June 22, 2004
Encouragement for Today

What to Eat - Part Two
Rachel Olsen, Certified Speaker

Key Verse:

"Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God."  Matthew 4:4 (NASB)
 

Devotion:
 
Yesterday we learned that while no particular food is deemed off-limits by God, some choices are better for us than others.  We also saw that our bodies are the dwelling place for God's Holy Spirit and, therefore, we are to care for them in a way that honors Him.
 
One of my favorite treats in the heat of summer is a cool, creamy smoothie.  Oh so fruity and refreshing!  After having one for breakfast I can go full-throttle for two to three hours as the liquid concoction is so easily digested, giving me an almost instant energy boost.  The downside is that if I don't include some protein with that smoothie, my energy level can just as dramatically drop once the smoothie is fully digested, leaving me at a virtual standstill.  Did you know that our spiritual life can be the same way?  
 
When we first put our trust in Jesus Christ, no matter our chronological age, we are spiritual infants.  Just as babies are neither ready to digest solid food, nor to put others ahead of themselves, spiritual infants are not ready to digest all of scripture or a live a life of total surrender and service.  However, as babies grow they begin eating meat, walking and talking.  So too are spiritual infants to mature in their knowledge and application of the scriptures.  When babies do not grow and progress at the rate they should, doctors diagnose it as a "failure to thrive."  When I stand before my Maker at the end of my life, I don't want His diagnosis to be "forgiven, but failed to thrive."
 
The apostle Paul wrote to the church at Corinth to say:
 
Dear brothers and sisters, when I was with you I couldn't talk to you as I would to mature Christians.  I had to talk as though you belonged to this world or as though you were infants in the Christian life.  I had to feed you with milk and not with solid food, because you couldn't handle anything stronger.  And you still aren't ready, for you are still controlled by your own sinful desires.  You are jealous of one another and quarrel with each other.  Doesn't that prove you are controlled by your own desires? You are acting like people who don't belong to the Lord.  (1 Corinthians 3:1-3 NLT)
 
The Corinthian Christians weren't the only ones failing to thrive spiritually.  Paul also wrote to the Hebrew Christians:
 
There is so much more we would like to say about this.  But you don't seem to listen, so it's hard to make you understand.  You have been Christians a long time now, and you ought to be teaching others.  Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things a beginner must learn about the Scriptures.  You are like babies who drink only milk and cannot eat solid food.  And a person who is living on milk isn't very far along in the Christian life and doesn't know much about doing what is right.  Solid food is for those who are mature, who have trained themselves to recognize the difference between right and wrong and then do what is right. (Hebrews 5:11-14 NLT)
 
There are ways we can train ourselves to recognize the difference between right and wrong.  One is to read the Bible and learn what it says.  Don't worry at first if it doesn't make much sense to you.  Just read it regularly anyway, it will begin to digest in your spirit.  Another is to pray to God and listen to what he says to your heart.  Finally, be sure to do what He teaches or tells you.  For these disciplines are the "meat" of the Christian diet.
 
Today we learned that God has prescribed his own high-protein diet for us.  It starts with an induction period where we consume only the milk-white basics of Christ as Savior and Redeemer.  Then we must move into a life-long maintenance phase by adding the meaty knowledge that Christ is also our Lord and Master. 
 
Friends, do not exist solely on milk, passing over the meaty substance of scripture because it is more difficult to chew.  If you partake of a well-rounded spiritual diet, you will never fail to thrive.  Bon Appetit!


My prayer for today:

Dear Lord, I want to thrive spiritually!  Give me a desire for the meat of your word.  Help me to discern right from wrong and to do only what is right.  Use me to teach others your truth so that they too can thrive in you.  In Jesus' name I pray.

Application Step:

Commit to spending some time each day in prayer and Bible reading.


Reflection points:

Am I failing to thrive spiritually on the meat of the word?

Do I treat the word of God as necessary for my daily existence?

Am I prayer-starved?

Have I fed myself enough of God's word to recognize His voice?


Power Verses:

1 Peter 2:1-3 "So get rid of all malicious behavior and deceit. Don't just pretend to be good! Be done with hypocrisy and jealousy and backstabbing.  You must crave pure spiritual milk so that you can grow into the fullness of your salvation. Cry out for this nourishment as a baby cries for milk, now that you have had a taste of the Lord's kindness."  (NLT)

 Psalm 119-93 "I will never forget your commandments, for you have used them to restore my joy and health." (NLT)

 Psalm 37:30 "The godly offer good counsel; they know what is right from wrong."  (NLT)

 Proverbs 31:26 "She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue."  (NRSV)

 James 1:22 "But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves." (NASB)

 Luke 11:27-28 "As he was speaking, a woman in the crowd called out, "God bless your mother - the womb from which you came, and the breasts that nursed you!"  He replied, "But even more blessed are all who hear the word of God and put it into practice." (NLT)


Additional Resources:

P31 Woman Magazine
http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/p31woman.html
 
Radically Obedient, Radically Blessed by Lysa TerKeurst
http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/radical.html
 
Ultimate Makeover by Sharon Jaynes
http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/makeover.html