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.

Friday, January 25, 2013

January 25 Bible Reading: Exodus Chapters 22-24

Applying GOD’s LAW of RESTITUTION in our daily LIVES: "If a man steals an ox or a sheep, and slaughters it or sells it, he shall restore five oxen for an ox and four sheep for a sheep. If the thief is found breaking in, and he is struck so that he dies, there shall be no guilt for his bloodshed. If the sun has risen on him, there shall be guilt for his bloodshed. He should make full restitution; if he has nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft. If the theft is certainly found alive in his hand, whether it is an ox or donkey or sheep, he shall restore double." (Exodus 22:1-4)

After giving out the preamble of His laws through the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20, God details the specific application of each of the commandments in greater detail through the subsequent chapters. In this context, God specifies the way out of breaking the eighth commandment concerning theft ("You shall not steal" - 20:15) through the ‘law of restitution’ (22:1-4). Restitution is an act of putting right what has been done wrongly, restoring what has been taken wrongly and repairing or giving any equivalent to loss or damage. Restitution is a biblical concept, and there are multiple passages in both the Old and New Testaments that reveal the mind of God on this subject.

In the Old Testament, the Israelites were living under the Law, which specified restitution in a variety of circumstances. This principle of the Biblical law states that justice has not been done until full restitution has been made to all the victims of injustice. In other words, the original lawful order must be restored completely. Whenever the nature of the crime is such that restitution is impossible, or, when the thief refuses to make restitution to restore the lawful order, the penalty is death. So, the thief must take full responsibility for his actions and is the only one liable for his crime.

The  Scripture  mandates  double  restitution  be  paid  to  the  victim, provided the thief is able to restore the original item that he stole. If he has already damaged the item or sold it, and it is not possible to recover the stolen item, then the thief must repay four or five times the value of the stolen item. Only the victim had the right to forgive the debt in whole or in part, even as the repentant thief would have the right to give the victim more than what the law required.

In the New Testament, however, forgiveness is mandatory (see Matt. 18:21-22), because there is every reason to forgive the offender once he has paid full restitution to the victims. The offender has had to redeem himself from the bondage of sin, and once the debt has been paid, he is restored completely. We have the wonderful example of Zacchaeus who made restitution in this manner: "Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold" (Luke 19:8). Zacchaeus repented, and his sincerity was evident in his immediate desire to make restitution.

Let us remember that even though our Lord Jesus has paid the full price for us prior to our repentance, there is a need to activate and make real what Christ has done for us. Obtaining forgiveness is the key to rehabilitation, and only God’s judicial system knows the true value of forgiveness in its treatment of crime. Restitution is usually considered at the time of salvation because God will only forgive when a person is willing to make right every wrong that he has committed against others. However, throughout our lives we should be ready to make restitution where need be when others are offended (Acts 23:1-5, Matthew 5:23-24). We should make restitution for three major reasons:
  1. God commands it (Ex. 22:10-13; Lev. 6:1-5)
  2. To have a clear conscience towards God and towards man (1 Sam. 12:1-5; Acts 24:16).
  3. It is the evidence of our conversion that shows our readiness to obey God (Ezek. 33:14-16).
So, God demands from us that restitutions be made, and when past wrongs are settled, the peace of God will flood our hearts. Genuine repentance leads to a desire to redress wrongs. When someone becomes a Christian, he will have a desire born of deep conviction to do good, and that includes making restoration whenever possible. Restitution should be the result of our salvation—not a requirement for our salvation. There are many blessings of restitution that include favor from God (Luke 2:52), speedy answers to prayers (Luke 11:9), fearlessness (Psalm 27:1), healing (Psalm 107:20), anointing for exploits (Acts 10:38) and protection (Psalm 105:15).

Let us apply God’s law of restitution in our daily lives by returning things that we may have stolen, picked or converted to our own use but which belong to another person or to our place of work. We should replace things we may have destroyed which belong to another person, as well as reconcile with people we quarreled with in the past. Finally, we should make restitution of all lies and things that we may have wrongly said about someone else. When we apply God’s law of restitution in our daily lives, we are following the footsteps of God who has proclaimed: "I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins." (Isaiah 43:25)

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