Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

by Jeannette Haley

Perhaps you can recall back to when you were a kid, and your mother, or some other adult, came at you with a spoonful of something you couldn’t quite identify, all the while saying “Here, taste this. You’ll like it”.  I don’t know about you, but I thank God that my mother loved to cook, and she was good at it. However, one incident stands out in my mind to this day. Mom called me to her and offered me a spoonful of plain, white sugar. I was amazed! What kid could resist such a sweet, guilt-free offering? As out-of-the-norm as this was, without hesitation I opened my mouth and took it all in. Then, something began to do a tango on my tongue that certainly wasn’t sugar. My clever mother, knowing that I had a fever, and that swallowing anything remotely resembling a pill resulted in something akin to a rodeo, had crushed up an aspirin and concealed it in sugar. It’s a taste combination I can still recall.

As I am sure the whole world knows, I love chocolate. Especially deep, dark chocolate. It puts me into a wonderful place where life is good. (As a side note, Valentine’s day reminds me of chocolate, but chocolate doesn’t remind me of Valentine’s day!) When I was in grade school, we lived in a friendly Seattle neighborhood. Mom had a couple of special friends there, and they took turns baking and sharing over a cup of coffee. As I bounced into the house one day after school, the aroma of freshly baked brownies greeted me. Ahhhh! Surely there would be a mountain of delicious chocolate brownies just waiting for me to delve into. But no! Imagine my utter disappointment and disgust when I discovered that most of the brownies had gone to the neighbors! I was aghast and utterly shocked at such a display of total disregard by my very own mother to my immeasurable selfishness. Her display of kindness and generosity to others made about as much of a dent in my conscience as drifting lint does when it hits the floor.

Oh the sins of youth! My heart often echoes the words of King David recorded in Psalm 25:7, “Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness’ sake, O LORD.” Seeds of Adamic pride within every newborn babe soon sprout into roots that grow branches of self-will, self-love, self-centeredness, self-serving, and selfishness. As these roots gain ground in a person’s heart, they produce the fruits of rebellion, disobedience, indifference (hatred), anger, perversion, moral deviation, unbelief, and all the rest of the poison that afflicts mankind, sealing his fate forever—unless! Unless he lets go of the forbidden fruit of sin and dares to taste the sweetness of the Lord Jesus Christ. “O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him” Psalm 34:8.

To taste something is to experience it, and receive certain information about it. For example, the physical sense of taste has four categories—sweet, salty, savory, and bitter. Every time we taste food, we make a decision as to whether we like it, love it, or don’t like it. As we eat one bite at a time of a delicious, gourmet meal, we grow in our appreciation for the complexity of texture, seasonings, and layers of flavor. The same is true when people “taste” the Lord.

What does it mean to taste the Lord? Jesus told the people “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever” John 6:53-58. Of course, we know that Jesus wasn’t speaking of literally “eating” him, but of partaking of his life through His Word and by His Spirit. He told them, “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.”

      If we are to “taste the Lord,” we must begin with His Word. The Apostle Peter, writing to new Christians admonished, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious” 2 Peter 2:2, 3. Jesus told Peter to feed His lambs, which means the milk of the Word, and then to feed His sheep, which alludes to the meat of the Word until they are mature enough to be able to handle “strong” meat. Hebrews 6:1, 2 tells us what the milk of the Word involves. It says, “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection: not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.”

All of these basic principles are the “milk” of our Christian foundation that every believer should be taught, study, understand, and believe. But, we must not stop there, as so many do who think that is all they need to know, and thus resign themselves to decorate some dead church like mummies in an Egyptian museum. The question is, how many Christian leaders in our day and age are truly feeding the sheep milk and meat?        The writer of Hebrews warned believers, “…ye are dull of hearing. For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” Hebrews 5:11b-14.

      There is no doubt that we are living in the end times. It is vital that Christians be able to discern both good and evil, and know how to test the spirits (1 John 4:1). Biblical prophecy is being fulfilled by the day, especially the fact that innumerable false prophets, hireling shepherds, and ravening wolves are “feeding” God’s sheep another Jesus, another Gospel, another Spirit, doctrine of devils, and heresies that damn the soul. These “ear-tickling” thieves and liars are making merchandise of men’s souls as they pervert the gospel of Christ. Such was the plight of the church in Galatia, to whom Paul wrote, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed” Galatians 1:6-9.

