Monday, 14 August 2017

Spiritual Food 5.



Spiritual Food 5:
The Lord's Table!
 
This is the final post in our ‘Spiritual Food’ study series. Our focus for this series has been the importance of what we take in as ‘spiritual food’, with the premise that scripture is the main diet for a Christian and therefore the need for caution in regards to ‘worldly wisdom’.

With scripture as our main diet, we have Christ Jesus as our authority.

Now this is such an important part of being a Christian. With Jesus as our authority we guard ourselves from not being led astray. Furthermore, it is integral for Christians in order for them to grow and mature and therefore ‘bear fruit’ for the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. For Jesus said, no-one will bear any fruit without Him and we will not bear any fruit without REMAINING in Him.


“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5


The disciples who saw Jesus with their own eyes truly understood that without Jesus no miracles were possible and it is the same for us today – Without Jesus no miraculous transformative growth is possible – Anything else is just ‘smoke and mirrors’; human attempts to play god.

The disciples saw their need for Jesus many times and asked Him to be their guide when asking Him how they should pray for spiritual growth. Jesus replied with what we call, ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ and this infamous prayer is our guide for spiritual growth. Let’s break it down.

Opening Praise -  “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.”

Desire for God’s will to be first – “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

Petition for spiritual food for wisdom – “Give us this day our daily bread,”

Request for forgiveness and also letting go of resentment through forgiving others – “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”

Keep us safe from the enemy and his temptations – “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil."

We see can see this prayer for the Christian in parts as; glorifying God, desiring His will foremost in your life, to know His will requesting spiritual food/wisdom, the importance of forgiveness to remain close to God and requesting protection for our journey.

All these sections of what seems a simple and short prayer are equally important, however for this study we want to highlight the request for ‘Spiritual Food’ for wisdom and therefore discernment.

Praying The Lord’s prayer is so important as it keeps us in the right place of humility before Jesus – Just like the ‘needy’ disciples who asked how to pray in the beginning.

When we ask for our ‘daily bread’ we are approaching The Lord and His table.

When scripture speaks of The Lord’s table it is described as a lavish wedding banquet and describes lowly, humble people as the blessed guests. Psalm 23 also describes The Lord as an abundant provider, as One who gives so much that the ‘cup overflows’ even though the psalmist David, speaks of a journey that is very difficult! Verse 5 even refers to The Lord preparing this banquet in the presence of our enemies. When the world is against us we may feel weak and vulnerable and yet our Heavenly Father is there to provide spiritual sustenance. This may even be a witness to those who stand against us of how great our Father really is.

As Christians we also continue to celebrate being a part of God’s family by partaking in the symbolic meal of bread and wine that Jesus’ instituted. This meal is sometimes referred to as The Lord’s Table, or The Lord’s Supper, aside from Communion. Scripture also warns us to examine ourselves and partake in the meal in a humble manner.

The Lord’s table is therefore full of abundant blessings for His children, but we must be honest and real with ourselves when we come before The Lord. We must understand our hearts are deceitful and we need the mirror of scripture for true, godly insight and wisdom. Scripture is the true Word of God and the only substantial spiritual food that will produce a harvest of good deeds and fruit for Jesus’ Kingdom. Listen to these scriptures:


“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9.



“Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.” James 1:21-25.


We must be DOERS of The Word, not for salvation but for faithful living and Kingdom work.

We must be DOERS of The Word, but we MUST know what the Word says for this to happen.

We must be DOERS of The Word, in a world where the enemy and his wolves will try to persuade us otherwise, and elevate human wisdom above God’s.

We must be DOERS of The Word, for Jesus will return and call us to His celebratory, wedding banquet table as His guest.

In this series we began with the first post, ‘Becoming what we eat’ for it is true that we become products of our habits. It is true that we take on what we digest and this will impact our spiritual growth and relationship with Jesus. In post two, ‘Taste and see’ we discussed the need to lay our lives down upon His alter in order to experience His goodness. In post three, ‘Artificial Preservatives’ we looked at what isn’t healthy even though it may be presented to us as ‘spiritual’. Post four discussed the need we may have for a ‘Spiritual Detox’ for time to time when we find ourselves not in the best spiritually healthy state.

And so we conclude our study on ‘Spiritual Food’ with The Lord’s Table, as we believe from experience and countless testimonies that there is no other source that supplies true, abundant good food other than Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the only One who can have authority in a Christian’s life in order for true spiritual transformation and fruit to come forth for His Kingdom. 

