Starving?

Starving?

by Bill Cook

Every year for my birthday, I used to go to a very special place – a restaurant! Not just any restaurant, but my restaurant. Which one? Why Red Lobster, of course. And, of course, that was pre-heart attack. I remember hardly being able to wait; the anticipation at suppertime was intense. I could almost taste the crab legs and shrimp, the salad with shrimp vinaigrette dressing, garlic-cheese biscuits, and of course the lobster!

Back then, there was not a Red Lobster in town. We had to travel out of town, to Chattanooga, to get to one. The trip only took about a half-hour, and the reservation was made ahead of time, but just getting inside was an exercise in time-dilation. Naturally, at a restaurant, a waiter or waitress brings menus to the table. I don’t require one. Let’s get the ordering done; I know exactly what I want.

So, I kindly allow my guests to order but when the waitress gets to me, I say, “Oh, how about a nice glass of tea? Thanks.”

Now, why would I order just a glass of tea knowing that this would be the only opportunity to feast? Why didn’t I order some food? Perhaps I substituted the drink for food. Or, maybe I just thought the food was unnecessary; maybe that I could just do without it.

We are all spiritual creatures or, creatures with a spiritual nature. That spiritual part needs to be nourished just like the physical part does. Sometimes, Christians may even forget this as we do the things and involve ourselves of this life. Perhaps you have heard that a man can live for many days without food as long as he has water. While this is true, we recognize that Jesus used many physical things to teach spiritual lessons. And, the physical truth of survival also applies spiritually. A Christian can survive for a long time without spiritual food, but he will not grow. Further, once a physical body’s resources are exhausted, that body will cease to function – it will die. The same principle applies spiritually – that is, without spiritual nourishment, the spiritual body dies.

Christianity is not a religion just to be a religion. It is a source of spiritual nourishment. After the heart attack, I was given a list of foods I could eat and another list of foods I could not eat. Some of the foods I had enjoyed before were not good for me physically and would be detrimental to me now. And, just as physical nutrition can be good or bad (that is, there are good foods and bad foods) so can spiritual nutrition. Jesus was teaching his followers (disciples) and the Jews in the synagogue in Capernaum in John chapter 6. In verse 48, He says that He is the Bread of Life. A few verses later He says, “…if anyone eats of this bread, he shall live forever;” That is some powerfully nutritious Food!

There was also a time when the children of Israel were wandering in the wilderness. The Lord provided for their needs in the form of manna (the Bread of Life or Bread from Heaven – in a physical sense). It was provided only for that day. And, it was provided day by day. This is important because the Lord did not merely send a one-year supply – He sent it as it was needed. It was not an annual feast, it was daily bread!

Not only must the spirit be nourished often it must be nourished to become strong. David, in the Psalms, says it best –

1 How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! 2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. 3 He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers. Psalm 1:1-3 (NASB95)

The very first Psalm, in the book of Psalms, gives instructions on how to use the instructions that follow in the rest of the Psalms.

If the spirit is fed with the Bread of Life daily, it will grow. As the spiritual man grows he will begin to develop the ability to discern between spiritual food that is good and that which is bad; he will be able to discern between truth and error, right and wrong, good and evil. Paul encourages such growth in the letter to the Philippians-

8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. 9 The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9 (NASB95)

 While giving a list of things (analogous to foods of the spirit) that would develop holy habits, please notice the word, ‘dwell’, at the end of verse 8. It is a word in the Greek that means to reckon as in accounting. It is a word that deals only in facts, not suppositions. It is an intense scrutiny of the ‘foods’ and means to take an account of one’s spiritual diet.

Ever tried to make a child eat when they were in a bad mood? They just sort of flop the mashed potatoes on their plate and throw the food into their mouth. When they take a drink, they slam the cup down. They do this to irritate everyone else at the table. They want someone to know they are not happy. If you do this with spiritual food, it doesn’t taste too good. Well, a change in attitude is necessary. Once again, a visit to the Psalms –

33 I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my being. 34 Let my meditation be pleasing to Him; As for me, I shall be glad in the Lord. Psalm 104:33-34 (NASB95)

 And, finally, we need to eat spiritually to stay healthy – so we can prevent disease. I might be teaching error, but would never know it – unless you knew the Word, unless you had eaten daily. Many are drawn away and are weak because their diet is too little, too late. So, eat often; eat to be strong; eat to grow; eat with the right attitude; and, eat to stay healthy.

Is your spirit starving or well fed? In Christ it will grow. No other food will do.

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