Gwydyr Rd, Crieff, UK, PH7 4BS

This Month’s Devotional   by Pastor Jimmy Botha (from the Edinburgh and Dunfermline Churches)

Many of you may be aware that a small part of my body, a disk in my neck, is causing me great pain and lack of sleep. I have thought about this a lot lately, and I am convinced that it is a great blessing, because it allows me to spend time with the Lord in a different way than most of us.  One of these expeditions one night led me to an interesting article about something many of us are very fond of – chocolate.

This article is a very positive one and it highlights the good things about chocolate, an article that really makes sense!

The introduction is clear that too much of the good stuff will be bad for us, but we do not need to see chocolate as an enemy. Here is what it says:

1.    That it is good for the environment: cocoa comes from the rainforests, so it helps support endangered rainforests.  It can also be good for family farms in the rainforest areas, where it is estimated that up to 90% of the cocoa is grown by these families.  So they mention the fair trade side of the business.

2.    That chocolate is good for your mood: Chocolate contains hundreds of different chemicals, some of which are thought to act like antidepressants on the brain.  Eating chocolate stimulates the release of mood-affecting chemicals such as endorphins, phenylethylamine and serotonin.

3.    Chocolate has more anti-oxidants than a bowl of blueberries: Specifically, they contain flavanols, antioxidants found in various plants that work to protect the body from damaging molecules called free radicals.  It also helps reduce blood pressure.

4.    It is not bad for your cholesterol. Thanks to those same antioxidant flavanols, chocolate has been shown to actually help raise HDL (the good cholesterol) and lower LDL (the bad one), which, in turn, helps prevent plaque from building up in the arteries.  Perfectly pure cocoa is a cholesterol-free food  — of course, the addition of milk and cocoa butter will add artery-clogging fat to chocolate.

5.    It actually contains nutrients
The cocoa bean is rich in vitamins B1, B2 and D, as well as the essential minerals magnesium and iron.  While no one is suggesting that you substitute a chocolate bar for your daily multivitamin, it’s nice to know that the treat isn’t made up of entirely empty calories.

6.    It won’t give you a caffeine buzz
Cocoa does indeed contain some caffeine, but you’ll have to eat quite a bit to give yourself the jolt of a single-shot latte. An ounce of milk chocolate contains only about 6 milligrams of caffeine, while an ounce of dark chocolate contains about 20 milligrams.  By comparison, a cup of brewed coffee can have up to 120 milligrams and even an average can of cola packs about 35 milligrams of caffeine.

(Editor. Now before you say the SMNL encourages you to rush out and fill up your cupboards with sugary chocolate, there is the following caution.  Researchers are also saying that the high sugar content of many chocolates can lead to health problems.  They say that cocoa content in the chocolate needs to be at least 70% for these healthful benefits to outweigh the negative effect of other ingredients – and then only in moderation.)

And there you have it.  What a nice and tasteful little bit of good news to share. In this life full of ups and downs, all the uncertainty around us, a world where many will die alone or because of hunger, some good news is welcome.  When the rich politicians have forgotten what it is like in homes where children are hungry, when those who have will get more and those who lack will have even less, when unfairness and hatred seems to be the way things are done these days, a bit of good news may make a huge difference.

Now, I am not advertising chocolate here, but I can give you a good idea which to choose, because certain Belgian and Swiss packets are still lying around in the kitchen.  I can also say that a bit of sweet good news like this may not even cost you an arm and a leg.

But I would miss the point entirely if we just sat with the sweet taste in our mouths, looking out the window into nowhere.  No, I need to bring you even better news!

I read about this unfairness and hatefulness in the Bible one night, and that when we are drawn into it, that even then there is good news!  The thing is, most of us have an opinion about somebody else’s behaviour that may sometimes be questionable.  But sometimes we also get drawn into that web of behaviour, and before we know it, we know we did wrong and often feel too guilty to go to the Lord.

Isaiah has a bit of good news for us in Chapter 30:

15 This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says:
“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.
16 You said, ‘No, we will flee on horses. ’Therefore you will flee!
You said, ‘We will ride off on swift horses. ’Therefore your pursuers will be swift!
17 A thousand will flee at the threat of one; at the threat of five you will all flee away, till you are left
like a flagstaff on a mountaintop, like a banner on a hill.”
18 Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!

Forget the bad news, forget what is going on in the world, forget the nasties, and dare I say, forget the chocolate!  Here is better news!  When in doubt, when in suffering, when in mourning, when at a challenge, when the money is tight, when all seems lost and the guilt is too much, the Lord is waiting, longing for us, because He wants to be gracious to us.

He also has the good qualities,
1.    He is the creator of the environment!
2.    He is not only the creator of our moods, but He can change it when we need Him to.
3.    He is the author of anti-oxidants, and all other items smaller than a grain of sand.
4.    His way is the best way to rid of the cholesterol.
5.    His Word is life, all the nutrients for heaven in it.
6.    You will never again need a caffeine buzz, or any other buzz when Christ is the good news in you heart.
Yum, that was good, time to switch off the light, good night.