Jesus Christ’s table is laden with true, healthy, good food which He gives to us in His Word. Don’t be deceived or misled, come in humility daily to taste and see that The Lord is good by coming to His table. You will get to know Him better and The Word for yourself so that you are not easily led astray. It is easily to get caught up with ‘fast food’ alternatives, so maybe you may need a spiritual detox? We truly hope this series has been a blessing for you as we truly do become what we eat!

Study Time ~

John 15. Jesus The Vine and our need for Him.
James 1:12-25. Being DOERS of The Word.

After reading, now take some time to consider the following questions:

Q1. Why is it necessary for us to stay connected to Jesus as The Vine?

Q2. How can we know God's will and direction for our life?

Q3. How can we guard ourselves from being led astray?

Q4. Why do we need to be doers of The Word when salvation is not by our works? 

God bless, Melanie and Richard!

If you have any queries please remember you can reach us via email: zealhouse@mail.com

 

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Spiritual Food 4



Spiritual Food 4:
Spiritual Detoxing!


So much dieting advice! The Internet is full of it and a lot involves big promises about quick results but often with little to back up the claims. Detoxing is very popular with numerous pills, teas and super foods all said to rid your body of toxins accumulated from eating poorly and just from living in a polluted world…Many people follow prescribed detoxing rituals with the aim of cleansing their physical bodies, but is there a spiritual equivalent?



What about spiritual detoxing?  



Spiritual detoxing is a personal attempt with the help of God, to rid one’s life of any ‘toxins’ which can be hindering their closeness with Jesus. Spiritual detoxing is actually as old (and even older) than the Christian Church, when we consider the Jewish purification rituals (see Paul in Acts 21:26), and even in the account of Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10) giving away his tax collections, for example. Spiritual detoxing today can be recognised in personal testimonies from people giving an account of ridding their home of pornography, occult items, illicit drugs, alcohol and many other things which are not compatible with living a life of purity (which is the biblical definition of a redeemed follower of Jesus Christ, also known as a Christian).



For many Christians, Spiritual detoxing is an experience they go through during their early days of following Jesus. This can be for some a wonderful time, or a painful time, or even both as they push through to engage with God in this transformative work. This is a time when The Lord helps us to sort through our diet and spiritual baggage. It is a cleansing process that takes time, as growth is not always immediate. However this is not just a one-off event for new Christians. Spiritual detoxing is necessary throughout the Christian life, as a part of sanctification (becoming more like Jesus) and growing in faith.



Indeed, Spiritual detoxing is more than ridding one’s life of physical things; it can be shedding old and unloving attitudes and sometimes long-held, comfortable beliefs that are not biblically compatible or sound. It can be intentionally fasting and seeking God through prayer and scripture in isolation. It can take different forms for different people, but the desire is the same – A heart connected closer to Jesus and changed because of this.



In Part 3, 'Artificial Preservatives', we discussed how there are so many teachings and philosophies out there in the world that promise answers such as a meaning to life. Some of them even sound quite Biblical and yet are twisted in some way to make them more pleasing to the ear while leaving them empty of any power to nourish and grow us. Like food that is full of artificial preservatives, these things may seem good on the surface and appear to satisfy our needs but are ultimately harmful. In some cases they may give a false understanding of God and what His will is, or even lead people away from Him altogether. Even those who consider themselves mature Christians can sometimes take on board ideas that seem godly and yet have nothing to do with true Christianity. The sad truth is there are false teachers out there in the world who claim to be preaching God’s word and yet only present a distorted version of it.



So how do we know if we need to have a Spiritual detox?



There are several factors to consider:

  • When we find we are lacking humility and love, or we’re elevating ourselves above our brothers and sisters, and/or spouse.
  •      When we seem to have not enough time for prayer and scripture in our day.
  • When we’re being plagued with negative thoughts, unscriptural ideas, and worldly desires.
  • When we find ourselves getting back into old unhealthy habits, or new interests which could lead us away from Christ being number one in our lives.
  • When we find ourselves not attending church services and lacking the desire to serve the body of Christ due to being hurt or harbouring unforgiveness.


