Welcome Have you ever watched episodes of This Old House? How about the many different versions and approaches to home improvement subjects as seen on DIY or HGTV? I can watch those shows and basically have the same two thoughts on every one. First, I wish my house was more like that one, and second, that looks like an awful lot of work and expense…is it worth it? Today I’m going to talk about a renovation that really matters, the renovation of our souls. I don’t know about you, but mine certainly is a fixer-upper! And following with this week’s healthier food genre, I have a healthier dessert option, Individual Berry Cheesecake Parfaits. Note-I may receive a small compensation from advertisers and affiliate links seen in this post. For further information, please see my terms and disclosure page.
Food For Thought Our house is 28 years old. We’ve had to put some love, and money, into our home. And there’s always more that needs to be done! Just when we get the foundation and roof taken care of, we’ve got plumbing issues. And this appliance needs replaced and that room needs new paint. If you are a home owner, you know what I’m talking about. It’s constant! Our spiritual lives are a lot like these houses. In constant need of repair and upkeep. We all have weaknesses that we struggle with every day, and just when we get one habit taken care of, a new one or an old one sneaks up on us. Satan will make sure that our soul-repairs are never finished. Sometimes we take the approach that I use when watching home improvement shows. We’re so busy watching other people living their so-called perfect Christian lives, we feel we can never measure up. God, there’s so much wrong with me already. I’ll never be like (fill in the blank), why should I even bother? This is an especially dangerous mindset for those of us who already struggle with comparison. Then there’s the other approach…we look at what all needs to be done and think “that takes too much time and investment.” Sadly, I have had both of these mindsets at different times in my life. Fortunately for me, and everyone else, God loves a good fixer-upper!
I’ve learned now to approach my spiritual renovations with the same attitude as our home improvement projects. Frequent “maintenance” of my house-small repairs, yard work, cleaning and cosmetic upkeep-is the same type of frequent maintenance I need in my spiritual life. This would include daily scripture reading, prayer, and weekly worship services. Then every couple of years, or so, or when finances allow, we tackle a bigger home improvement project. If you’re like me, you can only handle the stress and chaos of one big renovation at a time. I feel that way with the BIG problems in my soul…I can focus and tackle on one big thing at a time, with God’s help. These big renovations of the soul look different for every individual. It may mean coming forward for church prayers and forgiveness for something that’s hindering your walk with God. It may mean overcoming an addiction. It might be going to marriage counseling and working with your spouse to get through a particularly difficult time. It might be simply getting your family back to church. You may need a spiritual retreat to get your fire back for God and His power. I like to think we can approach our spiritual upkeep like the upkeep of our houses, though. If we take care of the little things as they arise-keep our obedience in check, pray and study daily-then the big “repairs” won’t be so costly, or dangerous. Wouldn’t it be nice if we got as excited about rejuvenation in our souls the way we do about a fresh coat of paint or a new deck?
Today’s Scriptures I love the book of Ephesians. It makes a great blueprint, if you will, for Christian living. I don’t care what century we are in, these directions still apply to our life today! I’m going to be sharing from Ephesians chapter 4 today.
Verse 16: “From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” Just as a house needs a sturdy, well-built foundation, so does our spiritual lives. That foundation is love. If we have love, then all the other functions of our spiritual life can work to the greater good of others and the building of God’s kingdom. And yes, I am working on this for myself, daily. Sometimes, it’s just not easy to love.
Verses 22-24 “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” If you’ve completed any major remodeling projects, you know well that you have to strip out the old before building up the new. You don’t install new cabinets on top of your old ones. You don’t lay down new carpet or flooring on top of your old carpet. You can’t put in new plumbing until you strip out the old. And sometimes you even find other areas in need of repair in the process of removing the old. It’s hard work and messy, but necessary. Now, if I want to live in my new God-like self, I have to get rid of the old, ugly or damaged pieces from my old self. I can’t hold onto past hurts or continue my bad habits of crude language, gossip, or envy.
Verses 29-31 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” So I’m repairing cracks in the wall…don’t bring me pieces of tape to put it back together. I need the right tools for the right job. I only want what is helpful for my project. We need to give others the right tools for their soul renovations, too. Words are the tools and words matter, and it’s a fine line. Words can be like the hammer putting the nails in holding the project together, allowing for us to continue building up. Or the words can be a sledgehammer, smashing down all the good that was made, causing nothing but destruction.
Before closing out our devotional for today, I’m going to ask you for a favor. I’m going to ask you for a prayer. As I’ve stated before, I’m a work in progress and my soul is in constant need of repair. One of the struggles I am dealing with right now has to do with some words found in verse 31. Because I feel I was “wronged” this past year, I am having a really hard time with bitterness and anger. I know God brought me to where I am right now for a reason, and I am thankful for this blessing. But even so, I have harsh feelings, thoughts, and words, particularly for two individuals. I have prayed, telling God and myself, that I have forgiven and will move on, but it just won’t go away. In order to better build up my newly renovated spiritual self, I know I must cast off this hindrance, but it’s a struggle. I feel like a I have enough trust and compassion for my readers that I can ask you for this, a prayer that I can let go of bitterness and anger, embrace forgiveness, and move on with my life. I would do the same for you!
Today’s Recipe Let’s build us a healthier dessert today. These are cute little individual berry cheesecake parfaits. They were calculated at recipenutrition.com at 250 calories and 17 net carbs per serving, which is not a bad way to finish dinner. If you don’t have Splenda sweetener (or can’t use it), you can substitute sugar 1:1, but your calorie and carb count will be significantly higher. You can use a glass or dish to layer these desserts, but they look super cute in the Mason jars, plus that makes them transportable for picnics, reunions, or tailgating! Note-I am not affiliated with the Splenda or Mason brands.
Individual Berry Cheesecake Parfaits (makes 6 servings)
- 1/2 pound strawberries, stemmed and sliced
- 1/2 pint blueberries
- 1/4 cup Splenda
- 6 graham crackers
- 2 TBS light butter spread
- 1 TBS Splenda
- 8 oz pkg cream cheese (I used regular, but you could lighten it up even more with reduced-fat)
- 1 cup vanilla flavor Greek yogurt
- 1 TBS lemon juice
- 1/2 cup Splenda
- In medium bowl combine berries and 1/4 Splenda, stirring to coat, and set aside. In large zip-top bag crush graham crackers. In small bowl, melt butter in microwave for 30 seconds (it may take less-watch carefully.) Stir cracker crumbs and tablespoon of Splenda into melted butter until well-coated. In large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, yogurt, lemon juice, and 1/2 cup Splenda until smooth and creamy. In the bottom of each jar (or glass) add 2 tablespoons of the graham cracker mixture-no need to pack it. Place cheesecake mixture in gallon-size zip-top bag and cut small hole in bottom corner. By lightly squeezing the bag you can swirl the cheesecake filling on top of the crumb mixture in each jar (you can just spoon it in, too, if the bag thing sounds crazy!) Add 1/4 cup of the fruit mixture on top of each dessert. Chill until serving. Don’t forget to keep these desserts chilled if you are transporting them.
Products to help you with this post (and yes, I do use these products myself!) Links verified on 8/24/17 at 1:20 CDT.