Topics to consider this week: exercise, diet, habits, water intake, nutritional testing, supplements, essential oils, prayer/quiet time, self-care, sexual sin, physical abuse, self-abuse

Day 1- Devotion: Temple of God

Devotional- Temple of God

In 1 Corinthians 2, Paul says:

For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

The deepest thing we can know OF God is His Spirit. Paul tells us that the Spirit searches God himself and knows his innermost thoughts but that we ALSO are taught by that same Spirit and have the ability to understand the Lord as we have been given the mind of Christ.

As we walk through this challenge, you will find me asking you many questions, sharing scripture, suggesting ideas, but you will NOT find me giving you a hidden recipe for joy, giving you a step-by-step process, or claiming to have solutions. I am on this journey as much as you are.

What you will find from me is a consistent message in SEEKING THE WISDOM OF GOD, through both his written Word and the Holy Spirit. ALL wisdom comes from God, and as you faithfully seek his presence and invite him into every situation (big or small), HE WILL SHOW UP. The wisdom you glean from this challenge will not be from ME, but from the Holy Spirit who knows, who directs, who convicts, and who comforts. 

In this first week of the challenge, as we focus on our BODIES, and we do so with eagerness because of this: 

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (1 Cor 6:19-20)

In these verses, Paul echoes what he's already asked in 1 Cor 3:16- Do you not know that your BODY is the TEMPLE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT?

This is a question that Paul raises multiple times throughout scripture: 

  • 1 Cor 3:16

  • 2 Cor 6:19

  • Romans 12:1-2

  • 1 Cor 10:31

  • 1 Cor 15:44

  • 1 Cor 12:27

The Holy Spirit is our sacred helper and a gift from God. Whether we have suffered from sexual sin, abuse, or the more general lack of self-discipline in treating our bodies with respect, it’s our purpose here to realize that our bodies are the temple for our Helper. Oftentimes we get caught into the thought process that our bodies are temporary and therefore of no spiritual consequence, when that could not be further from the truth. 

God knit your body together in the womb, and he knows the numbers of hairs on your head. Your body is a GIFT from God: a gift that allows you to offer service to the world around you, birth children, and be intimate with your husband. ALL of this is not just a good gift but is the PURPOSE of living a life inside of flesh. Our flesh is the vehicle for our task of glorifying God and making him known. 

Our bodies are SACRED- no matter their current condition. They are LOVED- no matter what abuse they've endured. They are HOLY- no matter how it may be betraying you right now.

And just as there were gatekeepers in the Old Testament around cities and around the the Temple of God (a sacred and honor-filled duty reserved for those who are most trustworthy and who love the Lord God), WE are the gatekeepers to our own bodies and minds.

Gatekeepers who guarded the Temple of the Lord were in charge of the key for opening and closing the gates to the temple, keeping an inventory of all that went into the temple and all that came out, and were required to be ALERT at all times. (see this website for more information) 

Temple gatekeepers ensured order and REVERENCE for God's house. 

As followers of Christ, we too are gatekeepers- both of our spiritual lives (with the Holy Spirit and fear of the Lord as our helpers), but of our physical bodies as well- the physical body that HOUSES that Holy Spirit. In Holy War by John Bunyan, the metaphorical gates are our 5 senses: ear, eye, mouth, nose, and feeling. We must ask the Holy Spirit for discernment about what enters each of these 5 gates so that our bodies can be made pure and Holy and be CAPABLE of the work that God has tasked each of us with. 

Our bodies can be so easily led astray by any one (or several) of the enemie’s traps- by what we eat just as Eve was led astray in the garden, by where we go, by what we do with or to our bodies, by what we allow into our hearts and minds through our eyes and ears, and by what we allow into our lives through what comes out of our mouths. 

This area is wrought with stumbling blocks, and the world we live in has been designed by the god of it to render us ineffective by making us so sick, so tired, so frustrated, so overwhelmed and fatigued that rather than living our lives with VIBRANT Christian energy, we walk stumbling through it just seeking to get each day DONE. 

We begin with body, because as the BODY of Christ, there's little that will steal our joy more than having a broken, abused, burdened, worn-out body. This month, we have the opportunity to press RESET- but with a gentle press.

I'm not urging you toward perfectionism in diet, changing everything about what you eat or do in the span of 24 hours, or to rush to the doctor's office and request thousands of dollars in testing. 

