Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?  For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.  Hebrews 12:9-10


Why do we submit our appetites to God?  His discipline is not pleasant, and our flesh still longs to be gratified in unhealthy ways.  The Hebrew writer teaches us that we submit our appetites to God in order to live.  That’s our motive.  God disciplines us for our profit, so we can partake of His holiness.  That’s His motive.  How differently we see the experience of discipline!

 Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink. Then let our countenances be looked upon before thee, and the countenance of the children that eat of the portion of the king’s meat: and as thou seest, deal with thy servants. So he consented to them in this matter, and proved them ten days.  And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king’s meat. Daniel 1: 12-15


Daniel bargained with his handlers – the government regulators – to be allowed to narrow his palate to consume a fare of pulse (pulses are: dry beans like pinto beans, kidney beans navy beans, dry peas, lentils and others) and water – a lowly food grown from the land – but carrying the essentials for good health and keeping peace with God.  The lesson is not just about beans and peas, but that governments are not the final authority, and as Daniel found early on in a foreign land, they can’t be blindly trusted to deliver good food for the body or the soul.  It is up to us, like Daniel, to take control of our food sources and not blindly follow what for many isn’t working to bring health to our families and nation. 

 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.  Romans 13:14 ESV


Those with more than a utilitarian view of food can fall prey to appetites.  Are you spending an inordinate amount of time each day making provision for the “flesh,” that is, thinking about and preparing foods?  Even when we are not hungry – we eat. 

In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive…).  John 7:37-39


Jesus took the occasion of a feast to explain how the people could really satisfy that hunger and thirst in their bellies.  It’s a holiday party.  People have come expecting to eat until they are full and content.  But when their appetite for food is satisfied, a longing remains.

The same is true in our lives when we are so focused on the satisfaction of eating.  Our appetite for the Holy Spirit is faint.  We feast our way into fatness and ill health, and the emptiness remains. 

Then Jesus stands up and cries out to my heart, “satisfy your hunger and thirst with living water!    Do I dare believe that there is more than mere food for the body?  Could I manage a family, and keep my finances in order, and give to God the burden of provision that consumes my thoughts and desires?  What if my energy dries up?  What if my bills don’t get paid?  What if I become flat and boring?  What if…?  I’ve forgotten about the uncontrollable expansive grand river whose limitless satisfaction is mine for the asking.  I only have to reorder my appetites, and receive!

 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command these stones to be made bread. But He answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Matthew 4:3-4


Jesus lays down a great principle in His response to appetite. He was not free to grab for food and eat just because of His hunger. EVERY aspect of His life was submitted to the Father. He would say and do only what God directed. And His first act of submission in the depths of this spiritual war was to surrender to His Father His appetite for food.

 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. John 10:10


Food whose only purpose is to addict the eater and provide a profit for the processor is a thief.  Salt, fat, sugar, and chemically enhanced foods rob us of long life, productive life, fulfilling life.  It brings chronic suffering through heart disease, diabetes, and dementia.  Make no mistake—it will eventually kill and destroy.  This is not abundant life.

 Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth. For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.  3 John 1:2-4


John’s message here is a most direct reference to the importance of physical health.  He wanted his friend’s physical health to equal his spiritual fervor.  We are often criticized for putting the importance of physical health on a high spiritual plane, but John, in his later years, wisely understood and addresses the issue.

Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food. Job 23:12


Job is our great example in holding on to our faith in the midst of high-pressure adversity. How do you respond to grief and loss? Too often, food instead of reliance upon the Holy Spirit becomes the comfort we turn to when the pressures of life are pressing in, and our bad choices of sugar and processed foods add to depression, weight gain, and hormone imbalance.

But the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits. Daniel 11:32


We will fuel our bodies to have the strength and energy to pursue the spiritual exercise that brings Godliness.  It takes work to avoid nutrition-depleted cheap food that appeals so powerfully to our taste.  Food appetites that are harmful to our bodies are also harmful to our calling to be strong, do exploits for God, and find freedom in the Spirit.

Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die:  Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me:  Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain. Proverbs 30:7-9


Solomon knew the danger of making rich, complicated, unnatural foods the center of life. Fill your body with nutritious fuel that is convenient for you, take time to acknowledge the One who feeds you, and then get moving in the Kingdom of God—the purpose for which your convenient fuel is given!

Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak. Mark 14:38


Is the craving for sugar still calling to you? Are you still tempted to drive through a fast food window? It always amazes me to talk to people who would rather destroy their bodies over a couple of decades with addictive food laden with chemicals, than to choose health and avoid the chronic illness that is predictably ahead.

The Holy Spirit wants to teach you what it means to pray, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” When your body is longing for sugar and yearning for a hot loaf of fresh bread, it is time for a lesson in prayer. Fix a cup of tea, confess your desires to God, and ask Him to help you to have an Appetite for God that is bigger than the appetite of your flesh. The desires for junk food will not go away overnight. The addiction has been a long time forming. But God expects us to be free and it is our duty as custodians of His temple, our bodies.

When you have prayed through to victory, the liberty in Christ will be bigger than anything you have ever experienced.

For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things. Philippians 3: 18-19

Fox News recently reprinted an excoriating rebuke to pastors and churches that made our church staff physician’s no-nonsense exhortations to get healthy seem warm and fuzzy. Dr. Scott Stoll minces no words, declaring that fundamental Christians are by far the heaviest of all religious groups. We, the Church, are being indicted and shamed by the World for our appetites.  I have brought reproach upon the church by my neglect and the media is calling us on the carpet.  It gets a little lonely out here living life where food is not at the center of what we do. It has become more than a physical maintenance; it’s also spiritual for me. If we as the body of Christ would honor God with our physical bodies, the world would sit up and take notice.