"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, September 6, 2013

September 6 Bible Reading: Ezekiel Chapters 34-36

Are we FAITHFUL and RESPONSIBLE as GOD’s SHEPHERDS? “Thus says the Lord God to the shepherds: ‘Woe to the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool; you slaughter the fatlings, but you do not feed the flock. The weak you have not strengthened, nor have you healed those who were sick, nor bound up the broken, nor brought back what was driven away, nor sought what was lost; but with force and cruelty you have ruled them. So they were scattered because there was no shepherd; and they became food for all the beasts of the field when they were scattered.’” (Ezek. 34:2-5)

Shepherds play an important role throughout the scriptures particularly after the occupation of Abel is described as a "keeper of sheep" (Gen. 4:2), and Jacob (Israel) introduces himself as a shepherd to Pharaoh (Gen. 47:3). Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law when God appeared to him in a burning bush and commissioned him to lead the Israelites from Egypt. From David, the shepherd boy who became the first king of Israel, to Jesus Christ, who said of Himself, “I am the good shepherd” (John 10:11), the shepherd represents one who loves and cares for his flock just as a leader or ruler cares for those under his charge!

A good shepherd would feed his flock, nurse the weak and sick sheep, search after the lost sheep, guide his flock with love, and protect his sheep from wild animals. That is the reason why God exhorts leaders to be ‘shepherds’ to their people. The self-sacrificing life of Jesus provides the perfect blueprint for making a good shepherd and leader. In this context, the civil and religious leaders of Israel were expected to shepherd the nation by feeding them, uniting them, and protecting them from enemies. But Israel’s leaders had instead exploited their flock in order to feed themselves, had scattered their flock, and had failed to protect their flock from danger. Instead of feeding their flock, they had fed themselves (v. 2) and had clothed themselves with the wool of their sheep (v. 3). As a result of neglect and abuse, their sheep had become totally scattered (vv. 5, 6).

The famous theologian Yates in his book 'Preaching' has described this situation well: "A heart-rending picture is painted of the unfaithful preachers of Ezekiel’s day. The flock is scattered, untended and hungry while selfish shepherds pamper themselves and loll in idleness and luxury without any thought of their responsibility. They are careful to look out for their own food and clothing and comfort but no one else is to be considered for a minute”. These ‘shepherds’ (or, rulers) of Israel had thus been guilty of seeking only personal gain (vv. 3–8). The saddest part was that even though the sheep are scattered, no one was concerned, and no one searched for them! The people of Israel were thus like sheep without a shepherd (Matt. 9:36). 

The sentence of judgment was pronounced by God upon these evil ‘shepherds’ (v. 10) since they had put their own interests above those of the people, had ruled brutally and had allowed the people to become scattered. So God said He would judge these wicked rulers and remove them from their positions of power. Only Christ was the Good Shepherd (John 10:1–16), who would ultimately bring His sheep back “to their own land” (vv. 12, 13). As the Good Shepherd, Christ exemplified His love by laying down his life for His sheep. All His apostles of Christ including Apostle Paul (see Acts 20) had followed Christ’s example of faithful shepherding!

These days many Christian leaders have not learned the lesson of serving the sheep the way the God had intended for them, and very often they misuse their ‘service’ as a means of personal gain. If we are in any position of leadership in our work, home, church, or community, we should ask ourselves this crucial question: are we faithful and responsible as God’s shepherds? Today, let’s pay attention to the counsel of Apostle Peter in this regard: "The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away." (1 Peter 5:1-4)

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