The Bare Soul
March 10, 2013
How to Love God's Word
Jeremiah 15:16 - Your words were found and I ate them, and Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; For I have been called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts.
We have all known picky eaters. When I was a child, I was required to eat everything on my plate. With our children, my wife and I insisted they try something before saying they did not like it. Usually we made them eat two or three bites before opting out. I believe this is a reasonable and rational approach rather than forcing children to eat. However, I will say there is really nothing today that I do not like when it comes to food. Similarly, my grown children like most cuisines. They have learned from experience that all foods are at least worth trying. By allowing our palates to experience a variety of tastes, we train our "flavor buds" to appreciate and evaluate. This disallows the pre-judging of foods and denying them a proper chance.
In contemporary America and other westernized countries, we do not lack a variety of experience regarding food. Even smaller towns have Chinese and Mexican restaurants, whereas larger cities have any ethnic food we might desire. However, I would venture to say that many of us do not know there are similarly many different flavors and "tastes" in God's word. Proverbs 27:7 tells us "A sated man loathes honey, but to a famished man any bitter thing is sweet." When hunger is the driving force, it doesn't matter how something tastes. The only concern is to quell the hunger pains. However, once we have found out how to satisfy our hunger by continually coming to God's word, it is helpful to find out how to make it satisfying as well. Just because someone is no longer hungry does not mean they are satisfied in their fullness. Through the years, I believe I have learned a thing or two about not only satisfying my spiritual hunger from God's word, but also finding great satisfaction in the various flavors and tastes I encounter. I will explain this further through the following three steps that reveal how to find lasting fulfillment in dining continually and with great pleasure on God's word:
1. Try it, you might like it! -- If you have never studied the word of
God in a consistent manner, do not pre-judge that it is a boring endeavor.
Oftentimes, God allows us to engage in the discipline of reading His word
before He gives us a true love for it. As Jeremiah states in our lead verse,
he "found" the words of the Lord. This means diligently spending time in the
word everyday to begin finding what God is saying to us, individually. When
we do, we begin to find the joy in discovery as God brings His word alive.
2. Mix it up! -- Do not, and I repeat , do not start in Genesis and start reading through the entire Bible! (Most folks who do this stop when they hit the chapters in Leviticus about cleansing leprosy!) Instead, read a chapter from the Old Testament each day and one from the New Testament. Or, read a Psalm or a chapter of Proverbs along with a chapter of the Gospels. Personally, my daily reading consists of a chapter from the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible), a chapter from the history books (Joshua through Esther), a chapter in the poetry books (Job through Song of Solomon), a chapter in the prophets (Isaiah through Malachi), a chapter of the Gospels (Matthew through John), and a chapter of the New Testament (Acts through Revelation). By reading six chapters a day, I get through the Old Testament about once every eight months, the New Testament books every five months, and the Gospels about four times a year. I have been doing this for many years and it works well for me.
3. Don't be doggedly dogmatic! -- Even though I have a set schedule of reading and study, I do not get bent out of shape if I miss a day or my schedule gets thrown off by the Holy Spirit leading another way. Our Bible reading should be regarded as a "love plan" not a contract that can be broken if we do not hold to it perfectly each day. However, we should try to maintain consistency when possible. If we do, the Lord will bless our time and begin to show us treasures we would not have believed as we remain faithful.
Are we famished for God's word? Some of us do not even have a mild appetite for what God has given mankind through the written word, let alone a ravenous desire for His writings. Are we daily in the Holy Bible, digging out its treasures? The only way to get hungry for God's word is by getting into it. As we do, we will long for it as we would miss a loved one, rather than condemning ourselves as a judge when we miss a day. The Word of God is not a drudgery, beloved. It is "a joy and the delight" of our hearts if we will but discipline ourselves to seek God there daily.
Heavenly Father, I pray for those who desire a greater discipline in reading and meditating on Your word. Give them first the desire to spend time with You, daily, in Your written word. Then, bless their faithfulness by sharing nuggets of truth that will make their spirits soar. As they find the joy in Your word, increase their hunger for it, developing their taste and pleasure as they savor its wonder! In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Your Barefoot Servant,
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