GETTING THE MOST FROM GOD'S WORD:

"Do NOT labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting LIFE..." - The Gospel of John 6:27 (NKJV)
A systematic and daily reading of the Word of God is important in maintaining a strong Christian life. Establish a daily quiet time with God and His Word. Pray that the Holy Spirit will help you understand what you read. By following our daily Bible reading schedule through this blog, you will be able to read the Bible through in a year. Please note that you may utilize the ‘BIBLE READER’ app that is installed at the bottom of this webpage to assist you in reading the specified scripture portion for today.

To get the MOST from God's Word, please do the following intentionally:
1. REQUEST God to connect with you as you read the word of God with FOCUS and OPENNESS to see what God wants to speak with you.
2. READ the selected sections of Scripture slowly as you mark the words and phrases that intrigue you, even reading them the second time to get a better understanding.
3. REFLECT on what God is communicating to you; stopping long enough to let the seed of God's Word take root in your heart.
4. RESPOND to the passage speaking directly to God about what is in your heart, and then look out for ways to live out what you find - individually, and to others within your church and elsewhere.

As you read and meditate, ask yourself the following three questions:
a) What is God speaking to me through this passage?
b) Is there a command, a promise or a warning for me?
c) Is there an example for me to follow?

Please POST your comments below if there is a thought or message that the Lord has spoken to you through the passage that you are reading and meditating today. Please make sure that your post is aligned to the scripture passage mentioned at the header. All comments should pertain to the relevant scripture portions only, and should be aimed to glorify God (the true author of 'The Bible') & edify everyone who visits this blog site daily - both young and old. May God bless you abundantly for encouraging others through your comments!

Let's PRAY...
LORD, give me the desire to take a little time out of my busy schedule today as I read and meditate on Your Word. Give me this day MY DAILY BREAD. Speak to me clearly & lead me today as my Good Shepherd. Help me to be a blessing to others who interact with me as I attempt to be a living witness of Your Word today. In Your Name I pray, AMEN.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

May 17 Bible Reading: Nehemiah Chapters 1-3

PRAY, PLAN, PREPARE & PROMOTE: And it came to pass in the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was before him, that I took the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had never been sad in his presence before. Therefore the king said to me, "Why is your face sad, since you are not sick? This is nothing but sorrow of heart." So I became dreadfully afraid, and said to the king, "May the king live forever! Why should my face not be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers' tombs, lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire?" Then the king said to me, "What do you request?" So I prayed to the God of heaven. (Nehemiah 2:1-4)

Nehemiah served as the cupbearer of the Persian King Artaxerxes, which was a very influential position. Even though he was in a position of power in a foreign country, he was cognizant of Israel, his country of origin and was eager to know the current state of affairs of his country. So, when he encountered one of his brothers (Hanani) who had just returned from Judah, he inquired the whereabouts of the Jews and the city of Jerusalem (1:2). The news that he heard was horrific – the remnant Jews were in great distress, the walls of Jerusalem were broken down and the gates of Jerusalem were burnt with fire (1:3).

When Nehemiah heard the distressing news, there are four specific things that he did about this matter:
  1. PRAY: As soon as Nehemiah heard the news, he sat down and wept bitterly. He then continued to mourn for many days, and during this time he also fasted and prayed to God for answers and deliverance. Nehemiah’s initial prayer is transcribed in 1:5-11 that gives us an indication how he was praying to God while confessing his sins as well. Prayer was important as it helped Nehemiah to wait in God’s presence, cleared his vision, quieted his heart and activated his faith to take the necessary action. He also prayed a brief silent prayer before he answered the king & detailed his request (2:4b).
  2. PLAN: Even though the scriptures do not mention about Nehemiah’s planning, when we see how he answered the king with specific requests, we can assume that Nehemiah must has thought over the matter carefully & planned about how to approach the king at the right time. We should note that Nehemiah heard the news in the month of Chislev (Kislev), the modern equivalent of Nov-Dec (1:1). However, he took time to approach the king, which he eventually did in the month of Nisan (Nissan), the modern equivalent of Mar-Apr (2:1). So, Nehemiah had about 3-5 months to plan his next step.
  3. PREPARE: While Nehemiah was praying and planning, he was also preparing himself regarding how he would go about the task. He decided which specific date he would appear before the king with a sad face (2:2). He calculated the time he would need to make the journey, oversee the repair work and return back to the palace (2:6). He made a list of what items he would need for the mammoth task ahead – letters from the king to the governors beyond the river for travel pass (2:7) and a letter to Asaph, the keeper of the king’s forest for the necessary wood materials (2:8).
  4. PROMOTE: Finally, after Nehemiah surveyed the damage of the walls and gates of Jerusalem in person (2:11-16), he approached the Jews, priests, nobles and officials to promote his project plan with these words: "You see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire. Come and let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer be a reproach." (2:17). They enthusiastically responded: "Let us rise up and build." Then they set their hands to this good work. (2:18)
Nehemiah is an example of effective leadership for us today. First, he had a vision of a goal to be achieved. After analyzing the problem, he decided on a proper course of action. Then he motivated others to share his vision and to become actively involved. Next we see him delegating authority and assigning tasks. He supervised the work and checked on performance until the project was satisfactorily completed.

Can we also pray, plan, prepare and promote concerning the matters that are distressing us today?

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