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“Eat to Live, and Live to Eat”

“I’m hungry!” Those are words we’ve all said, and I constantly hear from three growing kids. As my mom used to say, “I think they have a hollow leg” because nothing seems ever to fill them up! Food is a critical 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, “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 the same way or amount. Sometimes he read a few scriptures, while other times, he listened 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 I eat 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 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 of hours to “feast” on studying something I’m not preaching or teaching. 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, 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 from living matter. God’s Word is alive (Hebrews 4:12)! 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 essential, 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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Stephen and his wife Haley have called Arkansas home all of their lives. Stephen has served in several ministry roles over the last 25 years and as a lead pastor for the last 8 years. Stephen attended Williams Baptist College and earned a BA in Biblical Studies from Ouachita Baptist University, an MA, MDiv, and DMin in Christian Leadership and Pastoral Ministries from Liberty University. When not pastoring, Stephen enjoys running, cycling, reading, writing, camping, fishing, and spending time with his family.

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