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July 2, 2018

FIT PROJECT – WEEK 9

Overcoming the Battle to Be Fit

Most of what I used to eat came in a sealed box or bag. I never prayerfully considered how much of it I should consume or the amount I would feed to others. As a Christian, I believe we have to be concerned with what we eat but not as much as how we eat it. Double-cheeseburgers, burritos, and pizza used to be my sustenance, and my kids lived off of lunchables and Happy Meals. What I saw in my life was a lack of stewardship for my body and theirs by never considering healthier alternatives. Once I learned that God has a plan for all our bodies, I became more aware of the compromising convenience of processed foods.

We were not designed to be greedy little pigs. We are like sheep living in a healthy environment under the care and nourishment of our shepherd, Jesus.

For thus says the Lord God: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out.…I will feed them with good pasture, and on the mountain heights of Israel shall be their grazing land.…I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them in justice.…Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture?…I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep.  —Ezek. 34:11,14,16,18,20

As God watches over us, His desire is for us to be spiritually restored to Him and to be physically restored for Him. Our purpose includes spiritually feeding others while being spiritually fed with wisdom and physically feeding others while being physically fed in wisdom. God wants us to be a people of hospitality and generosity. When we feed on the good pasture, things like fighting over restaurant tables ceases, the shoving and trampling at grocery stores diminishes, and those who are starving get the attention of us who have way too much to eat.

Enjoy Freedom the Healthy Way

Are we free in Christ to eat and drink whatever we want? Absolutely! God loves it when our thirst and hunger are satisfied to His glory, but not at the neglect of our spiritual and physical well-being. The problem occurs when we take it overboard and subject our bodies to imbalances in its various parts, such as chemically in the brain.

There is nothing spiritually or physically good about postprandial somnolence—or commonly known as food coma.Food comas decrease conscious awareness and activate lethargywhile throwing off the way your body uses protein and energy. Blood flow to the brain is diverted and makes you tired and sleepy. Imagine doing this to yourself three times a day, and then you can easily see how it presents a problem to health and fitness.

Jesus has declared all foods clean, and Paul the apostle wisely instructs us that we must never put lawful things into our bodies at an indulgent rate. Careless eating and binge drinking causes damage to our bodies and can turn us into alcoholics and food addicts if we’re not careful. We must be cautious to digest nothing that would take God’s place as the highest and ultimate satisfier.

“All things are lawful for me,”but not all things are helpful.“All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything.  —1 Cor. 6:12

Since God is our source of true fulfillment, wisdom says to seek His ways in what we eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Since God is our source of true contentment, seeking His counsel regarding our workouts and exercise programs honors Him as creator. Utilizing our bodies in devotion to His will and purpose with enthusiasm and energy is an indelible mark of a true Christ follower.

God has created and purposed us to imitate Him, to chase after His attributes and character. Aligning our minds, souls, and bodies to resemble Jesus is a beautiful display of our faith and our desire to be like Him. It demonstrates the strong connection and unbreakable bond that exists within those who love Him. It’s like children aspiring to be like their parents and make them proud, embracing the inheritance of their family name. When we as brothers and sisters in Christ make good choices regarding the strength of our minds and the health of our bodies, we testify of His goodness as father and His greatness as lord.

Fitness After God’s Own Heart

There was once a man named David who reigned as king over all Israel. You probably know him best from the story of David andGoliathin which he struck down the nation of Israel’s most fearsomeenemy with a slingshot and a single stone. It was a battle that spawned a wave of prosperity for David and would be remembered for all time. During his fight with Goliath, there was a short dialogue just before he victoriously prevailed over the Philistine champion. David said:

“This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down…and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves.”  —1 Sam. 17:46–47

From that day forward, David was known as a warrior, heroic leader, and courageous man of faith. But his most unique quality is that he is remembered as a man after God’s own heart. No other king throughout biblical history was ever described as a man after God’s own heart or thought of in that way.

What made David so special? Surely, he had his share of shortcomings, spiritually and physically. He definitely struggled. But he was also a longsuffering, merciful, and forgiving man. He was a king who loved his enemies when they didn’t deserve it.

Distinct from all other monarchs, he quickly admitted his faults. Unlike Adam, who blamed Eve for his sin, David experienced great blessing and hallowing since he was consistent in taking responsibility for his actions and confessing his wrongdoings to God. David also showed compassion to many and forgave many. He was filled with an endless desire to know God, praise God, and worship Him. As a man after God’s own heart, he yearned for the spiritual and physical restoration that only his lord and savior could provide.

In Psalm 144, David sings praise about God’s master plan for our bodies and His created order. God is our foundation for everything in life, and it is God who prepares us physically for the work He has for us to do. He is always our source of strength and protection from the unlawful and the unhelpful. David was aware of all this. He also knew that it was God who made him king and gave him his authority on Earth.

Blessed be the Lord,my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle; he is my steadfast love andmy fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield and hein whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me.          —Ps.144:1–2

God is a divine warrior who fought for righteousness in the case of David and his enemies. In my case, God helped me fight against the enemy within. Whenever I was tempted to drown myself in alcoholism or binge eat due to stress and depression, the Holy Spirit was there to keep me on course. Like Satan deceived Eve to eat what was forbidden, the non-believing world led me astray with seemingly harmless fun and shameless debauchery. For the longest time, I was convinced that lying, cheating, and stealing was okay, denying that my mind, hands, and mouth were made for integrity, truth, and fruitfulness.

Stretch out your hand from on high; rescue me and deliver mefrom the many waters, from the hand of foreigners, whose mouths speak lies and whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood. —Ps. 144:7–8

 We Were Designed for Good Health

Although an imperfect man, David put all his trust in God, which was why he got down on his knees to pray and worship God in times of need. David would often plead with God to help him in his weakness, giving thanks and praise to Him as he received God’s blessing and deliverance.

