“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”  2 Corinthians 4:7

I have always been physically active.  Recently, however, I have started homeschooling my 6 and 4 year old daughters.  This means, obviously, that they are with me all the time.  So, it is much more difficult for me to take time out to exercise.  I would much rather use my free time to do other things… like sleep!

It is also a great effort to provide healthy meals for my family.  If I do not provide them, they will not happen.  It takes effort and planning.  Sometimes- many times truthfully- I just don’t feel like doing it.  Not to mention the fact that I really, really like comfort food and chocolate and all other manner of unhealthy things!

For the last few years, I have struggled with this.  I mean, is it really so bad to eat that candy bar?  What’s the big deal?  It’s just one candy bar.  Why can’t I just sit down and watch that one TV show that totally takes my mind off my day and allows me my version of a “nothing box”?  Other people watch hours of TV without giving it a second thought.  Why can’t I just watch this one show?

My Father in heaven loves me so much.  I am amazed by this more and more often as my heart gets to know Him more deeply…. that He loves me with unfailing love because He WANTS to.  He doesn’t have to, and I certainly don’t deserve it.

He loves me enough to continue pulling me back to this issue of what I eat and what I watch and what I think about.  He has graciously and patiently taught me that it is neither the candy bar nor the show.  It is not the gossip that I allow my ears to hear, nor is it the complaint I allow to build up steam in my mind. It is the fact that I am no longer my own.

My body, my heart, my mind- they are no longer “mine”.  They are His.  I can eat and think what I want, but if I just go with what I want, I am not fulfilling that for which I was lovingly created and made new.  There is so much more at stake than enjoying a candy bar or a show or indulging an ungrateful thought.  It is choosing the world over my Savior.  It is taking a step away from Him.

I have been bought with a price.  And it was an extremely expensive price.

” For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect”.  1 Peter 1:18-19

Some people may think of this as a bad thing, like now I have to do everything God says and not do what I want. That sure does not seem like the freedom for which our culture teaches us to long!  It defines freedom as being able to do anything we want.

But God does not define freedom this way.  He defines freedom as the fact that we are no longer slaves to sin.  Sin’s power over us has been broken.  He knows that what begins as simple “pleasure”, done just “because I want to”, always ends up making us its slave.  He loves us and does not want us to be a slave to anything but His love!  So, I may enjoy the momentary “freedom” of smoking a cigarette as a rebellious teenager.  But if I continue down this road, I become enslaved to cigarettes.  I have to have money to buy them, and keep them in stock.  My clothes smell like smoke no matter how hard I try.  My body rebels but now I am addicted.  Now it will be very difficult to stop even if I want to.  That is not freedom, but slavery.

The way of life that we were handed- the way of this world- is empty.  It is meaningless.  Pointless.  Without purpose.  A complete and utter waste of time and energy.  And it will enslave us if we choose it.  We use to have no choice but to be enslaved by it, but now, because of Christ’s spirit in us we can choose.  We can choose to live by His power and love with His love.

To live as He calls me to live, I must turn from the ways of this world and set my hope on someone else to satisfy my longings.  That may look different for you than it does for me, but the heart of the issue is the same:  “Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do;  for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy’.”  (1 Peter 13-6) ,bold mine.

Wow.  Okay.  Evil desires?  So what do I do with those?  Psalm 103:1-5 provides the answer:

1 Praise the LORD, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
2 Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—
3 who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,
5 Who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Praising God is extremely powerful.  The enemy cannot stand against our praise.  We hand our desires to God, and He satisfies them with good things.

John Piper says it like this: “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”

Do we really believe this?  That God can satisfy our desires more than anything or relationship or success this world can possibly give us?  I want to believe it.  I know He is graciously renewing my mind in this direction.  I have to keep asking and depending on Him for it and I think I always will. It has gotten easier as I experience His faithfulness again and again.

The bottom line is that we are here to magnify His name, give Him glory, and shine His light in this world of darkness. We are here so He can draw the people He so dearly loves back to Himself.  When we truly live like His precious children, we turn to Him in complete trust that He will satisfy our desires in the way that is best.  When we live this way- with our eyes on Him and by the power of His might- the world sees and notices.  As we turn from the world’s counterfeit satisfaction to His overflowing satisfaction, those who are feeding on ashes because the world tells them that is where their yearnings will be fulfilled… they see the emptiness of their choice when they see His life in us!  They are inexplicably drawn to Him.  Why?  Because  “…we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”  2 Corinthians 4:7

Memory Scripture:

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? …So use every part of your body to give glory back to God. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

Prayer:

Father, help us to refuse to live this life for ourselves!  We will never find the joy and peace the world proimises – it is a lie.  Renew our minds here, Abba.  Fill our hearts and thoughts with the Truth of Your overflowing satisfaction that far surpasses anything this world can give. Help us to live in this world, but never be of it.  Help us to live a life worthy of the calling we have received!  We can do nothing without You. Make us holy as You are holy- set apart for sacred use.  Make us Your own jars of clay.  Make our desires to be as Your own!  Teach us to live by Your power, that Your beloved who do not know You will see Your light!