Soul Food

As a Christian, we are made up of body, soul and spirit. Body representing the physical, soul representing the emotional part of who we are and the spirit which Jesus gave us by being born again.

For many of us we are obsessed with our physical form, we are forever comparing one another or realising we don’t measure up to how others look.  If only we could fit in; if only I looked normal; if only my body was perfect.

This obsession with the physical is robbing us of considering the other aspects of who we are.  We are limiting the experiences of life that God wants to share with us by only looking to our physical needs.

The soul is the driving force behind our emotions, its purpose is to seek Jesus, it will never be satisfied until it has found the true source of satisfaction.  This is the part of us that God has built within for us to seek him out.  The soul has an unquenchable thirst to seek after satisfaction however if we try and fill it with satisfaction from worldly things it will never be fulfilled.  Our souls will continually drive us towards a deeper satisfaction a spiritual satisfaction that only Jesus can provide.

Scripture tells us : Matthew 7:7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you’.

This is God’s plan and desire for each of us and it is programmed into our souls to seek God out.  However, our pride is determined to find a way to live and find satisfaction without God.

God loves all those who he has created and he knows that he is our best, only he can bring true satisfaction and stability.  God promises in Matthew 7:8 ‘For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened’.

God has already provided all we need God himself, Father, Son and Spirit is our only source of true satisfaction, purpose and pleasure.

Once we are convinced of the true source of our satisfaction then we will be able to find nourishment for our souls.

From physical to spiritual

As we considered last time Jesus is our bread of life, he brings the nourishment to our souls. How do we do this, how is it possible to feed on God’s word? We need to learn to feed in the same way we learnt how to eat when we were babies.  We need to be weaned.

This spiritual growth has many parallels from our physical life and it is from the union of physical and spiritual that Jesus brings about our understanding.

In the physical as babies we have hunger to demand nourishment for our bodies. Babies scream so that they are not abandoned and that their parents have a compulsion to feed them.  The demand of a baby is only satisfied when hunger is relieved and allows the baby to flourish and grow.  The relieving of hunger also provides the baby with a satisfaction to the soul as an offering of love.  We all have a basic need to feel love and respond to it.  It is love that compels a parent to provide the food their child needs, so responding to their child’s demands of hunger a parent communicates that the child is loved and provided for.

However, for some children they experience no satisfaction in their demands to be fed, some experience neglect or provision of food without the nurture of love.  As parents, many of us aren’t aware of the link between the provision of food and the desire to be loved.  Many people grow up physically with a need to be loved but without an experience of what true love is.

We need to learn of true love and the source of that love only comes from God himself. We are all sinners and no matter how good we parent we cannot be a perfect parent.  Only God is the perfect parent and capable of providing the love that our souls cry out for.

If we are frustrated by the way we were parented or how we parented then we need to recognise that no human relationship can provide us with true satisfaction, we need to have a heart that is willing to both confess our sin and have a willingness to forgive recognising that we are all human with sinful flaws and all in need of a Saviour.

In Matthew 7 God provides the link between the physical body and the soul’s need of satisfaction, in verse 9 God continues with ‘“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets’.

Can you see God’s provision for his children is from the emotion of love?  It is God’s love for us that drives him to provide good things for his children.  We can see that our drive to have our hunger relieved is also a desire to be loved.  God’s provision of love for us is also for the benefit and growth of others. We love because God first loved us.

If we don’t receive the love our soul’s desire then we will be driven to look for it elsewhere. For many of us we resort to the basic need of food, we assume our hunger for love can be satisfied by our hunger for food.  We are looking to the physical to relieve the symptoms of our spiritual hunger.

Our souls will be satisfied only by God’s word because this is our soul food.  We need to learn how to feed on spiritual food first before we look for physical hunger to be relieved.

I am convinced that our desire to overeat will be alleviated when we learn how to feed from God’s word and recognise how much He loves us.

 Milk or Meat

The bible teaches us that our feeding from the word of God comes in stages first it is drinking milk and once we have found the nourishment to grow from babies into adults then we will be able to eat of the meat of scripture.

This means that we need to learn how to find nourishment, practice it daily and grow in God’s grace towards spiritual maturity.