I will sing a new song to you, O God; upon a ten-stringedharp I will play to you, who gives victory to kings,who rescues David his servant from the cruel sword. —Ps. 144:9–10

David was fully aware that his soul belonged to his maker and that he was bodily God’s design, set apart for a monumental purpose. He loved God and God’s Holy Spirit. Humbled by his own sinful nature, David knew that nothing he received from God was ever deserved but that God had found favor with him because of his heart. He knew God was perfect in every way and therefore sought to make Him known as the perfect creator.

David possessed a desire to emancipate the demoralization of this world by proclaiming and restoring the name of God, who originally created us for good and for the good of others. He made us to walk the earth in perfect bliss, to be flawlessly strong and faultlessly competent, enjoying our families in good health with bountiful food and plentiful pleasure. That was David’s vision throughout this fabulous psalm of great renown.

May our sons in their youth be like plants full grown, our daughters like corner pillars cut for the structure of a palace;may our granaries be full, providing all kinds of produce; may our sheep bring forth thousands and ten thousands in our fields; may our cattle be heavy with young, suffering no mishap or failure in bearing; may there be no cry of distress in our streets! Blessed are the people to whom such blessings fall! Blessed are the people whose God is the Lord! —Ps. 144:12–15

 Jesus Loves God’s Design for Our Bodies

God sent Jesus to fulfill this beautiful vision of good health and thriving humanity in Christ, orchestrating the proper time and place to carry out His mission. With specific objectives, Jesus carried out that redemptive conquest—first, by being the perfect example of the master plan for our bodies, and second, by sacrificing His unblemished body to be the perfect mediator between us and God—so we could be reconciled to Him, reborn as a new creation in Christ.

When we believe, Jesus’s righteousness of both His body and His soul is transferred to us, along with the cancellation and eradication of our wrongdoings. And now, God has exalted Jesus higher than any other name in all of heaven and earth. Our bodies are spiritually and physically attached to His name through faith. The plan is to one day be glorified with Him in perfect, everlasting health.

Throughout Jesus’s ministry, He declared a revolution of radical faith, influencing many to believe, performing miraculous physical healings, bringing mercy and life to an oppressed people. Jesus came to teach us that He is the way, the truth, and the life. He is the way because He provided the perfect body for our spiritual restoration. He is the truth because He is the bona fide son of the irrefutable God. He is the life because in Him, we are spiritually and physically restored as new creations.

Jesus made blind men see and crippled people walk. He turned immoral mistresses into women of purity and transformed religious nose-punchers into gracious peacemakers.

Jesus can do the same for you as you do this:

[T]rain yourself for godliness. —1 Tim. 4:7

And as you do this:

[W]ork out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it isGod who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.  —Phil. 2:12–13

Jesus helped me embrace the new self by teaching me to humbly ask God what His original intent was for my body when He created me, but also, as a redeemed soul and His temple, to continuously listen to what God’s master plan is for my body going forward. When I examined all the things I did with my body as my old self, I compared them to the actions, deeds, and fruit of the Holy Spirit. What I saw was a huge disconnect, a long history of compromise and hypocrisy.

 Live with the End in View

There was a bigger picture I never thought about, a deeper meaning to life that was way beyond what I saw at surface level. I was going through life as if it were meant to be spent on a few buffets and drunken parties in between. I was using my hands to hoard like a squirrel, and my mouth was like a pig’s in a trough. My appetite was foolish, like a dog eating its own vomit. If my stomach and my mid-section could speak during that time, I guarantee you they would have testified to the unlawful and unhelpful things I put into my body.

There’s a better, more pleasurable way to live that brings unending joy and satisfaction. It is through God’s word, as Job says:

I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food.  —Job 23:12

And it is through God’s will, as Jesus says:

“My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplishhis work.”  —John 4:34

His word and His will are what we must turn to for all things concerning our bodies, not drugs and alcohol, not pork rinds and doughnuts. Our source to carry on, to endure, to relieve stress, to quench thirst and satisfy hunger is the one who created our bodies and breathed His spirit into our nostrils, giving life to every part of us.

Our hands were designed to bring praise and honor to God, to use them for good everywhere we are, whether at work, at play, in relationships, or caring for our families. Our hands manage the ground He gave us to walk on and build and construct homes in the world He gave us. Our armsand our shoulderswere made to help us do the heavy lifting, to carry crates of food for the poor, bags of clothes for the naked, and boxes of medicine for the sick. These are all things that require a congregation of vibrance and energy.

Our feet were designed for us to stand in awe of our marvelous creator and be amazed in the presence of Jesus. Let us use our mouths to confess and our voices to sing of His love for us, to shout and cheer for His victory. But we must not do this just among ourselves. Our legs were designed for community, to walk and travel to where others are, to go to those who are lost and in desperate need of His gospel, to run to every corner of the earth, leaping for joy with the urgent message that Jesus gives eternal life and everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

That is what our bodies were created for. And God gives us our own mind to know it, our own eyes to see it, our own ears to hear it, and our own hearts to believe it. But that’s not all. He gave us His son and His Holy Spirit. He has held nothing back from us so we, His people, may know that He is alive in us.

And we must be alive in Him. When we live in the image of God, we stand out from those living for their own self-image. When we can see past individuality and self-expression to live according to God’s design, we can be transformed by His grace and majesty. That is how we worship Him, by offering our minds, bodies, and souls as living sacrifices to Him. Only then can the whole world take a step back and, just by looking at us, know that He has forged us to serve a purpose.

Love you guys,

Everett

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