The cycle of life is one of life’s most interesting phenomena. When Laura and I were in college at Freed Hardeman University one of our schoolmates was Daniel Whitworth. As a matter of fact, Daniel and I lived in the same dorm for a time and worked together on several school projects.
When our children were in school at Freed Hardeman they happened to be in school with Michael Whitworth who was Daniel’s son. While Michael was in school he lost his father in a tragic accident. Daniel was an outstanding Gospel preacher and he is deeply missed by his family as well as by many in the church.
After Michael lost his father, Laura and I unofficially adopted him as our child. It has been a tremendous joy to be associated with him during the past few years. It has been a privilege to watch him mature into an outstanding man and one of our finest young Gospel preachers (just like his dad).
We have been thrilled to spend many hours with Michael and his sweet wife, Sara. They are a godly couple and a great blessing to the church. Laura and I are proud of both of them.
Just a few months ago, Michael and Sara went to work with the Jersey Village church in Houston. Jersey Village is a great church with a wonderful future. Michael is doing an outstanding job as the preacher for this good congregation of God’s people.
Michael has developed a special Bible reading program for the Jersey Village members to use during 2011. This article that he has written explains in detail the Bible reading program as well as the rationale behind it. It is as fine of a daily Bible reading program as any we have ever seen.
If my memory is correct this is only the second guest blogger we have had since the beginning of “Thoughts From the Mound.” It is a privilege to recommend the article and the program to our readers. By the way, you can follow Michael’s outstanding articles at: http://michaelwhitworth.com/.
“Eat This Book!”
Famine and hunger are not familiar plights in our affluent world. Most of us enjoy an abundance of food; in a few days, we will sit down to a sumptuous Thanksgiving feast. The ability to easily buy groceries from a store and obtain water from a faucet are luxuries we take for granted. However, there is a greater luxury that we also take for granted: the abundance of spiritual teaching from the Bible.
During the reign of David, there was an intense spiritual fervor in Israel—a desire to know and do the will of God. The men of the tribe of Issachar were noted as those “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chronicles 12:32). Israel’s passion to know the mind of God was no doubt fueled by her king; “Oh how I love your law!” David shouted. “It is my meditation all the day” (Psa. 119:97). But during the reign of Solomon, Israel fell into spiritual decline and never fully recovered. Unlike the former days, few in Israel sought the Lord, and a spiritual famine of epic proportions was forecast (Amos 8:11-12). While exiled in Babylon, Israel indeed hungered for God’s word. Their willingness to stand for six hours and hear Ezra read it (Neh. 8:3) testifies to the starvation they felt.
Across the globe, Christianity is in crisis. Culture seems more hostile to the cross than at any time in recent memory. Fate and Luck have replaced Faith and Prayer. Ridicule is thrown in the direction of those who still echo Jesus’ exclusive claims (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). Few can accurately, coherently, and passionately communicate the gospel. Closer to home, abuse, addiction, divorce, and the increasing demands of the 21st-century rat-race are undermining families. As people’s worlds crumble around them, God’s warnings to his ancient prophets are being fulfilled in our time: “‘Behold, the days are coming,’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘when I will send a famine on the land—not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD. They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, to seek the word of the LORD, but they shall not find it’” (Amos 8:11-12).
In our world, a famine can strike the hearts of God’s people, yet go unnoticed for entire seasons of life. In high school, extra-curricular activities and fun with friends compete for our time. During college years, the Box Springs congregation enjoys a surge of faithful attendants. Young adults and couples with children often find themselves too busy to study the Bible or attend a Bible class on a regular basis. Before you and I know it, life has passed us by, and it has been years since we feasted upon and gloried in that precious book divine! When disaster rocks our world, forcing us to search for a source of strength, none will be found. It will be because God has brought a famine on our land; loneliness and despair will be our only companions.
That famine does not have to happen! As the times become more troubled for the people of God, it has become a matter of basic survival that we turn to his Word! Is it not tragic that the very words of life given to us now lie neglected on our shelves and end tables? It was not so for our ancestors. The Lord commanded his messenger Ezekiel: “‘Son of man, eat this book that I am giving you. Make a full meal of it!’ So I ate it. It tasted so good—just like honey” (Ezek. 3:3).
In 2011, the Jersey Village Church of Christ challenges you to read your Bible. Those ancient words are indeed like honey to all who devour them. Will you commit to reading the most precious words in print? If so, you will be rewarded beyond your wildest dreams, for “Blessed is the man [whose] delight is in the law of the LORD” (Psa. 1:1-2). We know that what we are asking you to do is difficult. So many things compete for our time and attention, but should any of those things take priority above the Bible? If you will commit to “eat this book” in 2011, we promise as your Christian family to support you every step of the way!
Go to www.eatthisbook2011.com today and covenant with us to read your Bible in 2011. Check out the resources available there to help you in this journey. Resolve to have weekly (or even daily!) devotionals with your spouse/family. Tell your family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers about your New Year’s “commitment” and invite them to join you! Commit to praying for this endeavor, especially during our “Eat This Book!” Marathon on January 2-5.
In the days of Nehemiah, the public reading of Scripture led to wide-spread revival among the people of God. It happened then; it can happen now! Those ancient words hold the power to convict and the promise to transform. They come from the very mouth of God and can sustain us until heaven becomes our home. In 2011, may God make the Scriptures taste like honey in your mouth, and may our collective commitment to “eat this book” lead to the revival of his church!
“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Eph. 3:20-21).
Dear Father, we thank You for giving us Your Word. Help us Lord, to love Your Word, to devour Your Word, and to put Your Word into practice in our lives. Father, we are thankful for young men like Michael who challenge us to be better students of Your Word. In Jesus Precious Name, Amen.
P.S. May God grant to each one of you a wonderful Thanksgiving season. When we sit down to count our blessings this year we will certainly include our friends from many places around the world who read this blog. We are thankful for your encouragement as well as your commitment to the Lord. Thank you for the many kind words we receive each time a new article is posted. It is a tremendous blessing to be able to be associated with so many wonderful Christians through this blog. May God bless each of you during this Holiday season.