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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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Around And Back Again

According to John MacArthur:

Worship services in many churches today are like a merry-go-round. You drop a token in the collection box; it’s good for a ride. There’s music and lots of motion up and down. The ride is carefully timed and seldom varies in length. Lots of good feelings are generated, and it is the one ride you can be sure will never be the least bit threatening or challenging. But though you spend the whole time feeling as if you’re moving forward, you get off exactly where you got on.

Wandering Thoughts

Thought and wisdom are not to be confused. The wisdom that many possess in their later years comes by the Holy Spirit through the power of sanctification. The work of the Spirit in our minds facilitates the gradual dying out of the power of temptation over us. Yet our thoughts are not completely free of temptation. Thomas Goodwin writes:

O Jerusalem, wash your heart from evil, that you may be saved. How long shall your wicked thoughts lodge within you? (Jeremiah 4:14 ESV)

We find our minds ready to spend thoughts about anything rather than what God at present calls unto. When we go to a sermon, we find we could then spend our thoughts more willingly about reading, or haply searching our hearts; unto which at another time, when called to it, we should be most unwilling to. We could be content to run wild over the fields of meditations and miscellaneous thoughts, though about good, rather than to be tied to that task, and kept in one set path. . . .

[T]hough indeed the mind of man is nimble and able thus to run from one end of the earth to another, which is its strength and excellence, yet God would not have this strength, and nimbleness, and mettle spirit in curveting and trembling, as I may call it, but in steady directing all our thoughts straight on to his glory, our own salvation, and the good of others; he gave it this nimbleness to turn away from evil, and the first appearance of it. As we are to walk in God’s ways he calls us to, so every thought, as well as every action, is a step, and therefore ought to be steady; ‘Make straight steps to your feet,’ says the Apostle, Heb. xii. 13, turning not to the right hand nor to the left, until we come to the journey’s end of that business we are to think of. But our thoughts at best are as wanton spaniels, who, though indeed they go with and accompany their master, and come to their journey’s end with him in the end, yet do run after every bird, and wildly pursue every flock of sheep they see. This unsteadiness arises from the like curse on the mind of man as was on Cain, that it being ‘driven from the presence of the Lord,’ it proves a vagabond, and so ‘men’s eyes are in the ends of the earth.’ This foolishness is also seen in that independence in our thoughts; they hanging oft together as ropes of sand. . . . This madness and distemper is in the mind since the fall . . . that if notes were taken of our thoughts, we should find thoughts so vagrant, that we know not how they come in, nor whence they come, nor whither they would. . . . And as Seneca says of men’s lives, as of ships that are tossed up and down at sea, it may be said they have been tossed much but sailed nothing; the like in this respect may be said of the thoughts. Or as when men make imperfect dashes, and write nonsense, they are said to scribble, they do not write; so, in these follies and independencies, we . . . lose ourselves, we do not think.

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