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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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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.

Continue reading

WHAT IS MY NEXT STEP IN LIFE?

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. (Proverbs 16:9 ESV)

providenceHave you ever wondered what the next step in your life should be? Should I get married? Should we have children? Should I take just any job to get by since I’m unemployed? Should I start looking for a new job because I’m dissatisfied with the one I have now? What should be my major in college? I’m unhappy in my marriage; should I divorce? Should we spend Christmas at her parents or mine?

Christian – whatever your next step is, it should honor and glorify God. As a matter of fact, whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31 ESV) God desires to be the highest priority in our lives. Sometimes we become frustrated because we haven’t heard what we want to hear from God. Our prayers for guidance seem to go unanswered. In many areas, His will for us may belong to the secret things of God. We must learn to trust in God’s providential care. If God’s glory is the greatest purpose of our lives, then we will be useful servants to Him. Trust God, acknowledge His Word, seek His Wisdom, and His Sovereignty by obeying Him and being thankful for His providential care. (Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV) Continue reading

A BLESSED NATION

Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage! (Psalm 33:12 ESV)

George WashingtonThe blessing and protection of Heaven are at all times necessary but especially so in times of public distress and danger. The General hopes and trusts that every officer and man will endeavor to live and act as becomes a Christian soldier, defending the dearest rights and liberties of his country. (George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, John C. Fitzpatrick, editor, Vol. 5, p. 245, July 9, 1776 Order)

While we are zealously performing the duties of good citizens and soldiers, we certainly ought not to be inattentive to the higher duties of religion. To the distinguished character of Patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian. (George Washington, The Writings of Washington, John C. Fitzpatrick, editor, Vol. XI, pp. 342-343, General Orders of May 2, 1778)

“It is not a little pleasing, nor less wonderful, to contemplate, that after two years’ maneuvering and undergoing the strangest vicissitudes that ever attended any one contest since the creation, both armies are brought back to the very point they set out from, and that the offending party at the beginning is now reduced to the use of the Holy Bible and American Flagspade and pickaxe for defense. The hand of Providence has been so conspicuous in all this, that he must be worse than an infidel that lacks faith, and more than wicked that has not gratitude enough to acknowledge his obligations. I shall add no more on the doctrine of Providence.” (George Washington, Letter to General Nelson, of Virginia, in August, 1778: The Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United States, 1863)

 

“Sinned as we have as a nation, yet to our sin we have added pride in our sinning. The world has lost the power to blush over its vice; the church has lost her power to weep over it.” (Leonard Ravenhill)

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)

GOD’S PROVIDENCE

Loraine BoettnerLoraine Boettner D.D.:

Yet as regards God’s providence we are to understand that He is intimately concerned with every detail in the affairs of men and in the course of nature.  “To suppose that anything is too great to be comprehended in His control,” says Dr. Charles Hodge, “or anything so minute as to escape His notice; or that the infinitude of particulars can distract His attention, is to forget that God is infinite . . . . The sun diffuses its light through all space as easily as upon any point.  God is as much present everywhere, and with everything, as though He were only in one place, and had but one object of attention.”  And again, “He is present in every blade of grass, yet guiding Arcturus in his course, marshalling the stars as a host, calling them by their names; present also in every human soul, giving it understanding, endowing it with gifts, working in it both to will and to do.  The human heart is in His hands; and he turneth it even as the rivers of water are turned.” (The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination)

GOD’S PROVIDENTIAL CONTROL

Loraine BoettnerLoraine Boettner:

Throughout the Bible, the laws of nature, the course of history, the varying fortunes of individuals, are ever attrib­uted to God’s providential control.  All things, both in heaven and earth, from the seraphim down to the tiny atom, are ordered by His never-failing providence.  So intimate is His relationship with the whole creation that a careless reader might be led toward pantheistic conclusions.  Yet individual personalities and second causes are fully recog­nized,—not as independent of God, but as having their proper place in His plan.  And alongside of this doctrine of His Immanence, the Scripture writers also present the kindred doctrine of His Transcendence, in which God is distinctly set forth as entirely separate from and above the whole creation. (The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination)

GOD’S WORKS OF PROVIDENCE

Loraine Boettner in 1917 at the age of 16:

“God’s works of providence are His most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all his crea­tures and all their actions.”  (Shorter Catechism, answer to Question 11.)  The Scriptures very clearly teach that all things outside of God owe not merely their original creation, but their continued existence, with all their properties and powers, to the will of God.  He upholds all things by the word of His power, Heb. 1:3. He is before all things, and in Him all things consist, Col. 1:17.  “Thou art Jehovah, even thou alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their hosts, the earth and all things that are therein, the seas and all that is in them, and thou preservest them all,” Neh. 9:6.  “In Him we live, and move and have our being,” Acts 17:28.  He is “over all, and through all, and in all,” Eph. 4:6. (The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination)

