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Brothers,

You’ll notice that the blog and blog posts look very different these days. I’m in the process of updating the look and feel of the blog. I’ve installed a new “theme” but I’m still working on the branding – you know, the colors, fonts, and images.

Please be patient with me as I work to make the blog more readable and engaging. I’m counting down to 2017 where I hope we will have an official kick-off for the new year with a new look and feel. At that time I’m going to ask you to join me in inviting friends, co-workers, neighbors, family, and complete strangers to come along with a new year of Bible reading.

You know, it can be a little intimidating to try and share the Gospel but did you realize that doing so can be as simple as inviting someone to church or Sunday school? It can even be as simple as inviting someone to join you for a year of Bible reading.

Well, all of that to say that if you have been following an alternate reading plan this year and you are wondering where the links to those plans went, they are now at the bottom of each post. Yes, you’ll have to scroll to the bottom of the post to find your links but the exercise of scrolling down is good for you!

The post for today is below. Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,
Bill

For God And Country

How excited do you get about the political situation in our country today?

Tombstone with flagToday’s Passage:
Nahum 2 – Habakkuk

It is believed by some that Jonah went to Nineveh with a message from God 100 to 150 years before Nahum wrote his prophecy of destruction. If you’ll remember, Jonah didn’t want to go to Nineveh but once he did the entire city turned to God. Here we have a wicked city that turned back to God only to wander away from Him once again and pass the point of no return within a couple of hundred years. How sad!

Nineveh, by the way, was the capital city of the Assyrian empire. You can understand why Jonah didn’t want to preach repentance to Nineveh if you remember that Assyria was conquering the planet at the time and threatening the Northern Kingdom of Israel. In fact, within 50 years of Jonah’s preaching to the Assyrians they conquered Israel and sent them into exile. Still, when Jonah preached, the entire city repented and turned to God. Have you ever heard of such a large revival?

The years went by and the revival wore off. The descendants of those who turned to God in response to Jonah’s preaching had returned to evil ways. Nahum prophesied of that city’s demise and in fact archaeological research has confirmed that his prophecies were fulfilled. Did Nahum go to Nineveh to preach repentance as Jonah had years before? No. Nineveh had been given the light and the light was rejected. Grace was offered and eventually rejected. Punishment was all that was left.

We have heard a story of revival that flourished and the petered out. During the time of the French Revolution, another revival was taking place. This revival was taking place in England and was being brought to the people by George Whitefield and John and Charles Wesley. At the time, England was the most powerful nation on earth. What has happened in those 200 years since? What is the spiritual state of England? What is the political state of England? Where do they rank among the nations? They aren’t even in the top 5 power ranking. What happened? They departed from the one true God.

In reading Dr. J. Vernon McGee’s Thru the Bible commentary I found this interesting quote:

“Quite a few years ago I cut out this little clipping which reads:

‘A United States Senator has stated that the average life of the great civilizations of the world has been about 200 years. He goes on to say that these civilizations have progressed (if that’s the right word) through the following stages:

from bondage to spiritual faith
from spiritual faith to courage
from courage to liberty
from liberty to abundance
from abundance to selfishness
from selfishness to complacency
from complacency to apathy
from apathy back to bondage’

The Senator points out the interesting fact that the United States of America will be 200 years old in 12 years. Which of the above stages do you think we’re in? How much longer is our civilization going to last?”

McGee, J. V. (1997). Thru the Bible commentary (electronic ed.). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

Of course, America is even older than that now. At the time of the American Revolution we too were experiencing a revival; the same as in England driven by the Wesleys and Whitefield. In fact, we had a couple more after that. But how long has it been since this nation experienced true revival? Is America today in a state of ascendancy or decline? I know we long ago passed the “selfishness” stage and I am pretty sure we have gone through the “complacency” stage. Have we hit apathy yet? Bondage doesn’t seem all that far away.

