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If someone invited you over for dinner, what would your expectations be regarding the meal? What kind of meal would you be anticipating? We, personally, are easily satisfied. Give us a nice steak and potato with all the trimmings. Add hot rolls and a good vegetable. Top it off with apple pie or blackberry cobbler. But we are not picky. We also love hamburgers, pizza, spaghetti, lasagna, ribs, and a host of various casseroles.

What about you? What would you expect at a meal? How would you react if your expectations were not met at all? For example, what if you showed up at some friends’ house and they served you nice, soft, mushy baby food? There are some really great flavors of baby food that are available—strained peas, stewed prunes—good stuff, if you are six months old. However, since you are not six months old, you expect something more substantial—something you can sink your teeth into. Baby food would be a disappointment (and perhaps put a strain on your friendship!).

Bible study is much the same. Plunging into the Word of God is similar to sitting down at a meal. We expect to eat something nourishing, something substantial, and something appropriate to our maturity level. We want to dig into the real meat. But often we are able only to come up with baby food—soft mush for infants. This is not a reflection on the Word of God, which is loaded with meat, but rather a reflection on us and our inability to extract the meat and enjoy it. Indeed, some Christians have become so accustomed to baby food that they no longer desire the stronger food. What about you? Do you long to dig deeper into God’s Word? Do you long for a more substantial diet? Our goal in this book is to help you to “eat well.”

So, let’s begin.

If you move straight from your initial reading of a passage to the application of that passage, you will remain tied to your previous understanding of that text. You will rarely see anything new and exciting in the text, and the Bible will become boring for you. Likewise, it is unlikely that you will hear anything new from God and your relationship with him is likely to be stagnant. God wants to have deeper and more mature conversations with you, but if you are tied to superficial and surface readings of the Bible or if you always assume that you have already seen and understood all there is, then your relationship with God will tend to stay at the same level. Likewise, any teaching or preaching you do will tend to be flat and boring or a reflection of something other than Scripture. The Bible, however, is the Word of God, and it is not boring. We simply need to learn how to read it with more insight and understanding.

If you want to hear and understand some of the deep and wonderful truths that God has placed in Scripture for you—if you desire to pull out of God’s Word some of the serious “meat” that he has placed there for us to sink our teeth into—you will have to exert considerable effort. It takes work—hard work! And you, the reader, have to decide whether you are content with shallow “baby food” that comes from casual reading or whether you want to work for the “mature food” that comes from serious reading.

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