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Feasting or Striving…

Feasting or Striving - blog 3-2020

Photo by Rebecca on Unsplash

If you have a dog, then you know how sensitive their hearing is when it comes to anything that might possibly be related to food!

We have a little 8-pound Maltese/poodle/mutt rescue dog who just turned 10 years old. And not slowing down anytime soon. He lounges around the house sleeping away most of the day, but open any kind of package or clank around the mixing bowls, and he goes into a dead run, straight for the kitchen.

I was making a double batch of chili the other day for a meeting that was happening at our house, and there was a lot of food prep. I had just put fresh water and food in his bowls for our little Max, but that soon proved to not be good enough.

As I opened up cans of beans (no shame…I’ve got other things to do that soak four different kinds of beans overnight, etc. etc.), cooking the ground turkey, onions, and celery and portioning out the spices. Oh yeah, the kitchen was smelling fantastic! And Max was right there for all the action!

God is so good in giving me insight into my relationship with Him through everyday tasks, and today was no different. 

I watched Max scurry around the kitchen furiously searching for scraps or random bits of food that had fallen on the floor. I heard the Holy Spirit whisper to my heart, “You do the same thing sometimes.” What? Was the Lord really comparing me to my dog?! Then I heard Him say,

“I have provided all the nourishment you need yet you still scurry around looking for scraps that will never satisfy you.”

Whoa! He was right of course!

Let’s see if anything of these things resonate with you too…

When I get my feelings hurt (yes, even after 50 that still happens friends!) many times my first reaction is to complain about it to whoever will listen. I’ll call a friend, text someone else, or verbal vomit to my husband. I’m not looking for them to fix the problem, I just “want to be heard.” I want my side of the story to matter the most.

Honestly, I’m not looking for a solution to my heart issues, I’m searching for vindication in my quest to be upset. After all, don’t I have the right to be upset after being hurt?

Philippians 2:3-4 AMP,Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit [through factional motives, or strife], but with [an attitude of] humility [being neither arrogant nor self-righteous], regard others as more important than yourselves. Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.

Hmmm…looks like I don’t have that “right” after all.

This is what I mean by ‘striving for scraps’: we will feel sad, hurt, frustrated, annoyed, mad, etc., but we do not have the right to stay that way. 

God has given us the most amazing gift of the Holy Spirit, and each time we choose our emotions over giving our hurts to the Lord, we are striving for scraps.

I Peter 5:6-8 gives us the perfect solution to whatever is causing us offense:

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God [set aside self-righteous pride], so that He may exalt you [to a place of honor in His service] at the appropriate time, casting all your cares [all your anxieties, all your worries, and all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares about you [with deepest affection, and watches over you very carefully]. Be sober [well balanced and self-disciplined], be alert and cautious at all times. That enemy of yours, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion [fiercely hungry], seeking someone to devour.

The Lord does not want us to come to Him some of the time, or most of the time to give Him our concerns. He wants us to come to Him ALL the time with ALL the things!

Years ago, after something happened with a friend, I felt offended and upset. I was venting to one of my daughters and she said, “Mom, you just need to give this to the Lord. It’s not doing you any good to be upset.”

I don’t know about you, but being parented by your adult children is not my favorite ~ especially when they are right!

I was immediately upset with her and unceremoniously replied, “Oh yes it does! I have a right to be mad, and I’m going to be mad for a while. Don’t tell me that I can’t be mad.”

Seriously, who’s the adult and who’s the child in this scenario?

Anyway, she was of course, right!

The Lord doesn’t want us to walk around mad, upset, or angry. It does not accomplish anything good! It is not beneficial to our life. And it can create more problems than you started with.

Instead of feasting on “the right to be mad”, what would have been better is to feast on God’s Word. Everything we need is right there. We don’t need to scurry around grasping for justification for our actions. We have to stop running around attempting to be filled by what the world says will work for our situation.

Turning to the Lord to answer us in various circumstances shows maturity. It means that we know our hearts will truly be filled only in His truth. By trusting what the Lord has taught us in scripture and by quieting ourselves to listen to the instruction of the Holy Spirit, we will not be tempted to scurry about like a dog looking for scraps.

Hebrews 5:13-14, 13 For everyone who lives on milk is [doctrinally inexperienced and] unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a spiritual infant. 14 But solid food is for the [spiritually] mature, whose senses are trained by practice to distinguish between what is morally good and what is evil.

