“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
- John 16:33
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.
- Ephesians 1:3-10
“Everybody is taking something … the most commonly used supplement in the USA is still the humble multivitamin. Even with amazing advances in science, most nutritionists still agree the best way to stay healthy is to get your nutrients directly from a balanced wholesome diet of fresh foods. And the same principle applies to your spiritual life.
“There are many wonderful options to attend church and Bible studies or small groups via live streaming and virtual connection platforms. No doubt these supplements are effective and add value to your life. Yet a daily personal encounter with God is still essential to your good spiritual health.
“Do you dread the future today? Are you struggling to overcome fear? Feast on God’s Word and let it strengthen your soul. ‘I am God and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purposes’ (Isaiah 46:8-9). ‘Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, you are of more value than many sparrows’ (Matthew 10:29-31).
“Take your vitamins today and take heart, the future is secure in God’s plan.”
- Presidential Prayer Team Devotion
Yes, I take my multivitamin. Then again, I take 4.5 pills in the morning (one is cut in half as the water pill dries out too many things at full strength) and 18 pills (or caplets, gel capsules, or whatever they are called) in the evening, less than half prescription medicines, but all suggested by one doctor or another. The reason for the variation in amounts is that one of the morning pills cannot be taken with vitamins or a few other types of medicines, while some prescription medicines are prescribed before bedtime.
But sometimes, I wonder. On The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon was helping Penny with something. He made a suggestion, and Penny showed him a bottle of designer vitamin supplements. He made some comment about how his suggestion provided better health while her suggestion provided more expensive urine. That is what I wonder about at times, what is the return on investment when taking all these fish oil pills, vitamins, an aspirin, digestive medicines, allergy pills, alpha blockers, beta blockers, and the like? Is my body absorbing anything useful or does it simply ‘flush’ through the system? I know that if I skip some of the pills for one day, I feel it. If I skip my thyroxin pill, I’ll gain a couple of pounds of extra weight that day alone, but easily gone the next day or two if I only skip one day. For other pills, it may take two or three days of skipping before I notice changes. The vitamins? Those may be the time and money wasters. As for potassium, the doctor wanted to avoid the dangerous supplements, so I have a lot of bananas and broccoli in my diet; it’s working. As the devotion above suggests, the natural way is more effective.
As for a spiritual balanced diet, I have mentioned Paul’s letter to Timothy (2 Timothy 3:16) recently, not giving the reference. If all Scripture is useful, and it is, we have a guarantee that our Bible study is not wasted, unlike a stray vitamin or two may be. Our Bible study does not simply get flushed through the system. Okay, there are some dry patches at times. I don’t think that I have ever heard a sermon on the beginning chapters of 1 Chronicles. All those names and genealogies, and not the only place in Scriptures. Yet, in those chapters, I know of a time when a pastor was asked to leave his call. He had gotten irate with the youth group, arguing that Bible was filled with errors and couldn’t be trusted. He pointed out one error in those chapters in 1 Chronicles, where a generation was skipped. Yet, in understanding the type of literature being employed and the point being made and the culture in which it was written, there was probably a point to be made in skipping a father and listing Grandpa instead. Maybe the father had been a really bad boy, indeed. We will never know until we see Jesus in Heaven, but all Scripture is God-breathed and useful for instruction. To get back to my illustrating story, the church could not abide by a pastor who did not consider the Scriptures as the inerrant Word of God, able to instruct throughout.
But simply reading the Bible is not the cure to create a balanced spiritual diet. We need to pray. In fact, praying before reading Scripture is important to put us in the right frame of mind while reading and studying. And when we pray, we should never do all the talking. We should meditate on the Scripture that we just read, asking God to illuminate that Scripture. When we run through our usual prayer requests, we must continue to pray for whatever pops into our heads, and then ponder our recent memory for more. That technique has been called “Pray until you Pray.” For when we run out of things to request, we might just hear the Voice of God whispering in our ear. If we just run through our prayer list, say ‘Amen,” and get on with our daily life, we are simply telling God what to do. We never get to hear God’s ideas about what we just talked about. So, we pray before we do Bible study and after we are finished for the day, but we also have our times, yes, more than one time, to go through our prayer list or parts of it and give God time to speak to us. We basically pray as Paul suggests in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, pray continually.
And in better times, when social distancing is not required, we’ll get back to what so many do instead of Bible study and prayer (although they should do it in addition to rather than instead of), and that is socializing with other church members or believers (not necessarily members of the same church). But even in fellowship, are we doing any meaningful Christian fellowship? I have been in some groups where all that happens is church gossip. That is destructive. For one thing, you cannot be open for you know not who in this small group will use what you say as gossip, adding a little extra to make it more salacious. At the coffee klatch after the worship service, I have never heard anyone talk about the pastor’s sermon, over nearly seventy years of attending such gatherings.
But not all fellowship is bad, when there is no fear of gossip. I have heard people mention prayer requests. I have seen people spontaneously get up and lay their hands on someone to pray over them. I have heard God’s Name praised from one table of fellow Christians and then another. I have seen the huggers hug. I have seen the Bible quoters quote, and in a helpful way, not haughty. And I have seen the tears flow as people, who had thought that they were alone in their troubles, learned that they were among friends who had been there and could tell them of how God can see you through. That’s Christian fellowship. As for the other kind of fellowship, I don’t drink coffee, but the coffee better be good or it’s a waste of time, just like some of those vitamins.
So, how do you get a balanced spiritual diet? Do the basics. Pray. Study the Bible. And until we can get beyond social distancing, call someone and pray with them. They will feel you placing your hand on them. And do everything in a manner of worship. Praise and thank God always, even in the hard times – and sometimes, even more fervently in the hard times for God is seeing us through them.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.