November 21, 2008

God or Food…Food or God?

Posted in Devotionals, Prayer Request, Update at 4:58 am by Sarah Bosse

I’ve had one of those weeks where it’s been a tough uphill battle just to focus my mind on anything besides my insane schedule and taking care of my basic human needs (eating, sleeping, getting a shower before falling asleep regardless of location or position…).  Each day I have tried to have about 30-60 minutes of quiet time with just me and Father, and each day I’ve had major interruptions during all such attempts.  Each time, I’ve felt compelled to attend to those interruptions, each of which involved other people.  

How many times have I forgotten God this week?  Perhaps it’s easier to ask “how many times have I remembered God this week?”.  There is no profit in self-loathing over the issue.  The positive example of one saint who comes to mind should not be used as a yard stick by which to measure my own “goodness” (of which there is intrinsically none – any goodness is all a work of Christ in my life).  Instead, I wish to be encouraged by Johnathan Edwards’ example, as he demonstrates what a life focused on God can accomplish.  Johnathan Edwards’ yard stick was the life of Jesus Christ, to whom Johnathan Edwards’ own personal efforts could not compare.  My yard stick should also be Jesus Christ, to whom my efforts cannot compare.  I am most grateful that my efforts will never need to be compared with those of Christ, as I trust in the effectiveness of my Savior’s sinless life and perfect propitiation as the proof of my salvation.  God will continue the work Christ has started in me until its completion in the day of our Lord.  Yet by the empowerment of the Spirit, we press on, striving side by side for the faith and holiness.

In such light, I would like to share excerpts of a sermon by John Piper regarding the daily life of Johnathan Edwards and his devotion to studying the Scriptures.  

 

“Edwards could spend up to 13 hours a day in his study….He rose early, even for those nonelectrical days. In fact he probably was entirely serious when he wrote in his diary in 1728, “I think Christ has recommended rising early in the morning, by his rising from the grave very early.”

It’s not easy to know what his family life looked like under this kind of rigorous schedule. Dwight says in one place, “In the evening, he usually allowed himself a season of relaxation, in the midst of his family.” (Works, I, xxxviii) But in another place Edwards himself says (in 1734 when he was 31 years old), “I judge that it is best, when I am in a good frame for divine contemplation, or engaged in reading the Scriptures, or any study of divine subjects, that, ordinarily, I will not be interrupted by going to dinner, but will forego my dinner, rather than be broke off” (Works, I, xxxvi). ….

With regard to his eating habits, not only was he willing to skip dinner for the sake of his study if things were really flowing, he also, Dwight tells us, “carefully observed the effects of the different sorts of food, and selected those which best suited his constitution, and rendered him most fit for mental labour.” (Works, I, xxxviii) Edwards had set this pattern when he was 21 years old when he wrote in his diary,

By a sparingness in diet, and eating as much as may be what is light and easy of digestion, I shall doubtless be able to think more clearly, and shall gain time; 1. By lengthening out my life; 2. Shall need less time for digestion, after meals; 3. Shall be able to study more closely, without injury to my health; 4. Shall need less time for sleep; 5. Shall more seldom be troubled with the head-ache. (Works, I, xxxv)

 

God or Food?  (God IS Food.)

When I read of Edwards’ devotion to times of fellowship with the Lord, and his willingness to forego dinner, I considered Matthew 4:1-4:  Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Jesus and Edwards lived by the Word of God.  They made it their aim to seek God’s will and plan for their days, hours, and moments.  More important to them was the feeding and nourishment of their spirits than the nourishment of their bodies.  And even the nourishment of the body pointed back to their original goal of nourishing the spirit and doing the will and work of God as He has ordained.  There are many things in my life that distract me from spending time with God and being nourished in my spirit.  Some days it is a to-do list.  Other days it’s the phone ringing.  Sometimes it’s poor planning, forgetfulness (which is often sinful), and/or laziness on my part.  

 

Struggling Against Sin to Seek God

Hebrews 12:Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 

I daily hear Satan’s imploring and self-pitying voice in my ear saying “You’re hungry.  Study later – it’s time to eat.  You’re tired – go take a nap.  It’s early – sleep a few more minutes so you can do your work to the glory of God and have quiet time later in the day.”  Rarely have I resisted to the point of skipping dinner, much less to the point of shedding blood that I might obey.  Consider Jesus in the garden.  As his disciples slept though He had asked them to keep watch and stay awake – the least they could have done for their Teacher and Lord – Jesus prayed against the temptation to sin, and His sweat was like drops of blood in His agony and grief.  

Matthew 26:36 Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” 37 And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” 39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” 40 And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour?41 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42 Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” 43 And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy.44 So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again.45 Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep and take your rest later on.  See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”

Luke 22:39 And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. 40 And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.”41 And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” 43 And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. 44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. 45 And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, 46 and he said to them,“Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”

Whether the Lord actually sweat blood or not is not the point I wish to contend.  I do not know.  But I do know that His soul was “very sorrowful, even to death,” and in His human nature He wanted to avoid the unimaginable suffering – the furious wrath of God – that was about to be poured out upon Him as He became our sin.  God’s wrath was satisfied through the rejection that Jesus bore (followed by resurrection!) so that all whom the Father had given to the Son would only know the peace that such punnishment brought forth.  Yet even at this time, Jesus resisted the voice of Satan which told Him of the plausible means of escape and attempted to lure Jesus’ thoughts to His own desires and human needs.  I doubt that the trial of 40 days and nights in the desert was comparable to the pangs Jesus felt in the garden that night.  Yet He resisted still, never giving in to the temptation at hand to put service to Self before service to God.  

 

The Challenge

Philippians 3:Indeed, I count everything as loss [including dinner, sleep, etc.] because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

(Dear Lord, please help me to count all things as rubbish and nothing compared to knowing You more fully.  Help me to remember that the righteousness that saves me and makes me an adopted child of God did not come from within myself, but from Christ as a free gift.  Let me see the temptation to trust in myself and flee from it, turning and running headlong towards the shadow of the Cross!  Give me more faith in the power of Christ’s resurrection and help me to endure the sufferings appointed for me so that the Gospel may go forth and be heard.  Help me die to myself, to my own selfish desires and the temptations that play on my sinful flesh.  I want to die to myself so that Christ may rise up in me and I may be set free from bondage to sin and death, raised up in newness of life to the glory of God.)

12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

(I want to press on in godliness and holiness, in becoming increasingly more like Christ.  I know the sins of the past, and I thank You for Your forgiveness of those sins, Lord.  Because Your Spirit enables me to turn away from sin (posse non picarre), I look forward and trust Your strength to be sufficient for me to seek You rather than my own desires.  Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.)

17 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. 18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

(Thank You, Lord, for the godly people who live as examples to us of how we should walk in Your ways.  You have given us these examples in Your Word and in history and in our daily lives and churches.  Help us to be encouraged by their lives and how they live to see Your Kingdom come, and keep our hearts from comparing our lives with theirs in a way that wrongly “justifies” our sin because we compare ourselves with other sinful humans.  Instead, cause us to see the perfections of Christ and to seek to model His perfections through the Spirit.  Please keep us from destruction – let us not be those who serve our own desires and make temporal things our gods and the objects of our affections and thoughts.  Cause us to hunger for heaven and desire to serve God without sin.)

TGG

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