A Spiritual detox is a wonderful way to connect closer to Jesus and allow Him to minister to our hearts. He is the Only One with the skill to do this work. A detox can be exactly what we need to rekindle or boost our Christian practices, of taking in His wisdom and love through prayer and scripture. A detox can be what we need to get our ‘diet’ back on track.



Remember, by sticking to the food God intended for us which is His Word and prayerfully digesting it daily we will become more Christ-like. Digesting God’s Word daily reminds us of His character, His promises, and of His great love for us. Knowing scripture truly enables us to know Jesus. His actions, words, and the way in which He interacted with all whom He met while on earth, shows us who He truly is and how we should be as His followers. 


Also, when we become familiar with Him we can more easily identify false teachings about Him. It will also help rid us of any falsehood that we have already taken on board. This all happens through the work of God’s Holy Spirit who lives in those who have accepted Jesus into their lives. He reveals truth and through this we are set free from the lies of the enemy.



Spiritual detoxing isn’t anything new. It’s just a catchy title and analogy for the intentional practice of making Jesus’ teachings the first priority in one’s life.



You see, oftentimes we have to let go of our own wilfulness and sinful autonomous direction, and this takes intentional effort to overcome. It is a discipline to let go and let God have His way in our lives and this is a constant ongoing practice that we sometimes need to simply give more attention to when we find ourselves becoming more independent and self-reliant. Jesus who was perfect as a human being knew how much He needed to spend time in prayer and relationship with The Father, so how much more do we?



Study Time ~

Luke 5:1-16.  Jesus spending time alone with The Father after helping others.
Luke 19:1-10.  The story of the transformed tax collector Zacchaeus, after spending time with Jesus.

After reading, now take some time to consider the following questions.


Q1. Have you ever experienced a 'Spiritual detox' and if so, what did you gain?


Q2. In the Luke 5 reading, Jesus took time out after His work. Are you taking enough time-out after serving busily or could you replacing the personal encounter with 'good deeds'?


Q3. When was the last time (if any) that you really felt God's love permeate you?


Q4. In the example of Zacchaeus can you see the power of Jesus to change a life with one encounter? Do you believe this can be true for you also?

If you've missed the other posts in this series, just click on these links below:
Spiritual Food 1: Becoming what we eat! 
Spiritual Food 2: Taste & See! 
Spiritual Food 3: Artificial Preservatives! 


We truly hope you've been enriched with this post! Enter you email towards the top right of the blog page to not miss our final post in the  'Spiritual Food' series 'The Lord's Table', as we believe this series is a very important and relevant topic for faithful Christian living. If you have any queries please remember you can email Richard and Melanie at zealhouse@mail.com


Richard & Melanie.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Spiritual Food 3


Spiritual Food 3: 
Artificial Preservatives. 

Benzoates, Propionates, Sorbates, Nitrates and Nitrites plus many, many more! There are just so many different chemicals added to food these days to preserve it, so that we can have the convenience of eating whatever we desire at any time we like.


While much of it is generally tolerated by our bodies, there are certainly some things that can lead to health problems. As time goes, by more and more chemical additives get struck off the list of those considered safe for consumption, because their long term negative health impacts have been uncovered, and others get added as manufacturers try to replace ones they can no longer use. It’s tempting to think that there is more concern for preserving the food than preserving our health…


Common sense tells us we should have our own fresh produce and eat from these food types the most…Yet how many of us STILL go to the pantry for the packaged food when feeling ‘peckish’? And this is EXACTLY the same principal for spiritual food…


It takes more time and effort to grow and prepare our own ‘fresh from the garden’ food, so many of us head to the supermarket and stock our pantries with food containing artificial preservatives, colours, sweeteners and so on…


It takes more time and effort to prayerfully seek The Lord’s wisdom by getting to know scripture for ourselves than relying on secondary sources! It takes time to search and search for God’s answer and wisdom on contemporary issues, to compare scripture to old and new commentaries…It takes time to investigate authors, to see what they say on other relevant issues and how they lead their own personal lives…It takes more time and effort to be a disciple of Jesus, than to be a fan of a pastor.


Yet scripture warns us that there would be ‘wolves in sheep clothing’ or false prophets just in the times of old, and that even the devil disguises himself as an angel of light.


This is NOT to say we cannot trust other people, but we should first make ourselves disciples of Jesus for wise discernment…and we cannot do this without coming to Him prayerfully and studying His Word in scripture.


