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Indulgence is Not a Worthy ‘Reward’

22 Jul

Ethel Mae woke up in the middle of the night and decided to get a drink of water. 

But on the way to the refrigerator, she passed the candy dish and grabbed a butterscotch candy. Then on the way to the cupboard for a glass, she opened the snack drawer and grabbed a Hostess Twinkie. Then she took her glass over to the refrigerator to get some chilled water and stopped off at the cookie jar for some peanut butter cookiesFinally, she picked up the pitcher and poured herself some water. And grabbed the leftover pie on the top shelf before she shut the refrigerator door.

After munching on her treats, she headed back to bed and crawled under the covers; but she accidentally woke up her husband, Harry, who said he felt thirsty. 

“I’ll get it!” Ethel Mae said … getting up with a big smile. 

I can’t say I’ve had a middle-of-the-night food binge like that, but when I went on a food program to get healthy and lose weight, I soon realized how indulgent I can be.

John Bloom at DesiringGod.org says, “We are all self-indulgers. The whole lot of us. Let’s just admit it upfront and help each other fight!”

Indulgence is foolish and selfish.

And sinful!

When we indulge rather than fight or abstain from “the passions of the flesh,” we’re only inviting more problems.

[I’m not talking about the planned-for dessert or a well-chosen and hopefully healthy occasional “treat.” There’s a difference related to motive.]

We know indulgence when we see it. Indulgence puts a damper on our desire to please the Lord and is contrary to wisely stewarding our bodies.

Indulgence can be heinous, but it can be subtle too. It can even be a form of idolatry. The enemy of our soul can even deceive us into believing indulgence is a good thing… a REWARD.

What? A reward?

Yes, I discovered this trickery while deep into my healthy eating plan. I proudly marked off a week of staying “on program” and said to myself,

You deserve a treat!”

So I started with an extra “allowable” food bar (which is really a candy bar dressed up in protein).

  • Then a few animal crackers.
  • Then a brownie.
  • Then an ice cream sandwich.

Soon, I was totally out of control.

I was living out what my nutritionist says,

“You have the disease of ‘MORE!'”

It’s a “heart” disease, and escalating indulgence is one of the clues I have it.

We need to be careful when we equate “deserving” with indulging. Indulgence—too much of a good thing—can be a first step on a fresh journey away from self-control. 

That’s how subtle this form of idolatry is. The thing we indulge in—in my case, sugar or overly-starchy foods—can become a driving “master” in our lives; we can find our indulgence addictive and destructive.

Our emotions can trick us.

Bloom says, “At the moment of indulging, it doesn’t feel like an enemy. It feels like a reward that makes us happy. … But after indulging, defeat hangs like a heavy yoke around the neck of our souls.”

I thought indulgence was my “reward” for obedience and wise choices. But that was a lie—a false promise built on a false premise.

My reward should have been the joy found in pleasing the Lord.

Rather than the joy of fulfilling a temporary craving, I should have focused on eternal truths like the one found in Luke 9:23-25:

… “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.  For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?”

The truth is, indulgence should not be part of my life in ANY form—pride and self-glory, greed, gluttony or any lust of the flesh.

I should be “awake and have control,” not be sleepy and indulgent!

My body is God’s dwelling place, and I am set apart for the praise of His glory.

Being “set apart” is being sanctified and holy, and those words are incongruous with the word “indulgent.”

But I have to confess. Sometimes it’s just plain hard not to indulge.

That’s when I need an eternal focus. I must remember my real reward is the “prize” awaiting me from the Lord at His return.

As Jesus said in Revelation 22:12: “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done.”

And His reward will be a lot more satisfying than a middle-of-the-night food spree.

Do you struggle with indulging in sinful attitudes and behaviors? What is the lie you are believing, or the false promise you’re embracing? 

 – Dawn

Graphic courtesy of cohdra-Morguefile

 

 

Family Tree Tangles

17 Feb

I get a kick out of all those ancestry sites on television lately—people finding out more about their extended family tree. It reminded me of some humor I saw last year:

I sent that “Ancestry” site some information on my family tree. They sent me back a packet of seeds and suggested I just start over!*

There’s a real truth in the midst of that humor!

newseeds_lolwithgod_diyseedpacketgraphic_adapted_almostmakesperfect-com

For many years, I tried to grow something beautiful out of my life with a lot of self-effort. I read oodles of self-help books and listened to self-improvement tapes.

There was a lot of insight in those resources, the problem was, it’s really hard to grow something beautiful from bad seed.

I was still, as the scriptures say, “in Adam,” and that made beautiful growth hopeless (1 Corinthians 15:22a; Romans 5:19a)

Adam brought sin into the world with his disobedience to the Lord’s command. His sin resulted in condemnation and spiritual death. Because of Adam, all humanity is born in sin. Adam was the “federal head” of the human race, and with his sin, all of humanity was separated from God, deserving only spiritual death. 

