A few years ago I was speaking in the church of a great friend and mentor and before bringing the message, I asked what seemed to be an unusual question. "How many of you love Pizza?" Almost everyone in the church raised their hands! I then asked another question, "How many of you love to eat that same Pizza the next morning for breakfast?" Only about half the congregation raised their hands, but this time it came with a loud shout of celebration!(clearly those who love cold pizza wanted to make sure everyone else knew about it.) Then I asked a third question, "How many of you would still eat that pizza over a week later?" The response was, as expected, complete silence. Most of us do not think about it the morning after eating that great meal, but a week later, we are all very well aware that those leftovers in the fridge have become decomposed and formed a pretty nasty bacteria that almost certainly will make us sick.
In today's blog post, I want to try and draw on this natural reality and teach a spiritual reality that affects our faith and our every day walk with God. Romans 10:17 says "Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ" (NIV). One thing that is important to point out here is that Paul is speaking in a present tense. Not in the past, not in the future. This important to understand in regards to the daily feeding of our faith. We cannot feed our faith today on yesterday's leftovers, nor can we feed it on what we will receive tomorrow. We must ask Him for a fresh portion of His word today!
One of my favorite examples to talk about is when Paul tried to cross over into Asia in Acts 16. At first glance, it is astonishing to think that the Holy Spirit would block Paul and his companions from entering this region to bring the gospel of hope to a people who had yet to hear the great news! Isn't this what Jesus told the disciples to do? Go to ALL nations, preach the gospel, make disciples! Was Paul doing something against the word of God in trying to go to Asia? Absolutely not! However, his mistake was not in what he was doing! His mistake was actually in his dependence on himself, his ideas, and the calling he had previously received to the gentile nations. His mistake was in taking the ministry idea leftovers out of the fridge and assuming that they would feed his team the same as they did during their previous outreach. It was not until after a few failed attempts that he had a dream and realized that his team was being presently called to Macedonia, not Asia. Paul receiving a fresh word from God, not only saved his team from possible disaster in Asia, but brought forth a great and powerful revival in Macedonia!
Another point that we can learn from Romans 10:17 is the source of our faith. It is not just about presently listening to just any message, it must be a message heard through the word of Christ. We are living in an age where we daily experience information overload. Everywhere we go and everywhere we look, we are being bombarded with messages of all kinds and through all mediums. Social media, news outlets, radio, movies, television shows, magazines, office gossip, and our own past experiences are just some of the ways we are having messages communicated to us. It is everywhere fighting for our attention and longing for us to take a bite of the perceived sweetness it may offer. Don't get me wrong, some of it is good, but a lot of it clearly is not.
So the challenging question is this. What percent of your time do you spend listening to and feeding on the influences of the world? How does it compare with the time you spend feeding on His word, His presence, His voice, and all that He is doing around the world? Church, if you spend more time feeding yourself on the Snickers bars of the world than eating healthy / balanced meals in His Word, you will find yourself with major health (and spiritual) issues within a short amount of time. You will find yourself lacking energy, overweight, depressed, hopeless, and living a life without clear vision. You will find yourself wandering around trying to find the right border to cross hoping that this time, God will bless it. In other words, your life will likely be cut short of the glory that you were destined to be a part of.
However, there is great news! Today is a new day and today healthy choices can be made that in time, will change the course of history for you and the world you have been called to shine His transforming light in. Today you can fill yourself with a balanced meal of His word, His worship, and just resting in His loving presence. Church, God is longing to give you a fresh word that will guide you in whatever circumstance you may face today! The key is whether you are ready to let go of yesterday's meal and let Him cook you something fresh right now?