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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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The Pigford Settlement May Be More About Race Than Farming

Another Mouth At The Government Trough!

Republican lawmakers are warning against Congress approving a massive discrimination settlement that passed the Senate last week. The so-called Pigford settlement seems to be marred by thousands of potentially fraudulent applications.

Just before breaking for Thanksgiving recess, the Senate approved by voice vote a $4.6 billion package to settle claims against the government by black farmers and American Indians. The payments to black farmers account for $1.2 billion of that amount but have been the subject of intense criticism.

Lawmakers raising alarm about the payments say whistleblowers from the Department of Agriculture have come to them in confidence to warn that the money is going to claimants who have no connection to farming. One elected official raised the concern that this settlement has more to do with politically correct reparations than farming.

You can learn more here. . . .

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The Wise And The Scornful

Asahel Nettleton

Asahel Nettleton

He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy (Proverbs 29:1).

The unwillingness of an individual to receive reproof concerning his actions or character is a good measure of his relationship with God and the state of his salvation. The man who has found peace with God is receptive to honest reproof when it is given with genuine love and concern. The unsaved sinner coldly rejects the kindest criticism. Asahel Nettleton writes on this topic:

Hence, the reasonable precaution of our Savior addressed to his disciples: Give not that which is holy unto dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you. It is not the best policy to reprove offenders of every description, and on all occasions. Prudence and judgment ought ever to be exercised in the discharge of this duty. Otherwise, the well-meant endeavors of the man who undertakes the unwelcome task of a sensor, will meet with a sad recompense.

Few, when faithfully reminded of their offenses, will evince the placid temper of the pious David, who (doubtless in allusion to the plain, and pointed reproof administered to him by the prophet Nathan) exclaimed, Let the righteous smite me, it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me, it shall be an excellent oil. Most persons, on the contrary, when closely pressed as he was, and to whose consciences their crimes are set home with a clearness which cannot be mistaken “Thou art the man,” will give free vent to their rage; and will not scruple to accost their reprover in the libertine language ascribed to the wicked by the Psalmist, With our tongues will we prevail; our lips are our own; who is Lord over us?

The spirit which is discerned in the disdainful carriage of individuals of this sort when reminded of their faults, is a striking comment on the just maxims of the wise man. He that reproveth a scorner getteth to himself shame: and he that rebuketh a wicked man getteth himself a blot. Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee. Such is the difference which marks the demeanor of the righteous and the wicked when reminded of their faults. (“The Destruction of Hardened Sinners”)

Receiving From God

William Gurnall:

“We are justified, not by giving anything to God, —what we do, — but by receiving from God, what Christ hath done for us.”

The Story Of The Red Hand

John MacArthur

11 But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, 14 to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ. . . . (1 Timothy 6)

From the desk of John MacArthur:

I remember years ago reading a…kind of a striking story in Irish history. There is a badge of barony in the history of…of Ireland called the Red Hand of O’Neill. The O’Neill’s, a ancient Irish family, and the Red Hand of O’Neill is the…the symbol of the O’Neill family. They…they got that sort of badge of barony in the most bizarre way. There was a time when an expedition to Ireland was allowed before it was fully settled. And the provision was made by those who had the authority that the first hand on the land possessed the land. One of the men was O’Neill, from whom, by the way, descended the princes of Ulster, now Northern Ireland, which is Protestant today. He was rowing as furiously as he could trying to get there and to claim the land. But another boat took the lead, and he fell behind. And the historian writes, and I quote, “With a grim look of mingled wrath and triumph at the rival boat, the strong-minded, iron-nerved O’Neill dropped the oars, seized a battle ax, chopped off one of his hands…hopefully not his throwing hand. I guess not…and threw it onshore so his hand was there first.” You say, “That’s pretty drastic action.” Got that right.

Jesus says something like that when He says, “If your right hand…offends you…what?…cut it off. If your right eye offends you, pluck it out.” People would do that in the pursuit of land. What drastic action would you take in the pursuit of holiness? Essentially what Jesus said. You have to deal dramatically. You have to deal drastically with sin. You can’t even be a pastor and can’t even be a man of God unless you’re blameless and above reproach. God helps, you know, along the way, brings trials into your life. My life, I mean in the process of…of shaping my life, you know, you go through all kinds of things. Patricia’s terrible accident…some years ago, and my son, one time with a brain tumor and all the issues of life that come and go. My own illnesses on occasion and struggles with people in the church. The Lord brings in enough trials to keep purging you. Criticism, persecution, hostility…rejection, defection…God does His part to humble us, to run stakes through our otherwise proud human flesh to keep us running after holiness.

Spurgeon, in his inimitable way, said it like this, “A graceless pastor is a blind man elected to a professorship of optics, philosophizing about light and vision, while he himself is absolutely in the dark. He is a dumb man, elevated to the chair of music, a deaf man fluent on harmonies and symphonies. He is a mole professing to educate eagles. Such is a graceless pastor.” Now, you may be a preacher. You may even be a pastor, but if you’re not running after holiness, you’re not a man of God. (“Identifying a Man of God”)

The Curse Of Debt

How often do we hear of fellow Christians who have been emotionally manipulated into “planting seeds” of cash by some smooth talking preacher promising a 100 fold return for their financial investment into what the preacher calls the kingdom of God? The modern church loves to talk about the blessings of God, but very little attention is given to the subject of curses – particularly the curse of debt.

We are told in Proverbs, 7 “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.” (Proverbs 22:7) Jesus also reminds us that “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. (Matthew 6:24) How often do you think of these verses before buying something on credit?

