Not Just Chocolate

The other day I read an encouraging article about chocolate. According to womenshealthmag.com the savoring of one to two servings of dark chocolate per week can enhance health. Yay! Who said healthy food couldn’t taste delicious? As I read about the health benefits of dark chocolate, I thought about benefits of spending time with the Lord. The following came to mind:

Chocolate is a comfort food. The Holy Spirit is the comforter. “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” John 14:26 (KJV).

Chocolate is heart-healthy.  The Lord heals broken hearts. “He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds” Psalm 147:3 (KJV).

Chocolate can calm anxietyGod’s presence reveals the lies behind anxious thoughts and transforms them with His truth.  “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” John 8:32 (KJV).

Chocolate can reduce cravings for unhealthy foodsSpending time with God reduces our cravings for harmful or non-beneficial behaviors.For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth),  finding out what is acceptable to the Lord” Ephesians 5:-10 (NKJV).

Chocolate can drop insulin levels.  Being in God’s presence drops our high emotional responses from past failures and traumatic experiences. “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” John 14:27 (NKJV).

Chocolate can help prevent sunburns. Soaking in the presence of God will prevent our souls from being burned by rays of hatred, animosity, and condemnation.  “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly placesEphesians 6:10-12(NKJV)).

Chocolate quiets coughs.  God quiets us with His love. For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs” Zephaniah 3:17 (NLT).

Chocolate can help stop diarrhea. Being in the presence of God will stop verbal diarrhea. (I know this sounds gross, but there is nothing pretty about spewing hatred, bitterness, gossip, perversity, and condemnation.) “The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell” James 3:6 (NIV).

Chocolate can improve performance.  Learning about our identity in the Lord helps improve all of our endeavors and relationships. “Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others” Philippians 2:1-4(NKJV).

Chocolate can enhance mental alertness.  Spending time with the Lord and in His Word gives us clarity and renews our minds.Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” Romans 12:2 (NLT).

Now I am aware of the health benefits of dark chocolate, I don’t have to feel guilty if I eat a few squares a week. But, even better, since I am aware of the sweetness of the Lord’s presence, I can partake of His guilt-free goodness without limits!

May the Lord abundantly Bless You!

Jeannie

http://www.womenshealthmag.com/health/benefits-of-chocolate/slide/3

Taste and See

God desires to speak to us, and He often does so through personal experiences. A couple of weeks ago, I posted my first youtube video. It was about a God encounter I had when I was surrounded by dragonflies. After I posted the video I realized that although the message was clear, the glare had made it difficult to see the dragonflies that were swarming in the trees.

Knowing that others would not be able to experience what I had experienced made me think about chocolate. Let me explain.

If the only encounter you or I ever have with a bar of chocolate is hearing someone else describe their experience, our understanding would be very limited. We might know what chocolate looks like. We may even be holding a list of its ingredients. If we are familiar with sugar, we would even know that it would be sweet. But unless we actually bit into the bar and personally tasted its distinct flavor and felt it melt in our mouths, we wouldn’t truly experience chocolate.

It’s the same with the Lord. The Bible tells us to “taste and see that the Lord is good.” You and I must have a desire for something before we taste it. When it comes to hearing God, it’s easy to try to live off other’s experiences, instead of tasting His goodness for ourselves. Don’t get me wrong. I love to hear testimonies! They inspire me. But if you and I only learn about God through the God encounters of others, we will never truly know God’s heart for us or learn how to hear His voice.

The Lord cloaked Himself in humanity so we could have an intimate relationship with Him. He wants to walk and talk with us every day. His beauty surrounds us, and so does His presence. But our vision is sometimes limited because of the glare.

Merriam Webster’s Online Dictionary defines glare as (to shine with a harsh uncomfortably brilliant light) or (to stare angrily or fiercely.) Both of these definitions can explain why people are often blinded to God’s goodness and unaware of His presence.

If we believe that God is harsh, uncomfortable, angry, or fierce, we will either try to hide from Him, or we will exhaust ourselves doing good works to try to earn His approval. Both will keep us from tasting His goodness.

When the Samaritan woman ran to share her testimony, she didn’t just tell the town’s people about her Savior, she invited the people to experience the Messiah for themselves. “Come see a man who told me everything I ever did! Could he possibly be the Messiah?”John 4:29 (NKJV). The people followed her to Jesus. After Jesus had spent a few days with the townspeople, many more heard his message and believed: “Then they said to the woman, ‘Now we believe, not just because of what you told us, but we have heard Him for ourselves'” John 4:42(NKJV).

