Today I wish to emphasize that I have not managed to achieve “perfection” in my spiritual life quite yet! I realize the Lord Jesus does tell us to aim for such, but I am still just on the path, setting my sights and prayers towards that end, as the Lord in scripture said:
“You shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”
I am learning that each time that I try to find satisfaction with something of this world, in a way that the Lord does not wish me to, thankfully He corrects me so that I can keep learning more of His ways and less of my own. However, it is certainly not a nice feeling, being “chastened by the Lord” but I am still glad that He does correct me when I am straying.
The Chastening of the Lord
In Hebrews 12:5-11 it states the following.
“And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons:
“My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord,
nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him;
For whom the Lord loves He chastens,
and scourges every son whom He receives.”
Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful;
nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness
to those who have been trained by it.”
I can remember about three years ago when I was reading Psalm 105 and got to verses 37-41 and I was just thinking “Wow, what a marvelous God, who looked after the people so wonderfully.
“He also brought them out with silver and gold, and there was none feeble among His tribes.
Egypt was glad when they departed, for the fear of them had fallen upon them.
He spread a cloud for a covering, and fire to give light in the night.
The people asked, and He brought quail, and satisfied them with the bread of heaven.
He opened the rock, and water gushed out; it ran in the dry places like a river.”
Then as I continued to read on into the next Psalm I was truly praising God in my heart for His goodness to those people as I read:
“He saved them from the hand of him who hated them…Then they believed His words; They sang His praise.” (Ps106:10 & 12)
Got any Cravings?
Then the following verses hit me like a ton of bricks as the Lord used these Psalms as a form of His Fatherly chastisement to me at that time! This is what it says:
“They soon forgot His works; They did not wait for His counsel,
But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, And tested God in the desert.
And He gave them their request, But sent leanness into their soul.“
I can remember immediately falling to my knees and crying out to God,
“No, not leanness in my soul Lord!”
I was deeply convicted of my erring and begged His forgiveness and strength to live in a right manner in the future.
In fact when we look at Numbers 11:33-34 it is clearly a very stark warning indeed!
“But while the meat was still between their teeth, before it was chewed, the wrath of the Lord was aroused against the people, and the Lord struck the people with a very great plague. So he called the name of that place Kibroth Hattaavah, because there they buried the people who had yielded to craving.”
We have the same story back in Psalm 78 where it says:
“And they tested God in their heart by asking for the food of their fancy.
So they ate and were well filled, for He gave them their own desire.
They were not deprived of their craving; but while their food was still in their mouths, The wrath of God came against them,
And slew the stoutest of them, and struck down the choice men of Israel.” (v 18 & 29-31)
These scriptures also hit home with the words that are highlighted above. This was instant judgement, before they even swallowed what they lusted for!
This event is also referred to in the New Testament in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. This passage is worth considering as part of the warning to live lives pleasing to the Lord and to flee from all sinful behaviours.
“Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.
Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.” Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer.
Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.
Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall“
So there we have it! All written for our warning to not give into our “cravings”! You realize that those Israelites who were JUDGED by God were fed on bread & water from the Lord yet they wanted “worldly foods”.
“Now the mixed multitude who were among them yielded to intense craving; so the children of Israel also wept again and said: “Who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; but now our whole being is dried up; there is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes!” (Numbers 11:4-6)
So these people died swiftly due to despising the food provision from God and desiring something a little more exciting! They preferred the broad way of the world, something to “tickle their taste-buds” rather than the narrow way of the Lord. Their death as judgement is recorded in all these passages in our bibles for our warning not do likewise!
Bread & Water
Yesterday I used for the first time my new machine to purify my drinking water – it is a water distiller, and is supposed to get rid of the impurities from my tap water. I also made some homemade, wholemeal bread (in my bread-maker machine, I hasten to add!) as I was thinking about the purity of my foodstuffs for physical health reasons.
As I had my machines working away in my kitchen to make my wholesome bread and water I couldn’t help but think on the spiritual connection to the purity of the “spiritual food” that we consume also. So, the bible version we read from may have some twists and turns that are a little on the “unhealthy eating” side of things, or the “church practices” that we tolerate may also be rather less than the PURE stream of life from the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus IS the Bread of Life
John’s gospel records Jesus teaching us about bread and water.
“Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. Then they said to Him, “Lord, give us this bread always.
And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.” (John 6:32-35)
Also He tells us:
“Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.” (John 6:27)
“I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.” (John 6:51)
As scripture says that He is both the “Bread of Life” and He is the “Fountain of Living Waters,” then purity and holiness is what we ought to crave for and consume.
Spiritual meanings from physical things
So although there is some profit for my health in eating and drinking healthy, pure products the main theme of the bible is for our spiritual health. You may well be aware of Jesus clarifying this contrast in Matthew’s gospel when he was dealing with the Pharisees condemnation for His not practicing their religious acts.
“When He had called the multitude to Himself, He said to them, “Hear and understand: Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.
Do you not yet understand that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.” (Matthew 15:10-11 & 17-20)
So we simply MUST guard our HEARTS. We simply MUST commit our hearts to the Lord fully day by day, asking for Him to show us any errors or wrong cravings that have any footholds there. We could ask Him to sieve out all the impurities that have lodged in our hearts and minds over a lifetime of eating and drinking spiritually from a variety of sources. That was once my prayer, when I had my eyes opened regarding a major new-age-type deception within the churches.
Yet though His chastisement is exceedingly painful, it is still vital for those of us who wish to “endure to the end” and gain that “well done, good and faithful servant” commendation from the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings.
Though I Promised…
Though I promised my life and my all
To my Lord and my master above,
I continually find
That I’m always kind
Of turning to other sources of love.
Though I promised my heart and my mind
To serve Jesus my Saviour indeed
I frequently spurn
His presence and turn
To the material world for my need.
Though I know He’s sufficient for all
The needs of my body and soul,
I sometimes forget
My needs can be met
Simply by Christ who’s making me whole.
Though I find that the pleasures of life
Can bring me some peace and distraction
The feeling doesn’t last
And is speedily passed
And I’m left seeking true satisfaction.
Though I frequently fail in this life,
My God is so gracious to me,
He forgives and He guides
He reveals and provides
For all of my needs as you’ll see.
Though I’m growing in trust in my Lord,
To heal all my sorrow and pain,
To provide for my need
To clothe and to feed,
I am finding with Him I will gain.
I will gain the greatest treasure of all,
Which is Godliness whilst being content;
Then whatever life brings
I find my heart sings
Of my glorious Saviour God sent.
May the Lord bless you,
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