This post is to all my Christian friends... but everyone can feel free to read along.
I really wanted to talk to you about nutrition.
This is probably a fair way from what you’re thinking so please allow me to divert your train of thought.
I know that our souls work a lot like our spiritual lives; we often get out what we put in. If we constantly consume junk we will become sluggish and sick. It is often difficult to follow God externally as we live out our lives.
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” (1Pe 5:8 NKJV)
It’s relatively easy to look like a ‘well behaved Christian’ on a Sunday and a lot harder throughout the week (especially when we ignore God and neglect to ask for His help in our lives). This may be difficult but, I think, hardest of all is my thought life; that innermost part of me that is between me and God. That part where excessive comforts and temptations confront the power of God in my life and I am asked to choose – God or self. If I think about it then I realise that it is no choice at all...
""As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love." - (John 15:9 NKJV)
"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." - (Romans 5:8 NKJV)
To choose God really is to choose myself, but sometimes I have such an emphasis on the ‘here and now’ that I ignore God’s love and everlasting plan for me. Some days we can get tired and just want to veg on the couch... this is not wrong in and of itself but if I were to choose to give up work/neglect my family in order to do this every day that is when the effect of relaxation in my life becomes toxic and I (and probably those around me) begin to suffer its effects.
Some thoughts (leading to possibly the most subtle dangerous roads) are not dangerous in and of themselves. I could think, perhaps, of going on a holiday, of moving house, of my general appearance, even of my friends and family, but if these thoughts become the sole focus of my thought life or even esteemed above God that is when they become idols and obsessions.
Even the road away from these is fraught with strife but our choices are succumb, flee or fight.
"Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual [hosts] of wickedness in the heavenly [places]. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints--" - (Ephesians 6:11-18 NKJV)
For me, my thought life is the place where I most struggle. It may not be the only place I struggle, but it is the hardest. If I want to eat junk food then I have to walk to the pantry or travel to the store. If I want to be consumed with shopping or makeup or most things external then there is a process I need to go through to achieve those desires. Our thought lives can be far more subtle... an innocent quarrel with a friend can turn to hatred. Thoughts of looking presentable can turn to vanity. Thoughts of self-worth can turn to pride. Even deficiencies in an area can lead to desiring those things and the things we lack and can also become our obsessions.
Why am I going on about all this? Because there is so much to draw our attention away from it.
Am I ever going to be completely free from all temptations and attacks on my thought life? Almost certainly not until I get to heaven. Really that’s the point and it’s also the challenge. I need to stand with God and fight the things that lead me into spiritual sickness.
""And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, 'These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: "I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. "So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. "Because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing'--and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked-- "I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, [that] the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. "To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne." - (Revelation 3:14-21 NKJV)
"Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest [your] hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, [as] in your ignorance; but as He who called you [is] holy, you also be holy in all [your] conduct, because it is written, "Be holy, for I am holy." And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay [here] in fear; knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, [like] silver or gold, from your aimless conduct [received] by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot." - (1 Peter 1:13-19 NKJV)
“... we need to do whatever it takes to focus our thoughts on those things that allow us to serve God successfully, all the while eliminating any thoughts that would trip us up (Heb 12:1)... [on being sober] Peter’s concern here is primarily using mentally of spiritually sound judgement... We need to exhibit confidence that God will accomplish all that He promised He would do (1 Pet 1:3; Rom 8:24, 25)... From beginning to the end, we are recipients of God’s abounding grace (Rom 8:28-30)”
(p 1678, Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Commentary, 1999)
For a very very long time I was a 60% kind of Christian (maybe less) so at most I would say to God, “Here’s all the things I am willing to admit to so that You can work on these things”. In this way I would try to hide things from God and so I lived with the oxymoron that although God knows all things at the same time I could hide things from Him or distract Him so He would not notice. In reality God does know everything so it is useless to hide from Him
"If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me," even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you." - (Psalm 139:8-18 NIV)
There are times when I think it would be wonderful to have a heart and mind fully surrendered to Christ without having to struggle day to day with different areas and yet it is through these struggles, through crying out to Him for help, that I am slowly learning to hold fast to Him and the things He desires for me. Jesus never said following Him would be easy, but it is worth it.
"Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand." - (Ephesians 6:13 NIV)
What is the daily result of fully turning our lives over to Christ?
Struggling on our own leads to failure but giving our lives to Christ leads to victory.
""Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."" - (Matthew 11:28-30 NIV)
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other." - (Galatians 5:22-26 NIV)
Please know that I don’t say these things because I am good at them. Not in the least! I know this is an area I struggle with *big-time*!!!
If you have read this far then I take my hat off to you! Am I asking you to trust me in what I say? May it never be! Read the Bible and seek God’s will for your life. Hold back nothing and give Him everything!