What’s Love Got To Do With It?

*This article originally appeared in the Christian Online Magazine, September 2013 Issue*

Temple Maintenance: What’s Love Got to do With It?

(The Fruit of the Spirit Diet–Part 2)

I love lasagna, spaghetti, cheese…and just about anything pasta or cheese related. What about you? What’s that one culinary cuisine that tickles your taste-buds? Would you say you eat what you truly love on a daily basis?

But wait a second, first let me clarify what I mean by love. You see, in the Greek language there are two forms of the word “love” used prominently in the New Testament: phileo andagape. If you’ve listened to a sermon or two, chances are you’re at least somewhat familiar with these terms.

Phileo is best described as an affectionate love. It’s what we feel as an emotion. We love our spouses—we are affectionate towards them. We usually love our friends in an affectionate, emotional way as well. While phileo love is more or less from the heart, agape love is from the head. It’s an act of the will, an intellectual love—so to speak. It’s a choice. When Jesus commands us to love our enemies, He uses the word agape not phileo. In fact, agape is the word most frequently used in the New Testament for love. Phileo love is easier because it’s a natural emotion. Agapelove is a much more difficult, because it’s a command Jesus gives us, and it is a type of love we must willfully choose.

For the most part we probably eat the foods we love (phileo). These are the foods we choose when we’re emotionally distressed (come on ladies, you know what I mean), when we’re celebrating, or when we’re craving something satisfying and delectable. I phileo-love lasagna; in fact I don’t have to think twice about eating it. “Me hungry, me eat lasagna now,” I growl in my best cookie-monster voice. But when it comes to taking care of my temple, I have to think a little harder about what I eat. Every day we’re faced with the choice to eat what we love (phileo) or eat out of love (agape).

“Let all that you do be done in love (agape).” 1 Corinthians 16:14

The Greek word for “all” in this verse is…well, ALL! All means everything. From the way we talk about or neighbors behind their backs, to the way we take care of our bodies (temple maintenance), all must be done out of love. This type of love can only be a choice, which means it won’t always be easy. Weagape-love Jesus, therefore we choose to obey His commands because we know He has designed the best plan for our lives—much greater than anything we could have dreamed up for ourselves. In the same way, to take care of our temples is to choose what we eat out of agape–love. We choose to obey God when it comes to gluttony, self-control, and healthy eating not necessarily because we always feel like it (phileo) but because we know it honors God and the temple he entrusted into our care. Being a good steward of our bodies is a testimony of our faith and how we view the sanctity of life.

“If you love (agape) Me, keep my commandments.” John 14:15

“But above all these things, put on love (agape).” Colossians 3:14

“Let love (agape) be without hypocrisy.”Romans 12:9

Truthfully, I’d rather eat lasagna every day for lunch, but if I did that (especially with the amount of cheese I use in my recipes) I’d have a serious coronary problem before long. So, rather than eating what I phileo-love every day, I eat out ofagape-love most days, so when I do indulge in the occasional treat, I know that I am not doing my body harm. God certainly wants us to enjoy food; otherwise He wouldn’t have given us taste-buds. But if that lust for food becomes unhealthy, we can easily take a good thing and turn it into a sinful thing.

We take care of our homes, cars, and personal possessions to show that we care about those things and their value. How much more should we show this agape-love to our own bodies? This is a choice that demonstrates not only respect for God’s creation, but agape-love for Him and His word.

What’s love got to do with it? Well, I’d say it’s got everything to do with it! What do you think?

© Rebecca Aarup

(To view other article in the series, “The Fruit of the Spirit Diet,” visit www.RebeccaAarup.com and click on “Temple Maintenance”.)

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The “Fruit-of-the-Spirit” Diet (Part One)

**Originally published in the Christian Online Magazine, August 2013**

The “Fruit-of-the-Spirit” Diet

Part One: No Laws?

By Rebecca Aarup

“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Since we are living in the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.” Galatians 5:22-23, 25 (NLT)

 

No sugar, no carbohydrates, no gluten, no chemicals, no processed foods…there are enough food laws to make a person’s head spin! You can hardly enjoy a conversation without the issue of food restrictions being raised. I’d guess a good majority of people are on some sort of specialty diet, whether due to medical problems or personal convictions. And admittedly, I adhere to a few of those food rules myself. But sometimes I wonder what it would be like to open my refrigerator or visit my favorite restaurant, eat whatever I want, whenever I want, with no fear of the consequences those food choices would leave with my body.  What a wonderful world that would be, right? Unfortunately, though, I’m one of those people who gains weight when they as much as look at a chocolate chip cookie cross-eyed. I have to watch what I eat “religiously” as well as exercise consistently just to maintain my current weight (which is on the high end of normal for my height). A lot of this has to do with aging (boo!) and the consequences of suffering with an eating disorder for many years. Suffice it to say, if I was to take a free-for-all approach to my diet, I would be shopping for a newer, larger wardrobe rather frequently.

