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Chow Down

“I’m hungry!”  Those are words we’ve all said and I hear constantly from three growing kids.  As my mom used to say, “I think they have a hollow leg” because nothing seems to ever fill them up!  Food is a key element in life.  It energizes, sustains, and satisfies our hunger.  From snacks to three-square meals, food is essential.  We go to restaurants and grocery stores not to store up food in our freezers and pantries but to consume it.  Food on a shelf is worthless unless ingested in the stomach.   And the most important food groups are nachos and pastries…right!   While eating lunch the other day with a friend he said to me, “I feel guilty about my Bible study habits.”  As we discussed it, I found a key motivation for his time in Scripture was guilt.  I’ve seen people feel guilty after eating but never seen guilt lead to eating.  I told him guilt was a terrible motivator and asked about his Bible reading habits.  He said he read the Bible every day but not in the same way or amount.  Sometimes he read a few scriptures while others times he would listen to a sermon.  There were several variations and I said, “It sounds like how we eat physical food sometimes.  Sometimes I eat fast food, other times at a buffet, and still others at home.  I eat snacks and my portions and food selections change daily.  I might skip breakfast and eat a big lunch.  I think the point is that I am eating.”

The Bible is a book and of course books are meant to be read.  But it is more than a textbook, literary work, or self-help book.  It isn’t merely for recreation or hobby.  It isn’t just for doctrine, knowledge, or instruction.  The main point is God gave it so we would be fed.  After all, think about how many times God’s word is compared to food!  Jeremiah said, “Your words were found and I ate them and Your word became to me the gladness and joy of my heart” (15:16).  In other words, once consumed those words brought life!  My intake of Scripture varies:  I listen to lots of sermons while driving.  I always read a verse of the day in the morning.  I read books full of Scripture.  I subscribe to a couple of daily email devotionals.  Once a week I block out a couple hours to “feast” on studying something I’m not preaching or teaching on.  I write a Bible devotional weekly.  I have three main blocks of time I use to study my weekly sermon.  Every day I seem to glean a scripture here and there from something and “chew” on it.  While I love to read my old Bible from high school, I equally love reading my phone Bible.  There are several variations on how I consume the Word (hear, read, study, memorize, meditate, etc.) – the point is I consume it – and let it consume me.  Work towards a “balanced diet” but by all means just EAT something!  Paul told Timothy to be, “nourished with the words of faith” (1 Timothy 4:6).  The apostle John said he saw the sweet words of the Lord and “ate” them (Revelation 10:10).  God’s Words are “sweeter than honey” (Psalm 119:103).

To sustain life and grow we must eat foods that come from living matter.  God’s Word is alive (Hebrews 4:12)!  Just like God breathed life into Adam, God breathed life into His Word (2 Timothy 3:16).  Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).   Physical food is important but Jesus said spiritual food is more important!  We should long for the milk of the Word, just like newborn babies (1 Peter 2:2).  Jesus said, “I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever” (John 6:51).  Consume God’s life-giving words daily and, “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

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