FEEDING THE INNER YOU
(Feeding your Soul)
by Dale D. Meredith
December 31, 2017
University Baptist Church
Getzville, NY 14068
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from The Good News Bible, The Bible in Today’s English Version, copyright ©1976 by American Bible Society. Used by permission.
OLD TESTAMENT READING: Deuteronomy 8:1-3
“1 Obey faithfully all the laws that I have given you today, so that you may live, increase in number, and occupy the land that the Lord promised to your ancestors. 2 Remember how the Lord your God led you on the long journey through the desert these past forty years, sending hardships to test you, so that he might know what you intended to do and whether you would obey his commands. 3 He made you go hungry and then he gave you manna to eat, food that you and your ancestors had never eaten before. He did this to teach you that man must not depend on bread alone to sustain him, but on everything that the Lord says.”
NEW TESTAMENT READING: Matthew 4:1-4
"1 Then the Spirit led Jesus into the desert to be tempted by the Devil. 2 After spending forty days and nights without food, Jesus was hungry. 3 Then the Devil came to him and said, “If you are God’s Son, order these stones to turn into bread.”
4 But Jesus answered, “The scripture says, ‘Man cannot live on bread alone, but needs every word that God speaks.’”
INTRODUCTION: In Philippians 4:11-12 Paul wrote, “11 And I am not saying this because I feel neglected, for I have learned to be satisfied with what I have. 12 I know what it is to be in need and what it is to have more than enough. I have learned this secret, so that anywhere, at any time, I am content, whether I am full or hungry, whether I have too much or too little.” Paul said that it wasn’t natural to be satisfied and content with the situation and conditions in which he found himself. He had to learn to be satisfied and content whatever the situation or conditions. He could only change his attitude and behavior to be satisfied and content. This was not a shallow or superficial kind of happiness or make-believe satisfaction. It was a deep sense of inner satisfaction, peace, and contentment. Let us briefly look at faith gifts that he could use to change his attitude and behavior.
Faith gifts mentioned in Philippians:
Paul received through faith:
Grace to accept himself as a child of God. “May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace” (Philippians 1:2). Paul found his worth as a child of God not as the things he possessed or achievements he had accomplished.
Friendships that encouraged and sustained him. “I thank my God for you every time I think of you; … You are always in my heart! And so it is only right for me to feel as I do about you. For you have all shared with me in this privilege that God has given me, both now that I am in prison and also while I was free to defend the gospel and establish it firmly. God is my witness that I tell the truth when I say that my deep feeling for you comes from the heart of Christ Jesus himself” (Philippians 1:3, 7-8).
Courage in the face of fear. “My deep desire and hope is that I shall never fail in my duty, but that at all times, and especially right now, I shall be full of courage, so that with my whole being I shall bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die” (Philippians 1:20).
Purpose that was larger than himself. “So I run straight toward the goal in order to win the prize, which is God's call through Christ Jesus to the life above” (Philippians 3:14).
Hope for life beyond death. “He will change our weak mortal bodies and make them like his own glorious body, using that power by which he is able to bring all things under his rule” (Philippians 3:21). In John 11:25-26 at the tomb of Lazarus Jesus said to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me will live, even though he dies, 26 and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” In John 14:3 Jesus said, “And after I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to myself, so that you will be where I am.” Jesus Christ is the only hope in the face of death.
Joy in the middle of difficulties. “May you always be joyful in your union with the Lord. I say it again: rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4).
Peace in the presence of turmoil. “And God's peace, which is far beyond human understanding, will keep your hearts and minds safe in union with Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).
Strength to face all circumstances. “I have the strength to face all conditions by the power that Christ gives me” (Philippians 4:13).
Other faith gifts:
Truth to live as a child of God. Truth is not something that can be stretched, molded, and shaped like silly-putty. Truth is not something you can make to fit your desires. Truth is that which endures. In Matthew 24:35 Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” Quoting from Isaiah 40:8, Peter wrote in 1 Peter 1:25,
“The grass withers, and the flowers fall,
25 but the word of the Lord remains forever.”
