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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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That Christ Be Known And Worshiped

the-star-of-bethlehem-yonge2Quoting John Piper:

Over and over the Bible baffles our curiosity about just how certain things happened. How did this “star” get the magi from the east to Jerusalem? It does not say that it led them or went before them. It only says they saw a star in the east (verse 2), and came to Jerusalem. And how did that star go before them in the little five-mile walk from Jerusalem to Bethlehem as verse 9 says it did? And how did a star stand “over the place where the Child was”? The answer is: We do not know. There are numerous efforts to explain it in terms of conjunctions of planets or comets or supernovas or miraculous lights. We just don’t know. And I want to exhort you not to become preoccupied with developing theories that are only tentative in the end and have very little spiritual significance.

I risk a generalization to warn you: people who are exercised and preoccupied with such things as how the star worked and how the Red Sea split and how the manna fell and how Jonah survived the fish and how the moon turns to blood are generally people who have what I call a mentality for the marginal. You do not see in them a deep cherishing of the great central things of the gospel – the holiness of God, the ugliness of sin, the helplessness of man, the death of Christ, justification by faith alone, the sanctifying work of the Spirit, the glory of Christ’s return and the final judgment. They always seem to be taking you down a sidetrack with a new article or new tape or book. There is little centered rejoicing.

But what is plain concerning this matter of the star is that it is doing something that it cannot do on its own: it is guiding magi to the Son of God to worship him. There is only one Person in Biblical thinking that can be behind that intentionality in the stars – God himself. So the lesson is plain: God is guiding foreigners to Christ to worship him. And he is doing it by exerting global – probably even universal – influence and power to get it done. Luke shows God influencing the entire Roman Empire so that the census comes at the exact time to get a virgin to Bethlehem to fulfil prophecy with her delivery. Matthew shows God influencing the stars in the sky to get foreign magi to Bethlehem so that they can worship him.

This is God’s design. He did it then. He is still doing it now. His aim is that the nations – all the nations (Matthew 24:14) – worship his Son. This is God’s will for everybody in your office at work, and in your neighborhood and in your home. As John 4:23 says, “Such the Father seeks to worship him.” At the beginning of Matthew we still have a “come-see” pattern. But at the end the pattern is “go-tell”. The magi came and saw. We are to go and tell. But what is not different is that the purpose of God is the ingathering of the nations to worship his Son. The magnifying of Christ in the white-hot worship of all nations, the reason the world exists. (Sermon, “We Have Come To Worship Him”)

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O Come, O Come Emmanuel

adoration-of-the-shepherds-gerard-van-honthorst-1590-1656O Come, O Come Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.

Refrain: Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O Come, Thou Wisdom from on high,
And order all things mightily
To us the path of knowledge show
And teach us in her ways to go.
Refrain…

O Come, O Come, Thou Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes on Sinai’s height
In ancient times did give the law
In cloud, and majesty, and awe.
Refrain …

O Come Thou Rod of Jesse’s stem,
From every foe deliver them
That trust in thy power to save,
And give them victory o’er the grave.
Refrain …

O Come Thou Key of David, come
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
That we no more have cause to sigh.
Refrain …

O Come Thou Dayspring from on High
And cheer us by Thy drawing nigh.
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadow put to flight.
Refrain …

O Come, Desire of Nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind.
Bid every strife and quarrel cease,
And fill the world with heaven’s peace.
Refrain …

George Whitefield On Not Knowing The Scriptures

george-whitefield-pictureWhen the Sadducees came to our blessed Lord, and put to him the question, “whose wife that woman should be in the next life, who had seven husbands in this,” he told them “they erred, not knowing the scriptures.” And if we would know whence all the errors, that have over-spread the church of Christ, first arose, we should find that, in a great measure, they flowed from the same fountain, ignorance of the word of God.

Our blessed Lord, though he was the eternal God, yet as man, he made the scriptures his constant rule and guide. And therefore, when he was asked by the lawyer, which was the great commandment of the law, he referred him to his Bible for an answer, “What readest thou?” And thus, when led by the Spirit to be tempted by the devil, he repelled all his assaults, with “it is written.” (Sermon, “The Duty of Searching the Scriptures”)

All Praise To Thee, Eternal Lord By Martin Luther

christmas-nativity-scene-1sepiaAll praise to Thee, Eternal Lord,
Clothed in a garb of flesh and blood;
Choosing a manger for Thy throne,
While worlds on worlds are Thine alone.

Once did the skies before Thee bow;
A virgin’s arms contain Thee now,
While angels, who in Thee rejoice,
Now listen for Thine infant voice.

