• 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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  • February 2009
    M T W T F S S
  • Recommended Reading

Our Worship Is Poor Because Our Knowledge Is Poor

John Stott

John Stott

From: The Desk of John Stott

The ‘message’ is God’s own Word. For the people have not gathered to hear a human being, but to meet with God. They desire like Mary of Bethany to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to his teaching. They are spiritually hungry. The bread they desire is the Word of God.

What, then, are the code and channel of communication? Obviously the code is words and the channel speech. Yet the communication is to be understood neither in physical terms (from pulpit to pew), nor even in human terms (one mouth speaking, many ears listening), but in divine terms (God speaking through his minister to his people).

It is this total context which makes preaching unique. For here are God’s people assembled in God’s presence to hear God’s Word from God’s minister.

That is what I mean when I claim that, even in this age that is saturated with the most elaborate media of communication, preaching remains sui generis. No film or play, no drama or dialogue, no seminar or lecture, no Sunday School or discussion group has all these elements in combination. What is unique is not an ideal or an atmosphere, but a reality. The living God is present, according to his covenant pledge, in the midst of his worshipping people, and has promised to make himself known to them through his Word and sacrament. Nothing could ever replace this.

Although in the rather flowery language of a century ago, Matthew Simpson gave an admirable summary of the uniqueness of the sermon event. He wrote of the preacher:

“His throne is the pulpit; he stands in Christ’s stead; his message is the word of God; around him are immortal souls; the Saviour, unseen, is beside him; the Holy Spirit broods over the congregation; angels gaze upon the scene, and heaven and hell await the issue. What associations, and what vast responsibility!”

Thus Word and worship belong indissolubly to each other. All worship is an intelligent and loving response to the revelation of God, because it is the adoration of his Name. Therefore acceptable worship is impossible without preaching. For preaching is making known the Name of the Lord, and worship is praising the name of the Lord made known. Far from being an alien intrusion into worship, the reading and preaching of the Word are actually indispensable to it. The two cannot be divorced. Indeed, it is their unnatural divorce which accounts for the low level of so much contemporary worship. Our worship is poor because our knowledge of God is poor, and our knowledge of God is poor because our preaching is poor. But when the Word of God is expounded in its fulness, and the congregation begin to glimpse the glory of the living God, they bow down in solemn awe and joyful wonder before his throne. It is preaching which accomplishes this, the proclamation of the Word of God in the power of the Spirit of God. That is why preaching is unique and irreplaceable.

John Stott, Between Two Worlds: The Art of Preaching in the Twentieth Century, Eerdmans, 1982, p. 81-82. (This book was originally published under the title I Believe in Preaching). The Simpson quote is from his Lectures on Preaching, 1879.

One King Will Reign By Charles Spurgeon

spurgeon1God’s good pleasure is, that this world will one day be totally redeemed from sin; God’s good pleasure is, that this poor planet, so long covered in darkness, will soon shine out in brightness, like a new-born sun. Christ’s death has done it. The stream that flowed from His side on Calvary will cleanse the world from all its wickedness. That hour of mid-day darkness was the rising of a new sun of righteousness, which will never cease to shine upon the earth. Yes, the hour is coming, when guns and cannons will be forgotten things, when the harness of war and the pageantry of pomp will all be laid aside as food for the worm or the contemplation of the curious. The hour approaches when old Rome will shake on Her seven hills, when Mohammed’s crescent will no longer increase on the earth, when all the gods of the heathens will lose their thrones and be cast out to the moles and to the bats; and then, from the equator to the poles Christ will be honored, the Lord paramount on earth, when from land to land, from the river even to the ends of the earth, one King, will reign, one shout will be heard, “Hallelujah, hallelujah, the Lord God Omnipotent reigns.”

Quoting Governor Bobby Jindal

Bobby Jindal

Bobby Jindal

Who amongst us would ask our children for a loan so we could spend money we do not have on things we do — we do not need? That is precisely what the Democrats in Congress just did. It’s irresponsible. And it’s no way to strengthen our economy, create jobs, or build a prosperous future for our children. . . .

We need to bring transparency to Washington, D.C., so we can rid our capital of corruption and ensure that we never see the passage of another trillion-dollar spending bill that Congress hasn’t even read and the American people haven’t even seen.

As we take these steps, we must remember, for all of our troubles at home, dangerous enemies still seek our destruction. Now is no time to dismantle the defenses that have protected this country for hundreds of years or to make deep cuts in funding for our troops.

America’s fighting men and women can do anything. If we give them the resources they need, they will stay on the offensive, defeat our enemies, and protect us from harm.

In all these areas, Republicans want to work with President Obama. We appreciate his message of hope, but sometimes it seems like we look for hope in different places.

Democratic leaders in Washington, they place their hope in the federal government. We place our hope in you, the American people.

In the end, it comes down to an honest and fundamental disagreement about the proper role of government. We oppose the national Democratic view that says the way to strengthen our country is to increase dependence on government. We believe the way to strengthen our country is to restrain spending in Washington, to empower individuals and small businesses to grow our economy and create jobs. . . .

Read the entire article here. . . .

A Contented Man Is Thankful

Quoting Arthur W. Pink:

Instead of complaining at his lot, a contented man is thankful that his condition and circumstances are no worse than they are. Instead of greedily desiring something more than the supply of his present need, he rejoices that God still cares for him. Such an one is “content” with such as he has (Heb. 13:5).

Not Rich – But Stupid!

Mark Steyn

Mark Steyn

Quoting Columnist Mark Steyn:

“2008: We’re rich enough that we can afford to be stupid. 2009: We’re not so rich so let’s be even more stupid. The Obama narrative as packaged by the American media (another all-but-bankrupt industry, not coincidentally) is very appealing. Wouldn’t it be so much nicer if a benign paternalist sovereign could take care of all the beastly grown-up stuff like mortgages and health care, like he’s gonna do for Henrietta Hughes, while simultaneously blowing gazillions on ‘green’ initiatives and other touchy-feely things? America has a choice: It can reacquaint itself with socioeconomic reality. Or it can buckle its mandatory seat belt for the same decline most of the rest of the West embraced a couple of generations back. In 1897, troops from the greatest empire the world had ever seen marched down London’s Mall for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. Seventy years later, Britain had government health care, a government-owned car industry, massive government housing, and it was a shriveled high-unemployment socialist basket-case living off the dwindling cultural capital of its glorious past. In 1945, America emerged from the Second World War as the preeminent power on Earth. Seventy years later… Let’s not go there.”

Always Obey The Impulse To Pray

Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Martyn Lloyd-Jones

From: The Desk of Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Always respond to every impulse to pray. The impulse to pray may come when you are reading or when you are battling with a text. I would make an absolute law of this – always obey such an impulse. Where does it come from? It is the work of the Holy Spirit; it is a part of the meaning of ‘Work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure’ (Phil 2:12-13). This often leads to some of the most remarkable experiences in the life of the minister. So never resist, never postpone it, never push it aside because you are busy. Give yourself to it, yield to it; and you will find not only that you have not been wasting time with respect to the matter with which you are dealing but that actually it has helped you greatly in that respect. You will experience an ease and a facility in understanding what you were reading, in thinking, in ordering matter for a sermon, in writing, in everything which is quite astonishing. Such a call to prayer must never be regarded as a distraction; always respond to it immediately, and thank God if it happens to you frequently.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Preaching and Preachers (Zondervan, 1972), p. 170-171; from Chapter 9, “The Preparation of the Preacher.”

Washington’s War On God

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