by Dick Innes
Jesus Christ said, "Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4, NM.
The Bible is God's word. It is our spiritual food. Its truth teaches us about God. And its principles for daily living guarantee a greater sense of physical, mental, and spiritual health than modern man has yet devised.
The best way to get to know the Bible is to read it on a regular, daily basis. Read a modern translation and use some teaching aids (such as the Wycliffe Bible Commentary). For new Christians, it is helpful to begin with the Gospels of Mark and John in the New Testament and the Psalms and Proverbs in the Old Testament.
Communication is the key to all healthy relationships and needs to be two-way-not only with people, but also with God. God communicates to us through nature, our inner spirit, other people, etc., but primarily through his word, the Bible. But how do we communicate to God?
Through prayer, which is simply talking to God as you would to any close friend. It includes expressing love, thanksgiving, and all your feelings as well as presenting needs and requests.
For me, praying doesn't come naturally or easily. So many of my prayers I write in letters to God. I also find it helpful to visualize Christ being right there in the room or in the front seat of my car with me. These things help me concentrate.
As I try to spend quality time with my family every day, I try to do the same with God too. To do this I set aside a quiet time each morning to read and reflect on the Bible and other inspirational material and to pray. If I neglect this important area of my life, I end up feeling soul starved.
Does prayer work? John wrote, "This is the assurance we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us-whatever we ask-we know that we have what we asked of him" (I John 5:14-15, NM.
Another benefit of being a Christian is the inner security we find as we learn to trust in God for every detail of our life.
For one thing, we have the security of knowing that we have life after death. "And this is the testimony," says the Bible, "God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life ... I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life" (I John 5:11-13, NM.
We also have the security of knowing that nothing happens to us in this life without God's knowledge and care. Jesus reminded us that even the hairs of our head are numbered (Matthew 10:30). Furthermore, if we put our trust in God, he has promised to supply our every need (Philippians 4:19). And Peter encourages us to 11 cast all our cares on him because he cares for us" (I Peter 5:7).
Every day I like to trust my life to God. I am convinced he can make a much better job of it than I can.
There are at least two ways that our love for God grows. One is through loving people; the other through obeying God. "If we love each other," John wrote, "God lives in us and his love is made complete in us." And again, "But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him" (I John 4:12 and 2:5, NM.
Very briefly here are a few B-A-SI-C-S of obedience to God.
Be filled with God's Spirit. Jesus called the Holy Spirit the Comforter, which literally means, "one called alongside to help." We are commanded to "keep on being filled with the Holy Spirit" (Ephesians 5:18). As we daily open our inner selves to God, he will fill us with his Spirit-the one who empowers us to serve God.
Abide in Christ. Jesus said, "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, bears much fruit (John 15:5). In other words, if our lives are to be fruitful, we need to abide in Christ. We do this by spending time with him in his word, in prayer, and in living for him in our daily life.
Serve the Lord The happy Christian is the serving Christian. Contentment comes from living beyond ourselves and helping others. James wrote, "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world" (James 1:27, NM.
Importance of putting God first God has given us everything we have, including the power to get wealth (Deuteronomy 8:18). In olden times God required his people to tithe; that is, to give one-tenth of their income to get God's work done. When they did this faithfully God promised to bless them greatly (Malachi 3: 1 0). It is a wise investment and responsibility for Christians to do similarly. We need to "tithe" or give proportionately not only of our in- come, but also of our time and talents to get God's work done today.
Clean living and confession are also essential for physical, emotional and spiritual health. Our goal needs to be not to sin, but when we do we need to confess our wrong and put things right. "If we confess our sins," writes John, "he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness" (I John 1:9, NM. Accept God's forgiveness by faith and be sure to forgive yourself.
Sunday is the Lord's day. God's word says, "Let us not give up meeting together" (Hebrews 10:25, NM. Attending a church where God's word is believed and taught and where people love one another is very important for worshiping God, for strengthening our Christian faith, for learning more about God's word, and for fellowship with fellow Christians. Jesus went to "church" every week. We need to do the same.