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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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STANDING IN THE FACE OF PERSECUTION

But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, “Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.” And when they heard this, they entered the temple at daybreak and began to teach. (Acts 5:19-21 ESV)

Apostles in jailThe High Priest envied the popularity of the Apostles and resented them for teaching in the temple. Therefore, he ordered them to be arrested and locked up in the public jail. However, an angel came during the night and set them free. Some of the Apostles may have wanted to run and hide at this point. After all, they were human like us.

The angel spoke to them and said, “Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.” Despite whatever fears they may have had, they risked the possibility of punishment and even death by deciding to enter the temple at daybreak and teach the words of life. These men were convinced in their hearts that it is better to obey God than men. They trusted in Jesus Christ. Do you?

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THE CURSE OF PRIDE

Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet. (Acts 4:36-37 ESV)

But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet. (Acts 5:1-2 ESV)

Samuel A CainI am sure that Barnabas was praised for giving money to the apostles for the poor. Ananias and Sapphira must have envied him very much. Perhaps they made a vow to the apostles promising to give the same. They sold the piece of property and kept some of the money. They agreed, however, to tell the apostles they were giving all the money they had received for the sale.

Keep in mind that Ananias and Sapphira were not required to sell the property or give the money to the apostles for the poor. Yet, their desire for undeserved admiration led them to lie to their friends, the apostles, and – most importantly – they attempted to lie to God. They were seeking to glorify themselves – not God. Therefore, because of pride’s evil curse their motivation was all wrong. Do not touch or defile God’s glory.

The Self-Sufficient Minister

Charles Haddon Spurgeon

I fear for preachers and congregations who appear to have renounced a holy reverence for Scripture. The Word of God is no longer their teacher, but they are its critics. The Word of the Lord is no longer given the place of honor; but it is treated as a common literary work. These men look at the books of Scripture and presume to judge the Spirit of God. God does not work through such ministers who hold the Scriptures in secret contempt. C. H. Spurgeon explains why:

Some men are too self-sufficient for God to use. . . . Oh, to be rid of self! Oh, to quit every pretence of wisdom! Many are very superior persons, and so when they get God’s message they correct it, and interpolate their own ideas; they dream that the old gospel cannot be quite suitable to these enlightened days. . . . They not only interpolate, but they omit; because they judge that certain truths have become obsolete by the lapse of time. In this way, what with additions and subtractions, little is left of the pure words of God. The apostles are generally the first to be sent adrift. Poor Paul! Poor Paul! He has come in for very hard times just lately, as if the Spirit of God did not speak through Paul with as much authority as when he spoke through the Lord Jesus. Note well how our Lord deigns to put himself on a level with his apostles when he says, “The word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me”; and in his final prayer he prayed for those who would believe on him through the apostles’ word, as much as to say, that if they would not believe on him through the word of the apostles, they would not believe at all. John, speaking of himself and his fellow-apostles, has said by the Holy Ghost, “He that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.” This is the test of believers at the present time: the rejection of the apostles condemns the modern school.

Brethren, may the Lord give us great humility of mind. It ought not to be an extraordinary thing for us to accept what God says. It ought not to take much humility for such poor creatures as we are to sit at Jesus’ feet. We ought to look upon it as an elevation of mind for our spirit to lie prostrate before infinite wisdom. Assuredly this is needful to the reception of power from God.

I have noticed, too, that if God’s power comes to a man with a message, he not only has childlikeness of mind, but he has also singleness of eye. Such a man, trying to hear what God the Lord shall speak, is all ears. He honestly and eagerly desires to know what God’s mind is, and he applies all his faculties to the reception of the divine communication. As he drinks in the sacred message, with a complete surrender of soul, he is resolved to give it out with the entire concentration of his mental and spiritual powers, and with a single eye to the glory of God. Unless you have but one eye, and that one eye sees Christ and his glory in the salvation of men, God will not use you. The man, whose eyes cannot look straight on, must not be admitted a priest unto the living God. (Sermon to Preachers: “The Preacher’s Power, and the Conditions of Obtaining it.”)

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