We are mature when we eat the solid food of God’s Word. 

When we feast, we are taking our time to enjoy the company of our host. 

When we strive, we are completely ignoring the bounty set before us. 

If you were invited to a dinner party, you wouldn’t bring your own food or scurry about the kitchen attempting to make something “better” than what had been prepared. You would arrive, ready to be treated to scrumptious food and delightful companionship.

That is how it is with the Lord. He’s provided everything you need to rest and relax in Him.

Sit down and feast! 

So my friend, when you feel like you deserve to be mad, or right, or sense that life is spinning out of control; take a step back and really look at the situation. When you keep telling people about the same problems over and over again, but still refuse to take anyone’s advice; when you walk around feeling like you deserve to act the way that you are because you got your feelings hurt; these are moments the Holy Spirit is waving a big red spiritual flag in your face!

STOP!

Stop the striving. Stop the scurrying. Stop the selfishness.

Trust in the good words of scripture and feast on His truths ~ the Lord will never lead you astray!

Blessings,

René

Christian Mentors, Moms, Parents, Public Speaking, Stay at Home Moms, Teachers, Uncategorized, Women's Ministries, Writers

Church is not the Feast…

What words come to mind at the mention of “Feast”? Choice foods…Best quality…delectable treats…luscious desserts…more than enough…fully satisfied…special occasion…invitation only…

It’s quite the ‘christianese’ phrase, and we hear it all the time…”I go to church to be fed.”  But is that really the place we are supposed to be fed?  Is this the location we go to feast?

I’ve recently been contemplating this idea of what is the true purpose of gathering together on a Sunday morning (or Saturday night…you know what I mean)?  Are we to be gathering together on one particular day because that is the only time we are being fed?  A few weeks ago, I heard an interesting statement and I have not been able to get it out of my head.

“Church is the menu.  Church can be an appetizer.  But, Church is not the Feast.”

There are over 1500 mentions of the word ‘feast’ (or phrases that indicate a feast) in the Bible.  Most of these references are talking about all of the amazing Feasts that God set in place in the Old Testament.  These were specific opportunities for the Israelite’s to stop what they were doing in their every day life and create space to worship and honor the Almighty God.

There are seven annual sacred Feasts of the Old Testament, commonly referred to as the “Feasts of Remembrance.”  These 7 Feasts are: Passover (Signified the Redemption of Israel); Feast of Unleavened Bread (Signified the Sanctification of the Israel); Feast of the Firstfruits (Signified Resurrection of Israel as a free people); Feast of Weeks (Pentecost: Signified the Origination of Israel as the Covenant people Of Yahweh); Feast of Trumpets (Signified the calling Israel to judgment); Feast of Atonement (Signified the Atonement of the Covenant people); and the Feast of the Tabernacles (Signified God’s presence with His Covenant people; looked forward to the coming of the Messiah).*

All of these feasts were filled with celebration (AND lots of eating) of what God had done for the people. How He had freed them from Egyptian slavery, how He had given them a new land, how He saved the people from the Angel of Death, and simply how He had provided for them year after year, generation after generation.  But they were also filled with times of offering sacrifices to God through the Priests.  This is, of course, a very very brief overview on the Feasts of the Old Testament.  But my point is this ~ these feasts were special times set aside to do one thing and one thing only…to worship and honor God.  This is the same kind of attitude I believe we need to have today, and I don’t think it only happens on Sunday.

The word feast can be a noun or a verb.  As a noun, we see that it means: “any rich or sumptuous meal; something highly agreeable; a periodical celebration or time of celebration.” As a verb, it means: “to have or partake of a feast; to east sumptuously; to dwell with gratification or delight.”  I love that last part of the definition!

To feast with the Lord is to dwell in the presence of your Host with a grateful attitude, delighting to be at the table and enjoying the richness of the sumptuous bounty He has to offer us! (R.A.B.)

I’m not saying here that you cannot be fed by the Word while you are at church.  This is what the speaker that I referenced earlier meant as well.  We need to go church and worship with the community of believers for several reasons.  First and foremost, God calls us to be together.

Hebrews 10:24-25 teaches us how important this is. “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

It is incredibly vital to the life of every Christian to be in fellowship with other people who worship the Lord.  Most often this happens when we attend church services together.  Collectively praising God in song with a congregation is a visceral experience.  Being in the presence of like-minded people whose goal is to honor the Lord joyfully in song is a beautiful thing.  Guess what though?  The singing part of the church service isn’t the only “worship” part of church.  The ENTIRE service is WORSHIP!

