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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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  • Recommended Reading

LOOKING FOR A PREACHER?

And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding. (Jeremiah 3:15 ESV)

Are you looking for a Preacher? Perhaps you are part of a Pastor Search Committee and you are looking for a godly man to fill that role. Maybe you are considering joining a new church because you have recently moved or you are making a commitment to attend church for the first time. If so, it is of utmost importance to have some knowledge of the preacher/pastor because he is the spiritual leader under Christ and the gospel to the congregation. (Hebrews 13:17 ESV) It is his responsibility, among many others, to preach and teach the uncompromised gospel of Jesus Christ. (Romans 10:14 ESV) Alistair Begg warns us:

There’s a way to preach the Bible unbiblically…You can use the Bible as the springboard for all kinds of ideas, can’t you? Look around in here and find something that fits your fancy and then launch a rocket off it. People say, ‘That was amazing, wasn’t it? Remarkable what he got out of that.’ Well of course it is because he put it in before he got it out. (Alistair Begg)

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ACCEPTABLE WORSHIP

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! (Psalm 95:1-6 ESV)

… Let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, (Hebrews 12:28 ESV)

The MERRIAM-WEBSTER DICTIONARY defines “worship” as 1) “the act of showing respect and love for … God especially by praying with other people who believe in the same God: the act of worshipping God;” 2) “reverence offered a divine being or supernatural power; also: an act of expressing such reverence;” 3) “to take part in worship or an act of worship.” Such definitions, however, fall short in their accuracy because worship is both an attitude and an act. Worship must connect the mind and heart with the truth of God and His marvelous grace as made known in the life and teachings of Jesus Christ and the Bible.

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WHAT IS STRONG FAITH?

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” (Luke 17:5 ESV)

I think it is interesting to note here that Jesus responds to the statement above by telling His apostles they need faith “like a grain of mustard seed.” Jesus makes the point that even a small amount of faith may accomplish wonderful things if it is placed in God. One of the most important things we learn is that what we place our faith in matters most.

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GOD’S WILL BE DONE

Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10)

Most Christians are familiar with the Lord’s Prayer. If you attended Sunday School as a child, you are probably able to recite it. I have prayed this prayer many times over the years and have often meditated on these verses and what they mean. I sometimes wonder when we say the words of this prayer if, in the secret places of our hearts, we are really thinking: “MY kingdom come, MY will be done…” Submission to the will of another is very difficult for most of us; even submission to the will of God.

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GAINING GOSPEL PROGRESS

27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, (Philippians 1:27)

I must thank a former pastor of mine, Kurt Gebhards, for the title of this post. He preached an outstanding series of sermons on this subject a number of years ago. I have included a link if you wish to hear those sermons.

As Christians our lives are to be saturated with the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are to abide in Christ as the branch abides in the vine. (John 15:1-4) By His word of truth, we are brought forth as a new creation. (James 1:18 ESV) Our way of living is sanctified by the truth of the gospel (John 17:17 ESV) because the word of God is at work within us. (1 Thessalonians 2:13 ESV) It is by the reading, careful study, and meditation of the Scriptures, along with constant prayer and hearing the Word preached, that we are trained in righteousness to produce godly lives.

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IMMEASURABLE BLESSINGS

3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. (2 Peter 1:3-4 ESV)

blessings

I believe it is impossible for Christians to find themselves in such appalling circumstances – where the promises of God hold no encouragement to those who love God and obey Him. According to the verses above, God’s power gives everything needed for life and godliness. Christians are the beneficiaries of immeasurable blessings when they grow in the knowledge of and obedience to God. Through Jesus Christ, these precious and very great promises are given in order that the elect may participate in the divine nature and obtain holiness.

However many blessings we expect from God, His infinite liberality will always exceed all our wishes and our thoughts. (John Calvin)

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EMOTIONS AND SELF-CONTROL

A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls. (Proverbs 25:28 ESV)

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, (2 Peter 1:5-8 ESV)

Emotions are a part of human life. They may change because of changing circumstances or the conscious decisions we make, but often it may seem that our feelings have a mind of their own. In any given situation (good or bad) if we are not consciously making rational decisions about what is happening around us, our subconscious emotions may quickly fill the gap. Sometimes the results are not pretty.

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