Devotional

Changed from the Inside Out

Changed from the Inside Out

Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord. EPHESIANS 5:19 I meet many women and men who have lost a lot of weight on the First Place for Health program. When I ask them how much weight they have lost, I get the same answer close to 100 percent of the time. The person will say, “I have lost weight, but that’s not the most important thing that has happened to me. The spiritual impact has changed my life.” Another statement I frequently hear is, “God has changed me from the inside out.” Even though most people join the First Place 4 Health program to lose weight, they find that the weight is a secondary problem that can only be addressed after the spiritual components are learned. When I joined the program in 1981, I had never set

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The Gift That Keeps on Giving

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. 1 JOHN 3:23 The verse just before this one tells us that we will receive whatever we ask from God if we obey His commands and do what pleases Him (see 1 John 3:22). And then the Bible tells us what pleases Him. It pleases God for you and me to love one another as He commanded us. It is easy for me to love lovable people. There are many people like this in my life. The problem is to love unlovable people. I believe that God places unlovable people in our lives to teach us more about His character—God is love. I learned many years ago that it is impossible for me to love unlovable people in my own strength. The secret is to ask

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Persistence, Not Perfection

Persistence, Not Perfection

Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. HEBREWS 10:24 Years ago, in my first session of First Place for Health, my leader, Joy Huber, spoke a word of encouragement to our group that has ministered to me ever since. She told us that our First Place for Health journey was about “persistence, not perfection.” She would continue to speak that encouragement over us that entire session. My heart desired to learn everything I could about the program and follow it without fail. But in my struggles along the way, Joy’s encouraging words echoed in my mind—it’s persistence, not perfection. I am so thankful to the Lord for using Joy in such a practical way that continues to minister to our First Place for Health group and me. Temptation will rise, faulty thinking can make us feel entrapped, discouragement can trip us up,

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Special Delivery Faith

Special Delivery Faith

We are told throughout Scripture that the Lord hears us when we call to Him. A sweet illustration the Lord gave me was about the envelope of faith and His promise that He hears me. In our First Place for Health group, we were memorizing the Scripture Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” At the time we were memorizing this verse, I was burdened in my heart over several issues. I could see myself writing each burden, care and concern on a piece of paper and placing it in an envelope. On the outside of the envelope I wrote out the Scripture Hebrews 11:1. I addressed it to the names of the Lord and what each name stood for. I could see myself walking up to my heavenly Father and handing Him the envelope. It was marked

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Qualified By God

I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another. ROMANS 15:14 Several years ago, a friend asked me to consider taking over as leader of the First Place for Health class at our church. Since I had been in the class for more than six years, I felt that the Holy Spirit had been preparing me for this role. But I was reluctant to agree as I didn’t feel that I was qualified. You see, for so many years I had felt insecure and self conscious about myself. I was embarrassed about my weight and how I looked. I was hesitant to voice my ideas for fear of rejection or ridicule, and didn’t even want to speak in our First Place for Health class in case I didn’t have the “right” answer. And there was no way

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Forgiveness Is Hard

Forgiveness Is Hard

Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. COLOSSIANS 3:13 Forgiveness is one of the hardest acts God calls us to do. As wickedness in the world increases, the levels of offense increase, making forgiveness even harder. To truly walk in forgiveness of these offenses takes much prayer and even counsel to move beyond the offense. I often focus more on the second half of this verse, “Forgive as the Lord forgave you,” and the overwhelming quality of that concept almost paralyzes me. “How can I forgive that offense?” “It hurts so much.” “They will just do it again.” “It will not change anything.” These are some of the mantras I repeat in my thoughts, and I often do nothing to move past the offense. However, if instead of focusing on the second half of the verse, I

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Self-Forgetfulness

Self-Forgetfulness

True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it’s thinking of yourself less. Rick Warren How do we forget ourselves in a God-honoring way, without neglecting ourselves? What does that look like in real-time? How on earth can we be “free of me” (a concept from Sharon Hode) when nothing seems right or easy, let alone joyful? We are all isolated to varying degrees. Our face to face socialization as we know it has changed radically. Mundane daily rhythms, we no longer have, seem much sweeter now that they are no longer options. How do we respond rather than react to those we live with or take care of or who may care for us? How is it possible to separate ourselves from what comes naturally and live supernaturally? Intentionally, prayerfully and in complete and utter dependence on the One who can. “Self-forgetfulness” is freedom. To focus less on self

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Strong Will or Strong Won’t?

Strong Will or Strong Won't?

Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. Deuteronomy 30:11 “Reach.” This is an action word—as in “reach for a cookie,” which is one choice we can certainly make; or a better choice, “reach for the ceiling,” which we do while exercising. God first spoke to Moses, who then delivered His commands to the Israelites. The will to obey precedes carrying out His greatest commandments, which come down to two actions: to love and obey God. Not difficult—right? If only it were that easy! Personally, I battle weight control daily. But before First Place I considered it a losing battle. I now realize the battle is not mine but God’s. And His greatest battle with me is not controlling my weight but commanding my obedience. Oswald Chambers said, “The battle is fought in the domain of the will.”1 So the questions

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A Recipe for Gratefulness

A Recipe for Gratefulness

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. COLOSSIANS 3:16 Which comes first, the gratitude or the actions that turn our heart toward gratitude? Does it matter? If you are feeling grateful, run to God’s Word so that it can dwell in you even more richly; share the wisdom you learn with others, then burst into song as you praise God with a heart that is already full of gratitude. That’s the easy part. But on those days when you are struggling to feel grateful, do the same thing, even though it is harder—cling to God’s Word and praise Him anyway. It is amazing how gratefulness rises in your heart when you take your eyes off of yourself and put them on God. I

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The Perfect Anxiety Prescription

The Perfect Anxiety Prescription

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. PHILIPPIANS 4:6 I type medical reports for a living, and I’m saddened by the number of reports I type daily in which the patient is struggling with severe anxiety. It has become an epidemic affecting people of all ages. I certainly understand feeling anxious. I would often find myself struggling with anxious thoughts and was called a “worry wart” by others. If there were nothing to worry about, I would find something to worry about! I used to even feel anxious every time I decided to eat healthily and lose weight. I would obsess about how long it would be before I fell off track again and went right back to my old habits. I worried about failing before I even got started. Yet, the more I studied the Bible,

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