Like the self-righteous Pharisees (John 8:44), I could make some progress, but even then, it was often with wrong motives. Like the Pharisees, I was inwardly a rebel against the Lord—just like proud, self-focused Satan (Isaiah 14:13-14).

I had to face the fact that I was addicted to sin. I was in bondage to it.

I had to come to the point where I realized an important truth:

I didn’t need self-help. I needed God-help!

I needed the life and power to change that only comes in Jesus Christ.

“For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22).

“For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:19)

My desire for never-ending self-help ended for me on September 7, 1971, when I received the gift of life in Christ.

In Christ, I am a new creation. When I received His grace, I was made righteous. (2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 2:4-6; John 1:12-13).

To be in Christ, means I was “with Him” in his death, burial and resurrection—the payment for my sin. Now I am a “joint heir” with Him, and I am placed into “the body of Christ”. I am forgiven, no longer separated from God, and free from bondage to sin. (Romans 6:3-5; 8:17; Ephesians 3:1-6; Colossians 1:14: Ephesians 2:12-13; John 8:36; Romans 8:2)

Although I still want to grow and change, I know I cannot make choices for eternity without the Lord. I know I am made “the righteousness of God in Him.” I am set apart and made holy for His use and complete in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21; Colossians 2:9-10)

It’s a totally different perspective. The old seed was destroyed and the Lord planted “new seed” in my heart.

This new seed grows, strengthens, empowers, makes change possible, and encourages me to love, bless and serve others (Ephesians 1:16-21; 3:16; Romans 6:4, 14; Ephesians 5:8).

The Lord works in me “both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).

I can cooperate with faith and obedience, but I know it is only God who cultivates His new seed within me.

Are you operating from bad seed? Are you still caught up in self-help? Is it time for some new seed?

 – Dawn

 * Cybersalt Digest, Issue 4027, 2/12/15, Oneliner #0984

Graphic adapted, used with permission: DIY Seed packet (http://almostmakesperfect.com/2015/05/12/diy-seed-packets-with-free-printable/)

 

Ho Ho NO!

2 Dec

There’s always a jokester in the Christmas crowd.

I ran across these (clean) “Dirty Santa” gifts:

  • A book called “Crafting with Cat Hair” giftnotinluded_lolwithgod_energizerbatteries_2
  • A wall-mounted fishbowl
  • An adult “onesie” (footy pajamas)
  • A shirt that reads, “Have You Tried Turning It Off and On Again” (for the technically challenged
  • A “Hooked on Yodeling” CD
  • A Gummy Bear lamp
  • A Zombie survival crate
  • Bacon-themed adhesive bandages
  • And my favorite: “Gift NOT Included” (a box full of batteries)

Gifts are a huge part of Christmas, whether it’s “Dirty Santa” gifts at the office, donations to charities and ministries, or gorgeously-wrapped gifts under the home Christmas tree.

Some of the gifts we receive make us smile. Others make us think, “Ho, Ho … NO!”

  • Maybe the giver didn’t take the time to think about what would please us. Maybe they just didn’t know. 
  • Maybe the giver wasn’t creative—I mean, six years of socks or soap-on-a-rope might not be so welcome. A truly creative giver takes into account our needs, not just what we can check off a shopping list.
  • Maybe the giver was giving “on the cheap.” The Dollar Store can be a great starting point to create a truly special gift. But then again. While some Pinterest ideas are gorgeous; others, not so much.

I’m taking lessons from the Greatest Giver of all time.

1. God the Father knows us inside and out. He knows our deepest yearnings, not just the things we express to others. (Psalm 139)

2. God the Father is creative in giving to us exactly what we need, if not what we think we want. His gifts may not look like much on the surface, because His ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). In fact, they might look like sorrow or difficulty. But they will deeply resonate with our hearts and teach us valuable lessons we might not learn any other way.

Trials are training! Good gifts!

Strengthening gifts. Gifts that protect us. Gifts that develop our character. Gifts that teach us wisdom and how to trust God more. (Proverbs 3:5-6; James 1:2-6, 12; Galatians 6:9; Hebrews 10:35-36; 12:5-11; 2 Corinthians 12:9-10; Psalm 121:5-8; Romans 5:3-6; 8:28-29)

3. God the Father gave the most expensive gift ever. When Jesus came to earth, it was at great sacrifice, and He was the gift that keeps on giving—for those who would believe. (John 3:16; 1 John 4:14; 2 Corinthians 9:15)

This Christmas, I am taking time to give thanks for every gift I’ve received from the Father’s hand.

I invite you to join me.

Instead of a Ho, Ho, NO … let’s lift up Hallelujahs of praise to the One who so loved us, He gave an indescribable gift. And He keeps giving, and giving and giving.

Write a Thank You note to the Father today… in prayer.

~ Dawn

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