When the children of Israel kept complaining about their food situation in the desert, God gave them meat in the evenings and bread in the mornings (Exodus 16:8) . The manna fell from the heavens and an east wind blew in the quail. After Elijah had told Ahab that there would be no rain or dew in the land of Israel for a few years, Ahab became angry and desired to kill Elijah. God instructed Elijah to go hide by the Kerith Brook. Even though there was famine in the land, God had commanded the ravens to bring Elijah bread in the morning and meat in the evening. Elijah had food twice a day and water from the brook. God had created the ravens as scavengers. They are able to find food and survive when others are dying from hunger. It probably doesn’t sound too tasty but God provided all that Elijah needed to survive. We may not be happy in our present position but God has provided that position to us so that we can survive. Be thankful until the brook dries up and the ravens quit bringing the food. If we are thankful and obedient, then God will open up another way to feed us just as He did for Elijah by sending him to the widow of Zarephath. The widow fed Elijah a little bread made from her last flour and oil. That little turned into an abundance. God blessed the widow for her obedience and her jars of flour and oil never ran out. Provision and abundance follows obedience.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
Do you remember the first time in your life that “you tasted that the Lord is good”?
I actually don’t remember the date but I do remember that it was about 9 in the morning on a hot summer day and I could take you to the exact place that the Holy Spirit miraculously moved in my life and “saved me to the uttermost”. Tears of joy and relief streamed down my face so much that I had to stop on the side of the road and just praise God for His goodness. Since that time I have not lived a sinless life but I can tell you that when I do sin, it grieves the Holy Spirit, breaks the heart of God Himself and now, thanks to His enduring goodness, faithfulness and mercy, it breaks my heart as well.
His love motivates me to rid myself of all malice and sin of any and every kind. When I pray and receive the forgiveness that Jesus bought for me on Calvary, I taste again and again of His goodness and mercy. I crave His Word and a day without it would be a dark, dreary and lonely day. My heart’s desire is to know Him more and more every day. I look forward to the day when I can move from the “milk” of the Word to the “meat” of the Word, so I might grow to be the mature son He wants me to be. Nothing less and nothing more.
2 Then he sent them out to tell everyone about the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick. 3 “Take nothing for your journey,” he instructed them. “Don’t take a walking stick, a traveler’s bag, food, money,[b] or even a change of clothes. — Luke 9:2, 3 NLT
If Jesus told us to go on a mission taking no money, food or clothes, what would our reaction be? Do we really trust God to completely supply our every need? Do we trust Him to protect us from every harm that comes our way? If not, we must ask ourselves, why not? Has He ever failed on a promise? Is our salvation not secure? If He was able to do this for the disciples, is He not able to do this for us? Every disciple came back safe and sound. God had provided their every need. We think “Oh, but society is different now, we wouldn’t be safe and people now are not as generous as they were back then.” Again, we are guilty of wrong thinkng and allowing ourselves to be decieved by satan. The right question is “Isn’t God still God, can He not do today what He did then”? And the right answer is “Yes He is and yes, He can.” If the people won’t feed us, then God can use another method, just as He did when the ravens brought meat to Elijah. Either we believe that God can and will or we don’t believe that He can and will. In a war zone, there is no neutral ground and we are living in a war zone. There is a war going on around us right now. We may not see the spiritual warriors fighting the battles, but we see the results of those battles around us every day. We see people who are deceived and refuse to believe the truth. They have eyes to see but they don’t see. They have ears to hear but they don’t hear.