Furthermore we CANNOT be His disciple without holding to the doctrine of Sola Scriptura – Also known as the infallibility of scripture…Yes, even the translated versions with footnotes!


You see, one who does not hold to the authority of scripture as The Word of God spoken through man, who picks and chooses, is committing the original sin of rebellion and fashioning for themselves a god of their own…Themselves. The person who does this, is sadly blinded by the world and easily falls under the authority of another; that being themselves, culture, or another ‘spiritual person’. When we pass authority onto another, we give away the position that only God Himself should hold, and therefore open our minds to false doctrine/beliefs and manipulation.


When we study Christianity historically, it’s clear the leaders who were led by solo scripture, although still fallible, were the ones who worked for the betterment of all people, putting others before themselves.


Why is it today, when we have scripture so readily available and people attending church services, we have Christians who do not know The Word well? Why do we have Christians regurgitating ‘spiritual sounding’ phrases that are not biblically sound, to others in conversations with authority?


It’s true we all need a good pastor to help us on our journey and we need to attend a decent bible-believing church with sound applicable, exegetical preaching. But no pastor can see inside your heart and minister to your exact need as The Lord can, when you come to Him alone in prayer and reading the Word!!


“But I just don’t have the time…” This is so often said but we do all know that it comes down to priorities. Jesus was incredibly busy but always took time out, even when others slept, to have alone time with The Father when here on earth as a man.


Pre-packaged, easy and convenient food may look delicious and fill our stomachs but it DOES have side effects! If you choose to stock your ‘pantry’ full of worldly treats that seem great and convenient…like yoga, self-focused and prosperity based preaching, Eastern martial arts, fortune telling, indulgent spending and over eating, self-medication with drugs and alcohol, feel-good psychology, worldly movies and music, trends like ‘emo’, ‘safe’ pre or extra marital sex, pornography…


Some people may say that they can do one of the above mentioned things as their conscience is clear, that they are ‘free’ in Christ. While we are free in Christ, we are free from sin as we are under His guidance, and we must know what He expects from us through His Word.


1 Corinthians 4:4 states that if our consciences are clear this does not mean we have God’s approval. As disciples we need to stay in a place of humility to Jesus and His Word. We do not want to come to a place in our Christian lives where we believe we’re so secure we will not fall, or be tricked by the enemy. How often do we hear of mature Christians falling off track? Pride comes before destruction, Proverbs 16:18.


We are not to engage in activity that could pull others, or ourselves off our Christian sanctification journey.


The enemy from the beginning in the garden has always tried to twist God’s words to pull people off track! Don’t be fooled by ‘easy and convenient’ food that changes the Word of God and offers a more ‘palatable’ less challenging alternative…Jesus is coming back and we are to be found READY! Remember the way of life is narrow but the way of the world is wide and easy!

Study Time ~


After reading, now take some time to consider the following questions.

Q1. What 'easy and convenient' spiritual food may you be feeding on from your 'pantry'?

Q2. How did this 'food' get there, and how much of a hold does it have on you?

Q3.  How can you increase your knowledge and application of scripture in your own life?

We hope you have a great week! Our next post in this series will be 'spiritual detoxing'...What to do when you feel you've gone off-track and need to cleanse!

If you've missed the first 2 posts in our Spiritual Food series, click here: 1: Becoming what we eat! or 2: Taste & See!

Richard & Melanie.


Saturday, 29 July 2017

Spiritual Food 2



Spiritual Food 2:
Taste & See. 

‘Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him. Fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing. The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.’ Psalm 34:8-10 



In part one of Spiritual Food 'Becoming what we eat', we referred to our senses of sight, smell and taste that can help us discern whether or not food is good or bad. It’s true that we can be fooled by junk food that is designed to satisfy our senses, but even so, later we usually get warnings from our bodies because over indulgence can cause many health problems! These days in the west, there is more than enough information available to help us make healthy choices when it comes to our diet. Nevertheless, sometimes people ignore these warnings and still make bad choices.



There are many examples in the Bible that use physical food to teach about our need for spiritual food. Scripture also provides many warnings about the consequences of straying away from our one true source of nourishment, God.



The verses from Psalm 34 shown above, speak of God’s provision for those who look to Him. Verse 8 even offers almost a challenge to those who might be uncertain about God’s goodness and willingness to provide. It says, “Taste and see that the LORD is good.”  

