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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 WORLD DOES NOT KNOW US

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. (1 John 3:1-2 ESV)

Samuel A CainChristians have been given the right to become children of God by receiving Jesus and believing in Him. God has declared that He will be a Father to us. (2 Corinthians 6:18 ESV) Therefore, no one born of God keeps on sinning because the child of God practices righteousness. (1 John 3:9-10 ESV)

The world, however, sees something very different. The world of today is skeptical and indifferent about Christians and the Church. People have lost respect for church leaders. Many ask, “How can you trust the Clergy when they are involved in so many scandals?” The unchurched continue to see Christians as hypocrites. It is also clear that many within the Church are stumbling blocks for the unchurched. Continue reading

PEACE THAT FLOWS LIKE A RIVER

Robert Murray M'Cheyne M’Cheyne:

Some of you have truly been brought by God to believe in Jesus. Yet you have no abiding peace, and very little growth in holiness. Why is this? It is because your eye is fixed anywhere but on Christ. You are so busy looking at books, or looking at men, or looking at the world, that you have no time, no heart, for looking at Christ. No wonder you have little peace and joy in believing. No wonder you live so inconsistent and unholy a life. Change your plan. Consider the greatness and glory of Christ, who has undertaken all in the stead of sinners, and you would find it quite impossible to walk in darkness, or to walk in sin. Oh, what low, despicable thoughts you have of the glorious Immanuel! Lift your eyes from your own bosom, downcast believer – look upon Jesus. It is good to consider your ways, but it is far better to consider Jesus. Oh, believer, consider Jesus. Meditate on these things. Look and look again, until your peace flows like a river.

AN OBEDIENT HEART

george-whitefield-pictureGeorge Whitefield:

“If your repentance is true, you are renewed throughout, both in soul and body; your understandings are enlightened with the knowledge of God, and of the Lord Jesus Christ; and your wills, which were stubborn, obstinate, and hated all good, are obedient and comfortable to the will of God.”

“The great and important duty which is incumbent on Christians, is to guard against all appearance of evil; to watch against the first risings in the heart to evil; and to have a guard upon our actions, that they may not be sinful, or so much as seem to be so.”

WHEN I LIE DYING

Charles SpurgeonCharles H. Spurgeon:

“When I lie dying, when heart and flesh are failing me, when I shall have little else to think of but my Lord and the eternal state, then shall thoughts of Him pull up the floodgates of the river of bliss and let the very joy of Heaven into my heart! And, by His Grace, I shall be eager to be up and away! I shall not dread the pains, and groans, and dying strife of which some talk so much—but the sweetness of “my meditation of Him” shall make me forget even the bitterness of death, itself.” (1895, Sermon #2403)

REDEMPTION – COMPLETE AND FREE

Charles HodgeCharles Hodge:

“Though the redemption purchased by Christ, as described in this epistle, is so complete and so free, yet between the beginning and the consummation of the work there is a protracted conflict. This is not a figure of speech. It is something real and arduous. Salvation, however gratuitous, is not to be obtained without great effort. The Christian conflict is not only real, it is difficult and dangerous. It is one in which true believers are often grievously wounded; and multitudes of reputed believers entirely succumb. It is one also in which great mistakes are often committed and serious loss incurred from ignorance of its nature, and of the appropriate means for carrying it on. Men are apt to regard it as a mere moral conflict between reason and conscience on the one side, and evil passions on the other. They therefore rely on their own strength, and upon the resources of nature for success. Against these mistakes the apostle warns his readers. He teaches that everything pertaining to it is supernatural. The source of strength is not in nature. The conflict is not between the good and bad principles of our nature. He shows that we belong to a spiritual, as well as to a natural world, and are engaged in a combat in which the higher powers of the universe are involved; and that this conflict, on the issue of which our salvation depends, is not to be carried on with straws picked up by the wayside. As we have superhuman enemies to contend with, we need not only superhuman strength, but divine armor and arms.” (A Commentary on the Epistle to the Ephesians)

DRAWING ON THE GRACE OF GOD

Oswald ChambersOswald Chambers:

“Prayer is the practice of drawing on the grace of God.  Don’t say, “I will endure this until I can get away and pray.”  Pray now – draw on the grace of God in your moment of need.  Prayer is the most normal and useful thing; it is not simply a reflex action of your devotion to God.  We are very slow to learn to draw on God’s grace through prayer.” (My Utmost for His Highest)

THE ONLY TRUE STANDARD

John CalvinJohn Calvin:

God’s Word is the only true standard we have a divine mandate to conform to, and it is the ultimate standard by which we will be judged. Success or failure in ministry therefore cannot be evaluated by numerical statistics, financial figures, popularity polls, public opinion, or any of the other factors the world typically associates with success. The only real triumph in ministry is to hear Christ say, “Well done.”