You need Jesus in your life, but you also need to know the truth of God’s word to know how to live. Quoting from Deuteronomy 8:3, Jesus said in Matthew 4:4, “The scripture says, ‘Man cannot live on bread alone, but needs every word that God speaks.’” Jesus said he did what he saw his Father doing (John 5:19) and said what the Father told him to say (John 12:50).
Forgiveness to live with joy and without fear. In 1 John 2:1-2 the apostle says, “I am writing this to you, my children, so that you will not sin; but if anyone does sin, we have someone who pleads with the Father on our behalf – Jesus Christ, the righteous one. 2 And Christ himself is the means by which our sins are forgiven, and not our sins only, but also the sins of everyone.” Trying to remove sin from your life is like trying to remove butter from toast. The butter just soaks into and becomes a part of the toast. However, 1 John 1:9-10 says, “But if we confess our sins to God, he will keep his promise and do what is right: he will forgive us our sins and purify us from all our wrongdoing. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make a liar out of God, and his word is not in us.” With your sins forgiven and removed by God you can live joyously in God’s presence.
Grace to live victorious life. Paul received grace to live as a child of God. Life is hard, and being a child of God doesn’t guarantee an easy life. It can be hard living as a Christian. We sometimes sing a song “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” with a verse that goes something like this:
“I’m sometimes up and sometimes down,
coming for to carry me home.
But still my soul feels heavenly bound,
coming for to carry me home.”
Sometimes even Christians get down. Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us have confidence, then, and approach God's throne, where there is grace. There we will receive mercy and find grace to help us just when we need it.” When you are down there is grace to pick you up and help you continue on the victorious path.
Love to live as one who is wanted and accepted. Psalm 27:10 says,
“My father and mother may abandon me,
but the Lord will take care of me.”
Hebrews 13:5 quotes from Deuteronomy 31:6, 8 when it says, “For God has said, ‘I will never leave you; I will never abandon you.’” If you hunger for love, find it in God. 1 John 4:8 says, “God is love.” 1 John 4:10 says, “This is what love is: it is not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the means by which our sins are forgiven.” And John 3:16 says, “For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life.” You are loved.
These statements of faith gifts sound almost like bumper-sticker theology. It is good to receive faith gifts, but you need to implement and experience them. James (2:18-19) wrote, “18 But someone will say, ‘One person has faith, another has actions.’ My answer is, ‘Show me how anyone can have faith without actions. I will show you my faith by my actions.’ 19 Do you believe that there is only one God? Good! The demons also believe – and tremble with fear.” You not only need to believe you have received these faith gifts, you need to actively practice using them. Christmas gifts left under the tree are of no use. They must be unwrapped and enjoyed. So it is with faith gifts.
You unwrap and use your faith gifts when you participate in faith practices. A faith practice is to practice using your faith gift. Just as your body needs physical food, the inner you, your soul, needs faith food. Participating in the following faith practices feeds your inner you, your soul, and incorporates the ways of seeking happiness and help you remember and do what you have “learned.”
Scripture reading: Luke 24:27 says, “And Jesus explained to them what was said about himself in all the Scriptures, beginning with the books of Moses and the writings of all the prophets.” Reading and listening for God’s voice through the Bible feeds the inner you with truth.
Prayer: Jesus prayed frequently. Luke 5:16 says, “But he would go away to lonely places, where he prayed.” Luke 6:12 says, “At that time Jesus went up a hill to pray.” In Luke 6:28 Jesus said, “bless those who curse you, and pray for those who mistreat you.” And Luke 18:1 says, “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to teach them that they should always pray and never become discouraged.” Jesus prayed and urged his followers to pray. Encouragement often comes through prayer. Communicating with God feeds the inner you with encouragement.
Silence: Psalm 46:10 (ESV) says,
“Be still and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
Sometimes you just need to stop, be quiet, and listen to God. Just meditate on a scripture verse, enjoy a sunset, or marvel at one of things God has created. You must focus on the now. Being still and quiet before God feeds the inner you with a sense of God at work in and near you now.
Worship: Hebrews 12:28b says, “Let us be grateful and worship God in a way that will please him, with reverence and awe.” Praising God who is worthy of our adoration and worship feeds the inner you with the greatness and glory of God.
