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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

PRAYER AND THE WORD OF GOD

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. (John 15:7 ESV)

Evening PrayerPraying is difficult for many people. Some don’t think about it because they lead such busy lives. It is certainly not #1 on their “To-Do List”. Francis de Sales wrote:

Every Christian needs a half-hour of prayer each day, except when he is busy, then he needs an hour.

Martin Luther said on this subject:

I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.

The Apostle Paul reminds us that it is God’s Will that we should pray without ceasing. (1 Thessalonians 5:1 ESV) Prayer leads to greater intimacy with God. Prayer changes things and my personal experience has been that God changes me through prayer. God’s desire is for us to pray. (1 Timothy 2:8 ESV) Studying the Bible and hearing God’s Word helps to make our prayer life more effective. If we are slack in seeking wisdom from God’s Word, our prayers may become an abomination to the Lord. (Proverbs 28:9 ESV)

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WHO IS A CHRISTIAN?

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 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 2:4-9 ESV)

salvation jesusA Christian is someone who has been born again in Christ to eternal life and salvation. His sins have been pardoned and he is in a state of grace. He now desires to obey God in order to please Him and glorify Him. He has the Holy Spirit to strengthen his desire and ability to live out his obligation to Jesus Christ. The Christian seeks to live life sincerely before God and to walk worthy of Christ.

Authenticity is the path of Christian sanctification. A Christian is not perfect. A Christian’s good works are the result of God’s saving grace. Good works do not save anyone; they are the consequence of having been saved. Even faith is the gift of God. Christians still err, but they are grieved when they do. The Christian’s grief leads to repentance. Sincere repentance leads to God’s forgiveness. God is faithful and just to forgive sins and to cleanse the Christian from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 ESV) Continue reading

CHRIST LIVES IN ME

Samuel A CainI have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20 ESV)

“Christ lives in me;” These are wonderful words. It is a beautiful phrase – “Christ lives in me.” All who “live by faith in the Son of God” may truthfully say this. A Christian is never alone because Christ lives in him. The life he now lives belongs to Christ. The treasure of his heart is Jesus Christ.

Jesus suffered and died on the cross for all who would believe in Him. Christ loved them, gave Himself for them, and rose from the dead to confirm His promise of eternal life. A Christian lives in the grace of Christ and is dependent upon Him. Jesus Christ is not only the author of spiritual life, but of life itself. A Christian is united heart and soul to Him.

The Christian lives by faith in Christ. Continue reading

MY CHIEF DESIRE

Bishop J. C. RyleBishop J. C. Ryle:

“My chief desire in all my writings, is to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ and make Him beautiful and glorious in the eyes of people; and to promote the increase of repentance, faith, and holiness upon earth.”

I love this quote, don’t you?

Samuel

Wonderful Grace!

If you have ever been to Rome or studied History (which is “His Story”), you must have seen or read about the many great aqueducts which no longer convey water into the city. The arches are now broken and the amazing structures are in ruins. You see, an aqueduct must be kept undamaged if it is to carry the water. Just so, faith too must rest on a strong foundation. It must flow right up to God and back down to us. Otherwise, it may not be a serviceable conduit of grace and mercy to our souls. Charles H. Spurgeon teaches us:

“By grace are ye saved, through faith” (Ephesians ii. 8).

Think it well to turn a little to one side that I may ask my reader to observe adoringly the fountainhead of our salvation, which is the grace of God. “By grace are ye saved.” Because God is gracious, therefore sinful men are forgiven, converted, purified, and saved. It is not because of anything in them, or that ever can be in them, that they are saved; but because of the boundless love, goodness, pity, compassion, mercy, and grace of God. Tarry a moment, then, at the well-head. Behold the pure river of water of life, as it proceeds out of the throne of God and of the Lamb!

What an abyss is the grace of God! Who can measure its breadth? Who can fathom its depth? Like all the rest of the divine attributes, it is infinite. God is full of love, for “God is love.” God is full of goodness; the very name “God” is short for “good.” Unbounded goodness and love enter into the very essence of the Godhead. It is because “his mercy endureth for ever” that men are not destroyed; because “his compassion’s fail not” that sinners are brought to Him and forgiven.