 

But imagine a dietary world with no rules, where nothing was off limits. I can hear you laughing now, “Sure, Rebecca, sounds great BUT…” And you’d be right, because the reality is, that is not the world we live in. The things we choose to do or think directly affect our physical and emotional health, whether we like to admit it or not.

 

And that got me thinking, “what if”? What if there was something we could consume without fear of consequences. A substance with no rules or laws. How would that affect our outlook on diet, exercise, health, and spirituality? That’s when one of my daughter’s favorite verses popped into my head, the fruits of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23, against which “there is no law.” Is it possible that walking by the Spirit’s leading specifically in the ten areas mentioned in this popular passage could help us live a more balanced life in every area of spiritual and physical health? Does the fruit of the Spirit even have anything to do with our diet and health?

 

Over the next several months I hope you’ll join me on this journey of exploration through a diet with no rules or limitations—the “Fruit of the Spirit” diet. We’ll be looking at what, if anything, each “fruit” has to do with our physical health. The Apostle Paul reminds us to “follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives,” and so it is with the area of food, and physical health.

 

How about you? Do you think any of the spiritual fruits listed in Galatians 5:22-23 relate in any way to your diet or physical health? In what ways?
To ensure you don’t miss any of this ongoing series, to comment, or to ask questions, visit me at http://www.RebeccaAarup.com and enter your email address to receive new articles directly in your inbox each month. In the next article we’ll discuss “What’s Love Got to Do with It?” I hope you’ll consider joining me on this journey unlocking the keys to the “Fruit of the Spirit” diet!

© Rebecca Aarup

The Grace in Addiction

**Originally Published in The Christian Online Magazine, March 2013**

     I spent many years of my life buried in addiction. Addiction to drugs, to an eating disorder, to acceptance, approval, and a host of other unhealthy substances and emotions. One of the worst things about addiction is not the object of the attachment (though that can be dangerous to one’s health), but the denial of the problem—and its seriousness– in the first place.

 

In his book Addiction and Grace, Gerald G. May, M.D. makes a startling statement: “Addiction also makes idolaters of us all, because it forces us to worship these objects of attachment, thereby preventing us from truly, freely loving God and one another.”

 

How many times have we said in jest, “Oh, I am totally addicted to caffeine”? Or maybe it was sugar, sodas, pastries, salt, or some other food/beverage we knew wasn’t really a healthy choice. We make excuses for ourselves because we choose not to control our eating habits. And then we laugh about it while munching away on another donut.

 

Addiction is akin to idolatry. And God has some strong opinions of idolatry. It’s easy to judge the habits of others, but we all need to consider God’s words to us as His children.

 

“Their idols…became a snare to them.” (Psalm 106:36, NIV)

“Watch yourselves very carefully, so that you do not become corrupt and make for yourselves an idol.” (Deuteronomy 4:15-16, NIV)

“All your idols are as empty as the wind.” (Isaiah 41:29, NLT)

“Flee from idolatry.” (1Corinthians 10:14, NIV)

 

Does it seem too extreme to claim that caffeine, sugar, or salt could be a destructive idol in one’s life? I don’t think it is. Our excuses lead us to consume foods we know are not God’s best. We joke about not having self-control over a holiday meal, or not being able to stop eating chocolate, ice cream, or whatever the vice happens to be. But, dear friends, God is not laughing. Self-control is an evidence of the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives, and to ignore His work is to grieve Him (see Ephesians 4:30). You see, no matter what the substance or object of our addiction is, it is still an addiction—an idol.

 

Is it wrong to drink coffee every day or eat at a fast food restaurant? Of course not, we know from passages like 1 Corinthians 6 that sin does not specifically lay within a food or substance. All things are permissible but not all things are beneficial, is what Paul told us. So the answer to this dilemma is not found in the substance but in our use and desire for that food or substance (in other words, are we obsessing over it and annoyed when we can’t have it?). A good way to determine if a food habit has become an addiction is to eliminate that food from your life for a time. If you experience distress, irritability, or anxiety, then guess what? You have an addiction!