Giving: In 1 Corinthians 16:2 Paul wrote, “1 Now, concerning what you wrote about the money to be raised to help God’s people in Judea. You must do what I told the churches in Galatia to do. 2 Every Sunday each of you must put aside some money, in proportion to what he has earned, and save it up, so that there will be no need to collect money when I come.” Psalm 50:14 says, “Let the giving of thanks be your sacrifice to God, and give the Almighty all that you promised.” Financially supporting God’s work in the world or in giving thanks feeds the inner you with the experience of God’s provision of more than enough.
Service: Matthew 25:31-40 lists several ways to help those in need: give the thirsty a drink, give the hungry a meal, visit one who is ill. Helping others in practical ways in the name of Christ feeds the inner you by the assurance that God can use even you.
Justice: is closely related to service and is actively seeking justice especially for the poor and marginalized. In Deuteronomy 14:28-29 the Lord instructed his followers to bring offerings of crops and store them in their towns because, “This food is for the Levites, since they own no property, and for the foreigners, orphans, and widows who live in your towns. They are to come and get all they need. Do this, and the Lord your God will bless you in everything you do.” In our cities the foreigners would be refugees. Seeking justice especially for the poor and marginalized feeds the inner you with the knowledge that you are cooperating with God.
Forgive: Ephesians 4:32 says, “32Instead, be kind and tender-hearted to one another, and forgive one another, as God has forgiven you through Christ.” To forgive as you have been forgiven feeds the inner you by sharing what God has already given you.
Communion: In 1 Corinthians 11:24 and 25 Paul quotes Jesus as saying, “Do this in memory of me.” The act of eating and drinking is a vivid reminder of Jesus’ live and death that made it possible for you to be called a child of God. Communion feeds the inner you by reminding you that you are a beloved child of God.
Sabbath: In Exodus 20:8-11 the Lord says, “Observe the Sabbath and keep it holy. You have six days in which to do your work, but the seventh day is a day of rest dedicated to me. In six days I, the Lord, made the earth, the sky, and the seas, and everything in them, but on the seventh day I rested. That is why I, the Lord, blessed the Sabbath and made it holy.” Observing one day a week for worship and rest feeds the inner you by caring for your body and pleasing God.
Community: Hebrews 10:25 says, “25Let us not give up the habit of meeting together, as some are doing. Instead, let us encourage one another all the more, since you see that the Day of the Lord is coming nearer.” Connecting with other Christians for support and insight feeds the inner you by the example of your inclusion in the family of God through nurturing relationships.
Fasting: John 4:31-34, “31 In the meantime the disciples were begging Jesus, "Teacher, have something to eat!"
“32 But he answered, "I have food to eat that you know nothing about."
“33 So the disciples started asking among themselves, "Could somebody have brought him food?"
“34 My food," Jesus said to them, "is to obey the will of the one who sent me and to finish the work he gave me to do.” You will find times when you are too busy to stop at the regular meal times. You may miss a meal to complete your assignment from God just as Jesus did. Forfeiting meals for short periods of time for spiritual purposes feeds the inner you by reminding you of the importance of your assignment from God.
Journaling: This just means write your thoughts about your faith. Luke 1:1-4, “1 Dear Theophilus: Many people have done their best to write a report of the things that have taken place among us. 2 They wrote what we have been told by those who saw these things from the beginning and who proclaimed the message. 3 And so, Your Excellency, because I have carefully studied all these matters from their beginning, I thought it would be good to write an orderly account for you. 4 I do this so that you will know the full truth about everything which you have been taught.” Writing requires you to be precise. In writing, you then create a reminder you can read later that makes the experience “live” again. You might even write for others to read a truth you have discovered in your life. Writing your thoughts on your faith feeds the inner you as you restate your faith in precise, orderly ways.
Hope: Occasionally read Revelation 21 and 22 to remind yourself of what is waiting for you. Reading Revelation 21 and 22 will feed the inner you by increasing your hope in a forever future with God beyond this world.
CLOSING: You don’t do all these practices all day every day. Some should be done daily such as reading and prayer. Others may be done weekly. Some will be done when the opportunity occurs. However, you should engage in these faith practices. These faith practices feed the inner you and contribute to your happiness, satisfaction, and contentment.
Sometimes you may be up, sometimes you may be down, but as you participate in the faith practices to feed the inner you, you will know your soul is heavenly bound.