Remember this; or you may fall into error by fixing your minds so much upon the faith which is the channel of salvation as to forget the grace which is the fountain and source even of faith itself. Faith is the work of God’s grace in us. No man can say that Jesus is the Christ but by the Holy Ghost. “No man cometh unto me,” saith Jesus, “except the Father which hath sent me draw him.” So that faith, which is coming to Christ, is the result of divine drawing. Grace is the first and last moving cause of salvation; and faith, essential as it is, is only an important part of the machinery which grace employs. We are saved “through faith,” but salvation is “by grace.” Sound forth those words as with the archangel’s trumpet: “By grace are ye saved.” What glad tidings for the undeserving! (All of Grace)

He Can Do The Same For You

I have often thought “that if God can save me, He can save anyone.” Let us trust in God for the results as Charles H. Spurgeon tells us below:

And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness. . . . (Romans 4:5)

I have seen with my own eyes such marvellous changes of moral and spiritual character that I despair of none. I could, if it were fitting, point out those who were once unchaste women who are now pure as the driven snow, and blaspheming men who now delight all around them by their intense devotion. Thieves are made honest, drunkards sober, liars truthful, and scoffers zealous. Wherever the grace of God has appeared to a man it has trained him to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present evil world: and, dear reader, it will do the same for you.

“I cannot make this change,” says one. Who said you could? The Scripture which we have quoted speaks not of what man will do, but of what God will do. It is God’s promise, and it is for Him to fulfil His own engagements. Trust in Him to fulfil His Word to you, and it will be done.

“But how is it to be done?” What business is that of yours? Must the Lord explain His methods before you will believe him? The Lord’s working in this matter is a great mystery: the Holy Ghost performs it. He who made the promise has the responsibility of keeping the promise, and He is equal to the occasion. God, who promises this marvellous change, will assuredly carry it out in all who receive Jesus, for to all such He gives power to become the Sons of God. Oh that you would believe it! Oh that you would do the gracious Lord the justice to believe that He can and will do this for you, great miracle though it will be! Oh that you would believe that God cannot lie! Oh that you would trust Him for a new heart, and a right spirit, for He can give them to you! May the Lord give you faith in His promise, faith in His Son, faith in the Holy Spirit, and faith in Him and to Him shall be praise and honour and glory forever and ever! Amen.

Faith

John Henry Jowett (1863-1923) writes about “faith”:

Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:19-20 ESV)

Faith is energy! Always and everywhere faith is force. Take an advocate at the Bar. His duty to his client will endow him with a certain force and persuasiveness of speech, even though he has no confidence in the inherent justice of the cause he advocates. But let it be further assumed that he believes his own brief, that he has a deep, unshaken confidence in the rectitude of his cause, that he has entire and absolute assurance in his client, and what tremendous heritage of power attaches itself to his attack or defence! It is faith that tells. It is not otherwise in the Senate. Let a politician support a measure for the removal of some injustice, let him do it, not because of his conviction in its inherent right, but with his eyes fixed upon votes and popular distinction, and his support is altogether unimpressive and futile. But let a man speak with faith, with a solid core of definite confidence burning in his soul, and the glowing energy of his soul will get into his words, and his ministers will be a flaming fire. It is faith that tells. I need not elaborate the matter. On familiar planes the principle is evident. Faith is energy. “Lord, what shall we do that we may work the works of God?” This is the work of God that ye believe! Energy for all work is there.

But there are different degrees and qualities of faith. There is faith in oneself, and such faith is by no means unaccompanied with power. No one can read the life of Napoleon Bonaparte, from his obscure early days in Corsica to the brilliant days when he strode across Europe like a Colossus, without being impressed with the amazing energy which attached to an audacious self-confidence. He fought for no principle, he had no ideals, he was allured by no constant and noble ambition. His confidence was not in a cause, but in himself, and his confidence generated a marvelous strength. But there is a faith and confidence higher than this and endowed with a corresponding larger dynamic and resource. There is a faith in principles, in causes, in the tenacity of truth, in the indestructibility of virtue, in the invincibility of the righteous order of the world. Such faith is uninfluenced by bribes, undismayed by majorities, untroubled by threats and frowns: it tightly holds to the truth, and confidently waits its day. But still higher is the plane to which we can rise in the ascending gradient of faith. There is a faith in the living God, a faith in His love and good will, a confidence in His blessed Presence and companionship, an assurance that we are one with Him in the sacred inheritance, and that in Him we are partakers of all the mighty ministries of grace. That is the sublimest of all faiths, and it carries with it the most tremendous of all energies, for it has behind it the omnipotence of God. (“The Energy of Faith”)

Charles H. Spurgeon On Purity of Heart and Life

“Blessed are the are pure in heart: for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8).