Now is not the time to fall asleep as did the ten virgins who grew weary while waiting for the Bridegroom. Now is the time to declare, as did Job, with all of our heart, “Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips: I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food” Job 23:12. How many of us esteem (value, cherish, desire, and respect) God’s Word over our “necessary” (life sustaining) food? To Job, the “words” of God’s mouth were of utmost importance–more important to him than even the food his body needed. I fear that not many of us could honestly declare such. You see, Job had “tasted” of the Lord, and what he experienced was more fulfilling, satisfying, life-giving, exciting, wonderful, and enjoyable than physical food could ever be. Job had discovered the Bread of Life, and the Living Water. And, he didn’t even own a Bible! Remember, Job is the oldest book in the Bible. But, he knew God, he had tasted Him, and he had developed a taste for God that went deep, far outweighing all that befell him.

In God’s dealings with the Children of Israel in the wilderness, we read in Deuteronomy 8:3, “And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know: that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live.” Of course we know that Jesus quoted this Scripture to Satan when He was being tempted in the wilderness, which reiterates the seriousness and indispensability of God’s Word for our lives, both in this world and the one to come.

Tasting the Lord in salvation is sweet, and is cause for rejoicing and praise. Feeding on the milk is nourishing, and should cause a person to become grounded in truth as he or she follows the Lord into the still waters of baptism, and the green pastures of communion and prayer. However, all too often, like the Children of Israel, people easily forget to feed on His Word as the cares of this world “choke out the Word.”  Doubt and unbelief creep in as they fail to praise Him, forget His works, and fail to wait for His counsel. Lust leads to tempting God.Psalm 106:15 tells us the devastating result, “And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul.”

It is hard for us human beings to shift our focus from temporary pleasures for that which is eternal. We do get caught up with food and drink, and other necessities. However, in regard to such Jesus said, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness: and all these things shall be added unto you” Matthew 6:33. It is our responsibility to seek first His kingdom, to feed ourselves from His Word, to study it so that we will know how to rightly divide it, to learn the principles of God, and to obey them. The problem is, most people have little, if any, lasting hunger and thirst for God’s Word. In addition, Satan does everything in his power to hinder a person from getting into the Bible. Therefore, the key is to learn how to develop an appetite, or taste, for God’s Word. After all, God’s Word is written for us. It is from heaven, as was the manna. As a person begins to feed his or her spirit from the banquet of God’s Word, he or she will begin to acquire a taste for it. In time, genuine hunger for the Word develops.

If you watch the Food Network channel (which is one of our favorites) you might well imagine what the competing chefs on Chopped would come up with if they opened their mystery baskets to discover the same manna that God fed the Israelites. It was a totally balanced, nutritious food for the human body, but can you imagine eating manna for breakfast, lunch, and dinner? What about snacks and desert? What do you “add” to manna? Perhaps salsa and sour cream, or maybe ice cream and chocolate sauce? No doubt the chefs would somehow come up with a creative dish to present to the panel of judges. While this may be amusing to consider, let us remember that when it comes to God’s Word, anyone who adds or subtracts from it faces eternal damnation. (See Deuteronomy 4:2; Revelation 22:19.) Therefore, self-appointed teachers, preachers, and prophets who take it upon themselves to speak the oracles of God without fear, sobriety, and righteousness—not being Spirit-led, nor walking wisely before the Lord will be judged. “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” Hebrews 10:31.

As any foodie will tell you, people eat first with their eyes. (Just ask Eve about that!) Even if the ingredients in a dish are unknown and new to a diner, if it is presented in such a way that stirs up the appetite, it will cause a person to want to taste it. What people need to do is develop a taste for the Word of God, and that can only come as they begin to taste it for themselves, then feed on it, followed by acting on it, and finally sharing what they have learned and experienced with others. When a person partakes of the Word, they begin to partake of Jesus who is “the way, the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6) Do you want more of Jesus? Then consider this powerful verse in John 1:14, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father) full of grace and truth.” Surely as your soul feeds on the pure milk and meat of God’s Word, you will discover and declare with the prophet Jeremiah, “Thy words were found, and I did eat them: and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O Lord God of hosts.”

      Bon appétit!