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, April 13, 2016

Have we left ‘EVERYTHING & EVERYONE’ to FOLLOW JESUS?

Have we left ‘EVERYTHING & EVERYONE’ to FOLLOW JESUS?

April 13 Bible Reading: 1 Kings Chapters 19-22

"So he (Elijah) departed from there, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he was with the twelfth. Then Elijah passed by him and threw his mantle on him. And he left the oxen and ran after Elijah, and said, 'Please let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.' And he said to him, 'Go back again, for what have I done to you?' So Elisha turned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen and slaughtered them and boiled their flesh, using the oxen's equipment, and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he arose and followed Elijah, and became his servant." (1 Kings 19:19-21)

The above passage is an interesting episode describing the exact events that took place when Elijah appointed Elisha to be his successor according to the following word that he had heard from Jehovah earlier on Mount Horeb: "...and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel Meholah you shall anoint as prophet in your place" (19:16b).

In order to obey God’s directive, Elijah traveled north from Mount Horeb to a city called Abel Meholah in the Jordan Valley. There he found Elisha, a farmer plowing in the field. The fact that Elisha was with the twelfth pair of oxen meant that there were twelve pairs of oxen plowing his field simultaneously. He was probably plowing with one yoke at the very end while his servants with the other eleven yokes. Having these many oxen to plow his field indicates that Elisha came from a wealthy family, and was well settled before receiving his prophetic call for ministry.

It appears that Elijah threw his mantel on Elisha without saying a word, which was symbolic of the divine transference of prophetic authority. When Elijah’s mantle fell upon him, Elisha immediately understood the symbolic action, recognized his call, and asked permission to make that call known to his family and friends by a farewell feast. Elijah’s reply “Go back again, for what have I done to you?” indicates Elijah’s approval that it was appropriate to say farewell to his family.

Elisha’s request to say goodbye to his parents sounds dangerously like that of a would-be disciple whom Jesus pronounced unfit for the kingdom: “And another also said, ‘Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.’ But Jesus said to him, ‘No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God’” (Luke 9:61-62). However, the difference is that in Elisha’s case it was a no-nonsense decision to sever ties immediately, whereas in the other case it was a delaying tactic and an excuse. In serving Elijah, much as Joshua had served under Moses, Elisha would learn that the secret to a successful ministry lies in having a servant’s heart (see Mark 9:35).

Thus, Elisha did not mistake his prophetic summons, and his decision to follow after Elijah was final and decisive. Elisha used up his oxen and implements of his former livelihood to host a farewell celebration during which he burned his past behind him. The killing of the oxen and burning of his tools was symbolic of putting behind him all previous ties. After a sumptuous feast, Elisha arose and followed Elijah and became his personal servant and a prophet-in-training. From this point on he does not turn back!

What we can learn from this incident is that just as Elisha makes a total commitment to his new prophetic calling by ending his old way of life, we have also been called by our Lord Jesus to follow Him by making a total commitment. In order to do that, we need to sever all of our old ties and make a brand new start as His child. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new" (2 Cor. 5:17). The call that Jesus had made to His disciples was a comprehensive claim, and in response His disciples left everything and everyone in order to follow Him (Mark 1:16–20; 2:14).

In the similar manner, Jesus expects us to leave everything and everyone that we hold dear and follow after Him, just as Elisha followed after Elijah, and the early disciples followed after Jesus. Today, this is the desire of Jesus concerning us: "Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?" (Mark 8:34-36)

The question is: have we left everything and everyone in order to follow Jesus? Let us reiterate our commitment to follow Jesus by singing this song today that was penned by Sadhu Sundar Singh, a godly follower of Christ from India:
I have decided to follow Jesus (x 3)
No turning back, no turning back
The world behind me, the cross before me (x 3)
No turning back, no turning back
Though none go with me, still I will follow (x 3)
No turning back, no turning back

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