HAVE DONE WITH CHANCE

Charles H. SpurgeonCharles H. Spurgeon:

“Blessed is that man who has done with chance, who never speaks of luck, but believes that from the least, even to the greatest, all things are ordained of the Lord. We dare not leave out the least event! The creeping of an aphid upon a rosebud is as surely arranged by the decree of Providence as the march of a pestilence through a nation. Believe this, for if the least is omitted from the supreme government, so may the next be, and the next, till nothing is left in the Divine hands. There is no place for chance, since God fills all things.” (1891, Sermon #2205)

GOD ALMIGHTY

Loraine Boettner:

The Christian knows that the day is certainly coming when, willingly or unwillingly, every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.  In the Scriptures, He is represented to us as God ALMIGHTY, who sits upon the throne of universal dominion.  He knows the end from the beginning and the means to be used in attaining that end.  He is able to do for us exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or even think.  The category of the impossible has no existence for Him “with whom all things are possible,” Matt. 19:26; Mark 10:27.  This, however, does not mean that God has power to do that which is contrary to His nature, or to work contradictions.  It is impossible for God to lie, or to do anything which is morally wrong.  He cannot make two and two equal five, nor can He make a wheel turn around and stand still at the same time.  His omnipotence is as sure a guarantee that the course of the world will conform to His plan as is His holiness a guarantee that all His works will be right. (The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination)

NOT A FAR OFF GOD

Charles HodgeCharles Hodge:

“He is not to us a God afar off, with whom we have no immediate concern; but a God who is not far from any one of us, in whom we live, move, and have our being, who numbers the hairs of your head, and without whose notice a sparrow does not fall to the ground.”

THE PLAN OF GOD

Loraine BoettnerLoraine Boettner:

The very essence of consistent theism is that God would have an exact plan for the world, would foreknow the actions of all the creatures He proposed to create, and through His all-inclusive providence would control the whole system.  If He foreordained only certain isolated events, confusion both in the natural world and in human affairs would be introduced into the system and He would need to be constantly developing new plans to accomplish what he desired.  His government of the world then would be a capricious patchwork of new expedients; He would at best govern only in a general way, and would be ignorant of much of the future.  But no one with proper ideas of God believes that He has to change His mind every few days to make room for unexpected happenings, which were not included in His original plan.  If the perfection of the divine plan be denied, no consistent stopping place will be found short of atheism …

History in all its details, even the most minute, is but the unfolding of the eternal purposes of God.  His decrees are not successively formed as the emergency arises, but are all parts of one all-comprehending plan, and we should never think of Him suddenly evolving a plan or doing something which He had not thought of before. (The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination)

THE REFORMED VIEW

Loraine BoettnerLoraine Boettner:

[In the reformed view,] God is seen as the great and mighty King who has appointed the course of nature and who directs the course of history even down to its minutest details.  His decree is eternal, unchangeable, holy, wise, and sovereign.  It extends not merely to the course of the physical world but to every event in human history from the creation to the judgment, and includes all the activities of saints and angels in heaven and of reprobates and demons in hell.  It embraces the whole scope of creaturely existence, through time and eternity, comprehending at once all things that ever were or will be in their causes, conditions, successions, and relations.  Everything outside of God Himself is included in this all-embracing decree, and that very naturally since all other beings owe their existence and continuance in existence to His creative and sustaining power.  It provides a providential control under which all things are hastening to the end of God’s determining; and the goal is, “One far-off divine event toward which the whole creation moves.”

THE PURSUIT OF SUCCESS AND WEALTH

Chasing MoneyJohn Calvin:

Instead of rushing on regardless of right and wrong, by wiles and wicked arts, and with injury to our neighbors, to catch at wealth and seize upon honors, we will only follow such fortune as we may enjoy with innocence. Who can hope for the aid of the divine blessing amid fraud, rapine, and other iniquitous arts? As this blessing attends him only who thinks purely and acts uprightly, so it calls off all who long for it from sinister designs and evil actions. Continue reading

PROVIDENCE

John FlavelJohn Flavel:

If God has given you but a small portion of the world, yet if you are godly He has promised never to forsake you (Heb. 13:5). Providence has ordered that condition for you which is really best for your eternal good. If you had more of the world than you have, your heads and hearts might not be able to manage it to your advantage.

All the dark, intricate, puzzling providences at which we were sometimes so offended…we shall [one day] see to be to us, as the difficult passage through the wilderness was to Israel, “the right way to the city of habitation”.

SOLACE FOR SAINTS

John FlavelJohn Flavel:

It is the great support and solace of the saints in all the distresses that befall them here, that there is a wise Spirit sitting in all the wheels of motion, and governing the most eccentric creatures and their most pernicious designs to blessed and happy issues.

 

 

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