As a baby Christian, we need to be taught how to access scripture, we need to be taught that reading scripture is a necessity for our growth.  We need to learn the things of God in a way that we can understand.  The amazing thing about scripture is that it meets your spiritual need wherever you are on the weaning process.  However, many of us miss this step either we see no purpose in always reading the bible, we don’t know where to start so we make do with a weekly dose at church.  Or we head straight for the meaty stuff engaging with spiritual battles but don’t have doctrinal truths as our foundational base or protection.

We need to engage with the learning of scripture gradually and carefully.  We need to ask for help, we need to be involved in bible groups that will help us answer some of the questions we come across.

When we see feeding from scripture as a gradual process we are more patient to feed regularly. Once we learn how to feed from scripture regularly then the Holy Spirit guides us to desire more ‘meaty’ aspects of scripture.  We will begin to chew over major doctrinal issues; our hunger will drive us to search commentaries and seek the wisdom of mature Christians who have much to teach about the power of scripture and the necessity of feeding daily.

Hebrews 5:11-12 ‘We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. 12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

This passage is warning Christians that we fall away when we don’t move from infant into maturity.  When our indifference or our confusion causes us to stop reading scripture regularly because we dont ask the Holy Spirit to show us how to apply God’s word.

Many of us don’t understand that this is the process of spiritual growth and don’t know of the necessity of the weaning process.

The great news is that it is never too late to learn.

Spiritual nourishment plan

As a child, I was taught to eat four meals a day.  As a Northerner this was Breakfast, Dinner, Tea and Supper.  There were never any snacks except the occasional ice cream during holidays or sometimes weekend treats.

Today the pattern seems to be Breakfast Lunch Dinner and two snacks or others say we should be eating five or six smaller plates of food over the course of the day.  I think we have played around so much with diet plans, what we should or shouldn’t be eating that most of us are confused what we should or shouldn’t do. However, I think we are starting in the wrong place, I believe there is a link between our physical hunger and our need to be in fellowship with God and one another.  We need to consider what the soul needs before meeting our physical needs.

Today’s society is a much more individualistic society, we keep ourselves to ourselves staying behind closed doors, accessing society through the internet instead of personal contact.  We have become self-sufficient and are determined to make it on our own.  We’ve also become a leisure society; our work provides us with the money to decide how to spend our spare time.  However, our bodies were created to work, work is a physical desire we have all been given by God.  Physical work means using our bodies daily not sitting behind a desk.  In the past most workers had very physical jobs, housewives’ chores were very physical but today we have so many gadgets that help us achieve our daily tasks that there isn’t much left for us to do.

I think many of us are bored because we are not engaged in physical labour. Therefore, the need of gyms and exercise machines has increased and everyone seems obsessed with exercise.  We need to have physical exertion for our bodies to function well however the pursuit of self whether it be in food or exercise is still an idol.  Whether we are fat or thin we need to consider our motivation for all we do are we worshiping self or the God who created us?

God provided physical activity to worship Him not self!

God’s original plan was for his people to be loved by Him so that we can love one another, to work with joy in all that God has provided by meeting the needs of others.  It is that simple however our pride stops us from being loved by God we convince ourselves that he is a God of retribution and terror, we convince ourselves that no one can tell us what to do because we are better off on our own. We don’t love God therefore we find it difficult to love one another.  We don’t work for God therefore we’re reluctant to serve others.

However, it is scripture that teaches us who God really is not who we think he is.  It is scripture that teaches us who we are without God and our potential with God, it is scripture that teaches us how much God loves us and what he is prepared to do to save us. It is scripture that teaches us how to live out the life God has planned for us.  It is scripture that tells us of God’s eternal plans for each of us.

Rather than focus on our food and what we should or shouldn’t be eating I think first we need to bring into our daily life a spiritual nourishment plan.  To read, meditate and pray scripture throughout the day.  Just as we eat food regularly we need to feed on our spiritual food regularly too. Just as our physical needs are met one meal at a time so are our spiritual needs.

One thing I am learning is that God’s word nourishes the body as well as the soul.  Jesus told the devil when he was being tempted that man does not live by bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.

This is the attitude we need to learn, we need to learn from Jesus how to live out this life then we will see our lives transformed, we will see old habits and sins melt away before our eyes.

May I encourage you to take your eyes from the weigh scales and set your eyes on Jesus but be patient Jesus isn’t in a rush he will take all the time it needs to nurture you and grow you into maturity for he knows your eternal life depends on it!

Matthew 5:6 ‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled’.

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