The greatest gift that was ever given to me is from God. It is given by His grace and through faith. It is salvation. And those of us who have this great gift are His workmanship; we are created in Jesus so that our lives would reflect God’s goodness and glory, rather than our sinfulness (Eph 2:8-10). Another great gift that was given to me came from my parents in 1982. It was purchased at the Bible Bookstore in Saint Helens. It is a brown NIV Bible with tiny print, and it was my first Bible. It went with me each Sunday as we met with the saints of Yankton Baptist Church. I read that little NIV a lot by myself. I remember reading Jesus’s sermon on the mount while sitting on my bed and struggling to fully comprehend it.
Now, 32 years have gone by and not much has changed in my ability to read and quickly understand the Bible. Bible interpretation can be difficult; I suggest that one major reason why we don’t read the Bible routinely is because we often read it just for comprehension, like it were a textbook. We are, however, to read it in order to be fed by God.
Bible reading, as Pastor Willard Fenderson aptly said, was not to master the Bible but that we would be mastered by it. When we read the Scriptures God shepherds us. For example, in our reading we might discover a sin we need to repent of, a truth that we need to learn, or a promise from God. Here, in Bible reading, we are fed by God Himself. Yahweh said it this way:
“Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land the LORD promised on oath to your ancestors. Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.
He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the LORD your God disciplines you” (Deuteronomy 8:1-5).
Jesus quoted a verse from the above passage, and note its context: “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God’” (Matthew 4:1-4).
Yahweh said it, and Jesus said it too: God feeds us with the Bible, which brings life. The analogy teaches us that just as we need to be fed food to survive, we need to be fed the Scriptures to survive. Likewise, what happens to one who does not eat food also happens to one who is not fed the Holy Scriptures. Did you eat today? Did God feed you with His Bible?
Therefore, based on this teaching from both Yahweh and Jesus, I suggest that you make Bible reading part of your daily routine just as you routinely eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Read your Bible to be fed. As good as devotional books can be, they cannot replace Holy Scripture, because devotionals are not God-breathed. Let the Bible be your primary food source. And if you do not have a Bible, please take a pew Bible. It is the church’s gift to you, and it is a great gift.
Over the years I’ve received a lot of gifts, some good, others not so good. But the one that sits up on my shelf to this day is the brown NIV from my parents. 1982 was a long time ago but my Bible has not begun to rot or perish; the pages may be falling out, but I still get it down and read it. Even though I cannot fully comprehend it, God still masters me by it, and I am fed. “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
May God bless you in Christ Jesus our Savior!