I don’t know how you do work projects around your house, but when I get home from the church at night I don’t relish doing work projects. I like to spend time with my wife; then we eat dinner together, and relax.
Sometimes though, there are projects that need to be done. Right now we need to build a fence. That means digging post holes (a less than favorite chore), as well as mixing, pouring, and packing cement.
So I decided I would get up early and do that kind of hard work for a couple of hours each day before I go to the office. I am sure that’s a good idea that will work out, but I discovered something; I wear out a little quicker than I expected — because I don’t eat breakfast early.
I usually eat breakfast before or after I get to the office, but not at 5:30 am. In addition, it doesn’t take a lot of energy to turn pages or pound on a keyboard (marriage counseling is another matter altogether). Today, after a couple hours of digging I ate breakfast, and my strength returned. Now I see why farmers eat a big breakfast after working hard for a few hours.
Why do I share my weaknesses and their solutions with you in this “religious” article? Because it is an anecdote that is relevant to our spiritual journey with Christ.
A very well known statement Jesus made is found in Matthew 4:4 — “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”
Jesus made this statement in the course of His being tempted by Satan. Jesus was quoting from the book of Deuteronomy, so the full meaning of the statement may not be immediately apparent in that one verse alone.
Whenever I read an Old Testament quote I find it extremely helpful to go back to the original source to see if it can help me to better understand why it is being quoted. In this case, if you look at Deuteronomy 8:1-6, you find that God is teaching the Israelites that He has given them His Word so that they may truly live.
To help them understand, He reminds them of the manna (daily bread from heaven) that He has provided for them for forty years. In addition He provided for their other material and physical needs. These worldly provisions are sandwiched between verses 1, 3, & 6, which speak of God’s spiritual provision for them — the Word of God.
When Jesus responded to Satan, He wasn’t speaking of what God could or would provide for just that situation, but that for those who put their faith in Him, God provides in every moment of every situation; from the moment you wake up to the moment you fall asleep, and every moment you are asleep, and most especially He provides the sustenance your spirit needs for strength.
That is why I would encourage you to begin and end each day the same way — by feeding on the Word of God — the Bible. You don’t need to read a lot; maybe just a chapter or two in the morning, and maybe one chapter just before you go to bed. Even 10 or 15 well chosen verses can be extremely spiritually nutritious.
A chapter usually averages only about 25 to 30 verses, but it will give your heart and soul much to chew on all day long. God will speak to you through His Word throughout the day in ways you might not realize.
Remember, Jesus said in John 6:35 that He is the Bread of Life. As you read His Word each morning, the Living Word — Jesus — that gave you spiritual life, if you are born-again, strengthens you throughout the day as He speaks to you and leads you by the Word of God you continually feed on.
One of the things God is trying to teach us through Deuteronomy 8:1-6 is that God provides what we need, but He often does so in an environment that is intended to cause you to look beyond the provision to the “Provider” — God.
God wasn’t trying to teach the Israelites to trust in the manna He provided, but to trust in Him to provide. Trust Him, lean on Him, especially when you appear to be going without the provisions you might think you need.
I think that is extremely relevant to the Christian today in this nation, a nation that is becoming increasingly toxic toward God’s ways, and increasingly intolerant of those who love the Lord our God, and who try to share the love of Christ through living out and speaking of the gospel.
The world will tell you that it will ease up on you and give you what you want, if you will trust the world, but you and I must remember that we do not alone live by what the world may offer us, such as food and housing, but more by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God through His Word — the Bible.
When we are weak we don’t do well. Feed constantly on the Word of God, that you might always have the strength you need, especially when things are difficult.
Jon McCartney is pastor of First Baptist Church of Tooele.