Spiritual Food

Romans 10:17
(17) So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
  Romans 1:16-17
(16) For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. (17) For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”
New King James Version   

In the spiritual sense, “eating” occurs primarily when one hears and reads. A person ingests messages and concepts into the mind through words, which establish and nourish his pattern of life. Those words, if one permits it, create a faith upon which one bases the way he lives. This faith is almost entirely dependent upon the quality of what is heard and whether a person believes it enough to follow it. These verses reveal that only the words of God or Christ, His gospel, His truths, will form the faith that leads to salvation because they will form the correct beliefs and thus the correct way of life. This is the faith of Christ; the person who has it believes what Christ believes. This is a simple, understandable, true formula.

Zephaniah 3:1-2 shows what happens when a person rejects or disbelieves His words: “Woe to her who is rebellious and polluted, to the oppressing city! She has not obeyed His voice, she has not received correction; she has not trusted in the LORD; she has not drawn near to her God.” That person comes to great dismay. This does not mean we cannot have words other than God’s in our mind, but the children of God must filter everything through God’s words to test their validity before they allow themselves to believe them firmly enough to make them part of their belief system.

Put another way, there is faith and then there is the faith, the faith that brings salvation. This faith arises from believing God’s words. What we believe will determine our conduct and attitudes whether or not we stop to think about those beliefs because what is contained in the heart will come out (Matthew 12:34-35). Only God’s words truly produce spiritual strength. In our recent past, “eating” and believing the wrong words set the church up for the scattering that has occurred. For quite a while, worldly things gradually corrupted the spiritual health of God’s children, weakening them through spiritual malnourishment and changing their faith.

I Corinthians 1:10 provides the first-century account of a congregation suffering from this process of ingesting the wrong words: “Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” Division troubled this congregation because the members held dissimilar views on beliefs that are basic to spiritual unity. I Corinthians shows disorder, confusion, argument, and offense as symptoms of spiritual weakness.
— John W. Ritenbaugh

Can You Pass This Test?

“If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were raising himself against me, I could hide from him. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship as we walked with the throng at the house of God” (Ps. 55:12-14).

Betrayal is one of the most difficult tests that we will ever face because it involves being wounded by someone we trust. It’s hard not to become bitter when a friend or family member wounds us. It takes a lot of Christ-like grace to forgive a traitor.

You have probably faced the Judas Test yourself. Every day you and I work in a marketplace that is rife with betrayal, deception, duplicity, and treachery. Perhaps you have been betrayed by your boss or a coworker. Or perhaps somebody betrayed a confidence or stabbed you in the back. It may have even been someone you’ve gone to church with or prayed with – someone you trusted as a brother in Christ.

The Judas kiss stings worse than a slap across the face. Almost every leader I know has experienced that sting at one time or another. Yet God is watching to see how we respond to the Judas Test. If we pass the test, He can then take us to the next level, the next test. If we fail, we’ll probably have to repeat the test until we learn to forgive.

The Judas Test is God’s graduate-level course in faith, designed to reveal the truth about ourselves: Are we willing to trust Him enough to forgive the Judases in our lives? The book of Hebrews warns, “See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many” (Heb 12:15). When we refuse to forgive we risk infecting others with a “bitter root” of resentment.

 

Buried Alive: Persecution of Christians

by Raymond Ibrahim

FROM THE HEART OF DR. REXELLA VAN IMPE

Give Me Your Hand

In my daily Bible reading, I’ve been noticing how much is mentioned about the hands of our Lord. Again and again, the Gospels relate how He reached out to people in their need and hurt and sorrow. And when He touched them, they were never the same again.

His hands healed the sick

After He began His earthly ministry, great multitudes thronged about Him wherever He went. Those who were sick, blind, and lame — even those marked for death with the curse of leprosy — came to Him seeking to be healed and made whole.

When the hands of Jesus touched them, pain and suffering ceased, diseases and infirmities were cured, and lives shattered and ruined by sickness were restored.

His hands fed the multitude

It was the hands of Jesus that fed the multitudes who followed Him out into the desert place to hear His words. When evening came, Christ’s disciples urged Him to send the people away. But Jesus saw their hunger and weariness and, in compassion, desired to minister to them.

Taking a few small loaves and fishes — barely enough for one small boy’s lunch — the Lord blessed the food. Then His hands began to break and divide the bread and fish into portions which He gave to His disciples to serve.

We’re told that 5,000 men were fed that day, not counting the women and children. And when everybody had eaten all they wanted, there were twelve baskets full of leftovers! The hands of Jesus not only provided enough…but plenty to spare.

His hands blessed the children

Loving children as I do, my heart is touched to read the biblical account of how the hands of Jesus blessed and comforted the little children. He specifically told His disciples not to prevent them from coming to Him. And in my mind’s eye, I can see the Lord sitting down and opening His arms to them. As they eagerly jostled about, perhaps He lifted a toddler into His lap, shook hands with an older lad, touched the cheek of a shy little girl. And as His gentle hands patted little shoulders and smoothed tousled hair, the Lord blessed these little ones. Somehow I think they probably never forgot that day when the hands of Jesus touched them.

