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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 CHURCH POLICE

For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. (Matthew 7:2)

Have you ever run afoul of the church police? These are your brothers and sisters in Christ who believe they have obtained the perfection that Paul did not. (Philippians 3:7-16) These are the people who judge quickly by external appearances. They share some similarities with the Pharisees. You can bet they know if you attend church regularly; belong to a Bible study; volunteer for church projects; or dress appropriately. They set Christian standards for others by their own interpretation of the Biblical principles of conduct which they believe they have mastered. They believe they have been called to set others on the straight and narrow path.

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INEXHAUSTIBLE POWER

The Old and New Testament clearly demonstrate the power of God working through His saints. Example after example is provided for our moral and spiritual guidance. The Bible exhorts us to be conformed to the pattern of life that God has made possible through the power of His grace. His grace is sufficient for all our needs because His power increases in us when we are too weak to overcome the obstacles before us. (2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV) We have been made alive together with Christ and this changes everything.

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IGNORING SCRIPTURE

Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. (John 17:17 ESV)

As a former educator, I have met many adults who do not like to read. There are many college graduates who never read another book after they graduate. I have also met people who have proclaimed their faith in Christ and attend church regularly, however, they say they cannot focus long enough to read the Bible. They are absolutely dependent upon the good will of others to teach them the truth of the Scriptures.

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PATIENCE

And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise. (Hebrews 6:15 ESV)

The Scriptures tell us that patience is a fruit of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22 ESV) Paul writes that patience is a quality that we should put on. (Colossians 3:12 ESV) Patience is an important characteristic of the Christian life. It requires submission to God’s Word and Will. We are like clay and He is our Potter. We are the work of His hands. (Isaiah 64:8 ESV) Impatience opposes God’s work in us. Our obsession with getting results quickly – often leads us to take shortcuts that actually inhibit spiritual growth.  On the other hand, godly patience encourages spiritual growth as we wait for the fulfillment of God’s promises.

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GODLY LIVING

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, (Ephesians 4:1 ESV)

With the passing of time, many Christians tend to lose their sense of the wonder of God’s grace. We begin to forget the sinfulness that destined us for eternal punishment. We may even begin to ignore the source of our faith.

Look at how gracious God has been to us. We may never fully understand God’s mercy, but such a boundless benevolence surely deserves a grateful response. Living a godly life is such a response.

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LOOKING BACK

I had lived with no idea how thoroughly sin had penetrated every area of my life. Even the idea that I needed some kind of forgiveness was ridiculous to me. God, however, is merciful.

I was His enemy, yet God brought me to Him. Paul said:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

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SOME THOUGHTS ON CHARACTER

Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. (Romans 12:11-16 ESV)

character of founding fathersHave you ever really thought about the many qualities of your own character? The quality of a Christian’s character is extremely important because it should reflect the glory of God. Would people describe you as manifesting the character of Jesus? Romans 12:11-16 describes the character of a mature Christian. I have listed a few of the important characteristics I find in the verses above:

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THE GOSPEL SEED

And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.” (Mark 4:26-29 ESV)

How do we make Jesus known to the world? The parable above guides us in this regard. In order to make Him known, we must sow the words of Jesus Christ. The words of Jesus are the promise of salvation.

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MEANINGFUL WORSHIP

Praise the LORD! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! (Psalms 150:1-2 ESV)

How much attention do you give to your personal and corporate worship of God? If your worship is to glorify God, have you examined yourself to make certain that glorifying God is actually what you are doing? According to Jesus:

God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth. (John 4:24 ESV)

Without true worship, we cannot continue to grow in the blessing of His grace. Our consciousness of God’s presence in our lives begins to fade. Worship is not simply an outward act; it is the demonstration of a heart on fire for God. Have you experienced the joy of His pleasure in your worship? We need to reflect on our worship because it should be done according to God’s will, not ours.

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NO MORE GRUMBLING!

And the LORD spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying, “How long shall this wicked congregation grumble against me? I have heard the grumblings of the people of Israel, which they grumble against me. (Numbers 14:26-27 ESV)

Do you grumble when things are not going your way? I have met people who seem to always make grumbling the major topic of their conversation. Once I have had an earful of their complaints about any and everything, I tend to try to avoid too many future conversations with them. After all, grumbling is like a communicable disease. Perhaps, when this occurs, I am not responding as a Christian should. I have a long way to grow in Christ, however, God promised Israel that those who were grumbling (age 20 and older) would die in the wilderness and never enter the promised land. (Numbers 14:28-30)

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JESUS CAME FOR US

And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him. (Mark 2:14 ESV)

Every culture has people who are unpopular for one reason or another. How would you feel if you answered the door bell to find an agent of the IRS who has come to audit your taxes? However, Levi was a very different type of tax collector than we have experienced.

Levi was considered to be a traitor and collaborator by the Jews because he worked for the occupying Romans who ruled Israel during this time. Tax collectors in Israel were hated men because they not only worked for the enemy, they were thieves. The Romans sold tax collecting franchises to anyone who could afford them. Once you owned the right to collect taxes, you would collect so much to give to the Romans and then you were allowed to add whatever amount you wanted to the tax for your fee.

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PRESSING FORWARD

But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:14 ESV)

Life is often about moving forward. If we stop moving forward, our lives frequently become stagnant and pointless. Even our spiritual lives often suffer from failing to move forward. I’m not talking about embracing every new idea or popular fad that comes along; this article is about God’s calling upon your life and not stopping short of the goal.

In the verse above, we find Paul describing his own efforts to move forward in the Christian life. He is certainly not the man he was but he is not yet the man he should like to be either. Doesn’t he sound very human – just like us? Paul recognizes his shortcomings and yet he presses on striving to become more like Jesus.

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WHAT SHOULD WE EXPECT FROM THE BIBLE?

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (II Timothy 3:16-17 ESV)

Many of us read the Bible with the purpose of knowing it better. Often, however, we read the Bible without allowing it to change our lives. We may scan the Scriptures daily looking for some reinforcement of our own “core values” but without allowing the Scriptures to speak to us personally about sin and righteousness.

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TAKE YOUR SINS TO CHRIST

40 And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.” 41 Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, “I will; be clean.” 42 And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. (Mark 1:40-42 ESV)

Jesus_healing_lepersLeprosy is a terrible disease in which the early symptoms are almost imperceptible and occur slowly. It may begin with a single small red dot on the skin which eventually multiplies into painless skin lesions over the entire body. One form destroys the nerve endings so that parts of the body lose the feelings of touch and pain. Pieces of the body begin to rot and drop off. This includes the ears, nose, fingers, toes, and other parts of the flesh. Leprosy also increases vulnerability to all kinds of infectious diseases.

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CONSIDERING SIN

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23 ESV)

Consider sin. It twists and disfigures the soul. The image man once reflected of God is now shattered by sin. It disfigures man and destroys the image of God as though it were despised. Every sin flies in the face of God’s wisdom. All sin is a declaration of war against God.

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