By Bethany Riehl
Okay, friends. It’s January first and I’m going to get a little controversial.
Let’s talk about bread.
I apologize to all of you who want to punch me in the face right now because you’ve just started a diet and bread is off the table for a while. But if you can, hang with me. Maybe start that diet tomorrow if this is going to be too much.
I’m talking a whole different loaf of Bread. One that gives life and should be consumed and enjoyed to the fullest measure.
Last November I was able to attend a women’s conference at my church where we focused on the treasure of God’s Word. We met at an event center downtown and on our way in, we passed a long line of people waiting for a different conference down the hall. This event was centered around a popular version of the keto diet.
I made some quip to my sister on the way to our event about how they were waiting to be told they couldn’t eat bread while we were going to spend the day feasting on the Bread of Life.
I can’t stop thinking about that.
I’m not the thin young woman I used to be, so believe me when I say that I have applied a great many New Year’s resolutions to diets, exercise, and losing weight. The quip I made was poking fun at myself a little for being happy I wasn’t in the “no bread” line.
Don’t misunderstand me; being physically healthy is a good thing. I would even say that my lack of discipline in this area is sinful at times. Mostly when I’m sitting down with my beloved chips and queso and I get all snarly if anyone expects me to share. Blush.
I have a responsibility to care for the body that has been given me to the best of my ability.
However, it is far more important that I focus on my spiritual diet – and when it comes to that I will never have enough. More important than any resolution about diets, exercise, organization or even a “word” to focus on for the year, the Word of God, sunk down deep into my heart, is my aim.
“Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourselves for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:7-8).
It’s vital that believers have a daily habit of being in God’s Word. I’ve said that often and I will continue to say it. We need God’s Word – all of it, not just a verse here and there – and we need it over and over again.
I used to struggle to make this a part of my daily life. I spent many January firsts reading Genesis 1-3…and then quickly falling out of the habit. What worked for me was finding a set plan, so I knew what to read each day and I stuck to it. (Revivalfromthebible.com is a great plan with daily podcasts to go along with it if you’re looking for a place to start. Ben Blakey is my pastor, and he is faithful to the Word. You’ll love it.)
I have learned in the last few years that we can’t stop at a daily reading of the Word; we need to be sure we’re applying the Word to our lives by consuming it and feasting on it throughout the day and doing what it says. I couldn’t get through my day with just one little meal in the morning, so I shouldn’t expect to do the same with a morning devotion for my soul. This is one diet where more is better. All day I can mediate on the Word, listening to it, memorizing it, singing songs and hymns – a spiritual charcuterie board to visit over and over, if you will.
“You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” (Deut. 11:18-19).
It should be consumed all day, every day. Discussed. Absorbed. Repeated. Day after day until we’re with the Lord.
I love to make bread. The kneading, the proofing and shaping, and baking and slicing and watching my family enjoy it – especially with a big smear of melty butter – is downright therapeutic. But what if I just made the bread, maybe took a picture for Instagram, then let it sit on the counter without consuming it?
I can hold it, smell it, look at how beautiful it is, but if I’m not eating it, what good is it?
Psalm 19 tells us that God’s Word is better than gold and sweeter than honey. Jesus, quoting Deuteronomy 8:3, said that man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4).
If we don’t seek to know the Word well, how will we know how to apply it? How will it go down deep in our soul to nourish us?
I was in a rut until I realized that I need to actually do what the Word says, not just underline verses that stand out and take pictures of my morning routine for Instagram.
A consistent diet of this Bread showed me that I am the fool in Proverbs and need to heed the warnings there and turn to wisdom.
It also showed me that God means it when He says to not forsake gathering with other believers in these last days in the form of a church body. It’s a command that should be obeyed for my good, His glory, and the health of my local church. How else can we practice the “one anothers” listed throughout the New Testament without being a consistent part of a local body?
Every question that has come from the disorder in our world the past two years has been consistently answered by applying the Word of God to my life.
That is what He always intended for His people – for us to feast on the Bread of Life. To consume it, be sustained by it, to break bread with others and share its richness together.
Do your diet and exercise if you must; I know I have plans to be more self-controlled in this area. Less queso, more kale. Less TV and more walking.
More importantly, I hope to spend the year digging deeper into the treasure of God’s Word and letting its precepts change me. I hope you’ll join me. Let’s feast together, dear friends. For His glory and our good, until we are face to face with the Bread of Life forevermore.
Bethany Riehl lives in the Treasure Valley with her husband, three kids, and one super chill dog. She and her husband homeschool their kids and were only slightly embarrassed when their lives didn’t change all that much when the world shut down in 2020. Hashtag, homebodies. She writes articles and fictional novels when she can, and her one desire is to point others to the love and sufficiency of Jesus Christ. Her books can be found on Amazon or at your local library…after you request them to be in stock, of course.