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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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In A Time of Trouble

Thomas_Case_(1598–1682)Thomas Case:

In the time of our trouble God causes us to see what an evil and bitter thing it is to grieve his good Spirit. When we are in the bitterness of our spirits, and want the Comforter, then we begin to call to mind how often we have grieved the Spirit which would have been a Comforter to us and have sealed us to the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30); and say within ourselves in reference to the Spirit of God, as once the sons of Jacob said one to another in reference to Joseph, “We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us” (Genesis 42:21). In some such language, I say, will the soul in the hour of temptation bespeak itself? Ah, I am verily guilty concerning that tender Spirit of Grace and Comfort which hath often said, “O! Do not this abominable thing which I hate” (Jeremiah 44:4); but I would not hear. Is not this he whose rebukes I have slighted, whose counsels I have despised, whose warnings I have neglected, yea whose comforts I have undervalued, and counted them as a small thing? Ah wretch! How just is it now that the Spirit of God should withdraw? That he should despise my sorrows, and laugh at my tears; shut out my prayers, quench my smoking flax, and break my bruised reed? (cf. Isaiah 42:3). Well, if the Lord shall indeed be pleased to bring my soul out of trouble, and to revive my fainting spirit with his sweet consolations, I hope I shall carry myself for the future more obedient to the counsels and rebukes of the Spirit of Grace. (“Treatise on Affliction”)

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None is Exempt from Trouble

Charles H. SpurgeonDo you too often feel as if everything is against you? Charles H. Spurgeon sheds a different light on this attitude:

The king also himself passed over the brook Kidron. (2 Samuel 15:23)

David passed that gloomy brook when flying with his mourning company from his traitor son. The man after God’s own heart was not exempt from trouble, nay; his life was full of it. He was both the Lord’s Anointed, and the Lord’s Afflicted. Why then should we expect to escape? At sorrow’s gates, the noblest of our race have waited with ashes on their heads, wherefore then should we complain as though some strange thing had happened unto us? The KING of kings himself was not favored with a more cheerful or royal road. He passed over the filthy ditch of Kidron, through which the filth of Jerusalem flowed. God had one Son without sin, but not a single child without the rod. It is a great joy to believe that Jesus has been tempted in all points like as we are. What is our Kidron this morning? Is it a faithless friend, a sad bereavement, a slanderous reproach, a dark foreboding? The King has passed over all these. Is it bodily pain, poverty, persecution, or contempt? Over each of these Kidrons the King has gone before us. “In all our afflictions He was afflicted.” The idea of strangeness in our trials must be banished at once and forever, for He who is the Head of all saints, knows by experience the grief, which we think so peculiar. All the citizens of Zion must be free of the Honorable Company of Mourners, of which the Prince Immanuel is Head and Captain. Notwithstanding the abasement of David, he yet returned in triumph to his city, and David’s Lord arose victorious from the grave; let us then be of good courage, for we also shall win the day. We shall yet with joy draw water out of the wells of salvation, though now for a season we have to pass by the noxious streams of sin and sorrow. Courage, soldiers of the Cross, the King himself triumphed after going over Kidron, and so shall you. (Morning & Evening)

Sorrows

Joseph HallJoseph Hall:

Sorrows, because they are lingering guests, I will entertain but moderately, knowing that the more they are made of the longer they will continue: and for pleasures, because they stay not, and do but call to drink at my door, I will use them as passengers with slight respect. He is his own best friend that makes the least of both of them.

Truth

Henry Ward BeecherHenry Ward Beecher:

God sends ten thousands truths, which come about us like birds seeking inlet; but we are shut up to them, and so they bring us nothing, but sit and sing awhile upon the roof, and then fly away.

Whatever is only almost true is quite false, and among the most dangerous of errors, because being so near truth, it is the more likely to lead astray.

Doubts about the Basics?