I’ve known Christians who have been convicted by their pastor’s sermons, of the need for personally practicing tithing, who decided to quit making their house payments in order to give the money to the church. They expected God to look at their tithe as a righteous act, when in fact it was stolen from the bank. They honestly believed that God was going to honor their actions with a 100 fold return on their cash.

The result of such silliness is incurring the wrath of “the Curse” upon your finances. Does your pastor teach when he is expounding on Malachi 3:9-10 that debt is a curse? Does he tell you that your debt will be a curse to you even if you tithe? By the way – there is no “storehouse” in the New Testament and tithing is no longer commanded. The New Testament emphasis is simply on giving as the Lord prospers you which means that you may should give much more than a tithe.

The curse of debt is always waiting for you to give in to the temptation to “get” what God has not provided. The commercial world will do its best to try to manipulate you into debt and bondage. We begin to believe that we deserve what we cannot pay for and ignore the clear warnings of God. The Apostle John tells us, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 John 2:15)

Debt is simply a form of slavery that will steal your peace and joy in this life. Church congregations are not immune to this curse either. How many churches out there have taken on huge loans to build grand buildings presuming that the Lord will somehow make a way to pay for it all. This too is evidence of folly and a true lack of understanding concerning God’s blessings and curses. In other words, stop borrowing and get out of debt!

Many Are Addicted To Strange Fire

John Calvin

I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. (Gal. 1:6-8)

In thinking about the verses above we should not forget the grievance Jeremiah had against the Jews. He says, in effect, “Go to distant lands, run to the isles, observe what is done by other people. Each one keeps to his own idols”, adding, “which are yet no gods” (Jer. 2:10-11). Satan had deceived them by calling this worship, and they were so set in their ways that they could not be moved. The same can be said of us nowadays: for we have seen how unbending the members of a variety of strange heresies and cults are. They burn with such mad passion to maintain their blasphemous practices. When the devil beckons us, will we too be enticed away? Modern man is on the lookout to find anything new and strange. Almost any strange doctrine will immediately attract us and lead us astray. John Calvin says of this:

At this point, Paul states that the cause behind all this is that, ‘there be some that trouble you and would pervert the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ’. Here, Paul is asserting that anything which we may add to the gospel is nothing but mere smoke. Eventually we will discover that it is the devil who has conceived such nonsense in order to deceive miserable fools who cannot adhere to God’s truth at all. ‘This is nothing other than some people troubling you,’ he says. . . . Paul is saying that the Galatians were wrong to be troubled by those from Jerusalem and Judaea, who told them they must not separate the law from the gospel. ‘No, no,’ he says, ‘there is only one Jesus Christ. There is only one doctrine that will lead us to him, and give us faith, through which we may obtain salvation. If we wish to have and maintain a pure knowledge of the gospel, we must realise that this is where we find perfection; those who go further are simply trouble-makers throwing everything into disarray.’ This text is well worth noting. We learn from it that if our Lord has given us the privilege of being taught in his school, we must no longer have weak faith which can be blown here and there. We must have resolute determination, so that we can say, ‘Here is the faith by which we are going to live and die.’ We meet many who do not openly oppose the teaching of the gospel, and who even suffer us to preach the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Indeed, if we were to ask such people what they disagree with in the gospel, [their answer would be] ‘Nothing!’ But then, if they were to see an altar adorned with grotesque statues, sure enough, they would flock to it. . . . And if all this is set before them as error, they still cannot see that it makes any difference. Take good note — such base behaviour reveals that they do not have faith. How? Well, this is how we can know, and even feel, if we ourselves are believers: when we have discernment about the gospel, and conclude that it is the infallible truth of God, and that it cannot lead us astray if we follow it. . . . It is written that we can only obtain justification and salvation through faith, when we embrace Jesus Christ as the one who communicates all blessings. (“On Perverting the Gospel of Christ”)

When The World Loves You

Charles H. Spurgeon

Charles H. Spurgeon reminds us, as Christians, that we are in danger when we are too much at ease in the world:

“For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world; and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” (1 John 5:4)

Christians are not so much in danger when they are persecuted as when they are admired. When we stand upon the pinnacle of popularity, we may well tremble and fear. It is not when we are hissed at, and hooted, that we have any cause to be alarmed; it is when we are dandled on the lap of fortune, and nursed upon the knees of the people; it is when all men speak well of us, that woe is unto us. It is not in the cold wintry wind that I take off my coat of righteousness, and throw it away; it is when the sun comes, when the weather is warm, and the air balmy, that I unguardedly strip off my robes, and become naked. Good God! how many a man has been made naked by the love of this world! The world has flattered and applauded him; he has drunk the flattery; it was an intoxicating draught; he has staggered, he has reeled, he has sinned, he has lost his reputation; and as a comet that erst flashed across the sky, doth wander far into space, arid is lost in darkness, so doth he; great as he was, he falls; mighty as he was, he wanders, and is lost. But the true child of God is never so; he is as safe when the world smiles, as when it frowns; he cares as little for her praise as for her dispraise. If he is praised, and it is true, he says, “”My deeds deserves praise, but I refer all honor to my God.” Great souls know what they merit from their critic; to them it is nothing more than the giving of their daily income. Some men cannot live without a large amount of praise; and if they have no more than they deserve, let them have it. If they are children of God, they will be kept steady; they will not be ruined or spoiled; but they will stand with feet like hinds’ feet upon high places.—”This is the victory that overcometh the world.” (“The Victory of Faith”)

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