Key Verse 4:4
“Jesus answered, ‘It is written: “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”’”
Thank God that he granted us another year to live on this earth and enjoy life with our families and friends. Now we are in 2009 and God is giving us another shot at fulfilling our goals in our physical life, and spiritual life. Every year we do a review of our life, about what we did and even failed to do. We ask our selves “Did I make progress?” “Did I fulfill my goal?” These are the kind of questions that either challenge us to work harder or bring us down to total despair. Every year we give ourselves a promise that we call “New year’s resolution” which no one seems to want to mention anymore, maybe because we break it within the 1st 2 weeks of the new year.
But whatever goals we have, let's not forget what God says about what real life is all about. How do we live a "real" life? Jesus said, “It is written: Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Jesus tells us that to live, involves the word of God. My hope through this message is that we Christians may realize the importance of feeding our souls, and that we cannot survive as a Christian without the word that comes from the mouth of our Father God.
Part 1: What life is all about – What is real living?
Satan offers one definition in the first temptation that he offers Jesus. Jesus has been in the wilderness for 40 days: 40 days of fasting; 40 days with nothing to eat. Jesus is hungry enough to eat almost anything. Along comes Satan who is called here as the Tempter and basically says something like this: "You are the Son of God. You, of all people, should not have to suffer. Command these stones to become bread so You can eat Your fill. Command these stones to become bread so You can live." According to Satan, real living should not involve pain or deprivation, and thus real living must involve the fulfillment of my wants and my desires. Real living means bread in the stomach, clothing on the back, and a roof over the head, and extra money in the bank. Period. That’s it. So please, "show me the money!" That’s what life is all about.
If we are to the answer the question “What is life all about?” people can say many things, mostly earthly things. If the homepage of your internet is set to Yahoo, everyday you see on their main page the things that people are most interested in. Articles like: best places to live in, best vacation spots, the best restaurants, the best career to have, and best gadgets to buy.
We have many basic needs, including food, clothing and shelter. But human need and human desires is a bottomless pit that can never be filled. And it seems like we’ve gotten too spoiled with our wants and desires. For example, 10 years ago a 19 inch TV is a perfect size for a TV. But now, there are TVs that occupy our entire living room, thinking that bigger and clearer resolution is better. Now with the analog to digital switch of televisions, people are going to the stores to get the TV of their dreams instead of just picking up a converter box that does the job. Nowadays, it seems like Maxwell House and Folgers coffee is simply no good for us anymore. And hardly anyone goes to buy instant coffee. We want Starbucks and brewed and expresso and flavored and fresh. Two months ago I bought a mini inexpensive camcorder. What I liked about it is that it shoots HD. But I neglected to find out that I was going to need a fast computer and HD television to be able to see the videos in HD. Now I'm thinking, "I need HD TV and a new computer." We always think we need new and better stuff. We think like this because: our house would look better, or I would look good in it and I would feel really good, or because mine is old school. Or simply I need it. I want it. We always try to satisfy our desires, thinking that this is the way for me to be happy in life.
I'm not saying that there’s anything wrong with all this stuff. The problem is that we're so consumed by this stuff. If we think this is what life is all about, then we have fallen into Satan’s trap, without even realizing it. Satan tempts us, just like he tempted Jesus. He tempts us to think we need all of this stuff in order to experience real living. He tempts us to think we don't really live until we have experienced the things the world offers. He temps us to think that real life is all about bread.
How did Jesus respond? Read verse 4. “Jesus answered, ‘It is written: “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”’” The verse that Jesus quoted came from the book of Deuteronomy, where God was speaking to the Israelites in the desert. Deuteronomy 8:2-3 says: “Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”
God took forty years to teach the people of Israel this one lesson. Six days a week God gave them "manna" to eat. The word manna is not a name; it is the question "What is that?" And every morning the people had to answer their own question: "This is food provided by the Word of God." Moreover, during those forty years the people's clothes did not wear out (Deut 8:3,4). God was teaching them every day that God takes care of His people simply by the Word of His mouth. Yet Israel never learned this lesson. Today, in America many don't seem to want to hear this life giving lesson either.
Now Jesus follows the same course as did Israel. Jesus spends forty days in the desert, representing the new Israel. And the tempter suggests that He relies on Himself rather than on the Word of God, that He take matters into His own hands rather than wait on the Lord, that He turn stones into bread. Jesus' point is this: we don't have life when we have bread; we don't have life when we have food in our stomachs, clothing on our backs and a roof over our heads. Rather, we have life when we listen to what comes out of the mouth of God. That is what life is all about.
