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  • Writer's picturePastor Jeff Needleman

You Are What You Eat!

We had some great news this week! The restaurants are open! Yea. Alice and I have eaten out twice and it was wonderful to hear the clatter of voices and plates... and the fellowship.

Now the schools will be reopening soon as well, and I heard a story about 2 students that were in line in the lunch room. A sign was posted over the tray of bread slices that read; "Take only 1. God is watching." Now at the other end of the counter was a large tray of cookies. & 1 child whispered to another, "Take all you want. God’s watching the bread."

I know I knead to be serious but I’m on a roll, so I bread your pardon! At yeast I’m almost done with these buns… I mean puns- but they do butter up my topic: which is… You are what you eat! & please… no comments about how many bananas, or how much fruitcake or nuts are in my diet!

Bread is called the staff of life & rightly so- because it’s a significant source of crucial nutrients that many depend upon for their physical well being! It’s so important that it’s even used as a substitute word for money - $$$. In Biblical times, bread was so vital to the diet that is was used to simply describe food in general. Give us..

Biblically bread symbolizes spiritual reliance & indicates whom we’re to place our dependency upon for our true spiritual well being. Moses, talking to the Hebrews, reminds them… & us- that God is our source of well being on which we are to depend!

Dt 8:1-3 NLT "Be careful to obey all the commands I am giving you today. Then you will live and multiply, and you will enter and occupy the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors. Remember how the Lord your God led you through the wilderness for these forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would obey his commands. 3 Yes, he humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna, a food previously unknown to you and your ancestors. He did it to teach you that people do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.

After God answered the Hebrews cry to set them free, the face of their survival changed from escaping slavery in Egypt to how they were to secure enough food & water on which to survive! In their own fearful minds they assumed that they had to fend for themselves, instead of trusting & depending upon the Lord.

As slaves they ate well, had shelter, clothing, purpose & direction. Now it seems they’d lost it all! They were bewildered in the wilderness, as often we are in life. Now what Moses? Now what God? But this is the attitude that brought them into the desert to wander for 40 years so that God could teach them to obediently rely & depend upon Him for their daily needs & Him alone. God… Only God.

We live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Every word… it’s not a smorgasbord buffet from which we get to pick & choose: I’ll have bacon encrusted bacon & a side of bacon. & for desert some Hagen Daz Chocolate Chocolate ice cream followed by Pistachio Ice Cream. Apparently I’m not a health-nut. We don’t get to pick only the good tasting & convenient portions of Scripture if we want to be healthy!

You are what you eat & we’re not talking food now! Depending upon whom we depend upon- leads us to being spiritually healthy or unhealthy. Now it’s easy to assume that if when one has accepted Jesus, has been obediently baptized, & practices the spiritual disciplines such as attending church, spending time reading God’s Word, praying & listening, etc. etc. that one is spiritually healthy. But the reality is that’s not true. How? A lack of dependency upon God! You are what you eat! Without a dependency upon God- our spiritual activities are void of any healthy nourishment-Just empty calories!

Now dependency upon God requires humbility…my word combining humility & humbleness. It implies a deeper level of being teachable by pruning our pride & ego that often stands arrogantly in the way of a deeper relationship with God - by depending upon our own devices!

Imagine perfectly browned bread right out of the oven- cooling on a well appointed table, right next to a slab of butter warmed to the ideal room temperature. Can you smell it? The aroma is almost overwhelming! Is your mouth watering?

But we don’t cut a piece, slather it with butter & eat- instead all we do is stare at it! Baked by the greatest baker in the universe & we leave the loaf on the table because we’re too proud to admit we’re hungry! So, it’s worthless to us- we can’t depend upon its nourishment if we just leave it there! We’re just crazy!

God is our Father who brings home the bread. He leads us to the bread of life & to living water! Our relationship with God is that of children to a parent, of sheep to a shepherd that brings them to green pastures, the created to the Creator. We’re dependent on Him for life, for breath, for sustenance, for help in trouble, for love, for forgiveness, for mercy & comfort & spiritual formation.

We may like to think of ourselves as independent & self-sufficient. But in truth, that’s faulty thinking! In the long run we’re far from it! We need God. Acknowledging our need for Him is the beginning of our relationship with Him. Our dependency upon Him is the beginning of our commitment to Him.

OK… Let’s jump about 1500 years into the future from when the Hebrews ate God’s provisions in the desert. After Jesus was baptized in the Jordan by John the Baptist, the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness, & after 40 days of fasting, old slew-foot appeared. Let’s read about the temptation of Jesus:

Matthew 4:1-10 NIV Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread. Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God. 5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written. “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone” 7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test. Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only. Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.