 

God has given us the freedom to choose, and we need to be good stewards of that freedom by making wise choices. We’re getting close to Easter, and many people have chosen to observe Lent. Maybe this is a good time for you to pray and ask God if there is any food habit you need to eradicate from your life. God’s grace is abundant! There is no need to feel condemnation, but instead you can experience the hope and joy of being freed from unnecessary entanglements.

 

Wouldn’t it be nice to drive by that restaurant without thinking about its meals, or attend that holiday dinner without obsessing over getting that last piece of pie, or wake up in the morning and not have the first thing on your mind be a Grande Mocha? Whatever your vice is (and I have mine too), God can give you the grace to overcome it, and in doing so you will not only honor Him, you’ll be doing your body a favor and giving yourself a better chance at living a longer, healthier life in service to Him.

 

  “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31, KJV)

© Rebecca Aarup

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**If you enjoyed this post and others, please take a second to enter your email address into the space provided on the right hand side of the computer screen (or scroll to the bottom of your screen if using a smartphone) and you will receive new posts in your email inbox. This is absolutely free and your information is never shared!**

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Other related posts:

Spiritual Reboot: Four Ways Fasting Benefits Your Body and Spirit

What Does it Mean to be a Healthy Christian?

Letting Ourselves Go

Recognizing the Causes of Over-Indulgence

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profilepic3Rebecca Aarup has written devotionals and Bible teaching articles for a variety of publications including The Secret Place (Judson press), Evangel (Light and Life Communications), and Mustard Seed Ministries. She just released a new Bible Study The Word: Six Lessons from Psalm 119 which is available as a free download on her website or in print form from Amazon. Beyond writing, Rebecca is a wife, home-schooling mom, and Bible student at Liberty University. She lives in Glendale, Az with her husband Chris and 5 year old, Samantha.  You can read more from Rebecca by subscribing to her blog (it’s free) and following her on twitter and facebook.

Substitutions Encouraged

**Orginally published in The Christian Online Magazine, February 2013**

 

Many of you are already aware of the healthier options that exist in the culinary world, but just in case you need a refresher (because I know I forgot easily), I’ve decided to share a list of common food choices that have healthier alternatives. Browse through the list and see if there is anything new for you to try and let me know how those New Year’s Resolution recipes worked out for you (just click on “Temple Maintenance” to view past articles as well as leave your comments)!

Celebrate this Valentine’s Day with wise food choices–keeping your heart healthy and serving God by maintaining the temple He entrusted to you.

“’I have the right to do anything,’ you say—but not everything is beneficial…Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received of God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” 1 Corinthians 6:12&19

Meals/Main Course Items:

First Choice: Ground Beef (Hamburgers, Sloppy Joes, Tacos…etc.)

Better Choice:Organic Grass-fed Beef (no fillers, hormones, or chemicals used)

Best Choice:Lentils and Black Beans (Veggie Burgers, Bean tacos, Sloppy Joes…etc.)

 

First Choice:Loaded Baked Potato

Better Choice:Mashed Potatoes

Best Choice:Mashed Steamed Cauliflower

 

First Choice:Traditional Pasta Noodles

Better Choice:Rice Noodles

Best Choice:Whole Wheat or Quinoa Noodles

 

First Choice:White Breads, Bagels, English Muffins, or Cereals

Better Choice:Whole Wheat Breads, Bagels, English Muffins, and Whole Grain Cereals

Best Choice:Sprouted Grain Breads, Bagels, English Muffins, and Cereals (i.e. Ezekiel™ brand)

 

First Choice:Flour Tortillas

Better Choice:Artisan Tortillas (Black Bean and Corn, Whole Wheat, Blue Corn and Flax…etc.)

Best Choice:Sprouted Grain Tortillas

 

First Choice:Jar Spaghetti Sauce

Better Choice:No Sugar Added Jar Spaghetti Sauce

Best Choice:Home Made Spaghetti Sauce (Organic Canned Tomato Sauce, Crushed Tomatoes, Tomato Paste and Spices/Herbs)

 

Snacks Items:

First Choice:Cake (Chocolate, Devil’s Food, Yellow, Vanilla…etc.)

Better Choice:Fruit/Veggie Breads (Zucchini Bread, Carrot Cake, Banana Bread…etc.)

Best Choice:Fruit/Veggie Bread with Substitutions (see below)

 

First Choice:Apple Slices, Grapes, Iceberg Lettuce Salad

Better Choice:Oranges, Bananas, Carrots, Mixed Salad (Iceberg and Romaine Lettuce)

Best Choice:Tomatoes, Fresh Organic Berries, Organic Leafy Lettuces (Spinach, Kale, Arugula, Radicchio…etc.)