Read verse 4 again. “Jesus answered, ‘It is written: “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” When Jesus said “It is written” it means this is how God made man to be. We are both body and spirit. Genesis 2:7 reads, “The LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” God formed us with a physical body but when He breathed into us, he gave us a soul that made us a living being. This tells us that our soul is the most important. Our physical life with our ever changing emotions drag us here and there, but they do not give us our real life. In brief, we must take care of our soul, because only our soul makes us truly alive.
Why do we need the Word of God? We can think of two reasons.
First, the Word of God is God's rules for successful living. It is our manual. Bible stands for "basic instructions before leaving earth." In the Bible you can know what you need to know about life and how to succeed in life. Nowadays many are confused about life because they do not know what the truth is. But the Bible tells us what the truth is, and what are lies. The word of God can cure what science cannot. Science cannot cure broken relationships which separates families and leaves children with deep wounds. Only the living word of God can heal our wounded souls (1 Pe 2:24).
Second, the Word of God is the Word of life because in its pages we meet God and Jesus. Prayer is when we talk to God. Reading and meditating on God’s words is when God talks to us and we hear and listen to God. The word of God gives us the strength and peace while living in this evil and troubling world. The word of God gives us comfort in times of sorrows and hardships. The word of God gives us peace, so that we know that God is Almighty and that God is in control. The word of God tells us that though we are sinful and sinsick, it is OK to come to him and cry our for his mercy and forgiveness.
Part II. Live by the word.
If we really believe that "Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God" then we will set aside time each day for the Word of God in personal or family devotions.
How much time do we spend on various pursuits during our lives? For most of us, making a living consumes at least 50 hours, if not more, every week, or about 2,500 hours annually. Each year we sleep nearly 3,000 hours. Add another 550 hours per year for eating, and about 1,500 hours per year for something else like watching TV and surfing good and clean internet sites. Is it too much, then, to ask that God's people spend time with the Word? How much time, then, does it take to read the Scriptures? At a very moderate rate, the entire Bible can be read in about 70 hours -- 52 hours for the Old Testament, and 18 hours for the New Testament. Even the longest portion of the Old Testament -- the Psalms -- takes only four and a half hours to read, while the Gospel of Luke would occupy less than three hours of our time.
If we really believe that "Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God" then we will be at worship service every Sunday – for it is in our worship services that we can hear the Word of God proclaimed. We'll also invite friends and families to hear the word. If we really believe that "Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God" then we'll become part of a group that spends time studying God's Word. We provide group Bible studies for men and women, college students, high school students and our children. Every person here should be able to find one Bible study group they can join.
If we really believe that "Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God" then we will help each other to hear the word. The Bible says that we are to build each other up in the Lord. Satan does his best to tempt our weak body to do something else and avoid receiving the Word. We are accountable to one another. It doesn’t hurt to give someone a call when it’s time for worship service or Bible study to give that person a push and encouragement. Our body is weak but our soul is hungry and thirsty for the Word. Sometimes we need to be encouraged by others, just like we need our alarm clock to get us up for school or work.
When I reviewed my Christian life for the past couple of years, I struggled a lot spiritually. My prayers to God were like begging and complaining. There are times when I felt I was so far away from God. I work in the research department at NU and if there's a research project about what the effects would be on a Christian who neglects to feed himself with God’s word, I would be a good candidate for the project. Last year I joined a health club to take care of my physical body. I began to exercise three times a week. But then after a few months I started to skip to two times a week, one time a week, one time a month and… Now I feel I have to drag myself to the health club even though the place is only a few blocks from my workplace.
If you do that with your spiritual life and skip your spiritual needs for days and months, later you will feel like you’re the most miserable Christian on earth because that is how I how felt. Sometimes I felt like prayer didn’t work anymore. I realized how important it is for my spiritual body to be constantly fed by the word of God. There is no follower of Jesus who can survive without the word of God.
Now our nation is facing a financial crisis and many people are starting to be careful about their spending. Perhaps it is God testing for us to spend less on physical things and invest more time on spiritual things. May God help us this year to feast on the word of God. May God bless 2009 with an abundance of the word of God. May God bless us to have Bible studies with our families, college and high school students and our children.