The prophet Malachi brought a message of hope to a nation that knew repeated failure. After being restored to their homeland, the Jews had forgotten the one who had delivered them. We often make the same kind of mistake. As soon as we overcome our pressing problems, we forget the one who delivered us from them – God. Without a continued relationship with God, our hope of sustaining spiritual growth is slim at best. You and I need to keep our eyes on God, the source and means for our continued spiritual growth.
Situations that are out of your control will show whether you’re operating with pride and self-sufficiency, or with humility and dependence on God. If you’re willing to humbly depend on God and recognize you inability to handle everything on your own, you’ll see the power of God bring great changes in your life.
The experience of a man named Naaman illustrates how this is true. Naaman was a powerful military and political figure, a man of wealth, position, and power. He also had leprosy, an incurable disease that would slowly destroy his body. Lepers were made outcasts from their families and society. Ultimately, they faced a slow, painful, and disgraceful death.
Family is important. It provides relationships that will be your foundation through thick and thin your entire life. What’s more, families are where we get our foundation spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually. In short, families are the cradles of character.
But in Mark chapter three, Jesus demonstrates that as important as family truly is, it’s not what’s most important. The scene took place on a day when Jesus and His disciples were so overwhelmed by the crowds they didn’t even have time to eat. Jesus’ mother and brothers approached the house where Jesus was but couldn’t get in. So, they did the next best thing. They sent word inside that they wanted to speak to Jesus.
Imagine you are hiking in the mountains and you slip off the edge of a cliff. You grab hold of a bush with your hands, but you’re now dangling over hundreds of feet below. You’re safe for the moment, but you can’t hold on for long. You must have help that is immediate, good, and adequate.
Now suppose help appears. Someone reaches down and says, “Take my hand, and I’ll pull you up“. Will you do it? The answer depends on the helper. Suppose it’s someone you deeply offended at one time. He may be strong enough to help, but will he? Or suppose it’s a ten year old Boy Scout with 20 merit badges. You know he will do everything in his power to help, but does he have enough strength? What will persuade you to trust the help offered? You must be convinced of the good will, reliability, and strength of the helper.
An addiction is an illegitimate means of meeting a legitimate need. We use many things to fill the needs we have in our lives: money, shopping, gambling, drugs and alcohol to name a few. The ‘drug‘ of choice takes away the pain we are experiencing, even when we don’t acknowledge that the pain is real. Sometimes the pain isn’t even in our consciousness! Pain from past wounds is buried under the mounds of whatever it is we use to avoid the pain — money, shopping, and food.
How do you know if you’re addicted to food? Ask yourself some simple questions:
- Do I eat when I am experiencing strong emotions?
- Am I unaware of the quantity of food I eat?
- Do I know what it is like to feel hunger?
- Is there a particular food I crave when stressed?
- Do I rationalize my eating habits?