LIVING BY GRACE IN AN UNFAIR WORLD

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16 ESV)

Samuel A CainSometimes a sense of unfairness may even afflict a Christian’s heart. We travel through hard times and do not know why. We often think only with a focus on our circumstances rather than on God’s Word and His Grace. Yet, we must trust God and wait on Him, not our circumstances.

I do not, personally, know anyone who has not suffered troubles at some point in their life, including myself. The inevitable human question is “Why?” Why do awful things happen to us? Why do bad things happen to people we love? We must learn to accept that some of our questions will only be answered in heaven. Continue reading

THE GLORY OF GOD

Jerry BridgesJerry Bridges:

“The glory of God is the sum of all His infinite excellence and praiseworthiness set forth in display. To glorify God is first of all to respond properly to this display by ascribing to Him the honor and adoration due Him because of His excellence. We call this worship.” (The Joy of Fearing God, 214)

INCORRUPTIBLE THINGS

Bishop J. C. RyleJ.C. Ryle:

“The incorruptible things are all within the narrow gate. The peace of God which passed all understanding – the bright hope of good things to come – the sense of the Spirit dwelling in us – the consciousness that we are forgiven, safe, insured, provided for in time and eternity, whatever may happen – these are true gold, and lasting riches.” (Practical Religion)

TRUST IN HIM WHOLLY

Charles SpurgeonCharles H. Spurgeon:

“What is it to believe in Him? It is not merely to say ‘He is God and the Savior’, but to trust in Him wholly and entirely and take Him for all your salvation from this time forth and forever as your Lord, your Master, your all.” (All of Grace, 32)

COSMIC TREASON

R. C. SproulR.C. Sproul:

“Sin is cosmic treason. Sin is treason against a perfectly pure Sovereign. It is an act of supreme ingratitude toward the One to whom we owe everything, to the One who has given us life itself. Have you ever considered the deeper implications of the slightest sin, of the most minute peccadillo? What are we saying to our Creator when we disobey Him at the slightest point? We are saying no to the righteousness of God. We are saying, “God, Your law is not good. My judgement is better than Yours. Your authority does not apply to me. I am above and beyond Your jurisdiction. I have the right to do what I want to do, not what You command me to do.” (The Holiness of God)

SWITCHBACK

John PiperJohn Piper:

“Life is not a straight line leading from one blessing to the next and then finally to heaven. Life is a winding and troubled road. Switchback after switchback. And the point of biblical stories like Joseph and Job and Esther and Ruth is to help us feel in our bones (not just know in our heads) that God is for us in all these strange turns. God is not just showing up after the trouble and cleaning it up. He is plotting the course and managing the troubles with far-reaching purposes for our good and for the glory of Jesus Christ.” (A Sweet and Bitter Providence: Sex, Race, and the Sovereignty of God)

SLIDING TOWARD GODLESSNESS

D. A. CarsonD. A. Carson:

“People do not drift toward Holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated.”

COMMANDMENTS, COMMUNION, AND FEELINGS

. . . do not inquire about their [other nation’s] gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods?—that I also may do the same.’ You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way, for every abominable thing that the LORD hates they have done for their gods, for they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods. Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it. (Deuteronomy 12:30-32 ESV)

Samuel A CainThere is a particular mindset in this age which makes “truth” the product of a popularity contest. If a celebrity, voices an opinion – then it must be true. Right? If someone from your political party says something negative about the opposition party, it must be true. Right? If you read it on Twitter or Facebook, it’s the absolute truth. Right? Many people today think that if they believe something to be true because many other people believe it, it must be true. This attitude has also crept into the church.

Suppose you attend church one Sunday and the pastor announces that the church leadership team has voted to change future communion services. After a lot of thought, discussion, and a sample polling of the congregation – the leadership decided that chocolate cake and Pepsi Cola will be substituted for the bread and wine (or grape juice) during communion. This announcement is welcomed with a warm round of applause from most of the congregation. How would this announcement concern you? Does this manner of communion honor God according to the Bible? Continue reading

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