Bible Flavored Living

I went on a solo expedition to the grocery store about a year ago. I don’t often do the grocery shopping in our household. My wife usually does that, and she is much better at it than me. To be completely honest with you, I’m a bit intimidated by the whole thing. Especially the really big stores. Where’s the tapioca pudding? I have no idea. I’m not even totally sure what tapioca pudding is. About the only thing that I can find with total confidence is the frozen pizza and ice cream.

But there I was, doing my best to fill our refrigerator. The next item on my list was cheese, so I headed to the cheese section and picked up a package of individually wrapped yellow-orangish slices and noticed on the label that it was a package of “cheese flavored food.” Now that confused me a little. Was it cheese or wasn’t it? And when I made it to the juice aisle, I picked up a bottle of “orange flavored juice drink.” What does that mean? I wanted orange juice. Was this the real thing or not?

And it struck me that my Christian life, and I believe the lives of many of my Christian brothers and sisters was becoming increasingly Bible flavored. I mean how many Bible studies in Churches today actually study the Bible. Usually they are discussion group centered around books about the Bible or books about books about the Bible. And a scary thought came to me that sometimes I get more comfort from the imitation than the genuine thing. Why not just study the Bible?

Don’t get me wrong I love books and I love reading. I have received great value from good books written by Godly men and women. And I also believe that there is a lot to be gleaned from reading the great non-Christian writers and thinkers, but let me suggest three reasons why the Bible should be the first book off your shelf each day.

First, it is the revealed Word of God. The Bible is the means that God uses to speak directly to us. What could be more important or more exciting or more profound?

Second, it teaches us discernment over false doctrine. Paul warns against false teachers in Galatians. Our primary defense against false doctrine is an understanding of true doctrine. And truth is found in the Bible. It’s easy to rely on our feelings to develop our theology, but that will often lead us down the wrong path. Our understanding of God must be routed in His Word.

Third, it brings us closer to God. The more we contemplate God’s Word, the more we know God’s Word, the easier it will be to see our lives through His eyes.

There are many reasons that we collectively don’t read the Bible as we should, but I think it boils down to a couple of reasons: It’s too hard, and I don’t have enough time.

If you struggle with the first (it’s too hard), I encourage you to do it anyway. You may need to go through it slowly, but that could be a blessing. Savor each verse and each chapter. Read the Psalms, the Proverbs, the Gospels, and let the wonder of the Bible open up to you.

But most of you are probably more like me. Where is the time to read? In recent years, more than ever before in my life, the reality of the 24 hour day has become real to me. Think about it. If you are at work ten hours a day (including lunch), sleep for eight hours and commute for an hour and a half each day, you only have four and a half hours left to do everything else you need to do including spending time with your family, watching TV (I hesitate to mention this but most of us spend time here every day), exercising, chores, and eating breakfast and dinner. If you work longer hours, your time is decreased even further.

So let me suggest several solutions to help reclaim some of this time.

1. Watch less TV. The average American watches nearly four hours of TV every day. That pretty much eats through all of the spare time in your day. I’m not going to suggest cutting TV off completely (though if you’re led to do that, great). But just watch less. And watch deliberately. So many people just surf through channels looking for something to watch. At the very least, only watch shows that you plan to watch.

2. If you commute like I do, consider buying the Bible on CD or tape. I have Max McLean’s version and it is excellent. I don’t consider this a substitute for reading the Bible, but I listen to the entire Bible every two months or so and it is a good way to saturate yourself in God’s Word and supplement your reading.

3. Have a reading plan. There are many excellent Bible reading plans that will take you through the entire Bible in a year. Try one of them. Be consistent, but don’t get discouraged if you miss a few days. Just keep going.

4. Keep your Bible in a convenient location like your nightstand or by your favorite chair.

5. Consider working less. We live in a culture where we are driven to work long hours so we can become more successful, have more money, more comfort, and more stuff. Don’t lose sight of what’s really important. If long hours at the office are hindering your walk with God, consider how you can modify your work schedule.

The Bible is the most important book ever written. As a Christian, we should cherish it and know it. But we need to live lives that are not merely Bible flavored, but saturated in the real thing.

soli Deo gloria

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