"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.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

November 13 Bible Reading: Acts Chapters 22-24

NEVER speak ‘EVIL’ about PEOPLE in AUTHORITY! And the high priest Ananias commanded those who stood by him to strike him (Paul) on the mouth. Then Paul said to him, "God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! For you sit to judge me according to the law, and do you command me to be struck contrary to the law?" And those who stood by said, "Do you revile God's high priest?" Then Paul said, "I did not know, brethren, that he was the high priest; for it is written, 'You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.'” (Acts 23:2-5)

When Apostle Paul was brought before the Sanhedrin, in order to substantiate his innocence, he prefaced his remarks with a statement that throughout his life he had lived with a good conscience before God. Sitting among the members of the Sanhedrin was the High Priest Ananias; a brutal and violent man, greedy, open to bribes and was a collaborator with the Roman echelon. He was infuriated by Paul’s statement as he looked on Paul as an apostate from the Jewish religion. How could one who had turned from Judaism to Christianity claim such innocence?

So, Ananias ordered that the prisoner be slapped on the mouth (which also had happened to Jesus: see John 18:20–23); an extremely unjust order since Paul’s trial had only just started. According to Jewish law, Paul had to be tried and found guilty before being punished. Thus, Ananias’s command violated Jewish law, which required judgment to be executed with fairness and justice (see Deut. 25:1, 2).

In his defense, Paul said that nothing he had done was contrary to the will of God revealed in the Old Testament. Specifically, his Christian beliefs and conduct did not compromise his Jewish heritage. Paul however reacted indignantly and uttered a prophecy of Ananias’s judgment that God would strike him for being such a whitewashed wall (Matt. 23:27, 28). Outwardly the High Priest seemed righteous and just; but inwardly he was corrupt. Professing to judge others according to the law, here he commanded Paul to be struck contrary to the law. History reveals that Ananias was later assassinated by a Jewish mob in A.D. 66 for his pro-Roman activities!

For any number of reasons, Paul may not have known that the person who commanded the soldier to strike him was the High Priest. The Sanhedrin had been assembled on short notice and perhaps Ananias was not wearing his official robes. It may even be that he was not occupying the seat customarily assigned to the High Priest. Whatever the reason, Paul had not intentionally spoken evil of the duly constituted ruler. It was Ananias who was out of line when he had Paul slapped; but Paul showed respect for the office that God had installed.

However, those who heard Paul were shocked by his scathing rebuke. Did he not know that he was speaking to the high priest? However, Paul did not defend his behavior, but rather repented of it. When told that he had unknowingly insulted the High Priest, he quickly apologized for his words, quoting Exodus 22:28: “You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.” This shows that Paul subjected himself to God’s revealed will…he had nothing to hide and his conscience was clear!

This brings us to the lesson for today: we should never speak evil about people in authority. In our day and time, we may have civic leaders (like Presidents, Governors, Senators, Legislators, Judges, state/city officials, etc.), or, religious leaders (like Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, Teachers, etc.) who are ungodly and corrupt. Since all authority flows down from God, and they are appointed by God for a reason, we should neither resist nor speak evil against the authority figures appointed over us. Rather, we should earnestly pray for them that God would guide them to take the right decisions and that God would use them as effective instruments to implement His will upon the earth!  

"Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil." (Romans 13:1-3)

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