11 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. — Hebrews 5:11-14 NIV
Jesus is the bread of life and the Scriptures are food for the redeemed of God. As babes in Christ, we need the milk of the Word, the verses that explain to us about our salvation. As we grow and mature (hopefully) , we need to dig deeper and learn about our responsibilities as followers of Christ. Just as there are natural foods that we don’t care to eat, there are Scripture passages we don’t want to learn and adhere to. Just as the natural man suffers without the proper nutrients, the Spiritual man suffers without a daily serving of different kinds of Scriptures. We need scriptures that encourage us to study, meditate, pray, praise and teach us to be thankful for every second of our lives. Yes, it is hard to praise in distressful times, but it is necessary if the Spirit man inside us is going to grow. Just as we keep milk in our natural diet as we grow, we need to keep the “milk of the Word”, which is salvation, in our spiritual diets. But the natural body needs more than milk and the Spiritual body needs to know that Jesus is more than just our Redeemer. He is our example, our righteousness, our shield, our rock, our strength, our healing, our Savior and He wants to be our Lord. To paraphrase Hebrews 5:14: “But solid food is for the mature, who by constantly eating the Word have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. – Matt. 5:6 NIV
7 However not all men have this knowledge; but some, being accustomed to the idol until now, eat food as if it were sacrificed to an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled. 8 But food will not commend us to God; we are neither the worse if we do not eat, nor the better if we do eat. 9 But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if someone sees you, who have knowledge, dining in an idol’s temple, will not his conscience, if he is weak, be strengthened to eat things sacrificed to idols? 11 For through your knowledge he who is weak is ruined, the brother for whose sake Christ died. 12 And so, by sinning against the brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ.13 Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause my brother to stumble.—1 Cor. 8:7-13 NASB
Paul continues his narrative on whether or not we, as Christians, are free to eat meat sacrificed to idols. The point he is making is that when we exercise our liberty in Christ Jesus, we need to be sure that others are not offended or misled by watching us. Though we have the knowledge that we have liberty because Jesus Christ died to set us free from the law and from sin, others do not have that knowledge. They are accustomed to not eating meat sacrificed to idols because that is what the law has taught them. Just as some of the disciples still taught that you had to be circumcised because they did not yet have the understanding of their freedom in Christ. We, being the stronger, should then give up our freedom to do certain things. Not because the action itself is a sin, but because it causes our brother or sister to stumble and we have sinned against them. Any sin against anyone is a sin against Christ. So we should use our knowledge, spoken in love, to edify our brothers and sisters and not to harm them.
8 Now concerning things sacrificed to idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge [a]makes arrogant, but love edifies. 2 If anyone supposes that he knows anything, he has not yet known as he ought to know; 3 but if anyone loves God, he is known by Him. 4 Therefore concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that [b]there is no such thing as an idol in the world, and that there is no God but one. 5 For even if there are so-called gods whether in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many gods and many lords, 6 yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.—1 Cor. 8:1-6 NASB
We all possess knowledge, some less, some more. Knowledge can be defined as facts, information, skills or awareness of a situation. Knowledge is neither good nor evil in and of itself. We determine whether it is good or evil by the way we use it. It can be evil if we allow our knowledge to cause us to be prideful. We can have an abundance of knowledge and yet be misled because we have not asked for wisdom to apply that knowledge to our daily lives. In this case, knowledge of the law said they should not eat meat that had been sacrificed to idols. We know there is only one true God, so sacrificing to idols is sacrificing to “nothing”. Use your liberty in Christ Jesus to eat or not eat the meat unless the eating of the meat causes a brother or sister to be offended. If you can eat it with a clear conscience and give God the glory because all things come from Him and through Him we live, then eat.
21 It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles. 22 The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. 23 But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.—Romans 14:23 NIV
11 There is much more we would like to say about this, but it is difficult to explain, especially since you are spiritually dull and don’t seem to listen. 12 You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. 13 For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right. 14 Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong.–Hebrews 5:11-14 (NLT)
When it comes to the Scriptures, I am learning not to say “I have learned” but rather that “I am learning”. Every time I think I have “learned” something, the Holy Spirit opens up more of the Scripture. Sometimes I wander if I will ever get out of kindergarten. But we all have an innate knowledge of right and wrong. That is a good start, but we have to build from there. The basics of God’s Word is the plan of salvation. Paul is saying there is more to our relationship with Jesus than that. After we have accepted Jesus and our salvation is secure, it is time to start to study Scripture and develop habits that will help us to mature in our walk with Jesus. Meditating on God’s Word, prayer and time alone with God is how we grow. The world is our classroom and the Holy Spirit is our instructor. We can take the short route to the Promised Land by studying and being obedient or we can be like the children of Israel and spend 40 years making the trip. And, remember, of all of those that spent 40 years making the trip, only two actually got to enter into that rest we have been reading about in Hebrews.