Sunday, July 22, 2012


Food is not the Problem

Day 5

Today we are studying Day 5 of 60 of The Lord’s Table online course at Setting Captives Free.

Many of us come to this course desperately seeking help to lose weight—but now trying to do it “God’s way.” We have tried practically every diet under the sun—resulting in utter failure.  

Why do you think other diets failed you? Weren’t these other diets created by highly regarded health and nutrition experts? Didn’t you learn much about calories, carbohydrates, proteins, and fat grams? Yes, this is good information, but they all possess one fatal error—they assume food is the problem.

The diet industry is correct in observing the facts that too many calories in and too little calories burned cause weight gain. Their hypothesis: If we are overweight, then food is the problem. Their solution is to change the types of food we eat to bring about weight loss.

But God’s solution is contrary to their solution:

Colossians 2:20-23
20 Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations-- 21 Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle," 22 which all concern things which perish with the using - according to the commandments and doctrines of men? 23 These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.

The principles of the world are man-made system of rules—which focus only on the external body. It does not deal with the issues of the heart—which is where real change takes place. Haven’t you noticed that when you are told to deny your body something that it craves, you only want it more? That’s because your heart attitude did not change with the behavior. That is the problem. Food is not the problem.

 So, when we understand that our condition is a result of indulging the flesh, we realize it is foolish to change the types of foods with which we indulge the flesh. If I forsake eating of all breads and only indulge with meat, what have I profited? My heart and lifestyle have not changed and even though I might lose weight for a time, it will surely come back on until I learn the problem is I have a habit of indulging my flesh, rather than the type of food I eat.

Full In Christ

Paul warns the Colossians to beware of those who will try to control and manipulate you into living under the burden of man’s rules and restrictions instead of the freedom found only in Christ.

Colossians 2:8-10 says, 8 Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. 9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; 10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.

This Christian life is not about outward behavior. Restricting certain foods or denying ourselves certain types of foods by following a set of man-made rules is not what following Christ is about. God looks at the inward part of us—the heart. He wants our hearts to be filled up with Him and then our outward behavior will conform to what’s inside our hearts.

Nothing Is To Be Refused

In 1 Timothy 4:1-5, Paul points out that commands to abstain from foods which God created is in the list of the characteristics of those who depart from the faith!

“1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, 3 forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. 4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; 5 for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer." 1 Tim 4:1-5

Note: I would like to make a distinction between foods God created verses the “anti-food” man has created which is passed off as food, such as Twinkies and other chemically processed “foods.” I’m not saying eating the anti-food is a sin, but we must answer to God if these anti-foods are causing physical harm and weakness.

So, what are Christians to do if we want to lose weight?
We are to receive all types of “real” food with thanksgiving to God who created it. We are to eat the God-created foods in a disciplined and self-controlled manner. This is a life-style approach rather than the temporary diet method.

For the Christian, this way of life requires a constant feeding on the Word of God, praying without ceasing and being filled with the Holy Spirit as we live in this self-indulgent fallen world. 

Monday, November 14, 2011



Day 4

Today we are studying Day 4 of 60 of The Lord’s Table online course at Setting Captives Free.

Today’s lesson discusses the subject of fasting. Fasting is the spiritual discipline of denying your fleshly desires for the purpose of putting away sin, putting on godliness, drawing closer to God, and getting His guidance.

The Wrong Way To Fast

There is a right way to fast and a wrong way to fast. For example, Isaiah 58:3-4 describes the wrong way to fast:

“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers. 4 Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists. You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high.”

The prophet Isaiah called out those who were fasting in the wrong way. They were doing as they pleased by exploiting people, quarreling and fighting. In the end, God did not hear their prayers.

What Does Jesus Say About Fasting?

Matthew 6:16-18 is another example of fasting incorrectly:

“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth; they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

Jesus taught his disciples how to fast. First, he told them what fasting was not—looking somber, disfigured faces, showcasing themselves in front of others. God ignores this kind of fasting. Then, he told them God’s way of fasting—putting oil on your head and washing your face so that others will not notice that you are fasting. God rewards this type of fasting.

The Proper Way To Fast

The prophet Isaiah records God’s heart on fasting. We are given instructions on how to fast in such a way as to please God. Isaiah 58:6 says,

Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?