 

First Choice:Chips

Better Choice:Popcorn

Best Choice:Raw seeds or nuts

 

First Choice:Candy Bars

Better Choice:Fruit Snacks (i.e. gummy bears)

Best Choice:Dried Fruit (i.e. dried pomegranates)

 

First Choice:Soda

Better Choice:Sparkling 100% Fruit Juice

Best Choice:Sparkling Water

 

Ingredient Substitutions:

First Choice:Eggs

Better Choice:Egg substitute (i.e. Egg Beaters™)

Best Choice:Ground Flax Seeds and Water (1 Tbsp. ground flax to 3 Tbsp. water)

 

First Choice:Vegetable Oil

Better Choice:Coconut Oil

Best Choice:Applesauce

 

First Choice:Refined Sugar

Better Choice:Agave Nectar or Organic Raw Sugar

Best Choice:Stevia

 

First Choice:Chocolate Chips

Better Choice:Baking Nuts

Best Choice:Dried Fruit, Raw Nuts and Seeds

 

Dips/Dressings:

First Choice:Store-bought Creamy Dressings (Ranch…etc.)

Better Choice:Store bought Italian or Vinaigrette Dressings

Best Choice:Home-Made Italian or Vinaigrette Dressings (Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Vinegar and Spices…etc.)

 

First Choice:Ketchup, Mayonnaise

Better Choice:Reduced Fat Cream Cheese or Sour Cream

Best Choice:Mustard

 

First Choice:French-Onion Dip

Better Choice:Salsa

Best Choice:Home-made Guacamole Dip (Fresh Avocados, Salt, Pepper, Garlic and Lime)

© Rebecca Aarup

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profilepic3Rebecca Aarup is an author and freelance writer. She is a health columnist for The Christian Online Magazine, creater of S.E.R.V.A.N.T. Sisters online women’s ministry, and has written devotionals/studies/articles for a variety of publications including The Secret Place (Judson press), Evangel (Light and Life Communications), and Mustard Seed Ministries. She just released a new Bible Study The Word: Six Lessons from Psalm 119 which is available as a free download on her website or in print form from Amazon. Beyond writing, Rebecca is a wife, home-schooling mom, and Bible student at Liberty University. She lives in Glendale, Az with her husband Chris and 5 year old, Samantha.  You can read more from Rebecca by subscribing to her blog (it’s free) and following her on twitter and facebook.

New Year Resolution Recipes

**Originally published with The Christian Online Magazine, January 2012**

 

The holidays are over and we’ve all probably had a few too many slices of pie, sugar cookies, cups of pumpkin spice lattes, and sweet and sticky candy canes. So, to lighten things up I’ve decided to share a couple of my favorite whole-foods recipes. These ingredients are healthy, natural (meaning they grow from the ground, not in an industrial plant), and delicious. They are easy to manipulate around the foods you like so you can personalize each one to your individual tastes.

Both of these salads keep well in the refrigerator, and make satisfying snacks or meals. They are great on the go, or at home, and relatively easy to make. I’ve also made both of these items for church events with excellent feedback. (As the resident vegetarian, I usually volunteer to make gluten free/vegan dishes to offer at events where most of the foods are sugar and carb laden.) The best part is no one can ever tell they are “healthy”! Go ahead, give it a try and see for yourself.

•Fruit “Salad”

One fresh pineapple

One pint of strawberries

Five clementines (they look like miniature oranges)

Two small containers of berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries…etc.)

The juice of one pomegranate

This “salad” is super fresh, easy, and delicious. Simply prepare the fruit (washing) and chop it up to the desirable size and toss it in a bowl. The juices from the pineapple, clementines, and berries will mix well together, and no other “sweetener” is needed. (However, for some fruit salads honey or agave nectar makes a great healthy sweetener.)

To juice the pomegranate: put the pomegranate seeds in a sandwich sized plastic bag, seal tightly. Gently roll over the seeds with a rolling pin to retrieve pomegranate juices. Cut a tiny hole in the corner of the sandwich bag to drain the juice into the fruit salad. Adds an extra special punch of flavor!

This fresh fruit cocktail stays good in the fridge (if it lasts that long) for several days and makes an excellent, vitamin rich, energy boosting breakfast or after-dinner desert.

