Sunday, September 2, 2018

Daily Bible Reading - September 2, 2018

Today's Reading:

John 10:1-21

2 Chronicles 8

Psalm 73

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Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading   

In John 10, we find a reminder of the spiritual metaphor of Yah as our Good Shepherd, and we as His sheep.
Isaiah 53:6 - "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and Yahweh hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all".
Psalm 95:7 - "For He is our God; and we are the people of His Pasture, and the sheep of His Hand..."

1 Peter 2:25 - "For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls" (I Peter 2:25).
In the online article called "Spiritual Growth Lessons", the following insights are found:

Sheep are creatures that are different from other animals. Every other kind of animal can exist in the wild. There are wild horses, wild goats, wild pigs, wild cats, wild dogs--but there are no wild sheep! A sheep has no sense of direction, and no way to protect itself. A sheep needs a shepherd!
Man is like a sheep. He was created with a need to depend upon God for his preservation and direction. Everything God created during the seven creative days He created for mankind. But man was created for God. That is why, separate and apart from God, man is lonely and easily goes astray:

"For My Thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My Ways, saith Yahweh. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My Ways higher than your ways, and My Thoughts than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:8-9).

"There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death" (Proverbs 14:12).
David was a shepherd since his early youth, and understood about sheep and shepherds. He knew that his sheep depended upon him for all of their needs and preservation. He also knew that man is like a sheep (Psalm 95:7). What is more important, he knew the Good Shepherd, and we can learn from what he wrote concerning this Good Shepherd in Psalm 23:

"Yahweh is my Shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the Paths of Righteousness for His Name's sake" (verses 1-3).
When Yahweh is our Shepherd, we can lie down at night and not worry about our needs. We can rest with the assurance that He is our Provider. He is also our Peace, and leads us beside the still waters. Sometimes we stumble along the way, but He gently lifts us up again, and after we sincerely repent, He renews and restores us. He leads us in the path of "right living," because of His great Name!

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy Rod and Thy Staff they comfort me" (verse 4).
We need not fear evil, or the evil one, when Yahshua, our Immanuel, lives within us. Rods and staffs were for two purposes: 
1) to correct the sheep, and keep them from going astray, and 2) they were also used as weapons to protect the sheep from wild animals.

David said, "Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me." It is a great comfort to me that I can't get by with anything I want to do. If I stray from Him, He will correct me because He loves me.

"For whom Yahweh loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth" (Hebrews 12:6).
It is a great comfort also to possess mighty weapons of warfare to defeat the enemy of my soul: "(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) (I Corinthians 10:4).

We have the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, the girdle of truth, and the shield of faith to defend us from the enemies attack. We also have the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, the blood of Jesus, and the all-powerful Name of Yahshua to attack and destroy strongholds.

"Thou preparedst a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over" (verse 5).
Oil is symbolic of the Holy Ghost. God often does allow our enemies to see how we are mightily blessed of Him, not only with the anointing of His presence, but also with an overflowing cup that contains all of His blessings to us!

"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the House of Yahweh for ever" (verse 6).
Soon Yahshua, the Good Shepherd, is going to return for us, and we will go with Him to the home He has prepared for us (John 14:1-3).

Yahshua, with the eyes of a loving Shepherd, saw the multitudes, and was moved with compassion on them, "because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd" (Matthew 9:36).

He ministered to their needs, casting out devils and healing the sick, but he did much more than that- -He gave His life for the sheep:

"I Am the Good Shepherd: the Good Shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. I am the Good Shepherd, and know My sheep, and am known of Mine. As the Father knoweth Me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down My Life for the sheep" (John 10:11, 14-15).
We have a good Shepherd who loved us so much that He died for us upon the cross of Calvary. We should get to know Him better, and love Him as He is worthy of being loved. We need to follow Him wherever He leads us, because He will lead us in the paths of right living!

Daily Bible Reading - September 1, 2018

Today's Reading:

John 9:24-41

2 Chronicles 7

Malachi 4

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Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading   

In 2 Chronicles 7, we find that Yahweh heard Solomon's prayer, and answered it. His promise to Solomon is truly a promise to all of us. In 2 Chronicles 7:14, He says, "If My people, which are called by My Name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My Face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from Heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

Several years back, during the process of looking for speakers for our Feast retreats, we called Elder Chris Hogan who gives an excellent presentation (with his lovely wife) on how to have a Christ-centered marriage. Chris was unable to join us at the time of the Feast, but could not contain himself and just had to share the exciting story of what God was doing in the island of Fiji.

Elder Hogan and a team of missionaries had gone to Fiji to share with them. During their time there (in May of 2004), they presented the message of 2 Chronicles 7:14.

The people of four churches in the coastal village of Nataleira took it seriously. They truly believed that if they fully repented and turned from their sins, that Yahweh would forgive their sins and would even heal their land.

The land truly needed healing. The village of Nataleira was experiencing a drought. There were also major problems in the island society including: untimely deaths, witchcraft, teenage pregnancy, marijuana usage, and teens were at odds with the elders of the village. As Elder Hogan explained, the stone idols in the village were even speaking to people! Yes, Nataleira was in spiritual trouble - much like any other place on this sin-sick planet. But, the members of the four churches in the village of Nataleira decided to do something about it. They decided to take God at His Word and put 2 Chronicles 7:14 into practice!

All four churches started meeting every evening, repenting of their sin and removing all the articles of their idolatry and sin from their homes. 

Once the people were no longer under conviction about sins an idolatry which they needed to confess - personally - they began praying for and confessing the sins being committed in their village and on their island. The Presence of Yahweh was restored to the village - and one morning a Pillar of fire fell from Heaven and stood for 30 minutes upon a plot of ground in the village. The people were awed and humbled at the visible sign that Yahweh had heard their prayers! Today there is a beautiful, white cross monument which stands to mark the spot where the Fire stood (pictured on the right).

After that amazing sign, God began working in wonderful ways. large fish returned to the coral reefs about Fiji. Crops were restored. And the coral reefs started to grow again! Yahweh was literally healing the land, just as He promised to do in 2 Chronicles 7:14.

By 2010, the people hadn't stopped praying. Thus, the miracles have continued. By then, over 200 communities had already been transformed by the manifest Presence and Power of God! The transformation of Fiji was occurring at both a national and grass roots level! 

Reports from around the nation in these transformed villages are abundant. Entire villages experiencing salvation, dramatic healings were occurring, dead coral reefs were coming to life in 24 hours, polluted water was being healed, barren families were having children, there was spontaneously an abundance of fish which had disappeared for 50 years, police were leading evangelistic crusades, and a unified, praying church has replaced a competitive, bitter division among believers. This was as of our 2010 conversation with this elder! 

At the heart of this transformation was a team of young adults who had committed themselves to contending for God's glory to cover their nation. The "Healing the Land Team", was formed to help lead villages across the island nation in a transformational process based on applying 2 Chronicles 7:14!

Now, having heard this amazing and inspiring account, one question probably looms large in your mind: "What's happened to this reformation movement now?" The truth is I don't know the answer. But there is a more important point to consider - if you and I were to put God to the test and practice 2 Chronicles 7:14 in our own areas - would He not restore and heal, just as He promised?

The people of Fiji weren't satisfied to just hear the promise. They acted on it. And the results are breathtaking. Why not put it into practice in your life also?
2 Chronicles 7:14 - "If My people, which are called by My Name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My Face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from Heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."