A friend of mine recently had a funny experience, well, maybe odd is a better description.  She was about to go into the church service which was already in progress.  The singing portion was in full swing.  There was a woman already in the foyer area and said to her, “Oh, I’m not going in yet.  I’m waiting until all the worship singing is done.  There is so much of it.” (I’m paraphrasing here…but that was the gist.)  My friend looked at her in disbelief for several reasons: 1) her husband is the worship Pastor, 2) this woman’s husband played with the worship team band, and 3) this woman is involved with the choir ministry!  So my friend smiled at her and before going into the sanctuary said, “Well, the whole service is a worship service!”  She said that the woman looked horrified.

I share this story because it is a perfect example of the “menu/appetizer” mentality of so many church-goers.  They pick and choose what parts they want to be a part of.

They want to sing, but only if it’s from the traditional hymnal.

They won’t sit in worship to sing unless they are singing contemporary songs that you can hear on the radio.

If the ‘wrong’ songs are played, or if the message preached that morning doesn’t agree with them, they feel justified in withholding their tithe check that week. {Sadly, I know this one first hand as I worked as the Admin to a previous pastor and read some of the most disheartening letters to the pastor after a “failed” sunday morning.}

Not to focus on the negative…here’s some thoughts on the positive side of the church being the ‘menu’ or ‘appetizer’ ~ through the worship songs and the sermon that is delivered to the congregation, we are given delightful morsels from the Word of God.  We are given a taste of the goodness and greatness of our God.  We are able to sample a portion of what the Lord has to offer us in His Word.

Your church pastor has been given an amazing job, in that the Lord has given them the ability and opportunity to share with others all the wealth of the Feast that IS God’s Word. The pastor is not supposed to be the only person you learn from.  The church is not supposed to be the only location from which you learn in.  The pastor and the church experience each week are supposed to be the jumping off point…the place of fellowship where we can be recharged in order to go out through the rest of the week, encouraged to delight in personal time with the Lord and His Scripture.

This is where the Feasting comes in...

Personal times of worship in prayer and in song to the Lord are just as vital (if not more so!) ~ this is why I feel this is the real feast!  When we are in a quiet place, spending time in His Word and in prayer, we are allowing the Holy Spirit to lavish spiritual nourishment to our soul.  When we spend time with the Lord, we are making a statement…that we want to be more in tune with the Lord and all He has for us.  Sometimes those prayer experiences have us saying nothing at all but declaring the holy Name of Jesus.  More often than not, when I have prayed a verse or passage out loud, or sang a Psalm to Him, or just sat quietly asking the Lord to speak to my heart ~ those are the times that I have felt the closest to Him.  Of course He wants to hear from us:  what our hearts are desirous of, what we are hurting from, who or what we are having a difficult time with. But if we are always the one talking…we are unable to listen to what God is wanting to whisper to our heart.

This my friends is the Feast.

To be made aware of the voice of God and how He speaks into our lives.

exodus-12-verse-14

All those feasts that the Israelite’s of the Old Testament were called to observe were due in part to the fact that the Savior had not come to earth yet.  There was a strict process in the preparation and the enjoyment of each Feast and why/when they were observed.  But with the coming of Jesus Christ in the New Testament, we were given in Him the true Feast.  He is the Word in flesh. (John 1:14)  He is the reason we celebrate our salvation. Through Him we gain the abundant knowledge we need in order to walk through this life.  We are given the Fruit of the Holy Spirit with which to feast on.  But this can only happen when we spend time with Him and in scripture.  And the best part…we can come to Him every moment of every day!  We don’t have to wait for a special decree to enter the throne room of God and worship at His feet! What a beautiful gift and privilege!  E.V.E.R.Y.D.A.Y!!!

The time of feasting in the presence of the Lord is not meant to only happen a few times a year.  It is not even meant to simply happen on Sunday mornings. It is not something on our schedule to check off.

Feasting is to be a daily experience.  All throughout the day we are to be feasting in His presence.  To be so close to the Lord of Hosts, that we can smell the aroma of His love.  To be so close that we can feel the brush of His hands on ours, as He directs our path. To be so close that we can recognize His voice as He calls us to dwell with Him.

Come to Him and enjoy the Feast!

Blessings,

René

 

* http://www.agapebiblestudy.com/charts