•Veggie-Pasta Salad

One box of veggie pasta (I use Eating Right™ brand made with vegetable puree)

OR

One box of quinoa pasta (gluten free option)

OR Mix half-box veggie pasta with half-box quinoa pasta (this is how I make mine)

Four stalks of celery

One bell pepper (any color you choose)

One large cucumber

One large tomato

½ medium onion (I use red onions, but any onion you like will work fine)

Dressing:

One cup vegan (or regular if you like) Italian dressing **

¼ cup vegan mayo (or regular if you prefer)

One tablespoon Dijon mustard

One tablespoon dill weed

½ teaspoon sea salt (or regular works fine)

Freshly cracked pepper, to taste

Cook pasta as package directions indicate, meanwhile, in a large bowl mix the dressing ingredients together with a whisk.

While pasta cooks, chop veggies into desired size, and add to the dressing, mix together.

Once pasta is finished, rinse under cool water until pasta is cooled off; then add pasta to veggies/dressing mix. Stir well and it is ready to go! This pasta salad is so fresh and delicious, and keeps well for several days in the fridge. My husband likes to eat it with chicken for dinner, but it can be eaten on its own as a meal or a snack.

**Home-made Italian Dressing

One cup of vinegar (any type is fine: wine vinegar, rice vinegar, etc…)

1 1/3 cup of olive oil

Two tablespoons of water

½ tablespoon garlic powder

½ tablespoon onion powder

½ tablespoon agave nectar (regular sugar can be used, or honey)

One tablespoon dried oregano

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

¼ teaspoon dried thyme

½ teaspoon dried basil (fresh is even better!)

½ tablespoon dried parsley (fresh is even better!)

One tablespoon salt

Pour all ingredients into glass jar or bottle and shake well. I like to use old pickle jars or even Tupperware if that is all I have laying around. I can’t say for sure how long this keeps in the fridge because it has never gone more than a week in my house before being used!

(For more home-made, money saving ideas visit http://www.pennilessparenting.com)

*Are you on Facebook? I would love to connect and find out how these recipes worked for you. Click here to visit my Facebook page:

www.facebook.com/aaruprebecca or here for twitter: www.twitter.com/undivided_heart

© Rebecca Aarup

Even the Pomegranates Cry Out

Chop. Chop. Chop.

I seem to have the best God-moments when I’m feverishly hacking away on a helpless piece of food, trying to work out my anger. It has come to be a habit. We fight—I cook. It’s how I wrestle with my emotions, think, pray, and take several deep breaths while annihilating a target other than my spouse.

“Ok, God, I know what you said in 1 Corinthians 10:13, I’ll never forget that verse…but, I’m starting to think You enjoy taking me to the edge of what I can handle.”

Chop. Chop. Chop.

Silence.

“Ok, You’re not talking. That’s ok, I have plenty to say…”

If God could get frustrated, I am sure I’d be His number one cause of irritation. “Oh, here’s Rebecca again, whining like it’s the end of the world. If only she knew how bad it could really be, maybe then she’d be grateful.”

Of course, I know God isn’t really thinking that towards me, in fact, what He is thinking about me is too mind blowing to comprehend. For example, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—the fruit that will last.” (John 15:16)

Oh, and speaking of fruit? Yeah, I was carving up several pieces of fruit to make a fresh fruit salad while conversing with God in a less-than-humble way.  He never spoke to me in those heated moments, not audibly at least. But He did find a way to cut through my incessant ramblings of self-pity.

I don’t know about you, but I enjoy seeing God in nature—all facets of nature from animals to the weather to food. My social media friends are well aware of this due to the multitude of pictures I post of the food I’m cooking, the clouds in the sky, or my dog acting exceptionally cute. Creation is beautiful, and in it I am made aware of God’s presence in the details.

Slice. Slice.

285-Pomegranate

 

And then it opened and my breath was taken away. As the crimson juices ran over my fingers and the seeds spilled out my thoughts were interrupted. “Oh, Lord, it’s so beautiful! It’s like a honeycomb giving birth to rubies!” And for a second I was so captivated by the gorgeous intricacies of that pomegranate that my self-centered complaints were replaced with worship and gratitude.

How could I ever doubt a God who took so much time carefully designing every piece of fruit to not only taste good, but look good as well? But doubt I do—and often. It’s so easy to forget in the heat of the moment. To forget all things good and grateful and focus on the ugly and distasteful.

Fortunately, God is not surprised by any of this. He knows what I will say, how I will react, and whether or not I’ll confess it. He knows I will continue to grieve His spirit unintentionally when I allow bitterness to take root, and He knows the exact moment I will fall on my knees and give it all to Him and choose peace.

