This article first appeared in the Christian Research Journal, volume 40, number 4 (2017). For further information or to subscribe to the Christian Research Journal please click here.
Nothing should take precedence over getting into the Word and getting the Word into us. If we fail to eat well-balanced meals on a regular basis, we will eventually suffer the physical consequences. Likewise, if we do not regularly feed on the Word of God, we will suffer the spiritual consequences. Physical meals are one thing; spiritual meals are quite another. The acronym M-E-A-L-S will serve to remind you that the Spirit will illumine your heart and mind as you memorize, examine, apply, listen to, and study the Bible for all it’s worth. The Word of God is the sword of the Spirit. When we grasp it, His illuminating power will flood our being.
MEMORIZE. One of the best things that happened to me as a young believer was being told that all Christians memorize Scripture. By the time I found out that not all of them did, I was already hooked. Now, as I look back, I can say truthfully that nothing compares to the excitement of memorizing Scripture. God has called us to write His Word on the tablet of our hearts (Prov. 7:1–3; cf. Deut. 6:6), and with the call He has provided the ability. Your mind is like a muscle. If you exercise it, you will increase its capacity to remember and recall. If you don’t, like a muscle, it will atrophy.
EXAMINE. In Acts 17:11, we read that the Bereans “examined the Scriptures” daily to see if what Paul was teaching was true (emphasis added).1 For that, they were commended as being noble in character. Examining the Scriptures may take discipline and dedication, but the dividends are dramatic. The Bereans examined the Bible daily, and so should we. Examination requires the use of our minds, and the Bible exhorts believers to use their minds to honor God. Paul urged Christians to test all things (1 Thess. 5:21) and to be transformed by the renewing of their minds in order to discern the will of God (Rom. 12:2).
APPLY. As wonderful and worthwhile as it is to memorize and examine Scripture, that is simply not enough. We must take the knowledge we have gleaned from the Word of God and apply it to every aspect of our daily lives. Wisdom is the application of knowledge, and wisdom is precisely what Jesus emphasized in concluding His majestic Sermon on the Mount:
Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash. (Matt. 7:24–27)
LISTEN. In order to apply God’s directions to our everyday lives, we must learn to listen carefully as God speaks to us through the majesty of His Word. Like Samuel, we should say, “Speak, [Lord,] for your servant is listening” (1 Sam. 3:10, emphasis added). As Jesus so wonderfully put it, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27, emphasis added). One of the most amazing aspects of Scripture is that it is alive and active, not dead and dull. In other words, God continues to speak through His Word. The Spirit illumines our minds so that “we may know the things freely given to us by God” (1 Cor. 2:12 NASB).
STUDY. Scripture exhorts us to study to show ourselves approved by God, to show ourselves as workmen who do not need to blush with embarrassment but who instead “correctly [handle] the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). In examining Scripture, it is typically best to start with one good translation and stick with it. In studying, however, it is best to use a number of good Bible translations. To aid in your study of Scripture, there are many wonderful resources, including study Bibles, commentaries, and Bible dictionaries.
Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst” (John 6:35 NKJV). May the acronym M-E-A-L-S daily remind you to nourish yourself with the Bread of Life.2 —Hank Hanegraaff
Hank Hanegraaff is president of the Christian Research Institute and host of the Bible Answer Man daily broadcast and the Hank Unplugged podcast. Hank has authored more than twenty books, including The Complete Bible Answer Book — Collector’s Edition, Revised and Updated (Thomas Nelson, 2016) and the forthcoming M-US-L-I-M: What You Need to Know about the World’s Fastest-Growing Religion (Thomas Nelson, 2017).
- Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations are from NIV 1984.
- Excerpted from The Complete Bible Answer Book —Collector’s Edition, Revised and Updated (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2016), 576–78.