Jesus, fully man & fully God, didn’t rely on His own devices, His own power, or His own authority to battle Satan. He fully depended upon the Word of God to smite the serpent, to crush his head. Jesus didn’t waver in Satan’s presence, but instead depended upon “It is written”… God’s Holy Word!

3 times Satan attacks-3 times times Jesus feeds Scripture from the book of Deuteronomy to him & 3 times the devil finds no victory! It is written! Christ's triumph was His dependency & devotion to the will of God… not His own. Ephesians 6:17 identifies the Word of God as the sword of the Spirit! This sword is one of our greatest weapons.

Theologian AB Simpson writes that again & again Jesus wielded the sword of the Spirit that had resistless power. We can’t hope to stand up to the barrage of the evils & the temptations that assail us in our daily lives unless we know our Bibles- & are dependent upon God & His Holy Spirit to illuminate His will for us… & to show us the how, where, why, what & when we’re to apply & use Scripture. & we know who the Who is!

When Jesus prevailed over Satan with “People do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD” He taught us that our spiritual diet is perhaps even more vital than our physical one. His fasting teaches us that we’re to rely less on food & more of God Himself!

Reading & studying the Bible reminds us to trust God to provide our daily bread-those things that we need. Now society would have us worry about how we will be provided for; the world would have us be totally dependent upon ourselves, & the government would have us rely on it, rather than God! Jesus addresses this in:

Lk 12:22-32 NLT Then, turning to his disciples, Jesus said, "That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food to eat or enough clothes to wear. For life is more than food, and your body more than clothing. 24 Look at the ravens. They don't plant or harvest or store food in barns, for God feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than any birds! Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And if worry can't accomplish a little thing like that, what's the use of worrying over bigger things? 27 "Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don't work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? 29 "And don't be concerned about what to eat and what to drink. Don't worry about such things. These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need. "So don't be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.

Now I just need to comment on this before I comment on this…this passage of Scripture doesn’t mean that because we can depend upon God to feed & shelter us we get to be lazy & inactive! The Apostle Paul clearly says in 2Th 3:6 &10: If a man will not work, he shall not eat & keep away from every brother who is idle! We’re to work, but as we do so, we can depend upon God to take care of our needs!

Jesus sums up the point of these 10 v

erses concisely & sweetly in Mt 6:33 NLT Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. In the KJV it says; seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all these things will be added unto you… & I add… you can depend upon it! A part of our spiritual health & maturity in our walk with God is a deeper & abiding confidence in the Manna that He supplies; His provision, love & care for us that helps free us from worry!

This is not to say that we won’t get anxious & then take things back & try to do it our way… but hopefully those times that we’re in our own will instead of God’s will become shorter & shorter! & the times it happens further & further apart!

So… Scripture is abundantly clear that we’re to trust & depend upon our faithful God -- which is basic to the Christian life. Here’s a short story that can help us to see what dependence looks like in actual life, & a practical way to practice our dependency… in other words, how to eat right—spiritually.

At a factory textile mill a large sign read, "When your thread becomes tangled, call the foreman." & of course a new employee’s thread tangled up in her machine. She thought, "This is too easy to bother to bother the boss, I'll just fix it myself." She tried & tried, but it only became more & more tangled!

Finally she called the foreman. "I did the best I could," she said. The foreman replied… "No you didn't. To do the best, you should have called me." To do our best… we need to call on God in all circumstances, the good ones & not just the bad ones.

I mentioned in a blog I published last Thursday that we often think that we know what’s the best course of action for us to take. Then ask God to bless it. Isn’t that trying to bend God to our will? Instead, it’d be more spiritually mature & wise to pray: “God, what do you want me to do?”. After which, we wait upon the Lord for His guidance, counsel and direction. And please understand… “waiting” is in and of itself… action.

And in the waiting we find the practical application of dependency on God means practicing the Spiritual Discipline of spending time in His Word… & doing what is says! That’s dependence. Being a take charge guy… that’s a hard one for me. But trust & dependence means even during those tough times we rely on the Lord & wait patiently.

The Bible has the power to form & transform; to teach & instruct; it gives us promises, examples & protection. Just as you eat everyday, read the Bible every day & wisely butter everything with Scripture!

There’s a saying- if you trust God you don’t need to worry. It you don’t trust God, by all means worry! So put aside your fear & do what you know is Biblically right by taking the action that God sets before you.

& make sure to check everything against the truth of the Word of God & when there’s a conflict between what the Bible says & what your heart or anyone else says; remember that the Bible is dependable & trustworthy. Rely on it! Do what it says… not what you want! That’s dependence.

And if you’ve never depended upon God before, please give me a call and we can talk about it!

Be blessed!

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