The hands of the Master

No doubt the hands of Jesus were strong and powerful. Growing up around Joseph’s carpenter shop, He probably learned to hold and use various tools to shape and assemble wood into useful items. His hands knew how to work.

It was those strong hands that later would grasp a whip as an indignant Jesus drove the callous money changers out of the holy halls of the Temple. Those hands were instruments of righteousness and justice.

It was those hands that reached out to lift and save impetuous Peter who, after walking on the water toward Jesus, took his eyes off the Lord and began to sink.

There are so many other references to the hands of Jesus that we could talk about. But the single most important mention of Christ’s hands is when they were nailed to the cross.

A very dear, life-long friend gave me a beautiful wall plaque, which I have hanging in my kitchen. It says:

I asked Jesus, “How much do You love me?”
“This much,” He answered, and He stretched out His arms and died.
Greater love hath no man than this, said Jesus, that a man lay down his life for his friends
 (John 15:13).

And who is Jesus’ friend? The deeply spiritual and very religious? The learned and respectable? The proud traditionalists?

No, our Lord said that He was called a friend of…sinners! (Luke 7:34).

The Apostle Paul reminds us that Christ died for the ungodly… in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:6,8).

It is strangely and beautifully significant that the first person to benefit from Christ’s sacrifice at Calvary was a thief on the cross next to His! Think of it — the first person to whom the Lord stretched out His nail-pierced hands was someone totally unworthy of His love.

Love-scarred hands

Some time ago my husband, Jack, and I were guests at a Christian fellowship dinner in another city. During the meal I got acquainted and talked with a dear little mother who sat next to me. After a while, with tears streaming down her cheeks, she leaned over and whispered the sad story of a wayward daughter who had run away from home, mounted up many debts, and fallen to the very depths of sin, even into a life of prostitution.

“I pray for her every day,” she said, “and every time I hear from her I beg her to come home. My husband doesn’t make a lot of money, so I got a job to help pay off the debts our daughter made. I’m doing everything I know how to do to help her. Please pray with me.”

When I reached out to take hold of this precious mother’s hands to comfort her, they were rough and calloused, scarred by long hours of hard work, week after month after year. Those hands were scarred by love…by a mother’s selfless sacrifice and desperate desire to reach and save her wayward daughter.

As I held those hands and prayed, I was reminded of Christ’s nail-scarred hands that also were pierced for that lost daughter…and for every lost sinner in the whole world. They were scarred for me…and for you!

Just as the hands of our Lord ministered to men and women, boys and girls, wherever He went during His time on earth, so we today can feel the touch of His hands in our daily lives. His power is still available to us today.

In our times of pain and suffering, He is still the Great Physician who lays His hands upon us and restores our bodies. Whether our healing comes through medication, the skill of a surgeon, or by the power of faith alone, we know that He is the source of all healing.

When we are hungry and experiencing a lack of supply — when we’re empty physically, emotionally, and spiritually — Christ’s hands will bless and multiply the smallest things we have to offer Him and make it sufficient to meet our need…with plenty to spare.

When we’ve tried and failed — when like Peter, we’re sinking into the depths of trials and tribulations, with no hope in sight — He will come to us, walking on the waters of our stormy sea. His hand will save us, lift us up, and lead us safely to the solid rock!

My challenge to you

Let us be challenged to reach out in His love into every man’s world with a helping hand. Let us emulate our Lord’s great example and use the resurrection power that flows through us to minister to the needs of those around us.

Never forget that for many people in the world, their first glimpse of Christ may be in you…the only hands that will touch them in love, that will comfort, lift, and bless them, may be your hands.

Reach out whenever you can, wherever you can, to whomever you can. However unlovely or unworthy the person you find may be, remember that Christ’s sacrifice is sufficient…and that He loves that individual just as much as He loves you.

Do not be afraid to stretch forth your hand to anybody. For you minister, not in your own strength and ability, but in His love. So when you reach out, it will not be just your hand that touches them, but the hand of God through you!

I love the beautiful gospel chorus that cries out

Oh, to be His hand extended,
Reaching out to the oppressed,
Let me touch Him, let me touch Jesus,
So that others may know and be blessed.

Look around you today and find someone who is hurting or needy, someone who is in trouble. Ask God to guide you to someone who needs Jesus.

When you find them, don’t hesitate or delay. Go to them with a smile filled with the light of His love and simply say…

“Give me your hand.”

SMALL STRAWS by MARSHA BURNS

I keep hearing these song lyrics: I can see clearly now the rain is gone, I can see all obstacles in my way, Gone are the dark clouds that have made me blind, It’s gonna be a bright, bright sunshiny day. And, I heard the Lord say that things that have been hidden in obscurity will now become clear and open the door to resolution. John 12:46 I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.
Bill and Marsha Burns – Faith Tabernacle | P. O. Box 1148, Kremmling, CO 80459