What I'm urging you to do is: ASK GOD, listen, and obey. As I began this devotional- we have the gift of the Holy Spirit so that we can understand what God freely gives us. We only have to ask: 

Until now, you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your JOY may be full. (John 16:24

If you aren't sure exactly where to start, here's a sample prayer:

Dear Father God, you knit this body together in my mother's womb and set me apart out of this world as Holy. I am both holy in Christ, and being MADE holy as I pursue your ways and your word. Thank you for the physical body that you have given me to walk through this life in, no matter it's current state of sickness or disease. I praise you for the PERFECT design of MY body, as I am an image bearer of your perfect order and perfect will. Lord, I seek to honor you with my body. I desire a clean start with what I do with and do to this temple. I am the gatekeeper for your dwelling place, and I have failed before in honoring it, caring for it, and guarding it properly. I've allowed sin, laziness, and lies from the world to invade my body and have thusly abused it. At times, I have outright disobeyed your spirit to succumb to desires of my flesh. Father, I am so sorry for my choices and my disobedience. I thank you right now for the forgiveness I have already received on the cross and for the blood of Christ that covers over every one of my failures and sins. Father, I repent of my wrongdoing and pray for the strength of Christ to help me turn and walk a new way. Search me, Father God, and reveal unknown sins against my body to me so that I may repent and turn back to your path. I acknowledge and understand that I am the living temple for your Spirit, and as such I have a responsibility to guard it. I ask that your show me, through your merciful grace, exactly where I need to start. You know my every desire, craving, weakness, and disease. You know exactly where I need to begin in order to turn from sin, heal my body, and cultivate the habit of being a faithful, alert gatekeeper of your temple. Show me, Father. Show me in ways that are undeniable and as clear as day. Help me to SEE and KNOW truth, and give me the next steps. Quicken my spirit to be sensitive to your work in this area. Gift me with a guide, a friend, or with truth in your Word. Direct my steps, Lord, one step at a time, and give me the COURAGE to choose to follow and obey you one, single, solitary, moment at time- not of my own strength, but of yours. I recommit my body, fully and completely to your will, and excitedly look forward to walking through healing so that I can be a living, breathing, vibrant, JOY-FILLED temple of the Living God. In Christ we pray! Amen.

That's it, sweet friends. You have acknowledged your short-comings in this area, repented, and asked that God make those areas NEW. He is faithful! Trust him and be receptive to his promptings. I highly encourage you to JOURNAL what God reveals to you through prayer, his Word, and his Spirit. I also encourage you to not journey alone in any life changes, but to instead seek out friends in your life who will encourage you, speak God's word to you, pray over you, and help to hold you accountable for taking each small step that God calls you to. 

Day 3- Video: My Health Testimony

Video - My Personal Testimony: Healing + Joy

Day 5: Devotion- God of Small Beginnings

Devotional- God of Small Beginnings

Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.” (Zechariah 4:10)

If you’re anything like I am, when you get REALLY fired up about making a big change, especially something that you KNOW will help you feel better, you decided to jump all in- both feet first. What I’ve learned over the years about diet, exercise, and general healing is that NOTHING comes quickly. It took years of poor choices, lack of concern, and outright defiance of God to get myself into such an unhealthy mess and it will take just as long to fully get out of it.

That can be really demotivating- this idea of taking years to truly reap a harvest from something that can be INSANELY hard work. But the truth of the matter is, nothing worth doing is easy. The bigger truth behind it is that in the process of healing and changing our choices and reshaping our temples, God is working everything together for our good- one small beginning at a time. We can be so outcome and “end result” focused that we forget that the beauty is in the process. The glory of God is not found in the abundant harvest alone- no, his goodness, mercy, and closeness is most rich, most palpable, most present in the cultivating, sowing, and reaping.

Our God is a God of small beginnings and a God of PROCESS. The Lord REJOICES to see the work begin! But then what? He rejoices in the process- calling us to the processes of work and sanctification, the process of being made new through trials and tribulations, the process of growing in grace and mercy daily.

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age. Titus 2: 11-12

It is ALL a process. Habit is a process of repeatedly choosing a particular way. Bad habits were a process that led us to where we are and good habits are a process that will lead us back to whole, healed lives. Be cautious in doing too much too quickly and setting yourself up for failure. Choose wisely. Train yourself to SEEK the counsel of God in moments of weakness and temptation. Train yourself to not set yourself up for failure- by taking that small, measurable beginning step.

Once you obey, you have the opportunity to look into the future with expectancy for what God will do in and through you next. Trust HIS process, looking forward to the harvest but not minimizing all that God will do as you work to cultivate and sow.

All Days- Additional Reading (Blog)

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All Days- Top Related Books

Top Recommended Books this Week

One of my favorite lists of books (Book for the Joyful Mama) that I’ve previously curated can be found right here. They are not specifically health-related, but basically cover everything BUT health. These are all my favorite, trusted authors that I’ve read AGAIN and AGAIN! Below are a few of my FAVORITE health-related books and favorite cookbooks! Please note: While I am an advocate of the “Paleo diet” and have seen the multitude of health benefits in my own life, I do not agree with the evolutionary theory put forth in some of these books, specifically those authored by Robb Wolf or Lee Cordain.