Purity, even purity of heart, is the main thing to be aimed at. We need to be made clean within through the Spirit and the Word, and then we shall be clean without by consecration and obedience. There is a close connection between the affections and the understanding: if we love evil we cannot understand that which is good. If the heart is foul, the eye will be dim. How can those men see a holy God who love unholy things?

What a privilege it is to see God here! A glimpse of Him is heaven below! In Christ Jesus the pure in heart behold the Father. We see Him, His truth, His love, His purpose, His sovereignty, His covenant character, yea, we see Himself in Christ. But this is only apprehended as sin is kept out of the heart. Only those who aim at godliness can cry, “Mine eyes are ever towards the LORD.” The desire of Moses, “I beseech thee, show me thy glory,” can only be fulfilled in us as we purify ourselves from all iniquity. We shall “see him as he is,” and “every one that hath this hope in him purifieth himself.” The enjoyment of present fellowship and the hope of the beatific vision are urgent motives for purity of heart and life. LORD, make us pure in heart that we may see Thee! (Faith’s Checkbook)

The Work Of God

Charles H. Spurgeon

 

 

Quoting Charles H. Spurgeon:

True religion is supernatural at its beginning, supernatural in its continuance, and supernatural in its close. It is the work of God from first to last. (Spurgeon, All Of Grace, 114)

Faith And Providence

B.H. Carroll

To be able to trust in the providence of God is a necessary step in achieving peace in all circumstances. B.H. Carroll explains below the relationship of faith to providence:

If the foundations be destroyed what can the righteous do? (Psalm 11:3)

Why is your right arm nerveless? Why have you permitted the devil to come and pluck courage and faith and hope out of your heart when the Lord God omnipotent reigneth and reigneth today and reigneth over everything? Let us . . . ascertain the relation of faith to Providence. How manifest and self-evident is this relation? Inquire of your own heart: Does your faith rest in a dead God or a living one? A God who sleeps or who is awake? Do you believe in a God manifest in Christ or without a manifestation . . . .?

Have you faith in the providences of God? The Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Let us see now if you have faith in Providence. Test it, my brethren. Are you like David once when his heart failed him? Hear his doleful confession, Psalm 73:

“Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart. But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped. For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” (Verses 1-3.)

“Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches. Verily, I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency.” (Verses 12, 13.)

“When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me; until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end. Surely thou didst set them in slippery places; thou casts them down into destruction. How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! They are utterly consumed with terrors.” (Verses 16-19.)

Ah, brother, have you worried over the prosperity of the wicked? Have you been a fool and brutish, like David? Have you stumbled at such thoughts? Then enter the sanctuary. Stand next to God; get behind the curtain; see the reach of God’s foresight and the sweep of His sword of justice, see the threads of all events in His hands, see how He is drawing them to a consummation absolutely at His disposal; then understand. . . .

Jesus, forgive me, if for one treacherous moment I ever allow a shadow of doubt as to divine providence to come into my heart.

Very briefly, in conclusion, what is the relation of prayer to Providence? Let a single scripture express it:

“Seeing then that we have a great High Priest that is passed into the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need”. . . . (Hebrews 4:14-16.)

Many of God’s saints, in the stormiest and darkest periods of their lives, have had that peace, perfect peace, without anxiety in view of trouble or difficulty. “Lord, I trust thee. My song is this: That I have faith in God, faith in the Providence of God; and while wolves may howl around my dwelling, they cannot enter in, and while night may bring her curtains of darkness and wrap the world about, there is a light inside. While winter may come with its cold and chilling blasts and bind in iron the earth outside, it is warm in here. My heart is full of peace because I stayed on God. My trust is in thee.”

Now, brethren, I ask you, when you seriously reflect on what Providence implies, on what Providence is and who Providence is, the relation of faith to Providence and the relation of prayer to Providence ought not your hearts at once to accept this proposition expressed so often in the scriptures? What is it? “The Lord God omnipotent reigneth forever. Let the earth rejoice. Let it rejoice.” Let the world be glad that God reigneth. Trust it. Lean your head on it and your heart on it. Put your soul’s most perfect love upon Jesus.

