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, August 31, 2013

August 31 Bible Reading: Ezekiel Chapters 16-18

Do we ever REALIZE the ‘SELFLESS’ LOVE of GOD towards US? "No eye pitied you, to do any of these things for you, to have compassion on you; but you were thrown out into the open field, when you yourself were loathed on the day you were born. And when I passed by you and saw you struggling in your own blood, I said to you in your blood, 'Live!' Yes, I said to you in your blood, 'Live!' I made you thrive like a plant in the field; and you grew, matured, and became very beautiful. Your breasts were formed, your hair grew, but you were naked and bare. When I passed by you again and looked upon you, indeed your time was the time of love; so I spread My wing over you and covered your nakedness. Yes, I swore an oath to you and entered into a covenant with you, and you became Mine" says the Lord God. (Ezek. 16:5-8)

The above passage is part of a parable in which Jehovah God traces the history of Jerusalem (a representative of His people, the Israelites) through the prophet Ezekiel. As a background to this parable, we should note that it was customary in Israel that the midwife would cut the umbilical cord after a baby was born, rub the newborn child with salt, water, and oil, and then wrap the baby in swaddling cloth for seven days. This was repeated every seven days for at least forty days. This was how excellent care was given to newborn babies in Israel.

In this parable, Israel was identified with pagan parents to mark their depraved and sinful nature. God reminds His people through His prophet that He had rescued them from being like an abandoned newborn baby, who was unwashed, unsanitary (not rubbed with salt), and exposed to the natural elements to die. This parable begins with an infant baby girl being abandoned by her mother and neglected by her own parents soon after she was born. This was a time when she needed love, care, security and support from her parents, especially from her mother who bore and gave birth to her.

It was the Almighty God who had wanted her (Israel) to live, having purposed and planned to impart His life and glory to her. In fact, God ordained her survival: “I said to you, Live!” (v. 6), and it was God who had compassion on her, came to her aid and cared for her lovingly. As time went by, this baby grew into a young woman, matured, and became very beautiful. When she was “old enough for love” (v. 8), signifying that she was old and matured enough to marry, God pledged His fidelity to Jerusalem and took her as His own wife, clothing her in splendor befitting a queen (see vv. 9–14). Under God’s blessing, she became magnificent and worthy of all praise!

In fact, when she came to young womanhood, Jehovah betrothed Himself to her, purified her for marriage, lavished kindnesses upon her, and adorned her. God spread “His wings over her” as a symbolic expression for marriage (see Ruth 3:9). In doing so, God entered into a covenant with Israel that indicated the commitment that God made with them at Mount Sinai (36:28; Lev. 26:12; Jer. 11:4; 30:22). There are three aspects concerning the Old Testament Israelites that have a direct bearing to us today as the New Testament Israel:
  1. First, they were born to Canaanite parents, as this is what God tells them: "Your birth and your nativity are from the land of Canaan; your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite" (v.3). In the similar manner, we too were born in sin and condemned to be eternally separated from God (see Ps. 51:5; Rom. 3:23; 5:12).
  2. Second, they were abandoned at birth, as this is what God tells them: "You were thrown out into the open field, when you yourself were loathed on the day you were born" (v. 5). When the Israelites came into existence, no one really wanted them but God as Moses pointed out, the people of Israel were the “least of all peoples” when God had called them (Deut. 7:7). In the similar manner, God called us into His family when we were foolish, weak and base at a time when no one wanted us so that we should not glory in His presence (1 Cor. 1:26-29).
  3. Third, they were adopted into God’s family, as this is what God tells them: "I made you thrive like a plant in the field; and you grew, matured..." (v. 7) In His sovereign grace, Jehovah chose Israel as His people so that through them He would bless “all the families of the earth” (Gen. 12:1–3). In the similar manner, we were adopted into God’s family as well (see John 1:12; Rom. 8:14-16; Gal. 4:4-6).
The people of Israel entered into a relation with Jehovah God only because of His mercy, grace and love. The humiliating facts about Israel’s past are basically no different from us today. We, too, were born outside the family of God. We, too, were once lost apart from His grace. We, too, have been adopted in God’s family. Therefore, we, too, need to evaluate our lives and consider whether we are living with humility and gratitude, and honoring the Lord with our attitudes and behavior.

Do we ever realize the selfless love of God towards us? After all, He has done so much for us as King David recalls his past experience: "He (God) also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. He (God) has put a new song in my mouth--praise to our God; many will see it and fear, and will trust in the Lord" (Ps. 40:2-3)

Today, God wants our single-hearted devotion as we share our love with Him alone, as Apostle Paul explains: "For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ." (2 Cor. 11:2-3)

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