I’m sure your parents told you growing up that you couldn’t have the cocoa puffs for dinner. They didn’t!? Then maybe it was just mine, haha. I couldn’t resist the chocolaty goodness. I didn’t understand until I ate them for dinner once and ended up hungry 30 minutes later. They didn’t have enough nutrition in them that my body needed like protein, good carbs, and fats.
You’re smart, you probably already knew that, but did you know that your body can sometimes send you mixed signals and make you think you are hungry when you are really thirsty. When we are dehydrated, we think we are hungry and try to feed that hunger. It is never satisfied. According to the Mayo Clinic, we should drink 12-16 8oz glasses-of-water a day. Our bodies need water and nutritious food to be healthy and survive. An article in Archiv Fur Kriminologie states the body can survive for 8 to 21 days without food and water. When we are dehydrated or hungry we start to show symptoms like irritability, dizziness, and loss of focus.
Our spiritual lives are very similar. We need the word and prayer daily for survival and a healthy spiritual life. When we are spiritually dehydrated or hungry we begin to feel anxious, afraid, stressed, overwhelmed, or irritable. We try to feed ourselves by binge-watching Netflix, scrolling on social media, throwing ourselves into work, or calling friends. These things are not necessarily bad or unhealthy, but they will not feed our souls. “Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.’” John 6:35. Spending time with God is the only true source of eternal peace, joy, and love.
In the first chapter of the gospel John, we learn about the significance of the word in correlation to God and Jesus. John 1: 1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning… 14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” This is indicating Jesus as the messiah and declaring all the prophecies about him have come true. God keeps his promises. “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4 and Deuteronomy 8:3. The word is our daily bread. We must read it daily to learn God’s character, strengthen our hearts, and renew our minds.
God wants a relationship with us.
God wants a relationship with us. The only way to get to know someone and have a personal relationship is by spending quality time with that person. God cares for us deeply and yearns for us to seek Him. “Come near to God and He will come near to you.” James 4:8 “He will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6 “God demonstrates His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 God’s character is revealed all throughout scripture. If you want to get to know him you have to through reading His word and praying with Him daily. Christ showed us a beautiful example of this by consistently leaving the crowds to solitude places and praying to our Heavenly Father. Jesus even gives us a beautiful example of how to pray in Matthew 6:9-13.
9 “This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’
Let’s break this down and remember, prayer is a conversation with God. It is like having a conversation with your best friend or your parents. “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name” is recognizing that God is our holy creator. In this, we should posture our hearts and acknowledge God’s greatness. His ways are above our ways and his understanding is far beyond ours (Isaiah 55: 8-9).
“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Jesus is fully submitting to God. Jesus knows that the Father’s will is perfect in every way and he is praying for His will to be done. “Give us today our daily bread.” We can and should pray for our needs and the desires of our hearts, for when our hearts are aligned with the father’s will, His blessings will come in His perfect timing. God’s love for us is perfect in every way and when we fully know and trust Him, we can accept whatever His will is.
“And forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors.” It is so important not to hold onto a grudge for when we hold on to anger and bitterness we lose the joy and peace that God wants to bless us with. Think about it, the last time you were truly upset with someone, how much did you think about it? How long did you focus on the frustration with that person vs. feeling at peace? “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:31 God understands our pain and anger because he feels these things too. We must seek his guidance in forgiveness through the Holy Spirit, we can forgive those who hurt or wrong us.
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” Unfortunately, until Christ returns we will face trials and temptations of many kinds. But fortunately, we have the Holy Spirit, Jesus, and God to protect us. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 The evil one comes to kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10). He does this by manipulating us with lies and sinful temptations that are enticing to the eye. We can identify these lies by studying God’s word and knowing our identity in Christ.
Don’t fall for Culture or False Teachers.
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God (Holy Spirit) may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 We need to be able to compare God’s truth, His eternal word with the lies of the enemy, and culture. “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing, and perfect will.” Romans 12:2.
When we focus on culture more than God’s word, we will begin to think like culture, desire to gratify the flesh, and experience anxiety. “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.” 2 Corinthians 10:5-6 Therefore, when we focus on Jesus and commit to learning the word of God we can take our thoughts captive and reflect it to culture. If our thoughts are aligning with scripture and the truth of God’s character, we know our thoughts are holy. If our thoughts are reflecting cultural views, we know that it’s a lie of the enemy.
The more time we spend reading the word, the deeper our roots grow in Christ. I’m sure you’ve heard the famous quote by Jim Rohn, “we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.” Wouldn’t you want one of those people to be Jesus? We begin to look more like Christ, our faith deepens, and we begin to reflect God by producing the fruit of the spirit. “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23
We must be weary of what teachers we learn from. “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit, you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit, you will recognize them.” Matthew 7:15-20
Are the teachers you listen to producing fruits of the spirit? Or are they gratifying the flesh with self ambition? “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:16-21
I know this is a dense material, and might feel a little overwhelming if you didn’t grow up in the church. But we are here to help. Here are a few resources to use if you want help getting started on studying the bible. The biggest thing is to just start. The enemy really will try to convince you to push it off until before you know it, it’s a week or even a month later and you think. I really need to start reading my bible. Don’t try to tackle the whole bible at once, start small. YouVersion has a ton of great short devotionals that can help you get started. First 5 is another excellent free resource for devotionals. They pair one chapter of a book with a short devotional. It usually takes 5 – 10 minutes to read both.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, Thank you so much for your blessed word and your beautiful son Jesus. We are so beyond grateful and overjoyed to you for sending him to die on a cross for our sins. We want to feel your presence and love every day. Please help us open our eyes and hearts to your word. Holy Spirit, help us understand, learn, and grow to be more like Jesus. In your heavenly name, we pray, amen.