Welcome to Tuesday’s podcast. Our Bible reading today is 1Timothy 4 vs11-16, and I’d like to focus on verse 13 from The Passion translation:
“So until I come, be diligent in devouring the Word of God, be faithful in prayer, and in teaching the believers.”
On Thursday last week it was ‘World Book Day’ – a day aimed at promoting reading amongst children. I am sure many of you have heard of it.
What you may not be aware of is that some people have re-named it ‘World Dressing-Up Day’ as eager children get to go to school dressed as their favourite character from a book. Frazzled parents and carers bankrupt themselves buying last minute costumes on Amazon, or stay up all night gluing, stapling and fashioning all sorts of imaginative outfits and accessories. I know someone who spent the evening before creating a spider out of black socks!
It can all make you feel like you never want to let your child read another book ever again!
However, reading the Bible is the central theme of our passage today, as Paul urges Timothy to devour the Word of God.
The word ‘devour’ means to eat or read ‘eagerly,’ ‘hungrily,’ and ‘quickly.’
Now, our daughter devours books at a rate of knots. She spent her 2 World Book Day tokens within 48 hours of receiving them, and 12 hours later had finished both of the books she had bought!
Some people are quick and eager to pick up any book. But for others reading is not a pleasure, or something you would do out of choice. I wonder if Timothy was a bit like this?
In this passage we see Paul encourage him to persist, to persevere and to pay attention when it comes to reading the Scriptures. These are all words that give a sense of working at something that doesn’t necessarily come naturally.
So, if you find reading the Bible tricky, don’t worry – you are not alone.
But whether we love reading or not, why should we hunger for the Word of God?
In yesterday’s passage Paul wrote about keeping spiritually fit.
Part of keeping fit is ensuring that what we eat is healthy and nutritious; making sure that what we put into our body will help it to grow healthily, stay strong, and enable it to do everything that it was made and designed for.
Devouring the word of God is a fantastic way of doing this. Paul wants us to read the Bible because doing so will bring about spiritual growth and maturity in our lives.
In verses 15 and 16 he writes, “Make all of this your constant meditation and make it real with your life so everyone can see that you are moving forward.”
Or the Message translation says, “Cultivate these things. Immerse yourself in them. The people will all see you mature right before their eyes.”
Moving forward, making it real in our lives, and developing a greater maturity in our faith – surely this is what we all want to experience. And feeding our bodies with the Word of God will help us to see this growth.
The second question to ask ourselves is how quick are we to consume something from the Bible each day?
A diet of chick lit and crime thriller may be quicker and easier to digest, but it’s like junk food for our soul, if that is all we ever read. Paul said we should steer clear of silly stories and myths. Instead we should make the Bible our signature dish, our number one go-to book, and prioritise the time we spend reading and studying it.
And finally we should be eager to develop an appetite for the Scriptures, because consuming God’s Word challenges us and changes us.
It challenges and changes our speech, our conduct, our faith, the way we love one another, and the way we are able to act and live with purity and integrity.
Therefore reading the Bible not only helps us to stay spiritually healthy, but it also helps to spread the Gospel, as we live in such a way that sets an example to others. And, as followers of Jesus, this is what we are made and designed to do.
So how can we develop a new appetite for reading the Bible?
- Eating the same meal every day would get boring and repetitive, so why not try reading a new translation of the Bible to allow God’s word to feed you in a new way? About 18 months ago I swapped to reading the ESV, instead of the NIV, and 12 months ago was introduced to The Passion translation. Give your spiritual taste buds some new flavours!
- It’s always good to look through the full menu – starter, main course and dessert! If you are unsure of the story of the Bible as a whole, read The Jesus Story Book Bible. It is designed for children, but I know many adults who say it really helped them to understand God’s plan for the world right from the start, and how the Old Testament and the New Testament link together through the person of Jesus.
- Maybe try a journalling Bible that you can write in. Having always been told never to write in books, I was nervous to do this at first, but it has definitely helped me to develop a fresh appetite for God’s Word.
- And finally, challenge yourself to memorise passages of Scripture. We did this many years ago as a family, with an A-Z of Bible verses. I can still remember now that the letter ‘A’ was “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Memorising Bible verses means you can quickly recall God’s word – it’s a bit like always having a healthy snack to hand.
However we do it, let’s all commit to consuming more of the Bible in the days and weeks ahead.
Heavenly Father, help us to be quick to turn to your Word in the Bible. Increase our hunger and eagerness to do this, so that we all become diligent in devouring the Word of God. Amen.
BIBLE READING: 1 Timothy 4:11-16 (TPT – The Passion Translation)
Instruct and teach the people all that I’ve taught you. And don’t be intimidated by those who are older than you; simply be the example they need to see by being faithful and true in all that you do. Speak the truth and live a life of purity and authentic love as you remain strong in your faith.
So until I come, be diligent in devouring the Word of God, be faithful in prayer, and in teaching the believers.
Don’t minimize the powerful gift that operates in your life, for it was imparted to you by the laying on of hands of the elders and was activated through the prophecy they spoke over you. Make all of this your constant meditation and make it real with your life so everyone can see that you are moving forward. Give careful attention to your spiritual life and every cherished truth you teach, for living what you preach will then release even more abundant life inside you and to all those who listen to you.