God wants us to experience Him. Not just hear about Him. He wants to be our Father; not just our Creator. He wants to open our hearts, our eyes, and our ears so we can enjoy Him. He wants us to experience life with Him and through Him. Oh!  May we taste for ourselves and see…His goodness…His love…His kindness…His compassion…His heart! May we delight in Him. His presence is so much sweeter than chocolate!

May you be abundantly blessed!

Jeannie

Psalm 34:8 “Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him” (NIV).

 

A Memory

Some people have a gift of capturing beauty in photographs. Others capture beauty through their words. My friend Shelly is gifted in both. In today’s post, Shelly paints a beautiful memory with her words.

A memory:

On our way home from Dallas today, we stopped at a Wendy’s. After we sat down, a middle-aged man entered with a tiny, elderly woman. He gently guided her to the line and showed her the menu board. He carried her small purse, handles frayed, to a table and went back to retrieve her and their trays.

He helped her unwrap her food and made several trips to gather the extras for their meal.

Her back was to me, but his merry eyes lit up each time she said something. I crossed near them to dispose of my trash and I saw him reach across the table and pat her cheek gently. “Mom, you’re such a beauty. I hope you know that, ” he told her.

She smiled and dabbed her mouth as she nodded her head slightly. He steadied her shaky hand when she pulled the fork upward for another bite.

I had to stop. “You two…it’s wonderful.”

He grinned. “Well, she’s still my best girl, aren’t you, Mom? Even though you’re 94, we still enjoy our dates, don’t we?”

She nodded and her eyes crinkled softly as she patted his hand.

I don’t know what their story was before, or where the road led them after, but in that moment, they were perfection. Pure, righteous, holy.

contributed by Shelly Smith Morales

 

Walking

Laura and I worked together. I liked her from the moment I met her. She was dedicated, determined, and cared deeply for the residents living in the facility where we were employed. She was also punctual, which says a lot because she didn’t have a car.

During one of our brief opportunities to chat, I invited Laura to a Bible study I was teaching in my home. Since she worked many double shifts, she didn’t think she would be able to come. But God made a way for her to attend.

During discussion time, Laura let loose. I don’t remember what the topic was, but once she started “sharing” our night took a turn. (Some leaders might have seen it as a turn for the worse, but God knew it was a turn for the best.)

As Laura exploded in expletives, my sweet friends just listened with their hearts. Interlaced in a sea of (f) words was a story of abuse, loss, and pain. No one chastised Laura for being inappropriate, they just loved her, listened, asked questions, and prayed.

After the other women went home, Laura sat down at the table while I cleaned up. I could tell she was thinking. After a bit, she said, “I know you care about me.”

“Yes, Laura, we all love you,” I responded.

“Nobody judged me,” she stated, as she looked me straight in the eye. “Nobody said anything about my cussing.”

That night, Laura and I visited for a while. We talked about God’s unconditional love. We talked about healing, forgiveness, and freedom. We talked about a lot of things. Then I drove her home.

After that night, Laura began to regularly attend our weekly meetings. Since she worked most Sundays, she rarely attended church, but it was obvious that she loved Jesus. In the midst of her daily challenges, Laura would silently pray for people, trust God (even in the hard times), and continually give God credit for anything good in her life.

Laura’s death was a shock to everyone. The last day of Laura’s life seemed like every other day. She had set out walking to work, but this time instead of arriving at the retirement apartments, she entered Heaven’s glory. While she was on her way to work, she suffered a severe asthma attack, passed out, and hit her head. She died instantly from brain trauma. Sweet Laura with a heart of gold is now walking on streets of gold.

Whenever I think about Laura, I think about God’s grace and the brevity and uncertainty of life. We never know while on our way to our daily destinations when we will be rerouted to our final destination.

The night Laura opened up her heart and shared her pain, all of us present had a deeper glimpse into God’s heart and His unconditional love for all mankind—reminding us that there is nothing that we could ever do or say to earn or negate His love for us.

Father God is not shocked, nor repulsed by “colorful” language—or “colorful” stories. He is always there with a listening ear and an open heart—just loving us.

Jesus was always walking beside Laura, but Laura didn’t recognize Him until seven years ago when she took hold of His hand and accepted Him as her Savior. The day Laura took her last walk on this earth she went from seeing Him in part, and just holding His hand, to seeing Him face to face in all His glory!

May you be abundantly blessed!

Jeannie

Corinthians 13:12 “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely” (NLT).