A little Child, Thou art our Guest,
That weary ones in Thee may rest;
Forlorn and lowly is Thy birth;
That we may rise to Heaven from earth.

Thou comest in the darksome night
To make us children of the light;
To make us, in the realms divine,
Like Thine own angels round Thee shine.

All this for us Thy love hath done;
By this to Thee our love is won;
For this we tune our cheerful lays,
And sing our thanks in ceaseless praise

Is This An Example Of Politically Correct Racism?

Is the following decision an example of campus political correctness gone too far? Joanne Laucius writes:

The Carleton University Students’ Association has voted to drop a cystic fibrosis charity as the beneficiary of its annual Shinearama fundraiser, supporting a motion that argued the disease is not “inclusive” enough.

Cystic fibrosis “has been recently revealed to only affect white people and primarily men” said the motion read Monday night to student councilors, who voted almost unanimously in favor of it.

According to the motion, “all orientees and volunteers should feel like their fundraising efforts will serve their (sic) diverse communities.”

The reasoning (if you can call it that) behind this decision is nothing other than politically correct racism.

Read the article here. . . .

Sarah Palin Is Named “Conservative of the Year”

sarahpalinalaskaThe prestigious Human Events’ “Conservative of the Year” Award for 2008 has been given to Alaska’s governor Sarah Palin. She is the kind of genuine American that secular progressives claim to be and are not. Her introduction to the American people as McCain’s Vice-Presidential nominee energized conservatives across the country.

Ann Coulter writes:

Pre-Palin it had been one race — boring old “You kids get off my lawn!” John McCain versus the exciting, new politician Barack Obama, who threw caution to the wind and bravely ran as the Pro-Hope candidate. And then our heroic Sarah bounded out of the Alaska tundra and it became a completely different race. This left the press completely discombobulated and upset. They didn’t know whether to attack Sarah for not having an abortion or go after her husband for not being a sissy.

I assume Palin was chosen because McCain had heard that she was a real conservative and he had always wanted to meet one — no, actually because he needed a conservative on the ticket, but that he had no idea that picking her would send the left into a tailspin of wanton despair.

Read Ann Coulter’s article here. . . .

Christmas: The Appearing Of Jesus Christ

anonymous_18th_century_birth_of_christQuoting Ray Stedman:

In the midst of the hurry-burly and hustle and bustle of Christmas, while we were getting the tree and trimming it, and in the midst of all that accompanies this festive season, the thought suddenly occurred to me, “How did the 1st century Christians celebrate Christmas?” Or did they celebrate the birthday of our Lord Jesus Christ? I took my New Testament and made a rather startling discovery. I found there is no Christmas celebration recorded at all in the New Testament! There is, of course, the coming of the shepherds and the wise men. But in the letters of Paul and James and Peter and John there is not one reference to a Christmas celebration. I wondered why this should be.

Did they not care about the birthday of Jesus? Were they opposed to it, perhaps, like the early Pilgrim fathers here on our own shores, who felt that it was a frivolous and worldly manifestation and forbade it by law? Or was it simply because credit cards had not yet been invented and they could not afford it? As I read the New Testament, I found what I think is the reason for this rather amazing fact. I discovered that the early Christians, the apostles and their associates, did not see the life of Jesus as we do, in segments — the birth, the hidden years, the open ministry, the cross, and the resurrection. We have the record in the Gospels and it is easier to study it when it is broken up that way. But they saw the life of Jesus and his ministry as one complete whole, all the great events blended together into one, which they called “the appearing of Jesus Christ. . . .”

Not only is the nature of this appearing plainly described for us as grace, but the purpose of it is clearly announced. Paul says, “the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all men.” Now do not read that as saying that all men will be saved automatically, regardless of how they believe or live, for there are far too many Scriptures, including those from the mouth of Jesus himself, that say quite otherwise. Salvation is never put on an automatic basis. It is not that all men will be saved, but all men can be saved. The grace of God has appeared that all men can be saved. It is available to all. Though it is true that God’s first subject with man is His love and grace, nevertheless, if a man will not talk on that subject, refuses utterly to do so, then eventually God must move to the subject of condemnation and of judgment. But if man will talk with God about grace the result is salvation. . . .

This is what Christmas means.

This is “the appearing,” the reason behind it. Christ did not come simply to give us a beautiful manger scene to look at. He did not come to give us a lovely pageant, a religious charade, to work out once a year. He came to be a Savior. He came to give salvation, to begin right where you are, in your place of need, and to accept you as you are, and to change you. And that change is always manifest in this two-fold way: An altered allegiance, and, thus, the beginning of a lawful life. (Sermon, “When Grace Appeared”)

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