In other words, if you want to know if God is good, make the effort to find out. This certainty of God’s character and faithfulness to do as He promises, with the challenge to come to Him to taste of His goodness is also supported in Malachi, especially 3:10-12 when The Lord addressed the unfaithful priests who brought to His alter, sickly animals, or blemished produced as an offering for atonement:
‘Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows. Then I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of the ground; nor will your vine in the field cast its grapes,” says the Lord of hosts. “All the nations will call you blessed, for you shall be a delightful land,” says the Lord of hosts.’ Mal 3:10-12.



Does not this ring true of the old saying, “The proof is in the pudding.”? You’ll never know if it’s good or not, until you try it. So then, how do we find out if God is good? By letting Him into our lives… But this means our whole life, every single part…Not just the sections of our lives that we choose to allow Him access to. The ultimate sacrifice has been made, the life of Jesus Christ to purchase our soul from eternal death, what more can we offer in return for such love, but our whole self?



We have to put our whole self on His altar to experience His richest blessings…



If you’re a Christian then you have already taken the step of asking for Jesus’ forgiveness and of accepting God into your life by accepting Jesus as your Lord and Saviour.  This is God’s way of helping us get to know Him, but that is not the end of the story, it’s just the beginning!



Jesus does not save people to simply take them to heaven. He saves them to TRANSFORM their lives into ones full of His love and passion for others! Lives that are full of His richest blessing, of being called His child and all that entails like, joy, peace, love and at times even persecution for bearing His Name. Christianity is exciting and life changing because the risen Christ is alive and dwelling within those who have come to Him to taste and see that He is Good!



Yes, in Christianity there is always an ongoing process of letting God work in our lives, so that we may become more and more like Jesus, this is what we call in Church language, Sanctification. You see, God’s plan in sending Jesus was not simply to save us from our sins but also to bring healing and wholeness, so that He can then use us to help other people receive the same life-changing gift – This IS His will for us – But in order to do so we must become healthy by changing our whole diet!



Our Spiritual food must be not from the world, but from the lips of Jesus Christ Himself. Teachers gifted by God are wonderful but they do not replace the personal, devotional time one spends with God, prayerfully in His Word! We must come daily to Jesus, prayerfully to feast upon His Word for true godly wisdom that is applicable each and every moment of our lives.



Peter warns in his first letter for us to be no longer ruled by our fleshly desires which cause us to not feast upon the True Word, rather what the world offers. To be serious and discipline ourselves for the sake of our prayers. (1 Peter 4: 1-7).



Paul in Romans urges the same, 
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 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.” Rom 12:1-2.



But are we willing to lay our whole life down on His altar, and daily come to Him to taste and see that He is Good, and all good things are found in Christ alone? 

Are we willing to give up worldly food, for a complete holistic transformation that is possible only through Jesus Christ, when worldly ‘junk food’ or aka ‘pop psychology’ or aka ‘culturally relevant non-offensive philosophy’ is so much quicker, easier, tempting, and popular?

Study Time~


Further reading, Book of Malachi.
This book is only a short read of four chapters. We've included the whole book as a reading, as we feel it puts the quoted passage into better context. Be warned, it is a challenging read when we look at it for personal reflection. Yet while it has a strong warning, this book begins with the statement of God's love for 'Jacob' the tribe (which is why He urges them to be faithful), and finishes with His promise of Jesus coming to turn around the hearts of all people - Those who choose to come and taste of Him. God has kept this promise as Jesus has come and is waiting for all. And those of us who have can rest in this blessed assurance!




After reading, take some time now to consider the following questions.


Q1. Have you committed your whole self to Jesus Christ, letting Him be your daily spiritual food?


Q2. Are you feasting daily and mostly on scripture, or more so on popular psychology and worldly offerings?


Q3. What does it mean for you personally, to lay yourself upon His alter?


Q4. What screening measures do you have in place personally to keep yourself untainted by the world?

If you missed the first post in this series, Spiritual Food 1: 'Becoming what we eat!' click here. And if you have any queries you can reach Richard & Melanie at zealhouse@mail.com
 
Have a great week, Richard & Melanie Symes.


Let us leave you with a song for reflection. It was written by Melanie Symes and her good friend Solomon George in 2016, and is called 'Come, Taste and See'. This video was taken when they performed it at Craigmore Christian Church in Adelaide, as a communion reflection.