A little boy was with his father when he stopped at the delicatessen and purchased some cold cuts and some rye bread. The father explained to his son that there is no better bread in all the world. When they returned home and the table was prepared for the meal, the son asked if he could pray. He emulated a portion of the Lord’s Prayer to the best of his ability: “Give us this day our deli bread.”
Following his baptism, Jesus is taken into the wilderness, for forty days and nights. During this time, Jesus does not eat. Satan comes and offers the idea, tell these stones to become bread. After all, He is the Son of God. He has the ability to turn stones into food. Jesus however, sees beyond the immediate (the physical hunger) and sees a greater need. A need that is present in every one of our lives, and a need that even Satan had!
Satan is asking, “Aren’t you hungry? You haven’t eaten in 40 days!” We all need physical food to stay alive. But you see there is also a spiritual need. We also need to be fed spiritually. Or we spiritually die!
Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.” In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again. ” Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. The wind blows wherever it pleases. (John 3:1-8)
Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” It is a good question, because all of us at one time or another ask the question, “what must I do to be saved?” If you want to enter life, obey the commandments.” “Which ones?” the man inquired. Jesus replied, ” `Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and `love your neighbor as yourself.'” “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?” Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. (Matthew 19:16-22)
Paul wrote, When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. He understood the necessity of growing up spiritually. Life is more than just physically living, there is the spiritual as well. I gave you milk, (written to the Corinthians) not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready.
When I lived in Arkansas, I had a wonderful garden in my back yard. When I moved to Wichita, I got out my tiller and was going to cut a place for the garden. The ground was very hard, full of rocks and not very accepting of a garden. No wonder they used that area of town as a wheat field. In order for that garden to produce, there were several things I had to do. Remove the rocks. Add ingredients to the soil to make it more productive. And give it lots of water.
The same is true for our spiritual lives! There are five (5) areas or things that we can do to mature.
FELLOWSHIP, is very important to the Christian. Paul writes, Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Fellowship is important because we begin to look and act like those whom we associate with. Ever seen a certain haircut in school? Everyone gets the haircut. The fellowship keeps us accountable.
STUDY, we have to know God’s word. ROM 10:17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. It is easier to live when we know how we are to live! It is amazing what peace knowing the word of God will give to us. Every topic may not be covered in the Bible, but there are enough topics that it gives us direction.
PRAYER, builds a relationship with God. We talk to those who we love. Look at relationships in the Bible with God. Adam and Eve. Enoch was walking with God. Jesus in the garden, talking to His Father.
GIFT or SERVANTHOOD, we have to use the gifts God has given us or lose them. 1CO 12:31 But eagerly desire the greater gifts. MAT 25:15 To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The rule: You have to give to receive!
DIFFICULTIES, we grow in extreme trials. We want to be spared difficulties, but difficulties can be opportunities to deepen our walk with God.
There is an ancient folk-tale about a tiger that was brought up with a herd of goats. From the day his eyes opened, all he saw was a goat’s life so it became his style of life too. The tiger munched grass with the rest, butted heads with the younger goats for recreation, and learned to bleat in an odd sort of way a sound that resembled, so he thought, the goat’s voice. Once in a while there was a nagging voice inside him that said, “You don’t belong to this life!” But always he put it aside as a fantasy, some disturbing intrusion from the world of dreams. So he, a tiger, chose to stay with a goat’s way of life because he believed that was the way life had to be.
Then one day a tiger came into the clearing. He was all tiger, having grown up knowing who he was. He looked into the clearing and spotted the goats. He roared the earth-shaking roar of his species, bounded out and made his kill. The goats fled in terror and so did the tiger who had grown up with them.
At first he wanted to stay. The roar from the edge of the forest had stirred some lost memory in his soul. He flexed his great muscles in a kind of automatic reflex to the challenge from the forest edge. For a moment he could have been a tiger too, but he could not believe in the sound he heard, the challenge it brought. He couldn’t believe in himself, in the instincts that had lain dormant so long.
That which was created in the image of God wants to become like its creator.