Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Living Off Your Hump?

Dear Friends,

Camels were the “18-wheelers” in Biblical times. They were called the “Ships Of The Desert” and were used for both transportation Genesis 24:61 and carrying freight for long distances. Genesis 37:25 They could carry up to a half ton of goods and travel up to 30 miles a day.  They drank 25 gallons of water at one time and could go on long journeys without food by living off the fat stored in their hump. On a long journey, the hump would shrink in size and the nutrients absorbed would then need to be replenished. The health of a camel always depended on how much nourishment was stored in the hump. 

And when it comes to our spiritual journey, you and I may need to ask ourself: “Are we living off our hump?” Like the camel, we can live off our hump for only so long before it needs to be replenished. And perhaps, for some of us, we’ve been living off the spiritual nourishment we stored in our hump a long time ago.

I read the Bible cover to cover many years ago and  there are some obscure and maybe not so obscure parts in the Old Testament that I’ve not read since. Some of you may be like me. We remember Jacob (or was it Joseph?) and something about an Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat or was that just a musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber? We remember the misfortunes suffered by Job but can’t remember what he did to deserve them. We remember Joseph – was Jacob who wrestled with an angel after Jacob refused to sacrifice his son..or was that Abraham? And who was that guy Melchizedek? Gosh! I used to be able to remember all that! Am I living off my hump?

We Christians replenish our spiritual nourishment by the daily reading of scripture. One of my professors in bible college was asked why people need to read the Bible continuously and why they need to go to church and hear the same Gospel message again and again. He smiled and replied, “Because us Christians leak.” Megachurch pastor and nationally-known preacher John MacArthur put it a little more cynically. He said “Preaching is like taking a bucket of water and pouring into the thimbles of those who hear. Only for them to spill it out as they walk out the door of the church.” A terrifying thought if you’re a pastor who spends many hours laboring over a sermon, but it’s undeniably true! If we are an “average” churchgoer, we will have forgotten the sermon within four hours after hearing it. That’s why if we are not constantly refreshing and replenishing our souls through the daily reading of scripture, our spiritual gauge will be pinning on empty.

It would be inconceivable to eat one meal on Sunday afternoon and starve ourselves with an absolute fast until next Sunday’s dinner. We would not permit our stomachs to go without life-nourishing food for six days in a row year after year! Yet, if we are “Sunday Christians” only, isn’t that what we are doing with our souls? 

One in five churchgoers never have read the Bible. The majority of churchgoers (57%) read their Bible less than four times a year. So when a non-believer asks us  about Noah, we struggle to remember what was on that flannel board when we first heard that story in Sunday School... They ask us about why we hold onto a certain Christian belief and we don’t know how to answer them... We quote something spiritual we liked that the pastor said last Sunday or no..wait..maybe we heard that on Game of Thrones... The most commonly quoted “scripture” by Christians is “God helps those who help themselves.” A well-known saying but it denies God’s grace and it’s not scriptural. It’s not in your Bible. We too easily fall into error and can even lead others astray when we’re living off our hump.

God knows we need daily spiritual food for our soul as well as food for our bodies. Whether it’s our stomach or our souls, we cannot thrive if we are being fed only 52 times a year. We eat food because we enjoy it and it sustains life. We need to feed our souls for the same reason every day! “..the Holy Spirit says, ‘Today when you hear His voice, don't harden your hearts’” Heb 3:7-8 Hearing the voice of God today through His Word keeps our hearts soft and open to Him. And like the manna given by God in the desert, there is only enough nourishment for one day. But the next day, God will give us enough for that day too. And the daily manna points to what is truly nourishing for us. “So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD.” Deuteronomy 8:3

We live by the Word of God! Reading His Word daily maintains a healthy level of spiritual nourishment in our soul. When renewed daily, His Word gives up-to-the-moment life-changing instruction and encouragement for the things that we’re dealing with right now. If you’ve been feeling lost or spiritually empty, you may be living off your hump and your soul needs to be replenished. If so, could this be a good time to return to a daily practice of reading God’s Word?    to be continued

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