As one year closes out and another rises to take its place, many of us are busy making goals and plans for living healthier lives. I know that in our house, we’ve gotten fat and lazy eating an overabundance of holiday comfort foods and sweets. Of course my son says he’s not fat, he’s “poofy.”
Every year it’s the same! We spend the last few days of the year eating as much junk as we can, and use the excuse that we’re “cleaning up.” We know that January 1 is right around the corner, and all the junk that hasn’t been eaten is going straight to the trash. We wouldn’t want to waste it, so we eat it all before then! Especially the sweets. Candy, cookies, ice cream . . . the end is near!! Get as much as you can while it’s still here!!
And that’s our yearly tradition. January begins with a huge healthy food focus. How long it lasts varies year to year and person to person. Now that the boys have jobs, they’ll probably get their own stashes of junk food within the first week, since Mom won’t be providing any!
There are so many different eating plans out there, it’s hard to figure out who’s got the best strategy for healthy nutrition! There are vegans, vegetarians, pescatarians, and meat eaters. And then there are low-salt or low-fat diets, or even high-fat/no carbohydrate ones. What’s “the best” this year will be frowned upon next year. How are we to choose??
Thank goodness our soul nutrition isn’t so difficult to figure out. But why is it important?
In our house we choose to make healthy choices in our diets each new year because we get tired of being overfed and stuffing ourselves with junk. The junk, in turn, makes us tired. We just get tired of being tired!
Changing our eating routine and developing a new food normal requires training, discipline, and motivation. Making sure we get the spiritual nutrition we need requires the same. Training is hard work! But Paul encourages Timothy,“Train yourself to be godly.” (1 Timothy 4:7 NLT) Building discipline into our spiritual walk leads to a godly life. Our walk with God will become closer, and our relationship with him will grow deeper. A changed life on the outside will be the natural result of an effective nutrition plan.
What’s the Plan?
Luke tells us that “Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.” (Luke 5:16) You may not have a literal wilderness right outside your door, but that’s not the important thing in this verse. Jesus “often withdrew,” away from everyone else, to spend time alone with his heavenly father. If He did this on a regular basis, should we expect to get away with praying alone every once in a while and still be spiritually healthy? I think not!
“Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.” (Romans 12:12)
“Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.” (Colossians 4:2)
“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7)
How healthy is your prayer life? What steps could you take to improve it?
In this house, we LOVE bread. Any diet shunning bread is doomed to fail, and fail quickly! But a bread-only diet would leave much to be desired as well.
Jesus quoted Moses when He told Satan, “The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” (Matthew 4:4; see also Deuteronomy 8:3) God’s Word brings life! Why would we choose to starve our spirits of the life-giving Word, while feeding them the junk we find on TV or the internet?
“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” (2 Timothy 3:16) God’s Word trains us for righteousness, leading us to live godly lives.
Scripture is the only offensive piece of armor in Paul’s list to the Ephesians: “Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:17) In this life you will be confronted with spiritual battles. When you find yourself under attack, you don’t want to be caught with a dull sword! Know the Word, and be prepared to use it.
How frequently do you spend quality time reading the Bible? What steps can you take to increase either the frequency or quality of that time?
Jesus said, “But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:23-24) True worship flows out of a heart surrendered to our “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)
Through worship, we can forget ourselves and focus solely on our Creator and Sustainer, the Author and Perfecter of our salvation. When we have God in his rightful place in our hearts, we can experience joyful peace and contentment no matter what circumstances arise around us.
Worship is built into most church services, but you don’t have to wait for Sunday morning to worship God! Build it into your every day, and carry that peace with you all week long. Don’t know where to start? Read through the Psalms, and you’ll find many verses that you can pray to God in an attitude of worship. Put on some worship music that reminds you of God’s faithfulness, love and mercy.
Do you have worship built into your daily routine? What steps can you take to add it, or improve upon it?
Jesus taught, “And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get. But when you fast, comb your hair and wash your face. Then no one will notice that you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in private. And your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:16-18) Did you catch that? Jesus expects us to fast!
Fasting is not something we hear about too much these days. But it’s such a powerful part of a healthy soul nutrition plan! Visit cru.org for Your Personal Guide to Fasting and Prayer. You’ll find great information on the whys and hows, and what you can expect fasting to do for your spiritual health.
Is fasting part of your spiritual repertoire? What steps can you take to incorporate it or improve upon it?
The discipline of service is a direct assault on our pride. Service requires humility. We humble ourselves before God, and take on the posture of a servant, putting God and others ahead of ourselves.
(12 Spiritual Disciplines That Will Make Your Faith Strong by Brandon Hilgemann)
A great many of us need help in the humility department! Service not only helps us humble ourselves, but it also lifts others up.
Jesus served his disciples when He washed their feet, and then told them, “I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message. Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them.” (John 13:15-17)
None of us would say that we are greater than Jesus, but there are some of us who shrink back from serving others. If Jesus showed us how, and then expected us to follow suit, who are we to argue with our Master? We may stink at it when we begin, but there’s always room for growth and improvement.
Are you actively serving those in your home, church, and community? If not, take some time to consider why not. What’s been stopping you?
We’ve looked at prayer, scripture, worship, fasting, and service. This is by no means an exhaustive list of good soul nutrition needs! But now’s as good a time as any to do a self-assessment, and intentionally plan how to improve your spiritual nourishment.
What is our goal in all of this? Investing in our spiritual health will result in more godly lives, which will bring glory to our Heavenly Father. After all that He’s done for you, don’t you want to bless him with your life?
And when you see him, I’m sure you want to hear, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!” (Matthew 25:21)