When my voice fails to speak of His love, surely the pomegranates cry out in my place.

“My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.” Psalm 63:5  

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profilepic3Rebecca Aarup is a health columnist for The Christian Online Magazine, a contributing writer for Encourage 365, founder and creater of S.E.R.V.A.N.T. Sisters, and has written devotionals/studies/articles for a variety of other publications. She just released her latest Bible Study The Word: Six Lessons from Psalm 119 which is available as a free download on her website or in print form from Amazon. Beyond writing, Rebecca is a wife, home-schooling mom, and Bible student at Liberty University. She lives in Glendale, Az with her husband Chris and 5 year old, Samantha.  You can read more from Rebecca by subscribing to her blog (it’s free) and following her on twitter and facebook.

How Food Paves the Path to Forgiveness and Faith

**Originally published in The Christian Online Magazine, December 2012 Issue**

Food is more than a tasty treat, a temptation for over-indulgence, or an excuse to spend obscene amounts of money at fancy restaurants. No, food has a much greater significance. Food is a ministry—at least it can be. The following article highlights just a few examples from the Bible concerning food and its significance in our lives beyond tickling the taste-buds.

Food for Forgiveness

     Passage: Genesis 41-45

In the midst of a seven year famine, God paved the way for a divine appointment of familial restoration. Joseph’s brothers were forced to travel to Egypt to save the lives of their family by purchasing food from the Egyptian storehouses. Of course, they had no idea their brother Joseph, who they sold into slavery over a decade prior, would be the one standing between them and their hungry tummies.

In what is probably one of the most famous stories of the Old Testament, we see that Joseph chose to extend forgiveness to his wicked brothers (after first giving them the scare of their lives) instead of retaliating in anger. They came to him helpless and hungry, and through the use of food, God ushered in one of the most famous verses used by millions of Christians throughout generations:

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good, to accomplish what is now being done.” Genesis 50:20

God used a famine, a store-house full of grains, and some hungry men to bring forgiveness and healing to many wounded hearts. The food was the vehicle, but the deeper purpose was restoration. We need to look at our lives and see if there is unrelenting bitterness, anger, or resentment either in our hearts or the hearts of our loved ones. We are fast approaching Christmas but how many families will remain divided because of unresolved hurts? Maybe we are the vehicle God wants to use to bring the family back together. Ultimately we are only responsible for our own attitudes, but we can “set the table” for the rest of our loved ones to give that thing called “forgiveness” a try. Perhaps a holiday meal would be the perfect time for such an act of peace.

• Food for Faith

     Passage: Matthew 14:13-21

Jesus had just been told the news: John the Baptist, his cousin and beloved friend, had been killed. At a time when most of us, in the light of such news, would have curled up in the fetal position and checked out of life for a while, Jesus was afforded no such luxury. Instead, he was followed by mobs of people anxiously awaiting His every move—would he heal again? What would He say next? No one wanted to miss a thing!

The disciples urged Jesus to force the crowds to leave; besides, it was late and the people were probably hungry—they should just leave Jesus alone and let Him grieve. But what was Jesus’ response? He chose to sacrifice his own comfort and focus on the needs of the people. They were hungry—he fed them. In fact, he fed five thousand of them!

When we are met with difficulty and pain, we tend to turn our focus inward and withdraw from companionship. But in that pain we are offered an opportunity to reach out and help someone else. And yes, we can do that with food. Someone out there is hungry; someone out there has a need. Perhaps God wants to use our pain, not to feel sorry for ourselves, but to reach out and touch someone else with the generous spirit of giving our Lord demonstrated for us.

So as another year comes to a close and we gather at tables full of buttered biscuits, pumpkin pies, carved hams, and candied yams, let’s purpose to reflect a spirit of love, forgiveness, and selfless service to the world around us.

“In a word, what I’m saying is, grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.” Matthew 5:48 (MSG)

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profilepic3Rebecca Aarup is a health columnist for The Christian Online Magazine, a contributing writer for Encourage 365, founder and creater of S.E.R.V.A.N.T. Sisters, and has written devotionals/studies/articles for a variety of other publications. She just released her latest Bible Study The Word: Six Lessons from Psalm 119 which is available as a free download on her website or in print form from Amazon. Beyond writing, Rebecca is a wife, home-schooling mom, and Bible student at Liberty University. She lives in Glendale, Az with her husband Chris and 5 year old, Samantha.  You can read more from Rebecca by following this blog and following her on twitter and facebook.