Fasting is freeing

Here’s the hope for the overeater! We are told that fasting is “to set the oppressed free and break every yoke.” Did you ever think that overeating was this serious? Yes, it is! Habitual overeating/starving/bingeing is oppressive. It is bondage. Fasting to God breaks sin’s power and frees us from its control over us.

Mike Cleveland makes this note of caution:

“This verse that tells us fasting "sets the oppressed free and breaks every yoke" is not at all meant to teach that fasting can replace the redemptive work of Jesus Christ on the cross. If fasting is all we needed to do to be free from sin's power, then Jesus would not have needed to die. This verse is meant to communicate that fasting, if done properly, humbles us and shows us our tremendous need for God every moment (with every hunger pang), it drives us to Jesus Christ for grace in our time of need (which is often), and it helps to bring us near to Christ to experience the power of His presence. So, please understand, fasting, in itself, is not a replacement for the power of the cross of Jesus Christ, which alone breaks sin's power and sets captives free. Rather, it is meant to drive us to the throne of grace, enable us to cry out for mercy, and to receive the assistance of Almighty God.”

Proper fasting is other-centered

Isaiah 58:7 says,

7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter - when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

This verse teaches us that our hearts have to be transformed. Sinful eating is self-focused. We only think of satisfying ourselves when we overeat. We are not thinking about others. Our hearts must turn from craving our own wants, needs and desires, and focus on the needs of others.

For example, when you are trapped in habitual overeating, you are striving for comfort or escape from unwanted feelings and emotions. All of your energy goes to this behavior. You have no time, energy, or desire for the things of God. Therefore, you cannot focus on others that Isaiah 58:7 is speaking.

However, when you decide to seek God through fasting, turning from the sin of overeating, then you will discover what God wants you to do for others. You probably already know what God has called you to, but overeating is preventing you from flourishing in that calling. If you do not know what God is calling you to do for others, then fasting is the perfect tool you need to seek the answer from Him.

Fasting is healing

God, not only shows us how to fast, but He also gives us the results of fasting.

Isaiah 58:8 states:

“Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. 9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.”

When you fast God’s way, He promises newness of life, healing, right living, and His divine protection. He promises to answer your call and to help you when you cry out to Him. That translates into being completely set free from overeating, starving yourself, and bingeing!

Fasting is satisfying

Isaiah continues to express the importance of doing away with sin and living righteously. Verse 9-11 states,

“If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, 10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. 11 The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.”

This passage tells us that if we stop treating people poorly (oppressing, pointing fingers, malicious talk), and give ourselves to meeting the needs of others, then God will satisfy all our needs. If the overeater fast to the Lord properly, then God will satisfy your needs when you are in a sun-scorched land—dealing with painful situations in life—and will make you a stronger person.

What To Do While Fasting

The book of Daniel gives us a good example of what a proper fast looks like. Read Daniel 9:1-5. This chapter opens with Daniel studying the Word of God. This is how God communicated to Daniel what He was doing.

This knowledge led Daniel to set his face toward God—“to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes…and made confession.”

Daniel was diligent in studying God’s Word and acting on it by praying, fasting, and confessing sins in order to get receive God’s mercy.

When you fast to be set free from overeating, do not just go about your day as usual. Make it a time of prayer, worship, and supplication in asking for His forgiveness, and confessing your sins to God—drawing closer to Him.

My Testimony

It is my testimony that staying in God’s Word, prayer, supplication, worship, confessing my sins AS I fasted is the avenue God used to set me free from habitually overeating. The main type of fasting I did was what some call the “Daniel” fast. I made a commitment to the Lord that I would eat only fruits and vegetables until I was completely set free from gluttony. It worked—just as He promised!

Monday, November 7, 2011


Victory is here at last!

Day 3 

Today we are studying Day 3 of 60 of The Lord’s Table online course at Setting Captives Free.

In today’s lesson, Mike Cleveland writes,   

“If you're like me, you've tried everything to lose weight. Maybe you even did fairly well on some of the programs you tried - for awhile! But somehow you drifted away from the plan, and found yourself back at square one, enslaved to the same old eating habits, with no hope of ever experiencing the freedom you so desperately need. Where is real victory to be found? What can change our eating habits once and for all? Is there a way to be satisfied in Christ and know that we will never return to the old ways of using food in an attempt to satisfy the heart?”

