Spiritually nourished

John 6:51 NIV

We all know that diet is important. Diet can play a huge role in how healthy we are. We’re often told the foods we should eat more of and the foods we should eat less of. But we also need to take our spiritual diet seriously. Jesus said: ‘I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever.’ Just as what we eat influences our physical health, what we’re feeding on spiritually also influences how we act, think and behave. When we focus on feeding ourselves spiritually, we grow spiritually. So what are we consuming? Do we spend our time watching reality TV, reading gossip-filled magazines, listening to music with explicit lyrics or comparing our lives with others on social media? Are we focusing only on the physical food we’re eating? In the Old Testament, we’re told that ‘man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD’ (Deuteronomy 8:3 NIV). We need God’s Word in our lives. We need to be consuming His Word if we’re going to be spiritually full and spiritually nourished We need to spend time feeding on the Bible, conversation with God and with other Christians, worship music, teaching or books. It doesn’t mean that we can’t watch TV, go on social media or listen to music that isn’t classed as ‘Christian music’. But what it does mean is that we need to be carefully looking at what we’re consuming and the effect it’s having on us. And it means we need to be building time into our days to feed ourselves spiritually as well as physically.

1 Cor 12-14; Luke 24:25-35; Ps 68:19-35; Prov 25:17-20

Why read the Bible?

2 Timothy 3:16 MSG

Whether we think it’s outdated, unhelpful, boring or simply something we can’t fit in to our busy schedules, it can be easy for our Bible to be left on the side, gathering dust. But Paul wrote to Timothy: ‘There’s nothing like the written Word of God for showing you the way to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another – showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us’ (vv.13-17 MSG). So there are some important reasons why we should be reading our Bibles. Firstly, the Bible helps to keep us on the right path. It shows us how God wants us to live. Plus, God will never say something to us through another person, or our own thoughts, that doesn’t line up with what He’s clearly revealed in His Word. When we know the Scriptures, we can discern whether it’s God speaking to us or not. Secondly, it helps us know we’re truly saved. John writes: ‘These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know…you have eternal life, and…continue to believe in the name of the Son of God’ (1 John 5:13 NKJV). And thirdly, reading the Bible helps us to identify our calling and be equipped to carry it out. Paul says, ‘Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us’ (2 Timothy 3:17 MSG). The Bible is our guidebook for living the Christian life, so reading it should be a vital part of our day.

Amos 5:18-9:15; Mark 13:24-37; Ps 117; Prov 14:9-12

Jabez (4)

1 Chronicles 4:10 NKJV

Not only did Jabez have great ambition, he had a growing faith and a deep trust in God. He had enough faith to pray and expect an answer. There’s no mention of Jabez having any special ability or talent. The Bible doesn’t say he was wealthy or educated. We can often be worried that we’re not good enough or that we don’t have the right gifts or skills to be used by God. But if we have faith then we don’t need to worry. God will give us the necessary power. He loves to use ordinary people who are willing to trust Him. We’re all given different gifts and we all have different callings. But it’s God who equips us. His hand is with us. In the Hebrew language ‘Jabez’ means ‘painful’ or ‘sorrow’. Jabez caused his mother so much grief during childbirth that she named him Sorrow. Having a name like that may have made him feel unwanted and unloved. But that didn’t stop him looking towards the future and asking God for great things. His mother may have named him Sorrow, but in the Bible He’s called honourable. Some of us may have had words spoken over us that are actually lies. We may have been called names that aren’t the names God gives us. We may be in a challenging time right now or may be struggling to move on from something that’s happened in our past. Those things don’t disqualify us from God’s calling. And they don’t prevent us from being able to ask God for great things. Jesus said, ‘Everything is possible for him who believes’ (Mark 9:23 NIV). So let’s look to the future and ask God for amazing things to come from our lives.

Deut 5-7; Mark 6:14-29; Ps 37:1-7; Prov 11:24-26

Leading others to Christ

Deuteronomy 6:6 NLT

It’s not always easy being a Christian. We can often look at how other people are living their lives, with values and morals that conflict with what the Bible teaches, and wonder how we can possibly make a difference. But with God’s help, we can make a positive impact. Here are a few ideas: 1) Keep your own heart and mind focused on God. Make time every day to read and study the Bible. Pray regularly, and thank Him for the things He’s provided you with. 2) Find a church (if you’re not at one already) and get involved with missions and outreach they’re doing. Let others see that you are really living out what you believe in. 3) If people ask you about God or about your faith, be sensitive to their questions. Take time to answer their questions in ways they will understand and relate to. And be honest in your answers. We don’t have all the answers, and it’s okay to say ‘I don’t know’ if you really don’t know the answer to something – people will respect you more for being honest with them. You could even try saying ‘I don’t know the answer, but I believe this because…’ 4) Trust the Holy Spirit to give you wisdom at the right time to present the gospel to others, and pray for their salvation continuously. 5) Keep in mind that it might not always be your job to get people to make that decision to follow Christ. God might be using you to sow that first seed, and it will actually be someone else who gets to see the end result, maybe years later. Don’t be discouraged if you think you have not succeeded.

Jer 14-17; Matt 28:11-15; Ps 69:1-18; Prov 8:27-29

Keys to Bible study (1)

Psalm 119:96 NIV

Ever noticed that you can read a verse in the Bible several times, and discover something different each time? It’s like shining light on a diamond. Each time you turn it slightly, you suddenly see another facet of its beauty. The Bible is different from every other book we will ever read. We can learn all kinds of things about God from our own personal experience, from listening to the stories of others, and from reading books and listening to talks by Bible scholars and theologians. But we will get to know God even better by reading His Word and immersing ourselves in it. The psalmist wrote, ‘To all perfection I see a limit; but your commands are boundless’ (Psalm 119:96 NIV). There’s no limit to the things we can discover in God’s Word. But if we are not learning or understanding something, we can get discouraged or think there’s nothing there for us to learn. The key is not to give up and to stick with it. If that’s how you’re feeling at the moment, here’s something to try: study the same Scripture a few times, then leave it for a while. In that time, ask God any questions you’ve got about that Scripture, and ask Him to show you what He’s trying to teach you through it. Maybe even read up on any other verses that cross-reference with it. When you come back and dig into it again, you’ll probably discover all kinds of things you didn’t notice before. There’s no limit to the number of times you can study a verse, no limit to the number of questions you can ask, no limit to the ways you can apply biblical guidance to your life. So put in the effort, keep going, and keep asking questions.

2 Thes 1-3; Matt 4:1-11; Ps 90:7-17; Prov 1:5-9