A few years ago I read in the newspaper a story about a number of preachers around the country who would publicly support specific candidates for political office from the pulpit. Such an act was and is illegal and those churches risked losing their non-profit tax status. The preachers felt their constitutional rights had been wrongly violated by the legislation in question and I must say I agree with them. The government has no right to restrict the free exercise of speech just because one wishes to exercise that right in a church. In fact, free speech is protected by the constitution specifically for the purpose of protecting political commentary. It is outrageous that the self-seeking politicians have so clearly violated one of our most basic and cherished rights.

By the same token I believe these pastors are misguided. Just because we have a right does not mean it is prudent to exercise those rights in certain circumstances. The political dialogue in this country has been poisonous, obnoxious, and hateful for many years. The body of Christ is about taking the good news of the Gospel to the Lost. When churches preach politics from the pulpit they are dividing the body of Christ and losing focus on the number one priority; they are playing the devil’s game by his rules. We lose. As a wise friend once told me “You don’t fight God’s battles with Satan’s weapons”. By focusing on politics we lose focus on spreading the Gospel. You don’t believe me?

How excited do you get about the political situation in our country today? How much time do you spend reading about the latest political battles or tracking or talking about the upcoming elections? How many Christians can you expect to show up to a political party rally? Okay, how often do you share the Gospel with a lost person? The last time we held an outreach session at our church we had 9 people show up. I know because I was one of the 9. Satan is winning. We fall into his trap. We have taken our eyes off the ball and Satan couldn’t be happier. As long as he can show the angry shouting faces of those who call themselves Christians to a Lost world he keeps the good news from going forth. The Lost are looking for a reason to reject our message and far too many of us are giving them an excuse.

Our job, our focus, is the Gospel. We are citizens of this country and we have a right, and I dare say a responsibility, to be politically active, but if you really want to see America restored, that dog won’t hunt. If you want to see America restored, you are going to have to start doing your part to spread the Gospel.

Brother, you’ll have to forgive me. I hope you don’t take my comments to mean we shouldn’t actively participate in our civic duties or that we should not voice our opinions about the issues of the day. I am simply attempting to point out that such activity often seems to be a greater priority for us than sharing the Gospel. It is said they will know we are Christians by our love. The most loving thing we can do is tell a lost and hurting world about the good news of Jesus Christ.

What would America be like if the majority of her citizens were in fact new creatures in Christ?

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

Alternate Reading Plans
Chronological Order: Esther 6-10
Old Testament Only: Proverbs 18–19
New Testament Only: 2 Corinthians 9

He Holds All Things Together

Did you know you carry the sign of the cross in your body?

Today’s Passage: Micah 4 – Nahum 1

Cross - Grunge SunbeamsGoodness, I have so much I want to discuss with you today! We are finishing Micah and starting Nahum but I think Nahum is going to have to wait as far as commentary goes. I received an e-mail today with information that just floored me and the first few verses in Micah today are just too cool!

Well, let me start with Micah and we’ll see where we end up.

Micah 4:1-4 ESV
“It shall come to pass in the latter days
that the mountain of the house of the Lord
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
and it shall be lifted up above the hills;
and peoples shall flow to it,
and many nations shall come, and say:
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the house of the God of Jacob,
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths.”
For out of Zion shall go forth the law,
and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between many peoples,
and shall decide for strong nations far away;
and they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war anymore;
but they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree,
and no one shall make them afraid,
for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken.”

Not too long ago I spoke with a lost person who claimed that the Nazis were Christians and that he had dedicated his life to peace. The Nazi charge is ridiculous on its face. Christians suffered in the concentration camps right along with Jews, Gays and many other groups out of favor with the Nazi regime. As far as his claim regarding peace, I know this individual and he has never lifted one finger to advance the cause of peace. Of course, if he had it would have been a wasted effort. Peace comes after Christ has returned and separated the sheep from the goats. That is not to say that we shouldn’t strive for peace but we must be realistic in our assessment of the likelihood for peace. Human beings are naturally self-centered and it is only through the power of the Holy Spirit that an individual has the ability to deny that nature and live peacefully with others.