Those are very good questions that we have asked on more than one occasion. The answer to those questions is conditional. Yes, if you do it God’s way. No, if you do it your way or the world’s way.

How to stop overeating God’s way:

Mike also asks, “So, how do we stop using food wrongly without turning to some other addiction, such as drinking, smoking, or something else to try to fill the void? How can we keep from attempting to satisfy our emptiness with food?”

God’s way requires faith and humility. It takes faith to truly believe what He says in His Word. It takes humility to admit your weaknesses and to ask God for His strength and power help you overcome sinful eating habits once and for all.

God tells us exactly what to do in His Word to overcome sin, but we must believe it and apply it to our lives by faith.

Psalm 81:10-12 states,

10 I am the LORD your God, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt; Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it. 11 But My people would not heed My voice, And Israel would have none of Me. 12 So I gave them over to their own stubborn heart, To walk in their own counsels.

In this passage, the Psalmist is telling of Israel’s disobedience during their regular festivals. Asaph exhorted the people to praise God for His acts of national deliverance. However, they did not obey God and God could not bless them.

In verse ten, God commands them to “open your mouth wide” and the promised gift is that He will fill it. This is symbolic for eagerly receiving what God wants to give—like baby chicks with their mouths wide open waiting eagerly to receive what Momma bird wants to feed them.

Open Your Mouth Wide

Instead of opening our mouths wide to indulge in a gallon of our favorite ice cream, we are to open our mouths wide to what God wants to give us through His Word and a rich relationship with Him.

We are to replace running to food to escape unwanted emotions with running to our Heavenly Father in humble submission. As we do this, He helps to break our stubborn pride so that we can listen to Him.

This is what God desires for you and me. He wants us to obey Him by being totally dependent on Him for all of our needs. It is through that dependence that He will fill our souls to satisfaction—and there will be no need to run to food.

And I Will Fill It

God desires to bless us by filling our souls to satisfaction in Him alone. He fills us through His Word. In His Word, we discover the real purposes for every circumstance we use to run to food.

When your car breaks down once again and you have no money to fix it, there is a good and godly purpose in that. Do you really think eating five pieces of chocolate cake will help you with this situation? Absolutely not! No matter how tasty it is in the moment. After it is gone, you are still faced with a difficult financial and transportation problem.

What are you to do? Get busy opening your mouth wide, not to the chocolate cake, but to God and His Word. Remember what He says in Philippians 4:19?  “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Remove the pride, fear and anxiety so that you can listen, hear, and believe what God wants to give you.

As you put your faith and trust in God through Jesus Christ, instead of food, He is able to provide you with a financial gift in the mail or from a friend, or even your church. He can supply you with another car someone is not using. Are you open to Him in that way?

What happens if you do not turn to Him and His Word?

If you are not open to receive from Him based on His Word, then you risk being given over to your own devices—which is over-indulging in food. The consequences are weight gain, high blood pressure, diabetes, spiritual growth stagnation, depression, shame, isolation, etc.

If you are waking up every January 1st with the same request to eat better and exercise in order to lose those same pounds you lost and gained all year, then you are not eagerly waiting to receive what God so desperately wants to give you.

God Wants To Give You Victory!

Mike Cleveland says, “This teaching, if employed by the grace of God, is going to free you from your old eating habits for life! As you learn to "feed" on God's Word by listening to Him, your soul will "feel full," your heart will be satisfied, and you will have replaced your bad eating habits with good ones! The Word of God will nourish you.”

You are victorious when you take the focus off yourself and your body image and place it on Jesus Christ. The goal is to replace the old habit of running to food with the good habit of running to God and His Word.

I will leave you with some great passages to pray over and ponder—then apply them to your daily life.

Romans 12:21

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Jeremiah 15:16

“When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O LORD God Almighty.”

Job 23:12

“I have not departed from the commands of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread.”

Psalm 119:103

“How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!”

Job 22:1-6

“Submit to God and be at peace with him; in this way prosperity will come to you. 22 Accept instruction from his mouth and lay up his words in your heart. 23 If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored: If you remove wickedness far from your tent 24 and assign your nuggets to the dust, your gold of Ophir to the rocks in the ravines, 25 then the Almighty will be your gold, the choicest silver for you. 26 Surely then you will find delight in the Almighty and will lift up your face to God.”

Psalm 34:8

 “Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.”