Eat to live and live to eat

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“I’m hungry!” These are words we’ve all said, and I constantly hear about three growing children. As my mother used to say, “I think they have hollow legs” because nothing ever seems to satisfy them!

Food is an essential part of 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 food in our freezers and pantries, but to consume it. Food on a shelf is worthless unless ingested in the stomach.

While having lunch the other day with a friend, he said, “I feel guilty about my Bible study habits. As we discussed it, I discovered that one of the main motivations for its passage in the scriptures was guilt. I’ve seen people feel guilty after eating, but I’ve never seen guilt lead to eating.

I told him that guilt was a terrible motivator and asked him about his Bible reading habits. He said he read the Bible every day but not in the same way or in quantity. Sometimes he would read a few scriptures, while other times he would listen to a sermon.

There were several variations, and I said, “Sometimes it feels like the way we eat physical food. Sometimes I eat fast food, other times buffet, and other times, I eat at home. I eat snacks, and my portions and food selections change every day. I might skip breakfast and eat a big lunch. I think the point is that I eat.

The Bible is a book, and books are meant to be read. But it is more than a textbook, a work of literature or a self-help book. The main point is that God gave it for us to be fed. After all, think how many times the word of God 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).

Once consumed, these words gave life! My scripture intake varies: I listen to a lot of sermons while driving. I always read a verse of the day in the morning. I have read books full of scriptures. I subscribe to a few daily devotionals via email. Once a week, I block out a few hours to “treat” to study something that I don’t preach or teach. I write a Bible devotional each week. I have three main blocks of time that 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 reading my old high school Bible, I also love reading the Bible from my phone. There are many 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 by 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). The Words of God are “sweeter than honey” (Psalm 119:103).

To sustain life and grow, we must eat food from living matter. The Word of God is alive (Hebrews 4:12)! As 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 proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). Physical food is essential, but Jesus said spiritual food is more important! We should aspire to the milk of the Word, just like babies (1 Peter 2:2).

Jesus said, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; if anyone eats this bread, he will live forever” (John 6:51).

Consume the life-giving words of God daily and, “Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all for the glory of God.”

Stephen Harrison is the former senior pastor of Family Church in White Hall. He is the Senior Pastor of Summit Church Saline County.

Editor’s Note: Pastors, ministers or other writers interested in writing for this section can submit articles for consideration to [email protected] Writers must have ties to southeast Arkansas. Please include your name, phone number, and the name and location of your church or ministry.

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