is freedom. We ask you now to send your Holy Spirit to gently direct us away from choices to sneak what may be permissible but not beneficial in our lives. We commit to you now to live our lives in the light, shield us with your love. In Jesus name, amen.”
The Word of God is alive, powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword! When we pray according to promises in the Word of God, we are praying in agreement with what God says about us! Nothing has impacted or changed my life more than when I found promises in the Word of God, wrote them down on notecards, and put them around my house, car, or wherever I could see them throughout the day! I started doing this years ago, and it was so life-changing, that I have continued to do it ever since! Whatever season we may be in, or whatever difficulties we may be facing, God’s Word has an answer, a promise, and and way out! When we agree and focus our attention on these promises, we can and will overcome anything that comes our way!
I wrote these prayers using scriptures from the Word of God that relate to different emotional battles that we all may go through in life. There is no ‘magic’ formula to praying these prayers. In fact, the way to develop a powerful, effective prayer life is by simply spending time with the Lord every day, which can and should include praying from your heart!
I would also encourage you to ask the Lord to show you scriptures that He has specifically for you…But I hope this helps get you started! I pray you are encouraged today by these prayers, and that the awesome Word of God reminds you who are in Christ, and the overcoming victory that you can have in Him!
Feel free to print these scripture-based prayers out for yourself! You could also write them down on notecards, in a journal, or share them with friends/family! To print out a PDF version click here!
Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.~ Proverbs 4:23
Proverbs 4:23 is both instruction and explanation. God first instructs us to guard our hearts. Then He explains why it is so important: because whatever is in our hearts will “determine the course” of our lives. In other words, whatever we put into our hearts will impact our lives in one way or another. That is why it is so important to make careful choices about what we let come into our eyes and ears, because they are the gateway to our hearts (Matthew 6:22).
But God doesn’t mean we need to live isolated from this world, tucked away so that we don’t have to worry about encountering negative input, but we do need to think twice about what we watch, read, and listen to if we want to live in a way that honors and glorifies God. Paul offered us this very practical advice for guarding our hearts “Whatever is true, whatever is noble,whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).
Is there an area in your life where you can begin to guard your heart more carefully? If so, I encourage you to submit that to the Lord today.
Prayer: Lord, please help me guard my heart from everything in this world that would pull me away from You. and to fill it with praiseworthy thoughts that glorify You. And I ask You, Lord, to keep me on the course of life that You have planned for me. In Jesus’ name, amen.