In fact, our reading today says this about the Messiah:

Micah 5:5 ESV
“And he shall be their peace.”

What is that old saying?

“No Jesus; no peace. Know Jesus; Know peace.” It is really that simple. Won’t that day when we beat our swords into plowshares and our spears into pruning hooks, when we sit under our vine and fig tree and no one is afraid, be awesome? Oh how I look forward to that day. If you want to dedicate your life to peace, dedicate your life to Christ!

Okay, on to that e-mail I received. The e-mail was a forward of something written by a doctor that had been viewing a DVD sermon preached by Louie Giglio. Louie’s sermon concerned the greatness of God and, at some point, his sermon turned to how God “knitted” our human bodies together with amazing detail and wonder. The e-mail went on to reveal the amazing biological fact of Laminin; a fact related in Pastor Giglio’s sermon.

Here is what I found about Laminin on Wikipedia:

Laminins are major proteins in the basal lamina (formerly improperly called “basement membrane”), a protein network foundation for most cells and organs. The laminins are an important and biologically active part of the basal lamina, influencing cell differentiation, migration, adhesion as well as phenotype and survival.”

“The laminins are a family of glycoproteins that are an integral part of the structural scaffolding in almost every tissue of an organism. They are secreted and incorporated into cell-associated extracellular matrices. Laminin is vital for the maintenance and survival of tissues.”

You can read more about Laminin here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laminin

These descriptions make it clear that Laminin is a “network foundation for most cells and organs”; that they are “the structural scaffolding in almost every tissue of an organism”? Laminin is an essential building block on which all human life is based. It is the rebar of our bodies if you will; the structure, support, and glue that holds the human body together.

What is so amazing about this unifying protein called Laminin? Well you’ll just have to see it

Laminin diagram - blue glowI’ve placed a biological model of this amazing protein to the right and a microscopic view of the actual protein. I also have a link to a Youtube video of Pastor Giglio discussing this protein below but before I go on I need to say I had never heard of pastor Giglio before this so please don’t take my mentioning him or his sermon here as an endorsement of his theology. I am in no way familiar with his theology.

As you see, the protein structure is that of the cross; not an X but a cross. The foundation, the glue that holds each of us together is the cross! At the moment God created man he created salvation! He created you knowing you needed a savior and he showed His love for you in the very foundation of your being! He holds you together! He holds everything together! I’ve told you before that every book of the Bible points to Jesus Christ. Little did I know that every cell in the human body points to Christ! Does this not just blow your mind? Can anyone still doubt the truth of the Gospel? How?

laminin Microscope of real thingLook at what Paul said in his letter to the Colossians.

Colossians 1:15-17 ESV
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.  For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.  And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”

Did you get that? In Him all things hold together! What does this protein in the shape of a cross called Laminin do? It holds us together!!! I’ve got to go lay down for a bit!

 I think I’ll wait until tomorrow to give you discuss Nahum. Until tomorrow then, remember that you bear the mark of your savior’s love and sacrifice within you. You are His ambassador. Act like it!

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

Alternate Reading Plans
Chronological Order: Esther 1-5
Old Testament Only: Proverbs 16–17
New Testament Only: 2 Corinthians 8

Delayed Obedience Is Disobedience

What does your procrastination say about you?

Alarm Clock - Silver - BlackToday’s Passage:
Jonah 1 – Micah 3

We read the books of Jonah and Micah today. Well actually, all of Jonah and half of Micah.

I love the story of Jonah. There are many important issues addressed in this book. I often think of Jonah as representing those that run away from God. While this is true on a superficial level I think he doesn’t simply represent the Lost. I think he represents more specifically those who actually have a right relationship with God. The Lost can, and do, hear God calling them, and God does use all people to His purposes, but Jonah was not a person lacking in a relationship with God. In fact, the story we read today demonstrates that Jonah had a rather vibrant relationship with God.

