Craving Pure Spiritual Milk
Today we want to talk to you about how to develop the habit of reading Scripture daily. We want to leave you with a simple and important key idea:
Scripture is the nourishment needed for God’s children to grow and thrive
Nutrition is important in every stage of human life. From the moment a child is conceived, she needs nourishment. As little one grows in the womb, she receives sustenance passively. On the day she is born, however, she must quickly learn to feed if she is going to have any chance at survival.
You see, children depend on proper sustenance for healthy growth. A very serious medical condition that pediatricians are always evaluating for is Failure to Thrive (FTT). In children, growth rates are literally considered a vital sign, a sign of ability to live. This is because a child’s inability to grow appropriately is an indicator of bigger, potentially fatal, problems.
But do you know the most common cause for FTT in children? There are many reasons that can cause a child to grow slowly, and they are all very important. But the most common cause is because children are not fed enough to begin with.
The same can be true for many of God’s children. Many who identify as Christian experience stagnation in their spiritual growth because they do not receive enough spiritual nourishment. Many are not actually familiar with the Scripture that testifies of the Christ they claim as theirs. This has been a problem in the Church from Her beginning as indicated by the writer of Hebrews:
For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. (emphasis added)
There is nothing wrong with milk. Babies need milk. You cannot feed an infant steak. But a growing child must necessarily move from milk to soft foods and from soft foods to solids. The only way he can do that is if he feeds regularly.
If we’re going to learn how to develop the daily habit of Scripture reading, we must recognize that the Scripture, also known as the word of God, is literal nourishment for us.
Consider what Jesus said when He tempted to use His power to turn rocks into food:
It is written “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
“It is written.” Jesus quotes Scripture to rebut the temptation set before Him by Satan. He was physically hungry, but He had a different kind of food that kept Him from giving into temptation. He had the word of God in His heart. And He says that we must live by the word of God.
And the Apostle Peter, after reminding us that it is by the word of God that we have been brought to new life, exhorts us to “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation.”
Then there’s the example of the Apostle Paul who tells Timothy, his beloved “child in the faith,” to focus on reading Scripture saying,
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
It is hard to imagine expecting an infant to grow without proper nourishment. We cannot expect ourselves as God’s children to grow if we are not regularly consuming His word. We actually risk failing to thrive.
Since we are called to be like children, completely in need of adequate nutrition for growth, let us now turn to how we can gradually develop our ability to eat more and more of God’s word.
- Pray for an appetite
We’re talking about daily reading of God’s word. We’re talking about making it a habit to get into Scripture in order to nourish your spirit and grow closer to your Father in Heaven. This is not a natural thing. Therefore, it is only fitting to call on God to do the supernatural. Ask Him to increase your appetite for His word. Jesus tells us that if we hunger and thirst for righteousness we will be satisfied. Ask Him to create in you a hunger that only He can satisfy.
- Start with milk
Again, milk is essential for the newborn. Milk has everything an infant needs to get started. Going back to the writer of Hebrews, he indicates that when he speaks of milk, he is referring to the basic principles of the faith:
Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity…
In this case, milk is the basics of the Gospel. That Christ the God-Man came to earth to lay His life down for you and for me. That He died on the cross and rose on the third day, claiming victory over sin and death. That we are all saved only by faith in Him. You never really “graduate” out of this amazing word of hope, but the details interwoven in this message go deeper and deeper with greater and greater implications for the child of God. But in order to go deeper, you must first start at the surface. So, begin with the Gospel accounts. Start with Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
Mark is often recommended as the starting point because he gets right down to business with broad strokes of the essentials of Jesus’ ministry. John’s Gospel account puts a heavy emphasis on the love, divinity, and intimacy of Christ. Matthew places a large focus on how Jesus fulfills the prophecies given by God in the Old Testament. And Luke emphasizes the role of the Holy Spirit in Christ’s ministry. Any of these would be a great way to get started.
- Eat slow and steady
You don’t expect a baby to feed and feed and feed without stopping to burp, poop and sleep. In fact, feeding is hard work for a baby. Baby can actually burn more calories than she’s eating and still lose weight, simply because she is trying to feed too much. On top of that, if she feeds beyond her capacity, she will spit up a large portion of what she ate. Similarly, the child of God must pace himself.
Reading Scripture is not a sprint. The aim is not to read it all the way through before Christ returns. The aim is to receive nourishment for your spirit and to gradually grow in your faith. Do not overwhelm yourself trying to read through the entire Bible in a limited amount of time. Start with one chapter a day. Don’t worry about receiving “profound revelations.” Don’t worry about an emotional experience. Just eat. One chapter a day. Then, in time, as your appetite builds, you will find it more natural for you to move to the next chapter and the next until before you know it, you’ve completed an entire book in the Bible!
- Eat what’s best for your stomach
What we mean here is that every child is different and has different response to food. In the case of Scripture reading, we’re using this analogy to refer to Bible translations. Although some groups like to subscribe to the idea that one particular translation is more “anointed” than another, we don’t believe that to be the case. It is more important that children eat than that they eat a very specific type of food. Similarly, the translation used is not as essential as making sure you’re reading the Bible daily. With that said, there are some foods that are outright dangerous.
That would include Bible “translations” that are made to “fix” errors in Scripture or to push very specific doctrines. The Bible created by the Jehovah Witnesses, for example, is intentionally changed to modify portions of Scripture that don’t agree with their specific views.
If you want a list of recommended Bible translations, here are the ones we use most often:
Now, with all that being said, we want to leave you with a prayer invitation so you can come before God to ask Him to help you and join in this journey to increase your consumption of His word in order to help you grow and thrive as His child.
God bless you guys! Thank you so much for joining us for this devotional on reading Scripture daily. If you're interested on more regarding how to read Scripture, we have a podcast episode from The Good and Faithful Show that specifically addresses three approaches to reading Scripture. Check it out by clicking the photo link below.
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