Thursday, November 1, 2012

My Ten Day Challenge

              Do you ever wonder where your bad habits come from? You know you need to put the cookies down and eat the carrots that have been sitting in the fridge waiting for you, but you can’t seem to do it? Or you know you need to drink more water, but the desire for coffee instead is just too great so you make another cup of steaming goodness. Over the years I have acquired some pretty bad eating habits, as well as bad choices when it comes to the foods I choose to eat or not eat. I would much rather have a piece of chocolate cake after my meal than a bowl of fruit. But, now that I am getting older I am seeing the affects that these bad choices are making on my body. I am not getting any younger, I know that, and I feel that, but I just can’t seem to put these bad habits to rest.
                I have never been one for exercising, the few hours of walking dogs that I do every day give me the excuse to not do anymore because I have already walked. But I am noticing lately that all these decisions are affecting me in the physical realm of my life. As I was praying today, I spoke to the Lord and told Him that I know all these things are bad for me, and the choices that I am making are hurting me more than they are helping me, but I can’t seem to find the motivation to change. His response to me was Daniel 1:8.
                “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank, therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.”
                As I read these words, I knew what the Lord was telling me, but my flesh went straight to excuses. “I can’t just start eating healthy, I would need to go get more groceries, and I just got our monthly budget of food.” The next excuse I came up with was, “I already walk dogs, do I really need to exercise more?” But the excuses do not change the fact that I am having some health issues which are a direct result of the very bad choices I have made in regards to my health. They are not serious issues, but if I do not change these habits now, the issues I am having will soon become serious issues.
                The Lord showed me that “Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself”, and in all truth, the choices that I am making are defiling the body that the Lord God has given me. To purpose in our hearts means to put, place, set, or appoint inanimate things so that they lay down. Paul said to us that we are to “bring our bodies into subjection.” (1 Cor. 9:27) Not too long ago the Lord and I had a similar conversation, where He showed me that to bring my body into subjection meant I had to beat it down, like a boxer beating his opponent. (Whack-A-Mole post) Daniel purposed in his heart, to me that means that with all force and all determination that was in him he made the choice to remain pure in the eyes of the Lord.
                Daniel lived in Babylon where the people sacrificed meat to idols and then gave the meat to the people to eat. Daniel was Jewish; therefore he could not in good conscience eat anything that was sacrificed to idols, for the Lord God forbade it. But how does that apply to me, who struggles with eating cookies rather than carrots, or drinking coffee instead of a glass of water, eating a bag of cheesy covered pretzels for lunch instead of a salad? These things are not offered up to idols and I am in no danger of sinning against God in that way, but still, when I ponder on it, I realize that these things are given up to idols-the idol of my flesh. My body craves caffeine because I have fed the desire for it. My body craves chocolate because I have offered it to my flesh time and time again.
                The one thing that I admire the most about Daniel and his choice to go vegetarian is that it was for God’s glory and God’s glory alone, Daniel did not choose to do this because of the bad health consequences that would follow, no, he chose to do it because it pleased the Lord God, and Daniel loved the Lord his God with all his heart, soul and mind.
                When I step back and think about all that Daniel gave up to glorify God, I have to ask myself if I too am able to sacrifice this flesh of mine upon the altar of God’s glory. I know I need to. For the past few weeks my body has been screaming at me to quit doing what I am doing and get right, because if I do not, bad things are going to happen. Daniel made a decision to not defile himself with things of this world, and the Lord God blessed him for it. Not only in his health but also in every other area of his life, he drew closer to God because he chose to set aside those things that were not pleasing to the Lord. I too need to make this decision and purpose in my heart to change my habits from bad to good, not for my sake, but for the glory of the Lord God who has purchased me and lives in me.
                Paul tells us that we are not our own, that our bodies are a dwelling place for God. “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” (1 Cor. 6:9) God, who lives on the inside of me, He is urging me to get my life into balance, and to bring all that I am, all that I have and all that I do into subjection unto Him. (Romans 12:1) I am to honor my Lord and my God with every area of my life, I am to be in submission to Him in every area of my life. There is no area of my life that God does not want to be a part of. He wants a personal, intimate relationship with me. He desires to rule over my heart, my soul, my body and my spirit. He bought them, He owns them, therefore, is it not only right that I give them to Him?
                I have been learning a lot about submission to God in every area of my life, and what it means to glorify Him with everything I am, have or desire. (Romans 12:1-3) Not only in my daily walk with Him, my service to Him, but also our household finances, and now, the food choices that I make. In every area I am to glorify Him and He will be there with me every step of the way. So, today, I am going to my doctor appointment and I am going to purpose in my heart to begin to make the right choices and break these bad habits that are slowly eating away at my body. It will not be easy, and I know there will be times when I want to give in and give up, but I must bring my body into subjection and be willing to deny myself so that I may grow in holiness and in my commitment to God. He desires it, so I should too.
                Daniel 1:12-14, “Please test your servants for ten days, and let them give us vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our appearance be examined before you, and the appearance of the young men who eat the portion of the king’s delicacies; and as you see fit, so deal with your servants”. So he consented with them in this matter, and tested them ten days.” The Lord God has issued me a challenge today to test him in this matter for ten days. I am going to purpose in my heart to take up this challenge and do so, for ten days I am going to drink water instead of coffee, and carrots instead of cookies. I will get on the exercise bike that we just purchased instead of taking a 30 minute nap. His promise to me at the end of these ten days is found in Daniel 1:15 and 17, “And at the end of ten days their features appeared better and fatter in flesh than all the young men who ate the portion of the king’s delicacies….(17) God gave them knowledge and skill in literature and wisdom and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.”
                God will do for us as He did for Daniel and the four Jewish boys that followed his lead. God will begin to heal the bad habits and I will begin to feel better, and I will also grow in my relationship with Him. That to me is motivation enough. I will begin my ten days today, and, if the Lord leads, I will blog my progress and let you all know how it is going. Pray for me, please, to stay strong and to stay purposed in my heart to bring glory to God in every area of my life, including the choices I make about my health. In Jesus Name, I do pray for strength and purpose, and a good Doctor visit today. Amen and Amen.