Devotion for Week 1: Overcoming Food Temptations

Matthew 26:41

“Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation.  For the spirit is willing, but the flesh (body) is weak.”

Ever get frustrated at how often you give in to your cravings and temptations? (Heidi raises her hand especially because she works with some really excellent bakers…)  This is a good time to remember that in our flesh, we will never be able to consistently resist temptations–our flesh is just too weak.  The Bible says, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh (body)  is weak.”

This scripture is taken from the gospel of Matthew.  The conversation takes place right after the Last Supper.  Judas had left the dinner to orchestrate the betrayal of Jesus and now we find Jesus agonizing in the garden of Gethsemane.  He is talking to the disciples (specifically Peter) and is warning him about the weakness of his physical body as he grows sleepy, and Jesus reminds him how easily his body will give in to temptations.

If we apply this scripture in Matthew 26:41 to the context of your healthy habits journey, it means that you may really want to eat well but you’re just not able to muster up the energy, discipline, motivation, or drive to actually do it.

The “flesh” Jesus referred to in Matthew 26:41 is our physical body with its appetites, desires, and weaknesses, always looking for the easy way out.  Your body easily gives in to temptation.  Your body will always overpower your spirit if you don’t watch and pray as Jesus instructed the disciples to do, as was the case with the disciples.

How does Jesus instruct us?…to watch and pray!

Watch
You will give in to temptation when you’re not standing on guard.  You need to guard your mind and your emotions like a hen taking care of her chicks.  If you let negativity and temptation into your mind, it will wear down your spirit, so be mindful of who you talk to, and what you listen to on the TV, radio, or the internet.

From the Daniel Plan:  “whatever gets your attention, gets you.”

  1. Are you spending time with people who bring you down or build you up? –”leaners” or “lifters.
  2. Do you continue to visit fast-food restaurants and drive-throughs intending to order the “healthier” choices on the menu hoping you won’t be tempted by the unhealthy choice that you’re actually craving?
  3. Do you continue to live outside your boundaries using sheer willpower?

These types of activities will wear you down!

Pay attention to your emotions because the enemy will attack when your resistance is low. As the Daniel Plan teaches us:  Your thoughts and emotions sometimes LIE! Therefore before you react to an emotion ask yourself, “Is it true?” because it is often how we perceive a situation rather than the actual situation itself that causes us to react.  Use the acronym HALT to be more mindful of times when your emotions can affect your eating habits when you are too Hungry (aka food emergency), angry, lonely, or tired.

If you’re too stressed, your body will grow weak.  If you’re too emotional about a situation, your body will grow weak. If you’re sleep-deprived, your body will grow weak.  If you’re not properly hydrated or fueled with healthy foods, your body will grow weak.

Your body will be more willing to do what God intended for you when it is well-rested, well-fed both physically and spiritually, and feeling at peace.  That’s when your resistance to temptation and staying strong on your health journey will be strongest.

Pray
Jesus prepared the disciples by telling them to pray.

The struggle was real for Jesus too! He just finished practicing the same principle with the disciples.  We learn in the earlier verses that His flesh was failing Him, so He prayed to God to be strengthened.  The Bible says. “And after going a little farther, He fell face down and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will’” (Matthew 26: 39)  The same God that strengthened Jesus when He prayed is the same God that will strengthen you during your periods of weakness, trials and temptations.

Action Steps
As you go about your day, practice watching and praying before you eat.  Be mindful of what you are eating and WHY.  Learn to “worship with your fork.”

Reflect

  1. What keeps you from watching and praying about food temptations you may have?
  2. What things, circumstances and situations do you need to be most watchful? (aka are you a “eat your feelings” kind of person?  Do you eat out of boredom? Are you really just thirsty and should drink some water?)  Journal your observations!
  3. We’ve learned over the past weeks with the Daniel Plan and Healthy habits sermon series that it’s ok to “eat the damn cookie” from time to time which can ultimately help with our temptations and willpower.  However, if you maybe ate a few too many damn cookies, give yourself a break, don’t be too hard on yourself, and use it as a learning experience for how to do better next time.

Prayer
Dear Lord, giving in to my temptations is one of the most frustrating parts of my journey.  I start the day feeling strong and encouraged, but as the day goes by I just get weaker and weaker until i feel so defeated.  Then I wake up the next day and start the same cycle over and over again.  I’m grateful that I am learning how to identify why I keep repeating this pattern.  I’m also glad that I’m learning that I am not powerless.  But I am also no match for my cravings and that’s why I must pray.  I must come to you every time and must stand on guard so that you will help give me strength to HALT my temptations.  So I take a deep breath, I let go of all the anxiety I have around my fears of never overcoming my temptations.  I watch, I pray, and I trust that you will help me.  You will strengthen me.  You will satisfy my hunger and cravings.  Thank you, Lord. In your name I pray, Amen.

Reference:  5 Day Weight Loss Devotion; Healthy Eating God’s Way:  12 Pillars to Calm your Cravings, Master your Diet, Look and Feel Great (on the Bible App)

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