When I was a child, my grandparents had a small object shaped like a loaf of bread that sat on the kitchen table, right next to the stack of napkins and the Tupperware salt and pepper shakers. It held pieces of paper with bible verses printed on them. The idea was to pull one out and read it each day.
I remember thinking it was a strange thing—a plastic loaf of bread containing strips of paper—but when I grew up, I realized the significance.
Food is a metaphor used throughout Scripture and one we can readily understand. We know what it is to hunger and thirst. We know what it is to feel full and satisfied after a good meal. We know we need food each day in order to survive. So it’s no surprise that the Bible uses the metaphor of food to teach us of our need for food that truly satisfies.
When Jesus said in John 6:35, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst,” he was referring to the manna God provided the Israelites during their wilderness wanderings. For forty years, their bodies were sustained by the bread that arrived with each morning’s dew. Jesus is the Bread of Life; God sent him to meet our spiritual hunger, and not just temporarily as the manna did, but eternally. Through faith in who Jesus is and what he has done for us in his life, death, and resurrection, we have eternal life. All that we need is found through faith in him.
Just as we need our daily bread to sustain our physical bodies, we need nourishment from Christ to sustain us spiritually.
One of the ways we receive that nourishment is through God’s word. As Moses told the Israelites, God’s word is our very life (Deut. 32:47). Unlike other books we might read, only God’s word is active and alive; it burrows deep into our hearts and discerns our thoughts and motivations (Heb. 4:12). The more we read and study it, the more we know of God and of ourselves in contrast. The more we feast on his word, the more God uses it to change and transform us. And the more we savor it, the more we are drawn into deeper communion with the One who made us and saved us.
James K.A. Smith, in his book You Are What You Love, talked about how our habits, rituals, and rhythms of life shape our hearts. “The orientation of the heart happens from the bottom up, through the formation of our habits of desire. Learning to love (God) takes practice.”  What better habit can we develop in our family this year than to read, learn, meditate, and study God’s word?
This year, make God’s word part of the rhythm of your daily life as a family. Since God’s word feeds our souls, consider incorporating it into family mealtimes.
For young children: As part of your meal routine, read a Bible verse each day. Or before bed each night, read a Bible story. If your child is learning their letters, teach them a verse each week that begins with a letter of the alphabet and have them color an alphabet page with the verse printed at the bottom.
For elementary children: Begin reading through a book of the Bible at mealtimes or at the end of the day. One of the gospels is a great place to start. Read a short passage or chapter at a time and talk about it. Memorize a verse or two together as a family. For children who need to practice their handwriting, you can find Bible verse tracing pages online to print out. Writing out passages is a great aid to learning and memorization.
For older kids: Read the Bible together as a family, with each person taking turns reading out loud. Talk about what it means. Ask questions to get your children thinking. What does the passage teach them about God? About themselves? About the gospel? Teach your children how to study the Bible and do a study together. (There are many good Bible studies for children. Faith Forward Family Devotional is one the whole family can use!!). Consider memorizing large portions of Scripture together.
That plastic loaf of bread on my grandparent’s dining table was a daily reminder that just as we need food to sustain our bodies, we need Christ and his word to sustain our souls. This year, may we “taste and see that the Lord is good” as we feast on Scripture each day. May it satisfy and give us life.
 Smith, James K.A. You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit p.25.
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