John GillThere is a rest for souls to be found in the Scriptures. When men search the scriptures, their minds are made easy by the truth; and in consequence, they walk therein. John Gill writes:

Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein; and ye shall find rest for your souls. (Jeremiah 6:16)

[If you doubt] the doctrine of Election, read over the sacred volumes, and there you will find, that this is an eternal and sovereign act of God the Father, which was made in Christ before the foundation of the world; that it is to holiness here, and happiness hereafter; that the means are sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth; that it is irrespective of faith and good works, being before persons had done either good or evil; that faith and holiness flow from it, and that grace and glory are secured by it; Whom he did predestinate, then; he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified (Eph. 1:4; 2 Thess. 2:13; Rom. 9:21; 8:30).

If you have any hesitation about the doctrine of Original Sin, look into your Bible; there you will see, that the first man sinned, and all sinned in him; that judgment, through his offense, came upon all men to condemnation; and that by his disobedience many were made sinners; that men are conceived in sin, and shapen in iniquity; that they are transgressors from the womb, go astray from thence, speaking lies, and are by nature children of wrath (Rom. 5:12, 18, 19; Ps. 51:5; 58:3; Isa. 48:8, Eph. 2:3).

If the matter in debate is the Satisfaction of our Lord Jesus Christ, read over the epistles of his holy apostles, and they will inform you, that he was made under the law, and became the fulfilling end of it, in the room of his people; that he yielded perfect obedience to it, and bore the penalty of it, that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in them; that he was made sin for them, that they might be made the righteousness of God in him; and a curse for them, that he might redeem them from the curse of the law; that he offered himself a sacrifice for them, in their room and stead to God, for a sweet-smelling savor; that he suffered, the just for the unjust, to bring them nigh to God; and died for their sins according to the scriptures, and made reconciliation and atonement for them (Gal. 4:4; Rom. 8:3, 4; 10:4; 2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 3:13; Eph. 5:2; l Pet. 3:18; l Cor. 15:3; Heb. 2:17). (“The Scriptures: The Only Guide in Matters of Faith”)

God is Our Support at All Times

Charles H. SpurgeonCharles H. Spurgeon reflecting on Deuteronomy 33:27:

God – the eternal God – is Himself our support at all times, and especially when we are sinking in deep trouble. There are seasons when the Christian sinks very low in humiliation. Under a deep sense of his great sinfulness, he is humbled before God till he scarcely knows how to pray, because he appears, in his own sight, so worthless. Well, child of God, remember that when thou art at thy worst and lowest, yet “underneath” thee “are everlasting arms.” Sin may drag thee ever so low, but Christ’s great atonement is still under all. You may have descended into the deeps, but you cannot have fallen so low as “the uttermost”; and to the uttermost He saves. Again, the Christian sometimes sinks very deeply in sore trial from without. Every earthly prop is cut away. What then? Still underneath him are “the everlasting arms.” He cannot fall so deep in distress and affliction but what the covenant grace of an ever-faithful God will still encircle him. The Christian may be sinking under trouble from within through fierce conflict, but even then he cannot be brought so low as to be beyond the reach of the “everlasting arms”-they are underneath him; and, while thus sustained, all Satan’s efforts to harm him avail nothing. This assurance of support is a comfort to any weary but earnest worker in the service of God. It implies a promise of strength for each day, grace for each need, and power for each duty. And, further, when death comes, the promise shall still hold good. When we stand in the midst of Jordan, we shall be able to say with David, “I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me.” We shall descend into the grave, but we shall go no lower, for the eternal arms prevent our further fall. All through life, and at its close, we shall be upheld by the “everlasting arms”-arms that neither flag nor lose their strength, for “the everlasting God fainteth not, neither is weary.” (Morning & Evening)

Piety and Beauty

Lilies of the FieldThomas Chalmers:

“Behold the lilies of the field; they toil not, neither do they spin, yet your heavenly Father careth for them.” He expatiates on a single flower, and draws from it the delightful argument of confidence in God. He gives us to see that taste may be combined with piety, and that the same heart may be occupied with all that is serious in the contemplations of religion, and be at the same time alive to the charms and the loveliness of nature.

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