God Never Forsakes

Charles Spurgeon

Quoting Charles H. Spurgeon:

“For the LORD will not cast off His people, neither will He forsake His inheritance” (Psalm 94:14).

No, nor will He cast even so much as one of them. Man has his castoffs, but God has none; for His choice is unchangeable, and His love is everlasting. None can find out a single person whom God has forsaken after having revealed Himself savingly to him. This grand truth is mentioned in the psalm to cheer the heart of the afflicted. The LORD chastens His own; but He never forsakes them. The result of the double work of the law and the rod is our instruction, and the fruit of that instruction is a quieting of spirit, a sobriety of mind, out of which comes rest. The ungodly are let alone till the pit is digged into which they will fall and be taken; but the godly are sent to school to be prepared for their glorious destiny hereafter. Judgment will return and finish its work upon the rebels, but it will equally return to vindicate the sincere and godly. Hence we may bear the rod of chastisement with calm submission; it means not anger, but love.

God may chasten and correct, But He never can neglect;

May in faithfulness reprove, But He ne’er can cease to love.

Charles Spurgeon On The Will

Charles H. Spurgeon

From the desk of Charles Spurgeon:

Blessed be the God of grace that it is so! He has a people whom He has chosen from of old to be His peculiar portion. These by nature have wills as stubborn as the rest of the froward sons of Adam; but when the day of His power comes and grace displays its omnipotence, they become willing to repent and to believe in Jesus. None are saved unwillingly, but the will is made sweetly to yield itself. What a wondrous power is this, which never violates the will and yet rules it! God does not break the lock, but He opens it by a master key which He alone can handle. Now are we willing to be, to do, or to suffer as the LORD wills. If at any time we grow rebellious, He has but to come to us with power, and straightway we run in the way of His commands with all our hearts. May this be a day of power with me as to some noble effort for the glory of God and the good of my fellowmen! LORD, I am willing; may I not hope that this is a day of Thy power? I am wholly at Thy disposal; willing, yea, eager, to be used of Thee for Thy holy purposes. O LORD, let me not have to cry, “To will is present with me, but how to perform that which I would, I find not”; but give me power as Thou givest me will. (“Faith’s Checkbook”)

Pruning The Fruitful

Charles H. Spurgeon

Quoting Charles H. Spurgeon:

“Every branch in Me that beareth not fruit He taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit” (John 15:2).

This is a precious promise to one who lives for fruitfulness. At first it seems to wear a sharp aspect. Must the fruitful bough be pruned? Must the knife cut even the best and most useful? No doubt it is so, for very much of our LORD’s purging work is done by means of afflictions of one kind or another. It is not the evil but the good who have the promise of tribulation in this life. But, then, the end makes more than full amends for the painful nature of the means. If we may bring forth more fruit for our LORD, we will not mind the pruning and the loss. Still, purging is sometimes wrought by the Word apart from trial, and this takes away whatever appeared rough in the flavor of the promise. We shall by the Word be made more gracious and more useful. The LORD who has made us, in a measure, fruit-bearing, will operate upon us till we reach a far higher degree of fertility. Is not this a great joy? Truly there is more comfort in a promise of fruitfulness than if we had been warranted riches, or health, or honor. LORD Jesus, speedily fulfill Thy gracious word to me and cause me to abound in fruit to Thy praise! (Faith’s Checkbook)

Charles H. Spurgeon: Preacher! Do You Trust God!

Charles Spurgeon

Quoting Charles Spurgeon:

It is essential that we should exhibit faith in the form of confidence in God. Brothers, it would be a great calamity if it could be said of any one of you, “He had an excellent moral character, and remarkable gifts; but he did not trust God.” Faith is a chief necessary. . . . It would be dreadful to think of a sermon as being all that a sermon ought to be in every respect except that the preacher did not trust in the Holy Spirit to bless it to the conversion of souls; such a discourse is vain. No sermon is what it ought to be if faith be absent: as well say that a body is in health when life is extinct. . . . I make bold to assert that, in the service of God, nothing is impossible, and nothing is improbable. Go in for great things, brethren, in the Name of God; risk everything on His promise, and according to your faith shall it be done unto you.

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