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.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

May 19 Bible Reading: Nehemiah Chapters 7-9

The JOY of the LORD is ‘OUR’ STRENGTH: And Nehemiah, who was the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, "This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn nor weep." For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the Law. Then he said to them, "Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength." (Nehemiah 8:9-10)

The remarkable thing about the spiritual renewal in Nehemiah’s day was that it was initiated by the people themselves and not by the governor, priest, or some other leader. They gathered in the plaza near the Water Gate “as one man” and asked Ezra to read to them “the book of the law of Moses” (8:1) that would be the book of Deuteronomy (Deut. 31:24–26). The occasion was New Year’s Day (now called Rosh Hashanah), the perfect time for beginning again (8:2).

Standing high on a wooden platform, Ezra read God’s Word to the people the whole morning time (8:3). With him stood a number of assistants who clarified the reading and meaning of the text for these Aramaic-speaking Jews (8:4–8). Their deep reverence for the Scriptures is reflected in their standing to their feet as Ezra started the reading (8:5). He would read a verse or two and then the interpreters rendered a translation with appropriate comments designed to provide a running commentary (8:7–8).

The reaction of Ezra’s audience to his reading of God’s Word should be noted here. God Himself was speaking through His word, and the people were listening to God’s voice. God’s word brought deep conviction as well as nostalgic memories, and the people began to weep. The people’s tears showed that the message was taken seriously (v. 9). Ezra and Nehemiah told them to stop, however, for it was a day of joy and not sorrow. They were right in taking the Word of God seriously, but they did not need to be overwhelmed by grief. The feast was not for weeping but for rejoicing!

When we closely examine the feasts that were celebrated by the children of Israel, only one occasion for mourning and fasting was found among all these feasts and that was the Day of Atonement. The rest of the feasts were to be kept with joy and celebration. The fruit of the Spirit was to be visible: love, in sharing with the less fortunate; joy, in eating and drinking before the Lord; peace, in calming their fears and putting their hearts at rest. Their sadness was turned to joy, and the joy of the Lord was their strength (v. 12).

The joy of the Lord is the joy that springs up in our hearts because of our relationship to the Lord. It is a God-given gladness found when we are in communion with God. When our goal is to know more about the Lord, the byproduct is His joy. Strength here means “place of safety,” a “refuge,” or “protection.” The people’s refuge was God. They had built a wall and they carried spears and swords, but He was their protection. The joy of God was to be their fortress!

We need to cultivate and promote the joy of the Lord in our lives as a powerful source of spiritual strength. When we rejoice, Satan cannot intimidate or discourage us with negative thoughts or unbelief. We have every reason to celebrate life, as James hints at when he urges believers to sing songs of praise when they are happy. Today, let the joy of the Lord be ‘our’ strength! "Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!" (Phil. 4:4)

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