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.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

September 19 Bible Reading: Hosea Chapters 13-14

God PROMISES to BLESS US when we REPENT/RETURN to HIM: "O Israel, return to the Lord your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity; take words with you, and return to the Lord. Say to Him, 'Take away all iniquity; receive us graciously, for we will offer the sacrifices of our lips.'" (Hosea 14:1-2)

This final section of Hosea’s prophecy begins with a call to repentance that includes a model prayer as well. Israel is called to repentance and is given the words of confession to use when they pray to God. Although the people of Israel abandoned God, God still loved them as they were His own people that he had redeemed from the Egyptian slavery. What God desired from the people of Israel was that they pray for His gracious forgiveness; repent and renew their allegiance to Him by renouncing foreign alliances (e.g. Assyria), their own military strength (the horses of Egypt), and the artificial gods that they were trusting so far.

Thus, Hosea’s message is the same as all the other prophets that Israel should repent and return to Jehovah God (v. 1). They had committed gross sin against God that had been their downfall (v. 1b). The prophet Hosea now pleads with them to turn to Jehovah God and seek His forgiveness (v. 2a). The people had to offer to Jehovah God the sacrifice of their lips (v. 2b). So far, the people of Israel had used their lips to praise their idols (calves), but they were now to use their lips to praise Jehovah God. They will recognize that only Jehovah God was their protector; and only in Him do the fatherless (who are the most helpless) find mercy and protection (v. 3b). When the people of Israel return to God in repentance, many blessings of God await them (see vv. 4–8).

It is therefore significant to note that Hosea closes with an encouraging word of forgiveness and restoration despite Israel’s rebellion and apostasy. Just like Hosea loved Gomer (his unfaithful and adulterous wife) and restored her, so God will love Israel again and restore her if she repents and returns to Him. They had to acknowledge that Jehovah God was their only hope for salvation!

The same principle is applicable for our lives today. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the love story of God’s compassionate love towards us. It begins with unconditional forgiveness, and the only condition that God demands from us is that we repent (turn away from our wrong doings) and return to Him. We need to trust in the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ on the cross as the punishment for our sins. "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23)

The sacrifices that God desires are words of true repentance! God does not want our outward material sacrifices but ‘sacrifices of our lips’ with words that come out of a remorseful heart. "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart--these, O God, You will not despise." (Psalms 51:17)

In fact, God wants to hear words from our hearts that are honest, sincere and remorseful. God wants to see faith in our lives that depends on His mercy alone. When we repent and return to Him, God promises to bless us with every spiritual blessing (Eph. 1:3). Can we repent of our sins and return to God today so that He can bless us abundantly? This will give us ample reasons to thank and praise God more and more. "Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name." (Heb. 13:15) 

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