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How Does God’s Rhema Word Sustain Us?

Jesus was in a miserable place.  The desert sun scorched his flesh.  He had no food to eat.  And then, who should he meet there in that vulnerable spot but his mortal enemy.The temptation Jesus faced is the one all of us face every day.  We’re spiritual beings walking around i…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

Jesus was in a miserable place.  The desert sun scorched his flesh.  He had no food to eat.  And then, who should he meet there in that vulnerable spot but his mortal enemy.

The temptation Jesus faced is the one all of us face every day.  We’re spiritual beings walking around in what we might view as “our earth suits” – our bodies. And the temptation we face is prioritizing the maintenance of our earth suit above the maintenance of our inner spirit man.

Jesus responded as we all should respond, “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every rhema (that’s the Greek for “word” in this context) that comes from the mouth of God.”*

In other words people can go without food for 40 days, but they need spiritual food more frequently.  You and I need to listen to the voice of our heavenly Father.  His rhema words sustain our spirits.

That begs a couple of questions, “How do we hear this rhema word?  And how does it sustain us?”  I don’t know about you, but I was never taught to ask these most foundational questions of spiritual survival.  I was taught to read my Bible (the logos word) every day, and yes, God did use that discipline to speak to me in a way that often sustained my spirit. But there were also times when God may have wanted to speak to me through the Bible and my heart condition wasn’t right. So, there were many days when reading the Bible did nothing for my spirit.  Any routine can become stale over time. I was just reading words on a page.

Only later in life did I come to the place where I realized that God wants to regularly sustain my spirit by connecting with his spirit.  He uses a lot of tools to do that – the Bible being one of them. But he’ll use all kinds of things to touch my heart.

Very often he’ll use the words of a friend to arouse my spirit.  When a friend prays for me and senses that God wants to share something with me, that may be the very spiritual food that sustains me on a given day.  It sustains me in the sense that it lets me know that my creator cares about me, that he is thinking about me, that he wants to help me with my struggles.  It connects me to my purpose and encourages me to focus on the spirit realm all around me.

We don’t connect with our purpose as spiritual beings by feeding our stomachs, but a word from God will do that and will sustain us through whatever tests our enemy may throw at us.

The Bible tells us, “Eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy.”** God wants us to pursue that gift because it will help us grow in our ability to give one another spiritual food.  As it says, “Everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort.”***
Let’s keep drilling down to try and understand this verse. If God uses you to fulfill this scripture in my life, how exactly does that comfort or encourage me?  
Well, if you are speaking a rhema word to me, you are sharing something with me that God wants me to hear.  If you’ve sought to hear God’s heart for me, then there’s no presumption in sharing what you perceive him to be sharing with me.  We do that all the time for ourselves as we “see through a glass darkly,” attempting to understand everyday spiritual reality.  And God knows it’s not easy – that’s why he gave us the body of Christ, people who love us, to help activate and sustain us.  He tells us to help one another as we attempt to hear his voice and get the nourishment of a word from him.

*Matt. 4:4
**1 Cor. 14:1
***1 Cor. 14:3

Comments (5)

  • “…..speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort.” I believe that this describes you. Reaching physical age milestones (I hit 60 this week) makes one reflect on who we are, how we got here, and what we want to be in what’s left of the earthly journey. I’m becoming increasingly aware of many of my mentors and peers turning anxious, angry, and judgemental as age takes it toll mentally and physically. Stay persistent brother! You are an inspiration of “strengthening, encouragement and comfort.” to many, and most importantly to the next generation.

  • I enjoyed reading this and your emphasis on the Rhema word inside the context of the body of Christ and a solid, growing but imperfect community. Thanks for writing this and for the reminder to desire prophecy and what that might look like and how important it is for us and others.

  • Hi Seth
    God does speak to me as I read the Bible. What works best for me is to read the Bible and then spend time in Worship and prayer. Seems like I can hear His voice and sense His presence in this manner.

    Gail and I are leaving for the Gateway tomorrow so we probably won’t have internet for a couple of weeks. I’ll catch up when I return. Please pray for us while we’re in Mexico.
    Thank you

  • A famous Bible teacher once shared that he was on a flight somewhere so he pulled out his Bible to complete his daily reading so he could then kick back in his seat and relax. After he put his Bible away, Holy Spirit asked him:

    What did you learn?”

    And that’s when he realized that he had just rushed through the reading like an assignment, but he could not recall a word of it. It convicted him. He started reading his Bible after that with the goal of being able to explain or share to anyone (including Holy Spirit) what he had just learned and interacted with…..

    I’ve never forgotten that as I never want to approach the LIVING Word as if it is dead. I want to search and study the Scriptures and have my ears open to hear what He is saying, not merely what He said.

    Of course, I totally agree that God feeds our spirit in other ways too. I think the Bible is foundational, but it is not meant to be the only thing that ministers to us: prophecy, encouragement or loving rebuke from a friend, Holy Spirit whispers…they are all part of a nutritious meal that provides sustenance to our spirit.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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