Sooner or later most of us experience times when we are spiritually undernourished. These are often moments when real life depletes the spiritual reserves we need to stand firm in our faith. You know, when the pressures and stresses, tragedies and comedies, winds and storms, and other exigencies overwhelm us. Read through the Psalms once in a while for a refresher course in King David's highs and lows, those circumstances that emptied him and left him depressed, discouraged, or disappointed. At the same time, it's interesting to note that his down times were usually temporary.
Suddenly, being spiritually undernourished isn't such a momentary condition in secular America. Many of the demographic indicators researchers explore indicate a spiritually undernourished church with declining influence in every silo of American life. Go ahead and do the domino effect on that one to conclude this same malnourished condition in so many believers. Across the board fewer and fewer of us are heart healthy Christians. Being spiritually undernourished seems to be systemic.
Scripture portrays the Christian life as demanding, even hard. Christian discipline to correctly live that life involves endurance, firmness, resolve, focus, determination, character, consistency, moral strength, and many other components. The dietary regimen to produce them in mortal humans is a common Biblical theme. Three elements have been most influential in my own struggles to guard my heart.
1. The nourishment of God's Word.
Jesus said, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from
the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4, ESV). Throughout Scripture God's Word is
portrayed as the spiritual food to prepare God's people to live boldly in uncertain
times. Jeremiah wrote, "Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words
became to me a joy and the delight of my heart" (Jeremiah 15:16, ESV). Peter added
a strong footnote when he wrote, "Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual
milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation" (1 Peter 2:2, ESV). I really prefer the
old versions which instruct us to "crave" the pure spiritual milk of God's Word.
When I'm empty and without spiritual reserves time in the Bible nourishes and
strengthens me. I should crave it constantly.
2. The nourishment of seeking and doing God's will.
Once again, Jesus said, "My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to
accomplish his work" (John 4:34, ESV). There is a fulfilling element in seeking to
fulfill God's will in our lives. This seems so mysterious to believers these days.
But, God's Word provides focus in knowing God's will. Paul wrote, "Do not be
conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by
testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and
perfect" (Romans 12;2-3, ESV). The truth is that we spend our precious resources in
life chasing the wrong things, things that will not nourish us. This instruction is to be
transformed so that we can know his will and pursue it. How nourishing is that?
3. The nourishment of being with other Christians.
There is a refreshing element to our relationship with other believers. Sadly many
people today seek to go it alone in their Christian faith. Two verses from Paul's letter
to Philemon register strongly in this regard. He wrote, "For I have derived much joy
and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been
refreshed through you" (Philemon 7, ESV). Later he added, "Yes, brother, I want
some benefit from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ" (Philemon 20, ESV).
Paul understood the spiritual nourishment of being with other Christians.
Our world needs a vibrant, active, and influential church. This happens when heart healthy Christians enter that world every day nourished with a steady diet of God's Word, seeking to know and fulfill the will of God, and strengthened by the spiritual fellowship of other believers.
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