Jonah was a prophet. He had a close enough relationship with God to be able to discern God’s directions. He knew what God wanted him to do; he just didn’t want to do it. In my lifetime I have witnessed several high profile pastors publicly disgraced by disclosure of immoral acts. I find it hard to believe that a man who has committed himself to declare the Word of God would be ignorant of God’s will for their behavior. By committing their immoral behavior, they acted as Jonah had; with disobedience.

I can hear some of you now, “Bill, some of these pastors committed adulterous, and sexually perverse acts. How can those acts be equated with what Jonah did?” There we go again with our scale of sinfulness. All sin is disobedience. God does not share our man-made sin scale. He calls the shots and there are no scales. You might also say that Jonah was only disobedient for a short period of time and eventually relented and obeyed. Yes, Jonah repented of his sin and eventually obeyed God. I could argue that these fallen pastors may well have repented as well and faithfully returned to God; such is the power of grace.

I once heard Pastor Roy Fisher say from the pulpit “Delayed obedience is disobedience!” I believe he was quoting the late Adrian Rogers but regardless of the origin of the phrase, truer words are rarely spoken. God asked Jonah to do something and he did not do it. Don’t quibble with me. He attempted to run away from God’s presence, as if that could be done, and God had to discipline Jonah before instructing him once again to go to Nineveh. In between the first and second command to go to Nineveh was a great deal of suffering on the part of Jonah.

That is how it is for you and me my brother in Christ. Can we really claim to be ignorant of what God is asking of us? How could any of us who have been on this journey through the Bible together claim such a thing? We know that everything is God’s and that we are only stewards of that which He has placed in our hands. We know the difference between right and wrong. We know that we are to make disciples of all nations. We know that in everything we do we are to bring glory to God. Any time we fall short of any of this we are being disobedient. In that moment of disobedience, we have rejected the Lordship of Jesus Christ and placed ourselves at the head of our own little universe. We know how God responded to Israel and Judah for following after foreign gods. How do you think He would respond to you and your self-proclaimed deity?

I wonder sometimes if we really get that. Do we get that every time we sin, whether we consider it a small sin or a big sin, we have proclaimed ourselves a god? Jonah had to sit for three days in the belly of a great fish, seaweed wrapped around his head, considering the error of his ways. Do you get the significance of Jonah being in the belly of the great fish for 3 days? Jonah says he cried out from the belly of Sheol. Sheol is the Hebrew word for Hell. Jonah equated his 3 days of imprisonment with 3 days of death.

Jesus Christ rose from the grave after 3 days. As Jonah said:

Jonah 2:9 ESV
“…Salvation belongs to the Lord!”

Disobedience leads to pain, and for the Lost it leads to death. You have accepted Christ but are you obedient? If not, expect to be disciplined. Your salvation is secure for it does indeed belong to the Lord. That does not mean there are no consequences. What is it that God has been instructing you to do? Are you doing it? If not, I wonder how things have been going for you. If you haven’t experienced discipline yet you will. If you have or are experiencing discipline, the good news is that obedience brings restoration. Return to God. Obey Him and celebrate the blessing of salvation that only He can bring!

Have a blessed day!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

Alternate Reading Plans
Chronological Order: Zechariah 8-14
Old Testament Only: Proverbs 14–15
New Testament Only: 2 Corinthians 6:14–7:16

Brothers of the Book is now on Twitter!

twitter-icon-fwGuys,

Just like with Facebook, Brothers of the book was at one time linked with a Twitter account. Things changed and the linkage was broken. I’ve now created a new Twitter account for Brothers of the Book and a tweet will now go out every time an article is posted. If you are a Twitter follower then follow us – @Bible_Men.

Oh, and tell others to join us too!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill

 

 

 

Brothers of the Book is now on Facebook!

facebook-iconGuys,

This is kind of a test. Some time ago this blog was linked to a Facebook account. Somewhere along the way the connection was broken and I didn’t have the time to go figure it all out.

Well, today I attempted to link the blog and Facebook once more. I’ve created a new Facebook page which can be seen at:

www.facebook.com/brothersofthebook

Check it out, comment, and tell others all about it!

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Bill