FEAST on the Bible
The Finitude of Feasts
For many of us, the celebration of Easter last month would not have been complete without a feast. Savory slices of prime rib and sweet servings of honey-baked hams filled our plates and our stomachs. Gravy-laden mashed potatoes and glazed carrots, and Easter salad rounded off our rejoicing. Elbow to elbow with our closest friends and loved ones, we experienced the joy of pleasing our palates and celebrating the glorious resurrection of our Lord.
But inevitably, the delight of a happy palate and a full stomach dwindles. The satisfaction is short-lived. In the end, we are left with a few good memories to relive and a few extra pounds to lose.
An Infinite Feast
Feasts are wonderful but finite. But what if there was a feast you could participate in every single day that would leave you with a fullness that never fails and a delight that never dwindles?
Such a feast might sound like fiction. But Jesus says that it exists and that it is available to you today:
But he answered, “It is written,
“‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God’” (Matthew 4:4).
According to Jesus, life does not consist solely in what we eat. There is a greater and infinitely more satisfying feast that is available to you: the Word of God.
When we come to God’s Word, we come to a delicious meal that satisfies us, sustains us, and grows us in Christlikeness (Psalm 19:10). This is a feast that we can and should indulge in every single day of our lives.
Do you feast on God’s Word? Do you know how?
In this post, I want to commend to you a method for how to FEAST on God’s life-giving, life-transforming Word every day of your life.
FEAST on the Bible
The FEAST method shows us five things that we can do to savor God’s Word every time we read it:
When you read a passage of Scripture, it is like you are looking at a painting set in a frame. In order to appreciate the painting, you have to appreciate the frame.
The frame that every Bible passage is set in is called the context. When you appreciate and understand the context of a Bible passage, you will better appreciate and understand the passage itself.
Action Step: Ask the following questions of the passage to better understand its context:
- Who is the author of this passage? Who are they writing to? Why are they writing?
- When and where did they write it? What was the culture like in this time and place?
- Where does this passage show up in the Bible? Old Testament or New Testament?
- What comes before and after this passage? Why did the author place this passage here in the book? How does it fit into the larger point the author is making or, the larger story the author is telling?
Often, we can answer these questions by simply reading our Bibles. For instance, we can turn to Romans 1 to find out who wrote it, who they are writing to, and why they wrote it. However, enlisting the help of a good Study Bible like the ESV Study Bible and a good Bible dictionary like the Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary can go a long way in helping you understand the context of the passage you are studying.
Once you have framed the Bible passage you are studying, you are ready to take the next step:
Taking time to thoroughly explore the passage you are studying will always result in new and deeper insights into God’s Word.
In this step, you are investigating the ingredients of the passage. You are exploring what it is made of. You are looking at the individual words and their meaning and how they relate to one another, and how they contribute to the author’s main argument. You are making a note of what jumps out to you as interesting or important. You are looking for connections to the person and work of Christ. You are prayerfully discerning the main point of the passage.
Action Step: Ask the following questions of the passage you are studying to aid your exploration:
- What strikes me from this passage? What am I seeing that I haven’t seen before?
- What words or phrases stand out to me as important or interesting?
- What is the main argument or main point the author is making?
- How does this passage connect to who Jesus is and what he has done?
- What is this passage teaching me about God? About myself? About the world?
But Bible study does not end with exploring the passage. Because Bible study is not an end in itself, it leads to something greater. And that takes us to the next step:
Bible study is not complete until you have been shaped by what you have studied. In fact, the Bible itself has hard words for those who do not take this step:
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing (James 1:22-25).
If your engagement with God’s Word ends when you get up from your reading chair in the morning, then you are missing the point of studying the Bible! The goal of your Bible study isn’t ultimately sitting down and studying. The goal of your Bible study is getting up and walking.
Just like an athlete who spends time in the weight room to get ready for game day, so we spend time in Bible study so that we are ready and equipped to live the Christian life to the glory of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17). If an athlete never left the weight room to go to the game on game day, you would say they missed the point. Similarly, if we never take our Bible study from our reading chair and apply it to our daily lives, we have missed the point of Bible study.
The point of Bible study is life transformation. As we grow in our knowledge of Jesus Christ through his Word, we are transformed from one degree of glory to another; we are changed to look more and more like Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18). And that transformation must show up in our lives as we live as doers of God’s Word, as we live for the glory and honor of Jesus Christ in every area of our lives.
Action Step: Ask the following questions of the passage you are studying to become a doer of God’s Word:
- What implications does this passage have for how I live my life?
- What commands are there in this passage for me to obey? How and when will I obey them?
- What needs to change in my actions, thoughts, or affections for me to live in obedience to this passage?
- How might the implications of this passage change my plans today?
The next step introduces one of the most practical ways that you can make sure you bring our Bible study into your day with you:
One of the most effective ways to grow in godliness is to store up God’s Word in your heart and think about it all the time.
The blessed man of Psalm 1 testifies to this truth:
…his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night (v. 2)
As does the psalmist of Psalm 119:
I have stored up your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you (v. 11)
Action Step: Choose one verse or one truth from the passage you are studying to memorize and reflect on throughout the day.
You can do this by taking a few one-minute breaks throughout the day to recite the verse you memorized or by writing it on a note card, glancing at it every so often, and reflecting on it.
Another idea is to identify a specific truth from the passage you are studying that you can pray to God about throughout the day. Praying Scripture back to God is one of the most effective ways to ensure that you engage with God’s Word throughout the day and not just in your study.
Storing God’s Word in your heart through memorization, meditation, and prayer is one of the most practical ways to ensure that when you get up from your reading chair in the morning and begin walking throughout your day, your Bible study comes with you.
But this leads to a final way that we can live out God’s Word every day:
God has placed a call on your life to share his Word with other believers and with unbelievers.
One of the most effective ways to prepare yourself to “stir up one another up to love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24) and to “make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is within you” (1 Peter 3:15) is to allow your enjoyment of God’s delicious and all-satisfying Word to overflow into your real-life conversations.
You should always have a truth from God’s Word that you are ready to share when God gives you the opportunity.
Action Step: Choose one truth from the passage you are studying and one person with whom you would like to share it. Make a plan for how and when you will share it with them.
Getting Ready for a Greater Feast
Using this method, you will not only maximize your own personal enjoyment of and engagement with God’s Word, but you will also help others delight in and live out God’s Word along with you. You will begin to live as a full-orbed disciple of Jesus Christ – enjoying Jesus Christ in every area of your life, and helping others to do the same.
I am confident that as you FEAST on God’s Word, your soul will be satisfied, your joy will increase, and your life will be transformed into the image of our Lord Jesus Christ.
But as you FEAST on God’s Word, consider this: you are just enjoying the appetizer. The feast of infinite joy you are tasting right now as you enjoy God’s Word is getting you ready for an even greater feast.
Jesus Christ is coming again, and when he comes again, we will participate in a feast with him (Revelation 19:7-10). And on that day, all the joy and satisfaction that we found in Jesus in his Word will explode into an infinitely greater joy as we see him face to face and enjoy his presence forever.
FEAST on God’s Word today with a joyful expectation of the infinitely greater feast you will experience on that day when you see Jesus face to face.
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